§ LORD OLIVIER had given Notice to call attention to certain questions of land and labour policy in Kenya Colony, to ask His Majesty's Government for a statement; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the beginning of the Session I put down a Notice to the effect that I would call attention in your Lordships' House to certain questions of land and labour in Kenya Colony, ask His Majesty's Government for a statement, and move for Papers. I deferred that Motion because it was represented to me, from time to time, that it might be more opportune to take it at a later date, more especially as there was then in Kenya Colony and East Africa generally a Commission, which was a Sub-Committee of the Committee on East African Affairs, set up by the late Government under the Chairmanship of Lord Southborough, which Sub-Committee might be expected to report at an early date. Obviously it was better that we should defer asking for any statement until that Sub-Committee had made their Report. That Sub-Committee was under the Chairmanship of the present Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, with whom were two other gentlemen, one a Liberal Member of Parliament and the other a Labour Member of Parliament.
§ I was the more disposed to await the Report of that body because all those who know anything of the record of the present Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, of the work which he has done in connection with the mandate system of the League of Nations, his clarity of view and his humanity in regard to all native affairs, could not but have had entire confidence, as I had, in the representations which he would be likely to make. 364 After reading this Report, I think your Lordships will say that that confidence has not been disappointed, except in one respect. There is one thing in the Report which is entirely discreditable to the Commission, or rather to the people who produced the Report, and that is the map. It is wholly inadequate and a disgrace to the Stationery Office, if they are responsible. Of course, I entirely exonerate my honourable friend from responsibility.
§ As that Report is before your Lordships I am absolved from the necessity of bringing before you a number of statements of facts, gathered from unofficial and official sources, which I had in my mind when I gave Notice of this Motion. It is much better that we should proceed upon the record which is guaranteed to your Lordships as absolutely correct and which is moderately stated in the terms of this Report. All that I had in my mind to substantiate the observations I wished to make three months ago with regard to affairs in Kenya Colony is entirely confirmed by the statements which appear in this Report. Although the Report is not very explicit in regard to a good many of what I considered to be the scandals in the administration of Kenya, yet it shows, not obscurely, that those who compiled it were perfectly cognisant of what underlay these matters. It is not, perhaps, expressed in the conclusions of the Report, but they show—or hint in their own phrases—that they are quite sensible of the evils that have been going on in Kenya Colony and, as one of the members of the Commission is in a high official position, I think we may be confident that the Government will give all clue weight to the grievances which these statements reflected. I do not want, therefore, to rake up a good deal of very unpleasant and discreditable matter which I might have had to do in other circumstances, and I am going to develop my case and to found the requests that I have to make to the Government principally upon the text of the Report.
The Report begins by laying down the statement, which I hope will be accepted on behalf of the Government, that in Kenya Colony, no less than in the mandated territory of Tanganyika, "the principle of trusteeship for the natives" "is unassailable." That is the foundation of our case for asking for a different treatment for Kenya Colony from that
which it has experienced in the past. Further, the Report goes on to say that the dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa makes us trustees not only "for the development and advance in civilisation of the African, but we are also trustees for the world of very rich territories." I accept that principle. We have gone into Africa more or less as trustees, not only for the natives, but also for the world, in order that these rich territories may be developed for the benefit of humanity generally. Further, the Government
has a duty to perform to those individuals and communities not of African race who, by their courage and enterprise and often at the instance of and with the encouragement of Governments"—
which is distinctly the case with regard to Kenya Colony—
have made their homes, or at least the sphere of their life's work, in Africa.
Further, the Report states:—
Britain will not he judged at the bar of history by the work of those two alone; the trusteeship lies really upon the shoulders of every man and woman of European race in Africa.
I am very glad to see that statement.
Now I come to some of the actual operations of Government in Kenya. The Commissioners say that it is most desirable that in young developing countries, "in which the bulk of taxation necessarily falls upon the natives," such taxation should be as light as is consistent with the maintenance of ordinary current expenditure. They then go on to say:—
The main contribution of Government until recent years has been the introduction of inter-tribal peace, security for life and property, and the provision of Western standards of justice and criminal jurisdiction …. It is for the provision of these essential functions of Government that the native has been, and has rightly been, taxed.
That is not quite an accurate and sufficient way of putting the matter. I am able to read the Government's own statement of the taxation policy in Kenya. Sir Percy Girouard, speaking on behalf of the Government at the time when the Colony was being developed, said:—
We consider that taxation is the only possible method of compelling the native to leave his reserve for the purpose of seeking work. Only in this way can the cost of living increase for the native, and it is on this that the supply of labour"—
that is, not labour for the native himself; it means the supply of labour for persons imported into the country to make money—
and the price of labour depend. To raise the rate of wages would not increase, but would diminish, the supply of labour.
He does not say it would diminish the industry of the African, but it would diminish the supply of labour for private employers—
We, the Government, consider that the only natural and automatic way of securing a constant labour supply is by a rise in the cost of living for the native, and this rise can only be produced by an increase in the tax, say, to 15 rupees or 20 rupees per head.
§ Following that speech taxation was increased. The Hut Tax, the direct tax upon the natives was doubled, and the Governor himself tells us that the reason why it was doubled was not in order to meet the needs of the Administration, because they could have been met by different methods of taxation, but for the mere purpose of raising the needs of the natives and driving them into the labour market. Therefore it is not quite accurate for the Commissioners to say that "it is for the provision of these essential functions of Government," namely, police and so on, "that the native has been, and has rightly been, taxed." He has been definitely taxed, as the Governor of the Colony has told us, for the purpose of driving him into the labour market. Let us see what this means for the labourer. The native labourer, as we are told in other parts of the Report, is engaged, as a rule, for what is called a six-months' contract. Your Lordships must understand that a six-months' contract in Kenya means a contract for 180 working days. That is to say, it is a contract really for seven months, including Sundays. The labourer has to go from his own reserve to get to that labour; so that for between seven or eight months of the year he has to go away to labour for his but Tax. We are told by the Commissioners that the rate of wages varies from 8s. to 12s. a month; let us say, 10s. a month.
§ The Commissioners tell us in another part of their Report that, after trying very carefully to find out what is the maximum amount of labour supply available in the Colony, they placed the number of adult males above the age 367 of fifteen years capable of labour at 424,575, and they say that the but and Poll Taxes last year amounted to £575,000; that is to say, they amounted to £1 7s. per head of the able-bodied men. Now as the Hut Tax itself is only 12s. your Lordships might wonder how it that the average rate upon the able-bodied man is as high as £1 7s. It is because the but Tax and the Poll Tax have to be paid not only by every able-bodied male but in respect of wives, in respect of parents who are not able to labour any more, and in respect of enfeebled and indigent relatives who cannot pay the but Tax. So that every able-bodied male who goes to work in Kenya Colony has to hear the Poll Tax two or three times on account of those who are dependent upon him.
§ Therefore, the average Poll Tax, which ostensibly is 12s., is, taking the maximum number which the Commissioners allow of able-bodied males who can labour in the Colony, 27s. a year. Your Lordships will see that 27s., even admitting the highest rate of contract abour—12s.—is more than two months wages, or more than one-third of the time that a man is taken away from his home. He has to leave his home for seven or eight months of the year and to place the carrying on of all the business of his family and cultivation upon the women and the old people of his household. Those are the purposes for which taxation has been imposed and has been increased, according to the statement of the Governor of Kenya Colony, in that Colony. That is the reason why the Hut Tax is so high, and not because of the services of the Government to the native.
§ I may give your Lordships presently another instance or two of mistakes of the character of that preliminary generalisation of the Commissioners, made, no doubt in entire good faith, and perhaps as obiter dicta which might refer not only to Kenya but to the rest of Africa, but which applied to Kenya call for the sort of examination which I have given your Lordships. There are certain things in the Report with which I cannot deal at all. First of all, it deals with a very wide area—the whole of British East Africa, and not only Kenya Colony. It also deals with many interesting questions relating to Kenya 368 upon which I shall not attempt to touch, such as education, the alignment of railways, hygiene, scientific development and other topics, as to which very interesting suggestions and comments are made. It is quite beyond the scope of my Motion, or possibly of my time this afternoon, to deal with these matters. Further, I am not going to touch upon the sociology of Kenya Colony. The Commissioners rightly say that the distinction between the pastoral tribes and the agricultural tribes must always be borne in mind in considering the question of land tenure. I am sure that a, great deal might be said about the Masai tribe. But that is a comparatively small part of the population, numbering only about 50,000 people altogether. The Masai have peculiar habits of their own. Your Lordships probably know that they are a tribe who fulfil, I presume, the ideal of the noble Viscount who dealt the other afternoon with the milk question, in that they subsist almost entirely upon pure milk, and it seems to have a very marked effect upon their ferocity and their licentiousness. So far as I know, they have land which, for the most part, is sufficient for their stock and more than sufficient; but they have been very unfairly treated in the past in matters which are but cursorily referred to in the Report. I do not propose to go into those matters now because their case does not affect land or labour.
§ Land and labour questions chiefly arise either in what are called the native areas, in which only natives and such bodies as missionary societies and traders under licence are allowed to acquire rights in land, and European areas, divided into European farms, where the land is cultivated by European farmers with the assistance of native labour. The Commissioners say that there is probably no subject which agitates the native mind more continually than the question of their rights in land, both collectively as tribes and individually as owners or occupiers. The Commissioners continually refer in their Report to this agitation of the native mind. In this disquiet they are actively supported in their claims by the missionary bodies of all denominations, we are told. I am afraid that the missionary bodies of all denominations will be falling under the same condemnation as certain public officers have 369 recently fallen under in the Convention of Associations of Kenya, of being Bolsheviks or Socialists, to whom any kind of attempt to stand up for native rights is at the present time imputed.
The Commissioners say:—
At every meeting we had with the natives of Kenya there was evidence of a feeling of insecurity as regards the tenure of their lands. The legal position appears to be that no individual native and no native tribe as a whole has any right to land in the Colony which can be recognised by the Courts.
I ask the particular attention of the noble Earl who is going to reply, to this very important point, upon which I want an answer from the Government. This position is summarised in an often-quoted extract from the decision of the Kenya High Court in a Kikuyu land case in 1921—
The effect of the Crown Lands Ordinance of 1915, and the Kenya Annexation Order in Council by which no native rights were reserved, and the Kenya Colony Order in Council, 1921 …. is clearly, inter alia, to vest land reserved for the use of the native tribe in the Crown. If that be so, then all native rights in such reserved lands, whatever they were under the Gethaka system disappeared"—
the Gethaka system was the system of native tenure under which individuals had certain proprietary rights, or fixity of tenure in regard to the land they cultivated—
and the natives in occupation of such Crown land became tenants at will of the Crown of the land which they actually occupied.
That is a perfectly true declaration of British law.
§ It is entirely in accord with the declaration of British law made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, in his judgment in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in connection with the lands of Southern Rhodesia. He is a Judge I have greatly admired for many years for the extreme trenchancy and lucidity of his interpretation of the law. In this, as in some other cases, his judgment was irrefragable in its exemplification of that curious absurdity in the application of some principles of British law to which attention was called in this House by a noble Lord a short time ago, in the discussion of the application of the law of torts to the responsibilities of a married man in 370 regard to his wife. It is the sort of result which elicited from Mr. Bumble the opinion that the law was "a hass." It was made clear by the declaration of British law which Lord Sumner made that no native had any ownership in the land of Rhodesia. That was a reduction to absurdity of the application of British law to these territories.
§ I am very glad to see that the Commissioners recommend—and I hope His Majesty's Government will take up their recommendation—that no further time shall be lost in bringing in an absolute act of law to regulate the interests of the native communities and tribes and individuals in the lands of their country, so as to give them legal status of which present they I have none. No native tribe has any legal status whatever in regard to land tenure in all these territories in East Africa, Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. With regard to the ownership of land, I am very glad to see that it is recommended that a trust should be created for the purpose of establishing a law of native tenure, and (whatever may be the arrangements of that trust) that it should enable native tenure of land to be recognised and native rights of property in land, whether communal or individual, to be recognised on precisely the same principles as they are recognised for Europeans in Kenya Colony.
The Commissioners go on to say:
It is true that the Kenya Government cannot alienate land from a native reserve without the previous sanction of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but for various reasons we are doubtful whether in the past this has proved adequate security.
That is a very vague and ironical mode of describing what has gone on in Kenya. The reason why the tenure has been left as it is, is that it was the continuous policy of the Administration to keep the natives without rights in order that this particular tribe or this particular individual might be shifted about when Europeans wanted land. The possibility of making final adjustments was always kept open, so that there might be no fixity of tenure to interfere with the policy of establishing European areas, wherever such areas might be found. That is why the matter has not been dealt with hitherto, as it should have been by
His Majesty's Government the moment that judgment was given.
The Commissioners continue:—
In the first place much remains to be done as regards gazetting reserves under the Crown Lands Ordinance, 1915. Two reserves, Kikuyu and Nyika, have been finally so gazetted, and thirty-nine reserves, including all the Kavirondo, the Kenya, and the Wakamba reserves, can immediately he gazetted.
Why have they not been gazetted long ago? I have told your Lordships why. The Commissioners go on:—
In the second place, cases have occurred in the past where a Governor has alienated land from a native area, and has either not reported his action to the Secretary of State, or has reported it so long afterwards that it was not really practicable to reverse the action he had taken. An example of tile latter class was the excision of a large area of the Nandi reserve as a result of the ex-soldiers' settlement scheme in 1919.
§ In the latter part of their Report the Commissioners made the very wholesome and penetrating observation that one of the true characteristics of the natives of Kenya is "that like all primitive peoples the African native is very quick to recognise the difference between what is known as being a gentleman and not being a gentleman." The natives of Kenya know very well when they are being treated like gentlemen, and they respond to that treatment. The reason there is so much dissatisfaction and distrust among the natives of Kenya, and the reason it is so difficult to deal with them, is that they are perfectly conscious that for twenty or thirty years they have not been treated as by gentlemen. I trust, therefore, that the recommendation of the Commissioners for the establishment of a trust will be promptly carried out.
The Commissioners then go on to deal with the question of native production, and say:—
It is clear to us that the true progress of the African native is bound up with the encouragement of the use of the hoe and the plough.
I would venture to add "the use of the digging fork." In the West Indies much improvement has been brought about by this substitution. The native's foot can be applied to the digging fork which is a very efficient instrument of cultivation, while the hoe is very inefficient and unsatisfactory as an instrument of cultivation. The success of agricultural societies in the West Indies has been due very largely to the
substitution of the fork for the hoe, which I only commend, of course, wherever the plough cannot be used, in areas where you have not level stretches of ground on which the plough can be used.
The Commissioners fall into a slight fallacy, at any rate with regard to Kenya. They quote a very ancient cliché which we have repeatedly heard. They say:—
One of the root problems we have to face is the gradual change of the Bantu custom, whereby the bulk of the agricultural work was done by women and not by the men …. It must, of course, be borne in mind that the ancient custom of female cultivation was due in part to the necessity of the manhood of the tribes from eighteen to thirty being kept primarily as a military force.
On a later page the Commissioners say that it should be pointed out that now that the natives have no longer any military duty to perform, it is their duty to work for the State, possibly on public works or otherwise. That does not apply to the agricultural districts in Kenya. It may apply possibly in some parts of Tanganyika but it does not apply, and has not applied for many years, to certain large districts of Kenya. In the two largest agricultural districts in Kenya the men do work, and if recently a great deal of the work has been done by women it is principally because the districts concerned have been the chief recruiting grounds for male labour. The recruiting of that labour has depleted it for the cultivation of the lands, and has increased cultivation by women in those districts, which have long been agricultural districts, in which the men work as well as the women. The combing out of the men in order that they, by their labour, might earn money to pay their but Tax has brought about that situation. The reference to militarism is really beside the point so far as concerns the men in the agricultural districts of Kenya Colony.
The Commissioners go on to say:—
It is clearly the duty of the Government to develop agricultural efficiency in the native areas throughout East Africa …. In Uganda and parts of Tanganyika Territory, thanks to the energy displayed by administrative and agricultural officers, it has already made great strides, and a. welcome commencement has been made during the last two or three years in Kenya also.
Only in the last two or three years since attention was called to the scandals
of Kenya Administration in your Lordships' House by Lord Emmott and the most rev. Primate and others,. has the Government of Kenya begun to do what every ordinary Government has long recognised as its simple duty—namely, endeavour to develop the peasant and agricultural cultivators of its land. Yet For thirty or forty years we have been administering that Colony as protectors of the natives.
According to the Commissioners:—
There is no doubt that the present, difficulty in obtaining labour in Uganda for the transport of the cotton crop …. is due to the high prices which the Uganda native is at present obtaining for his cotton crop.
I should say that that is a good thing for the Uganda native—
It is necessitating the use of communal or compulsory labour for the construction of much-needed new roads"—
to say that it "necessitates" the use of compulsory labour for this work is rather to beg a large question—
and it is not inconceivable that similar forms of compulsion will be required for other public services.
That again begs a large question, but this paragraph does not refer to Kenya. You will observe that this forced labour in Uganda has been used for the development of roads. No forced labour had been used in Kenya Colony for the development of roads, but it has been used, and is being used, for the development of railways, on which I shall ask a question in a few moments.
The Commissioners go on to say that "there is nothing ethically wrong in compulsory labour for works of public utility such as road and railway construction." I am glad they have put in roads, because roads are a purpose very much nearer to the needs of the native than railways. If you force him to construct a road in his own district he does not have to go far away from his own home, and an excellent example of this kind of work is to be found in the Fort Hall district of Kenya, where a road was constructed not by forced native labour but by voluntary labour of the natives in the district. This is what the Commissioners say:—
There is nothing ethically wrong in compulsory labour for works of public utility, such as road and railway construction …. Nevertheless, though a resort to compulsory labour is sometimes necessary in the interests of the community, we are of opinion that it should be avoided where
possible, if only for the reason tact the custom of compelled labour tends to undermine the personal sense of responsibility and initiative of the individual. There is great danger in Africa lest a man once compelled should take up the attitude that he will not work unless he is compelled …. A human being accustomed to slavery, when treed, seems to have lost all incentive to work. We were informed that on Mafia Island, near Dar-es-Salaam, the ex-slaves of the Arab cocoanut plantation owners on that island are to-day literally dying of starvation while the old plantations are ruined for lack of labour.
On a later page this text is developed. They say:
In memoranda presented to us by the Mombasa Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture it was pointed out that the coast of Kenya enjoyed a considerable overseas trade up to about 25 years ago. It was regarded as the granary of South Arabia …. The decline in agricultural production can be partly attributed to the abolition of slavery and the sudden divorce of masters and retainers. The compensation paid to the masters"—
nothing was paid to the slaves—
produced a landed class with small capital instead of labour, and with no education to apply the former to obtain the latter. The result was that the capital was rapidly dissipated, and large areas of valuable plantations and arable land reverted to bash."—
This was done under our Protectorate.
The ex-slaves, given nothing but their freedom, either drifted into towns or eked out, a precarious existence in the vicinity of their former masters' lands, and, lacking initiative and given no encouragement or assistance by the Government, seem literally to have died out.
§ The Commissioners express the opinion that subjection to slavery followed by emancipation produces a class of men who have lost all their initiative. That is not our universal experience in our own history of the emancipation of the slave. It is contrary to experience in Jamaica, in cases where missionaries and others immediately took up the cause of the emancipated slaves, obtained land for them to work upon and helped them in its cultivation. In these cases there grew up in Jamaica a most valuable class of peasant proprietors, and it exists to-day. That was done at the time of their emancipation, not by the Government, not, I am afraid by the Church of England but by Nonconformist missionaries and Moravians, who occupied themselves in assisting the slaves to make use of their newly won freedom. Everyone who knows Jamaica knows that 375 these emancipated slaves set to work with a new hope on land of their own, and it has produced the finest class of peasantry that can be found. But where nothing was done for the slaves in Jamaica, where they were allowed to live as squatters and were deprived of land, because it was said that the Colony would be ruined if they were allowed to cultivate land for themselves, on these estates the emancipated slave population does show the effects of slavery.
In Mombasa the Commissioners find that the Government thought they had done their duty by giving the slaves their freedom, the masters their compensation, and expecting the slaves to act as a labour supply for the masters. Ex-slaves unduly exploited will give as little work as they can and will become more and more slack and thievish, as they have done in the West Indies. I notice an observation that is rather pertinent to what I said a short time ago. The Commissioners say:—
The motives which compel the African natives to leave their settlements and engage in work for the Government or private individuals may be said to be, firstly, the necessity to obtain money to pay their taxes.
The ordinary incentive to a human being to work is not firstly to pay his taxes but to do some good for himself, and the more you show any class of men, whether African or European, peasant or labourer, that they have an opportunity of working for themselves the more inclined they will be to do so. But the whole policy of the Government of Kenya, from its inception two or three years ago, has been to deprive the natives of the country of any kind of incentive, and such incentive and suggestion has to be left to the missionaries and officials who work among them.
There is considerable discussion of the future policy with regard to the settlement of natives, and the Commissioners refer to that which they call the "contact" policy. They say:
Broadly speaking, European opinion in East Africa holds what is called the 'contact theory,' namely, that the native advances in civilization, in physique, in skill and in independence by contact with European enterprise.
Discussing this point they go on to say:
The real question is whether he is permanently benefited, that is, whether on his
return to his natural conditions he is in a position to continue to practise what he has learnt by contact. Undoubtedly the type of labourer who benefits most from contact with the Europeans is the type that engaged permanently in European employ.
They go on to say:
On large estates, particularly in Kenya, the employers in their own interests have encouraged permanent settlement, and for these resident natives and their families more can be done, and is being done, than for temporary labour …. But in the case of casual labour, while the theory is not to ho rejected altogether, it must be stated that the benefits of 'contact' are often exaggerated.
Mr. Linfield, who signs a Minority Report, expresses a very strong opinion that it is exaggerated.
§ I do not think it can be questioned that contact is good and is absolutely necessary in a country like Kenya. Contact and inter-penetration are neither possible to avoid nor desirable to avoid. But contact and inter-penetration must be as between equal and free men. You will never get advantage from contact and inter-penetration between two classes of men when one is a master who is continually seeking to exploit the other. You will not get it so long as the labourer feels that the monopoly of land and the power of taxation are being used, as thy Kenya native has the utmost reason to feel that they are being used, to get the greatest advantage out of him. Such contact as that will not produce a healthy social texture.
§ With regard to the intermediate plan of settling labourers as squatters on estates, I have seen a great deal of that in the West Indies, and it is a good plan in the hands of good landowners and employers. It is a useful policy, but I think that, unfortunately, it is a policy that, the longer it is followed in Kenya, the more disgusted will the landowners themselves become with it. The result of this plan is something like this. You have certain areas in Kenya where no one may own land, or take any permanent interest in land, except Europeans. That is very much like the position in those large estates that survive in the West Indies. Let us say that we have a good employer who says that he will get hold of these fellows and give them houses. The Commissioners speak of his "providing building 377 materials," but the building materials "provided" consist of a few poles and a certain amount of grass and mud that the native is allowed to gather from the land that used to belong to his tribe and now belongs to Europeans.
§ He gets building materials and makes his own hut and squats in it. If he has come away from his own part of the country, leaving his wife there, as soon as he is squatted he takes a girl from the neighbourhood and begins to live with her. In Jamaica and other places, where the same system obtains, he sometimes goes backwards and forwards, working in his hut with his temporary wife for three or four months in the year and going to live with his more legitimate wife for the rest of the year. The result is that he begets two families, and you have, as the Commissioners themselves say and as Dr. Leys, in his book on Kenya, points out, a great increase of irregular connections, illegitimacy and venereal disease.
§ Apart from these results, you have [...]en who wish to profit by cultivating their gardens. You give them ground, but you cannot get them to make any permanent cultivation because the law does not give them any permanent interest in it. Consequently they will not grow any permanent crop, bananas or coffee. The agricultural holdings law of Kenya does not give them that interest, and consequently they will never plant a permanent crop, but will just scratch the ground, and when they consider that it is exhausted they will ask for another plot of ground and scratch that. Such a man cannot keep stock to manure his ground because, although well-meaning settlers, new to the country, may say that he can keep pigs or fowis, the landowner will very soon get tired of that, because he knows very well that any native squatter or settler who lives on rented ground on his estate, unless it is merely a grazing pen, is going to feed his stock very largely from his produce. Nothing in the world is going to stop any native of Africa who is living under those conditions from feeding his stock from the produce of the owner's ground. Consequently the system of temporary occupation, though it is a well-meaning system and produces good results in contact, is one which becomes more and more trying to the landowners who attempt to work it, and 378 it produces a race of men who have the servile characteristics of being thievish and of being shirkers.
§ The only thing to be done is to do that which we have been forced to do in other parts of the world, and that which the Labour Party in their programme demand should be done, and that is to provide land for permanent occupation, ownership and settlement in the vicinity of estates. If you do that which has been done for some time past by the Government of Jamaica—though that is a much more civilised community—if you buy up large estates and have them cut up by co-operative societies, by means of agricultural banking loans, and if you get these properties within a day's walk, or even a weekly walk, of the places where the people are to work, you will get them setting up their own cultivation and making permanent houses instead of these wretched bush and mud huts and keeping a single continuous family and, in addition, going out to work, as they will, for the sake of the money wages that they are anxious to earn, as civilisation and their needs advance and as they want to buy bicycles and so on, as I see that the settlers complain that they do. As their needs advance they will both improve their own holdings and go out to work upon a settlement. You cannot get that kind of interchange and contact by the squatting system, any more than you can get it by the system of casual labour. The only way is to establish permanent village settlements and small reserves in the neighbourhood of estates where men can go to work and have their homes. That is a prophecy, or anticipation, that I make, based upon a great deal of the experience of the Colonial Office in dealing with these matters, experience which might very well have been applied to Kenya by the Colonial Office very much earlier than it has been applied.
§ I will say this for the Colonial Office, that their whole "pitch was queered" by the fact that, the beginning of the development of that country was under the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office created a Protectorate. They had not the experience, and they were not qualified, as was the Colonial Office, to take the best means of developing that Protectorate. They embarked upon a policy of giving out large estates to large syndi- 379 cates. You will find the whole story in Dr. Leys' book on Kenya. The Commissioners refer to it, and it is indicated that Kenya was colonised very largely, under Sir Charles Eliot's policy, from South Africa. South Africans were invited to come in, and many of them were among the early settlers who colonised these large grants of land. The very fact that the original settlement of Kenya was a settlement of large capitalist landed estates, to be developed on the capitalist system, has resulted in the attitude of the settlers in that Colony being more and more the attitude of the White man in South Africa towards the native—in many respects entirely un-English and entirely foreign to the temper of any party or class in this country. It is the attitude continually voiced by the older settlers and their leaders towards the natives and their rights.
§ The Commissioners themselves say that since the War—and even before—there has been a very large settlement of Englishmen and ex-soldiers, and that many of these have the same feelings with regard to the rights of natives as we have ourselves. I do not for a moment dispute it, but till their representatives in the Legislative Council and in the juries of the Colony, and their representatives in the Convention of Associations, speak in a somewhat different voice from the familiar voice of the Afrikander with regard to natives and native questions, we shall, I think, fear that the British element in that Colony has been a little indoctrinated with, and has not yet freed itself from, as we think, a wholly erroneous habit in dealing with native questions. I must remind your Lordships that with regard to the Indian question, General Smuts said definitely that he could not support the claims of Indians for equal treatment in such a Colony as Kenya, because if he admitted those claims in Kenya he would have to admit similar claims for coloured natives in South Africa. So that there, again, the Afrikander point of view, which I am not criticising from the point of view of South Africa, is dominant, with regard to the land question, the franchise and labour in Kenya.
§ The Commissioners devote considerable attention to the question whether the labour supply can be found for these estates which they say it is so desirable 380 to develop. I am sorry to say that I agree with Mr. Linfield that the position with regard to this matter is extremely unpromising. It is perfectly clear, if you will go into the figures, that most of the estates that have been taken up cannot possibly, in any conceivable circumstances, get the supply of labour that will ultimately be necessary to bring them into full cultivation. The Commissioners say that the whole available adult population may be taken to be 424,000, and that you cannot possibly expect to get more than 200,000 away from the villages. I should hope not; but, assuming you take 200,000, what then?
§ There is an interesting Report by a Committee on industry and employment. They tried to get an estimate of the labour that would be required to develop the lands already taken up by Englishmen. With regard to one section alone of those lands they said that in 1924 there were 60,054 acres under coffee coming into bearing, and that in a few years' time 100,000 acres would be coming into bearing, which would have been put under cultivation by Englishmen. They calculated that for harvesting and dealing with the coffee crop you would want two persons per acre, or 200 persons per 100 acres, of which 60 may be women and children; so that if you had to harvest the whole of the 1924 coffee crop only you would have wanted 120,108 labourers, of Which 36,330 could be women and children. No wonder that the coffee rots on the ground. And for the area already planted in coffee only you will want the whole 200,000 available in all the Colony.
§ Similarly, if you go through the land taken up by European settlers and calculate the amount of labour required to develop it, you will be forced at once, following the analogy of the coffee crop, to the obvious conclusion that even if you comb out every adult male in the Colony of Kenya, and force him to work on the estates, you cannot possibly deal with the crops that ought to be planted upon even a very small fraction of the land not only already granted to Europeans but actually taken up by farmers who want to cultivate it. Therefore the position appears to me to be extremely serious, and it is the more serious because we see coming upon us a period when the shortage of labour will become more and more acute, and when the outcry for 381 more and more pressure on labour will become more vocal.
That particular Committee, reporting in January, 1924, said:
The recruitment of labour for Government works has not presented any considerable difficulty until the present year.
Up to that time European cultivation was prospering and was able to give bigger wages, which attracted the natives.
During 1923 the labour force required by the Uasin-Gishu Railway rose to 16,500 men, and this number was raised without the exercise of any form of official pressure. During the last six months, however, great difficulty has been experienced in maintaining the numbers employed at half the figure reached without difficulty last year, and it appears necessary to have recourse to the Native Authority Amendment Ordinance. We are informed that the Secretary of State has approved of the compulsory recruitment of 4,000 labourers for the Thika-Nyeri and Uasin-Gishu railway extension.
To cut matters short, I am going to ask the Government to lay upon the Table the correspondence in which the Secretary of State sanctioned that compulsory enlistment of 4,000 labourers. The question was asked in the other House on Monday last, and the replies appear to me to be very unsatisfactory.
§ One matter is very emphatically referred to by the Commissioners in repeated passages. It is that practically up to two years ago nothing had been done to develop what may be called peasant cultivation, and at the present time the amount that is being done in this direction is absolutely in insignificant. Again and again the natives have complained not only of their mishandling with regard to land reserves, but with regard to the taxation, the money raised by which they complain is not spent for purposes beneficial to them, but for purposes which may be described as the general development of the country and for the benefit of Europeans. It is an absolutely short-sighted policy to devote the whole of your capital expenditure to railways. Railways will not be any good unless you have feeder roads to them. Road policy is very cryingly called for in Kenya Colony to encourage—as it does everywhere—the small settlers, the native population, to develop their holdings.
§ We are told that the Commissioners are going to recommend to the Government a loan of £10,000,000 for transport and development in East Africa. I hope 382 that neither House of Parliament will consent for a moment to look at any such proposal unless they have a guarantee that a substantial amount of that money will be spent in the making of permanent roads for the benefit of the native cultivators, and also unless they receive satisfactory assurances upon certain points which I am going to put to the noble Earl opposite—satisfactory assurances, first, that the prohibition of compulsory labour shall be absolute, except for purely native purposes of public utility, and then only when demanded in accordance with native law and custom within tribal areas. Tribal rulers should not be permitted to assign any powers they possess for calling out tribal labour, and all voluntary labour should be paid for by wages in cash to the labourer. When the Government conscripts 4,000 labourers for work on public works and fixes its wage, it thereby fixes the maximum wage for the plantations.
§ Secondly, no labour contract should be enforcible under the sanctions of criminal law. The Commissioners meekly say that they think the time has come when the Government should consider whether labour contracts should still be enforced under the criminal law. It is an extraordinary survival. There may be some possible excuse for treating the breach of a labour contract as a criminal action if the case were similar to those which I knew in British Honduras, where I once served, and where it was the custom for very large advances of money to be given to labourers on their contracts. There, if the labourer evaded his contract, as he generally did if he thought he could get away with money in his pocket, it was obviously a fraud, which was a criminal offence. But where, in these cases, no advance is made, and no criminal fraud exists, it is a monstrous thing that we, should have this system of turning out the police on the information of any master whose man has run away, and letting them scour and hunt through the country in order to prosecute the deserting labourers.
Again, I want an assurance on this point. I quote from the Labour Party's programme, which says that
In order to give every native family sufficient land for its support the Government must, if necessary, re-enter on alienated land …. The Government must take power to cancel and revise concessions of alienated land in order to provide land
for the natives. The Government must stimulate and organise production."—
the necessity for that has been recognised, though it has not been done. The Colonial Office must see that it is done—
and thus show the natives that money tan be earned in the villages. The Government must encourage tribal self-government in whatever form the natives themselves wish. The Government must make labour free in fact, as well as in name.
I am going, then, to ask that the Government should give us satisfactory assurances upon those points, and also upon one point which I have omitted, the reduction of the Hut Tax, which even the Convention of Associations itself has condemned in a resolution as excessive—that Hut Tax which, as I have mentioned on the authority of Sir Percy Girouard, was fixed at its present high rate entirely for the purpose of extorting forced labour. The Papers for which I wish to move include also one relating to land.
§ I would say one thing more with regard to land in a recent correspondence in the East African Standard considerable attention has been paid to a very scandalous case, apparently, of land accumulation, which was one of the matters which I wanted to bring before your Lordships when I gave notice of this Motion. It concerns a case of an alleged exchange in which Lord Delamere was concerned. Lord Delamere was one of the early settlers, and a man of energy who has done much to show what was possible in the. Colony, who accepted the invitation of the Foreign Office to go out and develop East Africa on the basis of land speculation. It appears from a letter written by a man of the excellent name of Chamberlain that after certain negotiations, although it had been understood that no further land was going to be granted to Europeans, Lord Delamere, who already had 100,000 acres of land, "emerged"—that, I believe, is the expression—from the transaction with an additional 80,000 acres of land. He is therefore now the owner of about 280 square miles. I do not know whether, in the case of Lord Delamere or of other concessionaires, to whom the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies alludes in his Report, there is not the making of a very pretty lard trouble in the future of this Colony. If the recent settlers who have gone out there are, like the men who went out to New Zealand, able 384 to do their own labour without relying upon exploitation, you will have in Kenya in process of time the same kind of land policy which necessarily developed against the big land grantees in New Zealand.
§ The gravamen of the charge against Lord Delamere in this case is not that he acted illegally but that he evaded the law, which is a very different thing. He had obtained this very large addition to his possessions, it is said, by means of what is know as "dummying" I simply repeat that charge, which has been openly made in the Kenya, newspapers. "Dummying" means this: After a man has reached the amount of land which he may under the law acquire, he puts in "dummies" whom he finances, to acquire further land in their name. The charge has been openly made, and there is a very great deal of indignation in Kenya about it, and we want to know what has been the action of the Colonial Government itself in the matter.
§ I am therefore going to move for Papers for two things: (1), Correspondence relating to the sanction of the Secretary of State for the Colonies of the employment of 4,000 forced labourers on railway construction now proceeding; (2), a return of all present holdings of land in Kenya Colony exceeding 5,000 acres in extent, and of all past grants or concessions of rights over lands exceeding 5,000 acres, showing in each case the character of the tenure, whether freehold, leasehold or other, and the consideration paid or payable to the Crown for such grants or concessions.
§ I hope there will be no difficulty in consenting, on behalf of the Government, to the laying of those Papers. Finally, I want to back up what is suggested in the Report of the Commission, that we have still in Kenya, as I hoped we had twenty-five years ago, the opportunity of making a new kind of community by real, honest, and free co-operation between the three races, British, African and Indian. I hope that the later settlers in Kenya who have left our shores recently, and in whose integrity and good feeling we have most sincere confidence, will set themselves to have their real feelings and intentions, and their real love of liberty, properly represented in the councils of the Colony, and not allow themselves to be indoctrinated with these 385 old South African ideas as to what is the proper treatment of natives and the only way to get them to work. We, in this country, have proved again and again that Africans in any part of the world, whether the West Indies or elsewhere, will work hard when they are treated decently. If you think you may treat them as idle people, as slaves or children, as people who will only work under compulsion, as people to be taken advantage of and to be jockeyed and hustled about in the way in which these people have been jockeyed and hustled about simply in order to compel them to labour, you will never get them to work properly, you will never get their confidence, and you will again have a disastrous result of your effort at colonisation. I beg to move.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I regard the recurrence of the debate on this subject as a very real advantage, because it fixes attention in a concentrated way upon one of the very great problems of Empire—a great problem, for the present day, but far greater in its issues for the days to come. Is there any thoughtful student of the world's life, to-day, who doubts that the racial problem as seen in Africa matters more almost than any other at this time, as we look ahead into the generations that are to come? It is an amazing fact that we have now acquired as part of our world-wide responsibilities the care, direct or indirect, for it is not identical in each case, of the well-being and the progress of an East African region of an unlimited number of square miles in extent—much more than a million—with a total population of more than twelve millions and an area, I believe, of the size of British India. That area with its great population is subject to our governance and rule to-day in one form or another.
We have three Protectorates—Nigeria, Nyassaland and Northern Rhodesia. We have one Mandated Territory, Tanganyika, and we have one definite Colony, Kenya itself. We are undertaking this task at a time when England does it with its eyes open. That may seem to be a mere commonplace; but it is not. It has been constantly pointed out by students of history that a great part of the Empire which Great Britain has acquired came to us in a fit of absence of mind. It was 386 not a deliberate act at all. We drifted into it and found ourselves responsible for what we had not expected nor, to large extent, perhaps even desired. It is not so now. We know what we are about and our responsibility is the greater. We are fixing our eyes to-night on Kenya, but that is only a part of a far greater whole. It is the third in area of the five territories of which we are speaking. Its African population is roughly three millions, about the same as the population of Uganda. Its European population, which, of course, includes other than English people, is 10,500 and its Asiatic population is no less than 23,000. I shall not deal with the question of the Asiatic population, important as it is, because it takes us away from the subject we are considering to-day.
Although Kenya is the third in area, it is the most critical and in sonic ways the most important for our consideration, and is certainly most in the public eye. That is partly because of the excitement which arose over the Indian question and the enlistment in the discussion of people who had relations of another kind with our Imperial work, who had to do with India and other parts of the Empire; and partly because it was the region on which attention was specially concentrated in the settling of men after the War, when a great deal was said and, I suppose we might say, a great deal was boomed, regarding its possibilities and advantages for those who, out of the War, were supposed to come as satisfactory settlers. For those and many other reasons it affords the best object lesson of the problems we have to face. Those problems are very varied, but it a curious and interesting fact that we have to face them at a moment when there is a concentration in the same area of difficulties of different kinds in a way that has never occurred before.
That is to say, there are economic and industrial questions with which we are familiar as vitally important issues of a controversial kind on either side of the Atlantic. There ate also political issues of a very high order raised not directly but indirectly, and these in their turn are complicated by the racial problems which underlie and inter-penetrate the whole. We have a very difficult task to face in the combing out of a situation in which all these elements and difficulties appear 387 at once and each of them has to be dealt with. I desire that the Government and people of England, acting with their eyes open to what lies before them, should take a long view; that they will not think how this is going to answer for next year or for the next five years; but that they will ask what view will be taken twenty-five, thirty, fifty years hence of what we are doing at this juncture in these post-War years regarding those vast responsibilties. The difference may be gigantic then and the manner in which people will regard it then depends upon how we face it and what we do now.
A little more than twenty years have passed since Sir Charles Eliot, I think it was, first set forth in a popular way that everyone could follow—because he did it with admirable clearness—the policy of making East Africa what he described as a European Colony. Your Lordships will remember that Sir Charles Eliot, a man of extraordinary ability and power, though of a peculiar temperament, spoke of it as our task to introduce order into blank, uninteresting, brutal barbarism. That was his description of our responsibility and duty in the country which we now call Kenya and in East Africa generally. He said that he regarded a large part of East Africa as being undoubtedly a white man's country and suitable to become a European Colony. That policy was perfectly coherent, intelligible and intelligent; it might possibly be practicable. Whether it is practicable in fact I am by no means sure, but it is, as I have said, supposed to be practical, intelligible and coherent, and I would like to add that it is not by any means thought-less or careless of the interests of the native population. It is possible to say that you are going to make what he describes as a white man's country or a British Colony, while caring in a degree for the African population who will necessarily go under in the matter but, while they have gone under, will still be occupying a very important position as the underlying element in the consideration of the whole question. That was the policy that was advocated at that time and has often been advocated since.
But nearly everyone who looks at the matter largely now agrees that that policy needs reconsideration on grounds both ethical and patriotic. Experience and study of these African questions, and 388 the general group of thoughts and actions which have found expression in the League of Nations have put the matter in a new light, and the idea of trustee ship has taken the place of the idea of the forming of an English policy for English gain. Of course there are plenty of people still to reiterate that theory and to defend it, and defend it plausibly in a great many ways. Much of our post-War settlement was advocated by arguments not very different from those which had been used fifteen years before, long before our present policy and plans had been thought out and brought into being. But we may now be said, I suppose, to have definitely committed ourselves to something different.
It was two years ago that the Government put out the document which was alluded to by the noble Lord who introduced this subject. I should like to read again from the White Paper of 1923. It really lies at the base of the proper consideration of this matter:—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 it, and when, these interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail …. At present special consideration is being given to economic development in the native reserves, and within the limits imposed by the finances of the Colony all that is possible for the advancement and development of the Africans, both inside and outside the native reserves, will be done …. As in the Uganda Protectorate, so in the Kenya Colony, the principle of trusteeship for the natives, no less than in the mandated territory of Tanganyika, is unassailable. This paramount duty of trusteeship will continue, as in the past, to be carried out under the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the agents of the Imperial Government, and by them alone.I apologise for reading words which have often been quoted, and which are familiar to your Lordships, but they really form the basis of the situation as we have to handle it to-day.
These statements have been reinforced in strong terms within the last year both by sentences in the Report of what we call the Ormsby-Gore Commission, and in speeches from the Government Benches in both Houses of Parliament. I should like to say here a word upon the excellence of the Report to which I have referred. I have seldom read a 389 document dealing with so complicated a matter which is at once so lucid in its presentation of the ease, so fair to the people concerned on each side, and so studiously set upon bringing about some practical policy with regard to each element of the problem that has to be faced. The Report is, to my mind, beyond praise. Concrete evidence as to the principles and the usages which are enjoined under this kind of directions have been referred to by the noble Lord who has just spoken, and I shall not go over the ground again as to the way in which these principles and usages have been departed from perhaps, or modified, in practice since utterance was given to them in 1923.
If we are to reduce it to a concrete instance, I think the easiest to take, because it is the one which is quite capable of being discussed by everybody who looks into it even with the slightest care, is the question of recruiting for labour. In the question of recruiting for labour the interests necessarily conflict. There is no question about it the interests must conflict of the employer who desires to obtain labour cheap and the native population which desires to work in their own way, at their own time, and for all the money they can reasonably obtain. The problem is acute, all the more so if it he true—which, stangely enough, we are not able to ascertain—that the African population is at this moment decreasing. It is a very curious fact that when so much study is being given to this subject, nobody is perfectly clear whether the population in any one of the territories, and certainly in the five taken as a whole, is increasing or decreasing.
There is evidence both ways, and in the Ormsby-Gore Report the Commission say:—Reliable vital statistics regarding the increase or decrease of the native population are lacking except in the Kingdom of Buganda where they are kept by the native Government. There is no conclusive evidence that the population is increasing or declining in any part of East Africa.It is of very great importance that we should get that information, for very much depends upon it. The fact that we are compelled at present to remain uncertain whether the population is decreasing or not is one to which in a moment I shall call attention again as enhancing the importance of our instituting proper 390 inquiries to bring the facts to light. I cannot go into the statistics here, though I have myself tried to go into them somewhat carefully, I confess I am puzzled that that should be the conclusion arrived at by the Commissioners who have been looking into these questions. It seems to me beyond doubt that in some parts, at all events, of East Africa there is evidence that the population is steadily decreasing. I have no first-hand evidence of my own, but I could adduce figures and statistics out of the various books which have dealt with the subject. Some of the writers speak, I think, in an exaggerated way, but all of them with an attempt at fairness, and some of them adduce very strong instances to show that there is a decrease in population going on. But whether the decrease is taking place or net, the utmost care is certainly needed in regard to the whole question of the recruiting of native labour.
May I call attention at this stage to what has been clone in the Belgian Congo? Some of your Lordships may have read a communicated article that appeared in The Times a week ago, which contained a very remarkable Report issued by a Commission in Belgium upon the working of the Colony system, if we may call it so, in the Belgian Congo. My memory goes back to the time when I had the trying, difficult and by no means pleasant position of being Chairman of a great Committee that inquired into what was happening in the Belgian Congo about fifteen years ago. We have been often challenged since as to whether the allegations then made were true or were exaggerated. I am bound to say, remembering the pains we took about it at the time, that I never have had any hesitation in feeling they were, in the main, sadly true. Therefore, it is with extreme satisfaction that one turns to a Report issued these years afterwards, dealing with the same area and the same subject population, showing in the most remarkable degree a power of appreciating the needs of the native population and of taking adequate steps to meet those needs, and of guarding the African population in every way against being exploited, even inadvertently, by the employers of labour.
In that Report the Belgian authorities approach the question again and again 391 from the standpoint of the health and the welfare of the African. They have very carefully compiled statistics—more careful statistics than we possess—as to the percentage of population that can, without upsetting labour conditions generally, be diverted to urgent work in the public service, such as making roads and railways. The Belgian requirements are that a draft from the population should never exceed a certain percentage, which varies according to the conditions, and which is a much lower percentage than that which we have declared to be possible and desirable in regard to the call we make upon our native reserves. And there is this remarkable difference. The Belgian Commission shows that the working practice is to hold fast to the principle that when public works of extreme urgency call for the enlistment of African labour every effort is made to secure labour from areas where there is little or no local demand by the European owners and settlers. If this prove impossible, then the employers must be asked, in the public interest, to accept the temporary inconvenience of a reduced supply of labour. That is to say, that the employer is to share with the native population the inconvenience which arises from the requirements of labour for public purposes, which will necessarily involve a certain diminution in the supply available for him.
But that, unfortunately, is not exactly what we are doing. A Question was asked in the House of Commons a few nights ago about the enlistment of certain men for work upon the railways. I am not criticising their enlistment. I believe that under certain conditions, and with proper payment, the enlistment of men for public services is probably necessary and may be the best thing to be done; but the answer given was thatthis labour is recruited in the reserves and it would not be possible to recruit men who are under contract to perform other work for Government or other employers.I should have thought that an employer enlisting a large number of natives must have a contract made subject always to the condition that the public requirements of the State might call for a deduction of a number of men for the public good and advantage, and I confess that I am not pleased to find the contrast, quite specifically set before us, between 392 the way this is managed in the Belgian Congo and the way it is managed under our own rule. That, however, is only one point which can be argued from more than one side and I do not want to press it unduly.
It does give us, however, an example of the need for caution, watchfulness and care, with regard to the working of rules which may be excellent on paper. Are we ourselves working with corresponding care to see that the rival interests are both attended to in the matter? There must be anxiety. There is anxiety in the Report of the Commission. They distinctly say that, while they quote rules which are of advantage and gain, they doubt whether these rules have been carried out in practice. They let down rather gently, shall I say, some of those who have had to apply these rules, and put it in a kindly and euphemistic way to this effect, that it has not been always found possible to carry these rules out. I am not anxious to make too serious a grievance of the fact that this has not always been done, but this Report is a great gain by setting out all these questions from both sides in a way we can all understand.
I am not quite sure that the English settlers in Kenya have always had fair play in the criticisms launched against them in this country and in Kenya itself. Of course, there have been scandals and wrongs. We hear of many in other places. Undoubtedly, a large number of the people who are white settlers, English settlers, in that region are men from whom you could hardly expect considering their experience and training their degree of culture and intelligence, an entirely public-spirted action in this matter. But even when we pass to those who are experienced and cultivated men, large employers of labour, it seems impossible for these men to regard the question quite impartially and you must make allowances for a one sided view. There is the more reason, therefore, why we should inquire into the matter by an authority which is really impartial and try to see that neither inadvertently nor advertently are wrongs being clone which can be prevented. The fact that some of the great employers of labour have been of enormous assistance to the country and are entitled to our gratitude must not blind us to the great danger that they are naturally tempted to look at their side 393 of the problem, rather than at the public side, when critical issues involving an expenditure of money are involved.
A point I should like to see looked into is the comparative amount of money from public grants which is being expended for the benefit of the African and the benefit of the settlers. For instance, there are medical questions. How much of the medical grant is expended for Africans and how much for Europeans and Indians who are not Africans? There is also the veterinary question. Where do these veterinary officers work? Is equal attention being given to the veterinary requirements in the regions belonging to the African as in the regions under the control of English-men? These points are not statistically worked out in the Report with the fairness I should have desired, and where I have seen them worked out I am not at all convinced of the fairness with which the figures are compiled. This leads to the point that we need a great deal more information and a closer inquiry by a higher and more impartial and competent authority than has yet been brought into action. At this moment the acting Governor and the Settlers' Committee are themselves asking for an inquiry on many of the economic questions raised. To that extent we welcome that desire. I am entirely with them in wishing that this should be done, but I desire to see it carried a good deal further than they propose. I should like to make it a higher and larger and more responsible kind of inquiry.
The Report suggests a loan from Great Britain, under what they call the Transport Loan Guarantee Bill, authorising a loan of £10,000,000. To me that seems, under proper conditions to be absolutely right. Transport is the real difficulty in Africa. Transport means a great deal more in Africa than in this country and involves considerations of quite a different kind from those involved here, because the human element comes in along with the whole question of porterage and of the occupancy of the country through which the transport system, whether it be railway or road, is to go. These are matters of the extremest difficulty and delicacy and they cannot be solved, as they are solved in ordinary European countries, by some 394 great contractor undertaking a particular task and carrying it through in his own way.
I, at all events, could not support the unfettered use of so large a sum, if it be granted, for economic and industrial undertakings alone, unless such undertakings were based upon adequate knowledge, carefully acquired, of all the questions that underlie this matter—scientific questions, questions of soil, climate and botanical growth and also the human questions that arise in a way in which they do not arise here, questions, for instance, of how far labour is available for the immense development of transport that is required, where it is to come from, what will be the results of calling it in, and what will happen during the years in which this labour is being employed. All this requires careful investigation beforehand by really responsible authorities who are able to look into it quite deliberately and are competent to deal with the problems of health, of population and of labour possibilities which are involved. I need only mention, in passing, our strange ignorance even of the number of persons living in any particular region and available as circumstances arise. I believe that an accurate census is almost impossible over an area of that size, with a population that is partly nomadic. But it is not that we have an inaccurate census; the point is that we have not a census at all, or even a general idea of the population, except in certain areas such as Uganda.
Then, again, we want an inquiry on a really thorough scale into the truly scientific question of the insect dominion. It is an extraordinary fact that West Africa should be under the rule, as one might almost say, of the mosquito, while East Africa is under the rule of the tsetse fly. It is an extraordinary fact that these pests should govern to the extent that they do the actual possibilities of work or enjoyment in these regions, and no chapter in the brilliant Report to which reference has been made is, to my mind, more interesting and more admirably written than that which deals with the question of the tsetse fly. It tells the story in a way that even the most unscientific can understand, and it holds our interest to the very end in such questions as that of how far this pest bears upon sport and whether the killing of big game will tend to increase or 395 decrease the tsetse fly. These points are treated with immense care, but the solutions are not finally there found. What we want is a wide scientific inquiry into all the conditions of climate, soil, fauna, flora, and population in all these areas before we begin to expend money on these great transport endeavours. But more than that, we must take in the human conditions and discover who it is who is to give the labour, where that labour is to come from, what will be the consequences of using it, and at what times of the year it can be used. We need to discover these facts, not only through local inquiries by people on the spot, but by some authority which can use local knowledge and apply it from a high standpoint and with a larger vision.
This would involve a great deal of work, but it would have the immense advantage that we should carry with us alike the settlers and those who are specially concerned for the welfare of the African, because it is enormously to the advantage of the settlers in East Africa that all this knowledge should be properly acquired, co-ordinated and arranged, and we should be able to proceed with the knowledge that what we were doing was so done as to carry with it conviction as to its righteousness and its sanity to all those who are capable of judgment. Accordingly I, at least, desire to see money spent upon an inquiry of that kind before we begin the actual work upon which this £10,000,000, if it is granted, is going to be spent. I do not suppose that, if a great commercial firm were undertaking some enterprise on that gigantic scale, it would hesitate to begin by spending a great deal of money upon that kind of preliminary inquiry—not a mere survey of the land, but an inquiry into all the conditions involved. If it be quite clear that this can be done to any extent in the scientific manner that I have suggested out of the money that is nominally given for the creation of transport, well and good; but I should venture to hope that there would be something more definite than that, and that we should have a certain percentage of the money that is thus to be expended definitely devoted to these preliminary inquiries on a large and really worthy scale by competent men with time at their disposal, before any money is spent upon the actual transport schemes.
I cannot help reminding your Lordships that we have at this moment a big ad- 396 vantage regarding the undertaking and control of scientific work. On Friday last the Prime Minister, in a speech of characteristic straightness and eloquence with regard to the work of the late Lord Milner, used these sentences:Lord Milner felt that we were handicapped …. by an unnecessary economic backwardness prevailing in so many parts of the Empire. To use his own words, Lord Milner said: 'Such backwardness is a discredit alike to our generosity and to our intelligence.' There are few things I have given more interested attention to than those which I have endeavoured to outline"—the Prime Minister was speaking about the training of young men for purposes of public service—and so I appointed as President of the Council the Earl of Balfour. I hope the people of this country will regard that appointment as an earnest of our intention to sec that these matters of co-operation and co-ordination in scientific work throughout the Empire shall be regarded as the first work of a man, more than any man in public life to-day, …. qualified to take it in hand.I hope that the Prime Minister's words will not fall upon deaf ears, and that the purpose which he then adumbrated as regards the training of our younger men may find practical effect in the difference that will be made to the whole of this problem if it is first investigated under the kind of guidance to which the Prime Minister referred.
LORD HOWARD DE WALDEN
My Lords, I have first of all to crave the indulgence of this House, because this is the first time that I have addressed your Lordships. The reason is very simple. I have always found that any opinions that I hold are apt to be expressed by members of your Lordships' House far more able and experienced than myself, as indeed they have been to-day, and the only reason why I break the restraint of some years is that I have some slight personal acquaintance with the matters in hand, having been present in the country with which we are now concerning ourselves at the same time as the Commission. I hope that if, in saying the very little that I have to say upon the subject—because I do not propose to be tedious and weary your Lordships—I in any way transgress the usual rules of decorum in this House, your Lordships will at any rate remember in extenuation of my conduct 397 the fact that I have refrained from doing it for so many years.
I was rather impelled to this course because of certain anxieties expressed to me by friends amongst the white settlers in this Colony. Owing to the curious situation which has arisen they have a sort of idea that, in some strange way, they are really in the black books of public opinion in this country. They admit their faults and failings, but they have a sort of feeling that, for some reason unknown, they are regarded somehow as a community that is not quite all that it might be, and as providing a convenient whipping boy for public opinion. In fact, there is a sort of feeling that in tins country it is thought that a settler can do no right in any situation. They have expressed to me a sort of pathetic appeal. They say they will do anything which they are recommended, or told, to do, if only it can be assumed that they are not the band of criminals which it appears at home they are suspected of being.
I think there is a certain amount of justice in their contention. Too much is made of certain deplorable cases, and I have seen attacks which have been based upon two cases which were separated by twenty years. Those eases do happen, and I suppose we have the same sort of domestic occurrences in this country, but we do not generally condemn a whole community for one or two instances of violence. I am sure, from what I have been told by those whom I have met, that none will welcome the appearance of this Report more than they will, and that they will be glad to take up any proposal which is suggested. I know that a great many of them, on the point of the absolute settlement of land on the natives, are entirely in agreement with the Report.
I was prepared to make a more detailed speech, but I think the more I spare your Lordships the better, especially on my initial appearance. I want, however, to deal with one or two points which appear to have an element of strangeness. Whether you could go hurriedly to the extent of condemning compulsion altogether I do not know, otherwise I should have expected the noble Lord to turn to that monster in our midst, compulsory education. There is a wrong inflicted upon a wholly help- 398 less part of the population, which is not able to say a word in its own protection; and I have no doubt that if you had a plebiscite taken among those who suffer, you would find a majority in favour of its abolition. We have, however, adopted compulsion, and I do not see any possible chance of revoking it. We should not, I think, however, be too hurried in attacking the ethical side of compulsion, because it leads to difficulties, even in Africa. You want to leave as much as possible to tribal organisation, but if you allow the chiefs to retain control you find occasions on which the chiefs are using compulsory labour for their own benefit. It is a difficult situation, and I would like to emphasise that these difficult situations are arising almost every day, and in every conceivable shape and form. Perhaps the trouble may have been due to the fact that new problems do arise every day.
There is every conceivable attitude of mind on these subjects. Many believe, the Folk Loreists believe, that we have done the African wrong in interfering with him at all—that it would have been a better thing for him to have retained his original barbarism, and that the further he kept away from our civilisation the better for him. It is a school with which I have a certain sympathy. I do not know that contact with the white man has particularly benefited the natives. Referring again to compulsion, the first compulsion introduced in the Colony was compulsory peace. That, I believe, has had a curious effect in some cases on the native population, and it may be that their decline can be traced to their having their only occupation and interest in life taken from them. Of course, a return to former conditions might give satisfaction to certain tribes, but whether it would be so satisfactory to other tribes I do not know.
I hope that on this Report we shall finally settle on a definite line of policy, and lay it down. There is a tendency among natives to begin to criticise the white man and white civilisation. The native does not voice it quite in this way, but I have heard it expressed to this effect: If your civilisation is so much better than ours, if your development is so much greater than ours, how is it that you tell us different things all the time? We, at any rate, are agreed upon the fundamental facts of our lives, but you white men apparently cannot agree about 399 anything. You change your policy and ways from year to year, and almost from day to day, and we are very doubtful whether anything can be gained from such people.
I hope that something will be done to make our attitude absolutely definite before this becomes the attitude of mind of the whole native population, because otherwise, when we come to deal with education, we may be confronted with reluctance, or a determination not to accept it at all. There is a strong element of conservatism among the natives, and that is rather the line that native conservatism is inclined to take. I have spent a good deal of time in the country and I am very fond of a great many of the natives. They are charming people, but the greater their association with white people the less charming they are, and I have some doubt as to what is going to be the effect of their association with us. It is also a fact that association with the native has its effect upon the white population, and the white population is extremely inclined to adopt pet tribes.
I feel, however, that I am rather wasting your time with general comments, and I would like to deal, in conclusion, with one point which was rather raised by the noble Lord, and that is the question of squatters, because I am afraid that I am rather inclined to disagree with him. I think there will always be a tendency for squatters to return to their native reserves. In fact, I believe that in practice they all do. So I have been informed, and I really do not see why they should not. They prefer to go back to their own people. There is one tribe in Africa which is an exception, I believe, but at the present there are hardly any of them in Kenya. They are located exclusively in Tanganyika Territory. On this point I cannot certify to my accuracy, but that is my impression, and, of course, if that is the case, I am afraid the policy suggested by the noble Lord would not be a practicable one to carry out. I will not detain your Lordships at this late hour, for, just as I personally believe that the less administration the natives have the better, and the least government is the best government, so I certainly hold that the best speech is the shortest.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, I cannot speak to you with the same information and authority as the noble Lord who has just sat down. He has had the advantage of a residence in the district under discussion, and that knowledge has added no little interest to a speech to which, I believe in common with the rest of your Lordships, I listened with great pleasure. It is to me a matter of some regret when I contemplate the fact that the powers of persuasion of the noble Lord will, I fear, be almost invariably exercised in opposition to my own opinion.
I have intervened at this moment knowing that I am thereby postponing the answer of the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, to which we are all looking forward, for this reason, that I think it is very important that the views that any one desires to express on this occasion should be placed before the Government before they answer. I have no desire whatever to use this subject as a means of sticking pins into the Government. I am profoundly concerned with the question of the government of this Colony. Events have happened, and happened recently, which, I am sure, must have deeply shocked everyone who has been made acquainted with the facts. The noble Lord referred to them as deplorable, and the adjective was in accordance with the generally temperate nature of his speech. I am bound to say I should have felt inclined to use stronger language. But I agree with him entirely that it would be a serious injustice if these acts, some of which are ads of unredeemed brutality, should be regarded as symptomatic of the general conduct of the settlers out there. They obviously are not, and it would be very wrong that the settlers there should think for a moment that any responsible person over here thought that they were.
I know, too, that such acts may not infrequently occur in eases where you have white people in tropical countries dealing with native populations. The acts, regrettable as they were, are not the things which stir me most. The thing which has seriously affected my mind is the fact that when the people who commit these acts are brought before the Courts they are not justly and adequately punished. It does not appear, as it certainly ought, that their conduct is 401 publicly reprobated, and that they are, as they certainly should be, made subject to the severe jurisdiction of the Judge. I know that to speak on a matter like this without some such knowledge as that possessed by the noble Lord who has just sat down is always a difficult thing, but, on the other hand, we have always to recognise that in the end the criticism of our Government elsewhere must depend upon the people at home who can only be informed by reading such reports and information as is to their hand, and who never can, by any chance, as a body have first, hand knowledge of the matter that they discuss.
As I understand, the problem is this. There is an area in Kenya of about 10,000 square miles that is capable of profitable development. There is a population, as the most rev. Primate said, of about 10,000 white settlers, and a large, quite indeterminate body of native people. According to the accepted doctrine of the Courts, the real control of the whole soil lies in the Crown which, in the exercise of its Prerogative, has granted some 7,500 square miles of these fertile areas to the white settlers, and the rest forms part of a reserve, which is allotted to the natives but in which their rights arise under a Royal Proclamation, or a notice in the Gazette, which is capable from time to time of being altered.
If I apprehend rightly the position it is this, that the natives have at the present moment no security whatever in the reserves that they occupy, and no guarantee that further parts of their lands may not from time to time, as it is thought best, be taken away, and allotted to other settlers. I should be very glad to have from the noble Earl who will answer in this matter a definite answer upon that point. I should like to know whether these reserves are permanently allotted to the natives, or whether the Crown reserves, and intends to assert, a right to deal with them as it has dealt with the other land and, if it thinks right, allot them to white settlers. The matter is of very grave importance. The white settlers are undoubtedly the people who are best able to develop and cultivate this land. Nobody would doubt it for an instant, but they are faced with the difficulty that they are unable to cultivate it without the help of labour. They are 402 not settling there, as I understand it, as people settle in Australia, New Zealand or Canada, where people go out and settle with the intention of winning their own way, making their own livelihood with the help of others whom they can get to go with them. They are there for the purpose of developing large tracts of land, which they hope to make profitable by the use of a, large quantity of native labour. The natives are unwilling to work, and I must say I can see no reason why they should. The real difficulty lies in this: You have got two competing schemes of life out there. You have the negligent, indolent native, who will live in his own reserve, and carry on his own life in his own way, and you have this vigorous, civilised development going on next door; and the two things do not agree.
But what I am most anxious to see is that we do not let the native be used for the purpose of the further development of the rich country which the settlers own. In other words, according to my view, we have no right to occupy a country like that and use the native population for the purpose of creating wealth which they do not share. After all, they were there a long while before we were, and how the Crown asserted and obtained the rights of ownership over the whole of the soil is due to a series of legal fictions which is not always easy to follow. There can be, it seems to me, but little doubt that in the past—I am anxious to be assured as to what the policy is in the present—there has been a policy of attempting to put pressure upon the natives to induce them to leave their own reserves, and work for white men. There was a quotation made showing that that was attempted to be accomplished by the imposition of a tax, which they could only pay by coming in and working, and there seem to be other methods of pressure which, in one way or another, are being exercised for this purpose.
I want an assurance from the Government that that pressure is going to cease, that if you can fairly persuade the natives that it is to their interest to come and work they should certainly be subjected to such an influence, but that there should be nothing in the nature of compulsion on native labour to be used for the benefit of white people. It may be 403 that expresses a view which is not in accordance with the views of a large number of your Lordships; but I hold it very strongly. I think we have, in many ways, a completely perverted conception of the use of our Colonial possessions. We are not there, as I understand it, for the purpose of making opportunities for men to go out from here and become rich. We are there for the purpose of securing that the native population is fairly treated, that our own settlers are protected and that the law is administered fairly between all classes.
Those are the real questions upon which I desire to be informed, and that I am not without reason when I say that it looks as though pressure of various kinds were being put upon the natives for the purpose of compelling them to work, I would ask your Lordships to consider a series of figures which are referred to in the book upon Kenya by Dr. Leys, to which the noble Lord, Lord Olivier, has referred. Referring to the native exports of the products of natives in their reserve areas, he says that in 1916 the value of sesame exported was £29,000 and in 1922 it was £1,200; that the value of hides in 1916 was £63,000 and in 1922, £3,000. I understand, of course, that 1916 was a War year and I readily believe that may be one of the factors which caused the difference; but it is not the only factor. It is said that export duties have been put upon the goods, that railway rates have been increased and that difficulties have been placed in the way of these people raising and marketing their crops, thus causing that astounding deficiency, the result of which must be that, by the pressure of economic circumstances, these men may be compelled to leave the cultivation of their own land and go to cultivate the land of others.
It has often been said that commerce follows the Flag. It is one of those phrases that are capable of many meanings. In one meaning it represents a fine ideal and in another I think it represents a very bad one. If, by commerce following the Flag, is meant that wherever the Flag flies people are secure of justice, law is fairly administered and the word of a trader can be accepted even if pledged to the meanest native, that ignorance is not exploited and weakness is not oppressed, then wherever the Flag flies commerce should follow it. But if, 404 by commerce following the Flag, is meant that wherever the Flag is flown there is an opportunity offered for the secure exploitation of the riches of the country at the expense of the people who were the original native occupants, then whatever you may do to advance the wealth of this nation, I say that is a deplorable falling away from the standard that we have set up.
I have had some reason in the last ten years to become intimately acquainted with the administration of Indian laws and I say without hesitation that any person who has examined those laws at all closely must be immensely impressed with the fact that whatever mistakes we have made, whatever blunders we have committed, whatever wrong we have done, the fundamental principle which has governed our administration of India has been a desire to protect the very poorest native and to secure him against oppression by his richer and more powerful neighbours. I want to be sure that the same principle is being applied elsewhere. Things have happened in Kenya that could never have happened in India and, to my knowledge, have not happened in any other Colony under our power. I want to be assured by the Government that these things shall not happen again and that we intend to discharge faithfully to the native population the solemn duties we have undertaken on their behalf.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE EARL OF BALFOUR)
My Lords, I think everybody must sympathise with the spirit which has animated the concluding observations of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster. He has touched upon the issues before us in the broader sense and upon those larger issues about which I hope your Lordships will allow me to say a few words before I sit down. I mean the larger issues raised by the noble and learned Lord and by the most rev. Primate, who made such an admirable contribution to our debate this afternoon. Before I do so I had better make a brief reply to certain specific questions put to me by the noble Lord who initiated this debate. He complained, for example—I shall not go into details in dealing with it—of the incidence of the Hut Tax. I understand that this subject and a modification of the existing system is under the con- 405 sideration of the Colonial Government and is being tried. I have no doubt myself that the experiment will throw a fresh light upon this question of the proper, the most humane, the most just and the most convenient method of taxing the population.
A more important question is, perhaps, that which the noble Lord raised and which has been referred to, I think, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster—the question of the uncertainty which is alleged to have been thrown upon the position of the native occupier, the native reserves, by a legal decision given in the Courts of law. That legal decision I have not the slightest doubt was technically perfectly sound in law. But it was not a decision, I need hardly say, intended to be carried out at all by the Executive Government. It showed what the Executive Government under the law could do. It never suggested that that was what the Executive Government under the law should do. Nor have the Executive ever contemplated the possibility of treating the natives, the native reserves, in this Colony or in any Colony or Dependency as if the natives had no rights except those which were graciously thrown to them by the Administration acting in the name of the Crown. Legally I have no doubt that the Crown is the technical owner of these lands, but never have the natives been treated as though they were mere accidental and passing squatters on these lands, and their rights, their moral rights have always been recognised. And if there is any uncertainty in the delimitations—I think my noble friend referred to this point in what he said just now—of the native reserves, or in the rights of the natives to inhabit the reserves, that uncertainty is in process of being put an end to. The Government are perfectly clear that there should be no uncertainty as regards the status and rights of the natives, and not only should that be the actual rule of their practice but the character of that rule should be understood by all whom ft concerns, whether native or European, whether at home or in the Colony itself. I hope that declaration will be satisfactory to the noble Lord opposite.
Then I come to the question of compulsory labour. The whole principle on which compulsory labour is exacted, or 406 may be exacted, in the Colony has been the subject of the most careful consideration. I am not sure that the most rev. Primate was not himself concerned, or consulted, with regard to the policy laid down in a Despatch by Mr. Winston Churchill, when he was Secretary for the Colonies, which governs our proceedings upon these points. The matter was then gone into from every point of view, and I believe it was at that time conceded by those who look at Colonial problems from the native point of view as well as those who look at them from other points of view, that in case of public necessity compulsory labour should be exacted. But remember what the limitations placed upon that proceeding were. In the first place, there had to be public necessity. In the second place, the number of days of compulsory labour which any individual could be required to perform was fixed. There was no room for arbitrary tyranny. In the third place, for all important cases, practically the Secretary of State had to be consulted as to whether it was a proper case for exercising compulsory labour.
Without going through all the limitations, I may say that they were of a kind which I think did make it impossible to do anything which could be described as acting harshly towards the native population. When it is suggested that this would take away the native from carrying on his own industry in the native reserve, and would prevent him cultivating the land on which he and his family depended, let it be remembered that it was the non-workers who were called upon from the reserves to carry out public work on which, as I shall have occasion to remind your Lordships in a moment with more emphasis the prosperity not of the white population alone but of the whole population, native and white, of the Colony essentially depends. These people are not called compulsorily from their work; they are not called from their work at all. They are called compulsorily from their reserves, but they are not called from their reserves in order to carry out, by coloured labour, works which are intended for the white man's profit; they are called from their reserves to carry out work which is for the benefit of the whole community, and the necessity of which must be judged from the point of view of the whole community, whether it be native or European. I think the noble Lord who 407 initiated this discussion was under the impression that 4,000 men had been commandeered to carry out—
§ LORD OLIVIER
I did not say so. I said the Secretary of State had given authority for 4,000 men, and I wanted to have the correspondence showing the reasons why he had done so.
§ THE EARL OF BALFOUR
I believe the noble Lord is correct in saying the Secretary of State has acquiesced in the number of 4,000 men being commandeered, but what is important, after all, is not how many were authorised but how many were commandeered, and if the noble Lord would look at the figures he would find that on this all-important railway work—important to all concerned, no doubt more important for the native producer served by the railway than for anybody else, but all-important for all—instead of 4,000 men being called out, I think the number was somewhere about 1,600, that the work done by the men commandeered for the sixty days from the native reserve was only a very small part of the whole, and that those called out from the reserve were only a very small proportion of those who were actually doing the work of making the railway.
The noble Lord raised the point that if a native had contracted with a white employer and broken his contract he should not be subject to police action, but should be left to a civil remedy. Unquestionably that is the idea which should be aimed at. Whether it is administratively possible to introduce it completely at the present time may be, and probably is, doubtful, but as soon as the natives really understand the position and the legal distinctions on which this criticism depends, I am sure there will be no difficulty in substituting "civil" for "police" action. There must be some kind of remedy for the employer. That surely is obvious. He enters into a contract to provide wages, medical assistance, and so on, for the natives whom he proposes to employ, and he makes all his industrial arrangements on the hypothesis that those natives are going to co-operate with him in the work of production. I cannot doubt that it is for the general interest that the native should understand that when such contracts are entered into they should unquestionably be carried out.
408 I think the only other point raised by the noble Lord was with regard to the ease of Lord Delamere. He was one of the earliest settlers who obeyed an invitation of the officers of the British Government and took an interest in pioneer work in what is now Kenya Colony. He was not a land speculator. He was a man who intended to devote, and did devote, great ability, great capital, great energy and great enterprise to the furtherance of the agricultural and pastoral development of the Colony wherein he had thrown his lot. I cannot imagine a worse precedent than making an attack upon enterprise of that description. He did not buy in order to let his land lie undeveloped and untouched, while others around him raised the value of that land by their labour, enterprise and capital. He was a man whose enterprise raised the value of the land, and whose capital was devoted to the purposes of the whole Colony. In my opinion, the Colony is greatly indebted to men who, like him, have carried out work such as he has been carrying out. But there need be no secrecy upon this question. The Government are quite prepared to lay the whole correspondence with regard to Lord Delamere's enterprise on the Table Of the House if the noble Lord opposite desires it.
He gave, as I understood it, a completely erroneous account of the transaction by which Lord Delamere extended, not the value of the new acreage which he obtained, but the number of acres. What he did, I understand, was to obtain land in a district suited for pastoral but not for agricultural work, far from a railway, far from a native reserve, in exchange for land nearer a railway, more suited for settlers, more suited for farms, more suited in other ways for small holdings. It is stated somewhere in the Report, as a matter of common knowledge, that if you are to cultivate great pastoral areas for the wool trade the holding must be large. Lord Delamere, who was engaged on these large pastoral transactions, exchanged land less suitable but more valuable and nearer the railway for land more suitable. I should have thought that in so doing he was performing a public service; but as the correspondence will be laid I have no doubt these points will become clearer. The noble Lord who introduced the subject asked for correspondence on certain 409 points. We are perfectly prepared to lay the correspondence with regard to compulsory recruitment of labour. We are perfectly prepared to lay the correspondence with regard to a return of the land grants of over 5,000 acres, and we are quite prepared to lay Papers on the exchange of land by Lord Delamere to which I have already referred. I hope the information thus conveyed to the noble Lord opposite will be found to meet his legitimate demands.
Now I turn from these questions. I will not call them questions of detail, but they are questions which do not touch the vast problem which the most rev. Primate brought before us in the course of his speech, and which was also touched upon by the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down arid by my noble friend behind me. Where I think we are apt to go wrong in these matters is in looking at the problem before us, either from the native side or from the white man's side or from some other angle, and not sufficiently to remember that if we have a right to go and colonise these places at all, everybody within the limits of the Colony has the same interest. My noble friend Lord Howard de Walden, in a parenthesis, admitted that in certain moments he was prepared to doubt whether the native population had not better be left in their native barbarism than go through the stage of contact with the white man, education by the white man, with all its attendant benefits and, let us fairly admit, with its attendant dangers and evils. He was prepared to doubt that. I am not going to argue it; it would be folly to argue it. We are committed to the policy. We believe in it. Whether we have been assailed by such doubts as those which have troubled the peace of Lord Howard de Walden—we may all of us in turn feel that, however much benefit we do to the natives, we do certainly inflict some penalties upon them, and I am far from wishing to dogmatise on that fundamental issue—we must all assume that our mission, which we have deliberately undertaken, is that of benefiting the natives by civilising the country in which they live and by making them sharers in that civilisation.
On that hypothesis it really is a profound mistake to be always considering whether the particular benefit you do 410 to the community as a whole does more good to the white than to the native, or more good to the native than to the white man. I do not say that that consideration must be banished, but I do say that it is not a fundamental consideration. Take the case of the railways and the roads. The noble Lord opposite said you ought to spend more money on the roads which join the native reserves than on the railway so that the native inhabitants of these reserves may be able to market their goods. Perfectly true. You ought to have roads when there is a great want of roads. But what is the use of having roads unless you have a railway? And who is to pay for the railway? Who is to build the railway? Who is to design the railway? All that is the work of the white settler and the Government of the country to whom the white settler belongs. You cannot distinguish the importance of roads to a native settlement from the railway which has to be connected by that road to the native settlement. They all hang together.
When it is said that you are compelling the natives to serve on the railway, if the natives are to have any market for their produce, if our lessons in agriculture are to be of benefit to them, if they are to learn how to cultivate their reserves and obtain, as I hope they will, a marketable surplus produce, all these things would be absolutely useless unless you give them the railway by your capital, by your knowledge, by your enterprise, by your designing and by your invention, all the slowly built up instruments of commercial civilisation which are the common property of civilised man, which they have in their turn to give to the native and which, surely, they have a right to ask the native to help them in conferring upon the community at large. These things are so interconnected that if any man will take the trouble to think what it is that is required to carry out our great mission in these Colonies, it does not matter where he begins he will go round the same circle.
What you want is native welfare. If you want to have native welfare, you must use European methods. If you want to use European methods, you must get a certain European population, you must get European capital, and you must introduce methods of increasing productivity which are a European possession 411 and which have to be introduced from Europe into the Colony. If you want to do that, you must get settlers with capital. And if you want to do that, you must give these settlers reasonable security for themselves, for their profits and for their capital, If you want to do that, you must have transport, and if you want to have transport you must have a large expenditure upon public works. You cannot have a large expenditure on public works without having a population on which you can draw for carrying out these public works, and the question of population is fundamental, as the most rev. Primate has said, to the whole of your policy. I do not think you can secure that population without calling in science to your aid to a degree which it has never yet been called in up to the present time. It does not matter where you begin in that circle; you always come round to the proposition that native welfare requires the introduction of civilised arts and sciences by natives of Europe, and that you cannot get that done unless you will do something not only for the natives but for the white settlers, and not only for the white settlers but for the natives. Their interests are so inextricably intertwined that it really leads you into a totally wrong perspective if you are always asking yourselves if a particular expenditure is going to benefit the white man more than the native, or the native more than the white man. The broader outlook is really a necessary outlook.
Whenever I hear the word "exploitation" used, as it was used by the noble Lord who has just sat down, I always listen with a certain amount of suspicion. You say "exploitation" when you want to be disagreeable to those who are developing any country or industry; you always say "enterprise" when you want to be kind or favourable to those who are carrying on industrial development. Of course, all these things can be well done or ill done. They can all be done with a view not merely to the narrowest selfish interest but with an eye to the general good of the community of which the industrialist is a member. But I am not aware that, unless in exceptional circumstances, that very unfavourable word "exploitation" should be used of tile settlers in this Colony. So far as I am aware, they have been enterprising, 412 patriotic, honest and humane, and, though I do not doubt for a moment that there have been exceptions—how could it be otherwise?—I believe, broadly speaking, that they deserve the eulogy which this admirable Report in one of its passages passed upon them as a whole.
In conformity with this general principle that you cannot divide, and ought not to divide, too meticulously the interests of one class from the interests of another in these Colonies, I should like to press upon the House one of the lessons that I think is taught by this Report. I am sure that everybody interested in the subject has read the chapter upon research referred to by the most rev. Primate and, I have no doubt, studied by several of your Lordships. Is it not clear from a study of this document—an epoch-making document, I think, in many respects—that what we want is some machinery by which the larger problems which we now see are presented to us by this vast area in East Africa, and other problems from other parts of our Empire, may be more conveniently considered in their entirety? That, at all events, is the view of His Majesty's Government. A quarter of a century ago, or thereabouts, an experiment was made in dealing with matters of great general importance which transcended the ordinary limits of Departmental action, and in the Committee of Imperial Defence a device was found by which the administration of Departments should be maintained in its integrity and yet some means might be found by which the Government of the day could become seized of the bigger problems, very often overflowing from one Department into another, which were not merely of national but of Imperial interest.
His Majesty's Government are of opinion that some institution bearing some resemblance to the Committee of Imperial Defence might be set up for dealing with the purely civilian problems which are becoming more and more insistent in connection with Imperial development. It is necessary that such a body, if we succeed, as I do not doubt that we shall succeed, in creating it, should be like the Committee of Imperial Defence in that it could perform no executive action of itself. Like the Committee of Imperial Defence, it will be the direct creation of the Prime Minister, 413 no doubt acting with his colleagues; it will advise the Cabinet, it will provide machinery for examining problems with which there is at present no Departmental method of dealing, and, having examined them and having formed an opinion, of course in full harmony with the responsible Government of the day, the Cabinet will then have to decide upon the applicability of its recommendations to the necessities of the case and the practical possibilities of carrying them out. I believe that such a machinery could be created and I believe that nothing short of a machinery of that kind will enable us to deal with the tremendous problems of East Africa.
Those problems are very largely new problems. The problem of making a railway is now an old and familiar problem. Railways and roads we know all about. It is a question of finance and engineering, and of nothing more. But there are vast questions connected with East Africa—the tsetse fly is one of them—which do require to be taken in hand in a wider spirit and with a greater amount of scientific apparatus than we can at present find in an organised shape at our disposal. I do not know whether anybody has referred in this debate, except incidentally, to the tsetse fly problem. Indeed, it is not a problem which affects Kenya Colony nearly so much as many others with which we have to deal. But when you remember the terrible scourge it is to human beings, when you remember that it actually depopulates whole areas and makes transport by cattle or by horses wholly impossible over great distances, when you remember that East Africa depends entirely, as this Report clearly shows, upon its immense agricultural resources, and when you remember that the tsetse fly can destroy those resources on their human side and on their animal side, you are face to face with a peril greater than that of any foreign foe, involving issues of pain, death, poverty and destruction for which you really have to go back to the years of the Black Death to find a parallel.
In those circumstances we feel it to be absolutely necessary that we should endeavour to find a machinery adequate in its scope and in its character to deal with an evil of this prodigious magnitude. 414 I hope that this is no barren scheme merely drawn up on paper—an imaginative dream—but that it will be really fraught with consequences of a most productive, character. I hope it will not be supposed that my attack on the tsetse fly is to be limited to the medical side of the question. I hope that both the anthropological and ethnological questions which touch the problem at so many points will come under the consideration of the body which is going, I hope, to be effective in the near future. Let the House realise that one immense advantage which I think it will have is that it will prevent a certain isolation, which is apt to separate one Colony or one Dependency from another, even though they may be in the same climate and within the same lines of latitude, and, on the whole, with populations very nearly allied. The distances are so great, and the means of communication so indifferent, that what one Colony or Dependency does may remain concealed from, and unknown to, another Colony or Dependency. I could give a striking case of that, but I do not want to weary your Lordships with it and I am sure that the noble, Lord will accept it as the fact.
I am sure that such a body as I have adumbrated on behalf of the Government will have an immense use in being a clearing house of information as well as an instrument for acquiring new knowledge, and in those circumstances, although I admit I have travelled rather beyond the actual terms of the Motion, I hope the House will think that I have not wasted time in trying to indicate not merely the spirit in which the Government approached the problems so ably and fully dealt with by previous speakers, but in showing that we hope to provide machinery by which some of the most difficult of those problems may be dealt with. I believe I shall have the sympathy of noble Lords on the other side of the House, because I understand they entertained a problem of this kind while they were still in office, and I am sure that there is at least one noble Lord on that Bench, who is not now present, who views with great sympathy the suggestions that have laid before your Lordships. In the meanwhile, I trust that the particular object of this debate will have been satisfied by my promising to lay Papers, in obedience to the request of the noble Lord opposite.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I would like to raise one point in connection with what was said by the noble Earl. Twenty-five years ago very similar attacks were made upon the settlers in Rhodesia to those which are now made upon the settlers in Kenya. I was invited, owing to my interest in native affairs, to go out to Rhodesia at that period, and I investigated, as far as I could, the whole question of how natives should be taxed, and how natives should be induced to work for their own benefit and for the common benefit and progress of the area in which they lived. I came to the conclusion then that there was only one way open to the Government, and that way, I believe, is open to the Government to-day. It is that the, Minister who is responsible at home should insist upon properly chosen Native Commissioners, who should go out into the native areas and see, wherever natives are employed, that they are employed under regulations approved by the Home Government. I believe that in this way abuses which have existed in the Kenya Colony could have been prevented and might be obviated in the future, and make that suggestion to His Majesty's Government.
§ LORD OLIVIER
My Lords, I am sure the whole House, and the members of my Party on this Bench, have heard with satisfaction the scheme which the noble Earl has adumbrated for putting upon a living and working basis what I believe is an idea of Imperial interest. In the meantime, I wish the scheme of the Government well, and hope that the plant will be soon planted, and will begin to flourish on the lines which the Report shows to be so necessary. There are some matters which arise in this Report which might engage the continuous attention of the two Committees which were set up by the late Government, under the Chairmanship respectively of Lord Southborough and Lord Islington. I do not know what is the state of vitality of those Committees, but I hope that they will soon find something to do on this Report.
There are one or two points in the speech of the noble Earl as to which I should like to put on record a slight correction. First of all, he said that the extraordinary position of the land law declared by the Law Courts was not 416 intended to be operated upon. The trouble has been that it was operated upon and used as a means of dispossessing, without any possible remedy, tribal areas. If there had been in native law anything that could be enforced in the Courts the Government would not have had freedom to do what they did do in regard to the treatment of particular tribes. In this connection the Commissioners say:—The treatment of the Giriama tribe was very bad. This tribe was moved backwards and forwards so as to secure for the Crown areas which could be granted to Europeans. … In addition to this, the whole country suffered from the loss of the Giriama maize.The aim was not only to provide land for Europeans, but also intentionally to destroy the native production so that the natives might be forced to work for the Europeans. They could not have done that if there had been any native law of property enforceable by the Courts. The process of setting up a proper system of law, which Lord Buckmaster said was so necessary, has been deferred in order to give the Government power to move these unfortunate tribes about and make room for Europeans. That fact made possible the curious transactions to which I called attention, and Mr. Chamberlain has called attention—namely, the adding of 80,000 acres to Lord Delamere's 100,000 acres in the Rift Valley. That is an example of the fact that the Government did make use of that absence of law to treat the natives in a very questionable manner.
There is another point upon which I want to explain to the noble Earl that I am not quite such a simpleton as he seems to suggest. He says: What is the use of roads without railways? I never said a word in condemnation of railway policy, but for natives in such a country as that of Kavirondo roads are of very great use without a railway. There may be considerable native markets in towns, and again and again in Colonies where there has been no railway at all the making of roads has added enormously to the resources of the population. They have been constantly clamoured for, and the Giriama tribe which used to send maize to the coast, if they had been provided with roads, could have increased their export trade. But they were hunted about from pillar to post in order to destroy their export trade and thus put 417 pressure upon them to work for the settlers. And the compulsion that I have spoken about is not so much compulsion to work on Government works, but it is the constant compulsion of policy, of taxation, and of Government neglect of the natives, in order to force them into the labour market. That is the gravamen of the case which I have raised. I would add that, as regards these matters of policy, I am very glad that the noble Earl, who has courteously met all the requests I made, spoke kindly, as the Report has spoken kindly, and as I myself, I hope, spoke kindly and justly, of the settlers. I shall not object to any amount of eulogy of the settlers, or of Lord Delamere, or any one else, providing that the sympathies which are not obscurely indicated in the Report and in the noble Earl's speech materialise, and are carried out in the Government's policy. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (TEE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
I think, perhaps, the noble Lord is well advised to withdraw, because the Papers the Government have are not precisely those for which he moved.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.