HL Deb 13 March 1929 vol 73 cc458-503

My Lords, I rise to call attention to the Report of the Commission on Closer Union of the Dependencies in Eastern and Central Africa, which has recently been presented to Parliament. How complex are the problems with which the Commission has had to deal has been shown by many debates in the other House, and by continual Questions. The controversy regarding the British Indian subjects in Kenya has affected Indian feeling very deeply. Two Viceroys have made pronouncements of great gravity in regard to it, and the Imperial Conference of 1921 passed a Resolution on the subject. In the last four years there have been issued two State Papers in the form of Memoranda announcing the considered opinion of His Majesty's Government on the conditions in Kenya, and two special Commissions have actually visited the country.

No doubt, in considering a matter of such complexity, there will be a diversity of opinion in regard to many of the conclusions arrived at. Indeed, we find that the Commission itself has not been able to present an entirely unanimous Report on certain aspects of the question, but I think that those of your Lordships who have found time to study this Report will have arrived at no other conclusion than that it is an honest, sincere, and impartial attempt to state the facts as they are, and to propose solutions in accordance with the principles which have guided His Majesty's Government in dealing with these overseas Dependencies. Its especial importance lies in the fact that the principal issues involved extend far beyond any single Dependency or group of Dependencies, and the conclusions which are submitted for the consideration of His Majesty's Government affect profoundly the whole system of internal administration and in some degree the method of control and supervision which is exercised by the Colonial Office and by the British Parliament over these non-self-governing Dependencies. The issues dealt with in this Report, therefore, are of Imperial magnitude and not a mere controversy as to the relations of the inhabitants of a particular Colony.

The area of the British Dependencies in tropical and sub-tropical Africa alone, excluding of course the Union of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, is about 3,000,000 square miles, about the same as the United States of America and more than two and a half times the size of British India. The Dependencies dealt with in this Report cover between a half and a third of this area and include a population of about 12,750,000. During the nineteenth century the interest and imagination of the British people were directed almost exclusively to the problems of the self-governing Dominions. The non-self-governing Dependencies, with the exception of India, have remained practically unrepresented at Imperial Conferences, and the voice of the Colonies and Protectorates and Mandated Territories was not heard in the Councils of the Empire until the present Secretary of State, to whom perhaps the Empire overseas owes more than to any of his predecessors, called together a Conference of Governors in 1927.

Since the beginning of the century, however, their political growth no less than their economic development has been very rapid. It is not surprising, therefore, that public interest should in the twentieth century pass in some measure from the Dominions with whose governance the British Parliament has now nothing whatever to do, to the half-hundred separate Governments scattered all over the world for whom this country has accepted so great a responsibility and on which our trade so largely depends. To all these Dependencies the system known as Crown Colony government has been applied, a system which originated in the days when they consisted either of small islands or of trading depôts on the mainlands of Asia, West Africa and America, and the chief concern of Parliament was to provide for the control of British adventurers and the promotion of trade, with little thought for the so-called aborigines.

Naturally the first concern of the East African Commission, whose terms of reference were specially directed towards the form of government, was to determine how far this system was suitable to the conditions of Protectorates varying from three to more than six times the size of England and Wales, and more especially to the conditions of those "mixed States," as they are called in the Report, in parts of which Europeans had established permanent settlements. The problem of the relations of comparatively small white communities in the Tropics to greatly preponderant black populations rapidly acquiring self-consciousness is one which is concerned with the future perhaps more than the immediate present, and no policy would be worthy of the name which did not take into account the probable development of present day tendencies and forecast the conditions which are likely to arise in the future. With this object in view the Commission has made a careful study of the relations between non-natives and natives in matters concerning land, economic development, taxation, education, labour, and, more especially, regarding administrative and political institutions.

As a result they arrive at conclusions and formulate principles of Empire-wide importance, transcending the particular controversies of this or that African Protectorate. If there is no settled policy in regard to them, if they are allowed to drift, as they have been allowed to drift elsewhere, they will assuredly lead to grave consequences and possible disaster in the future. The importance of this Report lies in its endeavour to indicate a policy which can be accepted by all Parties in the State, and continuously and consistently put into effect. Just as Lord Durham's Report on Canada one hundred years ago has guided British policy in the development of Dominion status, so I think there will be found in this Report some suggestions which will give a new orientation to British policy in regard to the non-self-governing Dominions, more especially those in which the bulk of the population consists of backward races which, in the words of the Covenant of the League of Nations, will be "unable to stand alone in the strenuous conditions of the modern world" within any time now visible on the horizon.

It is to these larger issues that I desire particularly to invite attention. Since they affect the welfare of many millions they merit earnest consideration. Indeed, the question of the relations between the white and black races is perhaps second to no other which this century is called upon to solve. All those who have devoted thought to the present conditions in India and in South Africa must have felt how many of the difficulties with which the Empire is confronted in those countries might have been avoided by the exhibition of greater foresight in the past. In Africa there are empires in the making. We have there a new opportunity. It stands second in importance only to the issues which are now being dealt with by the Simon Commission in India, and I submit to your Lordships that the well-considered procedure to be adopted on the presentation of the Report of that Commission should serve as a model in this—that, as in that case, the proposals of the Government should be submitted to a Joint Committee of all Parties in both Houses, and that a delegation representative of every section of opinion in Africa should attend the Committee and fully and frankly develop their views and their difficulties, and cooperate in finding a solution in an atmosphere of good will and calm deliberation.

Such a method, which, if I recollect aright, was described by the Secretary of State for India as "a function more important even than the Commission itself," seems to me more likely to produce useful results than separate discussions in London and in Africa, or the despatch of a high official as yet a third Commission—proposals which appear at present to be in contemplation. No one would suppose that a Joint Committee of the two Houses would find a royal road out of the difficulties but it would provide an unrivalled means of hearing the views of the African communities and of the Colonial Office, with the Commissioners' recommendations as a basis for discussion.

The chief issue, as I have said, which calls for a verdict, is whether the accepted form of Crown Colony government is suitable to these vast African Dependencies. Perhaps the most salient feature of that system is the Legislative Council, in which by progres- sive stages the unofficial representation becomes an elected majority and culminates in some form of responsible government. But His Majesty's Government, in the State Paper of 1923, recorded their opinion that this ultimate objective was "out of the question within any period of time which need now be considered" in Eastern Africa. The Commission emphatically endorse this view. They base this conclusion on the fact that in a mixed state like Kenya, where the electorate is predominantly European, so-called representative government would mean the political control by a small white community of the rights and interests of two and a half million natives—in other words, an oligarchy in the guise of a democracy in which a small section, composed chiefly of employers whose interests cannot be always identical with those of other races, would be judge in its own cause.

On the other hand, they point out that if political power were vested in a local electorate the claim of the natives to a share in the government cannot be permanently resisted. It is probable that within a couple of decades there will be several thousand educated natives, and the demand will be made that their representation shall bear some relation to their numbers. Political power might pass to the native population, an eventuality which would almost certainly result in racial strife. Expediency, therefore, reinforces the claims of justice. It is a question of vital interest to the next and succeeding generations, in which it is essential that the settlers in their own interests should not form a hasty judgment. Moreover, whatever system is set up in Kenya must eventually be extended to Tanganyika, where some two-thirds of the unofficial European community are non-British.

But the question in my view has a wider significance than the relations between European settlers in Kenya or Tanganyika and the African population. If Parliamentary institutions are unsuited to a mixed State with an overwhelming native majority, they are no less unsuited to African tradition and mentality elsewhere. They have never been evolved by any coloured race, and the Commissioners question whether African society can ever become adapted to them in the form in which they are familiar to us—a view endorsed both by the present Colonial Secretary and by Mr. Churchill when he held the same office, and indeed by the settlers themselves. In their place "the idea is suggested of parallel rather than fused or identical political development for natives and non-natives," with the Imperial Government acting as impartial arbiter in case of any conflict of interests. It will, they consider, be of advantage to both races to develop along separate lines, British and native respectively, and for this the maximum measure of political segregation is desirable. In my judgment it is by such methods that the desire of His Majesty's Government will be fulfilled—namely, "to find a means by which the complementary development of native and non-native communities can best be progressively applied in the political as well as in the economic sphere." I shall presently have a word to add on that proposal.

This, then, is the first problem which the Commission sets itself to solve—namely, in what way should the existing system of Crown Colony government be changed in these large African Dependencies so that the Imperial Government may retain sufficient control to enable it to fulfil its obligations of trusteeship for the native interests, while utilising to the full the political experience and capacity of the European immigrants; and, on the other hand, by what methods are powers of self-government and self-expression to be delegated to the natives pari passu with their advance in civilisation and education and in material conditions, which it is the declared object of His Majesty's Government to promote: a desire equally endorsed by the settlers.

As to the first point, the maintenance of Imperial control and responsibility. The Commissioners show that this control has not been effective in the past. Downing Street is too distant and out of touch with local feeling. In the ten years prior to 1925, eight Secretaries of State have held office. They propose, therefore, the creation of a central authority on the spot, a High Commissioner or Governor-General, who would hold the scales of justice even between the different races, co-ordinate certain services of common interest, and adapt and carry out a policy on clearly defined principles continuously and without vacillation. He would, of course, be responsible to the Secretary of State, to whom he would submit for presentation to Parliament an annual Report of the progress made in the application of this policy.

Whether or not the creation of such a local authority is the best means of arriving at the object in view is open to discussion, but time does not permit me, nor is this the occasion, to comment in detail upon the scheme proposed for East Africa. That is a task more appropriate to a body differently constituted from your Lordships' House, but, in the interests not only of East Africa but of the Empire, it is all-important that the decisions reached should include the cardinal principles of policy from which the Imperial Government will not swerve in the administration of these great African Protectorates, whatever Party may be in office, and not merely the machinery by which it is sought to give effect to them in East Africa. As regards the latter, my personal view has always been that the only solution that offers a prospect of permanency and an opportunity for the political and social development of both races in accordance with their own traditions is the creation of a separate white settlement which eventually might become autonomous, the remainder of the territory being administered separately on the analogy of the South African Protectorates. This proposal, however, is not under discussion.

The second problem is how—in the words of the terms of reference— to create machinery whereby native self-government, at first purely local and later over larger areas, can be developed. On the right solution of this question success, in my judgment, will largely depend, as the natives grow more self-conscious and better educated. The Commissioners propose that every opportunity should be taken to create homogeneous units of self-government, both native and non-native. In the former case these units would start from the village or tribal associations and gradually be built up into larger associations with their own courts by a process of unforced coalescence and continuous evolution on native lines, to which some share of financial responsibility would be entrusted as a matter of primary importance in political education. In mixed States such a measure of segregation is proposed as will facilitate the creation of non-native and native areas of sufficient size to become units of self-government in which each race can exercise responsibility without the complicating presence of the other.

It may at first sight seem as though the adoption of a system of parallel forms of government would lead to the same dilemma as that which we witness in India to-day. In British India the direct rule of the British administrator has ousted the authority of the native Rulers and their place is now taken by the professional politician, while the Native States have been governed under a system based on Oriental autocracy by Rulers who have little sympathy with the native politician. The Commission's suggestion, however, is in complete contrast to the Indian precedent. The proposed homogeneous units of natives and non-natives would be of different races, each adopting a form of government consonant with its own traditions. Both would be subject to Imperial control and, for the most part, the same laws would apply to both. Both would be represented on the proposed Advisory Council of the Governor-General and each, while managing its own domestic affairs, would be taught to look to an ever-closer association in the direction of the common interests of government. Native participation in the general government will gradually develop from informal durbars to periodical discussions with local advisory bodies. Their representatives will be their traditional leaders, and not those who have detached themselves from tribal traditions and acquired a superficial civilisation and some knowledge of English.

The Commissioners look forward eventually to— the establishment of a Central Council with power to legislate only regarding services of common interest—namely, communications, customs, defence and research— with the necessary financial authority. There would be an official majority and the Council would act as an advisory body for general purposes. Native interests would be adequately represented. Your Lordships may think it premature to attempt a forecast of such distant developments, but though, as the Commissioners observe, "it would be folly to attempt to settle or even to forecast a final Constitution," I submit that it is of essential importance to visualise the objective, however much the methods of approach and even the precise form of the objective itself may be modified by new conditions and circumstances. It is just this attempt to frame a policy with a definite goal instead of adopting a series of makeshifts and of palliatives to meet immediate difficulties which, to my mind, marks the distinction between the statesman and the politician. Much will depend upon inquiries still to be made, and still more will depend upon the personality of the Governor-General if one is appointed; but, looking to the many methods of co-operation between the races which are suggested in the Report, combined with the freedom of each to follow its own traditions, it may reasonably be hoped that, with the maintenance of effective Imperial control as an impartial arbiter, the different races will settle down together without fear of a struggle for domination.

In the past this country has shown itself pre-eminently capable in dealing with subject races so long as they remain in a state of tutelage in which the qualities of the British district officer, his sympathy, his sense of fair play, and his genius for control have full scope, and the same may be said of the British settlers and employers in Africa. But I think it must be admitted that we have not shown an equal ability to take account of the natural results of the educational and economic forces which we have set in motion, and we have been taken by surprise when the wards have approached maturity and shown a desire to cast off leading-strings. It has then been too late to do otherwise than to give way to the local politician, educated in a system of government which depends for its success upon a willingness to accept a compromise and to abide by the decision of a majority vote, a system ill-adapted to countries where the overwhelming majority is not only illiterate but divided by race, religion and language and whose traditions are wholly opposed to government by elected representatives.

It is, as it seems to me, the chief merit of this Report that it boldly faces the issue now, when we stand on the threshold of new developments in Africa. It says:— The manner in which the problems of East and Central Africa are dealt with may influence the whole future development of the British Empire. I would go further and say that they will have their reactions in the relations between the white and coloured races throughout the world.

I have spoken thus far of proposals which involve radical changes in the system of administration and the relations of the Colonial Office with the Dependencies, and not with East Africa alone. I ask your Lordships' tolerance for a brief comment on the more local aspect of the questions on which the Commissioners were charged to report. The solutions which they propose, however, depend in the first instance on the acceptance of the broader principles to which I have referred. In the three territories between which some measure of closer union is proposed the status and condition of the African population vary greatly. In Kenya the tribes are backward and primitive, for the most part without leaders of any influence, but most of them intelligent and eager for education. As inhabitants of a Colony they have the status of British subjects—a status not enjoyed by the more advanced and civilised people of Uganda. In that Protectorate you find a people self-reliant and vocal, with a form of native government, confirmed by a Treaty which we are pledged to respect. They fear any close association with Kenya. Tanganyika is held under Mandate, and great progress has been made in recent years in native self-government.

Echoes have reached us from abroad of suspicions that there may lurk in these proposals some sinister design of annexation of mandated territory. Should this view be discussed by the Mandates Commission, of which I am privileged to be a member, we shall each of us endeavour to divest ourselves of any national bias, and to approach the matter with open minds. Speaking here as a private individual I may say that it seems to me that so long as each territory preserves a separate entity, making its own laws under its own Governor, as is proposed in this Report, the main effect of these proposals is to extend the principles of the Mandate system—in accordance with the Declaration made by His Majesty's Government in the White Paper of 1923—to the whole of the group of East African Dependencies. Nor, indeed, is closer union between them possible, unless the fundamental principles of policy are identical. The only assumption is the permanency of the Mandate, and this I take it is implicit in the Treaty of Versailles and is not called in question.

For the rest, the essential "servitudes" (if I may be allowed the expression) imposed upon the Mandatory Power as a Treaty obligation, and as a condition of the assignment of the Mandate, are that it shall conform to a code of principles set out in the Mandate, whether consonant with its general Colonial policy or not, and that it shall submit an annual Report on its administration to a critical and impartial body in Geneva. The Commission asks that His Majesty's Government shall similarly lay down the principles which shall henceforth govern its policy in East Africa, and that an annual Report shall be submitted to Parliament as to the progress made in their application.

The presence of European residents in all five territories results in complicated problems in regard to native labour, on which all depend, the alienation of land, the incidence of taxation, the question of immigration, and the participation of the natives in local self-government, on all of which clear decisions are required, which Parliament alone is competent to give. The first thing, no doubt, which struck your Lordships in looking at the Report was that it is not completely unanimous. But it is important to note that, as I understand, the Chairman's signature endorses the larger proposals of general policy. The questions on which he dissents from the Majority are: (1), whether the three Southern territories should shape their policy towards closer union with the South or, as the Majority think, towards the North; (2), the proportionate number of officials and unofficials of the Kenya Legislative Council; and, finally, he does not subscribe to the strong disapproval recorded by his colleagues of the native Land Trust Bill, on which he expresses no opinion. The Commissioners have much to say and many useful proposals to make regarding economic development and the respective spheres of Government and private enterprise to which I cannot now refer, but I could have wished that they had emphasised more definitely—what is indeed implicit in the Report—the danger in the real interests of the country and of private enterprise of attempting to push forward economic development too fast, or of overcrowding the country with new immigrants faster than it can absorb them.

I apologise for the length of my speech. I have but one word to add in conclusion. The Commissioners speak in terms of warm appreciation of the British settlers who, they rightly say, "would compare favourably with any body of men in the Empire." They have transformed waste lands into fertile acres of wheat and maize and coffee. They deserve the fruits of their enterprise. Most of them are engrossed in the daily work of their farms and have no time for politics. They like the natives and wish to give them "a square deal" and have done much for their education. They have not worried themselves with the problems of the future. Will they allow themselves to be carried away by the arguments of those who assert that the country is theirs and they will not be dictated to by Downing Street—forgetful that the British taxpayer paid for the railway and the early grants in aid, and forgetful of the pledges made when I first entered Kikuyu and made a treaty of friendship and protection with the people? Or will they rise to their great opportunity I have friends and relatives among them, and I feel sure that the majority, when they read this disinterested Report written by men of varied experience whose sole object was to find a solution in which all Parties at home and all races overseas can cooperate, will recognise the wisdom of their conclusions.

Cooperation will no doubt entail the sacrifice of many cherished theories and the acceptance of views in which they will not in all cases concur; but it is worth it for the sake of the larger interests of the Empire and the added strength which unity of purpose will bring to these three great countries. Without cooperation the task of the proposed High Commissioner would be well-nigh impossible. In any case it will be immensely difficult. He might well appeal to them in the memorable words of Lord Durham's Proclamation in 1829:— I beg you to consider me as a friend and arbitrator, ready at all times to listen to your wishes, complaints and grievances, and fully determined to act with the strictest impartiality. If you on your side will unite with me in the blessed work of peace and harmony, I feel assured I can lay the foundations of such a system of government as will protect the rights and interests of all classes, allay all dissensions, and permanently establish under Divine Providence, that wealth, greatness and prosperity of which such inexhaustible elements are to be found in these fertile countries. His hopes were happily fulfilled in the prosperity of Canada to-day.

LORD OLIVIER had on the Paper a Motion to resolve, That it is desirable that any statement arising out of the Report of the Commission on Closer Union in East Africa, of the principles proposed by His Majesty's Government to be followed in regard to African native policy, and any proposals for constitutional or administrative changes in East Africa, should before being brought into force by means of any law or Order in Council be submitted for consideration and report to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope you will allow me not only to express my own great personal congratulations to the noble Lord, but also to congratulate your Lordships upon having, on the first occasion on which the noble Lord has appeared in this House, listened to so closely reasoned and fully considered an address as has been delivered to us this afternoon. There is no one in the British Empire, I am sure, to whom your Lordships would be willing to listen with more respect and confidence on African questions. In his youth a distinguished soldier, he did much to bring both sides of the Continent into the peaceful condition in which it is to-day. In his manhood and maturity a most distinguished and successful administrator, he established the very fine system of government in the Nigerian territory. In later life he appeared as a writer, and has given us the most valuable book on Africa within my memory. Finally he represents this country on the Mandates Commission and is a member of the Committee of Experts on Forced Labour appointed on behalf of the International Labour Organisation, and we could not possibly have had any one speak to us with more knowledge and with greater title to receive the attention which your Lordships have given to him. May I add that we all recognise that the noble Lord has placed us under even greater obligations because at the present time he speaks under the stress of great personal sorrow which has deprived him of one who, as is well known by all English people, has been an immensely vigorous assistant to him in his own Imperial work.

I wish to support generally the arguments of the noble Lord and to emphasise specially the consideration which he has impressed upon us that it is a matter of very much more than local importance, a matter concerning the whole of Africa and the Empire. That is a consideration which is strongly emphasised in the Report of the Commissioners. I would like to say why I think it is a matter of great importance to the future of the relations between Europeans and Africans. The Report of the Southern Rhodesian Land Commission, presented in 1925, expressed the opinion of three men, one of them a Judge, Sir William Morris Carter, the second the Chief Native Commissioner of Rhodesia and the third Mr. Atherstone, Director of the Department of Land in Rhodesia. This is what these three men, working in the centre of the modern African world, say:— In the world generally the relations between the white and coloured races tend to become more and more embittered"— that is the opinion of those resident in Central and South Africa— and, of those who have given the subject most thought, many fear that wars of extermination between the races will take place in the future unless every effort is made to secure a better understanding between them. … The one thing that is impossible now and for evermore is for the white and African peoples to separate their lives. Africa will more and more be a central part of the life of the white peoples. On that account, and especially where the two races are living in the same country, it becomes all the more necessary to remove as far as possible all causes of friction.

Speaking on a matter like this, it is as well to speak as definitely as possible as to what is the source of that hostility and suspicion. I will give it from a book recently published and reviewed in The Times yesterday, a book on the history of South Africa by Dr. de Kiewiet, which is one of the important series of books re-writing the history of South Africa which are now appearing, written by University men nurtured in South Africa itself. This is what Dr. de Kiewiet says, reviewing the last century history of South Africa and the source of the troubles that continually required British intervention in South Africa:— In 1852 and 1854 the British Government, by signing the Sand River and Bloemfontein Conventions, formally resolved to have no more to do in any form with natives and native problems beyond the Cape and Natal frontiers. … In consequence, a large proportion of South Africa's native population was subjected to the 'Colonist's' point of view. And that point of view was that the native held too much land; that the white man was a superior being to whom the black man was by Providence ordained to be subject … The farmers of the Republic worked almost entirely on the assumption that any attempt to give the natives legal or political, let alone economical, equality was destroying the basis of society. This attitude was by no means confined to the farmers of the Republic. In the first stages of the second Basuto war, the Natal Colonists ardently sympathised with the Free State farmers … Had the Natal Colonists had their way, Basutoland might have shared the fate of Sir George Grey's British Kaffraria and become an area in which the bulk of the best land was held by the whites and the natives were crowded into a space too small to hold and support them in comfort. That was the beginning of the evil.

Where do we stand to-day in regard to this matter? Quite recently there was a series of Bills brought in by General Hertzog's Government for the purpose of dealing with the difficulties which have arisen out of the pursuance of that policy. They were referred to a Select Committee of the House of Assembly. I will read to your Lordships some extracts from the Report of that Committee showing that the effects of this mistaken attitude towards the natives are making themselves felt to-day. Dr. Roberts, the Chief Commissioner for Native Affairs, said: We are agreed that there is not sufficient land set aside in portions of the Cape and the Orange Free State for native occupation. If we deduct from the white population the urban whites and from the black population the urban blacks we are left with 126 million morgen to be shared by 672,000 rural whites, making an average of 187.3 morgen per rural white, and 17 million morgen of scheduled and released land to be divided among a population of 4,110,000 rural blacks, an average for the whole Union of 4.1 morgen per rural black. That is to say, each rural white man has 45¾ times as much land available for him in the South African Union as has the rural black. That is the position in which the natives are to-day and which has caused the great economic evils against which the South African Government are now struggling.

What was the commentary on the situation made by a representative of the Natal farmers? There is a proposal not only that all natives residing on white man's land should be under bond to masters, but also to take away the franchise from the Cape natives who have always exercised it with excellent results. A representative of the Natal Agricultural Union spoke as follows, and I would ask you to note the correspondence with what I have quoted from the Southern Rhodesia Land Commissioners' Report:— I would not give the educated native who has left tribal conditions any share in the government, of the country so far as the European Parliament is concerned. You ask me whether I think that could be maintained for any length of time; but, to be quite frank, my own personal opinion on this point is that the time must come when we shall have to fight for our position in this country. You ask whether it is my idea that things should have to be decided by force, and that if we want to hold our own we must exterminate them. I think it will either be that, or I do not know what it is going to be. We do not want things to develop as in the Cape, and the native to be given the vote. … I do not think it would be fair to the native in the Cape to take away his franchise. In dealing with this question the dominant thing in our minds has not been justice at all, but we must conserve as far as we can our European civilisation in this country. That gives you the attitude referred to by the Rhodesian Commissioners.

A good many people seem to think that there must come a conflict between the native and the white man. That is the significance of what Dr. de Kiewiet has written about the policy of crowding the native off the land and keeping him as a bond servant and as a bond servant alone. With regard to what has been said about civilisation, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be familiar with that aspect of the matter and the view of South African politicians that it is necessary in the interests of South Africans that Indians should be pressed out of the country and deprived of civil rights. None of us in this House have any fear on that point. We think that the principles of civilisation can hold their own in any mixed society. The noble Marquess sent to South Africa a deputation headed by a gentleman who was certainly a much finer representative of human civilisation than the journalist or politician who denounces all Indians as the scum of the earth, people to be hunted out of the country; and by means of the methods of civilisation, and owing to there being a very efficient Indian Commissioner there, that trouble, which it was thought was going to cause actual conflict in South Africa, has been mitigated. Consequently we do not for a moment accept the pessimistic view that there are difficulties in South Africa or anywhere else that need lead to a conflict between the races. But unless certain principles are followed there will be continual increase of bitterness and hostility between the races.

British policy is founded upon most definitely different lines from those which Dr. de Kiewiet described as the lines of South African agricultural policy. We have continuously acted upon those lines—the lines of equal justice and equal opportunity and of fairness between all races, and we have in recent years declared those principles. We have adopted them in the Covenant of the League of Nations, and we have reiterated our adoption of them in the, White Papers we have issued. We have accepted the doctrine of trusteeship for these peoples until they shall be able to stand upon their own feet, and we have pledged ourselves again to maintain our old time-honoured principles of British policy.

But that is not enough. In the Mandates you have certain written instruments, and a Mandates Commission which does really make very precise the contents of our trust. In our own Colonies we profess to act as trustees for native races, but we have no written mandate, and, as I read this Report of the Commission, and as I know the feelings of my own Party and those who think with me, the time has come for a very careful re-statement and pronouncement, with all the authority of the British Parliament of what are to be the principles that we are going to follow in the administration of our mandate as trustees. Because, although we have been living for some time since those White Papers were published, professing to exercise trusteeship for natives, yet, as I pointed out to your Lordships on a previous occasion—and my statements have never been challenged—those principles are not at present fully and properly applied in all of our Colonies. Let me give you an example.

I would like to quote what the Commissioners say. They say:— These questions of native policy have been dealt with so fully during recent years in literary works, political debate, and in the Press, that the argument set up above … a very excellent argument they have given for principles, in which I myself very strongly concur, with regard to land, labour, and economic policy— is, in a sense, a commonplace; but there is some opinion still in favour of courses which could only be persistently pursued as part of a policy of complete repression … —which, of course, is the policy into which the South African Government are being gradually forced. It should therefore be stated that, apart from moral issues, repression is not a possible course, not only because it is contrary to the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, but because conditions are such to-day that any attempt to persist in such a policy is doomed to failure. Now, the subjects upon which we want a clear declaration of what we mean by the principles of trusteeship are those mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard—chiefly land, labour, taxation, and economic policy.

With regard to land, I want to call attention to one point which was dealt with by the Commissioners. They say that in Nyasaland you have 4,000 square miles of land owned by a single company; in Northern Rhodesia you have 10,000 or more square miles of land owned by a single company. They say, in effect: "We think that His Majesty's Government ought to give attention to the question of the rights of the natives resident on those lands." That is a matter which I have always urged on your Lordships with regard to other parts of Africa. There is a very great danger that we may find ourselves in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia, when the population increases, in the same position that I have complained of, and that the Antislavery Society has complained of again and again, with regard to natives whose land has been taken from under their feet. All over the northern territories of the South African Union, all through Rhodesia and elsewhere through Nyasaland land has been taken from under the feet of the natives. In the Union of South Africa all those natives have been dispossessed. They can only live there on condition of paying squatters as tenants.

In Rhodesia to-day, in the alienated and unalienated lands, these men, living on their ancestral homes, do so on condition of paying rent as well as the hut tax. That creates a permanent sense of injustice, and we have tried to get the Government to move. On the occasion of the Southern Rhodesian Commission I urged the Government to take up that point and in 1905 it was also discussed by the Native Affairs Commission of South Africa; but the Secretary of State said "No, that is a matter on which, though I am responsible for native rights, I am not going to express any opinion. It must be left to the local communities." That is an Imperial responsibility. Again and again under the Imperial authority these lands have been taken and all but given away to English companies and English owners, and it is the duty of His Majesty's Government to follow up the suggestion of the Commissioners, and at once to take up the question of what are the equitable rights, and what protection and provision are to be made for the natives who may be on these enormous estates. The question does not arise in Kenya, because all the natives who were on land that has been alienated have been cleared off, with or without adequate compensation. Anyhow, they are not there, and there are no natives resident in those countries except as tenants or as labourers, and, in fact, always, I think, under contract as labourers. You do not have the same problem, as I understand it, in Kenya, but the problem is a very live one with regard to those other territories of which we have been speaking. That is a point upon which we have had no definite pronouncement of Imperial policy, and it is most important that what we mean by our trusteeship for natives in regard to such a point as that should be defined.

Then again, I come to the question of labour. I was sitting last week in a very interesting Conference under the presidency of my noble friend Lord Buxton, on the question of forced labour. A few years ago there was a previous Conference, over which Lord Buxton also presided, and at which the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, was present, which rather set the ball rolling in regard to making a movement for the regulation of forced labour, and, as your Lordships know, the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, is one of a Committee of Experts—a Committee set up under the International Labour Organisation—for the purpose of drawing up the principles of forced labour. The principles of our own systems of forced labour are extremely obscure, and I want to have them made perfectly definite. For example, at that Conference the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Ormsby-Gore, both made statements with regard to forced labour in the British Empire, which, on the face of it, were extremely satisfactory. They said, as regards forced labour for Government works, that it is only imposed in extreme urgency under critical conditions such, for instance, as a flood, or on a railway in time of war. That would be a legitimate use of forced labour.

The Secretary of State said the last occasion on which forced labour was employed in East Africa was for the construction of a branch railway in Kenya. There, at once, we come to this question of what is urgent public necessity, because the reason why that railway was constructed was not for any urgent military necessity, or urgent necessity for Famine. Forced labour was asked for for two reasons: first of all, in order that the contractor should be able to get his bonus for constructing it within a certain period. That made him extremely anxious to get forced labour and to put all kinds of pressure on the Government. The other reason was to enable certain freight that was ready for shipment, cotton and so on, from the other end of the railway to come down it instead of its being taken down Lake Victoria and the old branch of the railway. That is to say, the reason for that demand was purely and simply a commercial and economical advantage desired to be got by certain persons. The Secretary of State, no doubt quite straightforwardly, thought that was an urgent matter of public importance. I can assure your Lordships that my Party, and, I should imagine, the Party of noble Lords who sit on the Benches on my right, would not think the question of getting a little more profit for a contractor or a, little less loss on the shipment of produce by certain merchants was a matter of urgent public importance entitling you to put forced labour upon a number of Africans who get no sort of advantage out of it.

We had a very remarkable statement from the Secretary of State in a Despatch on the subject of forced labour, saying it is important that if you do employ natives for forced labour it shall be forced labour of such a kind that they would readily understand what a great advantage it was to them that the forced labour should be undertaken. I think it would have been very difficult indeed to persuade an intelligent native that the hurrying up of this railway by two or three months was a matter of immense importance or of advantage to him and his fellow tribesmen. That is where we want a clear definition.

Take, again, the question of taxation. We want a clear definition. We have been told this by Mr. Ormsby-Gore in his Report on East Africa:— The motives which impel the African natives to leave their settlements to engage in work for Government or private individuals may be said to be, firstly, the necessity of obtaining money with which to pay their taxes. Dr. Roberts, before the Select Committee of the South African Legislature, also said:— I think the native should, as far as possible, be induced to remain in his own area. I hold that it is the white man's blame that he is in the towns to-day. The native goes to the town for certain definite reasons. The first is in order to get money to pay his taxes. If you ask the native why he is in town, he will tell you at once, as I was told this morning, 'I am down here to get money to pay my taxes,' and lie handed me a long list of taxes that he had to pay. The poll tax last year was not put on the native with my recommendation. I was very strongly against it Those are the words, I would remind your Lordships, of the Chief Native Commissioner. He also stated:— I think it is a most unjust tax. There is nothing to commend it. If we want to tax the native, tax him according to the ordinary way that civilised men are taxed—that is, on his possessions. Mr. Ormsby-Gore has told you that taxation is used with the result of forcing people to labour. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, when he is at Geneva to take care that his Commission goes very carefully into the concrete question of whether onerous taxes are placed upon natives and have the effect of forcing them to labour.

I wish to point out that the Commissioners in the Report mentioned that the house tax in Kenya was 15s. per adult male. It has been repeatedly shown, so far as our abilities as statisticians and demonstrators can carry us, that it is obvious, according to the amount of tax raised and the number of able-bodied men available for labour, the tax on every able-bodied native is at least 25s. I dealt with that last year in reference to this Commission. I asked that the matter might be investigated. These things have been pointed out and stand on record, but no action is taken. It was not within the purview of the Commission to call attention to these things. They only call attention to proper principles. What we want is to have a continuous application of proper principles, which can only be done, as I think, by having some such continuous body as has been suggested to keep one Secretary of State in line with another, because I am quite sure that another Secretary of State would take quite a different view with regard to forced labour from that apparently taken by the present Secretary of State. I am quite certain that another Secretary of State would have looked into that question of forced labour by taxation, as, apparently, the present Secretary of State has not done. I want to have a consistent and powerful authority to insist that that shall be done. That is what the Commissioners, I understand, also want.

While I am on this question of forced labour may I say that Mr. Amery and Mr. Ormsby-Gore did not make any reference to, and did not seem to he aware of the fact of, the continuous forced labour that is em- ployed in the reserves for so-called tribal purposes. With regard to labour for tribal purposes, I remember seeing a note in the book of the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, rather censuring me for having taken too antiquarian a view of that village labour and spoken of it as being reasonable because it was a sort of labour that used to be done by our forefathers in the Saxon village community. The noble Lord will have no forced labour. I congratulate him, and I wish more power to him. I do not wish to stand out for this village corvée. I say the way the village corvée. is imposed at the present time is a most iniquitous thing. In many parts of Kenya from 30 to 60 per cent. of the able-bodied men go away to work outside the villages, and the whole of the forced labour falls, and is intended to fall, upon the reduced population who remain behind. I have been given chapter and verse showing that it is exacted in many places quite improperly by the chiefs who are entrusted with the duty of exacting it. These things want to be looked into. I must say we are in a stronger position now than we have ever been in before, as this matter is going to be looked into by the International Labour Organisation at Geneva. Moreover, we have the whole-hearted support and cooperation of the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, in this. These are the reasons why we want a declaration of principle and a declaration of principle thoroughly thrashed out and accepted by all Parties.

There is also the general question of economic policy. With regard to economic policy the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, among his other services to the Empire, gave us a bridge by inventing the phrase "the dual mandate." I do not like that phrase. I do not like the idea of pursuing dual policies. I like a single policy of sound and proper government, but the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, has given us the phrase, the dual mandate, which indicates that both the interests of the white settlers and of the natives are to be pursued and attention is to be given to the economic development of the property of both classes. I want to say a few words on that question of economic policy. In the Report of the Conference of East African Governors, two or three years ago, there is this, I am bound to say, not very lucid statement which I will read for what it is worth:— On the one hand there is the obligation on every civilised Government of raising the capacities of its human subjects to their fullest expression. On the other hand there is the equally imperative duty of developing to the utmost the productive powers of its possessions.

The noble Lord has spoken of what it is necessary to have regard to on the question of development. I want to say this: it is not the primary duty of the Government to develop to the utmost the productive powers of its possessions, even though they happen to be African territories inhabited by native people. Still less is that the primary duty of a Government when they profess to be there as trustees for those natives and say that their interests are to be paramount. The primary duty of the Imperial Government is to maintain justice in its institutions. That is what we want. The Commission's Report says:— It is often argued that strong white settlement is essential to ensure the permanence of white civilisation in Eastern Africa. We have already expressed the view that European settlement reinforces in many important ways the influence of white civilisation. The strongest foundation, him ever, of western civilisaticn and of British rule does not lie in the size of the white community"— as in South Africa— which must always remain a relatively small island in the midst of a greatly preponderant black population, but in the establishment of a rule of justice which will enlist the loyalty of the native people, and strengthen their confidence in British rule. That is precisely an echo of what Sir George Grey, when Governor, was always trying to impress on the community in Cape Colony. He said that the only hold we could have over natives was that which came from their sense of justice, that it was no use going to black men any more than to white men with any sort of economic policy which they saw was unjust and was intended to take advantage of them.

It is a commonplace, and it is admitted and acknowledged by the noble Lord, that we started in East Africa on a policy almost exclusively of white development and did not take account of the conditions of the natives. The noble Lord said that was a bad start and that we ought to make a fresh start and have a dual policy. But the fallacy upon which we started in Kenya was justified and buttressed, not only by those who take the view that the white man must have the land and the black man must work for him, but also by those who said that it was educational for the black man to work for the white man, and that by forcing him to work you could educate him. There is a very useful quotation from the present Secretary of State in the Grey Book of the International Labour Organisation which sets its face against that fallacy. He said it was no use whatever trying to educate the black man by forced labour so long as he saw that you were doing it for your own advantage. But the point I want to deal with is this: you will find theories as to what is educational, such theories as were uttered by the Bishops of Mombassa and Kikuyu that labour may be educational, but we have behind us a whole history in which this theory of education by contact has been thoroughly tried out.

It was thoroughly tried out in the West Indies and Jamaica. After the abolition of slavery Jamaica was intended to be a white man's country. It is a white man's country to-day. After slavery was abolished the theory was that the interests of the state could only be maintained by keeping black people in contact with cultivation. The result was that in two generations the planters were saying that the black man was thoroughly worthless as a labourer and they must have indentured immigrant labour. The Government of Jamaica was forced practically to make a new departure in policy, to set to work to break up old estates and build up again the industry and energy of the peasantry upon the basis of peasant proprietorship, of peasants working for themselves, a set of conditions which continually produces many young men who will go out and work on the estates. In a mixed society there must always be a considerable number of natives who are perfectly willing and who like to go to work on the estates and who get benefit by doing so.

So far as any big African community is concerned, I thoroughly endorse what was said by another Governor of even greater experience than the noble Lord, Sir Hugh Clifford, because he worked not only in Africa but in the East Indies and the West Indies. Sir Hugh Clifford says on that subject:— The sanest basis for great economic development in a tropical country is peasant proprietorship … the day when they (the Government in charge of African affairs) forget that the land is the African's and attempt to convert it into freehold for the European, they will lay the axe at the root of all that is best in, and all that makes for the solidity of, our rule of the West African Colonies. It is fundamental: I think the noble Lord will agree with me that you cannot build up a stable community upon the basis of white capital and coloured labour. I take the condition of Kenya to-day and I compare it with a similar position in parts of South Africa where only white men may own land. I look forward with great anxiety to the future of Kenya under present conditions. The community there have made a very vigorous and able start in developing the country by means of modern methods, but they have an enormous territory in which only Europeans own land and in which natives may only exist as labourers. That, from all the history of humanity, is a condition which you cannot regard as a stable or a wholesome one. You must have intermixture. You cannot have a serf State built up in Kenya with large or small or closely settled white estates and a landless proletariat. It is not in accordance with the policy of the British people.

After the great controversy in this House and elsewhere over forced labour a very strong Committee was formed of which the noble Lord, Lord Davidson of Lambeth, was a leading member, to urge His Majesty's Government to appoint a Royal Commission to go into the whole question of forced labour. Out of that proposal there arose something larger than a commission on forced labour. There arose a Commission appointed by my right hon. friend Mr. Thomas, under Lord Southborough, to go into the whole question of African policy, which is what the Commissioners now want to have done. As a sub-committee of that Commission Mr. Ormsby-Gore's Committee went to South Africa and reported on certain matters. They did not report on the whole question. They did not settle the principles. The present Secretary of State, for reasons best known to himself, dispensed with that Committee and sent out another Commission to Kenya; that Commission come back and say they want a definite settlement of principles.

The Commissioners say it is no use doing it through the Secretary of State because the next Secretary of State may have different views. Before we make a new departure, we should have an agreed statement or protocol of principles laid down as to what we mean by our trusteeship for the natives. In my Motion I make the suggestion that the best tribunal for doing that is a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament, because I do not know on the whole of any better tribunal; certainly I do not know of any more authoritative tribunal in this country. I do not press it as a thing which can be done immediately. I gather from what I saw in The Times to-day that the Government do not intend to make any immediate definite pronouncement of policy, but that they do contemplate sending another emissary to Kenya Colony. In my Motion I have tried to put into shape what I think would best serve the purposes of the Royal Commission and I think receive the support of my noble friend Lord Lugard. Whether I shall press my Motion or not depends upon the statement of the noble Earl, but I should be quite prepared to say that within the period of the present Parliament it would be hardly practicable to propose an attempt to deal with this question of policy, and that therefore the moment is not ripe. If the noble Earl makes that suggestion, I shall feel bound to accept it.

I want to add one word about the proposal I see in a statement in The Times to-day that it is intended to send out some representative of His Majesty's Government, not as High Commissioner, but to discuss matters with the populations on the spot, I suppose in Kenya and Tanganyika and elsewhere, and to obtain their views. It strikes me, in the present position, that there is possibly something to he said for the appointment of an officer or an authority who would go on with what I might call the practical side of the Commission's proposals. The Commission made some very excellent proposals with regard to transport and communication, and the organisation of those matters and of certain other technical and administrative matters might, it seems to me, be proceeded with through one agency or another. But we do demur to any commitment whatever with regard to general policy. I do not know what is in the mind of the Government with regard to this emissary, but if any ambassador is to be sent out to hold any conference with the people on the spot as to what they would like and what they may expect to have, I say most definitely that the Labour Party, for whom I am speaking to-day, in whatever position they were, could not possibly be bound by any kind of agreement or understanding made between such an ambassador and persons in East Africa who may be disposed to make difficulties.

We must have the matter before Parliament entirely without any sort of prejudice from any kind of arrangement or understanding. If a further Commission is to be sent out there to tell us what the people think, well and good, but, although the Commissioners have not published their evidence, I understand that it is very voluminous. I should have supposed that every possible kind of opinion and judgment upon this question had been placed before the Commission and that His Majesty's Government, or even Parliament, if that evidence were published, would have before them everything that could possibly be said upon the matter, or that is likely to be said. That is all that I want to say. I hope the noble Lord and I have succeeded in encouraging your Lordships to recognise the Imperial and world-wide importance of this matter and the importance of making now some definite pronouncement, as the Commissioners recommend, upon, the principles upon which we are in future to administer our trusteeship.


My Lords, I will make no reference to the great services which the noble Lord who opened this debate has rendered to our Empire, because they are known to all of you and I do not suppose that he would be pleased if I recounted them in his hearing. I think, however, he might not be unwilling to know that, owing to a recent close personal association with Nigeria, I am able to assure him that his name is honoured and respected throughout the whole district and that the natives there still regard him as their friend. If it were possible that the echoes of this debate could reach them at some future time, they would know that his friendship has not ended. I make no apology for occupying your Lordships' time for a few moments in this debate, in spite of the fact that I have no personal knowledge or acquain- tance with the territories that are under discussion, for it appears to me that it is of the highest consequence that everyone over here, even if he has no opportunity of personal knowledge, should do his best to make himself acquainted with what I think is one of the gravest and most formidable problems that the Government of this country has to face.

I cannot help regretting that the noble Lord who has just spoken has rather diverted our attention from the big questions which the noble Lord, Lord Lugard. placed before our notice, because, though no one feels more keenly than I do the importance of considering the limits within which labour is to be forced, this really has nothing whatever to do either with the debate or with the, subject matter of the noble Lord's speech, and if the noble Earl who will answer for the Government says that this is their view upon the matter, though I think the question is one of great importance, I should receive that answer with complete equanimity. The question for us is something far graver and bigger than that. It is, as the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, says, the question of what is to be our objective. What is the scheme that you are going to form, and how are you going to carry it out, for working together the white and coloured civilisations in these vast areas which under one form of government or another are entrusted to our care? The three territories mentioned present, this problem in an unusual form. We have, in the case of Kenya, a Crown Colony with a Legislative Council; in the case of Uganda a Protectorate; and in the case of Nyasaland a Mandate from the League of Nations.


Of Tanganyika.


I am very grateful to the noble Marquess for correcting me. These errors do happen. As a great statesman once said—I refer to Mr. Gladstone—regarding a statement that was similarly corrected: "The error, though trivial, was gross." These three regions present different problems of government, but their future development can hardly take place independently of one another. By some means or other these different systems have to be welded together and a scheme has to be devised by which, while giving full opportunity to developments due to the energy and capital of the white settlers, you can at the same time allow, and indeed encourage, the development of the native races.

One thing is quite useless, and that is to expect that these problems can remain fixed as they are to-day. They are moving, and moving fast. The native races day by day assume a different importance in the elements of our political life and, as the noble Lord himself pointed out, they vary enormously in different places. You get an apathetic population in one place and an energetic population in another. This complicates enormously the problem you have to solve, but nevertheless it renders its solution along clear and definite lines a matter of immeasurable consequence. I believe that we are only at the beginning of the dawn of the civilisation of these vast races. In this particular area, as the noble Lord said, there are 12,000,000 of these people and 30,000 whites. What is the policy that we are going to adopt to see that those 12,000,000 people can find their own life, can have their own culture—to use a word that was lately very unpopular—and can be developed and encouraged, under our protection and with our aid, to the fullest possible extent of their social, mental and moral qualities?

This Report is full of valuable suggestions along those lines, and what the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, if I apprehended him rightly, was anxious to do was to see that this Report was brought before your Lordships with the full authority of a man who probably knows better than anybody in this House what really are the difficulties that we have to face and the dangers that we may incur, and what are the steps that ought to be taken to secure that these dangers may be avoided. I promised that I would not occupy your Lordships very long, and I only desired to do it for the reasons which I have stated, and in the hope that we might get the debate back to the lines on which it started, and not continue it upon lines which have nothing to do with the main subject that we have to consider.


My Lords, in company with the rest of your Lordships I listened with great appreciation to the words of Lord Lugard, and it seems to me that it is very fitting that Lord Lugard should be the one to initiate this debate, because if I am right, and he will correct me if I am wrong, I think it was he who first, many years ago, taking over from that great administrator Sir Frederick Jackson, first planted the Union Jack in Uganda. I have listened to his words with great appreciation, and have also followed with great care the argument of Lord Olivier on his Motion, but it is very clear to me that you would be well advised to reject such a Motion. Indeed I think you have, as he suggested, little other course, and I will give your Lordships two reasons for that. The first is that the Secretary of State has said that before anything is done in connection with this Report, to follow up its recommendations, opportunity will be given for full Parliamentary discussion. Further, he has given a pledge that before anything is done with regard to closer federation, local opinion will again be consulted in East Africa.

The time of the present Parliament draws to a close, and I think it is quite clear that it is impossible at the present time for your Lordships to agree to the Motion. I saw in this morning's paper, with great pleasure, news of the intention of the Government to send out from the Colonial Office Sir Samuel Wilson, a man distinguished both by his past record and his present office, to deal with this matter and to carry it if possible a step further on. Lord Lugard and Lord Buckmaster have dealt with this matter on a very lofty plane, as is only right, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I find it necessary to drag it to a somewhat lower level. I do so because I think this is one of the matters in which we must take human nature into account, and human nature as we find it is not always what we wish it to be. As it is, so must we take it. With regard to these great and growing territories there is one principle with which your Lordships will always agree, and that is that it is absolutely necessary for us to establish among both black and white a trust in the Government at home, so that we in our turn can establish a trust in them, and I believe the best way to do that, and almost the only way, is to establish a continuity of policy.

I should wish if I might—I cannot refrain from doing so—to quote a few words from Lord Lugard's own great book The Dual Mandate in East Africa. These are the words:— It may be said that as Faith, Hope and Charity are to the Christian creed, so are decentralisation, co-operation and continuity to. African administration, and the greatest of these is continuity. I understand by that that our Imperial policy should be clearly understood and as far as possible be the child of all Parties, and should be continuous. I wish now to call your Lordships' attention to two aspects of this Report which seem to me to be at variance with this continuity of policy. Your Lordships will be aware that in 1923 a White Paper was brought out by the Government in which certain policies were laid down, and among them was one which postulated:— That having regard to all the circumstances, his Majesty's Government have decided that the interests of all concerned in Kenya will be best served by the adoption of a communal system of franchise. That had been laid down after careful consideration, and after consultation with the noble Lord who is now the Secretary of State for India. Then there, came a delegation from Kenya, and again the matter was gone into, and the Government expressed themselves in complete accord with the policy laid down, and I would especially call your Lordships' attention to the fact that that policy was reaffirmed by the Labour Government which shortly afterwards came into power.

There is one other point on continuity of policy to which I will call your attention. In 1927, the Government again laid down a policy in a White Paper, in which the terms of reference were given to the Hilton Young Commission. It is as follows:— At the same time they wish to place on record their view that, while this responsibility of trusteeship must for some considerable time rest mainly on the agents of the Imperial Government, they desire to associate more closely in this high end honourable task those who, as Colonists or residents, have identified their interests with the prosperity of the country. They must doubtless have had in mind these words of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, uttered in 1922:— We do not contemplate any settlement or system which will prevent British East Africa, Kenya as it is now known, becoming a characteristically and distinctly British Colony, looking forward in the full fruition of time to responsible self-government. How does this Report deal with these two subjects? They say, first, that the whole question of communal franchise should be reconsidered, and they say that never can the white Colonists look for responsible government. If the Government really accept those two provisos they are going to add to the difficulties, already great, of the Government in those territories.

There is another aspect which I desire to stress. This continuity of policy does not concern East Africa alone. It is a question of continuity of policy in the whole of Africa. The growing State of South Rhodesia is watching things in Kenya, and the great Dominion of South Africa has her eyes to the North. It seems to me that we should act with considerable caution before we do anything which might scorn to be a strong criticism of what the policy of those countries was. The Imperial Conference of 1926 laid down that it should be conceded as a matter of general policy that the great Dominions should have the right to claim a voice in the affairs of territories in their own Continents. On that account it is up to us to proceed in this matter with considerable caution before we adopt a policy which is so largely opposed to the policies which have been and to a great extent are being carried out in the great Dominion of South Africa. It must be admitted that in carrying out that policy mistakes have been made and it may well be that there have been cases of injustice, but as a whole it has been carried out with very great sincerity. For this reason the Government adopt a very wise course in sending out this high official to carry the matter a step further and they would be wise if they refused to depart from the principle of continuity of policy.

I do not under-rate the difficulties that this high official has before him because there has been really very little general full agreement—perhaps it was not to be expected—with this Report. Let me point out one or two differences in this matter. Uganda are not in favour of it because they fear the domination of Kenya next door. Kenya are not in favour of the two principles to which I have referred, and they always more than any other territory have shown a desire to co-operate and to find some modus which would bring them together. In Tanganyika the official element is against it, while, as regards the settler element, the British would appear to welcome it, but the German population are afraid that, if this Report were adopted and federation brought nearer, their chances, already small, of ever becoming a separate entity again under the German Government, would become less. Even the Indian is not really in favour of it. I have seen no eulogies from the Indians of this Report. As to the view of the native on this matter, I had for many years fairly close relations with the native population. I saw them in the camp and closer still in the field during the late War. It was only the more highly educated natives, the more advanced natives with whom I had conversations because our only means of communication was my indifferent Swahili and their indifferent Swahili. I have always found it very hard to get at the psychology of the native mind. In the end I came to one conclusion and that is that there is only one thing that the natives as a whole are united in—namely, their great respect for justice both to themselves and to other people.

When we come nearer home with regard to this Report, what do we find? I doubt very much whether the Colonial Office, who are severely criticised throughout, can be enthusiastic about it. Sir J.H. Harris, of whose great service to the Aborigines Society your Lordships are aware, does not like this Report because it gives no direct representation to the natives on the Legislative Council. Dr. Norman Leys does not like it because he fears that if any one went out there for three years as a high administrator, he might find that the settlers were not really such a sinister crew as they are sometimes made out to be, but an average sample of decent, hard-working men and women. I look upon that as no mean praise. The Commission itself, finally, is not thoroughly in favour of this Report because it is divided on two principal points. The Chairman is divided from the other three of this Commission. After reading the very weighty words of the Chairman, Sir Hilton Young, I think there is more hope of the co-operation which is so essential if his recommendations are at last followed.

Finally, I would say that I find myself in agreement with nine-tenths of this Report though I cannot be in agreement with the whole of it. After reading it through, not once but twice, I feel at the bottom of my mind that there is a certain idea behind this Report. It is this. Here is a vast country as big as England, France, Germany and Spain, infinitely more productive as a whole and occupied by a native population not bigger than that of Greater London, some eight millions. This native population, all backward races, have a vested interest in the whole of this vast territory. It is quite true that the Commission says that white immigration is desirable but only for one thing, because it is good for the black races. It is desirable that British men and women should go over there and settle side by side with the natives, and live their lives there to teach the natives and to educate them. We must increase the native's health and his population by means of sanitary methods and better knowledge. We must increase his knowledge of agriculture by example and precept, and increase his herds. When our Government and people have done that, when they have trained the natives for political powers, they are to take up their bags and go away. That, to my mind, is the idea running through this Report.

If that had been our point of view in the past, I suggest that the United States of America would never have come into being and the British Empire would have stayed at the cliffs of Dover. I am well aware there are some people who have no use for the British Empire, who think it would have been better had it never come into being. On January 5 this year the noble Lord, Lord Olivier, whose Motion is on the Paper, attended a luncheon in connection with the University Labour Federation at Manchester, and there he made a speech, and that speech was reported in such diverse newspapers as the Morning Post, the Manchester Guardian and the Daily News, and I read in it these words:— I am glad that the British Empire is being broken up and internationalised, because I am not an Imperialist.


I did not use the words "broken up."


I must naturally accept the noble Lord's explanation. I can only say that I sympathise with the noble Lord, because these identical words are quoted in all the papers that I have referred to, and I hope the noble Lord will take the earliest opportunity of seeing that this report of his words, which is, to my mind, a libel on the noble Lord, is at once corrected and apologised for. Perhaps the second sentence that I was going to quote will not be correct either— We are not concerned with the relations of a Socialist Government to the British Empire. The Colonies and Dominions are looking after themselves. This is a free country, and everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but I must say that I find it rather difficult to understand the status of any one who comes to your Lordships' House, and tells us how we ought to improve the conditions in our Empire, and at the same time uses words anything like these that are printed here and so freely reported. Whatever the words, I totally and fundamentally differ from the noble Lord with every fibre of my being. I know that both the United States and the British Empire have been guilty of many mistakes, but I am sure of this in my own mind, that there never have been any other régimes that have done so much for civilisation at large, and I believe that if this he a fair boast—and I think it is—a great part of it is due to the treatment of the native populations of whom they have temporarily the guardianship.


My Lord, I propose to say a very few words upon the principles which are before us, in this discussion, for I am not competent to go into some of the details that have been discussed to-night. I should like to add my adherence to what has already been so eloquently said as to the high permanent importance of the speech to which we listened from the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, to-night. I am quite sure that that speech will repay study by future generations, as setting forth the principles which he desires to enunciate, with all the background of such an experience as his, not in Africa only—though it was Africa that was referred to specially and rightly—but in India and Asia as well. The importance of his utterance on these matters, with his varied experience, is emphasised by the principle, which has been several times referred to in this debate, that we are here dealing with something which, if due weight is given to the Report of the Commission, cannot be taken as being confined simply to the territories of East Africa with which it directly deals. It lays down and propounds in a general way principles which are applicable in many other places besides. And I do not differ from what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, himself, that it practically gives a new orientation to the whole of our Colonial policy.

I think that that gives to the Report and to his comments upon it an importance which it is impossible to exaggerate. It is our duty, we, the ordinary people of this country, I am quite certain, to understand the questions that are now at issue, not because of their own merit only, and their bearing on the local circumstances in which the difficulties arise, but became principles are there touched upon which extend much further and are of permanent value to all who are dealing with Colonial and overseas questions as a whole. The Report, as regards the greater part of its contents, has been almost universally belauded as being probably the very best historical, geographical, and general account of the East African situation that has ever been published, and I am certain that no one who has given attention to the matter and knows a little about the subject but will find that it is full of interest, and throws new light upon a vast number of the questions which are at stake.

The Commissioners show, with a weight which I think brings out in a way that has not always been brought out before, not only the vastness, but the complexity, of the situation with which we have to deal. People forget, when talking about the East African territories, that we are dealing with five territories, which have three different constitutions, and stand in three different positions altogether in the Empire. We have one Colony, Kenya; we have three Protectorates, Uganda, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia; and we have a mandated territory, that of Tanganyika; and the difficulties that that variety raises are certainly not small. Then, into the middle of all that, there is planted the problem which is raised by the great body of Indians, who have not recently only but for many generations past had a place in that East African country.

All that I desire to do to-night is to call attention to the fact that we have at this moment two different lines of policy laid down with regard to those territories and our colonial territories in Africa as well. That with which we have been familiar for a long time is the general policy advocated by the settlers and their friends. The noble Lord who has just spoken has admirably set forward some of the principles which they desire to enunciate. On the other hand, new ideas, not absolutely novel in their details, but new in many of the ways in which things are correlated, are brought before the world in the principles which the Report, with extraordinary clearness and lucidity, lays down. We eagerly want to know which of those lines of policy is, at this moment, likely to commend itself to the Government as the policy to be followed—I do not mean the details—either what is said in the Report or, so far as there are details set forward, in the policy advocated by those whom the noble Lord who has just spoken specially represents.

It seems to me that we need much clearer definitions than we have had. There are all kinds of questions raised in the general statements put out by those who are criticising this Report in East Africa and at home. We want to understand those statements, to have them elucidated, and to know what is really the far-reaching policy which those who take that attitude are recommending. It is quite easy to understand what they want in the immediate future, but it is not at all easy to understand how they would expect that policy to develop fifty years hence, and how far that development is capable of clear statement by them, or what they would ultimately desire to see. I have the highest respect—and I was delighted to hear the statement made to-night by the noble Lord who introduced the subject—for the men who represent the leading European settlers in Kenya. We underrate constantly the immense value of the services they have rendered, their persistent care for the welfare of the community, and a great deal of the beneficent work that they have done for the whole population, so far as they can effect it in the country, but it would be absurd to contend that the policy which they set forward is a policy which is admitted to he really far-reaching in its consequences. Let them go down into future generations and say what they really mean. I want to hear what they have to say expanded as I am sure they are able to expand it, to those who can cross-examine. What do they mean? What does this intention indicate? What do you want to do?

We have heard that it is likely someone of influence will be going out there. I do not know on what basis that intimation is founded beyond an anonymous statement in a newspaper. There should be much more information than we have. I know nothing more than that, and one would like to know what, if such an emissary goes forth, will be the powers which will be left in his hands, what he will be expected to do, what will those who go with him be expected to do, and what steps are they to take for the elucidation of the line of policy which has found expression in Kenya in criticism of the Report which has had its circulation both in Kenya and in this country? The facts are very complicated. In my view the issues are not stated by those who have criticised the Report with anything like the clearness that is necessary if that criticism is to be of permanent value. The Report is there, setting out, as we have been reminded to-night, in some 350 pages, statements of a most detailed kind as regards what they suggest as, not the policy to be followed—I hope that will be noted—but the policy which they lay down for criticism as the alternative to what has been adumbrated rather than expressed in detail by some of the European residents in Kenya.

We have these two things before us. We have the detailed statement in the Report and we have the adumbrated proposals or the policy, continuous or otherwise, which has been advocated in Kenya. I want once more to say that I am grateful to those who have put that forward on behalf of the settlers. I am quite sure that their principles are precisely the principles advocated in the Report, but it does not seem to me clear that the principles which they and the Commissioners alike advocated cannot be better carried out by the proposals the Commissioners make than by the proposals which the settlers in Kenya have desired to make. I want to see the matter looked into thoroughly. Whether or not the process that the noble Lord opposite proposes in his Resolution to-night, that a Select Committee of Parliament should be set up is best, I do not know, but I cannot help believing that it would be the best thing for the public good if those from Africa who represent that point of view could be in England for a time, and could take part in discussions and deliberations with those interested in the subject in this country who are capable of eliciting from them what I am sure would be most helpful and most advantageous—their view of the way in which the suggestions ought to be developed. That is what I desire to see in some form, though I am not prepared to say that the right form is that suggested in the Resolution.

We are all awaiting what the Government are to tell us. I think we shall not merely be told that the matter is under consideration. We shall probably be told of some inquiry which is going to be made, if I am not mistaken in what has been said by those who have spoken and have perhaps better knowledge than I of what is likely to be done. That is not enough. If any one is sent out to Africa we want to know what he has power to do, or whether we have to be content with such Report as the emissary brings back as being an adequate explanation of the policy adverse to the Report of the Commission. It seems to me that that not only wants doing, but that it is worth while doing, because I believe in many ways it is true that a change of policy on lines such as those which the Commissioners have suggested would be adopted when the matter has been properly discussed, with equal enthusiasm by those who represent the settlers in Kenya and elsewhere and by the Commissioners and those who have authority. I think if that can be brought about it would obviously be an infinite gain. It is by discussion in this country rather than by the Report of an emissary as to what he has been able to hear from witnesses speaking, or spokesmen representing their views for them in Africa—it is rather by the work in this country, I believe, that that might be brought about. If so, I am quite sure it would be for the permanent good of the Empire as a whole.

I am one of those who think that within the covers of that Report there are principles which would have far-reaching consequences and which we want to see embodied in practical action. I await, and I am quite sure others await, the statement by the Government of what they propose to do in the matter. A very great deal turns on the practical form their proposal takes as to giving effect to one or other of the lines of policy which have been indicated by the two sets of people whose opinions are in one case fully before us and in the other case adumbrated before us. I do wish to hear from the Government something definite and helpful.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will agree that we have had a very interesting and instructive debate this afternoon. Noble Lords who hold different points of view have expressed their opinions, but I am certain that your Lordships will have listened with particular care to the very important speech which has been delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Lugard, who initiated this debate. Tributes have been paid by other speakers to the work which the noble Lord has done, but the House will fully agree with me when I say that we all realise that he speaks with very special knowledge and authority on the subject of Eastern Africa as a result of his close association with and practical experience in that country, and I can assure your Lordships that anything which he has said will receive very careful consideration at the hands of His Majesty's Government. As a matter of fact the problems with which we are dealing to-day are in a very large measure the result of the noble Lord's work as a pioneer of civilised administration in Eastern Africa, and both his example and his writings have done very much to turn the thoughts of people in this country towards those problems.

We have heard this afternoon, and very naturally, a great deal said about the Report of the Commission on Closer Union of the Dependencies in Eastern and Central Africa, and whatever any individual one of us may think about the recommendations in that Report, at any rate I feel certain that we shall all agree that it has made a very important and fruitful contribution to the study of the problems confronting us in Eastern Africa. It is undoubtedly a very remarkable and comprehensive document and I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to those Commissioners who were concerned in drawing it up. It certainly lays down many broad, general principles. It also puts forward a whole series of constructive and detailed suggestions affecting every aspect of the situation in Eastern Africa and particularly with regard to the question of the closer union of the three northern territories of Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda.

I think I need hardly say that His Majesty's Government greatly welcome the initiation of a discussion on this subject in this House, but I hope that your Lordships will not expect from me this afternoon any final declaration of Government policy on this subject. The matters which are dealt with in this Report are still under close consideration. They are, as has been made perfectly clear by those noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, matters vast and complex which obviously require very close consideration. In these circumstances, I am afraid it is impossible for me to discuss in any detail the numerous points and questions which have been raised during this afternoon's debate. The noble Lord, Lord Olivier, for instance, has referred at some considerable length to the question of forced labour and to certain aspects of the native situation in South Africa. I am afraid that it is quite impossible for me to follow him in a discussion upon those subjects, which perhaps are not very germane to the question of the Report of the Commission which is at issue this afternoon, but I would like to remind your Lordships—and I hope this will allay any fears that may exist upon the subject—that the Government have no intention of taking any definite action upon the recommendations of the Report until There has been full opportunity for discussion in this country and until they have been able to ascertain the views of those people who are most intimately concerned—namely, the various communities in Eastern Africa.

The Government have always maintained that those communities have a right to a voice as to whether the recommendations in this Report should he applied at all, and, if they are to be applied, exactly in what way that application should be made. It is just that very point as to how best the communities in Eastern Africa can be consulted which the Government are, at the moment, closely examining. I think it is clear, at any rate, that the result of such consultation cannot be known within the lifetime of the present Parliament, and in those circumstances it would be considered premature for the Government to set up a Joint Select Committee or even to make up their minds as to whether a Joint Select Committee would be the best method of dealing with the Report. But I feel confident that this suggestion, as well as any other suggestion made, will be taken into consideration when the time comes. The actual scheme for closer union by a series of stages which is suggested by the Commission is a very interesting one and presents many quite novel features. These suggestions, as your Lordships know, have already been the subject of discussion between my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Governors of Kenya and Tanganyika, who came home specially for the purpose. It is the view of the Government that these suggestions will need fuller consideration on the spot in the light, not only of the political considerations which affect the territories and the communities concerned, but also in the light of their bearing on administrative problems in those countries.

Let me say one word about the broader general principles which have been enunciated by the Commission for guidance in the evolution of what is known and has been referred to this afternoon as the dual policy—that is, the complementary development side by side in East Africa of the native and the immigrant communities. I think your Lordships will agree that these principles are in a large measure only an amplification of the principles which have already been laid down in previous documents. I refer to the White Paper issued by the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, in 1923 and that issued by my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1927. To the extent that those principles are merely an amplification of the principles set out in those White Papers they are, of course, acceptable to His Majesty's Government, but I think I should say that there are certain points in regard to which it may be thought that the Commissioners—not all, but some of the Commissioners—have travelled beyond the principles laid down in those Papers. With regard to those points, the Government must naturally reserve their judgment pending the fuller consideration which is being applied at the present moment. I am very sorry I am not able to give a more definite statement this evening, but I hope your Lordships will feel that this discussion has not been entirely valueless if only for the extremely important speech which we heard from the noble Lord who initiated the debate.


Before my noble friend sits down could he supplement the information which he has given to the House by saying whether it is true that Sir Samuel Wilson is to be sent out, and, if so, with what instructions?


I am afraid I cannot say that. I can only say that the matter is under consideration.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Lugard must have felt on the whole very well satisfied with the debate we have had this afternoon. Your Lordships are indebted to him for introducing the subject and dealing with it in the very full and lucid way in which he did. We have waited to hear what action His Majesty's Government themselves propose to take in regard to this Report. I think every one who has read through this Report looks upon it as a very great and statesmanlike document. drawn with great lucidity and very suggestive in various ways. Quite obviously, those of us who have read it feel that it is a document which could not be and should not be adopted without a great deal more consideration than it has yet had an opportunity of receiving. The noble Earl who is representing the Colonial Office said that we should not expect from him a final statement in regard to this matter. That is the very last thing of all that we desire from the Colonial Office at the present moment. We are anxious that those who are interested should have a far greater opportunity of considering the matter before any final decision is reached.

I am bound to say that I was a little disappointed that the noble Earl who replied for the Government did not give us rather more of an indication of the line which the Government would take in their desire to obtain further information. He said, quite rightly, that he could not give an opinion in regard to the suggestion made as to the appointment of a Joint Select Committee at a subsequent stage. I understood my noble friend Lord Lugard not to put that forward as a suggestion for immediate consideration, but to propose the Joint Committee almost as a last court of appeal before which the various parties might appear. We really wanted to know rather what was the first step that the Government proposed for obtaining further information on the spot. However, I am not quarrelling with the noble Earl, because he has at any rate done what we wanted and the Government are going to give plenty of time for the consideration of this question both on this side and in Africa.

After all, whatever decision is come to, we have here a question of the most fundamental interest and of paramount importance to those great regions of East Africa. All of us, I am sure, whether we agree with the Report or differ from it, are anxious that any decision that is reached shall not have been forced upon one party or the other, but that some agreement may be arrived at with regard to the fundamental principles which we have in view for the future of East Africa. This can be achieved only after initial discussion on the other side and, speaking for myself and, I think, for a good many of your Lordships, I am glad to hear from the Government that all these matters are open for consideration and that the object in view is to obtain, before any settlement is made, fuller information and to enable the different parties concerned to have a fuller opportunity of considering these matters.

I should like to endorse the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Archbishop Davidson, regarding the Kenya settlers. I am sure that nobody here desires to cast any aspersion whatever upon the settlers in Kenya. They themselves would be the first to admit that they have sometimes made mistakes, as we all do, but I am sure that their object is the same as ours, and they have done very valuable work for the Empire. I am sure that they will look at this matter from the general point of view and not from that of local interests alone.

Obviously, when they first became acquainted with the Report, they found various parts of it with which they did not wholly agree. They condemned those parts, quite naturally, and it is because they did so, and because we have not yet had a good opportunity of considering these matters, that we are anxious to have time so that good suggestions may be carried forward and those that cannot be defended may be shown to be out of the question, and so that, before we decide on these matters, we may come to an agreement. It is on the knees of the gods which will be the Government which will have to decide this question and say what shall finally be done.

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