HL Deb 03 July 1930 vol 78 cc287-312

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD PASSFIELD) had given Notice of a Motion to resolve, That it is desirable that a Joint Committee of both House be appointed to consider the Reports on Closer Union in East Africa (Cmd. 3234 and Cmd. 3378), together with the statement of the conclusions of His Majesty's Government (Cmd. 3574), and to report thereon. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I had hoped to have invited your Lordships' House to decide upon the setting up of a Joint Committee to consider the Reports on Kenya and East Africa, but I owe a word of explanation to your Lordships for the Motion which I am formally moving. The Government have conic to the conclusion that, largely from the point of view of lack of time in another place, it is futile to attempt to set up a Joint Committee in this Session. It would have been of great advantage had we been able to get it set up, not in order really to do business, because time would not permit of that, but in order for it to decide its own procedure and give notice to those who wish to appear as witnesses that they would be ready to receive them in the following Session. Then they could ask to be re-appointed in the ensuing Session. That is not now possible, and but for another consideration I would not have brought the matter before your Lordships this afternoon.

Notice had already been given and I understood one or two noble Lords were prepared to speak on the Motion. Therefore I thought it more respectful to proceed formally with the Motion in order not to interfere with what has been arranged, and for practical purposes, in so far as possible, to give notice to those concerned what is the intention of the Government on the matter. If we had not brought the matter to your Lordships' notice in this way there would not nave been adequate notice to those overseas who wish to take part in the matter. I will not, at this hour, attempt to go into the matter. Your Lordships will be very familiar with the fact that the situation in East Africa has been under serious consideration by the late Government and the present Government for several years. We need not go any further back than the sending out of a Commission of Inquiry under Sir Hilton Young, which produced what I would venture to call a masterly Report, unfortunately of considerable length and complexity, upon the whole question. That Report, masterly as it seems to me to be, dealt with the question on so large a scale, and went so far into the future, that its recommendations did not meet, to put it mildly, with any universal assent.

I am not sure how far they met with the approval or the consent of the Government to which they were presented, but at any rate the Permanent Secretary of the Colonial Office, Sir Samuel Wilson, was sent out by my predecessor to discuss that Report with all the parties concerned in East Africa, not in order to commit the Government but in order to ascertain by personal contact what parts of the Report were commonly acceptable, and what parts presented serious difficulties in practice. That Report was not made until there had been a change of Government, and it has been one of my personal perplexities, almost ever since I took office, to discover what exactly was the right thing to do with regard to this complicated question.

The Government decided very early that they would ask both Houses of Parliament to appoint a Joint Committee to consider and practically pronounce judgment upon the matter, but the Government have not shirked their own responsibilities. They wished to bring before the Joint Committee, and they have reported to your Lordships' House, what their own conclusions are in this matter. The Government might have proceeded to carry out those conclusions, but out of respect to the opinion of very competent people, and very strongly felt feelings, it was considered desirable that we should go on with the proposal of a Joint Committee, in order, quite frankly, to see whether the conclusions of the Government could be improved upon, and in any case to get for the policy which may eventually come a sort of sanction higher than that at any rate of the present Government, and perhaps of any Government confined to one Party. It is better, especially in matters connected with native policy and constitutions, that we should go forward in any change with the united support, or a large measure of the united support, of all Parties as far as possible. Still die Government do not shrink from their responsibility, and they have put down their proposals in sufficient detail, which they are prepared to carry out and which they hope the Joint Committee will support them in carrying out.

In a few words let me say what those proposals are. The Government propose that there should be appointed a High Commissioner for the three principal territories of East Africa—Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika—and that this High Commissioner should have a dual function. On the one hand under Royal Instructions he should be there as representative of the Secretary of State to see what was going on, with regard especially to native policy, in all three territories, and be able to intervene with authority at the instance of the Secretary of State in various ways. One thing in particular it was impossible to arrive at—uniform regulations for so large a territory, so diverse a native population and so large a population. It is quite clear that there ought to be co-ordination of native policy, at any rate so far as concerns matters which cross the borders of the several territories. There is one large native population, the Masai, which is actually in two of these territories. It is very desirable that there should not be regulation of one kind in one part of the territory and regulation of another kind in another part. Then, further, all the arrangements connected with the regulation of native migration or native travelling require to be co-ordinated.

Those are only instances of things which need to be done. I mention that side of the High Commissioner's functions, his interference with regard to native policy on behalf of the Secretary of State, because that is a side to which very great importance was attached by Sir Hilton Young's Commission and to which very great importance is attached by many people in this country. On the other hand, the other side of his functions, which more particularly relates to his schemes for closer union, is of an entirely different character. A great many people thought it necessary, and the Government think it necessary, that various services of these three territories should actually be under common management, should actually be to a large extent amalgamated. It is absurd, it seems, that each of these three territories should have its own railway system pushing ahead otherwise than on a single co-ordinated plan. It is equally important that the other side of transport—not. only the lake traffic, but also the possibilities of motor traffic on the roads—should be coordinated and dealt with for the whole of the territories upon a common plan. Similarly, with regard to Customs. Great difficulty has already been experienced by the Customs being dealt with separately, as at present. Two of these territories are on the coast and have an opportunity of levying Customs Duties. The third one, Uganda, is an inland enclave, and questions must arise as to the equity of the Customs Duties which are levied on the coast, but are really ultimately borne by the people of Uganda. Various makeshift attempts have taken place to arrive at some better co-ordination, but it is recommended almost on all hands that the Customs regulations should be unified.

There are various other directions with which I will not trouble your Lordships in which union is desirable. It is proposed that the High Commissioner should, under an Order in Council or Letters Patent, himself administer as a Governor those transferred services, but he should do that with the support, the advice and assistance of a Council, which should represent all the three territories; and that involves consideration of the different tenures of those territories. Kenya is for the most part what is technically called a Colony; Uganda is not a Colony, it is a Protectorate; and Tanganyika is neither a Colony nor a Protectorate, but is held under Mandate from the League of Nations in effect. With regard to Tanganyika, therefore, we are bound by the terms of the Mandate, the basis of which is that it must be retained as a unit, and therefore no simple amalgamation of the territories is practicable unless there is some alteration of the terms of the Mandate. But the Mandate itself expressly gives power, under Article 10, for a joint administration, a union, of the economic services, and it is under that Article that the proposed union would take place. That involves considerable care to see that the terms are such as are in conformity with the spirit as well as the letter of the Mandate, and care has been taken to see that that is done.

I could give your Lordships a much better description of that by taking more time, but it is set forth very clearly in the White Paper. I must formally end by moving for the appointment of a Joint Committee to take these matters into consideration and report., but I want to say quite frankly that I only make that Motion in order to put myself in order, and in view of the circumstances that I have already stated I shall propose at the conclusion of the debate to ask leave to withdraw the Motion. But I do so because I wish to give notice to those who would come to the Joint Committee, and would seek to influence the Joint Committee by evidence—to give notice to them, as I can by this debate, that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government, as soon as the new Session opens in October or November next, to ask your Lordships to consent to appoint such a Joint Committee as I have described. Then, although it is for the Committee itself to settle its own procedure and I cannot therefore pledge the Committee to hear evidence orally, it win no doubt be willing to receive evidence, and I should certainty propose that it should hear any witnesses who wished to come before it from any of those territories or elsewhere. But, at any rate, by making this declaration I am able to give notice that the Joint Committee will be asked for, will probably be set up, and that it will almost certainly be willing to receive evidence from those who wish to criticise or comment upon the proposals committed to the Joint Committee. Now I formally move the Motion on the Paper, and thank your Lordships for your consideration.

Moved to resolve, That it is desirable that a Joint Committee of both Houses be appointed to consider the Reports on Closer Union in East Africa (Cmd. 3234 and Cmd. 3378), together with the statement of the conclusions of His Majesty's Government (Cmd. 3574), and to report thereon.—(Lord Passfield.)


My Lords, I have listened with the greatest interest to the remarks of the noble Lord, but there are two things that I am not quite clear about. One is whether any further opportunity will be given to your Lordships' House to debate this most important matter, and the other is whether the Government intend to take action on the lines of their White Paper before or during the sitting of this Joint Committee of both Houses. I would wish to say now that, in spite of what the noble Lord has said, I much regret the decision taken by His Majesty's Government to set up this Committee, and my reasons for doing so are roughly three. In the first place, there have been several Committees in East Africa. There are only two mentioned in the Motion, and the noble Lord has only mentioned two. Prior to them, as he knows, there was the long and most interesting Report by another Committee presided over by Mr. Ormsby-Gore, and there have been almost innumerable other Committees sitting side by side on various points in that distressful country. And I am bound to say that each Committee in a smaller or greater degree according to its importance has added to the uncertainty of affairs in that country. It has lessened the confidence in that country, and in doing so it has lessened the trade and the prosperity of that country.

There is a proposal to add yet one more, and I regret it. I regret very much that the Government have not seen fit to adopt the alternative course—to adopt the recommendations of Sir Samuel Wilson and to proceed to put them into effect. I do not think a Joint Committee is the right method of dealing with this matter. East Africa is a vast and complicated country. I am not certain that the difficulties there are not greater than they are in India. Just consider the population for a moment. There is the white population, some of them British, others Dutch, others German, others Greek, and the Japanese are becoming an increasingly important section of the populace. We have the Arabs and the Swahili, and also a vast number of tribes and languages. I may call the attention of your Lordships to a fact with which all of you may not be familiar, that some of what are called native tribes have a very fair claim to the title of immigrants which is used in the White Paper perhaps rather contemptuously. The country has vast differences of level, of products and so on, and matters there are so complicated that for any person even to consider evidence and be able to give a good opinion on that evidence he must have a considerable knowledge of local circumstances or a vast deal of time to spare for the work. That, I think, has always been held to be the case by previous Governments and that is the reason why their Committees have always conducted their work on the spot so as to get local particulars.

The proposal of the Government is this. They are proposing to select from a very limited number of men a Committee of considerable sire; I believe I am right in saying that twenty is the number. If you are going to select twenty members from a very limited number it seems to me that you have two courses before you. You might be able to get just twenty members who would have sufficient knowledge to give an opinion, after hearing the evidence, which would be worthy of consideration. Unfortunately, those men have already heard again and again, twenty times, all the evidence that can be given, and I am afraid that in the vast majority of cases on what are the main issues their minds are definitely made up. If you do not follow that course you will have to select twenty people who, until they have spent months or years on the subject, will be forced to give an opinion on a matter in which they are, I will not say so remotely interested, but about which they are so ignorant that their opinion will not be of any appreciable value. I have thought the subject over carefully and I can only think of one man who seems an ideal member of that Committee and that is the noble Lord, Lord Lugard. I know of no other man who can so successfully combine know- ledge with an absolutely open mind. I regret, therefore, the course that has been taken.

There is one other reason. The work of Sir Samuel Wilson has been mentioned. I lived for many years in East Africa in one way and another and I know, as probably others of your Lordships know, that owing to the circumstances I have mentioned and, possibly, also to its elevation, this is a country in which unanimity of opinion upon any subject is extremely difficult to obtain. It is a country in which good will is none too easy to get. Even in this country that is a comparatively rare plant. I have known many who have attempted to get good will and some measure of agreement in East Africa, who have tried to obtain the sympathies of both sides for the common good, but no man has had the same measure of success as Sir Samuel Wilson had. I do not say that he satisfied everybody. The noble Lord knows as well as I do that that would be impossible; but he got a degree of agreement that was amazing. I regret most bitterly that the good will engendered by that splendid piece of work—I will not say has been thrown away but has been jeopardized to a marked degree by the proposals put forward in these Papers. I think it is a thousand pities.

I am prepared to speak for a very considerable time not only upon the White Paper itself but on the other document which is its twin brother and which I regard, I am sorry to say, as an unfortunate document. If your Lordships will allow me five minutes more I will confine myself to two points which I think are major points on the Paper concerning closer union. The first is this. It somewhat amazes me to find what great autocratic powers are to be put into the hands of one individual. It causes me astonishment. Those of your Lordships who have read—I have no doubt those who are here have done so—the White Paper in question will have noticed how extensive those powers are and what a complete control the nigh Commissioner will have over a variety of subjects. Indeed, it is rather difficult to see what powers outside of the powers of the High Commissioner are left to His Majesty's Government in those territories.

Not only has he those powers, but he is untrammelled by anybody. He appoints his own Council. He dismisses his Council. If their opinions do not coincide with his they go. He is an absolute autocrat. Further than that, he is to have his own secret service from which he can send and is almost invited to send a secret agent to seek out things that may be wrong in territories administered by one of His Majesty's Governors. Surely that is a departure from the whole of our previous policy not only there but anywhere else, and I am bound to say that it surprises me. I know there are those who say that a benevolent autocrat or dictator is the finest form of government, but I hardly thought that this Government would put it forward. I do not know whether the High Commissioner will always be a benevolent despot. A despot he certainly will be; but will he always be benevolent?

I mention the other point with reluctance but I must mention it. It is the suggestion that the common roll shall replace the communal roll. Whoever drew up this Report and is responsible for it must have known when then put that in that they would destroy any chance there was of getting it accepted with the good will of the inhabitants. I am bound to say that it seems to me that those people were suffering some what from (shall we say?) self-confidence. Think of the people who had gone before them. Think of Sir Samuel Wilson, of the Hilton Young Commission, of the Ormsby-Gore Commission and of the present Secretary of State for the Dominions, Mr. J. H. Thomas. Think of all the Governors out there. Can a single one of those he found who ever suggested that the common roll is preferable to the communal roll? I do not think so. Therefore, the turning aside of those opinions with a gesture and no argument really seems to me a very strong step to take. It is a step that I regret.

When I was young I used occasionally to read stories of people in a sledge who were pursued by wolves and the family in the sledge would throw out one by one the less desirable members to satisfy the wolves so that others might escape. I suggest to your Lordships that in this case the Indians are the wolves and that you are sacrificing the fattest, the juiciest, and the youngest of your children in Kenya Colony to satisfy their hunger. I do not think, and I say it with all earnestness, that it has ever paid to sacrifice the loyal to the disloyal. We have had experience of it elsewhere and I venture to think it has never paid. I do not wish at this late hour to pursue this subject further. I trust an opportunity will be given later for it to be fully dealt with in your Lordships' House. I would venture to hope that when the Committee is set up it will have before it two great objects—first, to give fair play to every section of the population, and in doing so I would suggest that the paramountcy of any interest, white or black, should be expunged from their mind; and, secondly, to get back, so far as they have the power, the good will which has, I fear, been so rashly jeopardised.


My Lords, I do not wish to speak at any length this evening, but in view of the fact that such very important issues are at stake in the publications which have recently been made by the Government, I feel there are certain questions which cannot be allowed to pass without comment. The noble Lord in whose name this Motion stands has made it clear that it is not his intention to press it this evening. He is going to ask leave to withdraw it, but he has at the same time made it quite clear that the Government do not intend to go back upon their decision to set up a Joint Committee of both Houses to go into these very complicated questions of closer union in Eastern Africa. The noble Lord who sits behind me has expressed qualms as to the result of the setting up of this Committee. He complained that East Africa has been suffering from too many Committees in recent years, and that it would have been far better to have accepted Sir Samuel Wilson's recommendations than to have wasted any time—which he believes will be fruitlessly wasted—in setting up a further Committee. I do not intend to go into that to-night, but would only say this, that having gone as far as they have gone—that is, having gone so far as to issue an important Paper dealing with this matter of closer union—I do not think the Government could have taken any other course than to set up a Joint Committee of both Houses. Amongst the members of that Committee, I can assure the noble Lord, there will be found some who have a very intimate and close knowledge of affairs in East Africa. I say I do not think the Government could have taken any other course than set up this Committee to go into this question.

As the noble Lord has said, this Motion was preceded by the publication of two important documents. The first is a Memorandum on Native Policy, and the second the document under review to-day—a statement of their conclusions with regard to closer union in East Africa. I do not intend to say anything about the former. The noble Lord behind me has said that in his opinion it is a dangerous document. The Government themselves, however, do not believe that they are laying down any new principle so far as the native population is concerned. They believe that it is merely an elaboration of principles that have been laid down in the past by previous Secretaries of State for the guidance of those who are primarily concerned with administering native policy in East Africa. I think it is satisfactory to know, at any rate, that the Government believe and agree that our policy, in so far as this matter is concerned, is based upon sound principles. At all events, they make it quite clear that in their opinion what is far more important is the way in which the principles which they have laid down are going to be practically applied by the people on the spot, and with that view I think we shall all heartily agree.

I pass to the second Paper, the statement of their conclusions, and in respect of that I should like to offer some criticisms. As the noble Lord opposite, the Secretary of State, has told us, it is intended by these proposals to set up a High Commissioner for the territories of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, with a Federal Council of twenty-five members, and his duties are to be divided into two categories. He is to have certain duties and powers in respect of native policy, and then he is to have duties in respect of certain transferred services which will be handed over to him. With regard to the first, the question of native policy, I should like to say quite frankly that in my opinion the Government proposals are open to the very gravest objection. Although there is no right to initiate legislation in the Federal Council with regard to native policy, at the same time the High Commissioner is to be given tremendous power.

I do not want to enumerate his powers as they are given in the White Paper but I cannot help bringing to your Lordships' attention one or two of them:— He shall make such criticism, suggestions and proposals to the Governors of the alcove-mentioned territories as he may think fit. He shall suggest or order local inquiries and investigations called for by complaints or reports of abuses. He may send one of his own officers to look into such complaints or reports of abuses, and the officer may report to him without publicity or formality. That really is, it seems to me, a very strong order. It amounts to all intents and purposes to sending somebody spying into somebody else's territory. I think that is well nigh intolerable. Then:— He shall be empowered to require any of the Governors to initiate any legislation which he may, with the approval of the Secretary of State, deem necessary. We cannot hide from ourselves that these are very big powers indeed, and I venture to say that they go a very great deal farther than any suggestions that were made in the Report of the Commission presided over by Sir Hilton Young.

That Commission suggested that the High Commissioner should have powers to inaugurate inquiries and joint discussions on questions of native policy, as had been previously indicated in the Report. Sir Samuel Wilson is even more definite on this subject. I would like to read a passage from his Report. With regard to the question of the general supervisory power of the proposed High Commissioner over the native policy of the three territories he said:— I found that there was general agreement with the views expressed by the Hilton Young Commission on the principles which should govern the relations between the natives and the other communities; but, as already indicated, I met no one in East Africa who was in favour of putting the general control of native policy directly under the control of a central authority. Those are very strong words indeed; yet in spite of them the Government propose to hand over the complete control of native policy to the High Commissioner.

I speak with diffidence here, but I speak at the same time feeling quite certain that those who know East Africa, and the conditions there, know that the conditions in the various territories differ very greatly indeed, that what applies to one does not apply to the others, and that what might obtain in one does not obtain in the others. It does seem to me, therefore, that the Governor of the individual Colony is the one person who is probably qualified to speak with authority on the subject, and I think it would be wise to leave him very wide discretion indeed as to the handling of these questions without such direct interference from a central authority. In addition to that the High Commissioner is not responsible to any body, whereas the Governor is always liable to have to run the gauntlet of his Council if he has to initiate legislation on the subject, and that kind of point does weigh very heavily with public opinion or with a large section of public opinion in East Africa. I feel I must say, in concluding my remarks in so far as this question of native policy is concerned, that the proposals of the Government in their present form are, in my opinion, open to objection and very possibly fraught with considerable danger unless they are altered.

With regard to the second part of the High Commissioner's duties, they are those which concern services which are to be transferred to him. I hope and believe that in connection with this there will be less controversy, although there will naturally arise a very large number of points which require elucidation. There are a very large number of services to be transferred to the High Commissioner, including railways, ports and harbours, Customs, defence, posts, telegraphs, telephones and a number of others. I will confine my remarks to one or two of them. I should like to ask one or two questions with regard to Customs. I do not think it is quite clear whether the Government intend, if these proposals are put into operation, that the local Governors and Councils should have any further direct control in the matter of Customs at all. Will the High Commissioner and his Council have control over the administration only of this service or will they also have the power of fixing the actual duties in the various territories? It is, after all, a very serious matter as far as the territories are concerned, because as your Lordships are aware Customs form the largest part., or at any rate a very large part, of their revenue, and it may quite obviously be very awkward and very difficult for a Governor if the duties were fixed without consulting him, or rather over his head by a central authority, without his having any real voice in the matter.

Then there is the question of defence, and the same sort of question occurs to me here as in regard to the last subject. I am not quite clear whether the Government in their proposals mean that the High Commissioner should assume control of all defence, that is internal defence as well as external defence. In other words, is he to have control merely of the King's African Rifles or will he assume control as well of the reserve and the police force in the various territories? The police force, of course, strikes one as being essentially a domestic affair and one wonders whether it would be possible to unify the police service and in that way put it under a central authority. I should like to mention in passing the Kenya Defence Force and to ask whether it is the intention that the High Commissioner should take over responsibility for that force. It is a force which has proved itself, I think, very useful and very necessary, and I think we ought to realise that Kenya, in contrast with the other two territories, has a very real and acute problem of defence in so far as the Abyssinian frontier is concerned. Therefore they are very deeply interested in this question.

There are also various points with regard to the finance of the scheme. Clearly the setting up of a new organisation such as this High Commissioner with a staff of officials and his Council will cost money, and one asks oneself the question, where is this money coming from? At the present moment expenditure in the three territories is high and the balances are very small. I mist confess, I am unable to see where you are going to get a counterbalancing saving as a result of these measures to set off the extra expense which is entailed. In fact, the Government have not, in their White Paper, given us any in formation as to what all this will cost, and I think we ate entitled to have some estimate from the Government on this point.

In addition there are a number of other questions. I do not wish to weary your Lordships, but they are all of them more or less important. There is the very important question of the composition of tine suggested Federal Council. It is suggested by the Government that it should consist of twenty-five members in all. It seems to me that is a very large body, I should have thought a good deal too large probably. The official members will have to come very long distances—and, of course, the more there are of them the greater the expense entailed—and they will have to leave their very important work for considerable periods, Also it is very difficult to understand why the official majority on this Council is to be so large. As at present constituted, besides the High Commissioner and three of his officers, there are to be seven members from each of the territories, four official and three unofficial. I personally should have thought that an equal number of official and unofficial members front each territory, together with the High Commissioner and his chief adviser, would have been sufficient. I think your Lordships should understand that this large official majority on the Central Council is giving rise to very great suspicion in some quarters and it does seem to me that it is quite unnecessary.

There is one omission in connection with this White Paper which does strike one very forcibly. I should like to remind your Lordships that amongst other things the Commission over which Sir Hilton Young presided was asked to make recommendations as to associating more closely in the responsibility and trusteeship of government the immigrant communities domiciled in the country. As far as I can see, the Government have foreshadowed no proposals at all to give effect to that suggestion. I think that that is very unfortunate indeed. One thing that is required in Eastern Africa is the development of a community sense and clearly one of the best ways of producing that sense is to bring members of the immigrant communities into the Government. I think it is very regrettable that the Government have not made any proposals as far as I can see which might help to bring about that state of affairs.

I must say a few words about, the Kenya Council itself. It is a matter which has loomed very large and is considered of great importance. It is not necessary for me to remind your Lordships that there has been in Kenya for some considerable time now a demand that the official majority on the Council should be replaced by an unofficial majority. The Government have apparently decided to leave the matter as it stands, to leave the official majority on the Kenya Council. I think in that connection it is only right and proper to point out that all Sir Samuel Wilson's suggestions were made on the assumption that the official majority was to go and that the unofficial majority was to take its place. I think he makes that perfectly clear. Sir Samuel Wilson says:— As regards (c), it is assumed in Kenya that the acceptance of the recommendation of the Hilton Young Commission concerning the abandonment of the official majority in the Kenya Legislative Council will be a sine qua non in any scheme of closer union that may he agreed to; and all my discussions with the European communities in Kenya were carried out on this assumption. The Government have decided in exactly the opposite direction, and clearly that must modify all the views to which Sir Samuel Wilson refers in his Report.

In addition to that, the Government have taken this opportunity of making what I consider and what clearly my noble friend, Lord Cranworth, also considers a very disquieting statement with regard to political representation in Kenya. If your Lordships will hear with me for moment, I should just like to read out the passage to which I am referring. They say:— With regard to the franchise for the Legislative Council of Kenya, His Majesty's Government are of the opinion that the establishment of a common roll is the object to he aimed at and attained, with an equal franchise of a civilisation or education character open to all races. And they go on to suggest that one of the first duties of the High Commissioner should be to enquire how this object can be most easily and quickly attained. We cannot get away from the fact that this statement has given rise to very great anxiety, not to say alarm, in that country. It is, as has already been pointed out, contrary to the views that have been expressed by those who have recently been studying the situation in Kenya and who are consequently qualified to speak with authority on the matter. I quite agree that it is possible to argue that in theory a common roll may be desirable, but surely we must realise that in practice a common roll in Kenya is entirely out of the question for years to come. Communal representation is really the only possible method at present, and I think it is a very great pity that the Government had not the courage to say so and, by saying so, to allay in some degree the very great anxiety that has been aroused.

As to the actual question of an unofficial as opposed to an official majority in the Council being granted, I think that this is clearly bound to depend to a large extent upon the circumstances that obtain. But one thing is quite clear, and that is that this demand for an unofficial majority on the Council has been very greatly increased by the proposals that have been published by the Government. I really do not think that, when we examine the matter, this is at all surprising. It clearly arises from the lack of any sense of security, which I think is rather natural. The white settlers in Kenya are frightened that the High Commissioner, with his great powers, may do something that is inimical to their interests. They are frightened that the High Commissioner's Federal Council, over which they would have practically no control and which will have a very large official majority, may likewise do something which will be very deleterious to their interests.

As I have said, I think the one feature that is really disappointing is the fact that no attempt has been made to realise the essential conception that the immigrant communities should be associated in the trusteeship in East Africa with the Government, and I think the great danger is that, if these proposals are put into operation as they now stand, they will throw the settlers back into a position in which their primary concern will be to do what they can to protect their own interests. I think that this would be a very deplorable and retrogade step. I trust your Lordships will forgive me for having delayed you for such a long time on this matter, but it is one of very great importance. I dare say that we shall have an opportunity of returning to it once again, but I am afraid I must make it clear that, although some measure of agreement may be found with regard to these proposals, I think that in their present form they are far from acceptable.


My Lords, in the confident anticipation that in due course you will approve the Motion which I understand is still before the House—namely, that the Reports on East Africa and the conclusions of His Majesty's Government should be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses, I think that, considering the late hour and the fact that these matters will be fully investigated by the Joint Committee, it would be inopportune at the present time to go into any detail as regards the conclusions which His Majesty's Government have formulated. The sole question, therefore, is whether or not it is advisable to set up a Joint Committee of both Houses. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, that he has doubts whether a satisfactory Committee could be assembled. That, I think, has never been an obstacle hitherto in the setting up of Joint Committees of the two Houses. The object of the Committee would be to bring finally to a conclusion the controversies that have raged both in East Africa and in this country on the various subjects on which His Majesty's Government have now given their decision.

From the Report of the first Commission which was set up under Mr. Ormsby-Gore in 1923 up to the time of the Report of Sir Samuel Wilson, which has now been in the hands of the Government for exactly a year, a wonderful and, I think, very remarkable interest has been shown throughout the country in these problems of East Africa. The decisions to which the Joint Committee of both Houses will come will shape future policy not only in the East African territories which are more immediately concerned but also throughout the whole of tropical and sub-tropical Africa, and possibly also in other Dependencies. In the Kivu highlands the Belgians are faced with an identical problem of European colonisation on a large scale and, as I happen to know, they are watching very closely what decisions will be taken by this country.

It is not merely a question of the relations between the white and coloured races. It is much more than that. The issue involves the question of what is the best form of government for African races in all these large African Protectorates. The events that are passing to-day in India and in South Africa serve as a warning to us that the day must come when these subject races, as they become better educated, will demand some voice in the government of their country. In the normal evolution of representative government their vote would swamp that of the far more capable and politically experienced European community. It seems to me, therefore, that it is a matter of the most urgent importance for the European communities in East Africa and elsewhere to look to the future and consider whether Parliamentary institutions are in any way adapted to the government of these large African Protectorates. Foresight is not only necessary in regard to those countries in which there are European communities: it is equally necessary where they do not exist, lest we should find that the welfare of vast illiterate and primitive races has been entrusted to a small, inexperienced, politically-minded native minority.

The issues indeed upon which the Joint Committee will have to pronounce will involve an examination of the question what is the best form of government for natives in those countries which are populated by large numbers of subject races, for they are eager for education and quick to imitate European ideas, and we have seen that eventually they will claim some voice in the government of the country. Is it, then, possible to direct their aspirations into channels which will not conflict with the normal and legitimate development of the other communities in the country who are more capable and more able to develop representative institutions? We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, that the conclusions of His Majesty's Government are anything but welcome to the European residents in East Africa. It is because of these very divergent views that in my opinion the best possible method of dealing with them is to set up a Joint Committee of both Houses, which is the best possible way of declaring the national will and giving expression to the united voice of Parliament. It is a method which would be accepted by all communities alike, as a final expression of British policy as laid down by the united decision of the imperial Parliament.


My Lords, I crave the indulgence which I believe it is customary to extend to all speakers who address your Lordships' house for the first time, and I promise that I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. I am moved to speak because I feel that it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the question before us. It seems to me that here in the twentieth century we are called upon to deal with a subject which vas dealt with many years ago by Lord Durham. Our forefathers then had to face the question of the relations between the settlers in Canada and other parts of the world—other than the United States of America, which had been separated from us—with the Mother Country, anti Lord Durham produced a Report which was accepted by Parliament and the nation, and which has been the basis of the development of the British Colonies.

We are now faced with a problem even greater in magnitude, and it is the problem of the relations of the British Government with all the races under its jurisdiction. We are naturally anxious that the matter should be settled upon permanent and sound lines, and without any fear of that kind of partisan or sectional motive which might lead to the revocation in a future Parliament of what has been decided in this Parliament. May I say in a few words why, broadly speaking, I support the proposals of the Government? In the first place they put into practice the principle to which we have all given lip-service—the principle of trusteeship laid down in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. That is what the Government are trying to do in this crucial instance of Africa. All Africa is on the move, and whether we like it or not we have got to face the question of our relations with the native races. In what we are trying to do in Kenya we are bound to remember that Kenya must always be a black man's country. We must settle this question—indeed the Government, have committed themselves to settling this question—on the lines of Article 25 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

Secondly I support the Government on this matter because they recognise that trusteeship involves more than the protection of the material interests of the natives. They recognise that it includes education and general advancement, that it includes progress, politically, socially and economically. When the noble Lord on the Front Opposition Bench spoke of the common roll as being not practical politics I should be inclined to agree with him, but the difficulty is perhaps that we are inclined to misunderstand one another. Nevertheless our desire to keep the door open for the full development of the native must govern our policy now and here, and meanwhile. For that reason I submit that Sir Samuel Wilson's proposal to separate the native case from that of the white population is unwise. The common services involve the native interests at every turn. Public works, for instance, affect the problem of native labour. You cannot shelve the native question. You have got to face it, and that is the weakness of Sir Samuel Wilson's Report.

I am glad to find that His Majesty's Government decline to devolve their responsibility. British tradition in a sense is on its trial. All over the world the natives are becoming more self-conscious. Native movements are appearing everywhere, perhaps led by unwise leaders and taking directions which are dangerous to true progress. The mere fact of the danger of these explosions creates two difficulties—on the one hand, where the white population is very small, the danger of a small white minority being actuated by a policy of fear; on the other hand, where the white population, as I think we may say in Kenya, is strong enough to be immune from that policy of fear, there is the danger which comes to everyone who is human to press his own interests as against the interests of the natives. For that reason I think it is no time for the home Government to devolve their responsibility.

Again the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, spoke of the tremendous powers, as he seemed to consider them, which are given, according to the White Paper, to the High Commissioner. But surely those powers must be considered in relation to the Secretary of State. The High Commis- sioner has no power dissociated from the Secretary of State. He is a link between the territories and the Secretary of State, and his position is really a position of advice and criticism. All he can do is to hold up measures which in his opinion are deleterious to the welfare of the territories or the natives until the Secretary of State has pronounced an opinion. But what is the alternative to that? The alternative to that is that the power should rest definitely with this tiny white minority in these territories; and we know the saying, which is certainly true in this case, that no man is a good judge of his own case. And, therefore, surely we do want an impartial arbitral authority, such as the office of the High Commissioner would give, which will keep the balance even between all the various interests concerned.

Having said that, I do want to add that of course the white settlers have their rights. I feel very strongly that the white settlers were there, and sinking their capital in the country, long before the Versailles Treaty or the League of Nations Covenant was thought of, and they have rights that we have to consider. I cannot go further into that, but my impression is that the Joint Committee, when appointed, will be the safeguard of their interests. Every opportunity will be given to represent their interests, and certainly I for one hope that such a result will follow, and that there will be some unity of decision when this matter comes finally to a head. Certainly, as I said, the danger of anything like a sectional decision, or decision for expediency, will do far more harm than good, because it would only mean that what is once decided will be upset by another Government, and the issue is too great for any sort of decision of that kind. The only decision which can be permanent is a decision which is based on the Christian principles of justice, freedom and truth.


My Lords, I think the discussion that has taken place not only justifies my action in bringing this somewhat unreal Motion forward—unreal in the circumstances—but also the Government proposal that this matter should be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses. It is idle to pretend that we are agreed on the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, deprecated the reference to a if Joint Committee. I wonder whether he would have preferred that the Government should have proceeded to a decision without any further reference. We are humbly coming forward, stating what our own conclusions are, but saying we want this to be examined by a Joint Committee, and, whatever may be the outcome, we want as far as possible, as the right rev. Prelate has said, to get at any rate the greatest common measure of unity that we can get in this complicated matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, asked whether there will be further opportunity for debate. Certainly, at the first opportunity in the new Session, in October or November, I hope I shall be here to put down a similar Notice of Motion to the one to-day, which will give an opportunity for a debate on the whole matter. He also asked whether the Government will take action in the meantime. As regards getting out new Orders in Council or new Letters Patent, certainly not. The whole intention is to lay the matter before the Joint Committee, and, while the Government cannot of course abandon their own responsibility in the matter, certainly my intention would be to try to accept whatever decision the Joint Committee came to, at any rate on all but the most vital matters. Our hope is that we may get a decision from the Joint Committee which will represent genuinely the greatest common measure of agreement, and enable a policy to be laid down that will be let alone for Seine time to come.

Now I must apologise for the reference to "immigrant communities," but I think the noble Lord need not have taken offence at it. It shows how touchy people are in this matter of East Africa, because, as the noble Lord who followed, Lord Plymouth, quoted from the Conservative Government's references to the Hilton Young Commission, the words "immigrant communities" came in again and again. I find them also in the White Paper of 1927. So that it is not from any desire to be impolite or derogatory that the phrase is used in this White Paper. It has been a common phrase, common to both Parties for some time.

I will not take up time by answering all the questions put, but I will endeavour to give a little more information. With regard to tile Customs, the intention is that what would be transferred is not merely procedure or organisation, but actually the fixing of the Customs tariff. But of course that would not be done without the separate territories being given an opportunity to be there. As a matter of fact, the representation on the proposed Federal Council is deliberately designed so that not only the Government, but also, so to speak, the unofficial citizens of each territory should have a very effective say, and any three of them out of a Council of twenty-five will be able to hold up a decision of the Council and refer it to the Secretary of State. At the present time none of these territories has the power to settle its own Customs Duties. It is all subject to the Secretary of State's consent. Therefore they wilt have the same power to stop any hostile duty or any duty they do not like as they have at present.

Then with regard to defence, certainly that was a "shorthand" expression. The intention was to deal merely with the King's African Rifles and to unite them as a practical matter of military administration. It is better you should have a single force rather than three separate forces. You are able to concentrate your force much more nearly where it is required, and to the extent that is required, than would be the case if you had three separate forces. It is quite true there is one region, the Abyssinian frontier, which is a source of anxiety. It is exactly for that reason that this union is proposed, and is actually being carried out in practical operation, because that Abyssinian frontier is of interest not only to Kenya but to the other territories. Indeed, it is unfair that Kenya should bear the whole burden of the cost of it. Certainly there is no intention at present to amalgamate the police. I do not know whether it might not be done, but that is not included in the proposals.

The question of the cost has been raised. We can only roughly estimate the cost, but all the new expense is not estimated to come to more than £50,000 a year, and that is less then the economies which we believe can he secured by the union, and certainly is a very tiny percentage of the aggregate revenue of the three territories. The Federal Council has been complained of as being too large, but we must foresee that the division of opinion in this Federal Council will be geographical, that each of these territories will at any rate begin by standing up for itself, and it is thought desirable that you should have represented, not merely the official element, but also the unofficial element, and not one race exclusively. We really cannot contemplate that the whole of the representation on the Council would be monopolised by one race.

I will not go on any longer. I would only reply to the objection of the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, that we are not associating the immigrant races with any part of the trusteeship. I suggest that the powers, both of the Federal Council and of the Legislative Council of Kenya necessarily imply that it is the Legislative Council of Kenya which is to a large extent administering, under the Secretary of State, the trusteeship. What is it acting for? It would not be suggested that the settlers there are sitting there as councillors for their own profit, dealing with these native matters. They are bound to be acting as trustees, and they are untrue to their trust if they are not. We are associating them not only with the Kenya Council but also in this Federal Council—


With an official majority?


Yes, certainly with an official majority because it is of the nature of a trusteeship that it cannot he devolved. Nobody would suggest that the Government could devolve their trusteeship upon anybody else. If any of your Lordships is a trustee for wards or for children you know perfectly well that you may trust the administration of this, that or the other to your solicitor or your agent, but you cannot divest yourself in equity or in law of the trusteeship and say: "I have devolved it upon this man Who is a good man." You cannot devolve it. His Majesty's Government will never be able to devolve their trusteeship because that is of the very nature of trusteeship. You may associate people with it certainly, as you associate your solicitor or your agent or anyone with it; but you cannot devolve it, you cannot free yourself from the responsibility whatever you do. The right rev. Prelate who spoke incidentally referred to that point and I am grateful for the support. I venture to think that whatever decision the Joint Committee comes to, it will certainly not go back on that declaration of trusteeship, which does not date, I may remark, from the Treaty of Versailles or the League of Nations. It goes back really to the roots of English Colonial policy in Africa.

There is one other thing I must mention, and that is the reference to the common roll. Really this was a question which we were bound to refer to. We could not avoid it. When you consider the demands that are made not only by the Indians in Kenya but by the Government of India on behalf of the Indians, we could not evade the issue. And whatever may be thought of the opinion expressed as to the theoretical advantage of the common roll, I would ask noble Lords to remember that all that the Report proposes and all that the Government propose is an inquiry—to ask the High Commissioner to inquire what is the most practicable action in this direction that can be taken in the near future. Is there any noble Lord who would not be prepared to inquire what was the most practicable action that could he taken in this direction in the near future? That is all that the High Commissioner is going to report upon. Less than that we could not do. More than that perhaps it would have been rash to do. May I end by saying that as far as I am concerned and as far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, we hope that the Joint Committee will go into this whole question thoroughly and the Government, subject to ultimate reserves that must be made, will wish to carry out the decision that the Joint Committee may come to. I ask leave, in the circumstances that I have explained, to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.