HL Deb 12 November 1930 vol 79 cc73-95

THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD PASSFIELD) 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. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not propose to detain your Lordships very long this evening in speaking to the Motion which is upon the Paper. Four months ago, towards the end of the last Session, I spoke to a similar Motion which I subsequently obtained leave to withdraw. My object, as I then explained, was to give notice to all concerned that it was the intention of the Government to ask your Lordships' House to set up a Joint Committee to examine the Reports on Closer Union in East Africa by what is called the Hilton Young Commission and by Sir Samuel Wilson, and the conclusions reached by his Majesty's Government as stated in Command Paper 3574.

On that occasion I mentioned the more important points in the conclusions of the Government and outlined the functions which it was proposed to give to the High Commissioner appointed in respect of the three territories of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. Incidentally, I may remind your Lordships, I made it clear that the Government had not failed to take very carefully into account the position of the Tanganyika territory in their anxiety to ensure the continued observance, in the spirit as well as in the letter, of the Mandate under which that territory is administered. On that point, the observations with which we might be favoured by the Permanent Mandates Commission would be taken, of course, carefully into account before any new Constitution was put into operation. But your Lordships have before you the Command Paper which sets forth, with a great deal of elucidatory appendices and explanations, the detailed proposals, and there is no need for me to go through them to-day.

There are, however, one or two questions of a more general character to which I should like to refer. I have recently heard some doubts expressed as to the desirability of setting up a Joint Committee to examine and report upon this matter. I would ask your Lordships to consider what are the alternatives to that. Of course, we might decide here and now to drop the whole idea of closer union so far as the economic system is concerned—a proposal which has been very strongly advocated in itself and for itself for the common advantage during the past five, six or seven years, and specifically and very definitely recommended in the Hilton-Young Report. On the advantages of that amount of closer union there has been, I venture to think, very little dissent, but there has been a great deal of controversy as to how exactly it should be carried out. It may be that the Joint Committee will make a negative recommendation of that kind—that we should drop the whole idea—but I do not think we can anticipate that, and we should not be justified in anticipating such a recommendation. The alternative would be that the Government should here and now proceed with its own conclusions, and put them into operation without further discussion.

I should be very sorry to have to do that, because, if I may put it quite simply to your Lordships, we have given a great deal of time and thought to this matter and we have not shirked our responsibility. We have quite definitely come to some conclusions on the subject, which we have put before the country and your Lordships in the White Paper, but we do not presume that we have all the wisdom, and we think it better that we should invite your Lordships and the other place to give us your aid in seeing that these conclusions are the best pos- sible solution of this difficulty. We cannot escape our own responsibilities so long as we are in office, but at the same time the appointment of a Joint Committee seems almost the only way in which we can get the co-operation of other minds upon this problem to ensure that every point of view is adequately put forward, and that the conclusions may represent what I would venture to call the collective wisdom of Parliament. Quite simply that is our proposal. As I say, we have not shirked our own responsibility. We tell you definitely what our conclusions are. We do not claim that they are in any sense the whole of wisdom, and we should hope that the Joint Committee would go over them with due consideration so as to get a final conclusion which would represent the best opinion on the subject.

Perhaps I ought to say a word on the composition of the Committee if it is set up. I do so for a purpose that will appear presently. Your Lordships will realise that it is a matter for a separate Motion in each House, when concurrence in your Lordships' Resolution has been given in another place. Therefore, it is not put down now, but I mention it for one point, and that is the question of the procedure of the Committee. I want to make it quite clear that the Government have no right to dictate, and would not seek to dictate, to the Committee what its procedure is going to be, and, consequently, we have not been able to accede to the requests that have been made to us that certain arrangements should be made in advance. Suggestions have reached me from various sources that the Government might take the responsibility of summoning the representatives of different sections of East African opinion in order that they may put their several views before the Committee. I assume that the Joint Committee, if it is set up, will decide to take evidence, but it must clearly be for the Joint Committee to decide whether that evidence shall be oral or in writing and from whom it will be taken. Therefore, we have not—and it would not be right to do so—taken any action in that matter. I will only take this opportunity of saying that I shall certainly place no impediment in the way of carrying out any decision which the Joint Committee may come to on that point.

I might state for your Lordships' information what the Government have already done. Considered opinions upon the White Paper have been obtained in writing from the Governors of Kenya, Uganda and the Tanganyika Territory, and also from the High Commissioner for Transport, Kenya-Uganda, whilst the Government of India has been invited to record its own views in so far as Indian interests are concerned in the matter. These statements have been obtained specially for communication to the Joint Committee. I may say in passing that the Despatch from the Governor of Uganda includes a statement from the Kabaka of Buganda, and we thus have available already for the Committee a statement of the views of the ruler of the most highly organised native race in East Africa which, for special reasons connected with what is called the Uganda Agreement of 1900, has a special interest in the question of closer union. I have taken up more time than I meant to do. In conclusion, reverting to the Motion which is before the House, let me say that we feel that any proposal for setting up a new Constitution, even if only partial, for so large and important a colonial area as. East Africa, is no light matter, and we ask Parliament to go into the whole subject for itself by means of a Joint Committee. We feel that that is the best way of getting whatever light and leading can be got on the subject in correction, or supplement, or alteration of the conclusions which the Government have come to on this subject. I beg to move.

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. 3571), and to report thereon.—(Lord Passfield.)


My Lords, I support the Motion proposed by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with even more emphasis than I did when he proposed a similar Motion some four months ago, because there would seem to be some fear lest this very important issue should become the shuttlecock of Party politics. There is no need for me to urge upon your Lordships the vital importance of continuity, whatever Government may be in power, in matters concerning—the interests of the millions for which this country has become responsible overseas. It is a principle which, I know, will meet with acceptance in every part of this House, and this is the reason why I consider that a Joint Committee composed of men of all Parties from both Houses is the best possible means of obtaining a national verdict which no Government could lightly set aside.

Nor is there any reason for me to dwell in your Lordships' House on the importance of the issues which are involved. The Duke of Devonshire, speaking in this House seven years ago as Secretary for the Colonies, described the question as one of vast and far-reaching importance, which extends far outside the limits of any one Colony, and upon the decisions now taken will depend the orientation of British policy throughout Africa in the future. When I was privileged to address your Lordships a year and a half ago on this subject, f urged the desirability of setting up a Joint Committee for these reasons, and I added that I hoped that the creation of such a body would attract delegations from the Dependencies more immediately concerned. That hope has not been disappointed, and we are able to give a warm welcome to those who, on the understanding that this Committee would be set up, have come from overseas to give their assistance, to state their views, and to give the Committee the benefit of their long experience.

The problem is not an easy one, and there is no royal road to its solution. Only those who have endeavoured to follow out in detail the various facile solutions which have been proposed can realise the difficulties. We are all agreed, f think, including the spokesmen of British residents in Kenya, and all those who have had experience elsewhere in Africa, that Parliamentary institutions are not suited to the governance of these large African Dependencies. I am convinced that in their later development that will result in additional racial conflict and in a policy of repression, which, as Mr. Justice Rose-Innes, with a lifelong experience of South Africa, said in a letter to The Times the other day, can only end in a terrible disaster. The problem, as I see it, is to find an alternative method and to adapt it to the varying circumstances of the different Dependencies.

My noble friend Lord Cranworth, speaking on this subject in a previous Session, said that he thought it would be useless to appoint a Joint Committee because any members who knew anything about the subject would come with unalterable views. I do not share his pessimistic forecast. The ability to put aside preconceived prejudices and preconceived opinions, when called upon to act in a judicial capacity, is one of the characteristics of our race, and I believe that if those who appear to hold irreconcilable views would meet round a table with the sincere desire and good will to arrive at conclusions based solely on the good of the country and of its inhabitants of whatever race, a solution will be found. I have personally had an opportunity of talking with two or three of the leading exponents of views with which I do not myself wholly agree, and we have in each case mutually agreed that there was no insuperable barrier between us in principle. It will, therefore, be an immense advantage to the Committee to have an opportunity of personal contact with the delegates themselves and share with them (as I hope) the satisfaction of putting an end to the controversies of the past.

It has been suggested that the White Paper on Native Policy should be included in the terms of reference, and I had rather expected to hear an Amendment moved in that sense this afternoon. I do not personally attach much importance to that proposal, because, in the first instance, the Report of the Hilton Young Commission is included in the terms of reference and there is no aspect of native policy which is not dealt with fully in that Report. Moreover, the White Paper itself, setting forth the conclusions of His Majesty's Government, which forms the basis of the terms of reference to the Committee, does refer to the White Paper on Native Policy, and therefore I conclude that the latter is inferentially included in the terms of reference. In the second place, I understand that no exception is taken to the general principles laid down in the White Paper on Native Policy, but rather to its phraseology, and it is not the function of a Committee of this kind to redraft a Government Memorandum even supposing that it considered that the wording could be improved.

The Committee will, of course, frame its own conclusions and state its recommendations in its own language and since the noble Lord, Lord Passfield, in his speech last July, stated that his object in proposing the appointment of a Joint Committee was in order quite frankly to see whether the conclusions of the Government could be improved, it may doubtless be assumed that any improvement which might be recommended would cover the question of phraseology. The noble Lord said that he desired in any case to get for the policy which may eventually be decided upon 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 with this object that I join in asking your Lordships to adopt the Resolution.


My Lords, I am sorry that I have to strike a somewhat discordant note at this stage. Your Lordships will recollect that when this Motion was before the House some months ago I ventured to say that I doubted whether the appointment of this Committee was either an opportune or a satisfactory method of settling the problems which we have before us. I have had considerable time to consider the subject since then and considerable opportunity, and I am sorry to say that I find that the reasons which caused me to form my then opinion remain sufficient to cause me to retain it still. I propose to give your Lordships briefly the reasons that cause me to hold that opinion very firmly. In the first place, I would suggest that the history of these joint committees, and more especially that one which dealt with not totally dissimilar proposals in connection with India, has not been such as to give entire encouragement for the formation of the present one. The second point I make is that I do not think that the personnel from which you will be enabled to appoint this Committee stands on a sufficiently broad basis.

I agree with my noble friend on my left that probably the two great qualities you require in members of this Committee are, first, a broad and open mind, and, secondly, sufficient knowledge of what, after all, is a very intricate question to be able to weigh the evidence put before them at its true worth. I do not doubt for one moment that you will be able to get twenty gentlemen with impartial minds, but there must be many of your Lordships who are members of selection committees which select candidates for constituencies, and I would ask whether in selecting those candidates they ever require of one of them that he should have an impartial mind. I venture to suggest that as a matter of fact it is the very last thing desired. The more -bigoted his mind is on your side the more votes he will get among members of the selection committee. With regard to the second quality—sufficient knowledge to weigh the evidence before them—I feel certain that you will be able to get twenty gentlemen with that qualification, but when you have to combine the two that is where you will find the difficulty.

I venture to think, in opposition to what the noble Lord on my left has said, that it is a fact that the majority, if not all, of the people with sufficient knowledge have their minds made up on the major issues now. They themselves will say that they are convinced by the overwhelming mass of evidence. Those who hold opposite opinions will say that they are encased in prejudice and obstinacy, and, if they want to be nasty, they will add serf-interest. I will just give two instances to illustrate this point. I have lived some years in East Africa and I am firmly convinced that the natives gain benefits by living in contact with the white civilisation as distinct from contact merely with white officials and white missionaries. I admit that the white settler gains advantages from contact, but I am more convinced as years go on that the natives gain advantage too. I think the one is the complement of the other. I cannot believe for one moment that any evidence put before me is going to shake for one minute that opinion which I hold. The other instance is this: there have been two great Commissions—the Ormsby-Gore Commission and the Hilton Young Commission—Commissions that were formed from all Parties. They were non-Party Commissions. They investigated the evidence at great length and with great care and they produced two fine—one might almost say magnificent—Reports. Do your Lordships really suppose that those gentlemen are going to change the opinions which they formed during those investigations merely from a réchauffé of evidence once more set before them? I cannot believe that this is likely.

The third point that I wish to make is that the time is not opportune. Those countries, especially Kenya, are suffering from the economic crisis through which the world is passing. They are having great financial difficulties. Their three main crops, sisal, coffee and maize, are at this moment probably being produced at a loss. They are unable to face any great expenditure. The expenditure with regard to these proposals has been Ira to Inc as a minimum of £50,000 and a maximum of £100,000 a year. The country is unable to bear it at the present moment, and it is on those grounds that I say that this is an inopportune dine for going into that great question.

My fourth point raises the most important consideration of all. I am afraid that the spirit of accommodation in that country is dead or, as I should prefer to say, temporarily gassed. Two Papers are mentioned in this Motion, but there is a third—namely, Command Pr per 3573, the Memorandum on Native Policy. I do not doubt for one moment the sincerity of those who drew up that Paper. I am convinced that they believed every word they wrote, but I do say that it is a most unhappy document, and that its conclusions have been much more far-reaching than its authors contemplated. I would add that the tone of it is unhappy. It consists to a great extent of what may be described as excellent principles and platitudes, with nine-tenths of which we all agree. These are offered to the people in that country who have been carrying out those principles for twenty-five years and more. These principles are put to them as a novel doctrine. They are no novel doctrine. People out there have been carrying them out to the admiration, if not of all their countrymen, of most of the civilised world.

My second point regarding that Memorandum is that it seems to me to breathe distaste and distrust of the white community in that country, whether it be settlers or officials. The third point that I would make in that regard is that it takes a phrase out of its context in another place and elevates it into a novel principle by which our Colony must be governed. I allude to the phrase "paramountcy of native interests." I admit that the phrase is taken out of the Memorandum on Indians in Kenya which was drawn up by the Conservative Government in 1923. I remember that I regretted the phrase when I first saw it, as many others did, and I feel now that we should have been more vocal in our distaste for it. But we thought—certainly I thought—that in its context it meant that our duty towards the natives was felt to be of such paramount importance that we did not dare risk entrusting them to the chance of domination by the Indians. That is what I thought it meant, and that is What I believe that its authors would say now that it meant. But that is not the sense in which, taken from its context, it is put into this Memorandum.

There may be several interpretations of the phrase "paramountcy of native interests." One of them appeared this morning in The Times, signed by among others, the noble Lord, Lord Olivier, with which I think few, and certainly not I, will be disposed to find fault. I should like just to read it to you:— We take it to mean no more than that the interests of the overwhelming majority of the original population must not be subordinated to those of a minority, belonging to another race, however important in itself. That, I think, is happy phraseology, but that, even if it were the intention, is not the meaning that was put upon it in this Memorandum. The gleaning there was that for all time the European interests in this country—and you must remember that these Europeans were asked to go out there—were to be subordinated. They were to find themselves in a sub-ordinate position. Thus we find what is, to me, a somewhat peculiar spectacle—namely, a great sum of money (great in proportion to the population and riches) raised to enable a delegation to come over here to ask its own Government that in its own country it should have equal rights with the rest of the population. That seems to me a peculiar thing to happen, and, I think, a regrettable one.

It may be said the meaning read into that phrase is not that which was intended. But I must further point out that it has raised intense antagonism, not only in Kenya and East Africa, but further afield, in the Union of South Africa. I say, with all due deference to the noble Lord opposite, that it seems to me a wrong thing to have ordered the publication of that Paper in those territories to millions of uneducated natives without first submitting it to His Majesty's representatives overseas. It is, perhaps, a foolish thing that the great change of policy indicated in that Paper should be placed before them without having been first submitted to the many other nations, such as the Union of South Africa, who are so deeply affected by the question.

I do not wish to detain your Lordships too long, and I do not wish to go into the many questions raised by the White Paper or into the conclusions of His Majesty's Government. These matters will be gone into by the Committee that is to be appointed. But there is one comment I should like to make on that point. There is one thing to which I do not think that Committee or anyone else can really agree. In one particular, the conclusions of the Government run counter to the "paramountcy of native interests," whether it be read in the form of the Memorandum on Native Policy or in the form preferred by the noble Lord, Lord Olivier, and myself. It does open the door, not once but in two major issues, to the domination of the natives by the Indians. I do not believe that any one who has any real knowledge of that country can believe that this can be in the interests of the native population.

In conclusion, I would make one suggestion to the noble Lord and one appeal to him. It does seem to me to be vital in this matter that we should recover the good will of the people on the spot. There are many things that we may say and think about them. You may wish that they had never come there, at the invitation of His Majesty's Government; you may deny them what they think is their fair share in the responsibility of trusteeship for the natives; you may add to their taxation until they find it hard to bear; you may—I do not think you will—overwhelm them with illiterate votes; but there is one thing that you cannot alter, and that is the fact that, in this generation at least, so far as we can see, while they are there they will be the dominant race in that country. Accordingly, to my mind, if you are to tackle these great problems with the hope of success, it is absolutely essential that this good will should be recovered, and that the people out there, who will have to carry out whatever you decide, whatever the Committee decide, should look upon the Government of this country as their friend and not as their enemy.

The suggestion that I would make to the noble Lord is this. If the House decides, as I have no doubt it will, to appoint a Committee, that you should appoint the members in due course but postpone for a few months at least the setting up of that Committee. By so doing you will show sympathy for these people in their troubles—in their economic troubles. This delegation has been over here for two months, and is now forced by stress of circumstances to return. Surely, it would be an almost intolerable burden to ask them to leave their farms or their businesses, and to return again and give evidence before the Committee. I conceive that no Committee would reach any conclusions unless they really know what the people there have in their hearts. If you adopt my suggestion you will show at least that you have sympathy with them, and you will go a great step to get back the good will which I fear is jeopardised.


My Lords, I have no wish to prolong the discussion at this stage. I only desire to take this opportunity, on behalf of many who are deeply interested in the problems of the whole of Africa, to impress, if it is necessary, upon the House the great and far-reaching importance of the issues which are partly [involved and partly concealed by the Motion which is before the House, and to support as strongly as I can the proposal that these questions should be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses. As long ago as February, 1929, a proposal that this whole problem should be referred to a Joint Committee was made in a remarkable letter which was signed by seven members of your Lordships' House, including Lord Lugard, who has spoken, and my revered predecessor, Archbishop Davidson. In that letter they used the words: The questions to he determined in East Africa are second in their importance only to those of India. I regard it as not without significance that we should be having this discussion on the very afternoon of the day on which, with so much impressiveness and in an atmosphere of so much hope, the Conference on the problems of India was opened by His Majesty, for indeed There is a very close analogy between the two problems; and the point where we now stand with regard to East Africa is whether we are now light-heartedly to take decisions from which afterwards it may be impossible to withdraw, and which involve the welfare of the whole of that vast Continent.

This is, as your Lordships well know, touch more than a mere administrative problem. If that were all, it might be enough to know how successfully to get round the immediate corner. There are times when the question is not to get round the next corner but what road we are ultimately to follow, so as to see that no step is taken which is not along the road carefully and thoughtfully sleeted. It is because we have reached, in the judgment of many, a turning point in the whole future of that vast Continent of Africa, that we consider that the matter deserves the most careful and full consideration of Parliament, under the guidance and help of a Joint Committee. It is because the matter is so important that we should regard it as most unfortunate if it were approached with any misunderstandings. I am not attempting this afternoon any sort of criticism, but it may be, as the noble Lord who has just spoken has indicated, that some of the language of the last Government White Paper may have contributed to this misunderstanding—I am sure, quite unintentionally.

I would go further and admit that the language used in the famous statement of 1923 might have been more happily chosen. Your Lordships are all familiar with the oft-quoted words that:— … the interests of the African natives must be paramount, and that if, and when, those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail. I am not surprised that these words should have given rise to great misunderstanding in the minds of the settlers, who have risked everything and are deeply attached to their country and who are concerned lest their own interests should be merely subordinated to other interests, even of the natives. It seems to me that what we have to do is to recognise fully and frankly that the great interests represented largely by the white race and the black races are in need of each other. We ought to do nothing to suggest the antithesis that pro-native means anti-white, or that anti-white means pro-native. In the long run these interests are identical, and if at any point they seem to conflict our end should he not that any interest, as such, should prevail, but that justice should be done to each.

Justice in the old sense of the term means giving to each its due—due value and due consideration—and to my mind the most fundamental question which this Joint Committee will have to determine is what authority in the future in East Africa is to hold the scales of justice. I am not in any way anticipating the conclusions of the Joint Committee, but I think it might be admitted that some self-governing constitution, chiefly representative of the white settlers, would not be the best authority to determine this question of impartial justice, not because we doubt the fairness with which the settlers would consider the problem, but from the very fact that a Legislature representing something like one out of ninety-nine of the population of the country concerned, can scarcely be regarded as wholly impartial, and ought not to be a judge in its own cause.

Indeed, let us remember, with a view of dismissing this unnecessary misunderstanding, that the elected European members of the Kenya Legislature in their manifesto said that the colonists had never disputed the necessity of investing some central authority with the duty of holding the balance even in racial matters. There ought to be evolved some arbitral authority to exercise this great function, and the task of the Joint Committee would be to suggest what that; authority should be, and how it should be exercised. I should be surprised if they did not come to the conclusion that the only real arbitral authority must be the Secretary of State himself, as responsible to the Imperial Parliament. But if the authority is to be arbitral, it ought not to be arbitrary; it ought to be exercised in the closest possible association with those on the spot, wale have vital interests, and those who are concerned day by day with the life and welfare of the native.

It. would be quite out of place at the present time to indicate even in the most general way the basis upon which such an authority might be suggested. My only desire at this stage is to deprecate the approach to the discussion of this immensely important problem as if one set of interests was to be arrayed against another. The value of the Joint Committee will be that it will help Parliament to decide, at a quite critical moment in the whole future history of that vast Continent, what is the system of government there to which we are steadily to direct our efforts for many generations, and what is to be the authority that can be trusted to deal justly in all questions affecting the races towards whom we have to exercise a most responsible trust. It seems to me only right that. matters so far-reaching should receive the fullest and most careful thought at the hands of Parliament, because I do not think General Smuts exaggerated the position when he said that the question of white and black on the Continent of Africa was going to be the most interesting and enthralling problem of the twentieth century.


My Lords, this Motion is a similar one to that which the noble Lord the Secretary of State put down at the end of last Session, and withdrew. Many things have happened, and much has been said in the few months that have elapsed since then. In consequence it seems to me that the position has altered considerably, and has modified to a certain extent, and I think it calls for some further comment. In the first place, it has become abundantly evident that there is an almost complete unanimity of opinion among the white population in East Africa unfavourable to the two White Papers which were issued by the Government last summer—namely, the White Paper on Closer Union and the White Paper on the question of Native Policy; and, as a matter of fact, it is the latter which has probably created the worst impression. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs, and I think it only right to say that one wonders whether in the circumstances, and owing to the sense of insecurity which has been created in East Africa, it is likely that the Joint Committee which it is proposed to set up can achieve any very tangible results.

I think this is doubly unfortunate, because when Sir Samuel Wilson went out to East Africa last year he managed to obtain a very extraordinary measure of agreement with regard to these problems, taking everything into consideration. He certainly carried out his work in an admirable way: but I am very much afraid that most of the good which he did has been done away with by these two Government White Papers, and particularly by the actual phraseology and the impression created by this White Paper on Native Policy. The interpretation which has been put upon the word "paramountcy," which has been referred to already this evening, has undoubtedly created alarm, and not only in Kenya itself, but in the two Rhodesias as well, particularly Northern Rhodesia. The white populations in those countries have acquired the conviction that the legitimate interests of the colonists will not receive fair consideration and support from the Colonial Office at home. Whether those fears are justified or not I do not know, but that is actually what has happened, and that is the situation which the Government have to face at the present moment.

With regard to the actual scheme proposed by the Government, I want to say very little. It was discussed last July at some length. I think I said even then that in my view it required a number of radical alterations before it could possibly be looked upon as acceptable. I do not wish to traverse that ground again to-day. On general principles, though, I would like to say that we on this Bench welcome the idea that the great question of policy in East Africa should he dealt with as far as possible on a non-Party basis, by some such means as the Joint Committee proposed by the Government. I am certain we are all most anxious to do everything we can to keep these big Imperial and Colonial questions out of Party politics. But there is one point that I think I must make clear. The Government have expressed their intention to submit the White Paper on Closer Union to the Joint Committee, but it is not their intention, I understand, to submit the White Paper on Native Policy to that Committee. I think that is rather a curious step to have taken. It comes to this, that, in our opinion, in consequence of that action, the White Paper on Native Policy must be looked upon as a Party document and Prot as an agreed document, and must therefore be considered to be open to revision by any Government that may succeed the present one.

I should like to refer to the circumstances which have led up to the present state of affairs. There have been three Commissions or Inquiries in recent years rent out to East Africa. We first had one presided over by Mr. Ormsby-Gore, which was sent out by a Labour Government in 1924, and was an entirely non-Party body. That Commission made unanimous recommendations, I think, against any form of closer union. They believed that agreement on matters of common interest between the different countries out there could be attained by conferences, such as the Governors' Conference, and other technical conferences which might easily be set going. Then, in 1927, we Fad the Commission presided over by Sir Hilton Young, and that Commission certainly made some proposals with regard to closer union, but they were only made in broad outlines, many of the details were left out, and many problems and difficulties were left undecided. As the result of that, last year Sir Samuel Wilson was sent out to work out the details on the spot, in consultation with those whose interests were involved, and I venture to say again that he did so with very great success, and achieved a very great measure of agreement. But in spite of those three Reports, the Government have rejected the proposals of all three, and have instead put forward new proposals of their own. I venture to say that this is a somewhat extraordinary attitude to have taken up.

I do not wish to go further into the actual proposals because, as I have said, they were discussed at some length a short time ago, and admittedly, they are to be subjected to the consideration of the Joint Select Committee. But I must repeat that I doubt very much whether, in consequence of the political and economic circumstances now obtaining in East Africa, the Joint Committee will be able so to amend the proposals of the Government as to make them either practicable or acceptable. However, in view of the expressed intention of those of us on this side to refer the Reports of these various Commissions to a Joint Committee, we are prepared to co-operate in further examining these proposals. At the same time, we reserve to ourselves complete freedom of action should there be a change of Government in the future.

I should like to say a very few words about the Committee and its composition. With regard to the Chairman—and here I feel certain the noble Lord knows that I do not speak personally in any way—I am very glad that it has been decided that the noble Lord himself should not be Chairman. That position, I think, would have been a very unfortunate one. The Secretary of State would have been at one and the same time Chairman of the Committee and chief protagonist of the scheme which was before the Committee. That, I think, would have created a very bad impression, and I am sure he will agree with me that there are plenty of precedents against such a course. I understand that nothing has been definitely settled on this subject, but I hope, if I may put it in that way, that a noble Lord who is not closely identified with the Front Bench of any Party may be selected to preside over the Committee. As to the procedure of the Committee, I feel very strongly, and I think the noble Lord stated in his speech that he agreed, that the Committee should be left free to regularise its own procedure both with regard to evidence and the documents, official or otherwise, which are to be called before it. I think that is an important point.

I do not think there is anything else which I wish to say about any detail of these proposals. I would only add in conclusion that which I know we all feel—tihat the question of policy in East Africa is a vast and complicated problem and that, whatever may issue from all these discussions, we may be certain that the effect of any decisions which are come to will be very far reaching indeed. The government of a new country from Downing Street is a very difficult business at the best of times. The past success of Great Britain as a Colonial Power has depended to a very large extent on the ability of those at home to enter into the feelings of all the diverse populations subjected to official rule. One thing is absolutely certain, and I am confident that the Government realise this: no good can come to any section of the population, least of all the native section, if the good will between those who govern and those who are governed is in any way forfeited.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I will not detain the House many moments in replying to the debate, but perhaps in courtesy I ought to say a few words with regard to some of the remarks that have been made. If I pass over most of them it is merely to save time, and to deal only with those on which some further explanation or elucidation might be given. With regard to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, I think a large part of his criticisms and objections turned on the use of the word "paramountcy"—the paramountcy of the native interests. That expression occurs not only in the Memorandum on Native Policy but at the beginning also of the Memorandum on Closer Union. Therefore, it is very specifically referred to the Joint Committee. Perhaps it was a natural weakness on the part of the Government that they did wish to maintain the principle of continuity as far as they possibly could, and I can assure the noble Lord that there was no notion in our minds of interpreting this in any new way. I want to say that quite definitely. As a matter of fact it was very fully and elaborately stated in 1923, not merely in a sentence but in a whole paragraph. That was examined in the Report of the Hilton Young Commission at considerable length, and the Government are not expressing any new doctrine when they simply repeat the declaration that the Duke of Devonshire made in 1923.

Then the suggestion is that at any rate it was wrong to distribute the Paper among the population. I do not know how far it has been distributed among the two and a-half millions of natives. I would only say that the 1923 Paper had an equal circulation, as far as we can make out, and the Hilton Young Report also. It is not possible to keep these things secret if they are published. We have certainly taken no steps to distribute it among the native population. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that we want to secure the good will of the people on the spot and, whatever may have been the faults of myself or of my colleagues in the matter, surely one of the best ways in which we can try to make amends is to call them into counsel in this Joint Committee. It is deliberately in order to obtain the greatest possible measure of good will that I am asking your Lordships to agree to a Joint Committee to go into the whole matter.

If I pass over the remarks of others and refer to what was said by the noble Earl who has just sat down, I would only ask him to note that I am sorry I cannot agree with him that there has been almost complete unanimity among the white population of East. Africa against both White Papers. I hope there has not been that, and that in so far as there has been objection to them it has not been to the whole of the Papers but only to some expression in them, or to some wrong phrase or something of that sort. At any rate, whatever sense of uncertainly may exist, that again is one of the reasons why we are asking your Lordships to agree to a Joint Committee. We want, if possible, to remove that sense of uncertainty and any ill will there may be.

We quite understand that the noble Earl who has just sat down reserves all the rights of himself and his Party in any future Government to disregard whatever was or was not done. I would only like to say, incidentally, that the Memorandum on Native Policy will necessarily be before the Joint Committee. It is actually referred to in the Memorandum on Closer Union. It is actually founded on the Hilton Young Report, which was definitely referred to the Joint Committee. There wall certainly be no attempt on my part to prevent the Joint Committee taking it into account as fully as it chooses in relation to the powers which are proposed to be given to the High Commissioner, to which it is exactly relevant. So that there is no withholding at all. Having said so much, I do not propose to detain our Lordships any longer.


My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships if I have not followed the rules of your Lordships' House in rising to say one or two words after the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies has spoken. I must say that I was taken in by a noble Lord opposite who, I expected, was to speak this afternoon, and whom I saw drinking a glass of water. I hope your Lordships will accept my humble apology if I have not entirely followed the rules of your Lordships' House, with which I am not acquainted. I am afraid that I shall not be able to give you a very connected statement upon the facts that have been mentioned this afternoon.

I should like to start by taking exception to a remark made by the noble Lord who moved this Resolution. He said just now that it was impossible to prevent publication of the White Papers, including the White Paper on Native Policy, nor their wide distribution among the natives of countries which are governed by Governors appointed from this country. I may say that the note at the beginning of the Memorandum on Native Policy states that instructions have been sent that the widest possible publicity should be given to the statements made of native policy, and that copies should be communicated to the Government officials who may be in any way concerned, and in particular that every administrative officer—that is; the officer living among the natives—should be supplied with a copy. I was very glad to hear Lord Lugard speak on this subject, although. I am afraid we are not in entire agreement. If it had not been for the noble Lord, we should not be sitting here talking about East Africa to-day, because the British territories in East Africa would probably not have been in existence.

If there were any purpose in doing so, T. would appeal to the noble Lord to withdraw this Motion and, at the same time, to withdraw the White Paper on Native. Policy which was issued last June. I am quite sure that that would be the best plan for the noble Lord to adopt from the point of view of reopening discussions upon the whole matter in East Africa in an atmosphere in which it is possible to talk about these things from a construcitve point of view. I am sure noble Lords will not think I am saying too much when I say that if the policy laid down in the statement of conclusions were enforced, it would meet with the strongest possible political obstruction right through the whole of the East African territories, from the local Governments, from the officials, and from the colonists in those countries. That being so, what is the practical object in laying before this Committee, partly chosen from your Lordships' House, the consideration of a policy so far removed from the actual facts of the East African situation, and so impossible of acceptance by the colonists of Eastern Africa, in whose hands, whatever may be the Constitution of the future, the happiness and well-being of the natives is bound to rest?

I must say it was a shock to me, as one of the greatest believers in democratic institutions, to hear from the most rev. Primate that in his opinion Parliamentary institutions were not fitted to be applied in East Africa. The most rev. Primate will forgive me as a new but not young member of your Lordships' House, if I say that so far as I am concerned I believe, and shall continue to believe, that Parliamentary institutions are the only institutions in the world to-day that are showing any possibility of the development and progress of the countries in which they exist. Your Lordships will remember that in the East to-day there are only three countries which have adopted Parliamentary institutions on the plan more or less that we have in Europe—Turkey, Japan and China. In regard to China I ought perhaps to say that it is on the way to adopt Parliamentary institutions. Those are the only three countries in Asia so far as I know which are really making progress. I believe that those people in East Africa whom I have the honour to represent now in England, believe that the only possible correct form of government for East Africa is a form of government which has been adopted throughout the South African and East. African Territories which to-day are governing themselves by means of a system of sell-government in which British colonists and European colonists are completely paramount. I honestly believe there is no other possible policy.

We talk round these things. We say that we ought to find some other method of governing those countries. As was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, some little time ago, you have got to govern with the help of your own people and your own colonists in Africa. Now you have, as an effect of this White Paper of 1930, the position that the white colonists of East Africa are today in a frame of mind which makes it extremely difficult to make clear to them a great many of the issues which are impending in the future, because this White Paper has undoubtedly made them think that it is the wish of this Government to withdraw from them the trust of the people at home and to withdraw from them the government of these countries. I think the position of East Africa to-day—I specially represent Kenya, but Tanganyika undoubtedly agrees with us—is that unless some conclusion can be come to in this country that His Majesty's Government are willing to trust their own people in East Africa, we would rather see closer union go into cold storage for a time and all Changes of Constitution for the time being laid aside to be revived only at a time when more thought can be given to the question.

I am sorry in a way that we are going to have this Joint Committee appointed. On the other hand I should like to say that we have nothing to conceal. If this Committee is appointed we shall undoubtedly do our best to put all our opinions before that Committee in the hope that some method may he found which will still enable your own people in East Africa to believe that they are advancing to self-government on the ordinary lines of all the British Colonies that have gone before in Africa.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Ordered, that a Message be sent to the Commons to acquaint them there-with and to desire their concurrence.