HL Deb 09 June 1937 vol 105 cc425-66

LORD NOEL-BUXTON rose to move to resolve, That this House, in view of the divergencies in native policy now developing in different parts of His Majesty's Dominions and Dependencies, believes that the time has arrived for the Imperial Conference to formulate such policy in broad outline, with a view to protecting the rights and promoting the advancement of all races of the Empire, whatever may be their religion and colour, and that such policy should be based upon the principle of trusteeship.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that in moving a Motion affecting the Empire I may venture to congratulate your Lordships on the entry of two noble Lords so closely associated with services to the Empire as well as to this country. The relation of advanced peoples to backward peoples, we all know, is one of the chief problems of the near future, and the time has come for fuller public attention to the principles of government of backward races—races which, in the words of the Covenant, may be described as "peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world." Our countrymen have now, for more than three centuries, been colonising different parts of the world, sometimes founding homes for their own race, sometimes governing millions of another colour. Naturally, many methods have been evolved. Different situations have given rise to different techniques, to different ideals both on the part of the colonists and on the part of the Home Government. Local differences of race and soil are a natural ground for great variation. In some parts the white man has been only a visitor, governing, trading or teaching. In others he has been a permanent settler. A third variety has occurred in South Africa, where he is permanent, but he forms a governing class. Again, we have had different authorities in charge of the policy—the Colonial Office and lately the Colonial Office plus the Mandates Commission. We have had autonomous administration, and we have had South Africa, the greatest unit of the Empire, in charge of native policy.

The experimental stage should be drawing to a close. It should be time now to draw some general ideas from the great experience, the unrivalled experience, which this Empire has had. May I define briefly the two ideals which in the main have been in conflict? We ought, I suppose, to call them ideologies competing for predominance. One is the idea of trusteeship, practised in the main by Whitehall. It was very well expressed by Mr. Churchill at the Imperial Conference of 1921, when he said: I think there is only one ideal that the British Empire can set before itself in this regard, and that is that there should be no barriers of race, colour, or creed which should prevent any man by merit from reaching any station if he is fitted for it. That idea has inspired the action of the Colonial Office, with lapses which are normal in the conduct of human affairs. The rival doctrine is that the white should be not only the political master but should debar the native from acquiring even the professional efficiency of which he is capable. That is colour bar administration. A Minister lately in South Africa put it in a more crude form. He said that you must have either equality and assimilation, on the one hand, or, on the other, the golden rule of Calvinism and of the old Republics—no equality in Church or State. I suppose many of us listened to the wireless—I think the Sunday before last—when there was broadcast the sound of the animals in the Kruger Park. I was extremely thrilled to feel that I was listening actually to the lions (and one could detect the monkeys) in the Kruger Park itself. But we learn from The Times to-day that we were hoaxed. We were not listening to the lions in the Kruger Park, but to a gramophone record at Cape Town, which had been composed in the Zoo at Pretoria. I hope that the utterances of certain politicians may prove to be similarly a kind of roar which need not be taken too seriously in London.

If you cannot reconcile these two opposing theories it may impair the sentiment of Imperial unity in a dangerous degree. It may provoke friction and that is to be avoided by every possible effort. Discussion should, anyhow, find certain broad bases for agreement, and the ground of the Motion which I have put down is that there are divergencies of a very startling character. They suggest that there has not been the adoption even of general principles, and that is an interesting historical fact, because it is exactly one hundred years since a Select Committee of the House of Commons met and laid down certain principles which are now, at this day, coming to be regarded as absolutely sound. Mr. Gladstone, who had lately entered the House, was a member of that Committee, Sir George Grey was another, and the Chairman was Fowell Buxton. The proposals which that Committee adopted are now seen to be such that if they had been followed we should have avoided a great deal of trouble which has occurred. And, of course, one reason why they have not been generally applied is that the clash of colour has been complicated by the rise of an industrial system upsetting the old order of life, especially in Africa, the sudden extension to backward races of modern machinery, breaking up tribal organisations and raising the question whether a return to villages or permanent urbanisation is the right solution for those great populations which work in the mines.

To-day we are assisted by many new studies and surveys of the situation. Lord Hailey's survey will soon be received; there have been Reports of Commissions on Nyassaland; Sir Alan Pim has reported on the finances of Kenya; there have been Reports on the disturbances in the copper belt, a White Paper on the South Rhodesian Constitution and many others of great value. At present there is not only confusion of policy, but even a conflict of policy. Perhaps fifteen years ago that would not have mattered so much, but to-day the situation is different. Communications are far more rapid, the habit of travel has increased, the natives are asking questions about administration, and they are reading literature, or even travelling for personal observation. Only the other day the well-known chief of the Bechuanas, Tshekedi, asked leave to go to Tanganyika to study a system of government which has arisen there, in case he might wish to apply items of it to Bechuanaland.

I desire to suggest that the Imperial Conference might at all events begin to formulate on broad lines the principles which can animate its policy in different spheres. It could declare in favour of trusteeship, and then base on trusteeship the lines of accepted development in regard to land taxation and so on. The case of land is a very glaring example of variation. In some parts of Africa all the land is vested in the people of the territory; in other Colonies none of the land is so vested, and there is a variation where reserves are a great feature of the land system. In West Africa we all know that the utmost success has attached to the policy of the noble Lord, Lord Lugard. There he laid down three principles which might well have been applied elsewhere. In Northern Nigeria, for instance, the first principle was that all the land is native land; secondly, that the land is subject to the Governor and is for the use and benefit of the native; and thirdly, that it should be administered in accordance with native law and custom.

But turn to Kenya. In Kenya they talk about the "West African heresy," and in Kenya no native owns land at all. Mr. Ormsby-Gore was Chairman of the East African Commission in 1925, and his Report uses these words: The legal position is that no individual native and no native tribe has any right to land which could be recognised by the Courts. And of course in regard to the reserves, their adequacy has been very stoutly contested. When you come to South Africa there you have an illustration of the most complete form of segregation. Of the 300,000,000 acres of that territory you have this division between black and white, arranged like a chequer-board; 258,000,000 acres belonging to the two million whites, only 42,000,000 acres belonging to the five million natives. But I desire to add that there is a proposal at the moment to increase to a comparatively small extent the land devoted to the natives. In general it should surely be possible to lay down the principle that in the land system, for instance, the native should be regarded less as a menial and more as an economic producer of value, as he is regarded in West Africa. There it is very striking that the native producer has been exceedingly successful. I have myself assumed until very lately that the planter was necessary to the best development of a tropical country, but the system of native production in West Africa has disillusioned us to a very great extent.

Then when you come to taxation, some Dependencies have no direct taxation; in others it is an impossible burden. In some you have a but tax; in some a poll tax; in some you have both; in Kenya you have an income tax. But it certainly seems that the secure ownership of West Africa has been a contribution to the taxation problem as well. Where native ownership is a success it produces the power to bear taxation which has obviated the need of a poll tax or a but tax altogether. But you have other Colonies where the native has no voice at all in the levying of taxation or the expenditure of revenue, and therefore in some parts he is paying money for roads and footpaths on which he himself is not allowed to walk. Sir Alan Pim has shown that the burden in more than one of the South-East African Colonies is an intolerable one, and the Nyasaland Commission Report quite lately used very deplorable words suggesting that if things were not altered the native would come to regard the white administration with loathing.

I should like to turn your Lordships' attention for one moment to a very different part of the world—to New Guinea. Taxation there is made to look very different in the eyes of these subjects of His Majesty. Let the imagination leap to that country where head-hunting was lately a common pastime and where Sir Hubert Murray, brother of Professor Gilbert Murray, is Governor. He has made very interesting experiments. He has made the natives realise, firstly, that taxation is for their benefit, that it goes largely in education, which they are keen about, and welfare; secondly, that the accounts are open to the natives; and, thirdly, that the expense is controlled partly by natives as well as by whites. The result is very amusing as well as valuable, for positive enthusiasm has grown among the natives, as he describes, for paying the tax. Some people who have not been asked to pay tax, through oversight or delay, have lately been complaining to the Governor and demanding to know, "What offence are we guilty of that we have not been taxed?" Sir Alan Pim shows how such ingenious paternalism would have come in very useful if it had been applied in some parts of Africa.

May I take one other sphere which illustrates the excessive variation in government—that is, the restraint on the movements of natives, the pass system, which is said by those who know to give rise to great heartburning in parts of Africa? Most of our Colonies have not adopted the pass system and would not dream of adopting it. They would abhor the idea of docketing and labelling the natives. But it has grown up in certain. Colonies, and it is now so widespread that thousands of blacks are passing in and out of gaol without the remotest notion of what they are sent to gaol for, because they are unable to read and the law is complicated. In Uganda, for example, there is no pass system, but if you cross the frontier of Uganda and walk a few yards then you find the system in full force. In Southern Rhodesia it is very rigid, and the Natives' Registration Act of last year is a peculiar illustration of the appalling situation in which the native finds himself.

The Act is full of cross-references and is quite unintelligible to illiterate natives. According to the Act, without a pass a native must not seek work in a town. Then, if he goes to the town for any other purpose, he must get another kind of pass. Thirdly, if he has got work he must carry a certificate and pay is. a month for it—a big sum in relation to wages in that part. He is guilty of an offence if he does not carry his pass. Without a special permit he must not leave his house after nine o'clock at night or before five o'clock in the morning. If he stays in town for the night he must go to one of the native hostels by half-an-hour after sunset and stay there until half-an-hour after sunrise. The climax of what seems to me absurdity is reached in the rule that the native must carry his passes and certificates of service bound in a book. The result of this extraordinary system has been a great rise in convictions, very naturally. In 1927 there were 8,940 convictions under the pass law, but in 1935 there were 19,773. There are no figures available for 1936 under the new Act, but they are bound to be very much higher. In the South African Union in 1935 convictions under the pass laws were 42,000.

What the pass system means I could illustrate by a case reported lately of a native whose wife was taken ill in the night, and in his distress the man went out for the doctor. He forgot that the curfew hour had passed. The police saw him running for the doctor and haled him off to gaol for the night. When he finally came home his wife was dead. It must be very difficult to see things as the native sees them, but if we try to put ourselves into his outlook we can surely see that such a case would be known far and wide and that the impression made on the native community must be very different from the impression that we want to be made. That is hardly the idea of British justice which we want to prevail, or one which can create British popularity.

Southern Rhodesia and Kenya are, after all, under a very great deal of authority from Whitehall, but in South Africa you very naturally find that the system is more rigid than in Southern Rhodesia. There the policy of supremacy, as it is generally called, is carried to extremes. The idea of domination—I think it would be fair to say of repression in the strict sense—is preferred to what we regard as the idea of trusteeship for native development.

You have, of course, in South Africa absolute authority under the Statute of Westminster, but we cannot forget the history of the native question. One hundred years ago His Majesty's Government issued a very strict statement that no proposal for colour bar franchise would be entertained in South Africa, and the franchise has been held now for the greater part of that time by the natives of Cape Colony. That franchise was to all South Africa a declaration that no barriers would be set up against attaining a position which character or capacity could reach. Mr. Schreiner, whom many remember as Prime Minister of Cape Colony and as High Commissioner here, violently objected to the idea of removing the franchise. He used these words: Are we going to say to these people 'You are on a lower plane, you will never have a chance of rising?' We cannot but deplore that the pledges which are associated with the Act of Union in 1909 should now be things of the past. The suffrage is in course of being removed.

Surely, if you look at the Empire as a whole, every political consideration is on the side of a square deal for all these races. Discuss the ground for policy as it is presented by the capacity of the native or incapacity of the native. A policy of subjection runs counter to what is now coming to light as to native capacity. Mr. Ormsby-Gore, a few days ago, broadcast an extraordinarily interesting account of what is being done in some Colonies to utilise native capacity, and he gave examples of the capacity even for sharing in the responsibilities of administration in many respects. Native efficiency is becoming recognised as it has not been in the past largely with the help of anthropological study.

I would like to add an experience from Australia. When I was there forty years ago nobody would have dreamt of a native rising to any responsible position, but the other day an aboriginal who had become ordained preached in Brisbane Cathedral. If anyone had suggested, when I was last in Australia, that such a thing could happen he would have been laughed out of court. These things illustrate the trend of ideas in the world, based on experience and study.

What is the conception in South Africa? I should hate to be unfair to it, but we cannot be blind to the fact that a very large body of opinion in South Africa condemns the policy with great severity. They say it is quite fair to describe it as a policy which regards the native as a helot, and its general spirit is indicated by the admitted hostility to the Whitehall conception of trusteeship. Liberal opinion in South Africa regards it as economically fallacious also, and, moreover, it fears that native resentment is growing. Some say that great secret societies are spreading, and even the easygoing Bantu revolts against a policy which seems to deny his rights, and debars him from using his powers of earning the reward of industry solely because of the colour of his skin. The danger of that policy should be obvious. I think it is fair to say that the difference between Whitehall administration and that which I have described is that the policy of Whitehall varies in method but the South African policy differs entirely from Whitehall in principle. We are even compelled to compare the condition of the blacks in that part of the world with their condition in the United States where, with all the handicaps that they suffer there, they are allowed to develop economically and in education, and where they have advanced a very long way.

Now let me for a moment come to the recent development which is the most important, the development represented by the claim that colour bar legislation shall apply not only in South Africa but shall extend to the north to the contiguous countries of South Central Africa. A responsible Minister lately urged, not for the first time, that legislation in South Africa must be racial and must be not only the South African policy but the African policy. I submit that there are many reasons why this claim is not sound. One is that the policy may be reversed. There is even a member of the South African Government who is in very strong opposition to the policy and expresses his opposition. South African newspapers and many organised bodies of importance are against it and Church circles are in marked opposition. The English Church, it is interesting to note, has spoken with no uncertain voice in the Episcopal Synod. It resolved that the Church is committed up to the hilt to advocate the advancement and development ment of all men, irrespective of race, to the furthest point to which they prove themselves capable of attaining. Let us be fair to the majority view. We must recognise that there is an element of fear which gives rise to the policy. On the other hand Liberal opinion holds that there is arising a "strangling of the best impulses of our race," to quote some words used in South Africa. British love of justice is becoming warped. The native sees a resolve to use him only as a means to white convenience, regardless of any effort on his part to acquire training and education. If it is possible that that more liberal section of opinion will come to the top—we have seen greater changes of opinion—then surely it is a time to avoid any hasty step.

The claim is surely inadmissible, because if it were granted there would be a corresponding claim of the Colonial Secretary in London to a voice in the policy of South Africa. I take my stand on the Statute of Westminster, and recognise that each Dominion has its absolute independence. Great Britain is independent, too, and we as citizens of Great Britain must assert the independence of Whitehall. We ought to view with the greatest apprehension the claim to alter the relatively liberal policy which the Colonial Office has adopted, and to which Mr. Ormsby-Gore is a real and very specially informed friend. I should like to strengthen his hands against the encroachment of the narrower idea. No doubt the Statute of Westminster gives total independence, but this does not mean that the Empire should not consult on general principles. There should be a sifting and pooling of ideas and of information as to the meaning of trusteeship as it has been laid down in many solemn declarations by the Government of this country. It behoves us, when each Dominion has an absolute right to its opinion, to treat differences with the most delicate respect, but it would be a disservice to Imperial harmony if we were to allow any Dominion to be unaware of the strength of feeling in this country in support of the Colonial Office idea of trusteeship.

The Conference might build on that groundwork and the groundwork also of treaties with natives, and of the utterances of men like Milner and Cromer.

It would have for a background the traditions which have inspired confidence in the British race in Africa. I need not remind your Lordships how closely it was defined in the White Paper of 1923, where we learned: His Majesty's Government think it necessary definitely to record their considered opinion that the interests of the natives must be paramount, and that if and when those interests and the interests of immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail. The main problem has been solved, my Lords, in other parts of the Empire, in all parts of the Empire except in Africa. If it is not dealt with in Africa we may drift to serious disaster. The importance of colour is a question easy to realise when we remember that the Empire is a coloured Empire. Out of the countless millions of the Empire, the vast majority are coloured and we cannot hope to weld the Empire into harmony if parts of it create violent conflict. If Whitehall were to allow itself to accept a policy of marked retrogression from that which it has hitherto adopted, or anything in the nature of a repressive policy, then we should be saying good-bye to the ideal which was expressed long ago in one of the utterances of Queen Victoria regarding the native population of Africa—" In their contentment shall be our security." I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That this House, in view of the divergencies in native policy now developing in different parts of His Majesty's Dominions and Dependencies, believes that the time has arrived for the Imperial Conference to formulate such policy in broad outline, with a view to protecting the rights and promoting the advancement of all races of the Empire, whatever may be their religion and colour, and that such policy should be based upon the principle of trusteeship.—(Lord Noel-Buxton).


My Lords, I think the noble Lord who has just spoken has done a service to your Lordships' House and to the Empire by bringing forward this subject. I do not know that I can accept exactly the form of words embodied in his Motion, because I am not sure that it is practical politics at this stage for the Imperial Conference to formulate a broad policy which is applicable to the whole Empire, but that he has raised a question which is going to be of increasing significance to everybody in the British Commonwealth is beyond doubt. There are people who believe that in this question lies what, in an earlier age, was called an irrepressible conflict, and that if we are going to avoid reaching the point of irrepressible conflict, it will be because we face the facts now and because we try to bring to bear upon those facts solutions which are both just and practical.

Your Lordships may remember that some years ago a great African leader, General Smuts, came to this country and delivered a speech in which he said the greatest problem which confronted Africa was the fact that it had been developed in almost watertight compartments. Not only were there areas in which white settlement was going on as opposed to areas in which there was no white colonisation, but the principles of administration adopted in French Africa, in Belgian Africa, in Portuguese Africa—and now we may say in Italian Africa—contained profound differences, and even within the Empire and the British Commonwealth there were profound and vital differences of administration. He urged that a survey of Africa should be made, with a view to defining and elucidating those differences, because if they were allowed to go on developing without any consideration of their mutual impacts upon one another, or of their effect upon the negro race as a whole, the race which was the common basis of the native African population, we should awake ten or twenty or thirty years hence to find that we had ourselves created a problem which was insoluble.

One of the results of that address was the inauguration of a survey which has been conducted under the direction of a member of your Lordships' House, a, very distinguished administrator, Lord Hailey, which is approaching its completion. I think that one outstanding conclusion will be derived from that survey. In so far as it is concerned not with politics, but digs down even deeper to the fundamentals of the system in different parts of Africa, to the systems of law and justice, systems of education, to natural resources and so on, we may have a body of accurate knowledge upon which to base a policy which does not now exist. If we are going to avoid the difficulties which arise from strong feeling and prejudice, the first thing we have got to do is to arrive at some agreement as to what are the facts with which we have to deal. Therefore, I do not propose to go in any detail into the matters raised by the noble Lord this afternoon, because I venture to believe that when the report of that survey is available we shall have material which will make it far easier to begin to consider how far uniformity in policy is practical than we have to-day.

The second point I want to bring to your Lordships' attention is this. We have to recognise, and it is not always recognised, that the problem with which we are concerned really consists of two fundamental problems. First, there is the problem of dealing with the native races, whatever may be their native ability and their capacity for development. I think anybody who has had close contact with recent developments in Africa must recognise that the negro race has capacity infinitely greater than that which was generally attributed to it twenty or thirty years ago. The negro population, as a friend of mine of great experience once said to me, has three supreme gifts for life. The negro has indestructible vitality, which has enabled him to persist in spite of suffering and persecution almost unexampled in human history, such as the slave trade; he has indestructible humour; and he has immense practicality. Those are three very valuable gifts for life, which are going to carry the negro race very far on the road to progress.

But there is a fundamental difference between those areas in which the negro population is predominant, in which the white race is present only in a temporary capacity, as an administrator, a doctor or business man, or a nurse, and those areas in which the white race has established itself, has settled. As soon as any considerable body of white people is established in an area which is occupied by a race which, whatever its natural capacity, is far behind the white race in practical education and experience of civilisation, you get a set of questions arising as to what is going to be the future of the settlers themselves and their sons and daughters, which entirely transforms the problem. It is only if your Lordships and all others who study the question realise that the problem of Africa from that point of view really consists of two fundamentally different problems, that we are going to understand how to deal with them. You cannot apply in one area methods appropriate in the other. They are two different problems, and they have to be considered as different problems.

Then, coming to our own responsibilities, we have no longer any responsibility in the Union of South Africa, and I venture to think that noble Lords ought to be very careful of the language which they use in dealing with problems for which they have themselves no responsibility and for which we have passed the responsibility on to somebody else. There are, as everybody knows, grave anxieties in this country about the policy which seems to be prominent at this moment in South Africa. We have anxiety not only because of the native population itself, but because of the eventual effects of that policy on the Union and on the white people who are living in it. But let us not forget that, as the noble Lord who spoke first this afternoon observed, there are very large bodies of opinion in that country who are themselves doubtful of that policy and are working steadfastly to get a remedy for it. The policy here should surely be, by reason, good will and persistent examination of the facts, to strengthen this force rather than to antagonise the other. Nothing, so far as I can make out, is more striking than the change of attitude to this problem among the younger generation in South Africa, both British and Dutch, as compared with what it was twenty or thirty years ago. That is, I think, the most hopeful sign. Contacts now exist between the leaders of the native races and the leaders of the younger generation in South Africa which may have very fruitful results if they are given time to work out.

But we cannot divest ourselves yet of responsibility for what goes on in other parts of Africa. From that point of view I should like strongly to support what my noble friend has said about a certain Act which has recently been passed, though I am not certain whether it is yet in force, in Rhodesia. In Rhodesia we have some responsibility, because under the Constitution the British Crown has reserved some right of supervising the interests of the native population, which is something over a million in an area in which to-day there are not much more than 50,000 or 60,000 white men. The Act, to which my noble friend refers, is a very remarkable Act. I have it here: it provides that: Every native visiting a township for any purpose other than the seeking of employment therein shall have in his possession a visiting pass issued in terms of this section. It then goes on to say that: Any native who is found within any township without being in possession of a valid … pass shall be guilty of an offence. It finally provides for a first offence a fine not exceeding £2—a very large sum for a native—or, in default of payment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month; and for a second or subsequent offence a fine not exceeding £5 or, in default of payment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months. Those are penalties merely for exercising the elementary right of free movement which is permitted in every country in the world to its normal citizens.

There have recently been some very strong protests against the severity of this provision in Southern Rhodesia itself. The Bishop of Southern Rhodesia wrote a letter to the Rhodesia Herald a couple of months ago in which he said: I have heard it said that this Act may come up for some reconsideration in the House during this Session; there are many who hope that this will be so. I would appeal—and I know I make this appeal for many others, both European and African—that the regulations concerning visiting passes to be held by Africans who come to our towns to buy and to sell in daylight hours and to visit their relations, may be dropped entirely from this Act, and that thus a grave injustice to the. African people may be removed. One of the Members of the Legislature, Mr. Tredgold, who I think is now an officer of the Government, said very much the same thing.

The figures quoted by the noble Lord who moved this Motion go very far to prove how serious this Act is. If it is true that in that vast area, which has a population of a million natives and 50,000 white people, there were no fewer than 20,000 people who passed through gaol for offences against the pass law, and if this Act probably means that that number will be increased, it shows a state of affairs in Southern Rhodesia which, if it is allowed to continue, may become extremely dangerous. The situation in that area is immeasurably more serious than the situation in the Union itself, where there are 1,500,000 white people and 5,000,000 natives, and there are only 42,000 such offences. In this northern country, which is much smaller and has far fewer white men, you have half as many offences as in the whole Union. I would urge the Secretary of State to consider the position very carefully. I do not quite know what powers he now has, but if it is too late to get the Government of Southern Rhodesia to withdraw this provision requiring that no native may enter a township in daylight without a pass, I urge him at any rate to ensure that it is only left in force for a short time and that its operation shall be reconsidered in the light of practical experience after, say, six months or a year.

I do not think we can absolve ourselves of responsibility for matters of this sort in areas to which the principle of full responsible government under the Statute of Westminster has not yet been applied. Where it has been applied, our remedy is persuasion and good will, but where it has not been applied I venture to think that your Lordships must consider such matters in terms of our having a responsibility, for the well-being of the native as well as of the white population, of which we cannot free ourselves at all.


My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships. I am intervening in this debate because I have now for some years made my home in Kenya Colony, and any such proposal as that which is on the Order Paper to-day must necessarily be of vital importance and interest to one in my position. I must admit that when I saw the Motion which is down for to-day I had certain doubts and apprehensions, and I cannot say that these have been entirely dispelled by the speech of the noble Lord who proposed the Motion. I do not intend, however, to go into any detailed criticisms of his remarks, but to confine myself rather to general principles from the Colonial point of view as against, perhaps, the larger aspect of the Dominions.

In view of what the noble Lord has, perhaps more by innuendo than by direct attack, said, I should like to make one thing quite clear to your Lordships, and that is that any one of our race who goes and makes his home in the Colonies does so with the full realisation of the very grave responsibility which he automatically assumes towards the native races by his very presence there. He fully appreciates and realises that by his good example and by the teaching of his traditional experience he can, to a very large extent, mould native opinion and native life in the right and correct way. Nor will I stress what I think the noble Lord was trying to infer about the relations; between the black and white; but in East Africa at all events those relations are marked by very great bonds of affection. I want to make this quite clear, because for some time past now many misrepresentations and misstatements have been made, not so much in your Lordships' House as in another place, of the value of white settlement in relation to native races. But I can assure your Lordships that the very vast majority of white colonists have far greater ideals of Empire than the mere exploitation of a few unfortunate natives.

Coming to closer examination of this Motion—and I am sure we must all be in sympathy with its underlying motive, which is the increased welfare and development of the native races—there are one or two things which do worry me to some extent. I cannot believe that as yet any general co-ordination of policy, however attractive it may seem in theory, can really be effective in practice, and I think the noble Lord himself in his opening remarks showed us so many difficulties that it is in fact a little premature to hope that any policy can yet be formulated which could meet the needs of all the divergent races, with their divergent habits, all over the Empire. I would remind your Lordships that under the Colonial Office alone there are fifty or sixty territories, Dependencies or Colonies, whatever you may like to call them, each with its own local problems, religions and tribal customs. When we think of this we have to be very careful how we move, because we are likely to tread on some sensitive toes. There are, for instance, different Legislatures. Some have elected Legislatures and some nominated, and I cannot believe that at the moment any policy can be formulated which might be of value to the highly educated native of Jamaica, without being, at the same time, of detriment to the more primitive and less educated races of Africa.

I quite admit that a great deal has been done in this respect by the Education Department in Kenya, and that the native is being shown how better to live, but I do not think that some of your Lordships who have not had experience of the Colonies can fully realise how very primitive some natives are. It may help to illustrate this if I tell a little story which has almost become a legend in East Africa. It is about a very eminent gentleman who made a short visit to East Africa and tried to discover what could be done for the development of the country. I may say that it is about the noble Lord who proposed the Motion to-day. I cannot vouch for the truth of the story, but it will illustrate what I mean. The story goes that the noble Lord approached a native and asked him if he would like an increase of wages. Your Lordships can well imagine that the answer was in the affirmative. When asked what he would do with that increase the native said that he would buy some more goats; and when pressed to state why he wanted more goats, he replied that it was in order to buy more wives. Further questioned as to why he wanted more wives, the answer was not what perhaps your Lordships might think, but that he wanted more work done on his plot of land.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but I regret to say that I have not been in Kenya.


I did not say Kenya, but East Africa. That is the normal logic of the African natives, and I cannot believe that the time has arrived when we can expect one policy to be of assistance to them and at the same time of assistance to others who have been educated for many years. I hope that we shall hasten slowly. I am very much afraid that we may be asked to go too far and too quickly. I believe that the best we can do is to leave each territory to work out its own salvation, and to evolve its own native problems along lines which have proved from experience to be the best.

Another thing which rather worries me about this general co-ordination of policy is that it would necessarily tend to increase centralisation of the control of local native affairs here in Whitehall. I think what we want is more and more decentralisation in this respect. I believe that already the local Governors are far too often the loud-speakers of Whitehall, and not allowed sufficient initiative. We to-day are very fortunate in having a right honourable gentleman in charge of affairs in whom we have the greatest trust and hope. He is, in the greatest degree, personally intimate with many of these territories, and we are glad that he has been left where he is in the recent reshuffle. This reshuffle, however, only goes to show that Secretaries of State come and go, but the permanent official at the Colonial Office remains, not for ever, but for as long as he is able, and I am not at all sure it is healthy to have an increased control from this source.

I think what we want more at this stage of native development is the personal touch, and the human contact, which can only be provided by colonists and administrators who live in the various territories. I believe that the development of the natives will be better achieved by encouraging settlers, administrators and others to take a more active interest in the problems of native development. I think this can be of far greater service than any amount of legislation which your Lordships may pass, and which must, anyhow for some time, be controlled by an autocratic, if benevolent, automaton, 6,000 miles away. Although it may be premature to have a general co-ordination of policy I am not sure that the time is not very shortly arriving when there could be perhaps a grouping of Colonies which could form a common policy. Perhaps Rhodesia, Nyasaland and the Seychelles, might form one group, Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda another, and so it might go on all round this Empire. Thus you would have greater entities which would gradually be absorbed and form still greater entities, but I think it will be a long time before we can have what I may call one colonial island with a common policy.

I have one other word to say on the question of trusteeship. It is a word which the noble Lord seems to like, but it is a word which I dislike intensely. It seems to me an inhuman and hostile word. I do not know whether it is the association of ideas, but no doubt your Lordships have had a sinking feeling when you have had to approach your own trustees. I should hate to think that the natives, at the very outset of their education, should have that feeling. My interpretation of the word "trusteeship," and I believe it is the interpretation which is meant to be read into it, is that we should play the game by the natives in every way we possibly can, and I believe that we can do this more by the individual effort of those who have made their homes and live their lives out in the Colonies than by piecemeal legislation. I believe that in this way we shall get far truer and far greater reality of trusteeship.


My Lords, I am sure you would wish me to congratulate the noble Earl on the great success of his first speech to your Lordships' House; all of us hope that so long as he is in England and not in Kenya we shall have the advantage of hearing him again. I think your Lordships are so generally agreed with the main principles which have been expressed that no lengthy advocacy of them is to-day required. In my judgment my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton has introduced to your Lordships' attention a subject of vast importance. There is no more solemn obligation resting upon all of us than, to use the noble Earl's words, to "play the game" in relation to the backward races, and we must remember that there is existing at the present time an increasing anxiety among the native peoples as to the developments that are taking place. I need not ask your Lordships to do more than imagine how great an influence events in Abyssinia must have had upon the native mind, and then there is the anxiety about certain tendencies in African administration in regard to political and social conditions.

We have to remember that there is to-day a new Africa. The influence upon the mind of the African natives of films and of the radio, and the influence also of the minority of educated natives has been profound, and we have an entirely new outlook arising, which may be roughly stated as being mainly this—that the natives are unwilling to accept the allocation of a position of inferiority which has been given to them. In that respect I think that the natives are entirely right. Who among us shall put a limit to any other person's intelligence? The only person whose limits I know is myself, and I think that is true of other people. It is highly advisable that natives in this frame of mind should realise that the British Parliament continues to be watchful regarding their welfare, and it was because of the desire to reassure them that my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton placed this Motion on the Order Paper of your Lordships' House to-day. There are, as he has stated, certain confusions as to policy. There are two competing philosophies in Africa: one the philosophy of trusteeship, the other that which may be roughly called the policy of white domination or, put more roughly still, the difference between the West African and the East African policies; and the natives are very frankly fearful of the encroachment of white domination in regard to their political and social development. I do not think it is necessary to argue about that. They think it is shown in regard to the proposals respecting the Protectorates in South Africa, in the proposal for the amalgamation of the two Rhodesias, and also by speeches which have been referred to, Ordinances and so on.

But the question of trusteeship is not in doubt. Over and over again explicit statements have been made respecting it. Our assurances to the natives have been most solemnly given. In a previous White Paper it was clearly expressed: His Majesty's Government regard themselves as exercising a trust on behalf of the African people, and they are unwilling to delegate or share this trust, the object of which may be defined as the protection and advantage of the native races. And so the native peoples of Africa do look to the protection which the British Parliament can give to them. The noble Earl raised a little question as to the value of trusteeship. Well, what do we mean by trusteeship? Certainly not well-meaning paternalism. We have to remember that we are trustees for the native, not merely as he is but as he will be. We are, in fact, the guardians of his estate, and we do not want to educate him so that when he becomes an educated person he realises that he is merely one of a great landless black proletariat.

The problem of industrialism in Africa is really a very important one. There are at least a million and a half natives working for wages, natives who are divorced from their traditional life. They are becoming increasingly detribalised, and that has a reaction in moral questions which ought to arouse our very serious anxiety. There is the whole problem of taxation needing review. I am not saying the taxation of the natives should be abolished, but what I do say is that the native should be able to pay such taxation as is imposed upon him from his own produce, rather than having to migrate to earn wages, with all those social and moral reactions to which I have referred. I need not further stress the need for adequate land reserves, nor do I wish to criticise today South African policy. That policy has been stated and defended by South African people, and we have no immediate responsibility for it, but inasmuch as what happens in one area reacts upon another, we cannot help being anxious about what its reaction may be in other parts of Africa. And so my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton put this Motion on your Lordships' Order Paper in order to express the belief that the time had come when some general examination into the whole trend of African development should be made. If the Imperial Conference is not the right body to do it, then it should be done by some other imperial body that could make an impartial, extensive and thorough examination of what is happening, so that we may at least avoid developing upon wrong lines in the future.


My Lords, I should like briefly to echo what the noble Lord has said about the maiden speech of the noble Earl who preceded him. We are all grateful to the noble Earl for a speech which was not only finely phrased but illuminated both by practical experience and common sense. I for one hope that we shall often hear him speak on affairs in East Africa and African affairs generally. In the very few remarks that I am going to make I want to refer to something that was said by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian. He said that whilst he had no desire to criticise—in fact, as he quite rightly said, we have no business to criticise—the native policy of the Union of South Africa, yet in those areas which were still under our control we had obviously a tremendously heavy weight of responsibility. For that reason I am a little bit surprised, when we are discussing the welfare and our responsibilities for the welfare of native races in Africa, that practically no word has been said, to-day, about the special responsibility which seems to me to devolve upon us at this moment as regards the future of the Protectorates.

After all, for the last year or two, the future of the Protectorates has been bandied about rather lightly in these two Houses. At one moment we are told that we are definitely pledged to hand them over. At another moment that is completely contradicted. At another moment it appears that speeches have been made of the tea-party kind between Ministers, with the suggestion, at any rate, that in a short time the Protectorates will be handed over. I should like, if I may, to remind your Lordships that that is not the case at all. The Act of 1909, the South Africa Act, was purely permissive and no more. There was nothing mandatory in it as regards the future of the Protectorates. These Protectorates "might" be handed over; it was permissive, and no more; and it was restrictively permissive, because it was permissive only if certain other things were achieved and done. Whilst I entirely agree with what the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, has said about the propriety of our attitude towards the discussion of South African affairs, yet the fact that General Hertzog in 1930, when he was in London, claimed the right not only to advise the Imperial Parliament but to appeal to the British public in England to change their attitude as regards native policy and to approximate our native policy more closely to South African policy, seems to me to give to us in this House an equal right to examine that policy and to be very careful that we do not betray our trust as regards the Protectorates for lack of careful examination of that policy.

Quite frankly, I think we have grossly neglected the administrative interests of the Protectorates. I wish that Colonial Secretaries of several Parties had done a great deal more for the Protectorates in South Africa; but, even so, it remains a fact that in these Protectorates there is no body of legislation which places the native under the conditions in which the native is placed by the legislation of the Union of South Africa. As one who has had something to do with native administration in Africa, I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, that a close knowledge of and daily converse with the native is the best school for building up good relations between farmers and natives in most parts of our Crown Colonies and especially in Kenya. I do not believe there is anybody who has had any knowledge of the African native and of African native administration who would not regret to see the main body of our policy approximate to the body of legislation now in force in the Union of South Africa. I shall not examine occurrences at the Cape. I was in Capetown only three or four years ago, and if they examined social conditions as regards the natives round about Capetown, and their deterioration in the last few years, many people would be astonished. We have now got in the Union the Native Laws Amendment Bill, read for the third time only a month or two ago. The discussions in respect of that Bill were dual in character of course. There was the liberal view, and there was also what is known as the Zoutpansberg view, which triumphantly prevailed. If that came into force in its present form, I believe it would do more damage to native interests in the best sense of the term than anything that could easily happen.

I had not intended making a considered speech this afternoon. I merely wish to remind your Lordships that the whole problem of native policy in Africa is very much at issue to-day, and we ought to be very careful before we encourage any elements in the Empire to think that the transference of the Protectorates to any other rule but our own is likely to be feasible in the near future; at any rate that Parliament is not going lightly to devolve its present responsibility and transfer these Protectorates until it knows what the policy is of the Power to which they are going to be transferred. It is some time since I had the honour of sitting on Lord Selborne's Committee. That was a Committee set up to examine and report upon what the policy of the Union Government was going to be in these respects. We do not know the answer yet. We do not know what that Committee is going to report. We have no means of knowing except by inference what the policy of the Union Government is going to be towards the natives. For these reasons we cannot be too careful not to take hasty decisions or make hasty pronouncements about the future of the Protectorates.


My Lords, my own measure of responsibility for the native races in different parts of Africa and my relations with them make it almost impossible for me to be entirely silent during this most interesting discussion. Indeed if it were known that a discussion was taking place in this House, and I said nothing, in view of these relations and responsibilities my silence might be misunderstood. But I have no thought or intention to cover the ground covered so fully and clearly by my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton and by the noble Marquess opposite. I am only sorry I was prevented from hearing what I gather was an admirable maiden speech by a resident in Kenya. It seems to me there are two great differences of temperament and attitude in Africa, not merely in mind and policy but also in region. There is all that is represented by the policy in. West Africa, largely due, as we all know, to the honourable and memorable work of Lord Lugard in that region. Broadly speaking, that means that every encouragement is given to the natives in the way of full responsible education. There is the utmost considerateness in points of taxation and land tenure, there is no bar of any sort or kind to their industrial or economic development, and they are encouraged to take the most important places in the administration of the various Colonies. Indeed I cannot refrain from mentioning that on Friday morning I shall have the privilege of consecrating two West African negroes to the office of Bishop in the Church of God. So it is all along the line in West Africa.

On the other hand there is the long tradition that seems very obstinate in South Africa where, as has been fully described, the differences are so very great that for one reason or another the native is always reminded of his inferiority. He is exposed to the restraint and, indeed, the indignities of the pass laws; he is subjected to what seems to some of us a strange discrimination in the administration of justice; crimes are attributed to the natives which are not regarded as crimes by the whites; there are, as we all know, grave difficulties in the incidence of taxation; and their position as regards ultimate citizenship is extremely doubtful. I think I might quote the words of Mr. Pirow, the Minister of Defence, written in a journal of this country only a few days ago, and I ask your Lordships to notice the words that I shall read. It is only right to say that he acknowledged the duty of the white man to assist the native in developing along his own lines and to the utmost extent of which he is capable. He then said: but [this] definitely once and for all time denies the negro social and political equality with the European. The latter doctrine is the accepted policy of the Union. No one would be so foolish as to say that in all parts of Africa, within any measurable period of time, the native races will be capable of being associated with the whites, where they live together, in the full government of their country, but it has always been our belief that we shall ultimately do our best to train and assist the native in the idea that in time, if he responded to that training, he would be able to be associated in the government of his own country. But South Africa wishes it to be known that for all time that is to be a future from which he is barred.

I never feel it easy to criticise the policy in South Africa as I have never lived there, and I am told you have to live there and see the conditions as they are on the spot before you fully understand the position. I know that the long history of the relations of the Dutch and the natives lies behind the present position, and I always have a natural scruple in criticising the policy of a self-governing Dominion; yet it is, I think, sufficient to say that it is very difficult to see in the declared and accepted policy of the Union of South Africa anything resembling the spirit and intention of the doctrine of trusteeship to which formally this country is committed. We must recognise also the very great difference between West Africa, which can never be a white man's country and where the white man is always necessarily in a minority of political or economic administration or commercial leadership, and the position in South Africa, and in some respects in Kenya, which is capable, in parts at least, of being a white man's country. We must recognise that that constitutes a very difficult and special problem.

Also we must never forget that it is futile to talk about the native races in South Africa as if they correspond to any one type. They represent every variety of origin, of intelligence, and capacity. Therefore it behoves us to talk with moderation and carefulness about the precise way in which the doctrine of trusteeship at any given time or in any given place can be applied. What is, I think, very essential is that at the present time in Africa the British Government, in the regions for which it has still some responsibility, should make it clear beyond all possible doubt that it still holds and directs its policy towards the principle of trusteeship; in other words, broadly speaking, that the white man is there for the ultimate benefit of the native rather than the other way round, the native there for the ultimate advantage of the white man. While that principle is, as I said, capable of modification in order to meet particular circumstances and the characteristics of particular tribes, that that should be the ultimate ideal towards which we move needs at this time a very clear expression.

The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, pointed out that there are signs that the South African spirit is spreading into those regions for which we still have some responsibility. Your Lordships' attention was called to the position in South Rhodesia, where, it appears, this unfortunate pass legislation is coming into operation, and I think it is very disastrous that that legislation should pass without some kind of protest from the Government at home. It may already have been made; but that we should reproduce in Southern Rhodesia those conditions of mingled oppression of the native, of resentment on his part, and of filling the prisons with offenders who have been guilty of no possible crime, is not a condition of things we should wish to prevail wherever we have any responsibility. I think there are signs of the same spirit spreading in Nyasaland and, partly, in Kenya and in North Rhodesia. Therefore I think it is very necessary now that it should be made clear that wherever the British Government has any responsibility it does definitely adhere to the accepted principles.

The noble Lord who has just left, Lord Lloyd, was referring to another responsibility which we have with regard to the Protectorates in South Africa. I think there it is very necessary that we should make it plain that we adhere to our own principles. I have never doubted that, properly speaking, those Protectorates ought to be incorporated in the Union of South Africa. They belong to it economically and geographically, but I agree with what the noble Lord said, that we cannot contemplate surrendering them until we have a longer time in which to know what the ultimate legislation with regard to natives in the Union of South Africa is to be, and certainly not until there has been full information given to and consultation with all the native tribes concerned. And it is because of our own region of responsibility both in South and Central Africa and in the Protectorates of South Africa, that I would venture to endorse the plea of the noble Marquess opposite, if not for some declaration of the Imperial Conference—for I agree with the noble Marquess that it would be premature to make any such declaration before the survey of Lord Hailey has been published, which I think will prove to be a very valuable and memorable document—at any rate for a clear declaration by His Majesty's Government that we adhere to our accepted principles. The last point I venture to make is that it is very surprising to find how very swiftly independent opinion is spreading among all the intelligent African races. They are observant to a degree which we scarcely realise, and if it be thought that what I may without any disrespect call the South African attitude is to spread and prevail, I think there may be repercussions and consequences in the regions within our own responsibility which I do not wish to contemplate.


My Lords, as one who spent many years on the Anti-Slavery Committee and who forty years ago went out to South Africa in order to study the questions connected with the exploitation of natives for the mines, I should like to say a few words on this subject. While I was there I visited many of these territories, such as Matabeleland, Bechuanaland, Togoland, Griqualand and others, and I have come to the conclusion that many of the safeguards that were intended to be put into operation forty years ago in the interests of the natives have not developed in the right direction. I do not want to delay your Lordships by referring again to the various areas mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, but the contrast between the conditions of the natives is so extraordinary that it does require attention and I trust that His Majesty's Government, although I know they have limited powers in connection with this very difficult subject, may do something to secure something like that uniformity of good administration which we all desire. As the noble Earl, Lord Errol, is now in his place, I should like to be allowed to congratulate him on his utterance to-day. We welcome his speech. He spoke with first-hand knowledge and he understands the difficulties, in connection with the treatment of natives, of those who go to Africa and who want to do justice to the natives. I welcome the suggestion that a number of territories might, at any rate, co-ordinate their policy and find out by their own experience how best to deal with the situation.

I was very glad that the most reverend Primate alluded to the conditions which exist in Nigeria, in the whole area from Freetown to the Niger, in which practically 22,000,000 natives live, more or less happily, in a state of contentment which is denied in Nyasaland and some other territories. I should like to refer to Nyasaland as an extreme case on the other side. In Nyasaland there are something like 4,000,000 natives, and a Government Commission appointed only two years ago reported that forces were at work in that territory combining to bring misery and poverty to hundreds of thousands of families, whilst the waste of life and of happiness, of health and wealth, was colossal. Those are very strong-words from a Commission with no native representative, and those conditions in Nyasaland and cither areas are getting worse. They are getting more and more chaotic. The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, in a recent speech dealing with South Africa, spoke of the deterioration which has occurred among the natives. It is because of the great variety of conditions among the natives to which the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, alluded, that the position requires the attention of His Majesty's Government, in order that something may be done to bring together people who have experience of how to treat the natives so that there may be some co-ordination of policy. I think that the noble Lord made out his case that this is a subject that requires attention, although I would emphasise the difficulties which the Government have before them, difficulties which present themselves whenever an endeavour is made to interfere in matters affecting a large number of territories and Protectorates as well as the Union of South Africa. I welcome the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, to which I have just referred, because it was one of the most liberal speeches I have ever heard him deliver in your Lordships' House. He seemed to take exactly the same view that I take of the protection which ought to be secured by our Government for the natives in South Africa.

I should like, before I sit down, to quote the words of the Prime Minister of the day at the time when the South Africa Bill was before the House of Commons in 1909. He said: As regards the Protectorates … we—I assert this most strongly—stand in the position of trustees with regard to these natives… but the important point is that you cannot bring any one of these Protectorates or territories into a state of subordination to the Union Government or Parliament, as Clause 151 shows, unless the King, with the advice of the Privy Council—that is of the Cabinet here—agrees. It is. most important that we have reserved those powers in connection with the absorption of such territories as Bechuanaland and Basutoland, and we should recognise that it is our solemn duty to see that they are protected in the future.


My Lords, I should not have intervened in this debate but for the fact that the discussion has been largely concentrated upon various native peoples in South Africa, and that allusion has not been made to any material extent to those in another part of the world with which I am personally more familiar. I want, quite shortly, to refer to the Maori people, and incidentally to other peoples belonging to the Polynesian race, because they appear to me to be almost poles apart from those unfortunate backward native races to which reference has been made in this debate. I, for my part, am entirely in sympathy with the object that my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton had in mind in submitting this Motion, but I am perfectly confident that his Motion cannot be accepted as expressing the view which appears to be implied in it, that it is our duty, through the Imperial Conference, to develop something in the nature of uniformity of treatment or of policy in regard to the different native races living in different parts of the British Empire. So far from the Maori people being a backward people, I regard it as very remarkable that their advance towards civilisation, as we understand it, has been so pronounced during the comparatively short time that they have come into contact with Western European civilisation. It is only some seventy years since some of the Maoris practised cannibalism, but I fancy that those of your Lordships who are acquainted with the natives living in the Southern Hemisphere must be prepared to admit that there are no coloured peoples of a higher type to be found anywhere in the world than the Maori people and those belonging to the Polynesian race who are related to them. I cannot help feeling that those who live on the spot, and those who administer government on the spot, must know more than we can know how best to treat the native peoples living within their administrative area.

I should hesitate very much to appear to dictate in any way to the Governments of the self-governing Dominions in regard to their treatment of the native people. I have only lately returned from South Africa, where I did my best in the course of a very short tour to study the native problem, and I quite realise that it is a very complex problem. It is an extremely difficult problem, and one in regard to which the Government for the time being of the Union of South Africa will require an enormous amount of tact to deal with it effectively, in view largely of the steady relative increase in the numbers of the people, and also, incidentally, of the increase in the standard of education, which have been going on for some time in that country. If you turn, on the other hand, to the Polynesian race—with whom, by the way, my noble friend Lord Moyne is nowadays as well acquainted as anyone in this House—there you will find a different people. The Maori people, to speak only of one race, were put upon a footing of absolute equality ninety-seven years ago by the Treaty of Waitangi, which brought New Zealand into the British Empire, but they have done their utmost, and with amazing success, to justify that position of equality with our own people which they have enjoyed ever since. No, my Lords, it is not a colour bar which is the trouble in that part of the world, but a language bar, and, through a language bar, a bar of conflicting outlook on life which unfortunately is gradually effecting some separatism and lack of sympathy between the white people and the coloured people in New Zealand.

I am glad to say that the present Government of New Zealand, a Labour Government, are making a very special effort to consider native problems and to deal with them in a sympathetic way. I feel, however—and the same applies in certain islands of the Pacific such as the Mandated Territory of Western Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands and other similar territories—that the trouble is that those who administer the government of the country have as a rule no knowledge of the language and therefore cannot share the outlook on life which the native races have. I think I am right in saying that some fifty years ago something like 33 per cent. of the whole white population of New Zealand had some knowledge of the Maori language. I believe I should be equally correct in saying that not more than 3 per cent. have such knowledge to-day.

I noticed that my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton referred to the landless condition of so many of the native peoples in the Empire. It is this landless condition in New Zealand which is beginning to present very grave problems among those people. After all, less than one hundred years ago the Maoris owned the whole of the land in New Zealand. They have parted with it from time to time, with a certain amount of restrictive policy on the part of successive Governments, as settlement has developed, to white people who have been better able, no doubt, to make use of it in an economic sense. So far as the North Island of New Zealand is concerned, not more than about 15 to 20 per cent. of the land now belongs to the native race, and in the South Island probably not more than about 5 per cent.

What is going to happen in the future? The Maori, and I think I may say the Polynesian generally, is a man, if I may use the expression, ascriptus glebae—attached to the land. He is naturally a son of the soil, and when you detach him from the land he does not readily settle down to be what the noble Lord called a menial, or the servant even of a well-disposed and generously-minded white man. The difficulty is to find him occupation of a kind which is well suited to enable him to maintain that great refinement, dignity of character and outlook, pride of race, and, above all, spirituality which is such a marked factor of all Polynesians and particularly of the Maori race. My Lords, forgive me for intervening in this way, but I did not want your Lordships to have it left upon your minds that at any rate in New Zealand the Maori race—in my judgment the highest type of all native races in the world—came within the category which has been mainly referred to in the course of this debate.


My Lords, the noble Lord who introduced this debate had, I think, the problems of Africa most to the front in his mind, but during the discussion we have realised that the problem is far more complicated than just the settlement of government in Africa. At the present stage it would be very difficult to get any useful generalisation on such a very diverse problem. The noble Lord has suggested that the Imperial Conference should lay down a policy in broad outline. It is difficult to see how outlines broad enough to cover all the complexities of this problem at the present time would have any effective control over the diverse practice which has necessarily, and in the native interest, grown up all over the British Dominions. Undoubtedly civilisation has brought to the native a great many disadvantages which some of us may feel outweigh the advantages which he has gained. In many parts of the world I have felt that the native would have been far happier individually if he were left alone. But, of course, the civilisation of the dominant race is too strong, and it is impossible for the native to hope to be left in peace to run his own community in the traditional way. The best friends of the native differ most deeply over how far and on what lines what is known as "native betterment" should be pursued, and how far the education which we have accepted as reasonable and suited to our purposes is other than mischievous for the native.

The noble Earl who made such an interesting contribution was afraid that more harm might be done than good by attempting to bring all these varied problems into one net. Obviously any policy could only be a minimum, and I am afraid the highest common multiple would have to be a very low one. It happens that I have in recent years seen much of different Colonial Governments in Africa, the Pacific and the West Indies, and I have seen a tremendous diversity of systems, from the highly-organised Crown Colony democracies of the West Indies to the patriarchal governments which you find in Melanesia and Papua. I have also seen Mandates administered by the Dominions of New Zealand and Australia, and, of course, by ourselves also in Tanganyika. I think that in all those places we have a splendid record. The Colonial Office and the Dominions which exercise these Mandates have shown the most scrupulous regard for the traditional principle of fair play to the natives.

Of course it is easy in a place like Papua, which was mentioned by the noble Lord opposite, because there the native interests are paramount. The Governor, Sir Hubert Murray, will not allow the whites to enter except to a very small extent, and the unfortunate white settler cannot even get a suit of clothes because it might be against the interests of the native for a Chinese tailor to come in and make it. When you get to mixed populations the problem is far more complex. Settlers on the spot find their interests conflict with those of the natives. They generally believe that it is good for the native to work, and by all kinds of indirect means they strive to make him do so. They feel very great impatience at the restraints which, in the interests of the weaker races, are imposed on the exploitation which they would like to see. In view of this inevitable conflict of interests, and in view of the fact that the people on the spot must want to make the native do all sorts of things which the native, if strong enough, would not choose to do, I think the only possible guarantee is to see that the present control from the Colonial Office is maintained. We could only justify a change of status with the most indefeasible guarantees against exploitation and discrimination on colour grounds. I cannot personally see how you could lay down any code which would be really effective in guaranteeing the rights of these weaker nations, struggling to adapt themselves to our civilisation, and I hope they will long retain the strong protection of the Colonial Office and of the system under which they have made the progress which they have now attained.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord who moved this Motion has been gratified by the results that have come from it. I am sure that we are all agreed that the debate to which we have just listened has been of the very greatest value, covering the very widest ground, and that it will be extremely helpful to all of us who have to concern ourselves with the future of Colonial administration. It is particularly gratifying for me to be able to reply to the noble Lord, in so far as his natural modesty has prevented him from revealing to your Lordships the fact that exactly a hundred years ago one of his own ancestors was Chairman of a Committee which discussed almost exactly the same subject as we have been discussing this afternoon. The terms of reference to that Committee are not without interest. The Committee were asked to consider what measures ought to be adopted with regard to the native inhabitants of countries where British settlements are made, and of the neighbouring tribes, in order to secure for them the due observance of justice and the protection of their rights, to promote the spread of civilisation among them, and to lead them to the passive and voluntary reception of the Christian religion.

The Report of that Committee is, I think, a very convenient starting ground for me to take in the few remarks which I desire to put before your Lordships at the conclusion of this very interesting debate. That Report of a hundred years ago considered the following territories where the natives were to be led "to the passive and voluntary reception of the Christian religion"—namely, South Africa, the Australian Colonies, the South Sea Islands, North America, British Guiana, and the West African Settlements; and I think the countries considered by that Report, and the terms of reference, are a standing warning to all of us not to suppose that any line of policy which we lay down here and now is necessarily going to last for one hundred or even fifty years. We have to be very careful, as indeed that Committee were very careful, to realise that there are enormous differences, which cannot be got over, between the various territories which we are considering, and that those differences may in the course of time either increase or decrease. We can only try to meet those differences as best we can in the light of day-to-day experience. Although that Committee then found it difficult to formulate a very uniform policy for both West Africa and North America at the same time, I do think they got as near to a generalisation as they could when they said that the object of the policy, in whatever way it might manifest itself, in the various territories was the government of the indigenous races in their own interests, and with a view to their own elevation in the scale of civilisation, rather than any idea of exploitation in the interests of the immigrant community. That was the ideal which the Committee set before themselves, and on the other hand they set behind them any idea of the exploitation of the indigenous races in the interests of any immigrant community, of whatever creed or race.

I need hardly reiterate, but I will do so for the benefit of the most reverend Primate, who has had to leave the House, that that policy is still the policy which actuates His Majesty's Government in dealing with the native races of Africa and elsewhere. Having laid down that general principle, I must remind your Lordships, as most other speakers have reminded you, of the different degrees of culture, civilisation, morality and mental outlook to be met with when first we entered the African Continent. That has necessarily resulted in a difference of policy, not merely within the Continent itself but within different districts of each territory. It is clearly quite impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule, and I hope that the noble Lord would not desire it. It would be quite impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule which would cover, for example, the highly civilised Mahomedan Emirates of the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, and at the same time suit the needs of those primitive and almost uncivilised pagan tribes in the South-Eastern parts of the same territory. It really is not a possible thing to do, to devise a method of administration which would be equally satisfactory for both of them. Therefore details of administration must vary, and it is in the interests of the natives themselves that they should vary. I repeat once again that the interests and future development of the indigenous population of these territories remain, and always will remain, I hope, the most important thing with which we have to reckon.

I would remind your Lordships that it is only within the last forty years that we have really opened up many of the territories which we have been discussing this afternoon, and I do not pretend for one moment that our methods of administration in those territories have, from the very first, always been ideal; on the contrary, we always have been anxious to learn in these matters by the only rule which really brings satisfactory results, that is, the rule of trial and error. But at least I do think that we can say that we have come to some greater understanding of the methods by which these territories can best be governed. We have learned, at any rate, that it is not necessarily only our function to destroy every institution that we find; on the contrary, we have learned that it is far better to take the institutions of the natives themselves, which the natives already understand, and to which they are accustomed by long tradition, and to make of those institutions a really good and efficient instrument of government. When we talk about using native institutions it is not that we desire always to keep the native down to the scale of civilisation to which he has been accustomed in the past. It is not that: what we mean is that we will take whatever is good in the indigenous institutions of the country, and we will turn them in the spirit of Western civilisation to what we consider to be the proper aims of government. The result is, I am happy to say, very satisfactory, because already you find that the very people whose fathers were practising the most brutal and revolting rites in the name of tribal custom are now the most enlightened rulers, and ruling through the same tribal custom as the tribe have always been accustomed to. What it comes to is that we have sublimated the native institutions whenever we have had the opportunity of so doing.

In the very remarkable maiden speech, if I may say so, of the noble Earl who sits behind me, a speech which I hope will only be the first of many that he will address to our House, he rather took exception to some of the remarks made by the mover of this Motion with regard to trusteeship, and certainly the noble Lord who moved it was not the only one to offer his interpretation of what that word means. I think almost everyone in the debate ventured his interpretation. I think it is necessary to be careful how we use a word derived from the law. In a strict legal sense the trustee administers a separate estate on behalf of others, and to those others, or to people appointed on their behalf, he is liable to account. That is not exactly the relationship which exists between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the territories administered by the Colonial Office, for this very good reason, that these trustees, if His Majesty's Government are to be called trustees, have a separate responsibility all their own, which cannot be ignored. His Majesty's Government—and there is no use denying it or trying to gloss it over—in addition to their responsibility to the indigenous people have also a responsibility to people of their own race; and where there is a trading community with large amounts of capital invested, where there are communities of Europeans engaged in developing a country, or where particular pieces of territory are necessary for the defence of the Empire as a whole, I do not think that we could possibly forget that we have a duty towards our own people as well as a duty towards the native population which we try to guard.

It is obvious that you can try to solve the dual interest that I have described in two ways. You can either try—to continue the legal metaphor—to divide the estate into two parts, which is usually described as a policy of segregation; or you can boldly face the issue of the dual interest and try to make those two interests complementary and not conflicting; and very frequently it has been our experience in the past—and no doubt it will be again—that it is only by a policy of parallel development of that kind that you will be able to avoid a racial clash.

I think I have said enough in this connection to make it quite clear that the broad policy which my noble friend advocated in his speech is indeed that which is now followed by the Governments for which the Colonial Office is responsible. It is perfectly true that from place to place variations of administrative detail may occur; but I do not want it to be thought for one moment that in any territory there is the slightest variation from the principle which I laid down at the beginning of this speech. That is that the interests of the indigenous population must come first; and I must say that I am not at all shaken in that statement by anything that has fallen from the noble Lord, or from other noble Lords, with regard to certain differences which I admit exist in various parts of Africa.

I do not think it would serve your Lordships' purpose if I were to go into a long review of the various histories of land tenure in West and East Africa respectively. I admit that to a large extent those tenures are a matter of history. Similarly I do not think it would really be of very much value if I were to explain at great length—which indeed I assure you I could do—as to why direct taxation in the East of Africa has necessarily to be higher than in the West. I would only remind the noble Lord, as he raised this specific point, that in practice the native in the West of Africa does not get off quite so lightly as he would have us believe; that although the direct taxation in the East of Africa naturally is easy to see and to complain about, at the same time the indirect taxes, including such taxes as the tax on spirits, from which the West African Governments derive their revenue, bear no less hardly in practice on the native population than the more direct taxes in the East of Africa. And I must confess that I was again not impressed by the diatribe against the hardships of the pass laws in which numerous speakers, including the noble Marquess, indulged at various stages of the debate. As my noble friend is well aware, there is in fact no pass law in the Colonies for which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are responsible, as it is understood in other places. In Kenya you have what is called a Kipandi system which, at the most, is merely a method of registration, a record and a passport, a thing which a man of good character with good references is only too anxious to produce, but which a man of evil character, who would very much like to disappear as conveniently as possible, and if possible with an advance of wages in his hand, would very much like to be without.

As for the case of Southern Rhodesia which the noble Marquess raised—I am sorry he is not here to argue this point with me—I would remind him that most of the legislation of which he complains is in fact merely a consolidation of various laws of the same character dating back some thirty years, long before the grant of self-government was made to Southern Rhodesia. I am informed that the point of the consolidation of these laws, and the enforcement of them, is to prevent natives of evil character coming to the towns and committing crimes of various characters. It is not really an argument for him to say: "Oh, look at the increase in the number of natives who have been sent to gaol for violating these pass laws," because the whole point of sending them to gaol in that way and tightening the regulations is to prevent them from going to gaol for very much worse offences.

Finally—and this I think is the last point raised in the debate to which I should reply—I would like to reply very carefully to my noble friend Lord Lloyd, who spoke of the High Commission territories and of the possibility of their transfer. I would remind him that the conclusion was reached that the policy of both Governments—the Union Government and this Government—should in the next few years be directed to bringing about a situation in which, if transfer were to become a matter of practical politics—I would ask your Lordships to mark those words—it could be effected with the full acquiescence of the populations of the territories concerned. It was also decided that, with this end in view, it was important that the closest possible co-operation should be established between the Union Government and the Administration of the territories. Therefore it is really impossible, until that new policy had been tried out, to give any assurance or suggest any date at which any possible transfer might be made. I would remind your Lordships once again that it can only be effected after full consultation with the populations of the territories concerned.

So I come to the last point I think I should make, and that is that the policy of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is quite clear. It has been laid down over and over again, and I have been glad to be able to reaffirm it once more. I would agree with the mover of the Motion that it is not for His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to discuss or criticise any policy which may be adopted by His Majesty's Government in any of the Dominions. Each of these Dominions, as my noble friend's ancestor recognised one hundred years ago, is faced with its own particular problems, and it does no good, and may do harm, for us to offer any solution or attempt to give any advice. Each problem is a separate one, and it must be handled by the men whose task it is to conduct it. Therefore I think the final conclusion of the Motion by my noble friend is ill-conceived. He suggests that it would be a suitable task for the Imperial Conference to formulate a policy. The Imperial Conference is not designed for a task such as this. It is designed to deal with such questions as are of common interest and can form a basis of common policy. I do not really think, and I do not think the noble Lord seriously thinks, that measures of internal and individual administration such as we have been discussing this afternoon can really come within the scope of a Conference of that kind. He had much better be content with the assurance I have given him of the policy of His Majesty's Government in the Colonies for which they are responsible. That policy, I believe, will meet with his approval. As I have said before, it is a policy which has been followed now for many years. It is a policy which we are following as best and as fast as we can, and it is a policy from which, as far as I can see, there is very little likelihood of our being about to depart.


My Lords, I should like in a word to thank the Minister very cordially indeed for the most interesting speech he has given us. This Motion has been widely supported by many very interesting and informative speeches, and none more interesting than that of the Minister. I thank him for giving us a speech which was in no way perfunctory, but which was a speech of his own, showing very deep consideration of the problems that have been raised. I feel very gratified, and I hope your Lordships do, at his confirmation of the traditional policy of the Colonial Office. He has pointed out, what we readily admit, that trusteeship must be read to apply in a wider sense than a mere trusteeship for the indigenous population. He there touches on what Lord Lugard called "The Dual Mandate" in his book, which develops it so amply, and of course one agrees. I am extremely glad he confirmed also the principle laid down in the famous declaration in the White Paper on the so-called "paramount interests," and that his Department does regard the interests of the indigenous population as unquestionably coming first, and not to be overridden, but obviously to be combined with the other interests of the world at large and of this country.

I was very gratified, naturally, at the allusion which he made to my ancestor's Committee and his approval of their recommendations. One reflection arises from the fact that this Committee reported 100 years ago, and changes have shown themselves since then. It was one of the points I made, that things change sometimes quite rapidly. We may, in accordance with that experience, anticipate that great changes of opinion on these matters may take place here or in a Dominion; and this fact points 1o the need for caution in making changes of constitutional status. What the Minister said in regard to the using of native institutions was extraordinarily interesting, and nothing could be more gratifying to those who take an interest in native races than to learn that the study of institutions is making progress and being utilised in that way. I was particularly interested in the expression that he used in regard to the sublimation of native policy— an admirable metaphor which very closely indicates the spirit that I hope all of us desire to see. This is not the moment to detain your Lordships longer. I have only to say how cordially I welcome the declaration that the noble Marquess has made, and I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.