§ 4.11 p.m.
§ LORD SNELL rose to call attention to the recently issued Statement of Policy on Colonial Development and Welfare [Cmd. 6175] and to the recommendations of the West Indian Royal Commission [Cmd. 6174]; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have seldom had greater pleasure in initiating a discussion in your Lordships' House than on this occasion when I ask your attention to the two documents which are mentioned in the Motion which stands in my name. I am gratified because once in a way I do not have to criticise the Government. The documents concerned seem to me to stand out like a good day in a naughty world and I am not proposing this afternoon to embarrass the Government by any specific criticism. My desire in putting down this Motion was that Parliament might have the very earliest opportunity of assuring the Colonial Empire that it is behind this statement on Colonial policy and that it intends, with satisfaction and with all con- 971 venient speed, to apply the principles that are therein laid down.
§ The Colonial Empire will not underestimate the significance of the fact that, amid the great burdens and constant anxieties of the war, the British nation is inaugurating a scheme for Colonial development which millions of people in the Empire had hoped for but which they had feared never to see. My first duty, therefore, is to congratulate the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the timely introduction of this new Colonial development policy which will, I believe, give immense satisfaction throughout the Empire. It represents in an extended, amplified form the principles of trusteeship; it attempts to put those principles into practice. My first and very urgent plea on this matter is that your Lordships should remember that there are two documents under consideration, and I hope that attention will be given to both of them. There is the Statement of Policy on Colonial Development and Welfare, and the recommendations of the West Indian Royal Commission. I feel that there may be some danger of the recommendations of the West Indian Royal Commission taking our attention and obscuring considerations of the wider problem of the Colonial Empire as a whole. In that regard I venture to remind your Lordships that, acute as are the West Indian problems, they deal with only some 2,500,000 people whereas the Colonial Empire has within it some 60,000,000 people. It would cause, I believe, intense disappointment throughout the Colonial Empire if, on this occasion the problem was not considered in its wider aspects affecting the whole of the Colonial Empire but was confined to one particular section.
§ The West Indian people are relatively advanced. They are certainly more articulate than many of the other peoples of the Colonial Empire and are better prepared for self-government. Therefore, in the very short time that I shall address your Lordships, I propose first of all to say something about the policy of Colonial development and welfare, and then to deal with the recommendations of the West Indian Royal Commission. The Statement of Policy is short but of quite profound significance. The Government have 972 given us very little, almost no, interpretation of what is involved and it is important that an attempt should be made to interpret what the document means when it comes to be applied under all sorts of conditions. I think it implies, although it does not state, that trusteeship henceforth is to mean much more than merely the non-alienation of land and a share in such material progress as may come. I think it implies that the native peoples will be considered in a moral and cultural as well as in a material way. Under the principle of trusteeship I believe that we have a responsibility to provide for them, not according to what they are now, but according to what in generations to come they may themselves become. That involves, as I think, consideration of the kind of education that must be given. It must enable them to appreciate the social life and needs of the community in which they live. As I have understood our Colonial policy, its aim has been throughout not to make the native peoples in Africa into artificial or imitation Europeans but to make them good Africans. If I am right in that, then this document stands for the development of the necessary qualities for communal life.
My second comment about the Statement is that it contains one new feature of great and most welcome significance. It implies the complete abandonment of the doctrine of laisser faire, and this in itself, I submit, is a very great step forward, and may alter the entire approach to Colonial administration and development. In paragraph 3 of the Statement of Policy we are told that
His Majesty's Government are trustees for the well-being of the peoples of the Colonial Empire…The primary aim of Colonial policy is to protect and advance the interests of the inhabitants of the Colonies.…
There we have the principle of trusteeship reaffirmed, and the question arises how that principle shall be dealt with and reduced to common practice. Hitherto we have had, as your Lordships are aware, the Colonial Development Fund, which was started in 1929 and was empowered to spend up to £1,000,000 per year. If your Lordships will be good enough to turn to paragraph 6 on page 5, you will find this:
The existence of the Fund has not involved any departure from the old principle that a Colony should have only those services
which it can afford to maintain out of its own resources. This principle now calls for revision, and the Government propose that in appropriate cases money from the new sources which they have it in mind to provide should be made available for the maintenance of important works or services over a substantial period of years.
That, I submit, in the dry-as-sawdust language which is apparently appropriate to an official document, constitutes the too-long delayed funeral oration of the discreditable doctrine called laisser faire.
§ Now we are to spend up to £5,000,000 a year for a period of ten years; also £500,000 a year are to be devoted to the work of research under a Research Advisory Committee. I am not quite happy about that provision, because it may not mean that a sum of £5,000,000 will be spent, but only that a Committee may spend up to £5,000,000 per year; and we notice that from the Colonial Development Fund they have only spent £8,000,000 of the £10,000,000 that they were empowered to spend. I am not suggesting for a moment that money should be spent recklessly just to spend it, but I think it would be some assurance to Parliament, and the Empire if it were felt that this grant sum would in fact be each year available and that, if it were not spent in one year, the balance would be carried over to subsequent years.
In paragraph 7 we have this statement:
This assistance will be available not only for schemes involving capital expenditure necessary for Colonial development in the widest sense but also for helping to meet current expenditure in the Colonies on certain services such as agriculture, education, health and housing.
I have previously mentioned the importance of education in this matter, and I should like to inquire from the noble Marquess if he is able to give me an answer as to the kind of education that is in mind. I hope that it will be much more than the form of education which will help a native to become a more intelligent productive unit: that it will encourage him to desire and to live upon a higher standard; that it will be an education which will prepare him for the purposes of community life and needs. The words that I have just quoted, especially the words "Colonial development in the widest sense," may imply that kind of educational development.
§ Paragraph 15 is, however, in my judgment the most important paragraph of the 974 document, for there we are led to encourage the Colonial Governments "to prepare development programmes for a period of years ahead," so that they may plan and work out economically and with great efficiency the development that seems most urgent. I should like to ask the noble Marquess if he could give us in his reply some information about the character of the Advisory Committees: will they be the existing Committees, or will they be new and reorganised Committees? Will they be merely Departmental or Parliamentary, or will they be general, on which people with knowledge outside are co-opted to serve? I should also like to ask how Parliament shall keep its control over this expenditure. I ask the noble Marquess to remember that I do not forget the opportunity of the Colonial Estimates once a year, but to my own knowledge that provides very inadequate opportunity to criticise and analyse the whole of the difficulties of the Colonial Empire.
§ I have left almost no time in which to deal with the recommendations of the West Indian Royal Commission, but I do not apologise for that, because we have the advantage of having with us the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, himself Chairman of that Commission, and from him I do not doubt that we shall have information on that matter. Before I comment on it personally I should like, on behalf of my noble friends, to thank the members of the Royal Commission for their sympathetic remarks concerning the late Mr. Morgan Jones. He was one of the ablest and most devoted of our colleagues. His fine character commanded our respect and his personal qualities our affection. Those of us who knew his work on the Indian Joint Select Committee, for example, or as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, had the highest regard for his qualities. His death was a great loss both to his Party and to the State, both of which he served with entire devotion.
§ The details of the Report of the West Indian Royal Commission are not available. It is a disadvantage, therefore, to have to debate this question without the information which was the basis of the Commission's judgment. And yet it is not entirely essential that we should have those details, because the facts of the situation are fairly well known. Some 975 of us have had the advantage of seeing conditions there with our own eyes, and most of us have read Major St. John Orde Brown's report on Labour Conditions in the West Indies, and the Report on the disturbances in Trinidad of more recent times. What the Commission's Report seems really to show is that additional revenues are required for the West Indian Services. Only British Guiana and Trinidad have mineral resources to form a basis for their financial needs, and we have to remember that in 1936, for instance, the expenditure on administration in the West Indian group was 40 per cent. of the whole expenditure, and in some of the smaller Colonies it was even higher.
§ There appear to be two ways in which these problems can be dealt with. The first is a rise in prices of commodities. Sugar is the hard factor of the situation in the West Indies. The Olivier Commission in 1929 recommended that the sugar preference should be raised to 4s. 8d. It is notable—I am not complaining about it; I merely note it in passing—that the Government have not committed themselves on that aspect of the Moyne Report. The other way is the introduction of new capital from this country. That seems to me to be a good thing, but the expenditure involved will require very careful consideration. Unless the Advisory Committees that have to deal with these matters represent all views, we may possibly find that what is to be done will act as a mere endowment of inefficiency in the West Indies, or funds may be diverted to enterprises which would benefit sections only instead of the whole of the Colonial community.
§ There is so much that is good in these two Reports that it seems almost ungenerous to criticise; yet it would not be true to my habitual form if I sat down without one word of criticism on this matter. The Moyne Report—as I will call it, if the noble Lord will permit me to do so—appears, so far as I can read it, to underestimate the importance of the political factors in the West Indies. For example, the strain between politically-minded people in the West Indies and the Administrations grows, and there have been occasions when the old haughty authoritarianism rather than a spirit of co-operation has been used. I think that there is an increasing urgency for the 976 absorption of native talent into the Administration of these Colonial areas, as far as that is possible. I have dealt too quickly and therefore very superficially with this vast problem, but I again welcome in the most cordial manner these two documents, and I hope that the House will agree that the questions that are raised in them are of urgent importance. I venture to ask your Lordships to give to them your most sympathetic consideration. I beg to move.
§ 4.35 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who leads the Opposition has drawn attention this afternoon to a matter which is of quite first-class importance, implying as it does a new departure in and development of our Colonial policy. I hope that the House will bear with me for a few moments if I give what I believe to be Liberal opinion on this matter. In the first place, I should like sincerely to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, and the members of the West India Commission on the admirable work of that Commission and on the excellent result which they have achieved. Royal Commissions do not invariably lead to concrete results, and indeed they are perhaps sometimes appointed not with a view to obtaining them. Sometimes their Reports come home to roost in the pigeon-holes of Downing Street and remain there for a very long time. That is certainly not the case with this Report. Further, I think that we can all congratulate the Colonial Minister and His Majesty's Government on the promptitude with which they have dealt with it. The Statement of Policy which they have issued goes far beyond the West Indies and deals with Colonial development as a whole, and the White Paper makes it clear that it is a great advance on the principle of the Colonial Development Fund of 1929. That, as your Lordships are no doubt aware, dealt with material developments in the Colonies, but now such matters are included as health, education, as the noble Lord, Lord Snell, has just told us, housing, and, above all, scientific research, the results of which will be shown over a long period with benefit, I trust, to the countries concerned and to the Empire as a whole.
I think that the Government were right not to wait until the end of the war on the plea that no new expenditure should be undertaken now; at the same time, it 977 is to be hoped that these grants need not be made in perpetuity, but that the Colonies with greater prosperity may become self-supporting. Moreover, I think it is right that Palestine and other mandated territories should share in the benefits of these proposals, for that will mean a full recognition of the principle of trusteeship. The new money, as the noble Lord, Lord Snell, mentioned, is to amount to some £4,500,000, in addition to the £1,000,000 which is already granted under the Colonial Development Fund. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Snell, in hoping that this money will be very carefully administered. A great responsibility in this matter lies upon the Colonial Secretary; and indeed in other ways also he bears a very great responsibility indeed from the vastness of the Empire for the control of which he is responsible. That is, of course, well known in this House, but outside the vastness of the Empire is not always realised, comprising as it does a population of some 60,000,000 people, administered by, I think, 40 different Governments in different parts of the world, and ranging from States like Nigeria, with a population of 20,000,000, to small islands all over the world.
I am glad that the Secretary of State has recently found time to go over to Paris and there to meet his opposite number in the French Government. After all, the boundaries of the two Empires in different parts of the world are contiguous, and it is very important, I think, that the administrators of these different Colonies in different parts of the world should co-operate, and that their relations should be just as cordial as the relations of the two home Governments are to-day.
There are just one or two matters in the Report of Lord Moyne to which I would like to draw attention. I think it is clear that he and his Commission recommend in some sense decentralisation of the Colonial Office, that is to say, they recommend that there should be appointed a Comptroller of the West Indian Welfare Fund, who will be an intermediate authority between Whitehall and the several West Indian Colonies. That seems to me a very sound suggestion, and possibly a similar arrangement might with advantage be adopted in other parts of the Empire. There is one other point in Lord Moyne's Report to which I would refer. A suggestion was made that there 978 should be established a Standing Parliamentary Committee to deal with Colonial matters. It was not clear from the wording of the Report, but I think that if such a Committee were appointed, members of your Lordships' House should be included, because there are many members of this House with great experience in Colonial matters. There are several ex-Secretaries of State for the Colonies, and there are men with great experience, like Lord Hailey, who have done great work in Africa. Therefore I think it is clear that if such a Standing Committee were set up, members of this House should be included in it.
Two or three days ago I read in a newspaper of a broadcast play given from a German wireless station, and the mise en scène of this play was said to be a British Colony. Natives were being punished and tortured and put to death by British officials because they refused to enlist in British forces to serve against Germany on the West Wall. Well, I can conceive of no better answer to such poisonous propaganda than the publication of this Report and the action which His Majesty's Government have taken on it.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, like both the noble Lords who have spoken, I rejoice that in these difficult financial days, when every pound of expenditure must be scrutinised in order to see that we get value for our money, the Government have not hesitated to commit themselves to expenditure, and large expenditure, in the execution of their Colonial trust. I am glad that they have made a long plan, that this is no question of spending a million or two in one year, and perhaps starving the Administration in another. My noble friend and his chief in another place will not have to go year by year to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, uncertain whether money will be forthcoming. It is only if you know that you can take a long view, and that you can build firm, that you can really spend money wisely in Colonial administration. And though I am not enamoured necessarily of plans which are counted in terms of years, I am glad that in this case there is the certainty of a ten-year plan. I think it was singularly fortunate also that when this plan of expenditure was under contemplation the Government should have been fortified by the Report of Lord Moyne's Commission, covering the West Indies 979 alone it is true, but covering that area very thoroughly.
Both the White Paper and Lord Moyne's Report wisely, I think, link economic and social expenditure together, link economic development with Social Services. Because in the long run the standard of living of all these Colonies, the expenditure on the Social Services which we are able to maintain, must depend to a large degree upon the economic prosperity of the Colonies themselves. It should be our aim, not only in matters political but in matters economic, to strive always for the time when every Colony can stand on its own feet. Much might be said about detailed administration, particular plans of development in this Colony or that. I do not propose to fall into that temptation in this debate. I would rather concentrate on just a few principles, practical suggestions which are based on my own four years' tenure as Secretary of State for the Colonies, during which time we established the Economic Department of the Colonial Office, which had never existed at all before, and initiated the Colonial Survey, which I think taught not only the world outside but many of us in the Colonial Office a great deal about Colonial possibilities, and Colonial products, and Colonial difficulties that we did not know before.
And that leads me to say this. In these times there is no limit, or practically no limit, to what agriculture can produce, but there is a very definite limit to what can be sold for export, even if we export to the best possible advantage. And therefore my first word of warning—and I am sure it is unnecessary to the Colonial Office, experienced as they have now become—is this. It is of course absolutely right and necessary to apply science to the development of agriculture in all these Colonies, to make sure that your agriculture is as efficient as it can be, that you are using the best strains and the best types in what you grow, that your veterinary services and so on are developed as highly as possible, that applied science in the use of your products is developed to the full, that your marketing is as competently organised as it can be: all that is necessary, and all that is being done. In that way you will not only produce the best quality possible, but you will export as much as you can. But when all that 980 is done there is still a limit to export, and therefore I am sure these Colonies, with their growing populations, must depend more and more on the development of local consumption. That is plain in Lord Moyne's Report.
Visiting these teeming islands in the West Indies, his Report emphasizes, both explicitly and implicitly, how impossible it is to solve the economic problem of the West Indies merely by looking to increased exports. You have to raise the standard of living in the Colony, you have to supply for that increased standard as much as you can from what the Colony produces itself. It is increasingly important that your Colonial cultivator should learn to live on his holding rather than to live off his holding. What he can export, by all means let him export. That will pay for the extras which he gets; but more and more he must live on his holding—at any rate, both he and his family—and also the local population in the country. There, it seems to me, is a great field for local education, teaching not only agricultural production to the producer, but teaching a better standard of life, and the way to a better standard of life, to be obtained in their own land and from their own land, to the whole of the people of these Colonies.
That leads me to say this about education. I hope we shall not be afraid to give our education in the Colonies a vocational bias. My noble friend said that the object of our trust was not to make a lot of bad imitations of European countries or European democracies—it was to make good Africans. I most profoundly agree, and I do not say that with any sense of limitation of what natives are increasingly capable of. I have seen, myself, on my Colonial tours how carefully trained natives are capable of filling posts which a few years ago people thought it was impossible for them to fill. I do not mean black-coated posts only, or chiefly, but engineering posts and so on—all that kind of development. Let us create every opportunity we can for the natives, but let us educate them so that they can take advantage of these increasing opportunities. I am quite sure we shall not be thanked by the natives if we give them a kind of education of which, when they leave their place of education, there is no possibility of their taking advantage.
981 I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Snell has visited Uganda, but there, where devolution in the sense of indirect rule has gone, I suppose, further than it has anywhere else, where a very large part of the Administration is in the hands of the natives themselves—extremely competently conducted—I remember discussing with the native Chancellor of the Exchequer the law of diminishing returns of taxation in a way which, in his case, would not have disgraced a permanent official at the Treasury. There, where devolution, as I say, has gone so far, I noticed that they were most careful in their education not to train too many black-coated people, but to give black-coated education only to people for whom there were opportunities, and to concentrate on education for the land—scientific training. It became good form for the sons of the Chiefs to go to agricultural colleges, and that was done in one of the most progressive Colonies I have ever visited, where devolution was practised to the highest possible extent. I am sure it has not suffered at all under the present Governor who is a gallant and able administrator. Therefore, do not let us hesitate to give a vocational basis to our education. Indeed, let us insist on it.
I have only two other points to raise. One is this. Both the White Paper and the Moyne Report stress the importance of scientific research, and not only scientific research in primary products in the matter of the soil, but applied research into the use of the product. I am sure it is necessary to associate industry here with that development and that research. It is probably always wise to have the purely agricultural research done on the spot in the Colony, but in most cases it is probably equally wise to have the research into the use of the product done in this country or in some other part of the Empire possibly—but in this country particularly—where the users are, and where you can get the users interested in the use of Colonial products. I found repeatedly that we could make no progress unless we interested industries here and made them partners in the development. I could give many examples, but I shall give only two. One was the development of sisal and fibres. All the field work, very properly, took place in Kenya and Tanganyika, but when it came to the use of the fibre it became necessary to interest the textile industries, the spinners, 982 here and in Ulster. Actually the fibre research was conducted in Ulster, and has gone on very satisfactorily to this day. The use of sisal in competition with manilla has been due to the co-operation of the user as much as to the way we developed it in the Colonial Office. That partnership between the user, the producer, and the Colonial Office as the trustee was very fruitful.
I take another example. When I went to the Colonial Office I found that in many Colonies there were forest officers who were excellent forest officers in the sense that they were very good conservators of timber, but not one of them knew anything about the timber market and hardly any of them had visited a timber firm. They did not know what this country wanted in the way of timber, and therefore they had not the least idea of how to sell their products. I got the timber industry together, and said to them: "If you take one or two of these forest officers at a time for a six months' course, will you give them the run of your business and so on? They can tell you the kind of timber they produce out there." They jumped at the idea. They never charged a penny for it. They were only too glad to help. The result was that when these officers came over they got thoroughly interested in the market side, the timber merchants got knowledge they never possessed before of Colonial supplies of timber, and the forest officers went back knowing what this market wanted. The result was that, within a year or two, the exports of timber went up enormously from a great many of these Colonies, showing that it is very wise and very necessary to give to the industries, of this country an opportunity they are only too anxious to take, and a share in the discharge of that trusteeship which is the common heritage of us all.
One last word. In the discharge of our trust, in making as the noble Lord, Lord Snell, said, good Africans and not artificial Europeans, it is tremendously important to use and build on local tradition, local custom, local organisation, local loyalties. That, indeed, is what is meant by indirect rule, and in applying it successfully, as we have been able to apply it, through the Colonial Empire, we are, after all, only applying the lesson we in this country learned a good many hundred 983 years ago. When William the Conqueror conquered England, and the fighting was over, he had the wisdom to send for his generals and say that the time for generals was finished and the time for statesmen had begun; that it was their business to find out what was Anglo-Saxon custom and to marry Anglo-Saxon custom to Norman law. Our Constitution to-day, with its growth and its common sense and its general pliability to circumstances, had its birth in that happy union of law and custom, and so in the same way, in applying indirect rule, let us take the local custom, the local law, the local tradition and merge them in our experience and in the larger loyalty. The secret of success in indirect rule, I am sure, is that it is not, and cannot ever be, just one sealed pattern. I am sure my noble friend and the Secretary of State very fully realise this. I would only say in conclusion, as an old Secretary of State, how grateful I am to the Government that this wise advance is being made and this generous expenditure undertaken in the discharge of a great trust, which is, I believe, very safe in the hands of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Undersecretary whom we have in this House.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BLEDISLOE
My Lords, there is certainly no announcement that has yet been made by His Majesty's present Government which has brought more emphatic rejoicing to my own heart than the announcement of this large augmentation of the Colonial Development Fund for the benefit of our great Colonial Empire, and more particularly, if I may say so, for the benefit of the peoples of Africa. I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Moyne not only upon his quite admirable Report but also upon the great promptitude with which it has been acted upon by His Majesty's Government, even in these very anxious times when money is far to seek. I was not quite so fortunate as my noble friend in so far as my investigation of another part of the Colonial Empire was concerned not two years ago, for he was able to obtain the emphatic and unanimous support of all his colleagues as far as I can learn, in every particular, whereas those who served upon the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Royal Commission under my Chairmanship found 984 that in some particulars—I am inclined to consider in most cases somewhat subsidiary particulars—we were not wholly at one. I am perfectly certain that every member of my Royal Commission would most cordially endorse everything that has fallen from the noble Lord, Lord Snell, whom I should like to thank for introducing this subject in the House to-day, and would agree also with everything that has fallen from my noble friend Lord Swinton. May I say in passing that I would like to dot the i's and cross the t's of everything that has fallen from the noble Viscount?
I notice with some interest the order in which the various services are placed in regard to assistance from this new grant of £5,000,000 and the lesser grant of £500,000 in respect of research—agriculture, education, health and housing. My natural inclination would be to say that agriculture has quite properly been placed in the forefront, but after careful, I think I may say somewhat meticulous, investigation of the very sad condition of the native peoples in South Central Africa, I am inclined to put health first, even before education. Indeed, I think I should put agriculture also before education. Where you have many millions of native people who through malnutrition or otherwise are in such a physical condition that they are really not educable, then surely your first attention so far as the application of this major grant is concerned, and even so far as the grant towards research is concerned, should be given to making them at least physically fit first of all to learn what they ought to learn and to work out so far as is possible their own economic salvation. On referring, as I did casually last night, to those statements made in my Royal Commission's Report upon which we were all agreed, I found in the first place that there is no difference of opinion that the natives to whom I am referring were in a physically sub-normal condition, to the extent of at least three-quarters of the population. That being so, surely health is the first essential, coupled of course with attention to medical service and sanitation based on really sound and efficient research.
Then I would place, second in order of importance, instruction in the treatment of the land and the maintenance of health in the native villages and kraals. The con- 985 dition of a very large number of these native villages in South Central Africa is truly appalling. In many, many cases there is deficient water supply, and in almost every case in countries like Northern Rhodesia either erosion is taking place, or perhaps more frequently the land is being so starved that the people cannot exist in any large numbers on any particular spot for any length of time. The consequence is that they keep on moving some ten or twenty miles away, and in the result, because they have no real knowledge of how to treat their land and how to maintain its fertility by, for instance, rotation of crops and by maintaining a sufficient amount of humus in the soil, they are really occupying for their maintenance a much larger area of land than is requisite either for that purpose or for their industrial welfare. It was very noticeable in all three Territories that we visited, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, that the outcry of the natives was for more land, although in fact the land upon which they were attempting to live was, like themselves, thoroughly starved.
Talking about the condition of health of the natives, I cannot imagine any more useful purpose to which a part of this Fund can be applied than to teach the native how he can obtain a due and proper amount of nutrition to keep him in a decent condition of health. It is not that the native is being quantitatively starved; it is not that the native has inadequate food. At least three-quarters of the natives with whom we came in contact were trying to live on a thoroughly ill-balanced ration, a ration composed almost wholly of starchy material, maybe maize or millet or cassava, without any due proportion of protein food, either animal or vegetable protein, in order to maintain physical efficiency by means of a proper nutritional balance. There is very little knowledge amongst the natives, even with all the assistance the Colonial Office have given from Whitehall, upon the subject of a proper balance of food in order to maintain themselves in a satisfactory physical condition.
As I say, I was rather interested to refer to those points on which we are quite agreed. One was that land and labour are at present being wasted and that with proper utilisation there should be no deficiency of either. I am entirely in accord 986 with my noble friend when he says that the native population should learn to live on their land and not live off it. You see going on in South Africa and in South Central Africa an unfortunate drift towards the mines—towards the Rand with large-scale gold mines, towards the smaller gold mines of Southern Rhodesia, towards the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia, and towards the lead and zinc mines in Northern Rhodesia. You see that drift from the villages, particularly in Nyasaland, where you have a relatively higher standard of education, than in almost any other part of Africa, with a consequent disruption of tribal and communal life and its wholesome traditions, which it is the main interest of the paramount Chief, or the Chief, to maintain. This leads me to ask that at least some proportion of this new Fund shall be devoted to the proper training of the Chiefs, concurrent as far as possible with the maintenance of the influence of the Chiefs. I think the most illuminating and encouraging experience we had in the course of our long tour in South Central Africa, was a visit to a certain Jeanes centre, which is largely financed by American money. There a large number—I think some forty or fifty—paramount Chiefs and Chiefs and sons of both were being instructed in hygiene, in the maintenance of health, and more particularly in various handicrafts and the science of agriculture and agricultural industry. These men are being properly trained, but where they are not properly trained their attitude really is very disheartening.
Perhaps I may be allowed to tell your Lordships of a little experience of mine which is really almost laughable. In the Chibi, rather to the north of the Limpopo, a very outlandish area, I visited the local tribe, and after trying to encourage the Chief to seek education for the children, I went on to call attention to what I imagined would appeal to him; that was, the presence in the area of a native demonstrator. That demonstrator was making it clear that by rotation of crops, for instance, by growing ground nuts in rotation with maize, the crops of maize were far heavier, and the land therefore produced per unit of space a very much larger amount of food. I said to the paramount Chief—of course my words had to be interpreted: "Here you have a magnificient example and you are in a position to direct your tribesmen 987 along the path of progress and set an example to other tribes in the matter of how to cultivate your land. Then I asked the interpreter to inquire what the Chief had to say in reply. His reply, putting it in popular language, was, "It is all tommyrot, I do not believe a word of it."
With the full approval of the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and of the Governor—and I would suggest that it might be considered whether the same course might not be taken in other parts of Africa—I thereupon initiated a little fund to provide a silver medal for competition, because these natives love an attractive bauble to hang round their necks. This medal was to be awarded to the Chief who gave the most direct and strongest influence in the improvement of agricultural conditions in his area. I learned when I was in New Zealand, where there is a much higher type of native than in any part of Africa, that even amongst the Maoris nothing was more attractive to them than some bauble to hang round their necks. Before I left, the very enlightened Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia said he really believed that I was getting at the right way of influencing the Chiefs to give a lead to their tribes by providing this bauble.
There is one other thing that I want to say. All over these Territories I found very defective knowledge on the part, not of the natives, but of the white settlers as to the best use to make of their land, as to what kind of crops they could grow, bearing in mind the local conditions, with some reasonable chance of success. I refer particularly to exportable cash crops. I found that the heads of the Agricultural Departments in all three Territories agreed with my suggestion that the best plan was to make a schedule which should be put into the hands of all intending settlers advising them on four main points: firstly, the altitude at which a particular crop could best be grown; secondly, what degree of humidity that crop required; thirdly, what was the texture of the soil that a particular crop mostly favoured; and lastly, what scientists call the Ph values—namely, whether a crop required an alkaline or an acid soil. I inquired of members of the Royal Society when I returned to England whether any attempt had been made by research workers, here or overseas, to draw up such a 988 schedule for the guidance of those settling in tropical or sub-tropical countries so that they should not lose their capital by attempting to grow crops for which conditions were not favourable. They had to confess that, as far as they knew, no such research work had ever been done in a systematic way, but they said that in their opinion there was great scope for that particular line of research.
I do not want to take up more of your Lordships' time except to express the hope that with the help of this grant steps will be taken to see that technical education is given, and I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the value of vocational education should not be overlooked. There is nothing more disastrous, when a mycologist or a chemist, or a physicist or a veterinary expert has been doing valuable work, than to have a sudden discontinuance of grant, with the result that the whole of that valuable scientific advice has suddenly failed to be forthcoming to those who were seeking it. I most heartily welcome this valuable outcome of my friend Lord Moyne's Report, and if I can be of any assistance whatever in days to come in helping to develop the practical side of this work with the help of these grants, there is nothing that I should like more.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ LORD MOYNE
My Lords, it is very unfortunate that, owing to circumstances beyond our control, this debate has to take place before the full Report of the West India Royal Commission can be published. This volume would supply answers to very many of the points which have been raised this afternoon. But when the Government decided that the Report contained certain matters which ought not to fall into enemy hands, it was obviously undesirable merely to suppress certain passages, because there would have been the danger of the quite unfounded suggestion that the Commission had cut out parts that might have embarrassed the Government. So we felt that it was much better to postpone the argument of the Report and to publish the conclusions with no omissions whatever, merely making such explanations as were necessary to make the recommendations intelligible. Although our reference charged us to inquire into social and economic matters, we necessarily heard a great amount of evidence on the political 989 situation in the West Indies. But it was evident to all of us that the discontents into which we were inquiring were primarily due to poverty, and that poverty was caused by deep-seated economic reasons. There was no reason to think that a different system of government could in any way have altered the economic situation in the West Indies, and therefore, though we have made certain political recommendations, they are of relatively minor importance.
Another subject which came very much into our inquiry was the conditions of labour. Again we found that the root of the discontent was very largely economic. Industrial trouble has been greatly due to a low standard of life and the insufficient wages which are all that the impoverished industries of the West Indies can under present conditions provide. But, given this unfavourable background, industrial peace has often been prejudiced by the lack of proper facilities for settling wages and conditions of employment. The absence of responsible trade unions has led to irresponsible demands and lack of leadership, and this has undoubtedly added to the industrial friction which was to be expected in such very impoverished conditions. The Government control over labour matters varies considerably from one Colony to another, but, generally speaking, industrial legislation falls far short of the British safeguards which have been enacted for the interests of wage-earners. Labour officers are, I think, now appointed in all the Colonies and Presidencies, but no time should be lost in extending to the West Indies the franchises which the trade unions have long enjoyed in this country, or in instituting such measures as wages boards and factory legislation as far as possible on the British example. In these labour inquiries, which took up very much of our time, we benefited very greatly by the presence of Sir Walter Citrine and the expert knowledge which he was able to contribute to our discussions.
In the short summary of our Report which has been published, and also owing to the decision of the Government to accept in principle the recommendations we have put forward with regard to welfare services, this side of the question has naturally found excessive prominence. As the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said, we cannot possibly separate social 990 conditions and welfare needs from the economic problems of these Colonies, and undoubtedly economic improvement must be the key to the whole of these social problems. Social unrest has been rooted in economic difficulty. The communal services which can be provided out of local resources and a satisfactory standard of individual life must eventually depend, and only depend, on what wealth can be produced within the community. Much of our economic inquiries were necessarily devoted to the agricultural side, and we were very lucky in having with us Professor Engledow, the head of the Agricultural School at Cambridge, and Mr. Henderson, who has now been taken from his economic researches at Oxford to join Lord Stamp's economic triumvirate. Their special qualifications worked very well with one another, and they greatly strengthened the confidence with which we made a report on these subjects.
The Government have announced that they are going to take active steps to improve the economic side, and they have laid the foundation by deciding to provide £500,000 a year for research on these matters. Reforms must be based on various expert examinations, and we have summarised a good many of them in paragraph 21. I should like to say at once that, if effective account is to be taken of these researches, it will be necessary to spend a great deal of additional money in getting things started, as antierosion measures and the reform of productive methods will certainly in the initial stages cost a very considerable amount. The West Indies have, of course, always depended mainly upon the sugar industry, and I think that probably they have always depended upon it far too much. They have necessarily suffered very much from the fluctuations, which have taken place in the export value of the sugar and other crops which have been sold in the world market. These fluctuations have led to there being a very slippery foundation for any adequate standard of individual life, and have made Government revenue very unstable.
The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, mentioned the great importance of home production, and I think that he really picked out what is the main lesson which was impressed upon us during our jour- 991 ney. It inevitably leads to a very bad bargain when you sell export crops in a world market already glutted by overproduction from other parts of the world—over-production of crops such as cocoa, which was originally the monopoly of the West Indies, but where owing to African competition we now have at our disposal three times as much as the Empire can possibly consume—and spend the result of these unfavourable bargains on expensive imports of tinned food and other products for which excellent substitutes could be grown at home. That process is economically bad. I agree with the noble Viscount's experience in Africa; I think that if these people would grow crops for themselves they would have a much better balanced diet than by buying tinned meat and powdered milk from abroad, which they could so easily do without if they would only go in for keeping livestock.
In 1897 the last Royal Commission which visited the West Indies recommended that these same problems should be dealt with by land settlement and by a greater variety in the type of crops grown for export. No doubt efforts have been consistently made to carry out these recommendations, and research has been applied to plantation agriculture, but there has been very little research as to what is needed for supplying the home market. I expect the noble Viscount has found the same thing in Africa. Research is mainly directed for the benefit of the export industries and little is being done to teach the native how to make the best of his land. Consequently, in the West Indies shifting cultivation, a very wasteful system, is still the rule, and rotation of crops and mixed farming are almost unknown. The other recommendation of that Royal Commission, variation in export crops, led to the development of the cocoa industry, coconuts, citrus fruits, limes, bananas, coffee, rice and nutmegs as alternatives to sugar, but the benefit was destroyed by over-production elsewhere, and these new crops were much more liable to hurricane damage and have caused an ever-growing problem in the matter of plant diseases.
These economic improvements will undoubtedly take time to be fulfilled, and meanwhile there is a crying need for social expenditure beyond the resources of these impoverished communities. The assist- 992 ance of Great Britain has been mainly limited to economic developments by means of preference and by means of the Colonial Development Fund, but I think that it is now time to remember the precedent of what we are doing for the distressed areas here at home, helping them far beyond the possibilities of their local resources. It is time for us to recognise the case for generous treatment of the distressed communities of our Colonies. Admittedly it is a very great departure from tradition, although I should be the last to deny that we have adopted a generous policy in many matters in connection with economic development. It is a very big step, however, for us to take over some share of the responsibility for helping social and community services. £1,000,000 is, of course, not a very large sum judged by the cost of Social Services in this country, although it is a very generous contribution under present war conditions of finance, but the House should recognise that a great deal can be done with such a sum in the West Indies, where the total local revenues are something under £7,000,000. I do not suggest that it is a desirable condition or one which should remain permanent that these Social Services should be paid for in any degree by Great Britian, but I look upon it as a case of artificial respiration which is justified until the Colonies can build up their own strength.
The White Paper deals with the social and development policy for the whole of the Empire, but it is clear that the West Indies are going to get a good start. The noble Lord, Lord Snell, rather feared that it was due to the fact that the West Indies were more articulate that such prominence had been given to their claims, although he did not in any way criticise it. I think that the West Indian problem is distinct from that which exists elsewhere. It so happens that in 1932 I was sent by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, to inquire into native conditions in East Africa, and often when in the West Indies I compared what I there found with East African conditions. In East Africa it is still possible for the native to live under tribal conditions, though modified to some extent by our civilisation, but still conditions offering quite distinct and alternative standards of life. In the West Indies that choice does not exist; the West Indian is driven to live according to the standards 993 of European or American civilisation. The tribal native in Africa can build accommodation on traditional lines without paying for land or materials. But in the West Indies a growing proportion of the people live in towns, and their wage resources are miserably unequal to the cost of adequate housing or civilised conditions of life. There is a terrible tendency in the West Indies for population to multiply right up to the limit of subsistence, and nowhere have I seen such disastrous effects from over-population. Since I have been home I have had sent me a quotation showing that this evil is of very long standing. About 3,000 years ago in a book in the Old Testament it is said that "when goods increase they are increased that eat them." The West Indies have gone one better: they have increased far quicker than the goods which they need for their sustenance. The population has increased by a half in forty years, and it is still growing by 1½ per cent. every year. As there has been no proportionate increase in consumable wealth, poverty inevitably and steadily gains ground and lowers the standards of life.
Although the Colonial Governments have been unable to improve individual standards, they have done their utmost to build up communal services. Although they spend a very high proportion of their small revenues on education and on health, although the officials are paid at a far lower standard than obtains generally throughout the Empire, educational facilities and public assistance are miserably inadequate. During our educational inquiry we had the advantage of Mr. Morgan Jones's assistance. He originally was a school teacher, before he went into the House of Commons, and I would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Snell, for his reference to the loss which we have all sustained and which, as his colleagues on the Royal Commission, we were in a position to appreciate perhaps better than almost anyone. He certainly shortened his life by his unflagging industry in a very trying climate. He did not survive to sign our Report, but he travelled to all the Colonies with us, and although he deplored the insufficient resources whish were available for education, he was throughout impressed by the wonderful efforts which had been made to make the best of inadequate opportunities.
994 On the medical side the services have been mainly concentrated on the treatment of the sick. There has been neither time nor adequate sanitary personnel to build up measures for preventing disease. Better education is absolutely essential if there is to be a fair opening for the individual, a fair chance for people to work up to an adequate standard of life. Of course in the West Indies, an agricultural community, the technical side must be very much concentrated on agriculture, and the people must be taught that agriculture is the most honourable profession there—because unfortunately there is a terrible prejudice against it among many classes, which causes them to flock into the towns. There is a widespread need for better housing, and the substitution of sanitary dwellings for the existing slums will no doubt be one of the main preoccupations of the Comptroller of the Welfare Fund. The methods to be adopted for the welfare services in the Wrest Indies do not of course at this stage call for detailed decisions by the Government. They are taking the first step by appointing a Comptroller with an expert staff and finding the necessary finance. But on the economic side we have made many recommendations, which the Secretary of State has described as very numerous and far-reaching, and they will necessarily involve detailed consideration and discussion with the Colonial Governments.
I would like to refer only to one further point, and that is in regard to the sugar industry. There was a very large re-establishment of this industry, a great increase in production owing to disappointment with other export crops up to the time in 1937 when the Sugar Agreement came into force. From the employment standpoint this was a very valuable alleviation of economic difficulties. We found very great disappointment expressed in all the sugar-producing Colonies at the operation of the quota restrictions under the International Sugar Agreement, and we concluded that it would be reasonable to increase the basic export quota by 120,000 tons for the West Indian Colonies. All Colonies would not need to share pro rata in this extension. Jamaica, because her up-to-date factories are not working at full pressure, has a far greater claim than Trinidad, where the factories are working 995 to capacity. Since we came home in the month of July the Colonial Office has given instructions to the Colonies in the West Indies to increase their output by 20 per cent. This decision, which has been perhaps a little bit confused with our recommendations in the West Indies, was entirely independent of anything that we were deciding. I believe it was due to the fact that all Colonies do not get a good crop in the same season, and that whilst some are hampered in its disposal when they have a bumper crop, shortfalls occur elsewhere when it is too late to transfer them where they are needed.
During our inquiry the world price of sugar was £6 10s. The Preference and the Colonial Export Certificates added another £4 15s., making a c.i.f. price of £11 5s. We found, after very careful examination of accounts in all the sugar islands, that it is impossible at this level of price to achieve either an economic return on capital, or adequate wages, or a remunerative price to the sugar farmer. We therefore worked out a scheme for readjusting Supplementary Colonial Preference Certificates on a sliding scale which would take away the big fluctuations which occur under the present system.
I do not want to weary the House with the details of this rather complicated machinery, but at the present time the price oscillates round about £11 5s. If it goes up, half the benefit is lost to the producer. Our object would be to get greater stability, and to let the price remain much closer to £12 5s. Since we completed our inquiry, under war conditions the West Indian crop has been bought in bulk at £7 10s., a rise of £1 over the previous average price. If the old system of writing down the value of Supplementary Colonial Certificates one quarter for every sixpence in the rise of the hundredweight price is to be applied to the bulk purchase, producers will lose about half the benefit of the improved price. I hope the Government will see their way to improve the producers' position and to let them have this extra return.
To show that the suggestion which we have made is not unreasonable, and would not, as Lord Snell rightly pointed out, pursue the dangerous course of encouraging inefficient factories, I would 996 point out that whereas our factories have been carrying on at £11 5s. up to the war, the French factories in Martinique and Guadeloupe have been getting £18 a ton—half as much again—and the American factories in the Virgin Islands in the Philippines and so forth have been getting £16 a ton. Therefore the House will judge that it is only a modest increase to bring up our return to the sugar producer to £12 5s. from the previous lower price. I hope it will be possible to give an early decision on this matter because, although we recognise that it is a very complicated problem and cannot be decided hastily, there is undoubtedly a great deal of unhappiness in the West Indies with present prices, and the sooner this can be brought to an end the better for the economic position of the West Indies.
I should like, in conclusion, to express my gratitude, not unmixed with surprise, at the promptness with which the Government have announced a very generous measure of acceptance of our recommendations, especially on the subject of welfare services and the provision of scientific research. The decision of the Government is a very effective answer to the taunts which were made at the time of our appointment, that they were only appointing a Commission so that these problems might be shelved. I am to some extent comforted for the enforced delay in publishing the full Report by the thought that we might not have had such a quick or such a satisfactory response if it had been possible for the normal procedure to be pursued.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
My Lords, I should like, if I may, to congratulate the Government most heartily on the Statement of Policy on Colonial Development and Welfare. I have not the wealth of knowledge of the last three noble Lords who have spoken on this subject, nor can I hope to put my views so clearly and interestingly as they have done, but this Statement of Policy from my point of view is one of the most important I have seen in the long time I have been connected with the Colonies. I look back to the time, thirty-seven years ago, when I saw what almost might be called the start of the development in the biggest of these Colonies—one that has over 20,000,000 inhabitants and, out of a total of 60,000,000, is one of the key-points of our Colonial Empire. I remember so well 997 seeing that country in those days, part of it absolutely uncleared and virgin bush. I wish Lord Lugard could have been here to describe what he saw and knew; but even in those days it was my good fortune to serve under a great Governor in Sir Walter Egerton. The schemes he started in those days—harbours, communications, roads, railways—have only in recent years been completed; and that was thirty-seven years ago. There were villages that had never seen a white man, and never known what the word "sanitation" meant in any way—some of them are not much changed. It is my good fortune to be still connected with that country, in which I am so interested and where I spent seven years. I belong to a company that bas had a long connection with Nigeria—I refer to the old Niger Company, started by that very great man, often called the "Rhodes of West Africa," Sir George Goldie. Since I have been connected with this company in the last five years—and this has special reference to what the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, and the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, said—I have found the heads of all businesses connected with these Colonies keen and anxious to co-operate with the Government in their development.
To return to the White Paper, £5,000,000 is allotted, of which £1,000,000 has been already earmarked. That leaves £4,000,000. We more than welcome that. We advocated it. I have been very keen on this matter, and have advocated it as much as I could. It is for ten years. That is a long time, as I am glad to see. It gives a chance for true development, and I hope that word mentioned in the title of the Statement of Policy, the word "development", will not be forgotten. It is the key to the situation. The standard of living cannot be improved if you cannot get the wherewithal to keep it going, and that can only be done by development. I feel it is most important that all these schemes for social welfare, which are so valuable, should not be introduced until we are perfectly certain that development is going parallel with them, so that when, at the end of ten years, these countries have had their standard of living and their system of education improved, they shall not, owing to lack of means, owing to change in world conditions, suffer collapse which would breed discontentment. It is essential that the country should be developed 998 to the full if we are really going to bring about an improvement in the standard of living.
I would like, if I may, to say one word of caution to the Government on the question of education. I am fully aware of the importance of education, and no one is more keen about it than I am. It has been referred to so much in this debate that I will not apologise for referring to it again. I hope the education will be of the right kind, and will not aim only at turning out Government clerks. I hope it will be education in agriculture and in knowledge which will be of use in the different trades, such as carpentry and mechanics. I was appalled at the want of education in these matters when I went back five years ago, after thirty-seven years, and paid two long visits. Some five years ago I made two long visits to Nigeria, and I was impressed with the wonderful keenness of a large number of the members of the Agricultural Department there. They were second to none in their keenness to develop agriculture and the industries connected with palm oil kernels, which are the backbone of that country. But I found that there was still complete ignorance among the inhabitants of the country with regard to the advantages of up-to-date plantation and milling.
I found that it was with the utmost difficulty that the Department of Agriculture could persuade the people of Nigeria to cultivate their palms or improve their palmeries. I found that, thirty-seven years after I was first out there, some of the inhabitants were still suspicious of up-to-date methods which would help them to increase their prosperity and to meet their efficient competitors in Sumatra and Malaya, where in twenty-one years an industry has been developed whose output of palm oil surpasses not only that of Nigeria but of the whole of West Africa. This is because they have adopted up-to-date methods and have paid attention to education. I want to say that the condition of which I am complaining is not the fault of the Department of Agriculture. I should very much like, if I may, to make a suggestion to the Under-Secretary of State who is to reply on this debate, and it is this. In this country of 20,000,000 people the Director of Agriculture should have a seat on the Legislative Council, 999 because agriculture is the backbone of the whole country. I hope the Under-Secretary will not take my suggestion amiss.
There are two other points upon which I would like to touch before I conclude. I was glad to see that an amount of £500,000 a year is to be devoted to experimental purposes. With regard to land this is more than ever necessary. I know from my own knowledge what great companies expend for experimental purposes. The total sums involved would amaze your Lordships. I am glad to say that those companies work in close co-operation with the Government. At the same time I would point out that £500,000 is a very small sum for the development of agriculture. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, refer to the setting up of machinery to make the experiment. I do not want to be ungrateful and say the grant that has been made is no good. The grant of £500,000 is a most useful one; but what I do say is that it will cost all that and a great deal more to carry out the necessary experiments in regard to soil erosion and other matters in countries like Nigeria.
Lastly, in the White Paper there is a reference to the setting up of a Welfare Advisory Committee. This was referred to by my noble friend who was the second speaker in this debate and who is not now present. He suggested that members of your Lordships' House with knowledge should be appointed upon that Committee. I would like to say this with regard to that. I hope people will be put upon that Committee who have knowledge of the Tropics, because it is essential that those who are going to help in this work should know the Tropics. I see that the White Paper, in paragraph 15, says that the Government propose to invite Colonial Governments to prepare and develop programmes in certain of the Colonies, and that long-term programmes have already been drawn up, and are in fact in operation. These programmes, it is said, will later on be considered by the Colonial Office and the Advisory Committee. I would ask the noble Marquess who is to reply to consider the suggestion that before any schemes are drawn up and settled in detail they should be submitted to the Advisory Committee so that as far as possible the Advisory Committee may have something to say upon them. The 1000 Advisory Committee should have an opportunity of making suggestions as to how the schemes should in some cases be drawn up.
The noble Marquess will realise, as I do after my long experience of Government service, that once a scheme is drawn up in a Government office it is very hard indeed, with the best will in the world, afterwards to get that scheme changed. I would, therefore, impress upon the noble Marquess the advantage of asking for the advice of this Advisory Committee before the schemes are brought into operation. In conclusion I would like to say that I am glad to see the Government doing their share in this work of development, and I heartily congratulate the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the decision which has been made.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STONEHAVEN
My Lords, I think the noble Lord opposite is to be congratulated, if he will allow me to say so, not merely from our own point of view in having given a proper send-off to the admirable work of Lord Moyne and the Government's appreciation of it, but because it will be a great encouragement in the Colonies to know that interest is really being shown in their affairs. In that respect I rather think that the noble Lord's suggestion that the White Paper involves putting a new principle of trusteeship into practice requires qualifying, because the principle of trusteeship has existed ever since the days of Lord Cromer and the days of Lord Lugard and others, who set the whole tone of our Colonial administration. We are now providing the money to give effect to the trusteeship of which we never could divest ourselves. Apart from what is said and involved in the White Paper, I am particularly interested in what I venture to think is implied, because it seems to me that it destroys for ever the nightmare that one fine day we shall find that the Government are going to hand over our Colonies to some form of international administration under the name of the extension of the Mandate.
We can no more divest ourselves of responsibility for the communities who inhabit those lands we have conquered than a man can divest himself of responsibility for bringing up and looking after his own children. To start with, 1001 from the point of view of the honour of the nation which is involved, it seems to me impossible to hand over to any international organisation the control of our Colonies. We must first of all have pointed out to as one single example where international administration has been a success. In the second place, there is another very good reason—and it is one which I think will be welcomed as much in the Colonies as it is at home—why that cannot be done now, because it is an elementary rule that the man who pays the piper shall call the tune. The idea of £5,000,000 of money devoted year by year by the taxpayers of Great Britain being administered by a heterogeneous collection of people in whose selection they would have no hand whatever for the so-called benefit of the Colonies is, I think, destroyed and, I hope, destroyed for good.
The noble Lord opposite and my noble friend Viscount Bledisloe referred to the importance of education. My noble friend Viscount Bledisloe deplored the condition of the natives in some parts of the country that he visited. What he saw is what my noble friend Viscount Trenchard and I saw thirty years ago when it was our business to live in those countries. The reason why there is improvement in the state of natives over a great part of the world is that we have exercised our trusteeship to the best of our ability during all those years. That, I think, ought to be said, because I am sure the last thing the noble Lord, Lord Snell, would desire would be to depreciate in any way the splendid work that has been done by a succession of Governors throughout the Colonies. They have been carrying out that trusteeship magnificently, but they have been handicapped hitherto by the lack of money which this new decision will provide.
I happen to be connected with a company called Tanganyika Concessions. Our interests in Tanganyika are very small and very recent, because the company was set up long before Tanganyika Territory existed and when it was known as German East Africa. Our interests in Tanganyika Territory are so small that really if they vanished to-morrow we should not be hurt very much. Our chief interests are in the Belgian Congo because of the political uncertainty as to the future of Tanganyika. It is useless to expect 1002 people to apply their time or money or knowledge or experience to the development of a country if there is uncertainty as to its political future. I feel sure that the Government will find that the development which will result will be worth far more than the five million pounds that they are going to spend because the sense of security will induce people to undertake enterprises of which they have been afraid because of the political insecurity of the future.
My noble friend Viscount Bledisloe spoke of the drift towards the mines and he and my noble friends Viscount Swinton and Viscount Trenchard referred to the importance of the home work of the natives. Anybody who had seen the change in the natives who have worked in the mines for two or three years will realise that the best way of raising the standard of life is to provide, under proper protection and good regulations, facilities for the natives to earn their living in helping to develop their country. The whole of the copper belt has prospered, and the standard of living of the natives has improved, in a manner that is extremely satisfactory. At the start it was necessary to employ recruiters with the help of the Government to obtain labour, but when a mine has been working satisfactorily for some time, it is found that there is no need for recruiters because the miners after going home to their villages for a time return to the mine and bring their friends of their own free will. That tends to raise the standard of living. As the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and other noble Lords have said, work which enables the natives to develop their own resources is an intensely important part of raising the standard of living.
I notice that in paragraph 4 of the White Paper it is stated, with great truth that:Few of the Colonies have the good fortune to possess substantial mineral wealth, and in comparatively few are there manufacturing industries of any magnitude.But it has to be remembered that where mineral wealth exists it can only be discovered by the expenditure of large sums of money. There is an immense amount of work still to be done in that line, and I venture to suggest that we need support and encouragement from the Government because in that development we are helping the native by increasing the markets open to him to supply with food. 1003 I venture to congratulate the Government on the speed with which they have announced their decision, notwithstanding the war, to recognise that development of the Colonies is a family business and is a part of our duty, whether in war or in peace, which we cannot escape. I believe their decision will be appreciated in the Colonies more than anything else they could have done.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I should like to be allowed to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, on the Report of his Commission and on the success which he seems to have achieved in getting this celerity of action. I should also like to congratulate him on the debate that we have had to-day. It is seldom that the Chairman of a Royal Commission can have had the experience of having a former Secretary of State, three Governors-General and others with a great wealth of knowledge commenting on the Report of his Commission. This Report can be commented on from many angles, but I want to follow some other speakers and go a little outside it. The point I want to deal with is only partly connected with the Report, and I want to put it to the noble Marquess because I think it is one which should not be overlooked. The Report refers to land settlement, but makes very little reference to redistribution of population in a particular area or transmigration of population within the Empire. The point I raise is in connection with this possibility of redistribution of population.
As a member of the Overseas Settlement Board, whose work has been suspended for the duration of the war, I cannot help feeling in connection with these problems affecting the Empire that it is a pity that more action was not taken in the past in the redistribution of population. I make this appeal to the noble Marquess, that this subject, which at the present moment has a common interest for the Colonies and the Dominions, should not be put aside entirely for the duration of the war. I suggest that the redistribution not only of British population, but also of native population and possibly also of population of European origin other than British, should be taken into consideration. The funds available at the present moment, or those which have been available in the past under 1004 the various headings which the State provided, are temporarily suspended. I am not familiar at the present moment with what is being done by organisations like the Salvation Army or the supplementary ones that assist, but they have all contributed to achieving this end in the past. I hope it will be borne in mind that this will be an essential problem after the war, and I hope the noble Marquess will confer with the Dominions Office and see if some policy cannot be worked out during the present unfortunate conditions so that redistribution may be carried on after the war in the way in which it was before the war.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ LORD BEAVERBROOK
My Lords, I will intervene for a moment only. There will be some difficulty in redistributing population in the West Indies, for those islands are now already overcrowded. My noble friend Lord Moyne indeed deserves the congratulations of the House for his Report. One respect in which he draws the attention of the Government to the possibility of development I hope the noble Marquess will not overlook, and that is the possibility of the development of an air service. An air service to the West Indies would at once tap those magnificent countries Colombia and Venezuela. They are rich indeed, and at present they are being entirely developed by American and Dutch air lines. The British have all the air fields, because, of course, air fields in the West Indies are provided for us by nature. The amphibian is in use there and lands at any of the islands with the greatest of ease. The development of an air service by the British would not in the least interfere with war effort, because the type of aeroplane that is in use in the West Indies is not suited for combat purposes here at all. In fact, the noble Lord will tell you that the combat aeroplane that is in use in this country cannot be procured in America in any case. The American planes that come here are suitable for operational purposes, but they are not equipped for combat purposes at all.
Here I want to make one more plea for the West Indies. The best possible equipment that can be provided in this country for the West Indies is a market here for the produce of those islands. If a market is provided in Britain, then 1005 those islands will prosper and many of their social problems will be resolved at once. The noble Lord said that sugar from the West Indies was being paid for at £12, from the American Colonies at £16, and from the French Colonies at £18. It has always been the habit to refuse the British West Indies any special opportunity in the British market in the past, but to give them the same chance and the same market as is given to Americans and other Colonial producers. At the same time the American market has been closed all these years to British West Indian producers. Give the British West Indian producers the same opportunity in the British market as the American producers and the American Colonies have in the American market, and you resolve all those complicated social problems which you have been discussing here to-day. Again I compliment the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, on his Report, and I hope very much indeed that the Colonial Office will now see that the recommendations of the noble Lord and his Committee are really carried into effect.
§ 6.26 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
My Lords I, too, would like to thank the noble Lord opposite for initiating this debate. I can assure your Lordships that it is of real value to us in the Colonial Office to have debates of this kind. I sometimes think that perhaps we do not have enough of them, and certain it is that unless there is an informed criticism in Parliament of any office, it tends to get less effective than it should be. Therefore, as far as the Colonial Office is concerned, we welcome all criticism and all critical debates. I must confess, however, that it will be really difficult for me to reply very effectively to this debate, because there have been so many bouquets and so few brickbats that it really gives me very little to do except to reiterate what is the policy of the Colonial Office and of my noble friend; and with this your Lordships have already expressed yourselves so heartily as in agreement. I can assure your Lordships that all the suggestions which have been made in the course of the debate will be carefully borne in mind, and although I cannot help feeling that my noble friend Lord Beaverbrook slightly over-simplified the issue of the 1006 future of the West Indies in his account of how their economic position might be remedied, nevertheless his suggestions, too, will be borne in mind.
I referred to your Lordships' interest in the Colonial Empire. It is no less necessary to have these debates in order to stimulate interest throughout the country as a whole. It is quite impossible to be continuously effective in Colonial administration if the people of the country do not take an interest in their great heritage. I hope for good results from certain plans we have in mind for educating the people of this country to the value of their Empire; and we may perhaps persuade my noble friend at the Board of Education that, as the boundaries of Europe are changing and the boundaries of the Empire are immovable, future generations might well now turn their attention to what is permanent rather than waste their time on what, alas! I fear can only be regarded as impermanent. Therefore we feel greatly encouraged when a debate of this character in your Lordships' House shows so clearly that we are working in accordance with the sentiments of all those in this House who are best qualified to give an opinion on the value of the policy we are pursuing.
I would remind your Lordships once again that, although this policy is to some extent a development of what has gone before, yet in effect, as many noble Lords have said, it is a very considerable change. Your Lordships will remember that the Colonial Development Act, 1929, which was brought in by the Labour Government of the time, had not really for its main purpose the development of the Colonies as such. It was brought in partly as a contribution to Colonial welfare, but also and very definitely to help to solve the problem of British unemployment. Accordingly it was clearly expressed in Section I of the Act that the Treasury might make advances to the Government of any Colony or territory "for the purpose of aiding and developing agriculture and industry in the Colony or territory, and thereby promoting commerce with or industry in the United Kingdom." You will see, therefore, that from the very first this two-fold objective has hindered and hampered the true working of the Colonial Development Act, and, although various modifications have been 1007 made in practice, it has caused the mind of the Committee which was applying it to be mainly directed towards works of capital value and not to the provision of funds which would enable those works to be supported until such time as they could support themselves.
Therefore that Act, valuable as it was, did suffer from the grave disadvantage that many Colonies were not in a position to ask for assistance for capital schemes which they knew perfectly well they would not have the recurring expenditure to be able to afford. Equally and for the same reason the old Act suffered, because it could give no recurring expenditure, or very little, from the great disadvantage that it could not give to the Colonies that secure basis for development which is absolutely essential, as I think my noble friend Viscount Swinton said, if you are going to plan and develop effectively. That is all the more applicable, of course, to our Colonial development, because as this depends on primary products the revenues must necessarily fluctuate widely from year to year, and all plans for the Colonies are affected by the fear that in a year or two years of bad revenue everything might have to come to an end, retrenchment would be necessary, and no help would be forthcoming from the Colonial Development Fund.
It is for that reason that we shall seek, when we present the Bill to Parliament, to remedy those defects which time has shown to exist in Colonial development. I am happy to say that that intention has received a wide welcome throughout the Colonial Empire, not merely from those Colonies which can expect to benefit most from it but also from the greater and richer Colonies, such as Malaya, who say quite frankly—I was reading the Press extracts only this morning—that under existing circumstances they will probably get comparatively little out of the new money; nevertheless they welcome the scheme as an earnest of the Government's intentions towards the Colonial Empire generally, and also they realise that the prosperity of one is the prosperity of all.
I do not think that I need recapitulate the new policy, which has already been set out in the White Paper and which has been referred to in the various speeches that have been made. I would only point out that this £5,500,000 is entirely new 1008 money. It has nothing to do with the grants in aid which have hitherto been made by the Treasury, and they still remain entirely separate from this Fund. Although it is our firm intention by the wise use of this development money to enable the grants in aid to be abolished as soon as possible, at the moment the status quo remains. I do not think that it is necessary for me to go into great detail about the actual proposals in the White Paper that is before your Lordships. You will realise that until legislation is passed no grants can actually be made, and all that I have been saying is necessarily tentative and must not in any sense be regarded as prejudging the issue in another place. The Act must first of all come into existence. As a matter of fact, however, we have already asked the Colonies to prepare their schemes in the hope that Parliament will approve the Act and they are already setting up the necessary machinery to devise proper schemes to be set before the new Committee when it comes into existence. That is all going on now.
In the meantime, the Colonial Office itself is taking certain other steps to equip itself and the Colonies for the new developments. In the first place, we are considering how the personnel of some of the smaller Colonies can best be strengthened for the preparation and carrying out of programmes. From past experience we consider that to be most important, particularly in the case of those smaller and poorer Colonies where one cannot expect to find men who are able at a moment's notice, so to speak, to produce vast plans of development fit for consideration in London. Certainly the points that my noble friend Viscount Trenchard made in that connection will be borne in mind when we are carrying out our policy. Secondly, we are also considering at the present moment the composition of the Advisory Committees. My noble friend Lord Snell asked whether they were new Committees. The answer is Yes. There are going to be two separate Committees, different from the present Colonial Development Advisory Committee, whose work will be finished when this new Act comes into operation. I should like, if I may, to pay a tribute to the valuable and untiring work of Sir Alan Rae Smith, who has been Chairman of that Committee and who has really taken immense trouble, 1009 and to whom the Colonies owe a great debt for all that he has done under, as I have said, the considerably hampering conditions under which his Committee worked.
These two new Committees will be composed of course in quite different manners. On the Colonial Development and Welfare Committee we hope to have business men of experience, and if possible business men of experience of social work. It is nowadays by no means such an impossible combination as I believe it used to be some years ago. But in any case that Committee will consist of business men, where possible qualified also by knowledge of social conditions, and also there will be a leavening of people with knowledge less of business and more of social welfare. Then, equally, about half that Committee will be official, in order that the closest liaison may be kept with the Colonial Office. The Research Committee, on the other hand, will consist in the main of the very highest qualified men we can get in the various subjects with which they will be called upon to deal, and it is partly in the hope of getting only the very best men to serve on that Committee that we have completely separated it from the Colonial Development Committee. At the same time, I do not think I am giving away any secret when I say that it is, I think, my right honourable friend's intention to appoint as Chairman of that Committee a layman, experience having shown him, as it has certainly shown me, that a layman as Chairman softens the acerbities of scientific debate, and enables things to be done a great deal more effectively and without disharmony. The existing Advisory Committees that is to say the Agricultural, Education, the Medical and the Penal Advisory Committees, of all of which I am Chairman, will still continue to function in exactly the same way as in the past, but on many occasions we anticipate that they will be called upon to pre-digest these various schemes for the consumption of the actual Development Committee. I believe that in that way a great deal of time will be saved, and that in all probability is how the actual organisation within the office will work out.
Then as far as the Office itself is concerned, I might say a word as to our fitness for the task with which Parlia- 1010 ment, I hope, will entrust us. As your Lordships are aware, there have been considerable changes in the Colonial Office in the past few years. There is, first of all, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has reminded us, the setting up of the Economic Department. Of that I can only say that to me to imagine the Colonial Office without the Economic Department, particularly in time of war, is like imagining life without the telephone. It seems to me inconceivable how the Office ever functioned at all without that Department.
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
Then we have got our various advisers—labour, veterinary, agricultural, medical and the like—who are not merely sitting in the Office reading papers and advising us, but are actively going about the Colonies and consulting them on their difficulties, and keeping their own knowledge up to date as to what is happening. I might say in passing that, although in time of war it is obviously more difficult to get about, it is my right honourable friend's firm intention to increase, wherever possible, travelling facilities for members of the Colonial Office. He regards it as quite essential that they should get first-hand knowledge, where ever possible, of the territories which they are called upon to administer.
Now if I might turn to the actual subject of the debate, I would refer first of all to the West Indies Report. I think it is a great honour that I am able from the Front Bench to congratulate my noble friend Lord Moyne not merely on undertaking so arduous a Commission, not merely on securing a unanimous Report with an extremely able but, I should have thought, rather individualistic team to handle, but also on the fact that his conclusions and those of his fellow-members were so irresistible that the Government were able to take action on the major parts of them almost immediately. And though, as he no doubt regrets, and I regret, the fact that in a sense his larger volume was stillborn, at any rate I think he will agree with me that in the noble words of Tennyson,The village never saw a lovelier funeral.As he himself has said, we have accepted the major recommendations that he has made. We are now busily engaged in try- 1011 ing to find a suitable man for the very responsible post of Comptroller, and when he is found in consultation with him we shall proceed to select his expert staff. We have also agreed, as your Lordships know, that the financial sum which that Report recommended shall be provided out of the new Fund.
As to the remaining recommendations, I can only say that Governors were asked in January to furnish their views upon them by the end of April, and that therefore we are expecting to have them very shortly. When we asked for the expression of their views we asked them to give them in two separate categories. First we asked them for their views on the policies which they thought would be carried out immediately, or at any rate within a very short space of time, and, secondly, we asked them to give us their views on the fundamental recommendations of the Report which are going to change and re-orientate the whole social structure of the islands, notably the one to which my noble friend referred, and which has been referred to with regard to Africa by noble Lords also—the question of changing over from this dangerous trade of being a one-crop exporting community to mixed farming, which gives far greater security. I do not think I need say more, therefore, than that with all their recommendations the Government were in general in hearty agreement. They mostly are developments of existing policy in a sense, and not the least valuable part of the Commission's Report has been their suggestions as to the actual administration of the machinery necessary to carry them out.
So much then for what is being done as far as the West Indies Report is concerned. May I now say a word about the wider matter? We are in this, too, at the present moment consulting Governors as to what plans for development they have in mind to set before the Committee, but I would say one word of warning to your Lordships, and that is that I do not think that you must be too disappointed if the first year's expenditure seems rather niggardly. It is quite obvious, in the first place, that it is going to take time to get these various schemes into operation. Secondly, your Lordships must remember that in war-time we are bound to be faced—we knew this when we undertook this policy—both 1012 with a shortage of material and, what is worse in some ways, with some shortage of personnel. For instance, I can quite easily foresee a considerable shortage of personnel on the medical side of this development. But we are aware of these dangers, and I can assure your Lordships that we have every intention of pushing ahead as fast as we possibly can, without, of course, losing our heads and just spending for the sake of spending. We have no intention of using this money merely to pauperise the Colonies.
We shall not get any further by merely pouring money into the Colonies. The whole effort must be a joint one with the Colonies themselves, and it may well be that a system of proportionate grants such as works extremely well between the Government and the local authorities here will be a convenient way of bringing home to the Colonies their own responsibilities in regard to their own people. I think, personally, from their reactions, they are well aware of these responsibilities. Actually, within the last seven months or so—that is, since the war began—we have found that Income Tax has been imposed for the first time in four Colonies and that greatly increased rates of Income Tax have been imposed in fifteen more. I do not think it can be denied that, in the past, richer members of the community have not borne their full share of the burden. It is, therefore, very gratifying to see that they are now realising their responsiblities, and it will be remembered that one of the recommendations of my noble friend Lord Moyne was that the rates of Income Tax should be increased. We are at the present time taking up with the Governors of the West Indies the question of whether rates of Income Tax could not be brought into line with pre-war rates in this country. So much for the share of the Colonies and their responsibility.
I would assure your Lordships, as my noble friend Lord Trenchard urged me to do, and my noble friend Lord Swinton as well, that this is primarily a development policy. It is intended as such. We are perfectly well aware that the fault of our Colonial administration in the past has not been over-development, grinding the faces of the poor, or anything of that kind. It has been under-development, the lack of any real attempt either to encourage private capital or to work the natural resources of the Colonies to 1013 their best advantage by Government. It is really essential that these Social Services should pay for themselves in the long run. Eventually each community must, pay its own way, and for that purpose we intend to develop the Colonies, in order to give them a helping hand which will enable them to tide over what is, at present, a difficult time for them. We shall not get, in many cases, a very direct return for the money that we spend. We shall not be able to see immediate cash results for what we spend in preventing soil erosion, keeping down the disease rinderpest, or on market organisation in this country. Nevertheless I do insist that our policy is one of development, and I have no doubt at all that in the years to come it will bear valuable fruit.
In developing the material resources of the Colonies, we have also got to develop the human material. It is no good developing the one unless we also develop the other. By giving better medical services, better education, better health services, and working all these Social Services very closely together, interlocking them, we increase the real wealth of the community. My noble friend Lord Snell asked what sort of education we are going to give to the Colonies. My answer is that we are going to give all sorts, according to their various needs. In the West Indies, for instance, we intend at the moment that there should be no diminution, no lessening, of cultural education, but at the same time that there should be a very great increase in vocational education. I do hope in using that word "vocational" that I shall not be misunderstood. My experience, when I was Parliamentary Private Secretary to my noble friend Lord Halifax at the Board of Education, taught me that "vocational education" had wrong connotations in the minds of certain people. I hope the term will not prejudice this new policy in the mind of any informed person in this House. The idea of vocational education is simply to train a man to do the job he is able to do, and at which he will be able to make his living.
Other needs in Africa are for the training of people to carry on the Social Services of the country. We have got to train more people. Until we have more trained Africans in that direction, until we have more trained African assistant 1014 surgeons, until we have more trained Africans able to take their places in the various Public Works Departments and the like, we shall always be hindered in the development of Africa by the fact that we have to employ white men who have to come from their homes, and therefore have to be paid very much larger salaries than those which would have to be paid to people living in their own homes and among their own surroundings. I earnestly hope that a great proportion of this money on education will be given over to the education of women. I am almost certain in my own mind that it was a great mistake, when we started to educate Africa, that we did not start with the women and end up with the men. If you educate a woman, you educate a whole family, you teach a whole family hygiene, inculcate ideas into ten or even twenty people at once. In a place like Africa, where the women play such an enormous part in the social life of the community, it is absolutely essential that their education should be taken in hand, and taken in hand in no lackadaisical spirit.
Finally, my noble friend asked me how Parliament was going to keep this money under its control, and he appeared to consider that the device of the Estimates was not sufficient. I am not sure what other device could well be arrived at. I certainly think it essential that the new Committee should make some report, although its exact form we cannot at the present moment say, which will set out very clearly exactly what is done and how it has spent its money. In addition to that your Lordships will be in a position at any moment to ask me and my successors how matters are standing. I think, therefore, as far as Parliamentary control is concerned, the matter is well safeguarded.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Before the noble Marquess concludes I hope he will allow me to interrupt him for one moment to ask him a question in order to clarify a phrase which fell from him in the earlier part of his speech. He said this £5,000,000 was all to be new money, and that the present grants that are made from the Exchequer would continue unaffected by it, but the White Paper, in paragraph 7, says that the Governmentpropose to introduce legislation to replace the Colonial Development Fund, which is limited to a maximum of £1,000,000 a year, 1015 by new arrangements providing in a new Vote in the Estimates for assistance to Colonial Governments up to a maximum of £5,000,000 a year for ten years.There seems to be some contradiction there. Perhaps for the enlightenment of those who have been studying this matter outside the noble Marquess can make it plain. Might I at the same time, as I am on my feet, ask him whether he is in a position to make any statement with regard to the matter referred to by the Moyne Commission—namely, the establishment of a Standing Parliamentary Committee to consider Colonial affairs?
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
I do not quite follow that there is any contradiction, as the noble Viscount seemed to suggest. Paragraph 7 surely deals with something quite different. I said this was new money and had no connection with the grants in aid which the Colonies got from the Treasury. Paragraph 7 is not dealing with those grants at all. It is merely dealing with the old Colonial Development Fund, the £1,000,000. Over and above the £1,000,000 there are the grants in aid which the Treasury make to certain Colonies that are unable to balance their Budgets.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Then this is not all new money. £4,000,000 out of the £5,000,000 is new money, and not all the £5,000,000.
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
I beg the noble Viscount's pardon; in a sense I made a slip of the tongue. What I was trying to emphasize was that it would not affect the existing grants in aid. That is the point I was making. I was not thinking of the old £1,000,000 which I agree will in a sense be incorporated into the £5,000,000. My noble friend asked me also about the Standing Consultative Committee. I think the best thing I can do is to say that the matter is under consideration. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, before the war, said he would give it his consideration and later he said that consideration of it would have to be postponed. There the matter rests at present. Perhaps I am unwise to give any opinion as to whether I think it would be a good plan or a bad one, but if by any chance such a Committee ever was set up I agree with my noble friend Lord Denman that this 1016 House should have a large representation upon it, because after all this House contributes, perhaps even more than another place, knowledge and experience of the Colonies.
I think that I have really covered all that I need say. Your Lordships have referred to the recent visit of my right honourable friend to Paris and the conversations there with M. Mandel. I can only say I earnestly hope those conversations will be carried out to their fullest extent. We agree that co-operation between the great Colonial Powers in these matters is a vital necessity. As a matter of fact before the war we were aware that our knowledge of the systems of government of the Colonial Empires, not only of the French but also of the Belgians and the Dutch, was limited, and we were considering at that time whether it would not be wise to take steps to set up an organisation by means of which experiences could be compared. Naturally that will now have to be postponed, but as far as our French conversations are concerned I know your Lordships will agree with me that they are a great step forward, and not only so far as the prosecution of the war is concerned, because they largely deal with matters that are not affected by the war at all but which we shall be able to solve when peace comes.
I am sorry to have detained your Lordships so long. I would like to repeat that I am most grateful to have had the opportunity of explaining as best I could this policy to your Lordships, and of giving you the latest news that I can as to how we are proposing to deal with it. I hope that all your Lordships will take the determination of His Majesty's Government to go ahead with this policy at such a difficult moment, not only as an earnest of our determination to maintain our obligations to our Colonial people, but also as a sign of our profound faith in our own future and that of our Empire.
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for the reply that he has made. I think it was our duty to have this debate, which has been of extraordinary interest, and I thank the Government for the reply that they have given to the questions. I think also that it may be a duty of Parliament not only to keep the Government up-to-date in this matter but to keep itself up-to-date and to keep itself keen and informed 1017 about this very great responsibility. I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.