§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether they can make a statement on Colonial policy in accord with the provisions of the Atlantic Charter; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this debate is taking place in circumstances rather different from those which I had expected when I first put down my Motion about three weeks ago. The sad difference between now and then is that the noble Viscount opposite is no longer Secretary of State for the Colonies. Everyone, I am sure, will wish him the utmost success in the important duties of his new office, and no one could fail to realize the extent to which the work of a busy Department combined with the Leadership of this House must have taxed his strength. At the same time, I cannot conceal—indeed I shall not try to conceal—my intense regret at his departure from the Colonial Office. This sentiment is widely shared, judging by the tributes which were paid last week in another place by members of all Parties, and, of course, by all those who have had the privilege of direct contact with the excellent constructive work which the noble Viscount has accomplished in so short a time.
§ I fear that a discussion of Colonial affairs in this House will be less useful now, because the Colonial Office is no longer represented here by either of its Ministerial chiefs. This is specially unfortunate because there is here an even larger body of informed opinion, based upon travel, study and long administrative experience, than can be found, I think, among the many knowledgeable members in another place. Without casting any reflection at all on the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, whose ability, I think, is recognized by everyone, it is far from satisfactory that the Government 375 Departments which deal with the affairs of the British Commonwealth—the Dominions Office, the India Office and the Colonial Office—are now represented in this House by one Under-Secretary. I very much hope that this unsatisfactory position will be carefully reviewed when the impending Government changes are made.
§ There are other grounds also for a feeling of sharp regret. The Colonial peoples, who develop an intense and personal feeling of loyalty towards a Secretary of State whom they know to be sincerely devoted to their welfare, will be perplexed and disappointed by the sudden disappearance of the noble Viscount just at a moment when his efforts on their behalf seemed outstandingly successful. Above all, perhaps, the Department itself will lack expert guidance on questions of policy during the months in which the noble Viscount's successor is serving his apprenticeship. I should like, if I may, to remind the Government—and I do not apologize for the fact that they have already been reminded elsewhere—that there have been no fewer than three Secretaries of State for the Colonies in loss than three years, and an average of one a year for the last seven years. Our Colonial administration will inevitably continue to suffer unless there is more continuity and stability in the future than there has been in the recent past. Let us return, so far as the vicissitudes of Party politics will permit, to the sane practice of the nineteenth century. In those palmy days, every Colonial Secretary had a reasonable expectation of life, and some, such as Lord Grey in the middle of the century and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain at its close, held this office for eight veers without a single break.
§ Another of the regrettable consequences of the Cabinet reshuffle is that I can no longer hope for an announcement of any striking new departure in Colonial policy this afternoon. All that I can do, and all that I wish to do, is to hand my petition to the noble Viscount, knowing that it will be in the best possible hands, and ask him to pass it on to his successor; but I should be glad to know—and I am addressing this question to him now—whether there is any likelihood of an important statement on this subject at an early date in another place. Six months ago I asked the Govern- 376 ment to give the House a more definite and detailed account of their intentions regarding the Colonies, because the Colonial Empire had been expressly excluded from the provisions of the Atlantic Charter by the Prime Minister. I suggested then, adopting a terminology that has become popular, and that goes back to our own Magna Charta, that such a declaration about the future of the Colonies might be called a Colonial Charter, and I was supported on that occasion by the foremost authority on Colonial affairs in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, who would, I have no doubt, have repeated his plea this afternoon had not public business taken him away from the country.
§ Recent events have increased the urgency of an authoritative pronouncement on post-war Colonial policy. Our American Allies, who detest the notion of Colonial status just as heartily as we do that of slavery, have expressed themselves pretty freely about the past, the present and the future of the British Empire. Many of our critics I think have been misled by ignorance of the real facts and by deeply-rooted preconceptions about the moral wickedness of imperialism Some of them, we must admit if we are honest with ourselves, have laid their finger on grave shortcomings which we should resolve to remedy in the post-war years. Underlying all this criticism from across the Atlantic is the welcome assumption that the people of the United States should henceforth make themselves responsible for the welfare of backward communities in every part of the globe. This powerful sense of international solidarity is plainly evident in recent statements by the leaders of both the principal political Parties, Mr. Wendell Willkie and President Roosevelt. The former, in a broadcast at the end of October, spoke of the responsibility shared with us of making the whole world a commonwealth of free nations, and the President, at a Press conference held in the same week, said that the provisions of the Atlantic Charter applied to all humanity. Nothing could be more encouraging for the future than the acceptance of such specific obligations by the leading personalities of both the Republican and the Democratic Parties.
§ What I think we are entitled to ask is that these pledges will not be forgotten 377 when the war is over. American public opinion has tended, in the past, to oscillate rather violently between isolationist and cosmopolitan extremes. The swing back to isolation after the last war, which led the Senate to Te vise its consent to American participation in the League of Nations and to turn down President Wilson's guarantee of French security, did more perhaps than anything else to precipitate the European anarchy which led up to the present war. Let us all hope that the internationalism of the present outlook in the United States has come to stay. Without constant and continuous co-operation after the war with what will certainly be the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, we shall be unable to guarantee either lasting security or rapid economic and social progress in those widely separated areas where most of our Colonies lie—in Africa, in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. What I want to emphasize is that the successful working out of our Colonial war aims, whatever they may be and however enlightened they may be, will not depend on us alone but on the continuance of our present military and economic partnership with the United States.
§ It has been said—indeed it has been said in this House, and I think, if I am not mistaken, by the noble Viscount opposite—that a war-time pronouncement of a navel character on Colonial policy is unnecessary, because we have always aimed, and still do, at ultimate self-government for the remaining dependent peoples of the British Commonwealth. But surely it is time now to draw the practical consequences of our principles and to say openly how they will be applied. Besides, national independence in time to come surely does not mean that the non-European world will be broker up into an even greater number of small self-contained nation States, which was exactly what happened, with fatal consequences, on the continent of Europe at the end of the last war. Self-government no longer means what it used to mean; it no longer means the right of every State to live in a watertight compartment without the slightest regard to the welfare of its neighbours. Full-blown sovereignty must be compatible with the widest political, economic and military co-operation between States. What I believe we want to see is the rapid emergence of a free association of indepen- 378 dent peoples at every stage of economic and political development, drawn together by common interests and mutual obligations. This can only be achieved if the prosperous and powerful nations, like ourselves and the United States, no longer use their superior strength to dominate or exploit economically impoverished and defenceless communities. The practical problem confronting the great Powers is not so much a redistribution as a re-direction of their wealth and power.
§ We are, I believe, already feeling our way gradually towards the conception of a healthier relationship. It is significant that in the past year progressive opinion has replaced the somewhat patronizing idea of trusteeship by that of partnership as the up-to-date view of the relations between ourselves and the Colonies. But let us always remember that partnership in the British Commonwealth must not be allowed to preclude the most intimate cooperation between the Colonies and other neighbouring territories, and of course interested Powers which may be able to help them. As an earnest of our intentions Europeans holding administrative and official posts should be gradually replaced by the native inhabitants of the territories in which they serve. This would also give Colonials the training and practical experience they need before taking over the management of their own affairs. In this connexion I welcome the recent appointment by the noble Viscount of Africans, for the first time I believe, as members of the Executive Councils of Nigeria and the Gold Coast. I wish we, could be told this afternoon that this process of building up a trained administrative personnel on the spot will go forward even more rapidly after the war. What is urgently required is an increasing cooperation of qualified Colonials in the day-to-day business of their own Government.
§ The Atlantic Charter is a declaration of the economic as well as political aims of the United Nations. But our Colonial policy has hitherto laid much more emphasis on material than on political progress. I hope this defect, which I think is generally admitted, will soon be rectified. The moment has come for us to say that the depressed and semi-derelict areas in the British Commonwealth will be dealt with as firmly, when time, money 379 and labour can be provided, as the slum areas in our industrial cities at home. Most of the Colonies are still in a profoundly depressed condition. Standards of health and nutrition throughout these territories could not improve appreciably so long as they were expected to live on their own meagre resources. This paralysing survival of laissez-faire was jettisoned, I believe for good, by the Colonial Welfare and Development Act, which acknowledged the responsibility of the Mother Country for the financing of social services and economic improvements beyond the means of the local population. But five or even ten millions a year are only a small fraction of the money that will be needed after the war. The vast sums that should be pumped into these backward countries can only be raised with the willing assistance of the United States. Let us hope that American internationalism and the prospect of opening up new markets will lead to a flood of investment at a low level of interest.
§ The rapid development of these huge areas by Anglo-Saxon capital will necessitate a large measure of public control so as to ensure that the money is really applied in the best interests of the native inhabitants. It will also involve economic planning in terms of the largest possible units. With Holland and Belgium and the France of to-morrow already fighting on the side of the United Nations, it will only remain to secure the co-operation of Spain and Portugal for existing Colonial territories to be planned and correlated as a whole. As they are situated geographically in three main areas of the globe—Africa, the Pacific, and the Caribbean—there might well be a specially high degree of collaboration between territories within these areas which would organize their resources on a reasonable basis. The impact of war is producing tremendous and lasting changes in the economic structure of the Colonies. Cut off from their pre-war markets, they are gradually learning to be more self-sufficient. It would be fatal to try to put back the clock. Their past dependence upon their exports placed them at the mercy of every trade depression, and we should encourage the further growth of subsistence agriculture and foster processing and other light industries in suitable localities. But for many generations the majority of the 380 Colonial peoples will remain primary producers. Their standard of life will not approximate to that of the industrial workers of the West unless, by the application of scientific methods to production and marketing and by the allocation of a stable corner in the world market, they are able to obtain a better return for their output of foodstuffs and raw materials.
§ The other essential requirement for improving their miserable standards is the adoption of a labour code to guarantee proper conditions of employment and a public provision of that minimum of social services that is taken for granted by the more fortunate citizens of the Mother Country. The International Labour Office is steadily manufacturing a code of labour legislation which embodies enlightened opinion about the rights of labour in the modern world. This code might well be regarded as the pattern which labour conditions in the Colonies should be made to match. The announcement last week that our Government have now ratified the International Labour Office Conventions relating to written contracts and penal sanctions is a step in the right direction. But let us not forget that we are now committed to a strict enforcement of these two Conventions wherever retrograde practices may still obtain. It goes without saying that up-to-date conditions of employment also imply official recognition of the right to collective bargaining through the workers own organizations. Indigenous poverty has been for centuries an insuperable barrier to the growth of health, education, and other public services. We can now atone for our past neglect by pledging ourselves to an unprecedented expansion of all essential social services as soon as peace returns. Russia and Turkey have shown how backward peoples can be converted to modern ways of life in a single generation. This is mainly attributable to the conquest of mass illiteracy and the popularization of the scientific achievements and social habits of the West.
§ We should aim at a rapid expansion of an educational system that will, by all means, be literary, but not exclusively literary, being related to the peculiar circumstances and surroundings of every social group, and giving encouragement to men and women alike—the emphasis on women is intended—to play an active 381 part in the economic and political life of their own community. There are many obstacles in the path of such a programme, and not the least of them is the legacy of our own policy, which was largely absence of policy, during many years of governmental apathy. How far this programme can be realized will depend on our success in stopping the spread of racial discrimination. This deplorable practice, most evident in the plural societies of the Temperate Zone, has resulted in the alienation of the best agricultural land, the monopoly of skilled employment, and the relegation of the native population to a position of permanent inferiority. We cannot allow this canker to spread further afield. Without encouraging false hopes by minimizing the gravity of this problem or any of the other practical difficulties that lie ahead, let us take the Colonial peoples into our confidence, and explain to them in as much detail as we can the plans we are preparing for their future. Then we can fairly ask them, if they are convinced that the old order is really going to change, and that the spirit of the Atlantic Charter is not confined to the oppressed peoples of Europe, to remain our fighting Allies in the world-wide task of social reconstruction that will face the United Nations after the war. I beg to move for papers.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just addressed us, and who takes so close and keen an interest in Colonial affairs—an interest reflected in the able and comprehensive speech to which we have just listened—in the terms of his Motion rightly links the administration of the British Colonial Empire with the principles of that great document, the Atlantic Charter, for surely the underlying principles of that document cannot be subject to any geographical limitation. Indeed, in these formative years, all political and economic matters everywhere are connected together in one comprehensive framework. The whole world is now moving forward, we hope, to better conditions. From the great upheaval through, which we are living we all hope there may emerge a changed world, a world changed for the better, and in that world the British Colonial Empire must play a great and, perhaps, a leading part, with its forty Administrations and its tens of millions of inhabitants.
382 It is sometimes thought in these days that the whole question is an economic one, that if we can only adequately develop the resources and raise the standard of living of the populations of the Empire, then our task is done. That, I submit, is not so. Great advances have been made on the economic side and its importance cannot be exaggerated. It is well that we should recognize that the progress that has been made is inadequate and that vast tasks remain to be accomplished; not only in the purely material sphere, but also in improving the education of these populations and their health, housing, labour conditions, agricultural research, industrial development, and transport. All these are questions of prime importance. It is true that not one of these great tasks has been adequately achieved in any one of our Colonies. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940 would undoubtedly have given a great stimulus to this economic development if it had not been for the outbreak of the war, and my only observation on the economic side is to suggest to the Government, and indeed it must be present to their minds, that the chief change which is essential on this side is a greater readiness to provide the Colonies with far more extensive financial resources in the way of capital than have ever been at their command before.
Subventions may sometimes be necessary from the Mother Country to a Colonial Administration, but that need not be made the dominant principle of our financial relationship. To my mind what is far more important is a constant readiness on the part of the Treasury and on the part of Parliament, whose assent is required, to give guarantees for Colonial loans on a much larger scale than has ever previously been envisaged. Hitherto we still have been living under the influence of a nineteenth century devotion to an unrestricted laissez-faire and an antagonism to State action as such. Any public debt was always regarded as in itself an evil, and if a given Colony had a debt of £5,000,000 and a neighbouring Colony had a debt of £1,000,000 it proved that the first was less wisely administered than the second. That no doubt is true when we are dealing with deadweight debts. If it is a question of money that is spent for armaments or for defence, however necessary that may be, that is a drain upon the 383 resources of the country which has no direct recoupment, and that, it is true, has been the cause of the greater part of the public indebtedness of the States of the world. But it is not so when a debt is incurred, if it can be called a debt, for the sake of economic development or for education or sanitation. There the financial return, even the direct financial return, may make the expenditure most lucrative.
If some great industrial undertaking sees an opportunity for the profitable use of another £1,000,000 in its enterprises and issues shares and capital for that purpose, that is not regarded as bad finance if the expenditure is warranted on merits and if there is a prospect of a financial return. And if in Colonial administration, or indeed in government of any kind, there is an opportunity to use profitably some capital of that character, there ought to be no restriction, beyond ordinary prudence and an assurance that the plan is well considered, on the provision of capital for that purpose. Such material development would be not only a great advantage to the locality but also to ourselves, if the funds were provided or guaranteed from here, because it would allow of the development of our own export trade to the Colonial Empire, and also, possibly, provide useful employment to our own technicians and others in those localities. Therefore my first suggestion on this head—indeed my only suggestion—is that there should be a sympathetic spirit in the Treasury and in Parliament, and in the administrations of this country and of the Colonies, towards what would in previous times have been regarded as lavish and extravagant capital expenditure, if in each particular case it can be shown that the actual enterprise is neither lavish nor extravagant but will be remunerative either shortly or in the long run.
But my main point is that the present tendency of looking upon this question of financing the Colonies and promoting their material development as the whole of the Colonial problem, or nearly the whole, is wrong, and that the political side is in the long run more important than the economic. This emphasis upon the economic side is probably due to the tendency of the age to be influenced to some extent by Marxist doctrines and to regard the economic as the chief cause in the movement of human history—a pro- 384 found error in my view, but one which I should not desire to occupy the House by arguing at this moment. It is true to say that it you devote yourself to material questions and leave out liberty, and it you leave out the inculcation of mutual good will and international tranquillity, you will most certainly fail in your efforts to promote the welfare either of particular territories or of mankind at large.
When you turn to the political side, to which I shall address myself in my remaining observations, you have to deal with three levels on which the matter rests—the level of the local Colonial Governments, that of the Imperial Government and that of international world-wide relationships. With regard to the local government of the Colonies the principle is now accepted, and is authoritatively proclaimed as the purpose of the Imperial Government, as one to promote local self-government as fast and as generally as the conditions allow. The question of local freedom and local self-government is not a question of whether, but only a question of how and of when. This may be achieved partly in the earlier stages of a Colony by applying the principle of indirect rule. More than forty years ago I had the opportunity of visiting Uganda, which was then newly brought under British administration, and approaching it by the famous Uganda railway that was then not quite completed. There the principle of indirect rule under the guidance of Sir Harry Johnston and of Lord Lugard, who is happily still with us, was being applied with great success and has continued successfully during the long intervening period. And similarly in Nigeria and in many other of the Colonial territories.
The principle of indirect rule, however, is not the same as the principle of complete independence, and it is true to say of many of these communities, comparatively small compared with great modern States, that they do not possess either the financial resources, or the administrative experience, and the ability to provide for their own defence which would render complete independence advisable in their own interests. It is proper for them to remain for a period, and perhaps for a period of generations, under the ægis of a great Power which can provide them with the advantages derived from wide experience in statesmanship and in administration and give them the support 385 of great financial resources and military power. They recognize that. I think it is also true to say that the peoples of such countries as those that I have mentioned recognize the great advantage to themselves of the British connexion. A short-range patriotism might lead some of them to desire complete independence, but a long-range patriotism leads them to accept, and indeed to welcome, the friendly guidance and co-operation of a great and civilized Power. But it is essential in applying that policy from our side that we should take every opportunity of making use of native ability, and I rejoice in the fact just mentioned by my noble friend the Earl of Listowel, that important posts have now been entrusted to Africans in various Colonies. Wherever there are discovered individuals among the people of the country possessing, first, the character and, secondly, the knowledge to make them good officials, Whether on the administrative side, or the judicial side, or the technical side, their services should be eagerly welcomed and actively used.
The second level is that of the Imperial Government. Here the central structure is that of the Colonial Office and the keystone is the Secretary of State. A year ago, when we had a similar debate, also I think on the initiative of my noble friend the Earl of Listowel, I made a protest that there had been no fewer than five Colonial Secretaries in a period of six years. The outcome of that protest has been that there have been two more Colonial Secretaries since then, and the list now is seven in seven years. During the lifetime of the present Parliament since 1935, we have had as Colonial Secretary Mr. J. H. Thomas, Mr. Ormsby-Gore (now Lord Harlech), Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, Lord Lloyd, Lord Moyne, the noble Viscount opposite, Lord Cranborne, and now Mr. Oliver Stanley.They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.We have been accustomed to criticize the governing system of France on the ground that it must be deleterious to good administration for a rapid succession of Ministers to follow ore another in the various Government offices. I remember seeing some years ago a drawing in a French newspaper in which a visitor to a Government Office is represented as saying to the huissier, "M. le Ministre, est 386 chez lui?" The man replied, "Oui, Monsieur," and the visitor then inquired, "C'est encore le même qu'hier?"
Since this most recent change of office there has arisen a universal protest in Parliament and the Press, and I think every speaker in the debate in another place last week on Colonial matters protested against this rapid succession of Ministers in this particular office. I am sure that every speaker here to-day will echo the same protest. We have a special grievance here since we lose the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, whose presence in this House as Colonial Secretary was most welcome, and for whose great administrative ability we have a profound respect. His successor I personally welcome, if there had to be a change, since when I was at' the Home Office ten years ago I was able to collaborate with him when he received his first Ministerial appointment as Under-Secretary. My recollections of that collaboration lead me to express the hope that his period of office at the Colonial Office may be successful; and not only successful but prolonged.
As to the Colonial Office itself, there again I have a personal experience because for four years out of the five that I was High Commissioner for Palestine, I was working under the Colonial Office, the first year being in conditions of much greater freedom under the supervision of the Foreign Office. I found the Colonial Office very prompt whenever there was a matter of real urgency. When there was some crisis of one kind or another where immediate action had to be taken one could get a speedy reply, but in other cases I am bound to say I found it a very slow Department. It was all the worse because in many matters the Treasury was involved and there was the most absurd and meticulous examination of every item, no matter how small, which made the sanction of the annual Budget a most painful process. The High Commissioner and his heads of Departments could not even add a messenger to any Government office without having Treasury sanction, which frequently took months to obtain. Reforms which were obviously necessary, and concessions to the population which were clearly right, lost all grace and value by being delayed a year or more while the 387 sanction of the Government Department was being obtained.
How are we to secure improvements in this and other respects in which, to some extent, the Colonial Office has not been as active and has not shown the degree of initiative that appears to be necessary? Several proposals have lately been made. It was suggested in the House of Commons during the debate last week, that there should be a Development Board. On that I have no very strong views on one side or another. If the Colonial Office think that desirable I should be sorry indeed to quarrel with them, but it appears to me that there is great force in what was said in the debate by the Under-Secretary of the Department, Mr. Macmillan, that such a board would exercise what are very largely the functions of the Colonial Office itself and that there might be a great deal of duplication from the creation of such a body. I think my noble friend did not himself specially recommend that particular proposal today.
A second suggestion has been made that the Colonial Office should be decentralized to a great extent, that there should be a regional administration covering great groups of Colonies geographically connected, for which my noble friend has pleaded to-day. That no doubt, if desirable, could either quickly or gradually be achieved, but at the same time all the functions of the Colonial Office cannot be so decentralized, for it is of great value to each Colony that there should be here in London a great pool of experience derived from the whole of the Colonial Empire, and also that there should be a pool of administrative ability to be used in any part of the Colonial Empire wherever it can be most usefully employed. Even if there was this devolution from the Colonial Office the bureaucracy would still remain a bureaucracy, although articulated, so that results could not be definitely accomplished by that method alone. Then it is suggested that there should be a Council at the Colonial Office similar to the Council of the Secretary of State for India which existed at the India Office until recently. There again personally I doubt that that would be a policy of practical value. Possibly it might be useful, and I should 388 be sorry indeed to oppose it if the Government decided to proceed on that line, but it would be very difficult with forty separate Administrations to constitute a really representative body, and the problems to be dealt with are too varied to be easily handled by a number of men sitting round a table dealing with projects of this kind, even if they were to appoint sub-committees for particular purposes.
To my mind the proposal which would be of most value and, in the long run, taking a period of years, likely to achieve the greatest results in promoting the progress and well-being of the Colonial Empire, is that Parliament itself should come into close relationship with these problems. It is for the House of Commons, the representative Assembly, to convey the impulse of the spirit of the nation as a whole into the administration of the Colonies, and your Lordships' House, with its wealth of administrative experience and with the interest of some of its younger members, like my noble friend who has just spoken, might be able to render most useful service. Therefore I would repeat the suggestion which I made in the debate a year ago and subsequently in a letter addressed to The Times, that Parliament should create a Standing Joint Select Committee on Colonial Affairs. Such a Committee, in my view, ought not to exercise, or to endeavour to exercise, any executive authority of its own nor endeavour to control the action of the Colonial Secretary. The Colonial Secretary should not, himself, be a member of the Committee. The duty of the Committee would be to investigate and to report. It would have the assistance of the staff of the Colonial Office, no doubt, and of the various Colonial Administrations, and would carry out its duties largely by sending, year by year, deputations or sub-committees composed of its own members to visit various groups of Colonies and afterwards to issue reports. As a rule these reports would be public, but occasionally it might be desirable that they should be confidential.
The results that might be hoped for and expected from such an organ in the Constitution would be, first and most valuable, to arouse the interest of Parliament and of the Press and public, through such reports issued from time to time, in Colonial questions and so stir Government Departments out of an inactivity which always prevails in any form of bureaucratic ad- 389 ministration. Further, these reports and vistas by sub-committees would help to keep the local Administrations up to the mark. The Select Committee on National Expenditure of the House of Commons is regarded in these days as rendering a most useful service. I had the honour to be the Chairman of the first such Committee during the last war, and the present Committee is working on the same model but with wider scope. Similarly, a Committee of House of Commons, a Permanent Standing Committee on Colonial Affairs might render precisely the same or very similar services. At present the public is aroused to interest only in spasmodic spurts, usually following upon some disturbance in some part or other of the Colonial Empire.
If discontent goes on welling up, and at last bursts through the dam in a turbulent flood, then, indeed, public attention here is aroused and people ask why it is that in Jamaica, or wherever it may be, these events have occurred. Committees of Inquiry are sent oat and remedies are applied to conditions which ought never to have been allowed to develop. It is the worst system of Colonial Government in which you have lethargy tempered by riots. A Committee such as I suggest would he of value to Parliament itself, and would give to members of the Committee from both Houses of Parliament opportunities to come into first-hand contact with problems of Colonial statesmanship. Furthermore, it would be of great value to Colonial politicians, whose part in the general administration of affairs is already important and will become more and more important as time goes on. Such Committees visiting various Colonies and issuing public reports would bring their actions into full publicity, would act as a restraint upon irresponsible agitators, and would give encouragement to constructive reforms.
I was disappointed [hat the spokesman of the Government in the debate in the other House, last week, took a somewhat negative attitude towards this proposal. He said:If the Parliamentary Committee is executive, then it is taking away the constitutional powers and duties of the Colonial Secretary.That is not the proposal. Then he went on:If it is advisory, I am still inclined to feel that we do better with the specialized 390 Advisory Committees such as those on education, labour, medical questions and agriculture which, as everybody knows, are an important part of Colonial Office machinery on which many Members of Parliament, I am glad to say, are willing to serve and help us.I do not think that that is an adequate reply. These sub-committees of inquiry do not perform adequately the functions I wish to see performed by a normal routine process of continual visits to different parts of the Empire under the direct auspices of Parliament. Moreover, they cannot deal with political issues, or deal so easily or thoroughly with them, as a body representing the two Houses of Parliament could do. Consequently I trust that further consideration will be given to this matter, and that by this method Parliament, representing the nation, will take a grasp of the responsibilities that really belong to it, and to it alone, not by occasional debate of an hour or two perhaps once a year in the House of Commons, and possibly two or three times a year in this House,. but by continuous and effective attention.
It is not enough for the Parliament and people of this country to be accustomed to glorify the greatness of the British Empire and to talk in terms of "dominion over palm and pine." They must be ready to give effective time and trouble to the practical control of these affairs themselves. This proposal has the support of the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, with his vast Governmental and Parliamentary experience. He would have been here to-day, I am sure, were it not that he is suffering from some slight indisposition. It has also had the support of Lord Hailey, who, as the last speaker has just remarked, is an unrivalled authority among active members of this House. It has also been supported by several speakers in the House of Commons in the last two debates. I earnestly commend it to the further attention of His Majesty's Government.
I come lastly to the third level, that of the relation of the British Colonial Empire to the world at large. The peace aims of the United Nations cannot but affect the British Colonial Empire. We have noted the words spoken by Mr. Wendell Willkie in his very powerful and able and, in the main, friendly speeches. Those who have read the full verbatim report of his remarkable broadcast address of a month 391 ago, which has been published in the Manchester Guardian, will realize how essentially friendly his observations have been, and how helpful they are intended to be. I do not think that he envisages what has been termed the "liquidation of the British Empire" but rather the more rapid extension of self-government, which is the declared aim of our policy with regard, to all parts of it. As to the post-war destiny of Colonies it is obviously impossible to contemplate the transfer of any territories to Germany, Italy or Japan in existing circumstances, those who were called the dissatisfied Powers before the war and one of whose grievances was the monopoly of the world's Colonies by a small group of States from which they were excluded. Whatever grievances there may have been it is certain that the civilized world would not for a moment tolerate the transfer to these Powers of any Colonies in any circumstances. The proposal has been made that the progressive States of the world should be willing to pool their Colonies under the rule of an international authority of which they would then be members. If it would really conduce to the tranquillity of the world and to the welfare of the populations concerned, that would have to receive most careful consideration. But whether it would do so or not is another matter.
Whether the populations will find a better standard of welfare, or even as good a standard as now, and an administration as good as at present, under an international régime, is a matter which requires serious argument. Hitherto, joint international administrations have been notoriously inactive and inefficient. They are carried on by officials drawn from different countries, with various backgrounds and traditions, with different systems of law, speaking different languages and obeying different loyalties; and it has always been found that they have been the theatre of jealousies and intrigues and friction, and that the team-work which is of vital importance in any Administration is usually absent. In the long run, the Administration itself is not progressive and constructive, and the populations suffer accordingly. I doubt very much whether such a régime, although it might possibly help some of the Colonies which are under the administration of backward Colonial Powers, would effect any improvement in the 392 administration of the Colonies, for example, of Holland or of Belgium or of ourselves.
We are now living to a great extent under the influence of the lamentable events in Malaya and Burma, and are possibly in a somewhat pessimistic mood with regard to British Colonial administration. It is quite right to dwell upon defects and failures, because that is the first step towards reform and recovery. But if we take an all-round view, more comprehensive and more balanced and over a longer period of time, there is no reason whatever why we should take an apologetic or pessimistic view with regard to British Colonial administration. If we compare the present position of these vast territories with what obtained fifty years ago, and still more with their condition before the advent of the British and when they were under independent native rule, and if we consider the degree to which order and justice and the standards of life have been improved, we shall be able to claim at the bar of history that we have not been a selfish or a negligent trustee.
I admit, however, that we should be responsive to world opinion, and that we should recognize that, especially after this war, we have a responsibility to the world at large. If, after the war, it is found possible to establish some widely-extended international authority over world affairs in general, I see no reason why all Colonial Administrations, the Administrations themselves being under the same sovereignty as now, should not be required to accept the supervision of such an international authority, acting much as the League of Nations has done through the Mandates Commission in respect of the Mandated Territories. There again, as administrator of one of those territories, and as being the first to present a report from that particular territory to the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, I had an opportunity of realizing and admiring the manner in which the affairs of that Commission were conducted, its impartiality, its conscientiousness and its painstaking care. It was aware, as any such authority must be aware, that it is on the administering Power that the real responsibility lies for maintaining order and for providing the necessary financial and military resources; and therefore the last word must always 393 rest with the Mandatory Power and not with the supervising Commission.
But there is much to be said for an international authority which will be in a position to make sure that the principles of government which are in fact accepted, and which may form part of the peace settlement and be formally declared in international documents, are being observed. That is particularly the case, for example, with the United States of America. If it is through military and naval action in the Pacific that we are successful there and that Malaya is restored to British rule, the United States, which will have take so great a part in that victory, will have the right to know, and to be assured in perpetuity, that any undertakings given with regard to the administration of that territory, recovered by their help, are in fact fully performed. We have no reason to fear publicity of that kind. We should have every reason to court it, and, if it were part of the general, normal system of supervision, and not based upon individual accusations or complaints, it would be in no way derogatory to British rule. There is also the influence of the International Labour Organization, to which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, referred. Lord Hailey, in a recent address, drew, attention to that, and urged that a Colonial Section of the I.L.O. should be established; possibly that also may form part of the international Colonial control. How far the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, will be able go in dealing with these matters I do not know; but I greatly doubt whether he will be able to do more than cast a backward glance over the receding shore. But Parliament remains; Parliament is perennial; and Parliament must look to the future.
§ VISCOUNT BLEDISLOE
My Lords, if no other noble Lord is prepared to continue this debate, I should like to make one or two comments on the problem which once more has come before your Lordships' House. In the first place I would join most cordially with my noble friend who has just sat down in congratulating the noble Earl on his very interesting and cultured speech, full of knowledge derived hum a somewhat intimate study of these problems. Although we have no reason to be ashamed of cur past history in building up what is to-day the greatest Empire in 394 the world, we have with sadness to admit that there is very little real vitality or constructive progress in our present-day Colonial policy, and this, quite obviously, is mainly due to a lack of enthusiasm and knowledge on the part of the whole body politic in this country. The great mass of our people know little or nothing of our Empire overseas. In a democratic country such as this, Parliament, after all, reflects the keenness or the apathy, the knowledge or the ignorance, of the people of this country. Can any one seriously assert that the great democracy of this country is well-informed or enthusiastic about these Empire problems? Compare this country with, for instance, Holland, Belgium or France in regard to an overseas Empire. I have travelled in these three countries, and nothing has impressed me more than the immense interest taken by the Governments of these countries in making their peoples, from the humblest in the land, fully acquainted with their overseas territories, and inspiring them with an ambition to do all in their power to develop their Empire, the Empire which they have been responsible for building up.
We have nothing of that sort in this country to-day, and to one who like myself has served at the Antipodes for five years and who has a somewhat intimate knowledge of what is being done, at least in one of our great Dominions, to develop not merely intense loyalty to the Motherland but an ever-increasing knowledge of the Motherland and the views of her Government in regard to the Empire, it is somewhat sad to find that in this country, when those same people come here as members of the Fighting Forces of their countries, they have to deplore the vacuous ignorance of the people among whom they find themselves in regard to the countries from which they come and in regard to the Empire at large. Surely we must look to our Board of Education to initiate the process of instructing the people of this country from their childhood in regard to the British Empire, its peoples and its problems, and in developing through the schools—the elementary and secondary schools—and the universities such a knowledge of and interest in the Empire as to afford that driving force which all Governments need, whatever be their complexion, in taking progressive action for the development on enlightened demo- 395 cratic lines of those oversea possessions or oversea territories over which the Union Jack flies.
I am very glad my noble friend opposite referred to the recent utterance of Mr. Wendell Willkie. I myself, having read, as he has read, in extenso that broadcast, can find no fault with the statement he made, viewed from the American environment in which it was made. I believe that Mr. Wendell Willkie represents a very large proportion of the American people in expressing entire and growing friendship and sympathy with us in this country, and also in voicing that emphatic desire for real constructive progress within the British Empire which is found, I am sorry to say, to a relatively larger extent in the smaller empires of some other countries. After all, we have lost during the present war no small part of our Colonial Empire, washed by the waters of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, and it is the Americans, in cooperation with our own Australian fellow subjects, who are doing their utmost to win back those territories for the British Crown. Surely in those circumstances we must be at least tolerant in regard to utterances of this sort which are made from across the Atlantic.
I come back to what is to me the main problem, and I should like definitely to ask the noble Viscount who is going to reply, whether and to what extent there is a desire on the part of His Majesty's Government to develop in this country progressive education on the subject of our British Empire. The Board of Education at the moment are taking a particular interest in advising the schools to devote as much time as possible to training our young people in regard to the history and geography of the United States and Russia. There are very particular reasons why they should do so—strong political reasons; but there is no reason why the British Empire should be ruled out to make way for instruction in regard to the affairs of other countries, however friendly and however sympathetic they may be as our Allies in this war.
I desire in conclusion to refer only to one expression which fell from the noble Earl opposite when he deprecated racial discrimination. I wondered when I heard that expression used whether he was re- 396 ferring only to discrimination between the white peoples and the natives in those countries in which he is so much interested, or whether he was prepared to extend that expression to different groups or different races of natives themselves. Because I cannot help thinking that natives in different parts of the world need to be treated in very different ways. In New Zealand, with which I am pretty well acquainted, you have a peculiarly superior type of native in the Maori race. Over a hundred years ago we took the bold course of putting the Maori people on social and political equality with the white people of that Colony which has since become a Dominion. It was perhaps a rather speculative move, but it has proved a wonderful success. But you are dealing there with a very remarkable native people—remarkable in their dignity and their culture, and remarkable, above all, in their spiritual outlook. Can the same thing be said for the Bantu of Central Africa?
It was only four years ago that I acted as Chairman of a Royal Commission known as the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission, and travelled over large tracts of country in the two Rhodesias and in the Territory of Nyasaland. I am bound to say I can hardly imagine a greater contrast than I found between the Bantu or native of South Central Africa and the Maori of New Zealand. The impression I formed regarding them was that of barbarian children whom it was quite impossible, to the extent of 75 per cent. of them, to treat as being, at any rate for many generations and possibly for a couple of centuries, as receptive of the same method of development as the Maoris. I could not help wondering whether, with all this talk about the colour bar and racial discrimination, we have not got to be very patient in our process of attempting to develop at least the native races of Central Africa.
The noble Earl opposite said, "I advocate a not wholly literary education for these native peoples." I would most emphatically suggest that you do not attempt even a mainly literary education for these people. If you could only encourage them to develop their husbandry in such a way as to win at least a scanty sustenance from their own soil for themselves and their families, if you could only encourage amongst them some 397 system of hygiene, a knowledge of the elementary principles of maintaining health, you would be going a very long way towards the laying of a foundation upon which you could build up an educable race. At present in that country, to a large extent, they are not educable, and you are simply wasting your time in endeavouring either to educate them on Western European lines or to develop in their minds a sense of political responsibility. Certainly encourage local government amongst themselves so far as they are capable of conducting it. I am bound to say that in Nyasaland, which owed its original cultural development, if I may so express it, to the great Livingstone, traces of whose work are found and acknowledged there to-day, I found a reatively high capacity on the part of the African native in the matter of local self-government. But even there local self-government is of a very elementary character compared with what we call local self-government in this country.
All I would say is this: Do not press too hard upon these people either literary education or a desire for rapid political development when they really are too immature to take full advantage of it. You have to build them up from the soil, you have to teach them the principles of hygiene you have to protect them against the multitude of infectious and contagious diseases that face them at every turn; and when you have done that you can begin to educate them and ultimately bring to them a sense of political responsibility and responsible government.
My Lords, if I intervene now before the statement of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, which is the real reason for this debate, it is not really to add anything to what previous speakers have said, but rather to add my voice to theirs. First of all I cannot refrain from deploring, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said everybody in the other place has done, this constant and persistent change of Colonial Secretaries. In particular, I deplore the departure of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, from the Colonial Office. In doing so, I. do not wish to imply any criticism of his successor. I can only say that I hope we shall be able to form of him, when he has held the office as long as the noble Viscount held it, as favour- 398 able an impression as the noble Viscount has left upon all who have had any contact with Colonial affairs. These constant choppings and changes at the Colonial Office seem to me to indicate a fundamental frivolity on the part of the Government in relation to Colonial affairs. I believe that nothing could be more unfortunate at the present moment, not only for our international relations but also for our internal morale, than this particular attitude on the part of the Government.
Mr. Willkie has been quoted by two speakers this afternoon, and I am going to quote him again. Mr. Willkie, I am glad to say, has received at the hands of speakers in this House very much better treatment than some of the national newspapers have been inclined to give him since he adopted what has been regarded as a critical attitude towards the British. It is my belief, as Lord Bledisloe said, that it is not unfriendly criticism Mr. Willkie has offered. We are, perhaps, more deeply indebted to Mr. Willkie than most of us realize—certainly more deeply than most of the countryside realizes. Mr. Willkie has risked his own political future in order to show his friendliness and his passionate interest in the cause of the United Nations. Therefore it is my belief that everything Mr. Willkie says should be treated with the greatest respect and given the closest possible attention. His criticisms are the criticisms of a friend, and they are meant in the most friendly possible way. Of that I am convinced. This conviction is, I believe, fundamentally shared by our own people, and therefore when Mr. Willkie speaks it is essential either that we should correct the ground of his criticism, or explain not only to him but to our own people wherein he has been misinformed and wherein he has criticized without grounds.
When Mr. Willkie was in Chungking he said—and I am perfectly satisfied the vast majority of the population will agree with him:We believe that this war must mean an end to the empire of nations over other nations … We believe that it is the world's job to find some system for helping Colonial peoples who join the United Nations' cause to become free independent nations … We must establish ironclad guarantees, administered by all the United Nations jointly, that they shall not slip back into the Colonial status.399 I believe that, fundamentally, that expresses the view of His Majesty's Government and, as I say, I am sure it expresses the view of the majority of people in this country; but it has in certain circles been taken as unfriendly criticism. I shall quote the remarks on this particular speech of that far from revolutionary journal, the Economist. The Economist wrote:Since the word 'Empire' has now undoubtedly become a cause of discussion between Great Britain and the United States, the case for a Colonial Charter, which would embody and codify the principles and promises that have been thrown out from time to time, is stronger than ever.That is a quotation from what is, as I have said, a far from revolutionary source; and I hope His Majesty's Government will give due weight to this appeal, which comes, I believe, from all sides, for the declaration of what is now commonly described as a Colonial Charter.
I should like very much to support the suggestions of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I am convinced that a Joint Select Committee on Colonial Affairs could have an enormously beneficial effect on our Colonial policy. That policy has for years—perhaps owing to the constant change of Colonial Secretaries, but more probably for other reasons, because actually the record goes back further than that—suffered from an excessive laissez-faire or complete inactivity. That is the real fault of our Colonial policy. It is a fault of omission rather than a fault of commission. I believe that a Joint Select Committee of the kind suggested by the noble Viscount would have the most beneficial results both, as he says, in informing the Houses of Parliament about Colonial affairs and also in stirring the Colonial Office and administrators in the Colonies to greater activity.
The noble Viscount also referred to the question of the internationalization of Colonies. Like him I should, if it were possible, welcome such a solution, but like him I am unfortunately doubtful as to its possibilities. But I think I have myself already expressed in this House an attachment to the idea of the placing of all Colonial territories under a kind of mandate, so that there should be a body of international inspection which could report on the administration of Colonies and could stir the backward and guide the willing.
400 The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, spoke of the superiority of certain native races and the inferiority of others, and the necessity of treating them differently. I suggest to the noble Viscount that in giving the example of the Maoris he has in fact confirmed an observation of my own, that so often the superiority of a native race depends upon the treatment which it has received. Of course naturally that is a matter which is not universal. He has quoted the Bantu. Had the Bantu, for example, been treated as the Maori, the only result would no doubt have been chaos. I am convinced that the best way of helping the advancement of any native race is to treat them as equals. He spoke, too, I think, most illuminatingly, of education. Fundamentally I agreed with him, but I would point out that if you obtain literacy, and that not cultural but practical, education becomes infinitely easier, and I do press upon the Government the desirability of making all possible use of all the modern methods of spreading literacy, just literacy, amongst the adult as well as amongst the juvenile population. Soviet Russia has set a remarkable example of what can be done in this way, and I believe we can not only follow that example but can far excel it.
It is not my desire to detain your Lordships but I feel most strongly that this is a matter of paramount national importance. Probably the majority of our people are convinced that the present Prime Minister is the best available leader in time of war, but it is a fact that our countrymen have never supported him in either his domestic or Imperial policy. One of the reasons why the Atlantic Charter was so welcome to our people was that they believed it showed that the Prime Minister himself had accepted a social policy of progress. I think it was a great blow to a great number of people not only in the Colonies themselves but in this country when he declared that the Atlantic Charter did not apply to the Colonies.
I am sorry, to India. I think, my Lords, that possibly if it does not apply to India it is even more unfortunate. In any case, I believe 401 that a Colonial Charter is not only required to ease our relations with our Allies but that it would be an earnest of our intentions. Just as the Beveridge Report is an earnest of our intention to carry out domestically the implications of the Atlantic Charter so a Colonial Charter would be an earnest of the Government's sincerity and of their activities in pressing towards a better world.
My Lords, in rising to reply to what I think everybody will agree has been a full, an interesting and an important debate, I should like first of all, if I may, to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the other noble Lords who have spoken for the kind things they have said about myself. I need not tell the House how great was my regret in leaving the Colonial Office. There is no more enthralling Department in the whole range of Government, and, what is more, if I may say so, I think there is no more efficient Department in the whole range of Government. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said he had found that the administration of the Colonial Office was sometimes slow, but I am sure he will be the first to recognize that in the administration of very far-flung territories, especially in times like these, a certain delay is sometimes inevitable. Moreover, perhaps there has been a change for the better since he first knew it. At any rate I can say for myself that, I always found there keenness, a deep devotion to duty, and an open mind, and I leave the Colonial Office with a very deep respect for the officials of the Colonial Office and of the Colonial Service.
For all these reasons it is inevitable that I should be sad at leaving that great office. On the other hand, I must confess that it became quite clear to me after a comparatively short experience that the Colonial Secretary's job is very much a whole-time one, and with the recent very notable and noticeable increase in your Lordships' activities it could not, in my view, be adequately combined with the Leadership of this House. Therefore my loss will be the Colonies' gain. Moreover, of one thing I am quite certain, and that is that there can be no man more admirably qualified for the arduous duties of a Colonial Secretary than my right honourable friend the new Minister who has succeeded me. In addition, he will continue to have at his disposal the unrivalled assistance of the 402 Under-Secretary, Mr. Macmillan, to whom I should like to say I owe a debt of gratitude which I can never repay. Colonel Stanley has entered upon his duties, as I think the House will certainly agree, at a moment of great opportunity, of great opportunity both imperially and internationally, and in my view his period of office will certainly be a fruitful one for the Colonies.
I would like before I go on to the main subject of my reply, to remove one very small misapprehension which was voiced by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. He said that I should no longer continue to reply for the Colonial Office. That is not the case. It has been arranged that I shall still reply for that office. I am personally very happy to think that I shall still maintain a connexion with the Department for which I have come to have so deep an affection, and also that I shall continue to engage in interesting exchanges of views with the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, on the question of Palestine.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, both in his Motion and in the speech with which he introduced it, has asked His Majesty's Government for a statement on Colonial policy. No one could possibly complain that the noble Earl should have raised this subject. It is clearly of the first interest and importance. Ever since the fall of Malaya, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has already pointed out, a constant fire of criticism has been directed against the administration of our Colonial Empire. Much of that criticism, as I shall hope to show this afternoon, is misdirected. It is mainly voiced by those who, however well intentioned, have little or no personal experience of the Colonies. But that very fact makes it most essential that we should give an account of our administration. Take the outstanding example of Malaya itself which has already been referred to this afternoon. There have been those, both here and abroad, who have drawn the conclusion that we lost it because the local inhabitants had not been fully enough associated with the Government of their country. The question of the pace at which constitutional reforms should be made is no doubt, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said, one on which differing views may be entertained. But, in this particular case, it surely cannot be maintained that the lack of repre- 403 sentative government in Malaya accounts for our disasters there.
The neighbouring country of Siam was not only self-governing but independent. Yet it surrendered without a semblance of resistance. Nor did the admirably conducted Administration in the Dutch East Indies and the representative institutions in the Philippines save those countries from a similar fate. The reason why we lost Malaya was indeed an entirely different and far simpler one. Our failure was not administrative but military. Engaged, as we were, in a mortal struggle with two great European Powers, we could not, in addition, provide sufficient armaments to defend our Far Eastern possessions against a third well-armed and trained aggressor. For such a situation as that no wider measure of self-government could have provided a cure.
We have indeed, as has been said already by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, no need to stand in a white sheet over our administration of Malaya. It is true that we did not teach the Malayans to fight. That was, rightly or wrongly, not our policy. But we did give them, over a long period, internal peace, law and order, justice, and a hitherto unknown measure of prosperity. Within the last thirty-five years we reduced the death-rate from 46 per 1,000 to 20 per 1,000. We set up hospitals and welfare centres throughout the territories. We introduced free compulsory education for all Malay boys between the ages of 7 and 14 years. We developed the great tin and rubber industries to the benefit not only of the indigenous inhabitants and ourselves but of the world. We transformed the island of Singapore from an unproductive poverty-stricken jungle into one of the great ports of the world. No doubt our Administration can be criticized. No Administration is perfect. But we need have no fear of the judgment of the historian of the future with regard to the great work that we accomplished in the years that preceded the war.
It is, however, clear that the extent of these achievements is even now not known, and the same is no doubt equally true of the other territories of the British Colonial Empire. That is perhaps our own fault. It is alien to the British tem- 404 perament to advertise our achievements. But there are times when reticence can be carried too far, and this is one of them. I agree most warmly with what has been said by my noble friend Viscount Bledisloe as to the necessity of a wider measure of education both here and abroad as to our record in Colonial administration. This is a matter, I would assure him, which is at present already engaging the attention of His Majesty's Government. There is, throughout the world, an intense interest at the present time in the welfare of Colonial peoples and it is due to ourselves and to other nations that we should give some account of our stewardship and of the existing policy of His Majesty's Government towards the non-self-governing territories of the British Empire. I am therefore particularly grateful to the noble Earl for giving the opportunity for such a statement to-day. Whether the right course is for His Majesty's Government unilaterally to produce, as has been suggested in some quarters, a Colonial Charter, I am not so certain. Even the term "Colonial Charter" is to my mind open to criticism. It is no doubt compact and convenient. But anyone who has had any personal experience of the Colonial Empire would, I think, agree that it tends to be over-simplified and in some ways misleading.
For one thing, it begs the question, what is a Colony? In its truest sense, a Colony is surely an area colonized by emigrants from another country, a place where such emigrants, who have left their own homes either as a result of persecution, bad times, or even a sense of adventure, go to settle and make a new life. A Colony in that truest sense almost inevitably involves the gradual extinction or serious disturbance of the indigenous population. Examples of this are to be found in Canada, Australia, and the United States. If one were to go to any of these great countries and ask to see the original inhabitants, there would be considerable difficulty in finding them. Except in certain limited and remote districts, they have almost entirely died out. That is not of course to say that the colonization of these vast thinly-inhabited spaces has been wrong. The population of the world is constantly increasing, methods of transportation are improving, and nature abhors a vacuum. If some parts of the world are over-populated and others under-populated, the peoples of the 405 over-populated areas will always overflow into the areas where there is more room for them, and the world as a whole has certainly benefited by the increased wealth and prosperity which they create.
But whatever the merits or demerits of Colonies in this strictest and truest sense, the fact remains that, paradoxically enough, the term does not accurately apply to the British Colonial Empire as it exists to-day. With very few exceptions, such as the Highlands of Kenya and the Falkland Islands, the non-self-governing territories of the British Empire have none of them been colonized from Britain. There are a few territories, for example in the West Indies, where the original inhabitants have disappeared and their places been taken by a mixed population, mainly a few British planters and a large number of persons of African or East Indian origin who were originally in the first case their slaves, in the second their employees, but who have now become, so to speak the ordinary inhabitants of those -territories. But elsewhere, and this remainder comprises over ninety per cent. of the whole, the indigenous peoples have not been driven away, nor have they died out. They remain in their own homes and constitute to-day the overwhelming proportion of the population. If one went, for instance, to West Africa, the difficulty, except in a few of the coastal towns, would be not to find the African, but the European inhabitants. In the vast territories of Nigeria, which has a native population of over 20,000,000, there are only about 2,500 white residents, administrative officers, business men, missionaries and doctors; and the same would be true, in a greater or lesser degree, of practically all the other territories.
The British Colonial Empire is in fact quite different from what its name would lead one to suppose. It is different both in its character and its origin. It did not come under the British flag because the British people wished themselves to live there. It is quite unsuitable for that purpose. Situated, as it is, very largely, in the Tropics, it is not a white man's country. It came into being, as noble Lords know, gradually, in many and various ways, and for many and various reasons. Some Colonies, such as certain of the West Indian Islands, Ceylon, Mauritius, Gibraltar and Cyprus became part of the Empire as the result of wars against 406 other European Powers, of whose Empires they already formed part. Others, such as Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, and Nyasaland, were originally occupied as part of our campaign against the slave trade. One, Sierra Leone, was occupied for the purpose of setting up a home for freed slaves. Two, the Gold Coast and the greater part of Nigeria, grew from trading stations. Yet more, such as Fiji, Malaya and Malta, were taken under the British Crown by agreement with their rulers or their peoples. So many and various were the origins from which the British Colonial Empire sprang.
I am coming to the missionaries. They played a large part in the abolition of the slave trade. Broadly speaking, the pioneers of the British Colonial Empire were not generals or admirals. They have been drawn from the ranks of traders and missionaries. They have been men and women like Livingstone, the great missionary explorer; Mungo Park, the young surgeon who, as noble Lords know, travelled in the unknown country between the trading stations on the West African Coast; Mary Kingsley, living among, trading with, and caring for the savage tribes in the interior of West Africa; Stamford Raffles, the progressive administrator who founded Singapore; Sir John Kirk, the Consul-General in Zanzibar, who played so great a part in stopping the slave traffic; Lord Lugard, who has already been mentioned to-day, and whose name will ever be linked with the principle of trusteeship and its practical application in Nigeria and Uganda; Sir Ronald Ross, the pioneer in malarial research. Those are the types of men and women who are our heroes and heroines, with many others whose names are forgotten but whose work endures. We have established ourselves in these remote areas with the good will of the native peoples of the countries, and it has been our aim and object, while endeavouring to remove abuses, to retain, as far as possible, the existing social structure, traditions, and customs of the territories to which we have come.
This essential fact should be borne in mind by those who, in the newspapers and elsewhere, demand a standardized Colonial policy applicable equally to all the terri- 407 tories of the British 'Colonial Empire. Anyone who has studied the Colonial question will know that no such simple course is open to us. The striking feature of the British Empire, I repeat, is its diversity—a diversity of continents, islands, climates, conditions, problems; above all, a diversity of peoples, greater than in any Empire of the past. To deal with this diversity of peoples and conditions we have been obliged to establish and operate systems of administration distinguished above all by variety, elasticity and flexibility. We have no cut and dried pattern in the British Empire. We have adopted and adapted existing systems, changing them readily as the need arose and as experience taught. For advanced peoples, we have sought to devise elaborate constitutional forms, incorporating a high degree of self-government. For more backward peoples, we have sought to retain as far as possible the existing forms of local government, though no doubt moulding and colouring them with our own experience and gradually educating them to assume wider responsibilities.
This has of course been a process of very gradual evolution. We have ourselves learnt a great deal during the centuries since the British Empire began first to come into being. What is now called a social conscience is something comparatively new in the world. It would, of course, be absurd to claim that our motives have throughout been merely altruistic. It would be smug as well as absurd. I have said that the main pioneers of our Empire were traders, and traders, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were mainly, if not entirely, interested in trade. The peoples with whom their commerce was conducted and in whose territories their trading establishments were set up were of no concern to them, only as a source of profit. That this was a point of view not confined to the British is clear from the fact that most European nations at that time condoned and even encouraged the slave trade. But gradually, towards the end of the eighteenth century, our outlook towards backward and subject peoples began to change. A sense of responsibility for their welfare began to show itself. Noble Lords will remember that as far back as 1785, Burke, speaking on the India Bill, used the expression "trusteeship" in relation to peoples not 408 so advanced as ourselves. No doubt, he was ahead of his time. But the theories which he and other statesmen enunciated bore fruit, and, with the nineteenth century, the idea that as an advanced nation we had a moral responsibility for the welfare of the backward peoples of the Empire came to be generally accepted as a basis of British Colonial policy. The old ideas of exploitation gave place to the new doctrine of trusteeship.
We can, I think, fairly claim that in this respect Britain was well ahead of the rest of the world. Indeed, it is significant—and I would draw the attention of the House to this—that in the idealistic atmosphere in which an attempt was made to settle the future progress of world affairs on a firm and enduring basis at the Peace Conference after the last war, the principles embodied in the Treaty of Versailles for the policy to be adopted towards those backward peoples who were as yet unable to stand by themselves were substantially those which we ourselves had already, for long, been applying to the administration of our own Colonies. How, over the last century, have we approached this complex and difficult task? We say, and truly, that the ultimate objective of our policy has been and is to promote self-government in the Colonies. That is our main aim. But we do not mean by this the mere perpetuation of what we found when we went there, government by some local autocrat or some narrow tribal oligarchy, with all the poverty and cruelty which have so often accompanied it in the past. We seek indeed to retain all that is good in the existing social and political system, but we aim also to graft to it modern ideas and the lessons of our own experience, so that finally the peoples of even the most backward Colonies may become fit for free institutions, self government by the people as a whole—which is what we mean by free institutions—and the problem of making free institutions understood and worked in backward and primitive communities is, as noble Lords who have had first-hand experience know, not an easy one.
It is sometimes suggested by well-intentioned people, both here and abroad, people with no practical experience of Colonial conditions, that a democratic system of government can quite easily he grafted, say, on to an African community organized on a tribal basis. To such people, we may seem slow and hesitating.
409 But, as your Lordships very well know, it is not so easy as that. Let us first clear our own minds as to what we mean in this context by free institutions. Do we mean the sort of political system that we have here? If so, the people must be capable not only of changing their Government when they are not satisfied with it but of providing an alternative Government to take its place. That implies a very high standard of political development in the people. They must be able to think for themselves, judge for themselves. Democracy, as we know it here, is not an easy system of government to work. It is; probably, of all political systems the most difficult that the mind of man has devised. It requires wisdom and tolerance and restraint and a broad outlook on the part of the individual citizen. We in this country have a system which, we believe, works well. So have the United States, so have the Scandinavian countries, Belgium and Holland, and a number of other countries. But these are all communities with a long democratic tradition. In some of the other countries, even of Europe, democracy has not yet, it must be confessed, proved a strikingly successful form of government. The peoples of these countries were not yet ready to shoulder their responsibilities. They did not want to govern themselves. They preferred to be governed. Free institutions in those countries led to something approaching anarchy, and the situation had eventually to be restored by the desperate expedient of dictatorship.
It is, therefore, net surprising if many of the peoples of the British Colonial Empire are not yet ready for full self-government, and will net be ready for some considerable time. Nor is it by any means sure that to give them self-government prematurely, before they are educated up to it, would be for the happiness and prosperity of the peoples themselves. At the same time, it must clearly be our aim to equip Colonial peoples to administer their own affairs, whether our goal is near or far. That is one of the main aims which British Colonial policy sets itself, and we have made, and are making, considerable progress.
In some Colonies, such as, for example, Bermuda, Bahamas and Barbados, Constitutions have long been in existence, in some cases for over three hundred years. The Constitution of Bermuda is the next 410 oldest to that of the United Kingdom within the Empire. In these Colonies, His Majesty's Government have no power to secure the passage of any legislation against the vote of the local Legislature, except by the passing of an Act by the Parliament in the United Kingdom, a constitutional method which cannot be lightly adopted. Moreover, in the Caribbean, a further advance is now in contemplation. In accordance with the recommendations of the Moyne Commission, preparations are already under way in a number of the Colonies for an extension of the franchise and a wider unofficial representation on the Legislative Councils as soon as circumstances permit. At the other side of the world, in Ceylon, a new Constitution was introduced in 1931, which gives a wide measure of responsible government, based on adult suffrage—that is a very advanced Constitution—and the Imperial Government have undertaken that the question of constitutional reform shall be further examined at the end of the war.
Other Colonies are still at the phase of Crown Colony government. But here too steady progress is being made. To give one example, in Africa we have introduced a system of selecting Chiefs, with their Councils of Advisers, who are chosen according to tribal status and administer the affairs of their people under the general guidance of British officers. These units of local administration have their own Treasuries and their own revenues, their own Courts of Justice and their own social services, such as public health and education, to supplement services of the same kind provided by the Central Government. Many of these Native Administrations, for example in Nigeria, have large revenues and are flourishing and efficient.
In other ways, too, we are constantly trying to associate the people of the Colonies with their own Government. In many of the more advanced territories, the Administration has been for years past carried on by officers born in the countries concerned; for example, in Ceylon the majority of members of the Administration are Ceylonese, and in the Malay States there is a considerable element of Malays. Both these are advanced communities. Apart altogether from the numbers of judges, doctors, and other professional men who have been enlisted in the Colonial Service, the step was taken 411 recently of authorizing the appointment in West Africa of Africans as administrative officers and of African members of the Governor's Executive Council in Nigeria and the Gold Coast. Like the noble Earl, I regard this as a practical example of the modern doctrine of partnership, to which he has referred, and to which His Majesty's Government attach full importance. The House will forgive me it I have gone into these matters in such detail, but I think that there is as yet no realization, at home or abroad, of the progress that is actually being made. The British Colonial Empire is a living organism, and it is constantly changing and developing.
Up to now I have spoken mainly of the political aspect of Colonial policy. But quite as much might be said of developments in the social and economic spheres, more especially in the spheres of education, medicine, agriculture, labour and social services. Clearly, if we are to prepare the Colonial peoples for self-government in the future, we must first provide them with the basis of responsible citizenship, which is education. I fully agree with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on that head. I use the term education in the very widest sense. It covers many kinds of training, suited to the needs of different peoples living under different conditions. The content of education and the tempo of progress must be closely and realistically adjusted to actual circumstances. But the problem can be subdivided and attacked simultaneously on several fronts. I am not going to embark to-day on educational theorizing, but I should like to say a few words on the general issues as I see them and what we are doing to face them. There is, first of all, the vast field of mass education. We have to meet the still pressing and elementary need for remedying illiteracy, of which there is still a great deal in the Colonial Empire. At the other end of o the scale, there is the need for higher education facilities for the training and equipment of the leaders of Colonial communities. In between, there is the whole range of secondary and vocational education for those who can absorb it.
Now, what are we doing to tackle these problems? A tremendous amount is being done, but I have only time to pick out a very few examples. Take mass 412 education. Comprehensive policies for dealing with adult and community education are being prepared. Meanwhile, we have programmes for spreading and improving elementary education in such diverse places as Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Tanganyika, Nyasaland, Uganda, Mauritius and the West Indies, where the organization under the Comptroller for Development and Welfare, Sir Frank Stockdale, has been at work for nearly two years. Northern Rhodesia is in the middle of a five-year plan under which expenditure on African education has already been trebled. At the same time, higher education up to university standards is being developed at Achimota in West Africa and Nakerere in East Africa; while in Ceylon the large university college has just been converted into a full university.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that there was need not only of literary education but of something more, and I entirely agree. Herein lies the importance of vocational training, and to this the Government have been attaching particular importance. In this vocational field I give as an instance of what is going on the plan for an institute of arts, crafts and social sciences in West Africa. In the early stages we are, perhaps naturally, confining our efforts to the production of articles required for the war effort, but the progress stimulated by war demands will obviously have immense possibilities for the future. But it is not only the education of boys and young men about which we have to think. At least as important or even more so, because it has more leeway to make up, is the question of women's and girls' education, and the Colonial Governments are paying special attention to this. I should like here to pay the tribute of a few words to those—both teachers and pupils—who have so nobly kept the flag of education flying in Malta. I had personally the opportunity of seeing them for myself, and I can assure noble Lords that they have done a very great work. And I should like to acknowledge the great help which has been rendered by an officer of the L.C.C. who went out to help them in their difficulties with the fruits of his experience over here.
Education and health go in many ways together. In medicine also we need the mass attack, and for it we require trained staff supplied by the Colonial people 413 themselves—not merely people sent out from home but people trained there. Medical schools are at work in East and West Africa, in Ceylon, Malta and Fiji, turning out doctors. Nurses and medical auxiliaries are being trained. Hospitals are being constructed or enlarged. Along with this, investigations of the utmost value are being carried out by our own organizations and by the Rockefeller Foundation, to whose generosity I would pay a tribute. Slowly but steadily such vital problems as those of malaria, yellow fever, venereal disease, malnutrition and tuberculosis are being tackled. And in this connexion I would pay a tribute to the splendid, devoted and unceasing work which is being done by the Colonial Medical Service, who in remote, unhealthy, fever-ridden districts, are giving their lives for the welfare of the native populations. We hear little of these men and women—they do not blow their own trumpets, but they are among our greatest heroes and heroines.
I have spoken of education and health. What of the third great need—social and economic security? Social security rests, as far as the Colonial Empire is concerned, upon economic security, and this in turn, as Lord Listowel said, rests upon agriculture. As a previous Secretary of State has observed, health, education and agriculture are not really- Separate problems but three aspects of the same problem—namely, the provision of a better and fuller life. Here again the war has cut both ways. It has created difficulties, but it has speeded up the production of food for local use, and this should have a permanent effect in raising the standard of living in many Colonies. It has stimulated action towards greater self-sufficiency in local food supplies and a marked interest in the development of mixed farming. It has, in fact, had the same effect there as it has here. It is to be hoped that the progress made will be consolidated in the post-war Colonial agriculture and thereby assist in a better balanced diet and improved nutrition. Our plans have been made with this object in view. Science is playing its part. Plant and animal diseases are being tackled. The control of rinderpest in East and West Africa, for instance, is an outstanding achievement. An organization has been built up in North-Eastern Africa and the Middle East to deal with the locust menace.
414 Another vital aspect of social security is the labour question. I would assure the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that to the institution of satisfactory labour standards and labour machinery on a modern basis in the Colonies, His Majesty's Government attach the greatest importance. We have learnt much in this country in the last fifty years. The relations of employers and employed are better than they have ever been. It is vital that we should pass on the fruits of our experience to the Colonies, and I am happy to think that my tenure of office saw the appointment of the Colonial Labour Advisory Committee, which contains eminent persons qualified to advise both from the employers' point of view and from that of the trade unions. In this connexion, I would pay tribute to the valuable assistance that has been given by my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour. I would also like to echo what has been said by various speakers to-day as to the important part which the I.L.O. has to play with regard to labour conditions in the Colonies as elsewhere.
I would remind your Lordships above all of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act which inaugurated a new era of practical assistance to the Colonies. Under that Act, the Imperial Exchequer contributes £5,000,000 a year for approved schemes put up by Colonial Governments. Personally, with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, I do not think that this sum is nearly large enough. I hope that it will be greatly increased after the war. Until adequate sums are available for development, we clearly shall never have the advance in the Colonies which we should like to see. But at any rate the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund is a start, and a good start. The principle has been accepted that we in this country recognize a responsibility for the social and economic welfare of the Colonies. We shall not shirk that responsibility.
We owe much to the Colonies. Let us never forget that what stood between Hitler and absolute victory in 1940, after the fall of France, was not Britain, an isolated island standing alone in the sea, but the British Empire, that commonwealth of free peoples and dependencies of which the Colonial Empire forms so essential a part. We have endured the 415 severest tests; we have been tempered in the fire. Now it remains for us to go forward, calm, resolute and confident.
I have spoken, my Lords, of the past and the present. I have tried to indicate the way in which the Colonies themselves are evolving. I should like to have said something also about the future of the Colonies in relation to the rest of the Empire and to outside powers—a subject about which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke with such authority to-day. But, as your Lordships will realize, the detailed exposition of future Colonial policy is a matter no longer for me but for my successor, the new Secretary of State for the Colonies. It would be improper for me to intrude upon his province, though I can assure the noble Lords who have spoken to-day with such experience and authority that I will pass on to him the views that they have expressed and the suggestions they have made. But I think that I may allow myself this latitude.
I said the other day in this House that the British Empire is not static but dynamic. That I believe to be profoundly true. The process of development which I have tried to describe has no fixed limits. It is a continuing process. There is no so far and no further in our policy. We have seen how the old Colonies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have grown into great self-governing nations, on an absolute equality with Great Britain and responsible for their own affairs, but linked to her by the enduring bond of loyalty to the Crown. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who spoke this afternon, I see the territories of the Colonial Empire moving along the same road, not perhaps in their present isolation but more closely associated in wider groups, playing an ever-growing part in the British Commonwealth of free nations. That is a noble conception which will, I hope and believe, in the fulness of time be realized.
I have spoken for a very long time, though I have only touched the fringe of this vast subject. To me, at any rate, the occasion is a deeply moving one. This is my swan song as Colonial Secretary: indeed it is a song sung after death! I learnt a great deal when I was in the Colonial Office. It has been, for me, a stimulating and inspiring experience, and 416 the main lesson which I have learnt is that the Colonial Empire is steadily moving forward, it is not stagnating. The second lesson, which I would emphasize with all the force in my power, and which cannot be too often repeated, is that no one can administer the Colonial Empire who does not recognize and take account of its diversity. The British Empire is not a chessboard composed of a number of squares of equal size and form and differing only in the fact that some are black and others white. It is a conglomeration of territories of infinite variety, of races, religions, history, and traditions. Some of these territories are immense, some of them are mere rocky islets in the ocean. Some have advanced and ancient institutions, some are amongst the most primitive that the world can show. All are different from the others, and each has to be treated separately. That is what makes the work of the Secretary of State for the Colonies so fascinating. Even those Colonies which have obtained a wide measure of self-government present special difficulties, for there the Imperial Government has less control, and progress on modern lines is often harder to achieve.
But this can be said—and I would repeat it—all the British Colonies at the present time are moving in the right direction. In some cases progress is rapid; in some it is inevitably slow, and to attempt to go too fast would upset existing institutions before the population was ready for others. Of one thing I am sure—the British Colonial Empire is not coming to an end. The work that we have to do is only beginning. We, the citizens of the British Empire, whatever our race, religion, or colour, have a mission to perform, and it is a mission that is essential to the welfare of the world. It is to ensure the survival of the way of life for which the United Nations are fighting, a way of life based on freedom, tolerance, justice, and mutual understanding, in harmony with the principles of the Atlantic Charter. In that great mission we must not, and we shall not, fail.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
My Lords, I have one regret, and that is that the noble speech to which we have just listened was not made to the American Congress. Some such speech ought to be made in America, and I hope the noble Viscount 417 will see that what he has said is broadcast to America at the earliest possible date. It is a fine tribute to our Colonial history, and none the worse because a good deal of it is fruitful anticipation. After all, unless we have aspirations for the best, we shall never attain the better. I hope your Lordships will bear in mind that even the roost perfect structure may still need improvement. Now if I were a black man listening to the speeches which were made in another place yesterday, I should. say, Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, which means, "I am a little nervous of these credits that are going to be given for the development and exploitation of the various Colonies." What these credits mean is, more work for the people in the Colonies. Work is so popular in this House and this country at the present time that I had better say "more toil" for coloured people. They have quite enough toil already.
I beg your Lordships to remember that exploitation involves the gradual immersion in our productive system of people who are completely unfitted to be thrown into that maelstrom without protection. They will be exploited just as the land is developed, because they do not own or have any rights in the land in most of the Colonies. It is now almost exactly a hundred years since we abolished slavery. There is a slavery which locks up men's bodies, and there is a freedom which indeed sets men's bodies free, but locks up all they reed for subsistence, and that has too often been the result of emancipation. No black man will be safe from this exploitation that has spread so rapidly in the last twenty-five years until he has a right to till his own land and has an alternative to working for a master. In those Colonies where they are able to get at the land they are really free. I would call your Lordships; attention to the fact that in Northern Nigeria you have the greatest contentment, the greatest freedom, and the best example of British Colonial rule.
This debate to-day has been rendered memorable by reason of the fact that every single one of your Lordships who has spoken has emphasized the importance of education. That is a gift whose value no black man, however sceptical, will deny. It is particularly important that we should give to our Colonial fellow subjects education if they are going to be plunged into the maelstrom of modern production. If 418 they are to work on the Copper Belt in Northern Rhodesia or to work on the Rand, or if they are driven by compulsory labour to work on the farms, it is necessary that they should be equipped, as our unfortunate people were not equipped in the bad days, to meet that situation. The only equipment is education—not vocational education, but education so that they may learn the English language, so that they may be able to read an English newspaper, so that they may be able to form their trade unions. Without education, without a knowledge of English, their position is really desperate. In America the coloured people have got their rights and are really a happy community because of their complete knowledge of English. In Jamaica they are not so badly off in this respect as they are in other countries, such as Kenya, where they are completely ignorant of English. Where that is so the natives' position is always far worse. This education that we have been speaking of today, which has developed enormously, though alas! it does not touch five per cent. of the population at the present time in most of our Colonies, does not include English in all. Very often English is prevented from being taught.
I think the first element in any Colonial. Charter should be that the people have a right to be taught English, not their own language, but a language which shall open the doors for them. Education means opening doors. The elementary education of our people opens the doors to reason and understanding. It does not give the knowledge, but it just opens the door. There is no value whatever in education in a language which is not written, which does not enable people to take any part or share in the wisdom of the past or the present. Thomas Jefferson used to say: "If I had the alternative between a free Government and a free Press, I would undoubtedly prefer a free Press to a free Government." If you are taught English you have the opportunity of reading the free Press of the world and the free literature of our unsurpassable English.
Then something was said by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel—the first time I have ever heard it referred to in a Colonial Office debate—about the enormous importance of educating the women. No education is really sound unless it starts in the home, but it is particularly neces- 419 sary that something should be said to the Colonial Office about the education of women, because there is a tendency in that office to preserve the old ideas of women and the old functions of women and the old customs of women, to preserve the old simply because it is in existence and there. You have seen it in Palestine where we preserve the veils on the women, whereas in Turkey, next door, they have removed the veils. You see it worst of ail in Africa, because they have there that abominable custom of circumcising women, which makes child bearing dangerous and extremely painful. That matter has been raised and reported on over and over again, but there has been no check whatever put upon it. As the Mahomedan religion spreads in Africa so this abominable cruelty goes on spreading year after year, affecting half the human race. So far no steps have been taken to reduce it in Kenya or in the Sudan or in any of those African Colonies where it is prevalent.
That is only one small illustration of this need in our administration of Colonies to get away from the idea of preserving the old. That is why I take exception to the approval that has been expressed to-day of indirect rule. I know there are a great many people who believe that that is the way to solve our Colonial problems. The late E. D. Moreli was a great supporter of indirect rule. I think myself it is an extremely bad thing; it is the preservation of the old; it is the conversion of the native chief into an English landlord; it is giving to the rulers of a lower culture power over the lives and liberties of men which we have no right to surrender. If we are the trustees of these people it is our business to see that there is no forced labour cruelty. The question of whether people should be taught English, and whether we should have indirect rule and merely guide the indigenous forms of government, came up over a hundred years ago in India. It was the same problem there—whether we should continue the native practice of suttee, whether we should rule indirectly or whether we should rule directly, and we committed either the fatal blunder or the admirable step of teaching English. The Indians learnt English more than a hundred years ago, and, because we taught them English, India is now demanding its freedom. If 420 we had not taught them English, if we had retained them under their native chiefs and guided those native chiefs, we should not have the trouble we have to-day in India, we should not have the free spirit that there is in India.
There is the choice before us now in Africa. The natural conservative tendency is to say: "No English language, no English ideas, retain the Sultans and the Rajahs, retain the system that was here before the Flood." That is not our business, that is not our duty. Our duty is trusteeship, to teach these people gradually to acquire the power of governing themselves. You cannot do that through indirect rule. You can do it through the gradual development of the franchise, limited at first by a property qualification or by an educational qualification, as you like, but teach the men that they themselves are responsible citizens and that they have not got to be the dutiful subjects of a native Rajah.
The noble speech to which we have just listened to-day had of course to confine itself to the Colonies. Our record in our Dominions is just as notable. We were the first race in the world to give votes to coloured people and to treat them as equals. In 1853 we gave votes to the coloured people in South Africa and soon after in New Zealand. We taught those people that they were indeed responsible citizens. That education has been going on, and wherever we have treated black men and white on a level, so far as the franchise is concerned, we have laid a firm foundation of justice. Where we have surrendered, where we have abdicated our powers and handed them over to a native chieftain, that has been no good at all except to make an easy job for ourselves. It is a natural tendency of men to make the easiest job for themselves I thank God that has not been our policy in the past and I hope it will not be our policy in the future. Even if the noble Viscount the Leader of the House is no longer to represent the Colonial Office, I hope he will still inspire it.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, the House owes a debt to the noble Viscount for a valedictory speech which will certainly rank among the most interesting contributions to which we have listened since the war. His accurate account of British Colonial history and of 421 recent Colonial policy will no doubt have a valuable educative influence both at home and abroad, and dispel many misconceptions which are doing a great deal of harm at the present time. But I still return to the view that the peoples both of the Colonies and of metropolitan countries at the, present moment are more concerned with the future than with the present or the past, and I hope that he will use his influence to secure a statement of our plans for the post-war years at the earliest possible moment by the responsible Minister. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.