HL Deb 06 May 1942 vol 122 cc885-943

VISCOUNT TRENCHARD had the following Notice on the Paper:—To ask His Majesty's Government, whether they are considering any reorganization in the methods of staffing and administering the Colonial Empire in view of the changed conditions; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I have put down the Motion which stands in my name in no critical spirit at all, and certainty with no desire to criticize in any way the Colonial Office or the Government. My object is quite the reverse, since lately the Government, by the creation of the Colonial Development Fund, have shown a great desire to give active assistance to the development of our Colonial Empire. My personal experience of the Colonies goes back over forty years, and since 1936 I have had the advantage of visiting many of our Colonies in Africa and many foreign Colonies as well. If I may, I should like to take this opportunity to pay my personal tribute to those who are responsible for the tremendous improvement which has taken place in our Colonies during the period between my first visit and my return. Colonial progress has always been one of my great interests, owing to my having seen the great development of the greatest of the Colonies, Nigeria, between the years 1903 and 1910.

The pressing needs of the present situation constitute my grounds for taking up your Lordships' time. My suggestions are intended to be helpful and not to be critical; they are intended to stimulate interest in a subject which I know that the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has, like many of his predecessors, very much at heart. Nearly half a century ago, that great man, Joseph Chamberlain, at the height of his career, chose of his own free will to go to the Colonial Office, where he remained for many years. He completed the last great change there. He found the organization antiquated, and brought it up to date; he electrified it with his great personality. Since then the face of the whole world has changed beyond belief. In no other period, not excluding the generation which saw the industrialization of this country, have conditions and ideas so completely changed and been so rapidly transformed. Now therefore surely is the time to consider Lord Moyne's proposals—if I may refer to the letter that he wrote recently to the Press—and to pool ideas among ail those who are interested in the Colonies. Some may hold that to-day there are more pressing matters, but the shape of things to come after this war will much depend on the policy during the war and on the machinery in existence at the war's conclusion.

As Lord Moyne wrote: We shall in future not merely have to deal with social problems, such as health, education and standard of living, but also have to replan Colonial economics in production and marketing. If we are not to be caught unprepared we should not merely work out a reorganization which will replace wartime conditions, but should also ensure an efficient staff for its execution … If we are to get value for money spent on Colonial development and welfare, this reform should surely be undertaken without delay. It is also clear from the reconstruction being considered at the Foreign Office that the Government do not shun reform during the war. The suggestions that I have to make this afternoon almost entirely concern the recruitment and organization of the European Colonial Civil Service. The proposals I make cover the whole Colonial Empire, but I shall myself refer mainly to Africa leaving others to speak on the rest of the Empire, which they know better than I do.

Before I come to the proposals I suggest that an equally important line of advance is to appoint, as soon as possible, to responsible posts, the local inhabitants whom, for simplicity, I will call Africans. Such changes are not easy, and we must go slowly, but progress, I feel, is lagging a little. In those quarters at home, as well as abroad, where the honesty of British motives is continually being impugned and called in question, it is often held that this slowness is due to an anxiety on the part of British officials to retain the posts for themselves and their kinsmen. This, I know, is a gross libel. Slowness to Africanize the Colonial Service proceeds, I think, directly from those very ideals which are the keystone of our success in the Colonial Empire—namely, the desire to maintain the highest possible standard of efficiency. That is one of the reasons for the slowness.

Another cause is perhaps the trend of African educational policy. First of all, education has been too literary and too classical; secondly, it has not taught the African about his own country, and about African conditions of life and African problems. For instance, I came across an examination paper set in Africa a few years ago, which includes these items: "Trace the development of the iron and steel industries in England up to 1850. Trace the history of the Bank of England from the Bank Act of 1844 up to the present day." I know perfectly well I could not answer either of those questions. No doubt some of your Lordships may think that the questions are not at fault, but perhaps my education is. Surely it would have been better to ask the African questions—and to teach him—about his own country. Some of the Africans that I used to know and know still are trying to find out the history of their own country. Africans should be employed whenever possible. It is experience quite as much as education that they need to make progress, and as long as they do not make this progress our motives are sometimes suspected, so that in the long run the interests of the Colonies will suffer.

The first proposal that I have to lay before your Lordships this afternoon is that the Colonies should be grouped into areas under Governors-General, as, for example, the East Indies, the West Indies, and Africa, East and West. The whole tendency surely throughout the world is for smaller units to be merged gradually into larger. Certainly the degree of planning that any ordered postwar system will necessitate can only be carried out if both political and economic Balkanization is avoided and large groups constituted. To-day the world is a much smaller place than ever before and action if not fully co-ordinated, is bound to lead to trouble. The development of aviation, wireless and communication by motor car is largely responsible for this. Whatever one may think, it is impossible to put the clock back. The development of these discoveries has made it possible and necessary for control to be exercised, though great distances are involved. Furthermore, the concentration of the Colonial Empire into a few main groups has the advantage—I hope the noble Viscount will agree—of relieving the detailed work of the Colonial Office a good deal.

I should like to suggest that the noble Viscount at the Colonial Office and his Department find, as others have found, themselves snowed under with the amount of correspondence on detail and day-to-day routine with over fifty Dependencies. Centralization should reduce those fifty to about a dozen or less. This centralization would also afford some relief to the overworked secretariats in the Colonies. It would be no longer necessary, as at present, for every Colony, however small, to duplicate the organization of the larger Colonies. Once, too, the Colonial Office reduce their contacts to correspondence with a few main centres, that correspondence will surely tend more and more to be confined to major problems of policy, which will be closely related to planning. Over the detailed application of broadly conceived policy the Governor-General would be left considerable latitude within his area. I cannot help referring to my profession in this matter, and I say that, as in the Fighting Services, so in civil administration it is sometimes suggested that a detached department should be created, divorced from the administration, to carry out planning. It is attractive in theory, but in practice it is impossible to separate the functions of planning and administration. It is only those closely acquainted with the actual problems who have sufficient knowledge to plan along the right lines.

What I have said does not mean that Governors can be left with the same amount of independence as forty years ago, before aviation and wireless were known. To-day political or economic problems have worldwide implications. A knowledge of facts, complex and remote from any single area, is essential to a right decision on any point that arises. The better world to which we aspire after the war will depend for its realization on planning and co-operation. Broad Colonial plans will have to be linked up with the world conditions as a whole. Whether we like it or not, the days of independent government in the Colonies have passed for ever.

I turn now to the principal proposals for the Colonial Civil Service which, I feel, would go a long way to enable it to meet the great demands which are being made upon it and which will be increasingly made in the future. The Colonial Service, at home and abroad, should comprise a single interchangeable Service independent of the rest of the Civil Service. A precedent for this exists in the Foreign Office. It is true that a few years ago interchangeability was, in principle, adopted by the Colonial Office. Governors have, I know, been brought home to the Colonial Office, and one or two senior overseas officials have been seconded to London. In the other direction the newly-recruited home civil servants have to spend a period of attachment in the Colonies, but I suggest to the Secretary of State that no real fusion has occurred. Interchangeability is impossible so long as the Colonial Office is almost entirely staffed by officials who are members of a general home Civil Service. I feel the time has come when we should do our best to kindle the flame of enthusiasm. Few things surely would contribute to this more effectively than the creation of a single Colonial Service. There would then be real brotherhood between the official overseas and the official in Whitehall. The latter would regard the official overseas as his true kin rather than link himself, as he does to-day, with his fellow civil servants in Whitehall.

I come to another point. The appointments to this great Service should be based to a greater extent than at present on selection. Subject to certain minimum school standards, the Service should be open to all types of the community. We want all kinds of persons. Recruitment should be on the broadest possible basis. I am very interested in this question of recruiting in the Colonial Civil Service, as I had the same problem on the broadest possible basis for the Royal Air Force when we were forming it in the old days, and, if I may say so, also for the Police College. I went into the matter very deeply then, and that is my excuse for going into it now. There should, in my opinion, be recruited—I am speaking of the backbone of the Service in the Colonies, the political and administrative branch, responsible for policy and for really governing the Colonies—first, the traditional type of young men from the universities, of twenty-two to twenty-four years of age. Secondly, there should be boys of eighteen or so, on leaving school, provided they can give proof of being sufficiently well educated. There should be no arbitrary insistence on the possession of certificates or diplomas: I had none. The third type should be drawn from either of the two I have mentioned, but entering the Service later on, up to the age of twenty-six, twenty-eight, or thirty, when they would have gained working experience of the world and could be judged on practical achievement.

That, to my mind, is of particular importance. Though the Colonial Office may take older candidates for the political service, in fact I think the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, will agree they only do so to a very small extent, and certainly not sufficiently to leaven the Service as a whole. This proposal is in accordance surely with the present political claims of equal opportunities for all. There is no doubt whatever that in the Colonies there is need for a greater variety of qualities. It would have a valuable leavening effect if the present traditional type were more diluted with men who had broadened their minds and gained in practical common sense by rubbing shoulders with their fellow men.

Having mentioned the type of recruit I should like to see, surely the right selection committee is needed to choose the right type. I would like to see four members presided over by the First Civil Service Commissioner. Two should be active members of the Colonial Service with experience overseas, one should be an acknowledged leader of industry, and one should be the head of the Colonial College, with which I shall deal later. The principal feature of such a Committee is that it includes men with Colonial experience who are what one might describe as the "users" of the material under selection, rather than the university authorities, who are the "producers." The Selection Committee already have the full advantage of academic advice from the reports of the University Appointments Board. It is the active Colonial servant who will be able to watch the varying success of the different types selected, and gradually draw useful conclusions from actual results. The Selection Committee should not merely take into account the educational achievements and experience, but, most of all, the reports received from those who had knowledge of their work and character.

I want to say a word on training. Having visited some of our Colonies, and some Colonies other than our own, and having studied this question, it seems to me that we do not do as much for the Colonial Empire, which is the biggest Colonial Empire in the world, as other Powers do who train their officials. Other countries seem to attach more importance, as far as I can see, to this matter than we do. I know that the official, before he proceeds overseas, has an overcrowded year's training at the university. I would like to see all three types I have mentioned given, first of all, a year's training at some university. This, to my mind, is important. I should like to see them trained at some university which, in course of time, will come to be regarded as particularly concentrated on Colonial interests, with established -courses of study needed by the Colonies, including suitable provision for African students. I should also like to see them given several months or a year's training within the Service before being allowed to exercise responsibility. I will not detain your Lordships with all the details I have in mind, but I shall be very glad to give them to the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, if he feels they will be of use.

My next proposal is outside recruitment. Naturally this will not be popular in the Service, but it is worth reconsidering. The only place you can really introduce new blood is at the top of the Service, and that is one of the reasons why I welcome so warmly Sir George Gater's advent to the Colonial Office. I am basing this on my experience when I was brought into one of the greatest Services—namely, the Metropolitan Police, some years ago—though of course I must admit that perhaps some of your Lordships may not have thought it was as successful as I had hoped it was! The other point I have to make with regard to the Governors is that, in the larger Colonies at any rate, they should be maintained in their appointments for not less than five years. Claims to promotion should not be allowed to result in premature transfer; otherwise, no Governor can make his mark. In so short a time what could have been achieved of value even by a Cromer in Egypt, a Lyautey in Morocco or Lord Lugard himself in Nigeria?

Lord Moyne's proposals in his letter, for premature retirement of Colonial officials on proportional pensions, are to be warmly endorsed. This facility should be available in the case of the home staff as well as the coast staff. It should take the form of an option of allowing the official's service to be terminated by Government or himself. Having regard to the ageing effect of tropical life—though I did not notice it very much myself—it should be exercisable from the age of forty onwards. As Lord Moyne wrote: As officials have pensions in the Fighting Services, at varying ages according to the ranks attained, there seems no reason why a corresponding system should not prove satisfactory in the Colonial Service. Opposition to this there is certain to be, and, if it were claimed that one of the principal attractions of official life is security, no doubt counter-balancing attractions could be, and would have to be, provided.

The proposals I have outlined would do much to bring about that change in the Colonial service which, I suggest, is worth considering if it is to play the part that awaits it in the post-war world. There are, however, two proposals even more vital: first, the establishment of a Colonial Advisory Board; and, second, of what I may call a Colonial Staff College. Without the Board a really progressive and up-to-date policy will be lacking; without the College no real inspiration will spread to the Service as it must if anything the Board proposes is not to remain lifeless. The Colonial College should be attended by all able and promising members of the Service at the age of thirty-five or thereabouts, drawn not only from home but also from overseas. The aim should be to bring them into constant contact with each other, and with the outside world, to broaden their outlook, to stimulate their enthusiasm and to make them progressive and constructive. The College would need as Commandant—perhaps I ought to call him Director, as it is a civil appointment—an exceptional man of wide experience, sane and unbiased outlook, endowed with a restless and questioning mind and a galvanizing personality. I always feel that these men are easier to find than is generally thought. In saying that I look back to the days when two great colleges were formed and when, without difficulty, we found the men required with galvanizing personalities to start them on their course.

The course at the College would include such subjects as have been studied in recent years at the summer school—political questions, comparative methods of administration, scientific problems and so on. These are all admirable in their way, and necessary, but in particular, emphasis should be laid on acquainting students with how the work and business of the world, outside the British. Colonies, is carried on. Everyone is anxious to see the fullest development of the Social Services throughout the Colonial Empire, and everyone recognizes that the lack of satisfactory advance is so often due to low nutritional standards, unhygienic surroundings and inadequate medical facilities. It is important, too, as the economic development of these areas progresses, that the labour aspect should get full consideration and sympathetic and helpful guidance.

It is recognized, however, by realists that, much as can be done by the great sums recently allocated by Parliament to Colonial development, this represents only a drop in the ocean compared with the work that remains to be done. In any case no self-respecting community, or sound economic structure, can be built on a basis of charity. When I addressed a few remarks to Africans in this country at the end of last year, I used these words: Trade provides the essentials to procure all those things you so rightly desire for your people, a share in all the advantages which civilization has provided to advanced peoples. Trade alone enables you to stand on your own feet rather than accept the charity of other people. The essential is that the Colonies should be so developed as to produce the great wealth of which the labour and raw materials, efficiently planned and humanely directed, are capable. If this objective is to be achieved, it can only be by co-operation: co-operation which was foreseen some forty years ago (just before my time out in West Africa), by Mary Kingsley, who pleaded for a régime in which religion, government and trade regarded each other as complementary members in a team of which each needed the other—religion to provide the inspiration, government the stable framework, and trade the progressing building element. The students of the school should be got to realize the dependence of all these ideals on effective economic development.

There would be lectures by representatives of commerce, industry, finance, transport and shipping, particularly by those actively engaged in Colonial trade. These courses should be followed up by visits or even attachment to representative firms. The more they can learn of such subjects the less likelihood there would be of the present attitude of suspicion and aloofness towards traders. Lectures would also be given by distinguished visitors from other Colonial Empires, and part of the year should be spent in visiting the Colonial Ministries and possessions of other countries. Students would also be kept in touch with the latest advances in such specialist subjects as agriculture, forestry and hygiene. As a recent writer in The Times said: The principle of training and refresher courses is accepted and practised by the three Fighting Services, by some of the professions, and by many leading organizations in commerce and industry. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the Civil Service would benefit in like manner.

The other vital need is to stimulate and focus public interest on the Colonies and bring informed opinion to bear on them. This alone can be done by a representative Colonial Council. No Colonial Empire can be healthy and well run unless interest is taken in it by others than those whose careers consist in its day-to-day administration. The British public owes no less to the inhabitants of these Colonies, let alone to the splendid body of men of their own race. Yet this team of Colonial workers receives less than a tithe of the interest which the public are ready to bestow on a Third Division League football match. But there is a more pressing reason than ever before for the creation of such a body now. Parliament has recently voted the expenditure over the next decade of some £50,000,000 of the English taxpayer's money on the Colonies. This sum must be used to lay the foundations securely and broadly of healthy economic communities which can sustain without setbacks an increasingly comprehensive system of Social Services.

A task of such dimensions requires all the wisdom and knowledge that can be brought to bear upon it. A Colonial Council should be appointed, in my opinion, in this country by the Secretary of State, with the right to present their reports to Parliament, and give them the widest possible measure of publicity. The membership should be mainly unofficial and non-political. If it were official it would contribute little new. If it were political it would bring political questions into the arena of Party politics from which so far as possible they should be immune. The creation of such a body to my mind is long overdue. I fear I have taken far too much of your Lordships' time, but the subject deserves time and consideration. I have only done this, as I told you at the beginning of my speech, because of a great desire to help forward any proposals the Colonial Office may make towards improving the administration and staffing of our Colonies. And I would hope the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, who is going to reply for the Government, will give sympathetic consideration to the various proposals I have only roughly outlined here, and to other proposals which may be made by others who take part in the debate this afternoon. I beg to move.


My Lords, my excuse for speaking in this debate to-day is that in the first place I am a negrophile and in the second place I am one of the young men who got into the Colonial Service by nomination. I am afraid I should be left out in future. In fact I and the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, both served under Lord Milner, who was probably the best administrator and Governor the Colonial Service has ever seen. This question of the staffing of the Colonial Service is in my opinion of the first importance to our relations with the Africans. A man who is appointed a Governor should be the man who is ideal for the particular Colony to which he is appointed. We do not want Governors appointed just for the reason that after a period of service elsewhere they want a move. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, is quite right. It is most important that Governors should remain for much longer terms in Colonies where they are doing good work.

One cannot consider our Services abroad during the last forty years without realizing that men like Lord Cromer, Lord Milner and Lord Lugard created a whole school of service under them. They taught those who served under them that they were to give up everything, not for their own careers, but for the people among whom they worked, that they were to marry their job. I remember that Sir Charles Orr, who served for a long time in different Colonies and was finally Governor I think of the Bahamas, said that it was the duty of the Governor to have infinite patience, infinite politeness and infinite persistence. It is doctrines such as that that have built up our Colonial Service. I think that our Colonial Service certainly in my early days was about the most perfect Service of the whole Government. I see a change because of the death of the old Liberal Party. Young men who leave college now are all either Tories or Socialists and there is not much to choose between the two. They are both authoritarian, determined to develop something or other but not imbued with the good liberal mind such as Lord Lugard or Sir Donald Cameron and the other great Governors of the past possessed. For twenty-five years we have not had a Liberal Secretary of State for the Colonies. Long since the last man who could call himself a Liberal has gone from the Colonial Office itself. The old school is at any rate in temporary eclipse.

Therefore the Colonial administration of Great Britain needs I think more supervision by Parliament than it did in the past, not less. What I object to in Viscount Trenchard's proposal, as I understand it, is that he is trying to free the Colonial administration from control by Parliament. I do not like the idea of a Colonial Council. It smacks to my mind very much of the Indian Council which was not of much service to democracy. It is the business of the Secretary of State to formulate policy and it is the business of Parliament to control that policy. Parliament ought not to shuffle off that responsibility on to a lot of eminent people who will draw, I suppose, six thousand pounds a piece. We ought not to leave it to somebody else to do our thinking for us. We are responsible. It is our business to think out these things and not to hand over responsibilities to people who are irresponsible.

The real difficulty has been about policy. Our policy in the Colonial Service in old Liberal days was based on the idea of trusteeship for the natives. We were the trustees of people who were still in their childhood until they could develop into manhood and could govern themselves. That was the whole doctrine both of Liberals and Conservatives right back into the best part of the nineteenth century. But since that period, since Liberal Secretaries of State like Lewis Harcourt and the present Prime Minister himself were at the Colonial Office, materialism has developed. The aim is the development of the Colonies; not of the people in the Colonies, but of the raw materials in the Colonies. The development of industries has come now in the Copper Belt Mines, in Kenya and elsewhere. You are getting the industrial development of the early part of the nineteenth century, from which our people suffered, translated to Africa. People who an; like our poor in the 1840's, who cannot read or write, who have no voice in the Government, are helpless in the hands of the exploiters.

Viscount Trenchard talked about labour difficulties. There is no difficulty about getting work in Africa; the difficulty is getting away from it. We in this country have come to think that unemployment is a curse and that the desire for employment is universal. Well, my Lords, I hate work. What we all want is not work but the goods that work produces. The African has the opportunity of digging the ground just outside his own door, and if he can work for himself he is happy. In Nigeria and in other parts of the West Coast the labour problem has not arisen. The labour problem is on the East Coast and in the South of Africa. That is because people are trying to make the natives work by taking them from their land.

The question is whether His Majesty's Government still slick to the doctrine of trusteeship or how far they have become infected with the rival doctrine of what is called parallel development. Parallel development means, of course, keeping the natives in their proper place and the whites in their proper place, each doing the work for which they are best suited. You see this idea of parallel development working among the settlers in Kenya as well as in South Africa. Your Lordships remember how the late Earl of Selborne fought to preserve the people in the Protectorates from being absorbed into South Africa. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, did his best to save the native Africans of North Rhodesia from being absorbed into Southern Rhodesia, into what is called the South African system. We have done our best in this House and in the other House.


I must ask to be excused, because I am hard of hearing, but I very much resent the suggestion, if it is made, that I did anything to prevent cither of those three countries with which I was concerned from being developed in the best interests of the native population.


That is what I was saying. The noble Viscount's Report did a great deal to save those countries from the exploitation to which they would be subjected if they were absorbed into Southern Rhodesia. I think that the work done by Lord Bledisloe and by the late Lord Selborne has been admirable work for Englishmen to do—that is, work of trusteeship for the native races. Now that is a matter of policy, and it is a matter of policy which I am perfectly certain that the noble Viscount who is now Secretary of State for the Colonies will preserve. But it is not a matter to be passed over to a Colonial Council. It is not a matter to be left to some new college to teach or to any college professors, because the tendency there is inevitably to judge success, as I think my noble friend Lord Moyne judged it when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, by the increase in trade in these countries. Trade is no measure of freedom.

I go back to the great importance of appointing Governors whose hearts are in the right place, because it is often just a matter of chance whether we get the right Governors. We have been extraordinarily lucky in the past in having the right men. I remember that when Lord Milner was sending me out to my district, I said to him: "I don't know any law." He said: "That doesn't matter; keep them happy." I think that is the principal function of the Colonial Office Government—to keep the people happy, to remember that you are, as it were, in loco parentis to the people you govern, to see that they shall, by the time you leave, be a little better able to govern themselves than they were before. At the same time you have got to see that you do not injure them, that you do not take away their land, that you do not drive them out to work, that you do not increase imports and exports to the people's detriment, and that your efforts increase the happiness and freedom of those people who are in your charge and who, if properly treated, can develop the same intelligence as you yourselves possess.

I remember that when I was in South Africa we were told to associate ourselves with, as it were to marry, the people, and I took up to Ermelo four fat volumes of pedigrees, the pedigrees of the Boers down to the time of the Great Trek. They had all been very carefully documented and drawn up down to the year of the Great Trek, which I think was 1824. I took these volumes up to my district, and as I went round judging people and "keeping them happy," I took these volumes and connected them up with their grandfathers, providing them with a pedigree. I always called them by the names of their farms: not by their personal names. I was the most popular Resident Magistrate in South Africa. Provide a man with a pedigree, provide a man with a title and show him that you take an interest in his personal family, and immediately you do all those things which a perfect Governor should do to keep people happy. You make them like you, you make them like your country, and, finally, you fit them, sooner or later, to be even as we are.


My Lords, the speech to which we have just listened is a very curious example of how different minds can draw completely opposite impressions from the same set of arguments. It seemed to me that the purpose of the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in advocating this Colonial Council that he outlined to us, was to help Parliament. He said so.


He meant it.


I am not necessarily wedded to the details of his proposal, but he did put it forward with that particular recommendation, whereas the noble Lord who has just spoken suggests that he is bringing this up as a machine to burk Parliamentary control. Well, Parliamentary control is, I think, of vital importance to the Colonies. I think it is deplorable that, owing to the scattered positions of our Colonies, Members of Parliament, generally, know far less about them than they do about the Dominions and India, and any machinery which can give them closer knowledge of the Colonies would, I am sure, be of vast benefit to Colonial administration. I am not sure that any additional advisers to the Secretary of State here are necessary. The Colonial Governors have very good technical advice on any proposals, and that advice is checked up with the equally good advisers of the Secretary of State in Downing Street. But what is wanted is that Members of Parliament should get out to the Colonies, and get to know from first-hand experience what it is they are expected to judge about.

There was a very surprising suggestion by the noble Lord that we were looking to bring about an industrial boom in the Colonies and to make people work and be exploited for the benefit of British trade. He talked about parallel development. That is a term used in Southern Rhodesia which I personally would not see my way to accept. But it is not a system which exists in the Colonies, and the whole of this controversy as to the terms on which closer union should be brought about between the Rhodesias and Nyasaland does turn on the possibility of securing the interests of the natives as a paramount consideration. I can assure the noble Lord that I have never judged Colonial prosperity in terms of external trade. If he will look up the Report of the West India Royal Commission—I only wish that it had been published in detail—he will see how much stress we laid on the disaster which had come to the West Indies through an excessive amount of attention to export business. All our recommendations were devoted to the main object of improving the standards of life in the West Indies by teaching the people how to apply their own work for their own advantage, teaching them what crops to grow, how to look after their health, and how they could best turn their production to provide for their own consumption. I am sure that the noble Lord is just as keen as we all are on the interests of the natives, but I can assure him that it is a misrepresentation to suggest that "trusteeship" was invented by the Liberal Party. I think that that term was invented, or at any rate accepted for the Government, by the Duke of Devonshire; and that, I think, is at a later date than the last of the Liberal Colonial Secretaries, with whose passing the true milk of wisdom, in the opinion of the noble Lord, was finally spilt.

No one could be better qualified to raise this matter than the noble Viscount. He spent some of his military years in command of the Northern Nigeria Regiment. His connexion with a great African trading enterprise has brought him back to those same areas and enabled him to judge of the tremendous steps to improve the conditions of life in those territories which have been taken since he first knew them. I am particularly grateful to him for having brought up this question of Colonial administration to-day because of the amount of attention and criticism now focussed on this subject. There is in many quarters a dangerous inferiority complex about the Colonies, and a tendency to apologize for our Colonial record. What a misguided minority in this country may say is in itself of no very great importance, but unfortunately these critics are not assessed abroad at their true weight. We cannot expect our Allies, especially in the United States of America, to understand the unfortunate tendency of some people in this country to foul their own nest.

The Far Eastern disasters have been seized upon by those who specialize in throwing stones at those in misfortune. The European population and the civil administration of Malaya have been subjected to abuse, regardless of their wonderful record in transforming the mediaeval conditions of the middle of the last century into what has become the greatest productive area in the whole Colonial Empire. I hope that even the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, who is so much opposed to production, will recognize that it has been a tremendous boon to our war effort that we were able to get these raw materials.


My Lords, the noble Lord must not suppose for one moment that I am opposed to production. I believe in production and I want more production, but I want production by the African for the African.


My Lords, in spite of the fact that the Governor of the Straits Settlements was continually pressing for the maximum provision for air defence, he and his officials have been attacked for military unpreparedness. Regardless of the fact that defence is the responsibility of the highest Government authorities in this country, critics have heaped abuse on the civil administration in Singapore for trying to maintain local morale and for not encouraging defeatism by going out to meet disaster half way. In view of all these criticisms, it is not surprising that United States journalism has taken these revelations, or rather these mis-statements, at their face value. I need quote only two examples. In one widely syndicalized article, there is a reference to "the bankruptcy of British Colonial policy as demonstrated in Malaya," and another writer of equal authority says: "Britain must put away the white man's burden and purge herself from the taint of obsolete and obviously unworkable white man's Imperialism."

These comments are, I think, curiously wide of the facts. If indeed it had been our purpose in Malaya to set up a military Imperialism, we have certainly failed; but the partnership of this country with the Malayan rulers was entirely pacific. It originated in the invitation of the Malayan rulers to come in and help them, and it was based on freely-negotiated treaty relations originating, in the words of the original Proclamation, "in the liberation of the people from the reign of anarchy and piracy previously prevailing." I think that it is a monstrous distortion of the facts to say that the Colonial Empire originated in a spirit of conquest and domination. The Dependencies came under our control for various reasons. In some cases it was the liberation from slavery and misrule; in others it was for trade relations; and occasionally fortresses were occupied which were based on our strategic needs. In innumerable areas we have freed primitive communities from the oppression and the terrors of superstition.

But Colonial administration will have even heavier tasks after the war, and we ought at once to take every step we can to enable the officials on whom the burden will be cast to be ready for post-war reorganization. No criticism is involved in bettering the conditions and in removing obstacles to the best use of the Colonial Service personnel. There should certainly be interchangeability between the Colonial Office staff and the Colonial Service. It is only by first-hand information and by personal contact that the best results can be expected, and I am very glad that the noble Viscount has taken a most important step by appointing Sir Cosmo Parkinson, the former Permanent Under-Secretary, to be a travelling link between him and the Governors.

I happen to have had an opportunity of seeing on the spot French, German, Dutch, American, Danish, Belgian and British Colonial administrations at work, and I am satisfied that in the standard of personnel and in the devotion of the officials to the interests of the governed, and in protecting them from exploitation, our Service is unsurpassed by that of any other Colonial Power. But our method has always courted full publicity. If there is a labour riot in any part of the Colonial Empire, it is generally succeeded by an official inquiry, and by the fullest publication of the facts. It must not be assumed that other nations which keep their troubles to themselves are any more successful in avoiding or in solving these problems.

I agree with Lord Trenchard in what he said as to the need of bringing the largest possible number of native-born Africans and other Colonials into our Government Services. It is, of course, mainly a matter of education, and I hope increasing advantage will be taken of the Colonial Regulations, which now make it absolutely clear that all appointments to the Colonial Service and to the Colonial Office arc thrown open equally to all of British and Colonial parentage who have the necessary qualifications. But the proposal for better education is not merely a matter of providing for the Administrative Services; there is a growing demand for technicians. It is only by education in the widest sense that the Colonial communities can develop a fuller life, and there must therefore be an ever-growing need for experts in education, agriculture, health, engineering, forestry and other technical branches. Well, in spite of the wide application of science to matters of criminal investigation I doubt whether even the noble Viscount's Police College has had to cater for such widely divergent needs as the professional and university training which colleges deal with for the Colonial Empire.

The system of recruiting is, I think, very much on the lines that he recommends. The old method of examination is, I think, almost entirely abolished. Personal selection to secure the best choice from the excellent material which now offers has taken its place, and although the preliminary stages are carried out by the Director of Recruitment in the Colonial Office, in the final appointment stage the Chief Civil Service Commissioner is associated with the recommendations of the Colonial Office officials. Not all who do good work in subordinate positions develop the qualities of decision and leadership which are necessary for the higher posts, and to cut out the dead wood it is essential that officials who are not fitted for promotion should not remain indefinitely in the Service, but should be pensioned for their own and the public advantage. In addition to grade and age bars, there should be a unification of pay and pension. This is the only way in which full use can be made of our manpower.

When the recent Royal Commission was in the West Indies we were very much disturbed to find how the poorest Colonies, who most need the best officials, could not afford to pay for them, and often had to be content with an inadequate staff, and sometimes with second-best officials or pensioners who had served their full time in richer territories. I am very glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has taken up this matter of unifying the Service, and I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, will be able to fight these reforms through in spite of the inevitable resistances which must be expected. Although certain grades of the Colonial Service are nominally unified, officials do in fact belong to separate Colonial Services, and are subject therefore to a great variety of pay and conditions. Transfers are, of course, very much hampered by this system, because it would be unfair to compel men to accept promotion into a Colony where lower pay was involved.

This makes the task of the Secretary of State extremely difficult. He is asked for a great variety of talent in the higher posts. Some Colonies need officials with special administrative experience, others, such as the West Indies, need men with Parliamentary gifts, enabling them to stand up to criticism in a local Legislature. I agree with Lord Wedgwood that the Governor should be appointed on the ground that he is ideal for his post, and for that reason Governors must be brought into the unified system. In the West Indies we found frequent complaints that in the poorer Colonies, which can only afford low pay for the Governors, good Governors were often promoted to better-paid posts before they could make their mark and only second-rate men were left to serve their full term.

It is a very remarkable achievement that even in this crisis of the war it has been found possible by Parliament to turn a new page in Colonial administration. Whereas in the past Colonies have had very little financial assistance from the home Government, generous contributions are now to be provided, not only for material development but for social welfare and the improvement of the standard of life. A Controller of Development and Welfare has been appointed to the West Indies with his staff, and is applying in detail the reforms which were recommended to rake the standard of living. Corresponding benefits are being worked out for the rest of the Empire under the Colonial Office, and a special Committee has been appointed. Surely it is necessary that we should now complete the reforms by rationalizing the Colonial Service. The proposed figure, £5,000,000 a year, cannot possibly be spent now owing to the competing demands of our war effort upon man-power and materials, but for a tenth part of that annual sum it would be possible to supplement the present varying scales of pay and, pension so as to pool the resources of man-power and enable the best possible value to be obtained from the development and welfare grant when normal conditions return.

I am not quite sure as to the practicability of Lord Trenchard's proposal for reorganizing the main groups of the Colonies under Governors-General. This matter was very carefully considered by the West Indian Royal Commission for that particular region, but it is over two thousand miles along the chain of Colonies from British Honduras down to British Guiana, and the various communities are so diverse in their interests, and their intercommunication is so very bad, that we could not find it possible to recommend any early steps in the direction of federation. In Africa you have the added complication of a great diversity of race. The four West African Colonies are also only connected together by sea communications or by air transport, and there too it is over two thousand miles from Bathurst to the East of Nigeria. In the East African territories it is over two thousand miles from North-East Kenya to South-West Rhodesia. But even if the difficulties of communication can be surmounted, I doubt whether it would be wise to build artificial unions where there is no racial or cultural foundation.

The advantages in administration would be very doubtful, because common interests are already dealt with by the machinery of Governors' conferences. Our Colonial possessions are of infinite variety, and we are there for many different reasons. No national feeling ever existed throughout the wide areas suggested by Lord Trenchard for federation. It is true, as he said, that there is a tendency for the smaller units to be merged into the larger units, but that is no reason to substitute new local federations for the organization of the Colonial Empire as a whole. I see no ground for the defeatist view that the British Empire must inevitably break up, but we must avoid encouraging fissiparous tendencies. In post-war conditions Colonial units will no doubt enter into new international groupings for commodity schemes—there are already examples in the tin and rubber schemes—and the economics of production will in no way interfere with the maintenance of political separation. The Colonial peoples must be assured that they are progressing to the fullest political responsibility in their own local affairs; but the experience of India should discourage us from trying to unify peoples according to the accidents of geography, regardless of racial and cultural differences, and should lead us to encourage the Colonial peoples to develop our partnership on a basis of maximum local autonomy, combined with central responsibility for defence and foreign relations.


My Lords, I am afraid that I, like my noble friend Lord Moyne, cannot follow the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, in his strictures on the noble Viscount who introduced this Motion. We all know the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood. He is that last relic of the old type of Liberal who, by excessive adherence to laissez-faire, finally destroyed what remained of Liberalism. Personally, if I were an African, I would rather live in an Africa administered by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, than in one administered by the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, although it is true Lord Trenchard would perhaps not present me with my pedigree. We should all express our gratitude to the noble Viscount for raising this debate, even more for the speech he has made and the proposals he has laid before us.

I speak with the greatest diffidence in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, who has just expressed a contrary opinion on one proposal made by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, but what little experience I have of the Colonial Empire—and, like him, my main experience is in Africa—is in favour of the idea of splitting our Empire into groups under the administration of Governors-General. One particular reason, apart from administrative advantages and so on, is this, that regionalizing our administration in Africa would be one step towards seeing Africa as a whole. We all of us recognize we cannot be prophets. We cannot look ahead to after the war, and to what, in fact, is going to happen to the word "Empire." In trying to form a background to this discussion, we have all to admit that there is a fairly large question-mark against that word. But there is a definite problem of the Continent of Africa, quite apart from what nations happen to be administering particular portions of it.

Think of the diversity of Governments there, the diversity of interests, and the fact that in that Continent at the present moment we are represented not only by the Colonial Office, but by the Dominions Office and the Foreign Office. At the present moment, south of the Sahara, there are only about 40,000,000 people, but if our policy of development of agriculture, education, and health is successful, when we look at the size of that vast Continent, there is no reason at all why, in the comparatively near future, that figure should not be nearer 400,000,000.

The problem that is particularly interesting—I might say thrilling—about Africa is what this great Continent is going to develop into. What part is it going to play in the future of our civilization, in the future of the world? If it grows up backward, having to fight every step forward, with rather halfhearted advances in education and, with half-hearted education, halfhearted admittance into administration, we are going to have the same problem which is to-day facing us in India, if not worse, because Africa is larger even than India. This is a problem that does not concern only us: it is a problem of civilization and of the world, in which every country is, or should be, interested. I do not know if I am wandering rather too far from the strict interpretation of the words of the Motion, but I hope my noble friend Lord Cranborne will be prepared to consider, if not now, then in the future—because this is a long-term proposal—whether it is right that this vast Continent of Africa should continue to be administered merely, so to speak, as a side-show of the Colonial Office—that is perhaps an unfortunate way of expressing it—as merely one section of this vast number of Colonies.

Then there is Palestine. It does not get the concentrated attention that it really needs. With my short experience as Under-Secretary I well remember that my Secretary of State was so absorbed, and rightly so, by the problems of Palestine that he could hardly look at Africa or think about Africa. Therefore I wonder whether the time may not come when the programme of Africa may not demand a separate Department to itself. But that is for the future. Let us consider the present. At any moment now—in fact during the last few days it has almost happened—this war is going to touch the shores of Africa. When I say Africa I am not thinking in this connexion of the Middle East. May not the time come very soon when the problem of the war may go from Madagascar to the Cape and Brazzaville, and may the situation not demand a Minister of State to co-ordinate all the complexity of departmental representation that there is at the moment in Africa?

Whatever may be the result of the consideration that the Secretary of State may give to such problems—that is in the realm of uncertainty—one thing is quite certain, and that is something to which strong expression was given by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne—namely, that this country has made an immense contribution to the problem of the development of the backward peoples of this world. I am quite convinced that we still have it in us to make an immense contribution in the future. If one may venture to criticize, I should say that we have been inclined to be a little over-negative, that we have concentrated too much on not doing harm rather than on seeing what good we could do. That is rather in line with the policy of the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood. In regard to further development I venture to differ from him. I think we have been rather too negative and too tentative. There are no doubt a great number of things in Africa that we have done, and done extraordinarly well, but take the problems of dealing with soil erosion, the tsetse fly and other practical problems. We have known for years how to tackle those problems, and we could make a big impression on them, but we have been inclined to make a little experiment here and another little experiment there. I remember flying in a fast aeroplane from one place to another in order to get a bird's-eye view of it all. We have to correct the tentative way in which we have been accustomed to deal with some of these matters, and to have no fear. We must make wholesale and drastic improvements in the future.

We have abstained, on the whole, from exploiting the native Africans. Have we done sufficient to be positive and to develop them? We have been afraid, and rightly afraid, of making some of the mistakes that I think we did make in the educational system that we built up in India—mistakes arising from trying to impose too much on an Eastern nation an education more suited to the Western mind. I had the honour to go out with a Commission to Africa some years ago to make a study of this problem. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, gave expression to some fear that we were developing what he called a too literary education. I feel that if he would pay us the compliment of reading our Report he would see that the first chapter was entitled "The Needs of East Africa." We felt that it was only by analysis of the needs of East Africa that it was going to be possible to build up an education system suited to that portion of Africa. I hope noble Lords who have read that Report will agree that we did make a real attempt to break away from the tradition in education of imposing one set form of education on every type of person, and that we endeavoured rather to make the education suit the needs of the people and their problems. Are we going to make this advance?

The first need has already been mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and the noble Lord, Lord Moyne. We have got to have more Africans in the administration, and we have got to do that soon, because we must get them into the administration before they have a sense of having been thwarted. If you take a step like that too late you will get men whose natures have already been warped by discontent, and who have a feeling that they are being kept out. I know some progress has already been made in West Africa, but we have to go some distance yet in East Africa. I would wish to lay some stress on the point that, having got these persons into the administration, we must develop their administrative capacity before their political capacity. Though it is important now to bring about developments in drawing them into the administration, there is a step even more important that needs dealing with first, and that is bringing them into the technical side of government even before they go into the administrative side. I think that is the point the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, mentioned.

Build up your education, your health, your agriculture, your veterinary services, your forests, your public works, your economics and your marketing, and out of that will grow the political feelings and the life of the country, but at the present moment you have not got the foundation in great portions of Africa for what is required. Education and health must be treated as one subject. You cannot develop your agriculture unless you improve the intelligence of the men who are going to cultivate the soil. You cannot improve their health, nor can you improve education, unless you have the economic and agricultural basis to their life to pay for it. In 1937 when we were out in East Africa as a result of a project of the three Governments of Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya, we found that those Governments said there was then a demand for over two thousand Africans in their various technical services. All this must affect the European type needed for Africa and the training of that type. I believe we should all be agreed that the vintage of the last ten years or so of those young men who have gone into the Colonial Service is absolutely first-rate. We do not mention names in this House, but there is a particular individual in the Colonial Office to whom I believe this Empire owes a very deep debt of gratitude for the type of new men he has helped to choose for the Colonial administration. The only trouble is that a great number of these young men are very much too low in the list. That makes important the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, of better provision for earlier retirement pensions.

The noble Lord also mentioned the unified Service. There should be freedom of interchange without botheringabout differences in salary scales between the various Colonies and between the Colonies and the Colonial Office. The only proposal of the noble Viscount to which I do not feel attracted is his proposal for a Colonial Staff College. I am afraid that would mean that you would get these young men into a set atmosphere where they would learn a great deal from books about the Colonial Empire. I would much rather see a system of travelling scholarships so that these young men might gather experience in our own Empire and also see how other nations administer their Empires. I am afraid I have spoken rather too long, but I would like to repeat that this country has made an immense contribution and has an immense future contribution to make to the sense of responsibility that we have undoubtedly always had in administering the Empire. We have to add to that, more enterprise and more courage, and there must be not less but more attention given to the right political development, to the things that are the foundation of life, the intelligence, the health, the food, the economy of the native African population. Our staffs must be chosen, organized and trained with that essential purpose in mind.


My Lords, after the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, and the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, I can afford to abbreviate what otherwise I might have been tempted to say regarding some of the major problems raised in the Motion by the noble Viscount. I will confine myself to some of the more concrete issues that he has put forward. Let me take first the method of selection and training officers for administrative service in the Colonies. Clearly it is of the greatest importance for the future of the Colonial people and to their relations with us that there should be a well-conceived policy of political and social development, but there is nevertheless a stage in Colonial development in which the personality of the men charged with the actual work of administration, their attitude towards the native and their sense of obligation towards his interests counts for as much as—some might think more than—the principles of policy laid down by Government.

It has always been felt, and it is a fact to which I think Lord Cromer once bore testimony, that British officers have seemed much more at home, and have achieved their greatest successes, with more or less primitive people. In this respect at all events we have no reason to doubt the capacity or the achievements of our Colonial Services. I believe they would command the most satisfying verdict from the tribunal which is the most critical and important—that is, the opinion of the more primitive people themselves. Such study as I have been able to make of Colonial affairs has been mainly confined to Africa and has been largely directed to comparing our own system of rule with that followed by other Colonial Powers. For what my testimony is worth our Services certainly need have no fear of comparison in this aspect of their work with the Services of other Powers having Colonial dependencies in Africa. But that is not the sole test which we have to apply to-day. As regards many Colonial areas we are passing from the elementary stages of development. We have Colonies with conditions of great diversity and generalizations are dangerous, but it is clear that in many areas our Services are being increasingly tested in the light of their capacity for dealing with more advanced and more educated natives, for dealing with economic problems of great complexity and with political situations.

I would emphasize the need for men capable of dealing with economic problems, for that is an aspect of work which has hitherto received inadequate attention in the Colonial Service. I remember that the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, speaking in your Lordships' House as an ex-Secretary of State, commented on the fact that perhaps the weakest side of our Colonial administration was in connexion with economic matters and with matters relating to trade and commerce. But there is another point I would also stress in this connexion. Questions now arise, and they will arise with increasing insistence in the future, regarding the social relations of the Service with more educated people. These relations are the more important because it is in this community that we shall find eventually the power to influence the attitude of the population at large towards a British administration. The matter therefore is, as the example of India has proved, of the very highest importance. I prefer at the moment to defer consideration of the question whether our present system of selection and training is best fitted to secure Services which will stand up to the tests to which I have referred. I would only add my agreement with the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, as to the very remarkable quality of some of the younger and more recent recruits into the Colonial Service.

I do not continue that point for the moment because the problem is also complicated by another consideration. It is a consideration to which the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, referred and it was referred to also by the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, and the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr. There is no doubt that where we promise self-government to the Colonial peoples the first criterion that many of them will apply in judging of the sincerity of our intentions is the extent to which we admit them to our Administrative Services. Here in their view is the substance of power and it appeals to them—and in particular to the educated classes—as of more immediate importance than the slow evolution of popular political institutions. The great majority of our difficulties with Ceylon under its new Constitution—and the difficulties were many—have turned on the issue of substituting a local for a European-recruited agency. We have, I may say, now for some time postponed the appointment of more European Cadets to the Ceylon Service though we still retain the right in principle. The Royal West Indian Commission encountered an almost universal demand for the employment of officers of local origin or experience, and we have had many difficulties with the West Indian Legislatures in securing provision for the passages and pay of officers transferred from other Colonies. In the Gold Coast and to a certain extent in Nigeria the one absorbing topic in the local Press is the appointment of Africans to the Administrative Services.

We have gone far in these particular Colonies in our appointments to posts in the technical and professional Services. In 1938 there were, for instance, in West Africa some thirty-eight fully qualified African doctors holding appointments, most of which might otherwise have been held by Europeans. There were two Africans holding posts as Judges of the Supreme Court and five as magistrates; two held posts as Crown Counsel, and there were Africans holding posts of responsibility in the Customs, Education: and Agricultural Departments. But let me repeat again, the real test lies in our readiness to appoint natives of the country to the Administrative Service. In Malaya local recruitment to the Administrative Service is already said to have met with very considerable success. I have quoted only certain typical instances. We have here a problem of which we cannot lose account when we speak of the composition of our Colonial Service. Clearly we have to consider not only the selection and training of European officers to meet the changing conditions to which I have referred, but the extent to which the Service will progressively admit native recruits to its ranks.

Let me say on the first point, the selection of Europeans, that I agree with the noble Viscount in seeking to find as broad a basis as possible for recruitment. Our experience in India proves that our Services have need for men of somewhat diverse types of character and experience, and indeed of education and up-bringing. Subject to reasonable limitations of age, I would like to find a means for taking into the Service a certain number of men who have had some experience of local government work at home in England, or who have been engaged in social work here. I should like to make it possible also to take into the Administrative Service men who have shown their capacity in other branches of work in the Colonies also, such as in the Social or Economic Departments.

Then as regards training. We have hitherto accepted the system of recruiting men who have just finished a university career or its equivalent and of giving them a year's special course in Colonial subjects at an English university. The modern practice of other Colonial nations is to take men at an earlier stage, and to give them a much more prolonged training at a specialized Colonial institution. Those men undoubtedly gain much in their knowledge of the purely technical side of administration, and there can be little doubt that they come better prepared in that respect to their duties. But my own preference would be for giving specialized training to men who have already passed a few years in service in a Colony, and who would have gained thereby a greater ability to appreciate the practical application of what they study in the courses given to them. It is, perhaps, something of the same conception which has inspired the suggestion made by the noble Viscount for a Colonial College, though I think that in placing the age of entry at thirty-five he has introduced a somewhat embarrassing feature in his scheme.

There is a further point in connexion with the constitution of the Service. The noble Viscount would have one single Service which would be interchangeable between the Colonies and the Colonial Office. Our older Colonial literature is full of bitter complaints of the lack of touch between Downing Street and the local administrations; if is characterized in terms which it would be unfair to repeat here for they would give an incorrect impression of the present position. The steps to which the noble Viscount referred, which have been taken to bring into the higher grades of the Colonial Office men who have had experience of Colonial governorships, and to give junior members of the staff a short term of service in the administrative cadre of a Colony, have effected a considerable and, I believe, a very welcome change in this respect. The recent decision, to which Lord Moyne referred, to make the services of the former permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies, Sir Cosmo Parkinson, available for touring in the Dependencies on behalf of the Secretary of State, is fully in line with the proposal made some years ago by Lord Lugard, and it establishes a type of liaison which I am certain would be welcomed by the Colonies.

Whether we should go further and have a fully interchangeable Service is a matter which has frequently been discussed and which has elicited very varying opinions. The home Civil Service appears at present to offer greater attractions than the Colonial Service, and has a preferential position in the recruitment market. But personally—I am giving my own view entirely here—I believe that interchangeability would also do something to enhance the position of the Colonial Administrative Service, and there would be a substantial gain to the Colonial Office in the presence of a much larger number of men with actual experience of executive work and its requirements. The home Civil Servant can, it is true, bring to bear on Colonial policy the larger and, as some would feel, the more liberal conception which contact with home influences has given to him. But there is, on the other hand, a material difference between the type of man who has had individual executive responsibility and one whose sole experience has been in the shared responsibilities of secretariat employment. For my part, I believe that the ideal would be to have a staff in the Colonial Office composed partly of men from the Colonial Administrative Service and partly of men who have had experience in other departments of Home Government officered by the home Civil Service, departments which deal with the many activities, social and economic, which now form an increasing part of the work of the Colonial Office. That office, as a former Colonial Secretary has said, is now no longer an agency merely for securing peace, order and good government, but is a Ministry of Colonial Transport, a Ministry of Colonial Agriculture, of Colonial Health and of Colonial Education.

As regards the question of the grouping of the Colonies under Governor-Generalships or otherwise, I venture, with some diffidence, to express disagreement with the conclusions at which Lord Moyne has arrived. To my mind it is not only administrative advantage that has to be sought in the amalgamation of these units, but also a certain political advantage. I do not see how it is possible that we can ever expect these units, situated as they are, small in resources, and with little political balance, really to attain to responsible government or eventually to the position of a Dominion. I ask myself how I could see Sierra Leone with a responsible government or as a Dominion. In combination—and after all it is in combination and by amalgamation that all the Dominions themselves have arrived at their present position—in combination and by suitable systems of federation you may hope that they may eventually arrive at that status, and if we are genuine in holding out that ambition to them, I think we must do all that we can to make it possible for them to federate and amalgamate for that purpose. I should perhaps find it difficult to go as far as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, in believing that you could administer all Africa south of the Soudan as a continent.


I would like to correct the noble Lord. I had no idea of that. What I was saying was that we had to think of Africa in terms of a continent with continental problems. I was very far from saying that it was one to be administered as such.


I am very sorry to have misunderstood the noble Earl, but I agree that it is necessary to think of it as a whole. I, myself, in the past, have thought of it as a whole, and I have always been in favour of having a branch of the unified Colonial Service which would be confined almost entirely to Africa. I regard the problems of Africa, East and West, as not materially different.

Finally, there is the question of a Council. Projects for the institution of a Colonial Council have come much under discussion in the last four years, both in Parliament and in the Press. I have lately had occasion to collect all the literature on the subject, and the volume of it is now very considerable. There are actually, of course, two projects, and it is advisable to distinguish the objectives which have been in the minds of those who have proposed them. The first is for something in the nature of a Parliamentary body, preferably of the character of a Standing Parliamentary Committee, designed mainly to associate the members of the Legislature itself more closely with Colonial policy. That, I think, is not the type of body of which the noble Viscount was thinking, and I shall not deal with it for that reason, although it is one which has been several times discussed in your Lordships' House. I shall venture to add only that I believe that one of the best means which we can take to provide an informed opinion on the Colonics in our Legislature, apart from the institution of any such body, is by extending, and indeed facilitating, the process of travel by Members of Parliament in the Colonies themselves. It is possible that a measure of this kind may, in the long run, prove more effective than the establishment of any formal institution.

The second project is for an advisory body to be associated with the work of the Colonial Office itself, and to provide advice to the Secretary of State in the discharge of his administrative control over the Dependencies. The advice thus made available to him would be that of men of long experience of administration, and also that of those whose interest has been in trade and economic development. The analogy usually quoted is that of the Council of India, which was created when the Crown finally took over control from the East India Company in 1858, and which existed until the passing of the India Act of 1935. The analogy is not altogether a good one, since the India Council was in its origin a statutory body, whose function was to safeguard the revenues of India. Your Lordships will recall that the concurrence of a majority of its members was necessary before the Secretary of State could sanction any expenditure from those revenues; and neither the Secretary of State nor, indeed, the Cabinet itself, as experience showed, was in a position to override the decision of a majority of this Council. It did, however, at the same time serve as a source of expert advice, and it acquired, moreover, a political aspect of some importance when Lord Morley included Indians in its membership. It is noteworthy that when this Conned was abolished as a statutory body in 1935, it was nevertheless decided to maintain a body of advisers to the Secretary of State drawn from much the same sources as before.

The difficulty of providing expert advice in the case of the Colonies is necessarily greater than in the case of India, owing to their number and to the variety of their conditions. Some supporters of the scheme for a Colonial Council, and notably Lord Lugard, have indeed contemplated the necessity for several bodies, dealing with different groups of Colonies. But of the value of advice of the type mentioned there can be no question, and the only doubt seems to be as to the best-means of securing it. Part of the difficulty could be met by a more extended use of the system already in practice, of bringing men of the rank of Colonial Governor into the organization of the Office as Assistant Under-Secretaries of State; but that would be only a partial solution, and admittedly would not make provision for advice, from men of practical economic experience. A suggestion has been put forward that a beginning might be made by giving a more extended form to the Committee for Development established under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940, and using that body as an agency to which the Secretary of State could refer for advice. I think that that suggestion is at all events worthy of consideration, and the experience gained of the working of the Committee might possibly provide a useful guide to the lines which might be adopted in constituting an advisory committee of a more fully developed type.

Perhaps you will allow me to add that I, equally with the noble Viscount, would not advocate the formation of any such committee merely for the sake of getting on to it men who have had experience of trade, commerce or economic development, with a view of putting further pressure on the Colonies for the development of their export trade. I am sure that, from my own experience, I can say with conviction that recent years have shown, whether the administration has been Conservative or Liberal or under other auspices, no departure from the principle of trusteeship. It is true that we have now a new interpretation of it. Instead of the old interpretation, based on ideas which fundamentally looked to the State as the protector of rights, as providing a safeguard against abuses, political or otherwise, but otherwise regarded the State largely from a laissez faire point of view, we have now everywhere, as part of the background of all our domestic thought, the conception of the State as the chief agency for social welfare. It is that conception which is now forcing its way from domestic into Colonial politics, and which is giving us a new and, as I hold, a more constructive and a more beneficial interpretation of trusteeship. There is no lessening of its moral quality, but there is, I think, a very substantial gain from this new conception, a gain of which we have already seen some of the proofs in the passing of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, and of which I have no doubt that we shall see further evidence as time passes on.


My Lords, I should like to express my gratification at taking part in a debate to-day with my old friend Lord Wedgwood, who, as he informed us at the beginning of the debate, was a nominee of Lord Milner in the South African Service after the South African War, as I was myself. Like him, I had the greatest admiration for Lord Milner, who was one of the finest administrators that we have ever had in our Colonial Empire; but in politics he started as a Radical and he ended up as a Conservative.


Many people do that.


I can only conclude that my great admiration for Lord Milner was perhaps due largely to the Conservative aspects of his character, whilst my noble friend's opinion was probably influenced largely by the Radical side of Lord Milner's views. I think that that formed an excellent combination, and it explodes the view expressed by my noble friend that Liberalism is the only political product in this country which has been able to give great administrators to our Empire. I hope that my noble friend will not take that line again, because I think he will agree that what I have said must largely have exploded that view on his part. After Africa I served in various Colonies in the West Indies. Like my noble friend Lord Moyne, I know very well Port Moresby, which is being bombed day in and day out at the present time, and I visited, if I did not serve in, a great many other Colonies of our Colonial Empire. I could not therefore allow this debate to pass without adding something derived from my own experience and my own thought on these very important matters which have been raised by my noble friend.

I would like first of all to stick a little closely perhaps to the main object of this Motion, which is connected with a very admirable letter which was written by my noble friend Lord Moyne and published in The Times of the 22nd March. This letter has received a good deal of attention to-day, and I should like to say that to my mind it sums up the position of the Colonial staffs and the difficulties that they have to contend with, especially financial, in a very succinct manner. Lord Moyne has put his finger on a number of these points and, as a remedy, he has advocated a general pool of officials, interchangeable throughout the Colonial Empire, instead of the patchy system which prevails to-day, under which each Colony very largely provides its own officials from local sources and pays them and pensions then according to the relative wealth of the Colony in which they happen to be serving, or to which they happen to belong. The only effect of this is that in the poorer Colonies, as Lord Moyne has stated many of the officials, even the higher-paid ones, receive scarcely a living wage, and when it comes to the pension the amount they receive is often barely a subsistence allowance. As against this, we have to note that the tendency has been, as the Colonies have become older and more educated classes have appeared, for a spirit of local nationalism to be developed, under which constant objection is taken to the importation of officials from elsewhere, and continuous pressure is brought to bear upon the local Governor and the Colonial Office to employ the services of officials of local origin.

Whatever scheme may ultimately be adopted—and I sincerely hope that Lord Moyne's scheme is going to be considered very seriously and adopted by the Colonial Office—we still have that difficulty to overcome. How are you going to meet this developed sense of local nationalism so far as employment of officials is concerned, and introduce, for instance, the pool of officials of which Lord Trenchard has spoken, for employment in these places? So far as the levelling up of salaries and pensions is concerned, I think that that may be a very considerable help. But the other point to which I have just referred requires separate treatment, and I was going to make a proposal this afternoon which, as it turns out, has already been adumbrated by Lord Trenchard, that there should be established in this country an instructional college for civil servants, both from the Colonies and from this country.

The only point on which I parted company with him in his proposal was the age at which he was going to introduce these officials. I think he mentioned the age of thirty-five. I gathered from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, that he felt as I did, although he did not actually say so, that the age of thirty-five was too old at which to send these officials to such a college. I should say that the best age is nearer twenty-three, twenty-four, or twenty-five. It is at that age that their views are more likely to be broadened and their information extended, when their brains and their whole beings are more impressionable, than at the age of thirty-five, when the effect of their surroundings has already been stamped upon them and they are to a large degree set in their views, possibly circumscribed by the small Colony in which they live, and without the advantage of coming into contact with people of wider knowledge and broader views. If that scheme were adopted—and I hope that some such scheme will be adopted—I would suggest that the officials from the Colonies selected should be chosen for their educational qualifications, ability in administration or general common sense—the sort of qualities, in short, which are attributed to the men selected for Rhodes Scholarships and sent to Oxford every year under that admirable scheme in order to get the broader point of view which Cecil Rhodes wished to instil in men all over the world.

I believe that if that scheme were instituted, and if at the same time young men from this country who are going out for administrative work in the Colonies were also sent to that institution, they would then have the opportunity of meeting at first hand, before they go to the Colonies, the men from those Colonies with whom they would have to mix and consort in the days when they went overseas to their posts. Not only would that be an advantage, but it would have this effect, that the inhabitants of the Colonies themselves would be to some extent deprived of the feeling that the Colonies were only being used for the purpose of sending men from this country, or even men from other Colonies, for employment in the higher posts, and they would all have the same opportunity of exchange from one Colony to another. I believe that that would largely change the feeling of local nationalism which is so rife to-day. Of course that applies particularly to Colonies like the West Indies, Kenya and Mauritius, and those Colonies where there have been Europeans for many years, and where a sort of vested interest has grown up in the Civil Service among the local community.

I should like to pass on to one or two points which have been raised in the course of the debate. First of all, there is the question of the grouping or federation of the Colonies under Governors-General. I had considerable experience, when I was in the West Indies, of trying to get the West Indies to come together under some form of federation. During the eight or nine years I was there I, with others, took part in the movement to bring this about. We tried all sorts of different ways, but it was never successful. It was not successful for the reasons stated by my noble friend Lord Moyne—namely, that in the West Indies there are a great many islands, all with different conditions, you might say different peoples, with different ideas. They are separated by stretches of sea, and it seems impossible, except in some respects, to get them to combine sufficiently to form any federation along the lines proposed by my noble friend.

If a Governor-General were appointed, most of these Colonies would still have to communicate direct with the Colonial Office. They would insist upon doing so. They would not agree to a Governor-General being set up in Trinidad, Jamaica, or British Honduras, and to all their affairs being conducted through that channel. Moreover, if that were done, the Governor-General himself would have to communicate with the Colonial Office on many of these matters in order to get a settlement of them. He could not be an individual of supreme power sent there to do anything he liked. He would have to conform to Colonial Office policy, and consequently would have to communicate with the Colonial Office constantly. What would be the result? Instead of these Colonies communicating directly with the Colonial Office and getting their affairs settled quickly, they would have to go through this circumlocutory process through the Governor-General to the Colonial Office and back to the Colony through the Governor-General, and so on. I see the noble Viscount shakes his head, but I had some experience of that particular subject in the West Indies. I know how difficult it was when we were delayed by circumlocution down to one island or another, and sometimes three or four months passed before any reply from the Colonial Office could be received. I do not propose to continue that, but I would ask my noble friend, before he pursues that particular side of it, to make inquiries as to how far these elements can be assimilated in the different parts of the Empire in order to produce the result which he desires.

Then we come to the question of trade, and almost one might associate with that, trusteeship. My noble friend Lord Wedgwood suggested that so long as the natives are happy that is all that matters. I entirely agree with him, but the question is, how are you going to make them happy? He suggests that you should leave them in their kraals, to hoe their patches of mealies, to produce as much or as little as they can, and, if there are no rains from heaven, as in Matabeleland this year, they will starve; but so long as they have absolute independence, they must be happy. Personally, I do not agree that that is the trusteeship which has been handed down to us through generations of those who have helped to make and create these Colonies. We have always viewed this more from the standpoint of the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, that we had a trusteeship to elevate these people, to bring up their standard of life, to civilize them, if I may be permitted to use that word, to bring them to such a condition that, perhaps a thousand years, or five or six hundred years hence, according to the particular Colony or place where they are, they might be fitted, if not to govern themselves entirely, at least to take a very large share in the government of their country.


Would not the noble Viscount agree that they would be more civilized as well as happier if they could till their own land instead of having their land taken away from them and their being forced to go and work elsewhere?


If the noble Lord is referring to South Africa when he says that, I would ask him to go back in history and he will find—the historian Theal will tell him—that that history has been a series of robberies of lands for the last several hundred years, not by us, but by the natives themselves, starting from the Zulus and going on to the Matabeles, the Mashonas, and so on.


We have carried on the good tradition from the Zulus, I suppose!


The question of robbery is one which has often been discussed in the Law Courts of this country, and has been the subject of vitriolic speeches on the part of some Socialist people against the landowners of this country. Therefore I do not think it is one I am prepared to pursue at the present moment. What I want to point out to the noble Lord is this. A very good example can be drawn from the conditions existing to-day in Southern Rhodesia and the conditions existing in Northern Rhodesia. I am not going to say anything this afternoon about the amalgamation of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—I am entirely in favour of it, and believe in it—but I want to draw this distinction, and I am going to take my noble friend Lord Moyne to task as well for this. If you examine the conditions in Southern Rhodesia, you will find that the natives there are far more advanced, have a better standard of living, get a better standard of education, and have infinitely superior social and medical benefits compared with anything you can find in Northern Rhodesia under Colonial Office rule. Furthermore their mode of agriculture is a vast improvement on anything you can find in the Northern territory.

I suggest that the reason for that is the very policy to which the noble Lord takes exception. My noble friend Lord Moyne also says he does not like it. The policy I refer to is that which has beeen described as parallel development. You cannot have it both ways. You either have to have some form of parallel development or you have to leave the natives, as my noble friend suggests, in a happy state of not being developed, raking the ground a few inches in order to get their mealies and so on. On the other hand, you have to take some very definite steps in order to remove them out of that condition and to build up their own country, producing these benefits for themselves, as is being done in Southern Rhodesia. I repeat you cannot have it both ways.

I venture to suggest to your Lordships that this policy of trusteeship is being regarded from a wrong point of view by a section of the public, and by a section of members in another place, if I am in order in saying so. That, if it is pursued, can only end, not in raising the natives up but in levelling them down, or keeping them where they are. There is a certain cult in this country to-day which talks about what is going to happen after the war, and advocates the internationalization of our Colonies, If such a thing were to happen it would be a betrayal of our Colonies of such a kind that we should never be able again to hold up our heads. What would the Colonies themselves say to such a proposal? I believe they would resent very strongly indeed the taking of any such step. If we took it after the generous way in which the Colonies have behaved during this war, showing their utmost loyalty to the Mother Country, they would never forgive us. I remember, when the Danish Colonies were sold by Denmark to the United States of America, meeting two or three Danes and hearing them say: "Are we cattle to be sold in the market place?" I am sure that the great masses of the people of this country will resent any suggestion of the internationalization of our Colonies alter the war. Economically there may be something to be done, as the noble Lord has said, but administratively I hope His Majesty's Government will never at any time consider such an idea.


My Lords, even at this hour I think it will not surprise your Lordships to hear one more voice from this Bench. My noble friend Lord Wedgwood emphatically denied that he spoke for the Party of which he is a member, or apparently for any Party, in spite of the bouquets he threw at the Liberals whom he described, I think, as being extinct or moribund. We all know that wherever my noble friend stands he stands very firmly on his own feet. However that may be, I would venture to say a few words from the point of view of my noble friends on these Benches.

I do not think it is strictly germane to the Motion on the Paper, but I would make an observation about Lord Elibank's closing remarks regarding the internationalization of the Colonies. I am one of those wild, mad and wicked people who would like, if it were possible, to see the internationalization of all Colonies, believing that such internationalization might be a solution of the Colonial problem. But we of this Party are most emphatic on the point that there must be no selling of Colonial peoples such as the noble Lord has described as being made by Denmark—I do not mean selling for money necessarily, but the handing over of Colonial peoples to other Governments without themselves being consulted. That is a point on which we feel most strongly. However, that does not seem to me to be strictly germane to the Motion, which deals particularly with the organization of the Colonial Service.

I speak, as I think your Lordships will understand, with a certain amount of timidity in your Lordships' House where there is so much expert knowledge of Colonial subjects. I venture to do so, however, because I have travelled in the way that I think the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, suggested Members of Parliament should be encouraged to travel in the Colonies, not as much as I should wish, not as much in fact as I believe all Members of Parliament should do, but I have seen something of our Colonial Empire. I have also seen certain parts of foreign Colonies, and I would agree generally with what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Moyne. I think that the administration of our Colonies compares favourably with that of other Colonial Powers, but it must not be forgotten that whilst there art-black spots among our own Colonies, and some particularly bright spots, so there are amongst the Colonies of other Colonial Powers. There are French Colonies which compare favourably with some British Colonies, there are Dutch Colonies which compare favourably with some French Colonies; alternatively there are French and Dutch Colonies which compare extremely unfavourably with certain British Colonies.

It is an unfortunate fact that the Colonial Powers have not been able, any of them, to set a uniformly high standard of Colonial administration and development. I do not think I require to explain to your Lordships the supreme importance in Colonial administration of the Governor. The position of the Governor has been referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and other speakers, and I would like most enthusiastically and emphatically to support the suggestion that they should be compelled, health permitting, to fulfil the period of office for which they are appointed. I could not agree fully with those members of your Lordships' House who have pointed out the advantages of short tenures of office, but I am not at all certain myself that appointments should be made so exclusively as they are from the Colonial Service. These Governorships are regarded as the plums of the Service, and it is understandable, of course, that there should be a demand for them. But whilst I think that a Colonial Service Governor may be an efficient and satisfactory individual in backward Colonies, in Colonies where our position is, as Lord Wedgwood put it, that of being in loco parentis, the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, made a remark which I thought might indicate agreement to some extent with me when he said that it was essential to send out to Colonies which were in a more advanced state of development men as Governors who had experience and understanding of Parliamentary practice. I know that it is at any time open to the Secretary of State to appoint people from outside the Service to be Governors of Colonies, and I suggest that a superior Colonial civil servant is not necessarily by any means the best person to appoint to the Governorship of a Colony which is in an advanced or advancing stage of Parliamentary development.

I am afraid, indeed, that there is a great deal to be said against the appointment of such men to the position. I am afraid, also, that those who have travelled in other parts of the Empire will be aware that it is not less difficult to obtain from outside the Service men of the type you want than it is to find them inside. The appointments of men from outside the Service to Governorships in various parts of the Empire are not by any means universally happy. Still, I do believe that the Government should strive to supply the Services with Governors who are not what we may call in loco parentis Governors. I think all of us are well aware of parents, and some of us have had some experience of parents, who fail to realize that their children are growing up. I dare say that if any one of your Lordships had a parent alive when he was eighty, she might well regard him as a little boy of eight and he would be made very conscious of it when he visited her. It is a psychological fact in ordinary life and it is a fact which emerges also in the Colonial Civil Service. One noble Lord mentioned the fact—I forget the authority he quoted—that our Colonial civil servants arc admirable, efficient and sympathetic administrators when dealing with primitive people. I think that is true, but I am afraid they are rather less good in dealing with advancing peoples. We are good at dealing with people still in a position of tutelage as children, but less good, like other parents, when these children begin to grow up.

I am not quite clear whether the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, in advocating a unified Colonial Service intended to include not only the unified Colonial Service and the Colonial Office staff but also the local Civil Services in the Colonies, because at present we have the Colonial Service divided into two parts, the European part appointed from home by the Secretary of Slate and local civil servants recruited locally by the Governors. I do not know whether he meant to combine all three parts of the Service.


All three.


I am glad to hear that. Our duty is to train up in the Colonies which are advancing towards Parliamentary self-government a Civil Service which shall become their Civil Service when they have reached full responsible representative government. For this purpose clearly it is essential that local civil servants, should be steeped in the tradition and the training of our own Civil Service which, whatever its faults, has an unrivalled and a universally-admired reputation for probity and disinterestedness.

At present both parts of the Colonial Service, the unified Colonial Service and the local Colonial Service, are sub-divided into two parts, administrative and technical. For the technical part certain educational and professional standards are required, and very rightly required. But unfortunately, in my view—and here I find myself in disagreement with most noble Lords who have spoken—no such standards are required of the aspirant to the unified or local Civil Service. He is appointed, selected if you will. I should not have thought at this stage of political development that it was necessary in either House of Parliament to defend the competitive examination system of selecting civil servants as against the patronage system. It is true, as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, pointed out, that on occasion you get some man with a supreme gift of choosing other men for particular positions, but when you no longer have the advantage of his instinct as well as his knowledge and experience you will fall back into—well, you will fall very low. I need not stress the point. If you were to compare the Colonial Civil Service with the Indian Civil Service your Lordships would be immediately struck by the immense superiority of the Service which depends for its recruitment on competitive examinations.

I do not want to detain your Lordships at this hour, but there is one other point which must not be missed and that is that disadvantages have arisen since the introduction of the unified Colonial Civil Service. Advantages have accrued, though these are not as great as might have been desired. The noble Lord, Lord Moyne, dealt with the different position of the Civil Service in different Colonies. Advantage has accrued from the fact that we have standard rates and conditions for men throughout the Service up to a certain point. But there are disadvantages. You tend to get a man moved from one Colony to another completely different territory after a comparatively short period of service. The result is that a man never gets a really complete grasp of the problems of any one area.

I was intensely interested in, and am myself inclined to agree with, the suggestion of the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, that the Colonies should be federated in larger groups under Governors-General. I was interested to hear the support which the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, gave to that idea, and I was interested to hear, because I know how true it is, the description by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, of the difficulties which would be encountered in the West Indies. But, although difficulties may exist, I believe it would be for the general good if at least pressure and persuasion were brought to bear by the Colonial Office on the Colonies to federate. I would suggest that, even if that cannot be done administratively, a system could be adopted within the Colonial Office itself under which men entering the Colonial Office should be attached to a particular group of Colonies in which the problems and difficulties are similar. If this idea were adopted you would avoid the difficulty which I know exists when a man is taken from one Colony, say, a fairly backward Colony in East Africa, and sent to a much more advanced Colony, say, in the West Indies, with entirely different problems. It seems to me an extremely important point because otherwise you waste the efficiency of your Colonial Civil Service.

Another disadvantage about the selection system of choosing civil servants is that it gives rise to a certain amount of ill feeling between Technical and Administrative Services if the Administrative Service hold what I might call a snobbish superior position. Schemes from the technical side must go up through the administrative officers to the Governor and so to the Colonial Office. That creates a bottle-neck, and it gives the technical men, who have expert training and who have had to secure degrees or other qualifications, a feeling that their work is being subordinated to men who have got apparently no particular qualifications for their task and no apparent qualifications for judging of the technical men's work. What I would like to see is a college to which all aspiring civil servants should be sent, a college which would be the counterpart here of the Ecole Coloniale in Paris. That might meet some of the objections to a selected Service. I thought that, when the noble and gallant Viscount said that he wanted people to go to his college at the age of thirty-five, what he really meant was that they should go there to have refresher courses. Refresher courses are good for everyone, and that idea is admirable. I do not see any difficulties in working it out.

There is one point I would like to stress before I finish, and that concerns the employment of women. Women arc comparatively little employed in the Colonial Services at present. Their employment, I understand, is permitted. My view is that not only should they be employed to a greater extent, but that their employment will become increasingly necessary as schemes of social welfare, which are foreseen under the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill, come into action. I believe that for Health and other Welfare Services the employment of women is not merely desirable but essential. I hope that His Majesty's Government will do their best to interest women in the Services. So much of the advancement of the Colonies must depend on health, and so much of health depends on women. Therefore, I believe that if you could have women in the Health Services it would make an enormous difference to the efficiency of those Services. I hope that your Lordships will not think that I have detained you unduly long, and I trust that I may be thought to have added something to what has been, to me at any rate, a profoundly interesting debate.


My Lords, I think that the whole House will be profoundly grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, for the Motion which he has tabled and also for the very helpful and constructive speech which he made in introducing it. I think, too, that we ought also to be grateful to other noble Lords who have taken part in the discussion. This debate has, I think, maintained a very high level throughout. The question of the Colonial Service is, of course, one with which your Lordships' House is particularly well fitted to deal. There are many noble Lords here who speak both with authority and with experience. There are ex-Secretaries of State, pro-Consuls, men who have given a very large part of their lives to Colonial affairs. There is another reason, I think, why noble Lords are well fitted to speak on this particular subject. This House is never at any time what one may call exclusively Party-political in its point of view, and on a question of this type in particular it is not really a Party-political assembly at all; it is much more in the nature of a Council of State. I thought it was very remarkable, as I think Lord Faringdon has said, what a great measure of agreement has been reached in this debate between people who, on any ordinary question of politics, might not see eye to eye. I can assure noble Lords that the value of a debate of this kind both to the Government as a whole and to me personally is really incalculable.

Though the Motion of the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, was confined to the comparatively limited subject of the organization of the Colonial Service, the debate has, inevitably, ranged a good deal wider than that. Noble Lords will not, I expect, wish me, especially at this late hour, to cover the whole field of Colonial policy. But there is one preliminary observation I would like to make with regard to an important point which was put by Lord Trenchard and followed up by almost every other speaker in the debate. Lord Trenchard pointed out the practical disadvantages which flow from division of territories which compose the Empire into small self-contained units. He said, as I understood him, that the present position was contrary to the whole tendency of the modern world, which is to amalgamate smaller into larger units, with a view—to use a business phrase—to reducing overheads and making for general efficiency. He recommended, therefore, the grouping of the British Empire into a limited number of large areas under Governors-General. He pointed out the advantages of such a course, first of all to the Secretary of State for the Colonies himself, who would have to deal with only a few units of government instead of with many, and would therefore have more time than he now has to devote himself to major questions of policy He pointed out also the advantages which would accrue to the Colonial Secretaries in the Colonial territories themselves in that it would not then be necessary to reduplicate in smaller Colonies the sort of organization which was necessary in larger Colonies.

I thought that he stated his case with very great force. His thesis, however, raises issues both administrative and political of the very widest kind, and he will not expect me in answering the debate to declare the policy of the Government on matters so very far-reaching and fundamental to the whole future of the Empire. But I would make this observation: It is, I think, the supreme merit of the British Empire—and in this it differs from other Empires of the past—that it is not static but dynamic. It is constantly changing to meet the changing needs of the times. We ourselves are fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough, to live in an era when the world is being transformed before our eyes. Matters of transportation and communication have advanced wonderfully in modern times. The steam engine, the steam boat, the internal combustion engine, the aeroplane and the wireless, are completely revolutionizing the outlook of everyone in the world. Countries which a hundred years ago were so remote that they could only be reached after months of travel can now be reached in a few hours. I think I am right in saying that it now takes only as long to reach West Africa as a hundred years ago it would have taken to reach Edinburgh.

It is clear that such an immense revolution as that must make for the greater interdependence of areas which have hitherto been self-sufficing and self-contained. It is impossible that the Colonial Empire should be immune from such tendencies. I certainly would not rule out the possibility that the administration of our Empire might develop on the sort of lines which the noble Viscount and Lord Hailey adumbrated, though, of course, within its larger groups there would have to be a large measure of political diversity. No doubt, all noble Lords who recommended these changes would accept that. At any rate, whatever we may feel on these subjects, one thing is certain: in accordance with the traditional practice of the British people, if such changes come they will not be made as the result of some theoretical or cut-and-dried plan, but will arrive gradually in one region after another as the practical situation may demand. In my view, we must not shut our minds to the possibility of that, and we must hold ourselves ready to take any step which is likely to be to the advantage of the Colonies themselves, of the Empire as a whole and of the world.

So much for questions of general policy. It may well be that in the meantime, while these developments are coming—if they are coming—to fruition, other things should be done of a less spectacular character in the sphere of the recruitment and administration of the Colonial Services, so as to render them capable of dealing with the new problems which the changing world brings into being. To this practical and administrative aspect of the problem many noble Lords have devoted the main part of their speeches. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, speaks with very great authority. He has had a long knowledge of the Colonies, and has also had experience of reorganizing two great institutions, the Air Force and the Police Force. As he said himself, he knows that he is not the only person who is thinking about these questions; there are others who are thinking about J them and who are almost certainly, in view of the unanimity shown in this debate, thinking on the same lines.

He mentioned in his speech the very important letter written to The Times by my predecessor, Lord Moyne. Noble Lords have no doubt all read that letter. I should like, if I may, from what I have seen in the Colonial Office, to pay a very warm tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, for the great work he did in this particular sphere while he was at the Colonial Office. If reforms are introduced—and I hope that they may be—I should like to make it clear that the credit will be due in no sense to me, but entirely to Lord Moyne. He has given to this question immense thought and the benefit of his long experience. He has initiated in the Colonial Office a most careful exploration of these problems, which has already made considerable progress. I am not in a position to give the result of it to-day, but I can assure the House that it is making very great progress.

With regard to the main point which was made in Lord Moyne's letter, and which was also mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, we must all fully recognize the advantages which would flow from greater unification and greater interchangeability in the Colonial Services. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, mentioned the analogy of the Diplomatic Service, but he would, I am sure, not wish to press that analogy too far. For, as we all know, the Diplomatic Service is not administrative in character; it is entirely political. It is concerned entirely with the relations between out country and other countries. The Diplomatic Service does not have to govern countries, and most of the problems with which it has to deal are world problems, so that the experience which an Ambassador or a Minister may gain in one country stands him in very good stead when he goes to another post. The position of the Colonial Service is quite different. There they have to administer countries, and those who have to administer countries have to learn the local conditions and local problems; and for that reason, as has been pointed out by many noble Lords, interchangeability cannot be so complete in the Colonial Service as it is in the Diplomatic Service. It remains true, however, that the greatest possible mobility is desirable, and we in the Colonial Office fully recognize that. This is specially true of the technical branches of the Service—medical, agricultural, labour, and so on—where mobility is very much easier and should be encouraged in every way possible.

Indissolubly linked with this question is the question of a general equalization of pay for Colonial officers in the various parts of the Empire. I think that it was the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, who pointed out that, if a rich Colony can pay more that a poor Colony, it will always tend to get the best men; yet probably it is the poor Colonies which need the best men most. A certain amount has already been done on these lines; a good deal, in fact, has been done in the direction of unification and equalization. But there is a good deal more which can be done, and that is one of the matters which we are at present most anxiously exploring.

As to the further point of the actual amalgamation of the Colonial Service and the Colonial Office which the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and other noble Lords have mentioned, that is a more far-reaching matter and raises more difficult problems I think it would be wrong to suppose in any case that every Colonial officer could have experience of both, because it may not be generally realized that the proportion of the Colonial Service to the staff of the Colonial Office is in the relation of 25 to 1. There is an immensely greater staff in the Colonial Service than in the Colonial Office. I am certain, however, that the greatest possible measure of interchange between the two should be arranged and maintained, and I intend to see that there is the greatest possible measure of interchange between the Colonial Service and the Colonial Office while I am there. That is one of the reasons why I advised the Prime Minister to appoint Sir William Battershill as Deputy Under-Secretary, to help in the dovetailing of these two branches of the Colonial administration together; and equally that is the main reason why Sir Cosmo Parkinson is going as my personal representative to maintain contact with the Governors in the Colonies themselves.

Then there is the question of recruitment for the Service, which has been mentioned in this debate. In what I am going to say I shall be referring mainly to the recruitment of officers in this country. Reference has been made both by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and by the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, to the Africanization of the Administrative and Technical Services. We are all, of course, in favour of obtaining the fullest possible measure of co-operation on the part of Africans in the administration of their country. That is common ground. But it is bound to be to a certain extent a gradual process, and all that I can say is that it is going on and that I have no doubt that it will go on with increased acceleration.

So far as candidates in this country are concerned, I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, was, if he will allow me to say so, a little behind the times. What he proposes is already largely the normal procedure. He said, as I understood him, that we ought to have candidates not merely from the universities but from every section of the community, and he added that we ought to take not merely men of twenty-one or twenty-two but men up to the age of twenty-six. That is to a great extent the present position. It is perfectly true that the majority of the candidates come from the universities, the reason being that normally they are the boys who are best educated for the purpose and that the universities themselves are one of our main fields of training; but there is no rule about it and the Selection Board is able to take candidates from wherever they come, and it does in fact do so if it thinks that they have the proper qualifications. There is no requirement that they must have a university education and a boy is given an absolutely equal chance of consideration if he has other experience. Nor is there a low limitation of age; in fact the present age limit is thirty, which is higher than the age mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, although, of course, there is a preference for young men, other things being equal, because they have a longer time in which to train and are perhaps more suitable candidates in that respect.

I agree entirely with noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon that we should have the greatest possible elasticity in this matter and be bound by no very rigid rules, but that we should pick the best men wherever they can be found. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, that too rigid attention should not be paid to the scholastic record of candidates. A boy may be a most brilliant scholar and yet quite unsuitable for the Colonial Service. I remember a case when I was at the Foreign Office some years ago of a boy who came up for examination. He was one of the most brilliant boys of his year and had won immense numbers of prizes and taken a brilliant degree; and yet when he got into the Foreign Office he really was not any good at all—he had not those special qualifications. And that is liable to be even more true of the Colonial Service. In fact, this is recognized by the Selection Board, and the selection depends even more on character and on personality than on mere intellectual ability. The greatest trouble is taken—as I think anyone who has had any personal experience, like Lord Moyne, will know-to make inquiries of those who are in a position to know about the character and personality of a candidate. Before I leave that subject I should like to say to Lord Faringdon that there really is no question of patronage.


I am sorry. I did not mean to suggest there was, but merely that there should be the suspicion of it.


I hope what I have said this evening will remove that suspicion. There are three methods: there is selection on merit, there is examination, and there is patronage. The Colonial Service system is selection on merit. That is the basis of entering into the Colonial Service, and I hope that on that basis it will remain.

Perhaps at this point it might be proper for me to say a word about the Selection Board itself. I understood the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, to say that it should consist first of all of the First Civil Service Commissioner, then of two members who were serving officers of the Colonial Service, and lastly, of a leader of industry or some unofficial person of that kind. The present composition of the Selection Board is not really very different from that. The Chairman is the First Civil Service Commissioner, there is one member who is a retired officer of the Colonial Service, and there is one non-official member. In addition, other people are taken into consultation, among them existing members of the Colonial Service. In practice this works very well. It is remarkable what constant tributes we do get from Governors and people on the spot as to the very high standard of entrants since this new system has been introduced; and after the approval which was given to the system by the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, this afternoon—and nobody knows more about this subject than Lord Hailey does—I think I really need say very little more. I do not believe that at present any alteration is necessary in the system of selection. But of course I will bear in mind what the noble Lord says, and should it prove that there are improvements which can be made we are always open to make them.

Next after selection comes the question of training. Here, again, I agree whole-heartedly with what has been said in the House this afternoon about the immense importance of training. It is a truism that, however good your material, you cannot get the best out of it without training in the subject with which the candidate or entrant will have to deal. Lord Trenchard spoke rather disparagingly about the length of the present course of training—I think he talked about "a crowded year" or something of that kind. I think he was unduly severe. The course which these candidates have to go in for is at present fairly comprehensive. It is true that for the Administrative Service it is approximately a year. But for some of the technical Services—agriculture, forestry and so on—it may be two or even three years. But I quite agree it might be improved. Everything may be improved. And actually we in the Office are studying the means of doing this for the post-war years. One of the possibilities which we have been exploring—I only throw it out tentatively—is that in addition to the preliminary training which candidates undergo before taking up their post, a year or two years of training, we might have a further course after three or four years, when they have had direct experience of what the Colonial Service means, and when they might come back and do a sort of second volume of their training. That is one of the ideas which are under consideration. It seems to be sensible and if it proves to be practicable it will very likely be adopted.

I also warmly agree with what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Trenchard and Lord Moyne, about the importance of giving officers power to retire before their full time is up, or giving the Government power to retire them. In a good many of the Colonies that power already exists at the age of fifty. But it might be universalized, and the age might be changed—that is a matter for consideration. In any case, I think it is clearly right in principle, as Lord Moyne said, that dead wood should be cut out. A man may be dead wood for no fault of his own, but he remains dead wood and clogs the efficiency of the Service.

There was another point which was made I think by Lord Wedgwood and also by Lord Trenchard about the Governors. They both said that good Governors should remain for five years in their posts. In principle I am in the fullest agreement with that. It is clear that no Governor has a chance of properly administering a territory unless he remains there long enough to know local conditions. I saw exactly the same thing in the Foreign Office. You send a man to be Minister or Ambassador and before he has got to know the country he is moved on somewhere else. That is clearly not satisfactory from the public point of view. But I think noble Lords must recognize that there must be exceptions. There is always a chance that a situation may arise when a man has to be moved. A very important post may become vacant for which he is the only suitable candidate. In that case you have to have a change round and move in another man who has perhaps not been long in his earlier post. I do not like doing it but it is sometimes necessary. But I think we should recognize that it is in principle a bad thing and should only be done when absolutely necessary.

There was a further point made I think by Lord Faringdon and again by Lord Trenchard—the importance of bringing in new blood at the top. Of course, it is already possible to bring in new blood at the top and it is in fact often done. But I feel myself that though it is a power which every Secretary of State must have, he should use it sparingly. I do not think anything could be more discouraging to a Service than to find that all the plums are always given to outsiders. If the Secretary of State made frequent use of his powers in that respect he would do a great deal of harm. But clearly there are times when it is right, and when it is right it must be done; and that is the end of it.

There remain two proposals of a more novel description which have been put forward by the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and have been the subject of debate this afternoon. There is his proposal that there should be a Colonial Staff College to train promising officers at about the age of thirty-five. That is a new proposal to me and it is one to which I should like to give further thought. I fully appreciate the intention behind it. It is meant to keep the Service up to date; it is meant to increase the esprit de corps of the Service, it is meant to enable members of the Service to meet and exchange ideas. Ad that is very attractive. I do, however, think that there may be practical difficulties in setting up a formal staff college. There is for one tiling the considerable expense involved, in which we might come up against the Treasury. There are also other difficulties. A large staff would have to be collected, and so on. I do not want to dogmatize about it at all. Possibly equally good results could be got by the simple device of refresher courses at the universities. But in any event I should like to give the matter further consideration.

Finally, there is the proposal for a Colonial Advisory Council. Now that suggestion, too, is superficially attractive, but frankly it is the only one of the noble Viscount's suggestions about which I have serious doubts. I was in the happy position to-day of finding myself in complete agreement with my noble relative Lord Wedgwood on that subject. I understood from Lord Trenchard that the Council would have to be unofficial and non-political and I agree with him. But he then went on to say that it would make annual or periodic reports to Parliament. Now if it makes periodical reports to Parliament, does he really think it would be able to keep outside the arena of politics? The immediate result would be that, as each report came in, it would be the subject of debate, and a debate which would only too possibly follow Party lines. In fact, there would be two directors of Colonial policy—first of all, the Secretary of State with his advisers, and, secondly, the Colonial Council, both recommending to Parliament policies which might possibly be conflicting. In my preliminary view, I do not believe that would be a practical system, and I do not think there are many Secretaries of State who would consent to serve under such conditions. All Secretaries of State—certainly myself—welcome advice from outside. Indeed, as I have already said, I very warmly welcome the advice given in the debate to-day. But I think that that advice should be given in Parliament, and should not be given by an officially-appointed body.

I am afraid I have kept the House a very long time. Up to now, I have dealt with general policy and machinery. But noble Lords will agree that machinery alone can achieve nothing. It is the spirit that quickeneth. It is no good educating backward people, industrializing backward people, teaching them to utilize the most modern inventions of Science, unless also you teach them to use them wisely. Otherwise you do far more harm than good. That is the mistake the Western nations made with Japan, and we can look at the results now—a soulless, pitiless, savage nation, incorporating the worst both of the East and the West. Therefore I feel, with Lord Wedgwood, that we must not concentrate in the Colonies merely on material progress. Lord Trenchard quoted a very profound saying by Miss Mary Kingsley in which she said, "Trade, government, and religion must go hand in hand." I am perhaps not quoting verbally, but that is, I think, the sense of it. Those are very wise words. The first two—trade and government—are worthless without the third. I use the third in the widest sense—that is to say, a high ethical standard. That should be the guiding spirit both of our Colonial Services and of our Colonial policy, and lastly, if by no means least, of the people of this country. Unless we base ourselves on some such sure foundations, no Colonial Service that we can build up will do what it sets out to do, and our Empire itself will not survive, and will not deserve to survive.


My Lords, I shall not detain the House more than a few moments. This debate has been worth while if for no other reason than that it has produced the extraordinarily inspiring speech of the Leader of the House, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is to me, at any rate, a matter of satisfaction that he has shown such a sympathetic attitude to the proposals I put forward, even the Advisory Council, though he does not like it. I should have wished to argue that matter a little further with him, but I am not going into the points which have been raised this afternoon by many members. All of them have been very interesting indeed, and I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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