HL Deb 19 November 1947 vol 152 cc791-833

2.36 p.m.

LORD DUKESTON had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That this House welcomes the policy of His Majesty's Government respecting overseas development as outlined in the gracious Speech. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing on the Order Paper in my name relating to overseas development as outlined in the gracious Speech. The old concept of overseas or Empire development was that the Dominions and the Colonies were regarded as the countries to provide the primary goods and commodities for exchange with manufactured goods in the period when we became the workshop of the world. I think that that old mercantilist school of thought has now tended to recede, and we are approaching this problem of overseas development, and particularly Colonial development, from a rather different angle.

Experience in the thirties taught us, I think, that when the world slump came the producers of primary goods in those areas of the Empire where the production of such goods had become almost the sole commercial and economic interest, suffered rather more than the people of those parts of the Dominions where there had been some measure of mixed industry. Without boring your Lordships' House with a citation of figures, it could be very easily proved, I think, that the price fluctuations in primary goods, were far wider and had a more lamentable effect than price movements in manufactured goods. Therefore the products that are now being developed have regard, not merely to the short-term policy upon which of course we must lay emphasis, but also to the long-term policy, so that when we have got the production of primary goods well under way, we shall also, I hope, consider the development of industries related to the production of those primary commodities, enabling a more balanced economy to be developed than would otherwise be the case.

It is well known that in many of these large areas within the Colonial Empire, with the very primitive methods now in operation, it is becoming very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain even the low standard of life which has, I think, been regarded as normal in those areas. The new policy is to open up fresh country and to do that by modern mechanized methods. I imagine that, whereas much of the agriculture has been performed by very primitive tools, when mechanized methods can be and are applied, a new era will be opened in those parts of the world, offering the native populations the reasonable prospect of developing a much higher standard of life than has hitherto been possible. That is on the long-term policy. And I believe it to be the Government view—at all events, it is the view that I and many of my colleagues take—that we have an obligation to these native populations, to lift them out of their low standard of existence and so to develop labour conditions and welfare schemes as to make them more efficient as producers and to lead to a higher standard of life. In this way there would be such development throughout the Empire as I am sure is desired in all quarters of your Lordships' House.

I shall try to avoid trespassing upon matters pertaining to debates which I am sure we all have in our minds, and which will take place on this subject in the not far distant future. But one cannot escape making some reference to the broader outlines of policy envisaged in the overseas development programme, as outlined in the gracious Speech. Those who have been privileged, and have had the time, to read the White Paper on ground-nut development will, I think, appreciate that for the first time upon any really great and extensive scale we are now taking into those areas the machinery and methods of clearance of bush and reclamation of land which can be expected to afford an early measure of development—perhaps not quite so soon as was optimistically foreshadowed in that White Paper but certainly within a reasonably short space of time.

The urgency in this matter, as we know, is due to the fact that the production of ground-nuts in vast quantities is now a necessity because of the world shortage of fats and oils. I am sure that we are all most anxious to see this development proceed with all possible speed in the areas of Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia, and Kenya. If this scheme can be implemented successfully—as, undoubtedly, is desired on all sides in your Lordships' House—we shall create a model for future schemes of development throughout the Colonial Empire. I am sure, therefore, that when we read of the extensive provision of mechanical aids, of the technicians who are now out in those areas and of the recruitment of native labour, to see these great projects through, wo here, at home, feel grateful that it has been possible to embark upon these great undertakings, and our prayer is that even our initial schemes will meet with the success that such a project certainly merits.

At the outset I made some reference to the need for the diversification of industry. Whilst I do not pretend to possess the knowledge of those who have been associated with some of the great State Departments, and have had under their care these wide stretches of our Colonial Empire, I feel sure that when we have got these schemes well under way we shall not be content to stop at merely the production of the primary agricultural products. I have never accepted the view, which I think that history has tended to falsify, that the development of industry in the Dominions and other parts of the Empire would ever cause them to become serious competitors with home production. I think that lack of development in the past has had a twofold effect; that of limiting possibilities which were available in those overseas areas, and tending to discourage our own native agriculture at home. For that, I feel that we have paid a very heavy price, particularly in the war years. I do sincerely hope that the view is not held widely that we should again revert to the old idea of making Britain the workshop either of the world or of the Empire and Commonwealth, but that we shall accept the view that mixed industry along with efficiency and mechanized husbandry are important factors in the policy which we should encourage throughout the Empire. I am very pleased that in the gracious Speech this subject found a place, and I am sure that we shall all watch with very great interest developments taking place in the future throughout those areas.

There is another aspect of this problem to which one would wish to make some reference, though in doing so one may be thought to show considerable temerity. We are now beginning to realize that our Commonwealth possessions really saved the world in the first eighteen months of the war. When the history of that period comes to be written, I am sure that we shall all appreciate more deeply the significance of the part that was played by the countries of our Empire and Commonwealth. We shall then realize more fully how the possession of some of those outposts enabled the effort of the Mother Country to be buttressed and the position to be held for us and the rest of the democratic world at a time of the greatest trial in the history of our country.

I do not mind, for my own part, saying this. I have a feeling indeed that the time has come to say these things and to say them rather bluntly, but I seek to commit no one but myself. In a world in which groups are being formed and blocks of nations are being assembled, in which the peoples of many countries are living in a state of tension comparable only to that of the immediate prewar years, we cannot dismiss from our minds the strategic problems connected with those areas of the Empire which are now being developed. We should bear in mind—whilst our prayer is that: their support in time of war may never again be needed—that that aspect of our policy can never again be neglected. So I say that in this matter we have nothing to be ashamed of. Our Commonwealth and Empire constitutes the largest group of free and democratic nations in the world, nations which were brought together voluntarily by common ties and which are held together by voluntary bonds. There is no coercion and none of the machinery of the police state to hold us together.

We are, in fact, a Commonwealth of free peoples, and we are seeking to prove to the world that by these methods we can take the benefits of democratic institutions into regions where life hitherto has been very primitive and social conditions, generally, of a very low standard. Whilst we can say, and say truthfully, that we do this holding out no threat to anyone, nevertheless I think that wisdom lies in the direction of seeing that our development follows such a course that, should the challenge ever come again, we should be even more ready and better prepared than we were hitherto. So I commend the Motion standing in my name to your Lordships' House, in the hope that during this debate we shall all make our contributions and render easier and better the policy outlined in the gracious Speech from the Throne. I beg to move.

Moved, to resolve, That this House welcomes the policy of His Majesty's Government respecting overseas development as outlined in the gracious Speech.—(Lord Dukeston.)

2.51 p.m.


My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, for moving this Motion this afternoon and for moving it with such breadth and eloquence. I cannot remember anything with which we are in more complete agreement on this side of the House. I am glad of this opportunity to congratulate His Majesty's Government on the vigour and imagination with which they have set themselves to consider this project of development, particularly in the Colonial Empire, at the present time. The only warning I would give, and I may find reason to emphasize it again later on, is that I hope they themselves and their followers are not claiming that as an entirely new departure which never occurred to anybody before. The foundations of this process of development were made by other Parties—we do not claim particular merits here—long before the war, and everybody who is familiar with the subject knows that Colonial development would have proceeded before the war at a much greater speed had the markets been available and the prices such as would have made it possible for Colonial agriculture to develop. The fact was that the opportunity did not exist before the war. Many of us have been trying to get this done for twenty years. We were not defeated by lack of will on the part of our colleagues, but simply by world conditions. I think it is important to recognize that.

This debate, as the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, said, should not anticipate the fuller debates on matters of detail which we shall no doubt have when the Bill on these schemes reaches this House. There will be a great deal to say and many questions to ask when these debates take place. What I am concerned to do today, and what the noble Lord was concerned to do, is to make some sort of prologue to these debates, to make a setting or background for them. We are in fact entering, and we must realize it, upon a new phase in the fulfilment of what has long been called the dual mandate. The phrase was I think originally coined by Joseph Chamberlain and was adopted by a very distinguished Colonial administrator, a member of your Lordships' House, Lord Lugard, who wrote a book upon it. It deals with two branches. The first is the duty of bringing our Western knowledge and our Christian principles to the service of the African peoples, raising their standards and making life for them more abundant and more secure. The other branch, equally important, which must be married to the first if either is to succeed, is to ensure that the enormous resources of Africa do not lie fallow when they can be used to establish a much higher standard of living, of abundance and of security for the rest of the world—the rest, let me say, of a very impoverished world.

The resources of Africa are clearly indispensable to the world, and perhaps particularly to Western Europe at the present time. But let us remember that Africa is not an empty continent. North America was practically empty and the great story of European progress in North America, which in the United States alone has produced a population of 140,000,000, would certainly not have been possible if there had been a great indigenous population. There were only small and scattered tribes of Red Indians, which never at any time in the whole of North America amounted to more than 1,000,000. Africa is a very different picture, and if we are to succeed in the dual mandate then the co-operation of the African peoples is absolutely indispensable to us. We want to help ourselves and help them to help themselves—that is the double duty that lies before us. It is on the problem presented by the African peoples, which after all is the background to the schemes which His Majesty's Government are shortly introducing again into this House, that I would like to speak briefly this afternoon.

The dual mandate is at an end in most parts of Asia. In any case, even from the beginning the conditions of Asia were very different. The state of the people which Western civilization encountered in Asia bore no resemblance to the conditions of Africa. There, there had been great previous civilizations of very high culture, enormously powerful empires, and the traditions of rule were strongly in existence before we ever went there. In Africa south of the deserts which fringe the Mediterranean coast lands—and I always regard the Mediterranean coast lands as being part of the European system—in the heart of what is really a dark continent, there was no system of government or of communications, nothing to which the name of civilization could be attached before the advent of white men. The Dark Continent was a dark continent and it had been dark for centuries. Therefore in Africa we certainly have a continent and congeries of peoples who are much more open than the East to suggestion, to influence and to change, from our point of view. But nevertheless the problem in Africa is in some ways similar to the problem we had to face in Asia and we should be wise to learn by our experience in the East.

In Africa we have to help the peoples and develop the country without producing those reactions which will undo all we have striven to do. Much of what we have striven to do in Asia is being undone at the present time. Let us face it. And we must strive in Africa not to produce these reactions. There is one big question mark overhanging Africa at the present time, as it overhangs other parts of the world, and that is the question of whether the African peoples will move steadily towards freedom and self-government as we understand those things, or whether they will move from political agitation to chaos and then succumb to authoritarian rule. That is the big question in Africa. I would, therefore, like to sound a warning against the habit, which is common in this country, of assuming too readily that other people are ripe for political institutions which are satisfactory here. I would like to sound a warning against too much insistence on political progress at the expense of economic and social progress at the present time. This is not a purely material problem; it is a moral problem, and a moral test for us. Christian civilization, our civilization, is on trial in the Dark Continent. If we press political development too fast, beyond the capacity of all but a tiny minority of those peoples themselves, then we shall defeat our purpose, and we shall bring complete extinction and failure upon our ideals.

We cannot arrest the denigration of what is called Western Imperialism from Eastern Europe, which detests our political ideals, but we must recognize the fact that the influence of that denigration, the influence of that relentless propaganda, is very great in Africa as elsewhere. We have to defeat it by the success with which we introduce economic and social progress, so that the people can rise with the help that we can give them. Let us do our utmost by success to ensure that, and do not let us continue drip by drip to denigrate ourselves, nor to press political development at a pace which can only hand Africa over to a new slavery instead of to freedom and self-rule. This is still going on in this country. Only just now in the Library of this House I picked up one of those articles which suggest—and suggest, to my mind, in a sickening manner—that idealism was born only yesterday; that our fathers were infinitely inferior morally to ourselves; and, indeed, that there is only one Party in this country at the present time which is moved by any ideals, and only one Party deserving of the confidence of the African people. That is still being written, and it does great harm. It does not do any harm to Parties in this country. What it does harm is the success of our task in Africa. It does harm to the very end which the people who write those articles are anxious to achieve. Why is that? It is because there cannot be confidence in Africa if we teach them that the whole spirit of our administration in Africa will change with the change of any Government here. On that basis there can be no continuity and no confidence amongst the African people. I am sure I have the agreement of noble Lords opposite that the whole of this question of Imperial development should be lifted above Party in this country at the present time, and we should not attempt to score off each other upon this great issue, which means so much to the peace of the world.

The worst of this process of denigration is its perpetual insistence on the importance of political advance at the sacrifice or exclusion of everything else. It teaches the educated African, who in any case is in a very small minority, that only by moving as rapidly as possible towards political power will he achieve anything for himself. I think that is a disastrous process in Africa at the present time. The mass of the people in Africa are still very primitive, more primitive in the East than in the West. The progress towards self-government, therefore, must depend on education, by putting the broadest education at the service of those people; by raising their standard of responsibility; by giving them the social services that make them conscious of their position in a community, and by their realization that self-discipline is necessary if the people are to achieve self-government. Progress towards self-government depends on that and, as I say, upon this process of social service and social improvement which we are taking in hand.

But that process itself depends on economic development. There will be no services for the Africans, no education, nothing whatever, without economic development. The taxpayer of this country cannot finance these services in Africa. Therefore, the economic development of Africa is the important thing; it is the one thing on which we have to concentrate. Economic development, leading to social services and to that higher standard on which self-government can be built, is the order in which we should think about our duty to Africa. To put political development in Africa before economic development at the present time is to put the cart before the horse in a very dangerous manner. I think many of your Lordships will agree—I expect the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, will agree with this—that in India, certainly to some extent, we put political progress before economic and social progress, and not only we but the Indian people are paying the penalty now, and may go on paying it for a very long time.

Therefore, if we are to succeed in Africa the problem is how to secure the co-operation of the Africans in this process of economic development. The difficulties in doing that are manifold. I would like to say just a few words about some of those difficulties, and to emphasize one or two points which appear to me to be cardinal. In the first place, I would underline the importance of method in our approach to the whole problem of African labour, African production and the co-operation of Africans in what we want to do. My own opinion, based on some residence in Africa and some study of conditions on the spot, is that contract labour of the kind with which we are all familiar in the Rand and Transvaal is bad, and is not the process on which we should attempt to work. That takes men away from their villages and their families, and from the life which they understand. It is bad for them, and it is bad for their Villages. It breaks up African life in what seems to me to be a very dangerous and undesirable manner. But if you are not to have contract labour you must face the alternative. You must have labour established in settlements round the place where the production is to be done. That in itself, of course, involves persuading Africans to move from the part of the country which they understand to another part, and to accept conditions with which they are unfamiliar. That is not an easy thing to do, but I believe that is the right line on which to work in this matter.

The Belgians have experimented in this on a very much larger scale than we ever have, and they have had great success with it in certain parts of the Congo. There has been criticism on our side of what the Belgians have done, on the ground that a certain element of compulsion enters into the movement when the settlement is established, and of their keeping native families there over a period of years. I cannot offer any opinion upon the Belgian system, because I have not studied it at first hand. However, I am sure that we ought to study it at first hand and, as a matter of fact, I feel that if progress is to be made in this matter the European peoples responsible for the welfare of Africa must work together in all these things. What is going to be valuable to Africa is, not only conferences between Governments, Ministers, high executives, Governors, and so on, over here, but conference on the spot in Africa with close touch between people who are working in one way in one field, and people who are working in another field in Africa itself. I hope, therefore, that His Majesty's Government will do everything they can to promote the closest possible contact between the administrators who have charge of this in places like Tanganyika and their opposite numbers in the Belgian Congo. They have an enormous lot to learn from each other. If we work on the same principle we shall find it much easier to get the co-operation of the Africans in all we do.

In the second place, in the early stages of these plans it is most important not to ask or to expect too much of African labour. The gospel of work as we understand it—and we do not all of us like it; I have heard of people called "spivs" and "drones"—does not appeal to the natural African. For my part, I do not blame him for it. In my experience—and we had some experience of this in Kenya when I was there—we trained Africans in very skilled and mechanical trades. There were Africans in the railway works in Nairobi, making very delicate parts of a Westinghouse brake, which involved a high level of technical capacity. The difficulty is that an African is interested for only two or three months, or perhaps at the outside for six months, and then he wants to go back to the simple life again. He will disappear without a moment's notice.

That presents both an administrative and an economic problem which it is hard to overcome, but it is typical of the kind of trouble we have to face. Great results were achieved in technical training in the Army during this last war, but we must remember that that training was carried out under military discipline and that a great deal can be done under a system of military discipline which cannot be done in peace. Nobody is going to suggest that we should have a general application of military discipline in peace time. Consequently, let us face the difficulty of training the African to depart from methods with which he is familiar, and in particular to depart from a way of life which appeals quite as much to him as, in our un-regenerate moments, detached from strenuous endeavour, it does to most of us.

Furthermore, let us remember that the population in Africa, and particularly East Africa, is very small compared with the scale of development which we apparently have in mind. We may easily overstrain it if we seek to go ahead too fast with these schemes solely on the basis of African labour. I would, therefore, beg His Majesty's Government to consider the possibility of introducing European labour for the purpose of these schemes. I believe it would be invaluable to the African in two ways, which I will explain. I have long advocated more use of European labour in East Africa because I was afraid of the strain upon the African and the strain upon his whole community system. I have seen in Africa itself how successfully men from the countries of Europe—and particularly from the Mediterranean—can work under the full heat of the African sun. I remember the construction of the deep-water berths in Kilindini harbour with nothing but European labour. Their output was remarkable and the rate of sickness was very low. I have seen Italian labourers working in the full heat of the mid-day sun in Italian Somaliland without a hat or anything on their backs. There is certainly no climatic drawback to the use of Italian or Maltese labour in tropical Africa.

We have a population of the same kind in Malta. Malta is terribly overcrowded and is one of our Colonial problems at the present time. I think it is worth considering whether opportunities do not exist for using European labour in settlements in Africa. I would suggest that if that experiment is tried, the European labour should be concentrated on certain branches of industry, and on a particular field of production, and not mixed with African labour. The moment you mix them all the problems which we are trying to avoid in Africa arise—differentiations in the wage rate, and the tendency of the European, the moment he is working beside an African, to wish to be the boss and to keep the African down. If you are to make a success of European labour you must keep it in settlements which are purely European. I believe that would be of great assistance to the African, not only in relieving the strain upon him, but also as an example.

The African is extremely imitative. He will learn much more quickly from example than from precept. If he sees the white man happy and contented in settlements of this kind he will tend to conclude that they are pretty good things and will have a shot at it himself. In any case, I hope that if His Majesty's Government are going ahead—as I believe they intend to go ahead—with large-scale development in East Africa, they will not put their reliance on African labour alone, with the great strain upon the peoples of Africa itself which it must involve. Finally, as an incentive to the African—and I am sure His Majesty's Minister will not forget this because it is important even in this country, and perhaps even twice as important in Africa—we must realize that men must have concrete incentives in order to work. There must be goods available which they can purchase with their wages if they are to feel inclined to earn wages at all. It is important that the result should follow quickly; they should not get wages and then be told they will get the things two or three years hence. I know how difficult that is at the present time, but it is a matter of immense importance. If we get the African working and earning wages, and he finds he can do nothing with his wages when he has them, he will soon become disgusted with our plans.

I would say just one last word upon a matter which is very close to my heart when I think of the future of Africa. I hope that as revenue develops His Majesty's Government will do more than has been done in the past for the education of African women. The education of women up to now has been greatly neglected throughout our Colonial Empire and indeed throughout other Colonial Empires. We tried an experiment on those lines in Kenya when I was there, and we established a maternity and child welfare centre in Nairobi, in the native quarter of Pumwani. We encountered the usual difficulties. It did not begin as Government experiments begin, but was an experiment based entirely on private subscriptions and was organized by my wife. We began in that private manner because we found less antagonism was created among the tribes to a purely private endeavour than to one run by the Government. We did encounter great antagonism among the tribesmen who thought that ideas of hygiene which were good enough in their youth were good enough now. We had the greatest difficulty in persuading tribes to send their girls to be trained.

The missionaries were a very great help. When once they had seen the results of that scheme of training, it took on immediately. The maternity and child welfare centre in Nairobi is still getting large private subscriptions, but is supported and largely directed by the Government. It is also drawing very considerable subscriptions from the native councils throughout Kenya, which shows what can be done once an idea like that catches on. There is not very much of that kind of thing in Africa at the present time, but it is extremely important. Women, if they are not progressive, are violently reactionary. They can do very much more than men to retard or to facilitate progress in most of the ways about which we shall be anxious so far as Africa is concerned. We shall not encounter in Africa the difficulties which beset us in dealing with the future of women in Asia; those are difficulties with which we are familiar and the same conditions do not exist in Africa. Therefore I hope that the education of women in hygiene, diet and all the things that help to make for happy and healthy families will be among the foremost aims in our policy for the African continent.

May I conclude by saying how much I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, when he said that there should be no monopoly of industrial production in this country? The ideal is balanced production everywhere and that is essential in Africa as in every part of the world. The idea that we can be the workshop of the world and that they should hew wood and draw water for us is an impossible conception and I am very glad that the noble Lord emphasized that fact. I was also entirely with him in recalling how vital the carrying on of our brotherhood in the British Commonwealth is to the structure of the world. I think that the value of that brotherhood is being better understood and is gaining greater acceptance throughout the world, especially in the United States of America. We are a very well-knit Commonwealth; we have strength too because our resources are dispersed. Let us make the most of these things, and the world will have even more reason to be grateful to us in the future than it has had in the past.

3.23 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to support very briefly the Motion before your Lordships' House. I was very interested in the remarks which fell from the noble Lord on the other side, more particularly because the whole of his speech showed that there is in this matter of Colonial development no fundamental difference between noble Lords in this House. I was interested also in the noble Lord's remarks about Imperialism. I think my noble friends on these Benches will not reproach me if I remind them that there has been in our own Party a considerable development in our thoughts on Imperial matters. There was a time, I think, when members of the Labour Party were "agin" the Empire, when they would have dissolved it from one day to another, and would have said that they were doing the right thing morally and towards the people in the Empire. That is a period which on this side of the House has passed completely. We believe it is our duty nowadays, as I think the noble Lord also believes, to give to Imperialism an entirely new meaning. Several phrases have been in use in Colonial matters, such as partnership, co-trusteeship and so on. All of them are expressive of the new attitude—not one which I am claiming uniquely for my own Party—which exists in all informed circles in this country towards the Colonial problem. We have realized, I think, that there can be no washing of our hands of this problem. To do so would merely be to throw these unfortunate people into the hands of other and less desirable influences.

The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, went on to talk about the dual mandate, to which I have nothing to add. I could not agree with him more. He is clearly aware of the very great difficulties which surround this particular subject. He spoke of agitation. He must know that very much of this agitation arises from the unfortunate but inevitable fact that there should be in any territory, be it African, Colonial or Asiatic, a small number of educated natives who feel that they themselves are quite capable of managing their own affairs and therefore do not appreciate that the country as a whole may not have reached that point. That: is basically the problem: how to make the Africans, educated and uneducated, feel that they themselves have a part in the progress of their own territory. It is a problem for all of us. How can we make the educated African feel that he is taking his proper place in the progress of his own country, and at the same time bring on the rest of the Africans so that we may not find ourselves forced by agitation or by disturbance to put a small minority into a position of power? The economic problem and the political problem go hand in hand; and we must, above all, make the populations of the Colonies feel that they are progressing and can play a vital part themselves.

This new Imperialism means the development of the Colonies by self-government and, should they choose, independence. It is a mere truism nowadays to say that the independence of any country must depend upon its economic development. That is certainly true in the world sphere. In fact, it is nowadays quite impossible to carry on the modern State with its great social services, health, education and so on, without economic resources. Therefore this proposal of His Majesty's Government for economic development in the Colonies is in fact an essential part of that political development in the Colonies without which it is impossible to carry out the policy of His Majesty's Government of training more and more Africans, West Indians and so on to supply the needs of their Civil Service. One of the great disadvantages in our Colonies is the enormous expense of administration because the services are administered by Europeans, English people for the most part, who, exiled from their own country, have enjoyed a standard of living very much higher than that of the people amongst whom they are working. It is essential to have more and more people to carry on the machinery of government, and this ties up with this problem of making the peoples themselves feel that they have a part to play in the progress of their country towards complete political independence. The employment of more and more African civil servants would tend to reduce the expense of administration; yet it is impossible, even on the lower level of African living, to pay for the modern State with the economic output of any African Colony.

The noble Lord spoke of the cooperation of the African populations in these schemes which are going forward at the present time. I agree with him. I suggest to His Majesty's Government that one of the most important methods of obtaining that co-operation is to make the populations of the Colonies realize that these schemes of development are for their own benefit. Now, unfortunately perhaps in some ways, the biggest scheme to be started, the ground-nuts scheme, is tied up with our own shortage of fats. There may be an inevitable tendency for Colonial territories to say: "Oh well, they are only doing this to help themselves." I do hope that His Majesty's Government and their spokesmen will, on every possible occasion, make it clear that this development is not only for our benefit but also for that of the Colonies, and—this is the important point—that, as soon as trained Africans are available and the scheme is sufficiently advanced for them themselves to take over its direction and control, they will be given that direction and control. To my mind, that really is the basic factor in obtaining Colonial co-operation. It applies not only to the ground-nuts scheme, but to any other schemes that may be launched. I hope that His Majesty's Government on every possible occasion will make it clear that the taking over of the control of their own affairs by the Colonial peoples is envisaged in all their schemes and will be facilitated at the earliest possible moment.

The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, talked about that disagreeable subject, work. I would like to support strongly what he said about the supply of consumer goods. When I was in Africa, my impression was that very largely the inefficiency of African labour was due to the fact that they were not interested in bits of paper. If you could have turned them into lengths of cloth, their reaction to work would have been better. However urgent our needs for exports to other countries may be, if we wish to make these Colonial schemes work, we must have consumer goods available for sale in the Colonies. I would like to differ from the noble Lord on one point, the employment of European labour. It is a point on which I really cannot agree with the noble Lord. I fully sympathize with his desire for a more highly skilled type of labour. We have, un- fortunately, racial questions and difficulties in several Colonies. I feel that it is undesirable, however much the Colonial Secretary might wish to find a place to which the Maltese could migrate, to add yet further to this really horrible problem of racial differences within one territory. However much the noble Lord may say that the European worker must be kept separate, the inevitable result must be, it seems to me, that if he is kept separate to do a particular kind of work, then there is a particular kind of work which is kept separate for Europeans to do. You make a differentiation; that is inevitable. I feel that this is a solution which, if it is used by His Majesty's Government, should be used most sparingly and only in cases where it is unavoidable.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, in the matter of diversification of production. Here, although we have imposed upon ourselves a self-denying ordinance not to talk about the Bill which is now before another place, I would say that I thought I discerned in the phrasing of that Bill a differentiation between kinds of industrial development in the Colonies which I do not wholly like. I think I am right—I have not the Bill before me at the moment—in saying that the type of development which is outlined or adumbrated in the Bill is processing industry for the natural produce of the Colonies. I am not saying that that is not desirable, but I think it would be very undesirable and very unfortunate if the activities of the Overseas Development Corporation were all to be limited only to processing industries. I hope it will have a very much wider sphere than that, for the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, that we have all recognized for a great number of years that the health and development of these Colonies must depend on a diverse production.

In passing I would draw the attention of His Majesty's Government to three limitations in respect of all activities for the development of the Colonies. There is, first of all, the crying need for larger production of food for home consumption in the Colonies. Many of our Colonies have, in the past, suffered from the too exclusive production of cash crops. I do hope that the activities of this Development Corporation will not result in too exclusive a concentration of interest upon cash crops, but that the greater production of consumption crops for the home population will always be encouraged to the full. The second limitation is the limitation of labour and the lack of skilled labour. As the noble Lord was saying, the African can be taught to do a great many things. Indeed, I would would have said that it was one of the surprises of the war to discover how mechanically trainable Africans were. That, I think, gives us great grounds for hope that the Africans can be trained.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that there is not unlimited labour in the Colonies, and that when you are drawing off labour—and in this connexion I would like to support what the noble Lord said about contract labour—nothing is more deplorable than the conditions which result from migrant labour. They are truly shocking and altogether contrary to the whole of our ethics in so far as we are Christian or ethical people in this country. If you are going to draw off African labour, you must be careful that you do not cripple the native African economy in their own territory. Figures show the appalling results of migrant labour on the reservoirs of labour—the depopulation of villages, the failure to cultivate land, and so on. It would be deplorable if the activities of this great enterprise were to result in disadvantage to the native African villages.

Finally, may I remind His Majesty's Government that, although it is the big schemes which are most attractive and most exciting and which stir the imagination, these schemes are not possible in all African territories. As the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, said, Africa is a populated continent and there are many parts of Africa in which it would be quite impossible, and, indeed, highly undesirable, to try to establish these schemes. Therefore, these schemes must take the form, I suggest, of encouraging neighbours amongst peasant proprietors to make joint purchases of necessary machinery and to participate in joint processing and marketing.

I have great pleasure in supporting this Motion, because it seems to me that this new enterprise of His Majesty's Government—I am not going to claim that His Majesty's Government and our own Party are wholly responsible and are the only people who have ever thought of this—is the complementary to the part of Colonial development which was launched with the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill. That alone could not do the job that had to be done. This new scheme will, I believe, go forward successfully and provide the economic sinews which are essential to combine it with the Colonial development and welfare plans for the ultimate benefit not only of the Colonies, not only of this country, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, has already said, of the world as a whole.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, I would like to intervene for a few moments, first of all to congratulate the noble Lord who introduced this Motion. There is hardly a word in his speech with which I do not agree, and it was heartening to listen to a speech of that sort again in this House in these days. He made little criticism., and I enjoyed his reference to the bad old days, although he did not say "the bad old days." Those were my days—47 years ago. He said that we had developed since then. There is no question of Party in this matter. That great Conservative Minister, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, appointed a very great Colonial Governor in Sir Walter Egerton. Forty-five years later another great Governor has taken his seat on the Government Benches in a Labour Government, so I think we may call a trace as to whose Party is benefiting the country the more.

There are one or two points that I might bring out. The noble Lord, Lord Dukes-ton, said that one of the difficulties was the old system of cultivation in agriculture. He dealt with mechanization, which is one of the greatest problems in Africa. It is easy to talk about it, but it has been difficult to make any progress in that way. Forty-seven years ago I remember so well Sir Walter Egerton saying to me: "Trenchard, look at all this waste land. We can never get it going with the old system"—and agriculture has improved since then. "We must tackle this problem and realize that the great problem is how to change the system of old-fashioned cultivation." If old-fashioned cultivation had gone on in this country nothing would have been grown in the recent war. That is a matter that we have to face. That is the problem over which I sometimes think Governments skate lightly.

The noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, mentioned various schemes, such as the scheme for Tanganyika, and the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, spoke in relation to the Colonies and overseas development schemes. I congratulate them on the speed with which these schemes were taken up and the speed at which they are progressing. It may take longer than was originally stated in the White Paper, but I think in other ways this scheme will be even better than the White Paper suggested. When I saw Africa in the year 1899 I remember looking at all these waste spaces. One could not help thinking, "Can we ever bring this under production for the benefit of the world?" There can be no over-production in the world. Those difficulties of currency and transportation, and of being able to get the surplus where it is wanted, are subsidiary, but they are important, and they may wreck the development of great schemes. There is no doubt, however, as the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, said, that such great schemes as the groundnuts schemes and similar schemes such as the palm plantations schemes which were started in the Congo twenty years before, will improve, almost automatically, the nutrition of the people who live in that country. Rut the standard of living of the whole world will also be improved if all those waste spaces are developed.

I do not want to take up much more of your Lordships' time. There is one point that has been mentioned by Lord Faringdon, about phrases such as partnerships, trusteeship, and co-operation. I am quite definite that these phrases do either untold harm or untold good, and I would ask everybody to be careful in their use. I have always said, in spite of it being a popular expression, that "trusteeship" was a bad term. It meant that you sat on one side of the table and they sat on the other side. It meant that you handed over one day to somebody else to split the world, instead of working in partnership, which I believe is the solution of all our troubles in the world. If we can work towards partnership and not talk so much about trusteeship, as we have done in the past, I think that is the solution.

Finally, I would mention one other point. Some years ago a great American talked about one world. I was present when he gave a talk that was not altogether private, since comments were made upon it, but he made a great speech about one world. At the end of it I asked him why he had missed out that continent, every part of which was within a few minutes by flying of another part. It was the richest and the poorest country in the world, with all grades in between. It was the most civilized and the most uncivilized country, again with all grades in between. It was the healthiest and the most unhealthy country, with all grades in between. It had great open spaces and it was on the doorstep of Europe, and when I asked him, "Why have you not mentioned it?" he said "That is the reason."

My Lords, that is the problem. The British Colonial Empire is largely in Africa. If we can develop the waste spaces in Africa we shall be making invaluable progress—and remember that there are a lot of waste spaces were we shall not be dispossessing the natives; there are many places that have nothing but tsetse. Many years ago the land in between various villages was "no man's land," but we have developed it in the meantime, and we should go further in partnership in regard to all that work.

345 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that I may be permitted to intervene for a few minutes on this all-important subject. I listened with great interest and sympathy to the speech of the noble Lord who opened this debate, and we are all grateful to him for bringing these matters to our attention in such an eloquent manner. It rejoiced my heart to hear him proclaim his belief, which surely is a true one—I hope I am not misquoting him—that we could hardly have survived this last war without the help of the Colonies. I would like to say also that we could not have survived the First World War but for the astonishing contribution in manpower and resources from all parts of the Commonwealth and Empire. It was my good fortune in the First World War to be in one or two events where things were so evenly balanced that the whole military future appeared to be at stake.

I can remember, for instance, the first battle of Ypres, when we had not one single battalion between our lines and the sea and the line was broken three times in one day. We pulled out and put the men we had into the line to hold it. I can remember the Canadian First Division coming up into the lines at that almost psychological moment, an example of the reinforcements of the Empire. And at later dates vast contributions of Australian and Canadian troops were in the great fight on the Somme and at Passchendaele; and again we saw the occasion where their presence turned the tide in man-power. I am speaking now from the military angle, the coming of our brethren overseas. In this last war, of course, the subject which we are dealing with to-day comes home much more to us because, far more than in the First World War, we availed ourselves of the resources and man-power of the Colonial Empire. Here I speak as a spectator, this time very much in the rear, from the fact that during the five years I spent at the War Office I was able to watch the progress of the Colonial forces, and particularly the King's African Rifles, in whom I was personally interested, having four relatives in that regiment. I think my nephew was the first white officer to be killed emerging from Kenya into Somali-land. Those forces have always been a matter of very great interest to myself. As I think a former speaker pointed out in his closing remarks, that question links up with this great problem, for the prosperity and the contentment of these Colonial possessions will be of vital importance, from our point of view, if we want to find their populations with us should the need for their help ever occur again.

Now I want to say at once that I thoroughly agree (and this has always been my opinion) with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, to the effect that it is not sound economics to suggest that any part of the world should be, as it were, hewers of wood and drawers of water for this country. We must not rely solely on primary production; the days for that have long gone by. The wise: policy, always bearing in mind that your labour must be properly trained, is to see that you develop some secondary industries in support of primary agricultural production. I also agree wholeheartedly with what the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has said with regard to these comparatively new areas of the world—that we must look far more than we have done in the past to the employment of mechanized methods in the development of these vast territories. It is especially true that mechanical implements must be used to the fullest extent in countries where animals such as horses cannot live. That problem is a very real one and it is most desirable that we should consider it as such.

If I may be forgiven for mentioning my own personal interests in this matter for a second time, I would like to say that it is now some thirty-six and a half years since, as a very young man, I became interested in the development of these African possessions. I did not sit in the scats of the mighty, like my noble friend who was one of the best Governors we ever had in Kenya, but I was one of those wicked white capitalists who thought it desirable—I do not know why, but it was my passion—to try to see if, as a private person, I could, by experimenting with crops, do anything to bring parts of that country under cultivation. I am sorry to say that, while engaged in that particular work, I lost far more money than any of your Lordships, I hope, has ever done. But from that day to this I have been very deeply interested in this matter—and I think we have to disclose our personal interests in such matters.

I say frankly, that in spite of a prolonged determination not to be beaten, I did find the problems which faced the cultivator very great, even in Kenya—this land of hope and promise. Once I had a great crop of wheat completely wiped out by zebras. In another year, when I thought zebras had been got rid of (we managed to exterminate over 70,000 of them, I believe, in the Uasin Gishu, in a year and a half, but there still seemed to be as many of them as ever later on) my crops were wiped out by monkeys and porcupines. In yet another year I had a fine crop of flax completely destroyed by caterpillars. I also found in several years that serious droughts made attempts at coffee production on an economic scale quite impossible. But it was all very interesting. At the beginning of that time native peoples were still cutting each other's throat and marching against each other. We had very small forces for our protection—I think there were only two battalions in the whole of Kenya and Uganda—nevertheless, in a comparatively short time the perpetual warfare and strife, the slavery and the stealing of wives were all ended and faded out of the picture; and during recent years there has been complete peace amongst the native peoples.

This idea of His Majesty's Government is undoubtedly a great one. It is true to say that the development of Africa has always been a passion with me. But for the fact that, by providing a secure market, we stimulated production in Africa to the extent which we did in the years immediately before the war, it would not have been possible to make this primary production pay in any circumstances. In spite of difficulties we certainly did considerable work in African development. The first time I made a speech after the conclusion of this last war (my utterances are always apt to be indiscreet) I said, "Let us go forward and develop the whole of the African territories." I pointed out that whereas at the beginning of the industrial revolution there were in this country 20,000,000 people, there was a far larger total population in these colonies, and I said that to raise the standard of life of these peoples and to increase their purchasing power would be one of the best ways by which we could help ourselves to win through the difficulties days ahead. By promoting a surge of prosperity in a great part of the world in which we should have a guiding hand, we might well hope to share with the Africans in the advantages of their progress and advancement.

His Majesty's Government have gone all out for one big scheme. They are going to spend £100,000,000 upon it. I would say, "Go on and spend ten times as much on schemes of development—spend £1,000,000,000." But of course you must begin somewhere, and His Majesty's Government have begun in a really bold manner with this ground-nut scheme. I would not have it thought for one moment that I am in any way hostile to that scheme. I say that you must experiment; but do not forget that in this matter of ground-nuts you are to some extent experimenting. I think I have tried cultivating most crops that have been grown in the part of Africa of which I have spoken, and I would point out that up to the present it has not been proved that all the areas which are now to be opened up can be successfully used for ground-nut cultivation. But there is no reason, climatic or otherwise, so far as I know, which makes these areas very different from the growers' point of view from those in which ground-nuts have already been successfully grown.

I wish His Majesty's Government every possible success in this venture. If they will introduce more schemes of this kind they will certainly have a magnetic influence upon me. I shall feel inclined to leave these Benches and ask to be allowed to take a hand in them. We have here an element of something that the world badly wants—imagination and leadership in development and production. We want to extend that in whatever quarter we possibly can. I wish to add but one word of warning. I have long held the view—some people may think that it is wrong—that if you are really going to stimulate production in Africa you must give security of market to the producers. If you do not do so you are going to let your native populations down. You cannot finance the administration of the colonies unless these schemes prove economically sound, and your great education and other schemes, highly desirable as they are, will inevitably be brought to a standstill.

Only yesterday we heard of very great changes in future policy. I am not going to deal with that matter now, for I realize that the moment is not an appropriate one to do so. But with regard to Imperial preference in the future, I beg His Majesty's Government to keep very careful watch on any limiting factors, and whatever happens to give present proposals a chance. I hope the period of time during which our hands are tied will be limited. I hope it will be only a few years. I hope the Government will resist most decisively any attempt to say that in no circumstances may we give preference to ground-nuts or any other products in the days to come. Otherwise, you may find the whole of your production nugatory. I think that ground-nut oil always came from the Colonies into this country free. I have not the figures but I think there was a preference of something like 15 per cent. upon it. On nuts I imagine there was something like seven shillings a hundredweight, but I am not sure. If that system has been abandoned, if we are tying our hands for any time, we may find that with the best will in the world our production will cease because of economic competition, with the result that the natives who are being trained in these new agricultural industries may be left out of work. I beg the Government to consider the whole question from that angle. I hope they will be immensely successful in this scheme. I hope there will be a multiplicity of schemes. But I beg them not to allow the development of the Colonial Empire to be in the chains of any other power, however friendly, or however much we may long to walk hand in hand with them. I beg to support the noble Lord's Motion.

4.1 p.m.


My Lords, it is a source of enormous satisfaction to me to find noble Lords in all quarters of the House so cordially greeting this Motion moved from the Labour Benches by my very good friend Lord Dukeston. I rise to address your Lordships because immediately before the recent War I was Chairman of the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission set up to consider the possibility of establishing a greater political or constitutional contact between those three territories. In fact, however, the possibilities for development of those south-central African territories proved a real eye-opener to members of the Commission. Of course we must all sympathize very much with the economic disappointment of my adventurous friend Lord Croft, but I would say this to him. It became perfectly apparent to the members of my Commission that it was an extremely rash thing for so-called capitalists, white capitalists, to invest their money in any part of south, or south-central Africa in any kind of husbandry where the conditions of soil and climate were not entirely well suited to that undertaking.

I ventured to suggest to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, before I left that country in 1938, that his Government might be well advised to warn all intending settlers, and all those white people prepared to invest their capital in agricultural development, to consider carefully whether the particular type of husbandry on which they proposed to embark was likely to succeed under the conditions of soil and climate in the areas which they proposed to occupy. The essentials in that respect are altitude, humidity, soil texture and what the chemists call P.H. values, that is, the relative alkalinity and acidity of the soil. I am bound to say, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Croft—and I seldom differ from him—that I am entirely opposed to his views with regard to ground-nuts. I do not know what my noble friend Lord Altrincham has to say on this subject, but I cannot imagine any crop that is better suited to improving the conditions of most of the soils in south and south-central Africa; and for this reason. It is a leguminous crop. It is not very particular as to the conditions under which it grows. Because it is a leguminous crop, taking from the atmosphere nitrogen for the enrichment of itself and the soil, it is the finest factor in developing that alternative husbandry (as opposed to shifting cultivation) which is so essential to the economic development of these territories.


I am sorry to interrupt, but I hope your Lordships did not think that I was opposing the ground-nuts scheme, or did not express the hope that it will be an immense success. All I said was that, so far as Kenya is concerned, no one of us as yet had tried ground-nuts. I said that I hoped it would be a success, but it had not been experimented with by local farmers.


I hope Lord Croft will not think I am opposed to his view, but I did not want the impression left that ground-nuts were not a particularly valuable crop in fertilizing the soil and in improving conditions for almost every kind of husbandry that might be developed. I am not quite sure that I altogether agree with my noble friend Lord Trenchard who spoke before him. No doubt mechanization is desirable, but in a land which is subject to erosion one has to be extremely careful how mechanization is developed. I quite agree that mechanization under proper conditions, particularly where there is enough humus or vegetable matter in the soil, is good; but if you are going to use mechanization to any extreme extent on what I might call light, shifting, sand conditions, you will only promote erosion to a greater extent than before.

I really rose to say how entirely I agree with what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, with regard to the emphasis that should be placed upon economic development and education among the natives of these territories rather than on pushing over-much the political factor as an element in their future social welfare. If your Lordships will allow me, I will describe what happened in the course of the examination of paramount chiefs of various tribes in Northern Rhodesia. It illustrates the extraordinary ignorance of so many of these people in regard to what I may call the elementary factors in the development of a progressive country. I found everywhere, when I asked these representative chiefs whether they were in favour of amalgamation of those three south-central African territories, that they were far more interested in obtaining a larger number of cattle in order to purchase more wives than they were in any constitutional development. And the crisis perhaps was reached on the borders of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, where I met a particularly attractive and apparently enlightened gathering of chiefs. After talking about a good many subjects, including the education of their children, I asked the leading chief whether or not he was in favour of amalgamation of these territories. He replied: "No, certainly not, my brother was sent to prison for that." It turned out that the brother was employed in the gold mines in Southern Rhodesia and had stolen some amalgam. That only illustrates the fact that we cannot force Western European civilization or our own accepted conditions of constitutional government upon a people in so elementary a state as they are.

In regard to this economic development I hope that the African Governments will not be short-sighted. I will give you an instance of what appeared to me to be excessive short-sightedness in Northern Rhodesia where there were enormous demands for scientific knowledge about the enrichment of the soil. I found that, because they had in the preceding year a deficit in their finances, they dismissed the Government chemist. I am going to suggest that the agricultural chemist and mycologist are perhaps the most valuable people of all advisers in regard to the development of husbandry in those territories. That, surely, was short-sightedness on the part of the Government of Northern Rhodesia.

May I also say how desirable it is to render the local conditions fit for the development of husbandry? You have got five-eighths of the whole of the territory of Tanganyika, and at least three-eighths of the whole of the territory of Northern Rhodesia, afflicted with the tsetse fly, with the result that no cattle whatever can be kept on what would otherwise be either fertile land or land that could be rendered fertile by alternate husbandry. Surely, that is a matter of primary importance in the economic development of those territories. I venture to suggest, in this connexion, that we should not be parsimonious in financing the research work in regard to the tsetse fly. There is a good deal of independent research work going on with relatively small sums in the hands of those conducting the research. If you had a far larger sum behind this particular research work, and concentrated upon it the very finest research workers you could obtain in the Empire, I venture to say that in a comparatively short time you would get real practical results which would enable you to banish that fearful curse from the whole of South and South Central Africa. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for having prolonged this debate but, having acted as Chairman of this Royal Commission before the war, I felt it might be regarded as negligence on my part if I did not add a few words resulting from the experience that I thereby gained.

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, I hope your Lordships will bear with me if I say a few words in this debate. I am sure we are very much indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, for having introduced this subject to-day. There was no one better pleased than I was to see the particular passage in the gracious Speech in regard to the development of our Colonial Empire. We have had some most interesting and informative speeches. One of the most informative points was a statement by the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, on behalf of the Labour Party, in which he said: "We are all Imperialists now." I welcome that statement with all my heart, because I remember the time when I was living in and administering these out of the way places, when we had not that support from the Labour Party, or even from the Liberal Party of that day, which we would have liked. There was a Party called the Little England Party, which was the bugbear of those administering in the Colonies. To-day that is past, and we have a harmonious chorus of Colonial development upon which we are all agreed, and I hope it is a road along which we shall march together.

In discussing this question we have largely confined ourselves to Africa. Africa, of course, is divided into various territories and, presumably, in this particular instance we are not dealing with the South African Union, or even with Southern Rhodesia, because they have responsible and independent Governments. I felt that my noble friend Lord Altrincham was infringing a little in that respect when he talked about the contract labour on the Rand. If it were not out of place to-day I should have liked to reply and give some facts about that matter which would indicate that it is not so bad as the noble Lord seems to think.


I hope the noble Viscount will not represent me as criticizing in any way the conditions upon the Rand. I was not doing so. It would not be my purpose to do so, nor would it be proper for me to do so. What I was criticizing, and what I am entitled to criticize, is the effect on the countries which those labourers leave, and on the villages which they desert.


I would answer that point by saying that thousands of natives from Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Portuguese East Africa, and Bechuanaland trek of their own accord on to the Rand, and they arrive there in the ordinary way in their thousands. If they were not regulated when they arrived there would be absolute chaos. There would be natives squatting on the outskirts of the Rand, living in hovels, and in a state that is not compatible with any civilized community. I do not wish to pursue this subject, but I would suggest to my noble friend that if he were to read the very interesting address given to us in the precincts of this House a few days ago by the Minister for Native Affairs he would find that the point he makes, in general, is largely met by what is being done to-day to improve, as far as possible and all the time, the position of the natives on the Rand and the conditions under which they live.

This particular subject really centres round the very large ground-nut scheme which is being promoted by His Majesty's Government to-day. It started off, I think, with 150,000 acres in three different places. The one that has been started is in Tanganyika. I understand that in the first year about 15,000 acres have been put in cultivation, and that it may be several years before the first 150,000 acres are completed. When that scheme came out I expected that that would happen. I do not think there is anyone who would wish to get up in this House and cast cold water on the scheme, but many of us who have experience in these places could not see the possibility of the scheme being completed within the time.

One aspect of that scheme, I must confess, I do not like. There are two corporations in being at the present time, one called the Colonial Development Corporation and the other the Overseas Food Corporation. The Colonial Development Corporation, as I understand it, looks after all development of harbours and that sort of thing—it may be electricity also—and any development in the Colonics. That Corporation is subject to the Colonial Office. The Overseas Food Corporation, which I understand is to govern and administer this ground-nut scheme, is under the Ministry of Food. I suggest that that is a very unsatisfactory arrangement. In the Colonies the natives—and, after all, they matter most in these questions because the European is more educated—know the Colonial Office, but they know nothing about the Overseas Food Corporation, and they know nothing about the Food Ministry or the Food Minister of this country. If they do it is from Press utterances, and I venture to think that what they do know is not very good.

Therefore, to-day, we have in charge of this great scheme the Overseas Food Corporation, under the Ministry of Food, handling to a large extent the same set of subjects as the Colonial Office who control the Colonial development scheme. I urge the Government to think over that again and to consider whether it would not be better to place both that scheme and the Colonial development scheme under the Colonial Office, if necessary giving the Colonial Office a special department to deal with the food schemes. At least the people in the Colonies will know that the Colonial Office, which they trust, is handling all these schemes. I think schemes of the magnitude of that which is in hand at the present moment give rise to suspicion in the Colonies. They are always rather nervous about what some of them call grandiloquent schemes of that nature, and if it is to be handled by another Department I am sure the suspicion will grow even greater.

My noble friend Lord Bledisloe has referred to climate, diseases and so on in regard to tropical products. I want to emphasize what he says, because I am sure it is true that while you can grow a particular tropical product in West Africa where it will thrive and have certain kinds of diseases attached to it—they always do—when you come to East Africa and grow that same product under the conditions of the climate, soil and so on existing there, you will probably find that there are other diseases with which you have to cope and the chances are that it will not grow as well there as it does in West Africa. That applies not only to groundnuts, but to any form of tropical product which you try to grow. I do urge that that side of the question should be taken into consideration.

There is also the question of native labour. In setting up a big scheme of that kind, to be followed by another in Kenya and another in Northern Rhodesia, a great deal of native labour will have to be employed in spite of mechanization. The effect of employing large numbers of natives on these schemes is bound to have a repercussion upon other industries, perhaps upon the planters and so on in the perimeter of that zone which strikes out towards the edge of the pool. I beg of the Government to take particular note of the effect of that, too. With these few words, I wish every success to the scheme and hope that we shall continue to have debates of this kind, always agreeing, as good Imperialists, that there shall be no Party spirit about, the matter but that we have to do our best to develop the Colonial Empire, to the advantage both of the natives who live there and of this country.

4.27 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Rennell had hoped to participate in this discussion to express the views of noble Lords who sit on these Benches, but unfortunately a last-minute engagement has prevented him from doing so. I hope your Lordships will not conclude from the fact that there has been no speaker from this part of the House that we are uninterested in this question of overseas development and that we fail in any way to recognize its importance. We are, in fact, deeply interested, and we recognize the value of overseas development both as it exists to-day and as it will increase in the future, to Europe and the world as a whole. Therefore, we warmly welcome this Motion brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston.

Before I sit down I would like to underline the importance of one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham—namely, the exchange of experience between administrators of different countries with Colonial possessions. I have in mind especially the administrators of France and Belgium. An administrator brings to his task a certain native genius which he derives from his own country. We have had some experience in the past of such an interchange of experience and it has been most profitable. I remember very well that experienced administrators took part in the deliberations of the old Commission of the League and certainly that exchange of views was of great benefit to the Mandated Territories. I feel that the extension of such an exchange of views would be of great value to the development of the overseas possessions which we all, irrespective of Party, most fervently desire.

4.30 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to intervene in this debate except to make one point. Like everybody else who has been here this afternoon, I have listened with very great interest—and more than great interest: with very great satisfaction—to what has been said. I think there can be nobody who would not be delighted at the wide measure of agreement that has been reached on all sides of the House with regard to this very important aspect of public policy; and we owe the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, a great debt of gratitude for raising it and for giving us the opportunity of showing this unanimity. I should have thought it certainly must have been encouraging for the Government, who will know that for any practical schemes they are able to bring forward for the future of the Colonies they will find no opposition, but only the most sympathetic support—so long as the schemes are practical—among noble Lords in all Parties.

The word I wanted to say was this. It is only a word of caution and it arises from something which I think the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, said. I hope the noble Lord will not think I am reactionary in expressing my view. With the broad thesis advanced by Lord Faring-don I find myself in general agreement. Of course, we all want to lead on the Colonies to self-government, both industrial and political. That has been the whole basis of British policy now for well over a century. But it is important—and I am sure the noble Lord who is going to reply for the Government, who has been at the Colonial Office, will know that this is true—to realize that one can go only at a certain pace in carrying out this policy.

There was a suggestion—I think this was what the noble Lord, Lord Faring-don, said—that the more power you give to the inhabitants of the Colonies the better for everybody concerned. My experience at the Colonial Office often was this: that self-government is not always co-terminous with good government. Good government depends upon people having the background and the experience to administer a country. If it is a great country they need more experience; if a smaller unit they need less. But they do need experience; and until they have it. to hand over government to them is merely a retrograde move. If that were not true there would be no justification for our being in these great African territories at all. But we all know that the territories have greatly benefited by our presence there, just because we happen to be a country with a much longer experience in the arts of government. One of the main functions that we perform in these Colonies is to teach the people there, the indigenous inhabitants, what we ourselves have learned over a great many centuries. Until we have taught them that, it is no good handing over our responsibilities to them.

What is more, you cannot have a standardized policy for the whole Colonial Empire. You must take your fifty-two Colonies, or whatever the number is, and administer each of them differently according to the advanced condition or the backwardness of the inhabitants there. The important thing is that you should be constantly moving them upward on this ladder of self-government, some on the lower rungs, moving up until ultimately they will reach a position similar to that of the great self-governing Dominions overseas, countries that have the same status as ourselves. But you must not hurry their progress.

We must recognize the fact that some of these territories are not likely in the foreseeable future to reach that stage. Some of the very small units may not be able to manage their own foreign policy or defence; they may amalgamate into larger units and be dependent for these great functions on some larger and stronger nation. To give them all political independence at once would be merely to throw into the forum of international politics a number of very weak units which would be only a danger and a temptation to rapacious countries with stronger power. I do not think we, in this country, would be wise to take anything but a realistic view. Let us teach these people the arts of government and lead them gradually forward wherever they are capable of more self-government, until ultimately, in some future time, they reach, we hope, complete maturity. I trust we shall always follow that policy. But do not let us delude ourselves or the people of the countries concerned into thinking that things are possible which we know in our hearts are not possible.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, the debate to which we have just listened has been so very agreeable that I have wondered once or twice whether it was necessary to have a statement on behalf of His Majesty's Government. It is the most pleasing Colonial debate in which I have ever taken part; and it is a great satisfaction to His Majesty's Government that this Motion has been found so acceptable. I. too, want to express my gratitude to the noble Lord who initiated the debate, because I think that its high tone was built upon the foundation which he himself laid. The noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, has, in his speech to-day as in all the speeches he has made in this House, not only displayed a great knowledge of his subject, but also given a clear and concise presentation of his case. His long, distinguished and very successful work in the trade union movement, and the services which he has rendered in other public appointments which he has filled, have well fitted him for such a task; and we have had the advantage of the knowledge he has acquired as a result of his work in the various offices which he has filled.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham.

who brings a wide experience to bear on debates dealing with matters concerning the Colonies. His speech was most helpful, as were the speeches of all the noble Lords who took part in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, said that there is a new concept in Colonial administration and development, and I have learned from the speeches made to-day that there is no difference among us with regard to the need for further extending Colonial development. We can no longer afford the existence of the great areas of uncultivated lands, the swamps, the untapped minerals, the lack of transport and the unused inherent power in the lands which we control, and this applies particularly to Africa, that great continent around which, very rightly, the debate centred to-day. After all, I do not think we should be too pessimistic with regard to the development which has taken place, particularly during the last twenty or thirty years. It is not such a very long stride since the days of Stanley and Livingstone, and we cannot expect a population like the indigenous population of Africa to move forward in a generation or two generations. Indeed, we have only to look back into the history of our own country to realize how long it has taken us to reach the standard we have reached at the present time.

Many of us will have read a most interesting book, dealing with the progress of our own country, called A Wonderful Century. Looking back to conditions which existed in this country just one hundred years ago and comparing them with the present time provides, in itself, an indication that with determination much can be done to speed up not only the economic but also the social and the political development of that great continent of Africa. Noble Lords will know that in 1842 boys of four and a half or five years of age were employed in the coal mines of this country, and girls of five and a half years of age were employed. I suppose that would be comparable with conditions which existed in Africa twenty or thirty years ago. Now there is an awakening; and that awakening must be responded to, and is being responded to, by the people of this country. I am not pessimistic with regard to the future of the Colonies in Africa. Indeed, much development has taken place as a result of the efforts of the native peoples, assisted by British administrators, British skill and, I say quite frankly, by a very large amount of British capital. Various Governments, too, have rendered a substantial financial assistance.

Even earlier than 1939 financial assistance was given to the Colonies which were not self-supporting, and even those that were self-supporting at that time had to call upon this country for help to meet the needs of special cases, and to deal with special problems and special difficulties. But it was in 1929 that the then Government gave the first direct assistance. In that year the Colonial Development Fund was established, and a sum of £1,000,000 a year was voted for expenditure on schemes likely to develop agriculture and industry in the Colonies. Then there was the greatly improved legislation of 1940. I think that marked the first clear recognition by this nation of development in the Colonies. It must be remembered that that legislation in 1940 was passed during the darkest days of the war, when the issue was in the balance, when we were fighting alone the German menace. The late Lord Lloyd piloted that Bill through your Lordships' House, and I had some responsibility for assisting in another place. That Act provided for an expenditure of £55,000,000 over a period of ten years. Of course, the money was not spent; indeed, long before the expiration of that Act, another Bill was introduced by a Conservative Colonial Secretary in the person of Mr. Oliver Stanley, increasing the amount to be spent on development to £120,000,000, to be spent over a period of ten years.

Notwithstanding the fact that the postwar period is a very hard one for us, and we have accepted austerity conditions, there has been no grudging of this expenditure and no criticism of it. In addition to that £120,000,000 there is the other proposal for the loaning under a finance corporation of £150,000,000, which covers the scheme about which so much has been said here to-day. I am not going to answer the detailed criticism which was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. I think that the most appropriate time to deal with that matter will be when the Bill is brought to your Lordships' House. I do hope that the points which have been made today will be repeated on that occasion and they can be dealt with then. It is interest- ing to note the form which this financial assistance that has been promised to the Colonies is taking, in respect of the response which we are receiving from the Colonies whose schemes have already been approved. The first sixteen schemes for development which have now been approved include a total ultimate expenditure of £175,000,000, made up as follows: grants from Colonial Welfare Act, about £55,000,000; the Colonial surpluses and revenue given to supplement the grants are estimated at £68,000,000; and borrowings upon the grant and revenue from Colonial surpluses amount to over £50,000,000. So the grants which have been given to Colonies have acted as a magnet for the collection of other moneys, in some cases far in excess of the amount of the grant which has been given.

May I give an example? The Nigerian ten-year development plan contemplates an expenditure of £55,000,000, of which £23,000,000 will be found from the Colonial Development and Welfare Act; £32,000,000 has been either given or paid over out of revenue or out of loans. As so many noble Lords during the course of this debate have said, the only way in which we can obtain that co-operation between Colonial administrations and the Colonial peoples is to get them interested by contributing—and indeed, not only contributing, but rendering, service at the same time. I am a great believer in political development, but I agree with what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said. I have never advocated that political development should speed ahead of economic development. Economic development must go side by side with political development, and political development with economic development.

It is no use attempting to influence people—and we are experiencing some difficulty in this respect in some of the Colonies outside Africa—where there is a request or a demand for all kinds of services which it is impossible to meet, unless the funds making those services available are financed almost to their entirety from British money. It is impossible. Keen as we are about development, we must see to it that the people themselves in the Colonies share with us the responsibility for the economic development of those territories; then, at the same time, we shall see a political development. Again, I am not too pessimistic about political development.

May I take this opportunity of expressing, I am sure on behalf of all your Lordships, a very happy welcome to Lord Milverton on his entry into your Lordships' House? There we have a Colonial administrator who has given a life's work to the Colonics. He has a distinguished career which has not been confined to Africa. His career embraces Malaya, the West Indies and Nigeria, and wherever he has been he has left a mark upon the administration of those territories. It can rightly be said that he has left not so much a monument of marble as a monument in the minds and hearts of the people of the territories which he has served, and to which he has rendered a great and lasting service, as well as to this nation. I am hopeful that soon we shall have the benefit of his long experience and the advantage of hearing his sound advice upon the Colonial measures which will come before your Lordships' House.

My Lords, we have heard much, and rightly so, about the diversity of industry in the Colonies. The point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston. It is true that up to the present time we have not the diversity of industry that we would like; but it is developing. It is interesting to note that in Nigeria there is a very successful nationalized coal mine, and that during this world shortage of coal, with its vital importance to our industrial life, the Government colliery in Nigeria, which has been producing coal for many years, has an annual production now running at between 600,000 and 700,000 tons. From this colliery all the coal requirements in the West African Colonies are being met, and the Colonial Office are of the opinion that it will probably be possible to raise this production considerably, and so provide a surplus for export elsewhere. It is true that the coal might be more economically used than it is at the moment; for instance, by making briquettes and in other ways.

It is interesting to note that not only in Nigeria but in Borneo and in Sarawak there are at the present time technical experts examining the possibilities of coal development in these territories. And coal is also to be found in the Eastern side of Africa. Geologists of the Government of Tanganyika are now investigating the possibility of developing deposits there. It is true that they are in very remote parts of the territory, and I am hoping that the ground-nuts scheme will render at least one of the possible areas much more accessible. Before we can develop much of the resources of the Colonies, however, it is necessary to have an adequate number of surveys, both topographical and geological. An organization has been set up within the last year or two, under the Colonial Office, to undertake a complete topographical survey of the Colonial Empire with the aid of aerial photography. This organization is financed under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, and much use is made of the Royal Air Force photographic units. On the geological side much good work has already been done, and many discoveries have been made by geologists working for the Colonial governments themselves. But, so far, there is no comprehensive and systematic geological survey for most parts of the Empire. We are hoping that at least those surveys which are in operation will be completed within the course of the next few years.

During the course of debate much has been said concerning native conditions. I was interested in what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, about settlements, but I am not so sure that I quite agree with him with regard to the setting up of European settlements. I had a rather unpleasant experience in dealing with a very large industry in an African colony during my period of service at the Colonial Office from 1940 to 1942. I must say that I was rather surprised at the lack of toleration shown to the native workers by some of the Europeans engaged in a very important industry which made a large contribution towards the war effort. I wish that they had assisted the natives a little more and, indeed, I would wish that where Europeans are employed there should be given to the Africans the recognition that, where Africans are advanced in skill, certain positions should be allowed to them and not retained to the Europeans. I can quite understand the need for guaranteeing or safeguarding the conditions of European workers, but if we are to have advancement of the African who has been engaged in industry for a number of years, then after he has served a very extensive apprenticeship he must have opportunities for showing his skill.


If the noble Viscount will allow me, I entirely agree with him about the difficulties which arise when you mix African and European labour. He knows the difficulties that arise with the European unions, for instance, in South Africa, and the same thing tends to apply over the whole length of Africa. My whole contention was that you should not mix European and African labour, but that you should try completely parallel developments of this kind, so that Africans may have full opportunity in what is an African industry, and, at the same time, may have before them the example of what can be done by Europeans in a purely European industry. I believe that side by side Europeans and Africans will work, but mixed they will never work.


My Lords, I did not, of course, understand that it was intended to suggest that certain industries should be set aside for purely European work-people.


One line British and one line African.


That of course will create considerable difficulties. It has raised difficulties in the way of the African obtaining the necessary training from the skilled man to enable him to undertake the responsibility of management and control. That is one of the problems with which the Colonial Office is confronted at the present time. The failure of Europeans and Africans to mix does present us with a problem of considerable complexity. In many cases, of course, the two do mix, and the African, we know, will work under a European quite harmoniously.

I do not know that I should take up very much more of your Lordships' time in dealing with the intentions of His Majesty's Government. The fact that so much has been done already is an earnest of their determination to proceed with Colonial development. One could give a long catalogue of cases where grants have been paid to various Colonies; one could give statistics relating to amounts which have been collected and to excellent work which has been done. But all these things are so well known to most of your Lordships that I do not propose to take up more of your time than is required for me to say that it is the decision of His Majesty's Government that in almost every case we shall encourage the Colonies, not only in Africa but in all other parts of the world, to develop not only on the economic side but on the political side as well. It is for that purpose that His Majesty's Government have given so much attention to Colonial development, and for that reason it gives me very great pleasure to accept the Motion which has been so very ably moved by my noble friend Lord Dukeston, and so eloquently supported by a number of other noble Lords.

On Question, Motion agreed to.