§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, it is with considerable diffidence that I rise to take part in this debate. It is not my intention, in the short time for which I propose to detain your Lordships, to attempt to go into great detail. Criticisms have been levelled at the Government, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell. I do not for one moment question his knowledge of his subject, of which I can pretend to have only a small share, but there are one or two remarks that fell from his lips about which I venture to differ from him.
The noble Lord held out as one of the reasons which entitled him to criti- 1189 cise the Government that they were not pursuing an identical policy in all parts of Africa. I should have thought it was recognised by noble Lords who have had direct contact with Africa that there was a considerable difference between the various parts of that Continent. The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, who had a share in this work in Kenya, knows that East Africa must of necessity be treated differently from West Africa. I should have thought that the conception of the union of the two Rhodesias was also a matter which stood on a different footing from the positions in East Africa or West Africa. Finally, I would point out to the noble Lord that, even in the smaller area of Nigeria itself, the conditions in North Nigeria, East Nigeria and West Nigeria are so different that it was part of the genius of the constitution devised by Lord Milverton that they were not all treated in precisely the same way, and that quite different considerations were allowed to influence the position of the three territories in that one country.
With regard to the question of whether the Constitution of Nigeria should be revised at the present time, I would say only this. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, seemed to me to suggest that because that Constitution was instituted only two years ago, it was wrong to revise it at the present time. I should have thought it very wise if, as a result not of violent agitation, not of the decision of His Majesty's Government proprio motu, but because there were signs of discontent over the Constitution, His Majesty's Government decided to seek means of discovering whether that discontent had any real substance, and whether the people of Nigeria, if they were properly consulted, had any constructive suggestions to make.
That is the course which the Government have adopted with Nigeria, and it is one which I should have thought was worthy not of criticism but of respect, and possibly of being copied in other parts of the world. The Government first set up a Select Committee to consider in what way the opinions of the people of Nigeria should be consulted. This Select Committee, upon which there served members of His Majesty's Government service in their official capacity, and also all the unofficial members of the Legislative Council, came to some interesting conclusions. They came to the 1190 conclusion that the people of Nigeria ought to be consulted at three levels: first, province by province, and that in consulting the provinces advice should be invited from even the smaller entities of the villages themselves; secondly, that when the views of the provinces had been obtained there should be consultations in larger conferences at a regional level; and, finally, that all these views should be brought together at central level, and that then, and then only, should an attempt be made to decide what was desired in the way of review and revision of the Constitution.
I can see nothing derogatory or undesirable about that; and to suggest that because that procedure is followed in Nigeria some similar procedure must be followed in all other parts of Africa, seems to me surely to misunderstand the position. I hope that I am not misinterpreting what the noble Lord said, but that was certainly the impression he conveyed to me. I should have thought that was a thoroughly satisfactory way in which to proceed.
if I may interrupt, it was certainly not my intention to say that the same procedure should be followed in all African territories; nor that the same conclusion should necessarily be reached in each territory. What I did suggest, and what I maintain, is that the policies pursued in the East and West are mutually contradictory.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
That may be the interpretation which the noble, Lord puts on the matter. But that is not how his speech struck me, and I would venture to differ from the conclusion which he appears to draw from the facts.
I think there will be a very large measure of agreement in all parts of the House with what the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said in opening this debate. He enunciated principles which I think are regarded as sound by all, or most, of us. Though he indulged in certain criticisms of the Government, I am sure the Government will take them in good part, and that when my noble friend comes to reply he, will reply seriatim to some of the minor criticisms in the same good-tempered manner as that in which the noble Viscount made his criticisms. I have no doubt that my noble friend who followed me in one of 1191 the important positions in the State will, in equally friendly terms, be able to deal with the points which were raised by the noble Viscount.
The real matter with which I want to deal, however, is to point out a fact of which members of this House are no doubt all well aware—namely, that the world is going through very great changes at present, and that it depends upon the wisdom of this country whether we adapt ourselves to the changes which are taking place. A couple of months ago we had in this Chamber a debate upon Foreign Affairs, during which I dealt with the changes that had taken place in the power of different parts and nations of the world; and my special theme was the Dominions. I feel very strongly that the action that His Majesty's Government took at the time in India (in which I had the honour to play some small part) has been of the greatest importance. It was said at the time that in breaking up the Empire, in relinquishing control over India, we were damaging the position of British people who had interests in India. I do not say that the noble Lord agreed with that view. From what he said just now I gather that probably he did not, but it was held in many quarters.
I think it would be said to-day by the commercial interests in this country that they have found that quite the contrary has taken place. I believe that British commercial interests find that in the new set-up in India they have an honoured place. They can carry on their business with great effect, in a way that would probably not have been possible had we attempted to continue to hold down that large, interesting and important part of Asia. Our control may at one time have been all right, but owing to the changes of attitude and of mind of the people, it had become increasingly wrong. I am glad to see that the noble Lord agrees with me because I would suggest to him that precisely the same thing which was taking place in India, and largely through Asia as a whole, is to-day also taking place in Africa.
I would like to quote from one of the Colonial research publications which has recently been issued on the subject of African efficiency; it is Report No. 3. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, and the noble Lord, Lord 1192 Rennell, that it is important to keep up the physical well-being of the Africans; and it is true that that physical wellbeing is reduced by certain purely physical causes. One is known as malignant malnutrition, which I think means malnutrition which starts while a person is a child and which, therefore, remains, whatever effective nutrition is given to the person later. Another fact is that the European does not always understand that the African does not want to take his meals exactly at the time when the European does; that at the time when the African wants to feed he is not given any food, although food is available at a time when he does not feel inclined to take it.
Further, in the Report, are these remarks:Another important handicap to the establishment of greater efficiency is European ignorance of African attitudes. … Related to this is the necessity for retaining the confidence of the Africans, both individually and collectively. … As an impression the view is recorded that African confidence in the European is slipping."—I am quoting from page 119 of the Report; I am not expressing my own opinion—
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I have not been there for two years, but nothing could be further from the truth in regard to the time when I was the responsible Minister. If it was true, the war effort would never have been made.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I am quoting from this Report. I do not think it is a criticism of some recent policy. What I was trying to convey was that owing to the whole situation in the world, the turmoil that has taken place in consequence of the war and its effects, a new attitude of mind is being manifested by Africans and they are taking a different view towards Europeans from that which existed in days gone by. We must meet that, whether it be in one part of Africa or another. We have to face up to the fact that we have to deal with the psychology of the African in a way which was not considered necessary in days gone by. A long time ago the Africans were looked upon merely as so much labour, to be bought in the market as one bought pieces of machinery or something of that kind. Then, later, there was the paternal 1193 attitude in the administration of the Colonies which was a great deal more humane. But to-day we have a situation in which the African wishes to be consulted, wishes to express his own views and wishes his own views to be taken into consideration and acted upon.
We have in this country, at the present time, a considerable number of students from our Colonies—I think that altogether there are something like 3,000 of them—of whom a large proportion come from Africa. Some of them are women. As part of our Colonial policy, we have decided—I think in the time of the Coalition Government—to set up universities in different parts of the Colonial Empire, and we have taken steps to do so. Now all over Africa we are getting a considerable element of educated and thoughtful native people. I am not going to pretend for one moment that they form a majority or even a considerable minority of the population; I know that they do not. I know that the vast bulk of Africans are still back where they were years ago—that is, in a state of primitive civilisation. But many of these educated men and women to whom I have referred are the natural leaders of their people. That is just as true as it was in this country when large masses of our people were illiterate and uneducated. So, while not being sentimental and ridiculous about it, we have to pay attention to the views which these people hold. That is one of the reasons why we are acting as we are acting in Nigeria at the present time. I venture to suggest that that is the real key to the whole question. The attitude which was adopted towards Colonial dependencies in times gone by has ceased to be applicable to the present situation. We have to take up a new attitude and to take it up in time. It may be that when the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, was in Africa, this upsurge had not come sufficiently above the surface to be noticeable even by such an acute observer as the noble Viscount himself. But that every day it is growing is a fact which I believe few people would deny.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I would not like the noble Lord to think that I underrated in any way the advance which has taken place. I enjoyed in my work a great amount of co-operation from Africans.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I am not in the least suggesting that the noble Viscount did not. All I was saying is that things move very fast in these days, and, owing to the aftermath of the war and all the other things that have happened, a great effect has been produced in Africa.
§ VISCOUNT TRENCHARD
Would the noble Lord excuse my interrupting him? He said that in the past we looked upon the African purely as so much labour. I would like to say, as one who was out there forty years ago, that I resent that remark on behalf of the Africans. I was Commandant of the Nigerian Regiment and I served under the greatest Governor whom I ever met there—Sir Walter Edgerton. Our one aim was to work in co-operation with the Africans to the fullest possible extent, and, far from looking on them merely as labour, we did all we possibly could for them. They liked us very much and we had a great regard for them. There was no question of their being looked upon simply as labour. As an old Government servant out there, I resent people saying that we looked upon the Africans purely as labour.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I am very sorry that I have brought the noble Viscount to his feet to protest in this way. I was certainly making no attack upon him, and I have no doubt that what he says is perfectly true. But I do not think he will deny that there was in the old days a considerable element of British exploitation in Africa, and in the light of that exploitation the African was often looked upon as so much labour, as something to be bought and sold. I had certainly no intention of saying anything to arouse the indignation of the noble Viscount, and if I have done so I am exceedingly sorry I was going to say that there had been this great change going on all over the world in the last few years, and the changes which have taken place in Asia have no doubt produced great effect on the minds of Africans.
There are just two things which I will say in conclusion. In the first place, I would like to draw attention for a moment to a particular matter in Nigeria. We made certain promises with regard to the educational set-up in that country. We 1195 established a university and we promised certain payments, both for capital expenditure and towards upkeep. We promised to give Nigeria a medical school which would rank at the highest level. I understand that, owing to the great rise in salaries and in costs generally in other directions, the money that we have found it possible to provide is not proving adequate to do all that we promised. I think that this is a point which His Majesty's Government will have to consider very carefully. They will have to consider whether having, as it were, built one storey of the edifice which was promised, we should not feel it obligatory upon us to provide enough money to build the second storey to enable the promise given to be fully carried out. If His Majesty's Government cannot do that, then I think they will have to consider very carefully what part of the edifice they promised to build should be held over for a time. What would be fatal, I think, would be to attempt to try to erect the building (I am not speaking in physical terms of building, but metaphorically) inadequately and leave an unsuitable and ineffective university where only a first-class university should be available. In that connection, I would like to remind your Lordships of the size of Nigeria and of its population. Nigeria has a population something like half that of the United Kingdom, but the number of children of school age is about comparable with that in this country, because the people of Nigeria have very much larger families than do people here.
Finally, I want to say that I have the greatest faith in the British people, by reason of their many qualities and particularly because their institutions are flexible and not fixed. Because we have done certain things well in the past, that is no reason why we should pursue, in the future, our past methods. It is our great genius that we are able to adapt ourselves to changing circumstances. My contention is that whether we want to develop the life of our Commonwealth and its resources, or whether we are anxious merely to pursue the lesser end of preventing the spread of Communism and preserving the loyalty of our Empire, the great and important thing is that we should keep abreast of the times, understand the psychology of the peoples who are dependent upon us and, so far 1196 as we possibly can, meet their views and satisfy their aspirations. I believe that is the task that the present Government have been pursuing. I do not suggest for one moment that it is not also desired by the members of other Parties; I believe it is a fundamental principle of all Parties in this country. It is because I think that that is so that I welcome the debate which has taken place in your Lordships' House to-day.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
My Lords, the importance of the issues we are considering to-day cannot possibly be exaggerated, for the questions which concern our Colonies, Dependencies and Mandated Territories are also the problems of all the other undeveloped and backward countries in the world. When we remember that between 1,000,000,000 and 1,500,000,000 of the world's population are in those backward countries, the significance of finding the right answers to these problems must be present in all our minds. For my part, I believe that the future of the world, the continuance of civilisation as we know it, and the advancement of the economic and social conditions for these hundreds of millions of people depend on two things—the maintenance of peace in the world and the development of the latent resources of these backward countries. With regard to the first, it seems to me that the world is showing great statesmanship and great vision. The evidence of that is the Western Union, the Atlantic Pact and the contemplated Agreements in other regions for maintaining the security of the nations there. With regard to the other problem, that of how we are to bring about the development of the backward countries, it seems to me that we are showing neither statesmanship nor vision, and it is very doubtful whether we are exercising even reasonable common sense upon it. I do not propose to follow the interesting line taken by the previous speaker, who dealt with various problems in individual countries. I want to address myself only to what appears to me to be the fundamental policy upon which we have to decide, and upon which everything else will depend.
Before doing so, I am afraid that I must delay the House for a few minutes to make clear why I attach such im- 1197 portance to this aspect of the question. On several previous occasions I have wearied the House with my view that, if we are to realise any of the ideals we have for an advancement in the economic and social conditions of the world, we have to get down to the problem of the development of the backward countries. I am glad to be able to say that there now seems to be fairly general agreement on that. The outstanding evidence that this is so lies in the Resolution passed by the United Nations Assembly in Paris last December and in the fourth point in President Truman's Inaugural Address to Congress. Both emphasise the urgent need for the development of the resources of the backward areas. If we are to achieve that development, we must have scientific, economic, financial and social experts and we have to remember (and to my mind this is almost a more important question) that great economic and social problems will arise in all these backward countries, in the train of such development. The handling of these difficult and complex changes will require men of great competence and experience.
The backward countries to-day, however, have no experts, no men of experience and competence, who can handle these fundamental changes in the economic and social structure. These countries will have to obtain the assistance of experts from outside, from more advanced countries, and that assistance must be given in the fullest measure. In the face of that problem, I think we have to recognise that there is a tendency to-day to try to go too far and too fast. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, will not think I am being too critical if I say that, while I accept everything he has said, the policy that was applicable fifteen years ago is probably not quite applicable to-day, I think we are trying to change that policy far too rapidly, because of the obsession for political questions, the things that have been almost the life-blood of so many members of the Government and the Party that support them. I think they lay far too much stress on the political side of these questions, upon the development of systems of government and, above all, on the recognition of the trends of the minds of these people. I recognise that full well, but has the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, given the 1198 proportion of educated persons in these communities? And how far can he say that they always represent the point of view or the best interests of the mass of the people of their own country?
We ought not to be paving lip service to every sort of idea just because it is said to be based on nationalist aspirations for self-government or for independence. We have to examine these things a little more carefully. A great many of the people who go from these backward countries to be educated in a foreign land have not the opportunity of absorbing all that that country has achieved, through the generations, for its own people, and often they obtain wholly false ideas. I go so far as to say that, in face of the great issues that we are up against, it is arrant stupidity to be spending nearly all our time in the United Nations (as I venture to say is being done), arguing at unlimited length about different theories of government in the Colonies and dependent countries, usually with the background that we should yield to any pressure group which raises the cry of national aspirations. I am sorry if many people do not agree with me on that, but it seems to me that is the way we are now behaving. In my view, we are imperilling the interests of millions upon millions of native people whose destinies are to-day in our hands.
I also venture to say that, if this course is to be pursued, the Government will make it very difficult to carry out their own declared policy. As I understand it, their policy is that future developments in the Colonies must be conducted for the benefit of the native populations; and that increases in trade and production should be reflected in a rising standard of living and steady social progress. As evidence of their desire to get on with the job, they have in various forms, over a period of years, provided something like £350,000,000 for development and other purposes. I will not weary the House with details, but to me, that is all to the good. I go so far as to say that it has been far too long delayed, because I believe that in the past we have not given to these Colonies the measure of economic assistance which we should have given them.
At the time when the British Government have taken this action, and when Britain's policy is to make this great 1199 contribution towards developing backward countries there is a move in the world which makes it clear that international assistance towards that objective will be forthcoming in great measure. President Truman's declaration is the outstanding evidence of that. All this, it would seem, should open up a new vista and a new hope for the unfortunate natives that, at long last, they might look for real advances in their economic and social standards, and in their general conditions. I have the greatest doubt, however, whether such an advance will come about, because it seems to rue that now, when there is this opportunity, we have all gone "woolly-minded," and are prepared to abdicate our position of leading the world on this question of the advancement and help of backward peoples: we are really abandoning a position that we should maintain. After all, with their long tradition of Colonial administration, the British have forgotten more on this question than the great majority of the nations of the world ever knew. My appeal is that we should not abdicate our position, although it seems to me that we are doing so.
I would like to refer to our Colonial policy in the past. While I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, that it must be modified to suit changing times and changing conditions, fundamentally, as in most things, the great principle must remain. It may have to go at an accelerated pace, but do not let it go at the pace at which it has apparently been going in some places. I suggest that the principles that have governed our policy in the past are these: To protect and afford security; to establish freedom and justice; to maintain law and order; to afford financial assistance towards economic advancement and social welfare; to guide and encourage the development of their own social, economic and political institutions; to give them an increasing share in controlling and directing their own affairs; and to accord them self-governing rights when the suitable stage of development has been reached. I do not think that anyone will quarrel with the correctness of that as the policy, but there may be arguments as to the pace at which it should be carried out.
I feel that we are to-day trying to accelerate the pace to a ridiculous degree. 1200 What it comes to is this. If we go on as we are, we shall reach the point where we hand over these vast native populations to a small group of intellectuals—as they generally are—who have raised the flag of their nationalistic aspirations. Those people, generally speaking, have not the education or experience to control and govern the destinies of great masses of people. They certainly have not the knowledge and experience necessary to adjust these vast economic and social changes that take place; and they have not at their disposal the necessary competent staffs to help them to do these things. In some cases, they are not even honest. In that connection I would commend to your Lordships the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in this House on January 19 last. Even assuming that they possess all the honesty in the world, they just have not the capacity for doing what is required; they must seek help from outside. It is a grievous thing that the general trend in every one of these Administrations is to refuse to co-operate with others from outside in carrying out developments. Indeed, a great number of the Administrations work secretly against such co-operation.
It seems to me that if we pursue our policy of granting self-government before the countries are ready we shall do an incalculable disservice to these people whose destiny is in our hands. And, incidentally, we shall make impossible the task of those who are trying to administer these territories in this atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt. There is no question but that to-day in the Colonial Service—a Service whose record in the past is certainly one of the great glories of the British people—there is uncertainty, anxiety and a growing and deep sense of frustration. That is a position which should never have been allowed to arise. And I say the source of that is the Government policy. I maintain that there is not the strength and clarity in that policy to make possible the conduct of this great service, which is responsible for handling of large populations. I say that the time has now come, if we are not to get into an impossible and hopeless position, when there should be a new affirmation of where we stand. I suggest that that affirmation should be that we are going to follow the traditional policy of 1201 this country with regard to dependent peoples—namely, that we are going to help them, and guide them to the point where ultimately they can govern themselves. On that basis, it would be possible for the Colonial Service to carry out their function and maintain their great traditions of the past.
Why should we hesitate to be bold and say where we stand on this? Surely our record is good enough to justify anything we might do. Let me remind your Lordships that we have embodied into this British Commonwealth countries which we have populated, countries which we have conquered and countries with vast native populations. All those countries we have guided and protected, and to all of them we have eventually given full self-governing rights. Examples of the first group are Canada, Australia and New Zealand; an example of the second—a country we conquered—is South Africa; and examples of the third are India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Surely, that is a good enough record for us to be prepared to reaffirm our faith in our own destiny in helping in this great problem of the backward peoples who comprise far more than half the population of the world. Surely that is good enough for us to face the task of real leadership. We could then once more become the great Power that we were in the past, a Power that did more than any other country to help dependent peoples and native populations.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
My Lords, I rise for a few moments to talk about our colonisation in Eastern Africa. My excuse for doing so is that it is just forty-three years since I first went out to what was then British East Africa, and I have seen vast changes, not only in the country itself but in the conception of our colonisation there. When we first went out, the railway had just reached the lake. There were approximately 600 white people in countries as big as France and Germany, and they included the officials and those employed on the railway. In what are now called the White Highlands there were vast stretches in which one could walk for twenty, thirty, or forty miles, and not see a single native, or at most one or two wandering people. In response to invitation, settlers took up land there and proceeded to develop it. The land 1202 looked good and the climate was perfect. Your Lordships will bear in mind that although we did not get the best of the land—by far the most fertile part was left in the native reserves—that which remained was good enough. You will be surprised to know that at that time not only did we think we were doing a good job of work, but the people in this country thought so too. Even the papers talked about "pioneers of Empire," "the brightest jewel in the Crown," and things like that. At that time the phrase "exploitation of the native" had not ben invented. We could not do much exploiting for the time being, because there were no natives there. But I expect that I am one of the people who the noble Lord considers looked on the natives as "labour," which, for some reason, he finds a derogatory term. I thought that rather surprising, because I seem to remember a Minister of the Crown saying that anyone who was not Labour was not worth a tinker's curse.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
I read in a newspaper the other day an article about colonisation in East Africa. In it occurred the statement that when the white colonists arrived they destroyed the whole natural economy of the African and, therefore, the quicker they went the better. It is true that we did destroy the whole natural economy of the native; but what was that economy? I remember it well. The native was not there in great numbers, and one tribe, the Masai, did their best to keep them down. Disease was rife and they faced periodic starvation. The African native was, and I think is, an improvident person. When there was a good harvest he ate, waxed fat and had children. Of course, periodically there are droughts followed by famine, and then the native just starves. About two years after I went there we had a small drought—not a heavy one—followed by famine which was not on a widespread scale, but several hundred natives died. I remember within a hundred miles of Nairobi myself counting just on 100 natives dead under a tree, where they had fallen to die of starvation. Some eight years after that there was a much worse drought, followed by a much worse famine, but that time, so 1203 far as we know, not a single native died of starvation.
We did change the natural economy of the native, but was that for the worse? I would not have thought so. In fact, I am not at all certain that it would not have been better for the natives if more land—of which there was a great deal which was completely unoccupied, and which for the most part is unoccupied now—had been handed over to white settlers. Your Lordships must remember that in the settled part of Kenya—the part from which practically the whole exportable surplus comes—there must be at least one hundred natives where there was one before. They are all well fed, and all able to have employment if they so wish.
As I see it, in that part of the country at the present moment there are two great problems. The first is starvation, which is being accelerated by the destruction of the fertility of the land through bad farming and erosion. I said that when we went there we cured disease, we totally stopped the brutalities of the Masai and we totally stopped starvation. As a result, the natives who have great fertility—greater than the European, though not so great as the Indian—are increasing rapidly. Even so, there is enough room to-day in the land reserved to him, were it not that his methods of farming (coupled, with the fact that his internal economy is largely four-footed, and consists for the large part of the goat, which is the worst enemy of soil fertility) are causing the soil to be destroyed at an enormous pace. It will not be long before there will not be enough ground for him to maintain himself. I know that the Administration in Kenya are doing a good deal to stop soil erosion, but I do not believe they are doing enough. I think they could take stern steps in that regard. I doubt whether anyone has the right to destroy the fertility of the soil. They might even consider going almost as far as the authorities go in this country with regard to people who destroy the fertility of this Island.
I was rather struck the other day by a speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon. I could not help thinking that there was a certain amount of truth in his statement that 150 years ago we went to India and found 100,000,000 starving, and 150 years later we moved out and 1204 left 300,000,000 starving. That is in spite of the vast sums of money which have been spent and the immense trouble we have taken during that century and a half to increase the supply of food there. I should not like to think that, when the time comes for us to leave Kenya, we shall leave the same result in that country.
Another problem is the growth of nationalism which is being sponsored by international Communists. That is a menace, perhaps not an immediate one but a real one. Nor is it a new one. Forty years ago I can remember the cry "Africa for the Africans." Then we have the cry, "Kikuyu for the Kikuyu: Kavirondo for the Kavirondo: Wanyamwezi for the Wanyamwezi." I do not know whether we are doing much about this problem; the time will come, sooner or later, when the cry of nationalism will assume very great importance. Moreover, one must remember that the Communist has a certain advantage in Africa, in connection with what is called the "colour bar." The Russian Communist has no colour bar of any kind. We for our part say that we have no colour bar; and that is true. But we have another bar, in as much as we do not like mixing freely with people who do not wash, or with people who are not well educated or who are immoral, and so on. I am sure there are directions in which we show a great deal more discrimination than anything in the Communist's code, and he derives advantage thereby. On the other hand, we have a certain advantage, which is that, in the main, the African, certainly in Eastern and Central Africa, is very fond of the Englishman. My experience is that he welcomes his old master when he goes back; the Englishman finds himself welcome in all sorts of places. That was the case in my time, and I do not believe that things have vastly changed now.
There are two matters which I should like to mention to the Minister who is to reply. The first is that the African, like a great many other people, is fond of a certain amount of pomp and ceremony. He also likes a certain amount of discipline—as anyone who has served with the African tribes knows. The higher the standard of discipline in an African battalion, the greater the rush to join it. There is nothing peculiar about that, for it applies in this country also. These natives like soldiering; they like 1205 seeing the saluting of the flag, and so forth. There is nothing wrong in that. Surely our own people like seeing such things as the Lord Mayor's Show and the Trooping of the Colour. I am sure that ceremonial has a good effect on the native, and I believe that to be the probable explanation of the apparent riddle of how it is that these native soldiers fight so bravely and obstinately, often without pay or food. I may be wrong, but I cannot help feeling that we are lapsing a little in our respect for pageantry and pomp. I was a little distressed—possibly quite wrongly—when I heard the other day that the Governor's House in Nairobi was being given up to become a school. I am aware that it is to be a school for white boys, that the school was badly wanted, and that this was a great act of sacrifice on the Governor's part. Nevertheless, I felt that it must be doubtful policy to do a thing like that now; I should have thought that it would be possible to do something in the way of erecting temporary buildings, so that the Governor's House might remain as it was.
The other point which I wish to commend to the attention of the noble Earl who is to reply refers to education. I know the noble Earl will say—and quite rightly—that we do a tremendous lot for education in these places, but I wonder whether it is altogether the right kind of education. The last time I was there I went to see a native school. It was a very good school indeed, and the boys looked splendid in their uniforms; everything was spotlessly clean. They had organised games and other amenities. I said to the schoolmaster, "Your feeling ought to be one of great pride." He said, "As a matter of fact, my feeling is one of deep sorrow." I said, "Why is that?" He replied, "I cannot see what future there is for these boys; there are but two alternatives: either to be a black-coated clerk in an office or to be a political agitator; there is no other." That is a serious thing for a high-minded man to say, and I wonder whether we have done enough to see that these people are given some way of making use of their knowledge. I am sure we ought to do far more in the way of technical education than we do now.
I am afraid that my "King Charles's head" will now reveal itself. I feel that I must say a word about ground-nuts. I 1206 grew my first crop of ground-nuts forty-two years ago. I know the sort of place in which ground-nuts are grown—and more nasty spots I do not wish to see. I admit that I saw these places in rather deplorable circumstances, for my partner and I lost our money in growing groundnuts. On the other hand, we obtained our experience; and I cannot refrain from pointing out that it was our own money we lost and our own experience we gained! I agree with other noble Lords in deploring the present position over ground-nuts. I believe there is one fundamental reason for it, and that is the failure to realise the intense hostility of Africa to any new enterprise, and the intense antagonism with which she meets attempts at subjugation. I am talking of something I know experto crede. During the years that I was in Africa, I started five major enterprises and several subsidiary ones. I gave myself a bit of advice which I passed on to my friends at the same time. It was this: "If you are going to start a new enterprise, take a piece of paper and a pencil, and after getting all the information you can, and making the most conservative estimate you can of what you are going to get and going to spend, then divide what you are going to get into two and multiply what you are going to spend by two; and if it still shows a substantial profit it is worth looking into." I myself have followed that plan closely. Of five enterprises I started, four failed; only one—and that, I believe, was the most unpromising—succeeded.
I think that less money might have been lost if the original promoters of the present ground-nuts scheme had taken pencil and paper in that way. I have asked a good many people about this scheme, and I have had a good deal of correspondence from those on the spot. I find adverse and conflicting statements, but I also find unanimity on three points. The first is exasperation at the lack of planning, at the failure to take local advice and at the lack of forethought. I confess that it is difficult not to agree with that view. Secondly, somewhat to my surprise, I find a unanimity of opinion that this job has got to be made to pay, to be made good; slowly, more carefully, with much more intensive planing, it must be made a success. The third point of unanimity is that the scheme should continue under the ægis 1207 of the Colonial Office, and not under that of the Ministry of Food. Those are three items of agreement which I commend to His Majesty's Government.
I think we must all concede that, during the next few years, the future of our Colonial government is going through great trials. I believe that we shall come through them all right, but only if we have faith in our Colonial policy. As the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said in his remarkably fine speech, that policy that we have set out to follow is not one of Party: it is one of a country. It has been agreed by all Parties. There-fore, it is not sectional. If we have faith in that policy, in my view we shall come through. After all, we can think of a greater Empire than ours that lasted a great many centuries. But, if we vacillate and go hither and thither, and grant these countries self-government long before they are capable of assuming it, then we may see the whole of our Colonial Empire crumble like a pack of cards.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, in addressing your Lordships for the first time, I hope you will extend to me that indulgence which is customarily shown to a newcomer to debates in this House. The bulk of the discussion to-day has dealt largely with the Colonies in Africa. My only justification for rising to speak is the reference to Malaya which was made in the speech of the noble Viscount who opened the debate. It so happens that, until just a year ago, I was stationed in Malaya in connection with one of the legacies of the late war about which we know a great deal—that is, food shortage. I am not going to burden your Lordships with any talk about that particular question now. I mention the point only because it meant that I was stationed in that area for two years and was thus given an opportunity, which for a member of the Foreign Service is an unusual one, of studying conditions in that area and, indeed, beyond. As I say, that is my justification for rising to address your Lordships to-day.
In the first place, I shall talk of Malaya and Singapore as one unit. They are now, of course, two separate Colonies, but, for convenience of reference, I shall look upon them as one. I would point out 1208 that from what I might call the external side of the question, there was never any doubt in anybody's mind before the late war that that particular area was of great importance to the whole British Commonwealth, from every angle—from the angle of raw materials, from the angle of policy and also from the angle of defence and strategy. If that was true before the late war, I submit to your Lordships that it is infinitely more true to-day. There have been great and fundamental changes which lead to that conclusion. Your Lordships will remember that before the last war we had a fairly secure anchorhold in the Middle East. There are many other respects in which the situation has since fundamentally altered. For instance, there have been great constitutional changes and the emergence of three self-governing Dominions. There is also the question of Burma and, lastly, there are the more recent events in China.
The point I am trying to make is that if, before the late war, Singapore occupied and held a key position in our whole chain of world policy, since the war the importance of that focal point has been infinitely increased. I need not remind your Lordships of this, for you probably have the map of the area in your minds. Those who have been out there know it intimately, and those who have not have a fairly good idea how the lie of the land runs. There is a mountain backbone which runs up the whole of the Peninsula, finally reaching into the Asiatic mainland. One of the effects of that has been that, for generations past, communication East and West, West and East, has perforce had to turn the corner at the extreme southern tip of the Peninsula. As I say, the map will show your Lordships that fact, but it took a Stamford Raffles to appreciate the importance of that aspect. It was that great man who, by negotiation, acquired Singapore for the British Crown.
The importance of Singapore has continued and grown. It is a free port, as we all know it has a wonderful, safe, deep-water harbour. The importance of the port grew until, just before the last war, if my figures are right (for I am always bad at figures), it was about the third largest port in the world. There we were. And, thank God, there we are back again since the war. I do not wish to labour that angle much further, save 1209 that I personally am convinced that it is absolutely essential that we should hold on there and show no flinching in the maintenance of our position throughout that area on every ground—on the ground of economic resources, on the ground of world policy and on the ground of strategy.
I mentioned the fact that I had been sent out there to look after this problem of food shortage. As a matter of fact, "food shortage" is an under-statement; it was an actual threat of starvation. I am not going to burden your Lordships with the details, save to mention that in this one respect it became clear in the very early phases of the study of this problem that it was possible to cope with it only if we developed common planning and common thought; in other words, a sort of "local regionalism"—I think that is the proper phrase. It was no good just Malaya and Singapore sitting there and talking about this question; we had to bring others into the orbit. They were deficit areas; we had to bring in the supplying areas. Finally, we evolved a system whereby representatives of all the surrounding areas, British and foreign, used to come to Singapore once a month, sit round a table, pool their ideas and plan how to defeat this common threat. My Lords, hunger is a common denominator. The empty stomach is nobody's particular intrigue, and on that basis of technical, humanitarian justification we used to meet and help each other out.
The point I am trying to make is that I believe, on the principle that "great oaks out of little acorns grow," that this was a small example of the application of regionalism in its best form. I have always felt, down in that part of South-East Asia, which should be particularly susceptible to that form of treatment—again, if you look at the map you will see why—that that way of handling our common dangers and problems ought to be enlarged and developed. It is, of course, perfectly obvious why it is difficult to do so. There are a vast number of differing creeds and races in that area. It is not too easy to get them together on other types of questions, but on the question of the food shortage we did so get them. They used to come and sit round the table; they were all intent on discussing the common problem—hunger—and it all worked very well. I hope 1210 this system may grow and foster, but it would be foolish to pretend that in other and less contentious spheres it is going to be so easy to develop the same system, though I repeat my hope that it can and will be done. For I feel strongly that there is a great deal to be said and done to relieve it.
Obviously it is not for me to talk about the internal administration of Malaya. I had little to do with that, except for being in close contact; it was net on my particular plate. Now I do not know if I am speaking a little out of turn, but it did seem to me, the local situation being as involved, intricate and difficult as it is, that possibly the gubernatorial set-up there is slightly top-heavy. I can say that the more readily as I was myself somewhere about the sixth wheel of the coach—as such I used to labour along behind and do my best. Admittedly, conditions are entirely different from the pre-war set-up. And it is perhaps not fair to judge the present set-up entirely by what it was pre-war. Previously, however, there was one authority who was installed in Singapore—a dual-purpose "big gun," if I may use the expression: namely, the Governor of Singapore and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States. That worked well enough. It is true that there was then no Colony of Borneo or of Sarawak, such as exist now. At the same time, there was in fact only one man and now there are five, and the position does seem slightly top-heavy.
My Lords, I have detained you long enough, and time is getting on, but there is one further point I would make. I am sure all your Lordships realise the importance of Malaya in the chain of defence and every other aspect I have mentioned. This outlawry and banditry should be suppressed—it must be suppressed. It is not a Nationalist movement. Anybody who is informed on it will, I think, bear my statement out. It is in no sense a Nationalist movement at all. There have been attempts to compare it with such movements in other near-by territories that are Nationalist; it is not so in Malaya. There is a Communist Party there; there has been one for a long while. There was a plot which fortunately misfired and went off at half-cock. Since then there has been this body of miscreants, of murderers, only a few thousand strong, roaming the jungles, shooting up innocent, hard-working 1211 planters, and otherwise creating bloodshed. Nothing that one can say about them is bad enough. The sooner they are eradicated the better. I personally feel sure they will be eradicated; but it may take time. That is the first requisite. My second point—and I am sure your Lordships will agree with it—is that every assistance that the local authorities need should be given to them without stint. When I say "local authorities" I include the planter who risks his life day and night—indeed every minute. He never knows when he is going to be shot up, perhaps from behind a bush no further away than the opposite Bench. Everything that can possibly be done should and must be done to alleviate the lot of these courageous people, and I am sure that is the wish of everybody in this House.
Now I come to the question of self-government. I know nothing in regard to Africa (except the extreme North-East corner, which is not a Colony), but so far as Malaya is concerned surely there can be no more difficult area in regard to this problem. As the name implies, it is the land of the Malays—a grand people. But there are other racial factors which have to be considered in dealing with this extremely delicate question. It has not been made any easier by the unfortunate White Paper about which we have not heard so much lately, which put things wrong and created for the first time a formidable Malayan opposition which I do not believe ever existed before. Altogether it made things very difficult. But as a result of a hard year's work, in which I have no claim, the situation is back on better lines. None the less, I think the eventual attainment of self-government, or whatever you like to call it, should be a very well-thought-out, careful process. We should be very careful in regard to how the stages are developed, one after the other. Festina lente, if it applies anywhere, applies essentially in Malaya.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, as the ridiculous follows the sublime so I rise to offer, on behalf of myself and your Lordships, our congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, for his most interesting and informative speech, and to express the hope that he will 1212 address us again very soon. He speaks with an authority second to that of few of your Lordships; and that is as great a compliment as can be paid to any Englishman. He particularly deserves our thanks for his service as a Proconsul and as an Ambassador during the dangerous years of the war, and for the fine work he did in his last appointment in South-East Asia. I am glad that I have the opportunity of following him on this particular subject, because it is about Malaya that I wish to address a few words to your Lordships this afternoon. But before I do so, I should like, if I may, to revert to the general constitutional position which has been discussed already this afternoon by several of your Lordships.
Listening closely, as I have done, to all the speeches I think that two strands have run through them. One is that in a Colonial Empire of some 60,000,000 people in varying stages of economic, political, religious and social development, generalisation is not only wrong but dangerous. But there is one principle which has clearly stood out, and that is that both major political Parties in this House and in the country are resolutely determined that self-government shall ultimately come to those Colonies that desire it. We can fortunately say this with a great deal more firmness and conviction than we could in the years before the war, since our word can now never be doubted. The world has seen what we have done in India, in Pakistan, in Ceylon and in Burma, and knows now that we intend to carry out our word.
None the less, it seems to me that there are two provisos to that declaration which ought not to be forgotten. The first is this. Are we not right in saying that we must reserve to ourselves certain rights when self-government, given to a Colony, carries with it independence and the right to leave the Commonwealth, and might possibly endanger our national security and our Imperial communications? After all, that is what the Americans have done with regard to Hawaii, the Philippines and Panama and, to a certain degree, in the British West Indies. It is certainly what the Russians have done in the eleven States of Europe which they have conquered. Why, therefore, should we too not have 1213 the right to retain some safeguards if we are asked to break any vital link in our Imperial strategic chain?
The second point is one which has already been made, but which I should like to reinforce. Power must not be transferred to one political or religious faction in a Colony. It must be transferred to the people as a whole. Nor must it be transferred in conditions in which chaos and a complete breakdown of the political and economic life of that Colony are certain. Have we not learned the lessons of Ceylon and Burma? In Ceylon we handed over power to able, conscientious men, men of integrity who are fired with the determination to do all in their power to promote the prosperity of their country. In Burma we handed over to murder and bloodshed. Despite this lesson, there are still some people in this country, hovering on the lunatic fringe, who are quite prepared to hand over 60,000,000 of our fellow citizens to any energetic Anglophobe whose demagogy has been spectacular enough to capture the headlines. Frequently, Communists in the Colonies attack our "Imperial tyranny" over Colonial people, regardless of what is exercised over satellite States behind the Iron Curtain. In many instances, one is led to wonder, as one reads their outpourings about the Imperial tyranny which we are supposed to exercise, what sort of fate the Colonial peoples would meet with under Russian dictatorship.
What is the answer? What is the reply to Colonial Communism to be? The noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, in his interesting speech has already touched upon it. It is, of course, that we must do everything in our power to educate Colonial peoples in that democracy which is the best weapon against Communism. And that will not be an easy task. Lord Pethick-Lawrence mentioned Colonial students. It is unfortunate that one or two of the leading Anglophobes in West Africa and the West Indies are men who have served a period of apprenticeship as students in this country, and who are strong Communists. Whose fault is that? I submit that it is ours. I submit that something must be wrong with the way we are attempting to educate Colonial students in this country. It seems to me that what happens is this. They—and I refer particularly to West Indians and West Africans—come across to this 1214 country, having perhaps met a few Englishmen in favourable circumstances in their home territory, and when they arrive here they get the cold-shoulder. They meet with difficulty in the matter of accommodation, and so, all too often, they find themselves herded into hostels. For the first time they come up against the colour bar working at its worst.
I wonder how much trouble in West Africa and the West Indies can be attributed to a colour bar exercised by some tactless landladies in Bloomsbury and Bayswater. That is where the trouble occurs, and as a consequence these young people become easy prey to the Communists. That is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to do all we can to improve conditions in the welfare of Colonial students in this country. I know that the Government have done a fair amount about this. The East and West Friendship Council has been set up and is, I believe, working well. Many of the learned professions who receive a number of students are taking this question of welfare seriously. But we as taxpayers are responsible for seeing that this question of Colonial welfare is properly tackled, because we, throne the Colonial Welfare Development Fund and the British Council, are responsible for half the cost of the education of these students.
I should now like to take up a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth. I wonder if we are educating these students in the right subjects? Are we not producing too many lawyers and too many accountants, and not enough doctors, engineers, agricultural experts and scientists, men able to bring forward the development of the Colonies when they go back to their homes? What we are trying to train is the lower ranks of those who will be engaged in the building up of democratic organisations. What we want is fewer potential Prime Ministers and more potential borough councillors. Speaking for myself, I have no doubt as to which is the more important of those two offices.
Secondly, what are we doing in the Colonies to educate the people of the Colonies in the difficult art of self-government? It seems to me that the first and primary consideration is literacy. We should now be making great strides towards raising the general standard of 1215 education throughout the whole of our Colonial Empire. That seems to me to be far preferable to the negative attitude of suppressing Communism, which would then go underground and, possibly, recur somewhere else. I know that we have had to face this problem in Malaya. But, after all, Malaya is practically at war. It seems to me that we have to do a great deal more to teach the facts of Colonial economics to those who it is most important should have a full knowledge of them. I would like to touch on another of the points dealt with by Lord Cranworth—namely, the effect upon the native economy of the British arrival in Africa and Malaya. Here we suffer a great disadvantage, we are continually attacked by vernacular newspapers of the countries concerned and we do very little to answer back effectively, because anything which appears, at our inspiration, is regarded merely as Government propaganda and is treated as such.
I would like to call the attention of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, whom we all welcome back to his place to-day, to a publication known as the Malayan Monitor, which comes out in this country, and which circulates here and in Malaya. It is printed in England and is published, I believe, by a Chinese Communist. It is full of virulent Communist propaganda. In one or two of the most recent editions references were made to the British soldiers in Malaya as murderers, and there were exhortations to the Malayan police and soldiery to desert and go across to the other side. Is it really wise that we should tolerate that sort of publication? Is it fair to our soldiers and the police that we should permit it, and do nothing about it just because we are a democratic country, and so do not believe in suppressing other people's publications which carry views contrary to our own? One would like to think that if the Communists themselves were in power they would extend to us the same freedom as we allow them. I cannot imagine the Daily Telegraph or the Tory Challenge having a large sale from the bookstalls of Moscow. It seems to me that the problem of self-government cannot be solved by doling out ballot papers and trade union cards. We have surely to devise some system of self-government—not necessarily dependent upon the immediate introduction of 1216 the ballot box. This may not yet be entirely suited to the political education and background of some primitive peoples.
May I turn now to the question of Malaya? I would like to preface my remarks by referring to a recent broadcast of Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, the Commissioner-General. Referring to self-government he said:This is a promise which we shall not break; our purpose is to unite and gradually transfer rule, and we shall support with all our hearts any movement seeking to associate Malays, Malayan Chinese and others owing undivided loyalty to Malaya in a brotherhood of all peoples inspired by common patriotism.Naturally we all agree with those sentiments. But a very interesting comment was made in one of the leading vernacular newspapers Utusan Melayu. It described this statement asA promissory note on which the date for payment of the loan has been left blank.That, surely, is the whole crux of this matter. What does the writer of that article expect? Does he expect what I might call a Mountbatten date to be put on the promissory note? Do we really want, as Lord Killearn has warned, a second Burma? Can we really put down a blank date as to when we hand over power? Surely the date which we write in for handing over control in Malaya is the date when the Malayan peoples have shown themselves, to themselves, to us and to the world at large, as ready to rule themselves peaceably and efficiently. They know they cannot do it yet. As the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, said, they have a war on there. That has to be cleared up.
Furthermore, the relationship between the Malays and the Chinese themselves has to be resolved. I am glad to say that in the last few months rapid strides have been made in this respect. Malay-Chinese good-will committees have been set up, but the establishment of one committee was immediately followed by the throwing of a grenade at Tan Cheng Lock, a prominent Chinese, by one of his own compatriots. But Malay-Chinese organisations are being organised on a Federation basis, and I trust that the Government will do everything they can to welcome and further these organisations and do everything else they can to solve this difficulty.
1217 There is one thing which we British can do: we can respond generously to the appeal which appeared in a letter from Mr. Malcolm MacDonald in Monday's copy of The Times asking for funds for Singapore University. We can, of course, give money to Malaya. As announced in another place a few days ago, we have given £6,000,000 towards the cost of the war in Malaya—not a very handsome sum, compared with the £20,000,000 that we gave to the Burmese, whose loyalty now turns towards Moscow. It was a token in earnest from the hard-pressed British taxpayer. But we ought to give more. The Prime Minister of Johore, Dato Orin Bin Jaafir, called it (if your Lordships will forgive the un-Parliamentary language) "lousy" and a "flea-bite." Not a very happy or helpful attitude. One can only hope that his remark was intended for internal consumption. But we can do more than put money into Malaya. We can put in British brains, energy, service and initiative; and that country wants initiative more than it ever wanted it before.
What, however, is happening in Malaya? There is uncertainty everywhere. British, Malay and Chinese alike look over their shoulders, not knowing what is coming next. Certain unscrupulous people are jobbing for employment when we go. That is not good. That situation cannot be anything but unhealthy for Malaya. Unfortunately, we find that same uncertainty in too many places throughout the whole Commonwealth and Empire. We find everywhere the disastrous effect of our apparent failure, or unwillingness, to govern. I do not want to introduce a political note into my remarks, because I think Colonial affairs, like defence affairs, should be as free as possible from Party politics, but in the past some of the extreme supporters of the noble Lords opposite have not helped. I hope they no longer hang their heads in shame at the thought of the British Empire, or blush for what we have done, or maintain that no great Power should have Colonies at all.
I do not know whether noble Lords opposite have yet read a little manifesto published yesterday about future Socialist policy. I am not suggesting that they should read it; I am merely asking out 1218 of politeness whether it has come to their notice! Mixed up among the sugar and cement are some references to the Colonies. I have not had an opportunity of studying the manifesto in detail, but I should like to see a firmer declaration of policy on the lines which the noble Earl who is to reply is, we hope, to give us later on. We have all heard the catch-phrase, "Let us face the future." The future of the Colonial Empire is something that they should at least regard as a heavy responsibility, and I hope that the Government will protect the Colonies in future from their too extreme friends. Heaven knows, we have enough opposition from outside! Russia finds in the United Nations Organisation an invaluable means of attacking us in Colonial affairs. This is the only chance she has of beating democracy in the Division Lobby—with the aid of South America and the Arab states.
In conclusion, it seems to me fantastic that we should be working for greater unity in Europe and, at the same time, be prepared to witness and encourage the break-up of the British Commonwealth and Empire. Either we believe, as I believe, that the creation of the British Commonwealth and Empire was the greatest triumph of the British race, and that the existence of that Empire is the greatest force for good and peace in the world, or we do not. Either we are a Colonial Power, or we are not. We cannot be a slightly Colonial Power. As the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, began by saying, we are the trustees for 60,000,000 people. We must make it clear, and the Government must also make it clear, that nothing will deflect us from our intention of carrying out that trust.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, it is exceedingly difficult to speak after listening to the interesting speeches on this subject, but I should like to turn especially to the strategic aspect of the question. From the strategic point of view, our Colonial dependencies must be regarded as the bases throughout the world, not only for our sea power but also for our air power. This far-reaching and powerful arm must extend itself over the world, but it will not be able to do that unless it has properly equipped bases, which require far more room than the old naval bases and might have to 1219 be situated well inland. When my noble friend Lord Ailwyn last Wednesday asked a Question in your Lordships' House about the strategic advantage that would accrue to the Atlantic Treaty Powers if Spain were allowed to come in, the answer from the Government Front Bench was that, in inviting States to join the Pact, more than strategic considerations must be borne in mind. That was a platitude of the worst sort. A platitude is defined in the dictionary as, "an empty sentence made to sound important." Of course, all these factors are taken into consideration, but I suggest that there are periods we must pass through in which the strategic factors loom very largely. We are now passing through one of those periods.
The bases we have occupied in the past have not been a fortuitous collection of ports which happen to be nicely situated in various ocean routes of the world. They were acquired by farsighted men. The noble Lord, Lord Killearn, in his interesting maiden speech, mentioned Sir Stamford Raffles, but there were many more who acquired these places. The Governments of the time and the traders went to those places and traded, building up a pro-British community round those ports. Those bases made us a great Power in the world. In 1894, when the Kaiser sent his "mailed fist" out to the East, it could not get to the East because we would not allow it to obtain coal, and in various other ways we showed our power over the sea routes.
What is happening to-day? Starting from the Far East and working backwards, we find Hong Kong and Singapore with troubled hinterlands; Rangoon, Calcutta, Bombay, Trincomalee and Karachi are gone; Suez, Alexandria and Port Said are gone. Even the Suez Canal, which used to be described as the lifeline of the British Empire, has gone. We have given up our position in the Middle East and the Canal is within easy range now of our potential enemy. The flag remains flying in Cyprus—but I will not say anything about that because we are to hear views about that island in a moment. The West Indies are in a continual state of upheaval, notably in Trinidad and Jamaica, and odd things are happening in Antigua.
1220 There remains the African continent. We have heard a great deal this afternoon about our bases there. Anyone who looks at the map can see the extraordinarily important position Africa now occupies in our strategic position, especially East and West Africa. I have been told by a member of your Lordships' House who is a great authority on this subject—unfortunately, he is unable to be here to speak this afternoon—that these Colonies can supply almost all we want. The bases in East Africa were found inconvenient in the last war, although we were driven to them when we lost control of the Indian Ocean. Those bases could still be developed into powerful air bases, and air power will be able to do much that ships used to do in those waters.
Reference has already been made to the recent debate in your Lordships' House when my noble friend Lord Rennell introduced his Motion. It does not look as though matters in West Africa are very happy. Yet there we have to consider a position which is the key position on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It appears that in that particular locality, and in others about which we have heard, firm and continuous government was lacking, when everybody could see that it was mostly required, when men came home from the war, and so on. These uprisings against our power have been permitted. The extraordinary Ordinance which was quoted provides evidence that all is not well in that part of the world.
I suggest that the essential consideration of a satisfactory base is, first of all, that it shall be situated among a strong, virile, friendly population from which it can draw all that it requires in the way of man-power for defence and security, and which will provide all the technicians and mechanics necessary for the upkeep of a base to look after the munitions and outfit of all the three Services. Malta was a case in point. It is now rather small for its purpose. These conditions can, I understand, be found in East and West Africa. We have heard that Colonial troops were of the greatest value in the last two wars; they fought in many parts of the world, and particularly in Burma, that sorry example of having gone too far too fast. If full use is not made of the Colonial troops, what substitute have we for the Indian Army, which did great service in all parts 1221 of the globe, both in peace and war? We have now lost that Army. Colonial troops of all arms, including all the ancillary services, have given proof of their worth, and that they can form self-supporting units. Would it not be a wise policy to extend that so far as we can, and make every use of it? No doubt this would mean restarting training camps and schools on a large scale. But what dividends that would pay! Once they were in working order, large numbers of trained technicians and mechanics could be turned out every year—men who would answer the description of those for whom my noble friend Lord Mancroft asked. Surely, with men under your control like that, something could be done in those districts to inculcate some high principles and stimulate pride in the connection they have with the British Commonwealth and the common purpose for which we are all working.
What is certain is that we want bases, and we want them supported by a contented population, proud of their connection with the British Commonwealth, and proud of fighting in the service of their King. But you will not get that among the natives so long as we go on in the way we do, always decrying the British Commonwealth. Here is this great British Commonwealth of Nations, and we are told that so and so has hesitated whether they will come in or not. They ought to go down on their knees and beg to come in. If they do not like it, let them join the United Nations, from where they can sling mud at the British Empire, to whom they owe everything.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, may I from these Benches add my tribute to that already paid to the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, for his most valuable and successful maiden speech? After certain recent events to which the noble Earl who preceded me referred, I feel that perhaps the right motto for Governors is to be "seen and not heard." Nevertheless, I will venture to make a few comments upon the speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, in introducing this Motion. I listened to that speech with great interest, and also with the respect which is due to one who has held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies. While I would not wish to make any comment this afternoon upon 1222 the policies which the noble Viscount pursued when at the Colonial Office, there is no doubt that his administration was marked by a vigour, energy and imagination which has not always been apparent in the holders of that office. In fact, I think the Colonial Empire has suffered very much indeed in the past because the Office of Secretary of State for the Colonies has not been regarded as highly in the hierarchy of the Cabinet as it should have been. For what my opinion is worth, I think it is an Office for which the Prime Minister to-day should always choose one of the most competent of his colleagues. Had that always been done, I am sure our Colonial affairs would have been in a much better state than we have sometimes found them.
In listening to the speech of the noble Viscount, I am bound to say that I detected no fundamental criticism of the principle or policy in regard to Colonial affairs which is being pursued by my right honourable friend to-day. Certainly there were many criticisms—and we have heard many criticisms from other speakers—but, to my mind, those criticisms represented mere differences of opinion as to how certain tasks should be carried out. Of course, it is always the case that we are apt to think that we can do the job better than the man who is doing it. I feel that the criticisms during this debate have been more in the nature of criticism of the way in which a particular job in the Colonies is being done than criticism of the principles and policy which animate the administration at the Colonial Office at this moment. I must confess that I was glad to hear the noble Viscount appeal to the Government to produce a plan for their Colonial administration, as the other day he invited the Government to produce a plan in regard to defence. I can remember a great deal of criticism and scorn that has been heaped upon my Party in the past as being a Party of planners. Certainly we have known times when it was represented as rather discreditable to wish to do any planning, and when the good old methods of trial and error, ad hoc and improvisation, and so on, were considered to be the proper way to run a country and an Empire. I am glad to notice that conversion has taken place in that respect, and that it is now generally agreed that government is something that is probably 1223 rather better planned than left to haphazard day-to-day action.
The noble Viscount several times referred to the principle of trusteeship in regard to the Colonial Empire. I would certainly agree with that in the sense that it implies that we have a great responsibility for these territories and for these people. But I myself, in my views on this subject, at any rate—I will not put it higher than that—wish to move forward beyond the principle of trusteeship, of a guardian looking after a minor, and get on to the idea of co-operation and partnership with these people. I noticed with great pleasure that in the noble Viscount's speech he paid a most generous tribute to the Africans when he said: "It was not I who produced the fats and the oils out of Africa during the war; it was the Africans themselves who did it." I feel that in the spirit of that tribute lies the real key to future Colonial administration; that over and above the principle of trusteeship—which we may perhaps accept for the present—we should have also this idea of co-operation and co-partnership. Certainly we have much to build upon there. Loyalty to the King was also mentioned in the speech, and in Cyprus I myself, in spite of a great deal of political turmoil and agitation which went on during my term of office, could see the very deep spirit of loyalty to the Crown which existed underneath that surface of turmoil and agitation.
A great deal has been said this afternoon about self-government, and about not going too fast. I endorse a good deal that has been said under that head. Certainly there can be no going back on our policy in that matter, and I would not suggest that for a moment. To educate the Colonial peoples up to self-government must remain our policy. But to my mind that implies also a certain duty upon the Colonial peoples themselves who, in certain cases, must accept the fact that they have to be educated up to the point where they are fit to undertake the responsibilities of self-government. It is a two-sided affair. It is not only that this country wishes to give self-government, but it is the duty of some of the peoples concerned to recognise that they must educate themselves until they are fit for it.
1224 There is always this danger in talking about self-government. If one says to people: "What we want to do is to educate you to govern yourself," they very naturally respond: "But we are perfectly fit to govern ourselves. What are you waiting for?" I have had some experience of that in Cyprus. Our offer of a constitution to the people of Cyprus—which would have guided and educated them along the road of self-government—was rejected by an opposition movement led by the mayors of the four largest towns in Cyprus. It was brought to my notice that not one of those towns had a fire brigade which could be called a fire brigade in any sense of the word, and had a big fire broken out in any of those towns the town would have been burned down. I felt that it was a little early for people who could not even run a fire brigade to claim self-government. I am speaking seriously about this. So serious was the matter that I had to remove the fire brigades from the municipalities, and entrust them to the police force. When we talk about self-government, those are matters which have to be borne in mind, and people must realise their responsibility for allowing themselves to be guided and helped along the road to self-government.
The noble Viscount said something which is very much in my heart indeed. He spoke about our duty to help the farmer in our Colonial territories. He asked: What is the Government doing, about that? I should be very happy for any noble Lord who is an expert and interested in agricultural matters to pay a visit to Cyprus to see what the Government are doing to help the farmer. Cyprus has essentially an agricultural economv—it is an agricultural country. In that Island there is a Department of Agriculture which is carrying out every conceivable experiment, with a view to assisting the farmers and the peasants in their work. Experiments about manures, about seeds, about fertilisers, about rotations and so on are being carried out. Livestock of all descriptions are being imported from this country and from Ireland, in order to improve the livestock of the Island. A system of agricultural shows has been introduced and is stimulating a great interest amongst the agricultural community, and leading to many improvements in the 1225 agriculture of the country. I will not dilate further upon these experimental stations which the Government have set up, but as an example it might interest your Lordships to know that at one of the deciduous fruit experimental stations I found no fewer than forty-three types of apple under trial, with a view to finding out which was the most suitable to grow in Cyprus. Therefore, I think it can fairly be said that in one Colony at any rate—the only Colony for which I am in a position to speak—the resources of Government are very energetically devoted to assisting the farmer in his work. It includes attention to utilisation of the soil, and also to erosion.
Certainly in Cyprus the greatest service that the Government have rendered to the farmer, and to the peasant, was to free them from the clutches of the moneylender. I most fully endorse what the noble Viscount said about what has been done in Cyprus to that end. He spoke with complete accuracy on that subject, and the part he played in it is well known. But if we are to get the farmer out of the hands of the moneylender he has to be provided with credit at certain moments. The ideal way is through the co-operative society and through the co-operative movement in Cyprus; and in that way the farmer and peasant have indeed been rescued—the moneylender has been almost put out of business. Just before I left I was very sorry indeed to notice that there were one or two signs on the horizon that the moneylender was beginning to perk up again. The only way to keep him out of business is through the co-operative movement. I was sorry to notice one or two indications of hostility, in quarters where hostility ought not to exist, and I had to do my best to combat and defeat it.
The noble Viscount spoke about forestry in Africa, and he emphasised the great part which was played by private enterprise in developing the forests. He gave the credit for that work to private enterprise. There is a tremendous task on foot in Cyprus to reconstitute the forests, which have suffered so terribly in the past from the ravages of the goat, from indiscriminate cutting and, I am sorry to say, in the remote past, from arson. The forests of Cyprus should represent an asset worth millions of pounds to the Island. Apart from the fact that 1226 they provide for home resources a wonderful source of timber—which has at present to be imported from abroad—the denudation of the mountain-sides has, of course, led to soil erosion and to a great loss of fertility and productivity in the country. But in Cyprus we are able to tackle the task and reconstitute the forests through a Government Department; no private enterprise is involved at all. What is being done in Cyprus in reconstituting the forests has the admiration—I could almost, say of the world, because there are many international conferences on this subject of forestry, and at all those conferences Cyprus always comes up for high commendation and mention for what is being done in restoring her forests. But that, as I say, is the work of a most capable Conservator of Works and a very capable Forestry Department. Private enterprise does not come into it.
Mention has been made of Colonial defence affairs. The position in Cyprus is rather a sad story. I found when I arrived there that there was a Cyprus Regiment—and I also found that the Guard at Government House was provided by the police. The Cyprus police force is second to none, and I have many times paid my tribute to them as a very remarkable body; but it went against the grain to be guarded by the police while there was a Cyprus Regiment in the Island. Therefore, I arranged that the Cyprus Regiment should mount the Guard at Government House, and I also took two honorary A.D.C.'s from the Regiment. These things gave great satisfaction to the Regiment and, I think, in Cyprus generally.
Unfortunately however, while that Regiment was very keen indeed—I used to go to their passing-out parades and so on, and saw that for myself—when, having been brought up to a very high degree of efficiency and discipline, they were sent abroad, they were put on to menial and routine jobs; and the ardent spirit went out of the officers and men very quickly. What was worse was that in spite of my representations on the subject, the Regiment was eventually disbanded. At the time I left the Island it had become so attenuated that it could no longer mount a Guard at Government House. The disciplinary effect among the officers and men, and 1227 also the political effect, were very unfortunate. It may well be the case that I shall be told that there is an intention to reconstitute that Regiment, possibly as an anti-aircraft defence regiment; but it was an unfortunate thing to allow the Regiment to be disbanded. That step should have been avoided; and some very fine officers indeed had their spirits broken because of it.
The last point to which I wish to refer in connection with Colonial administration affairs is the matter of personnel. It was a source of great regret to me to find how difficult it was to fill certain posts and appointments which were vacant in the Island. For more than one most important appointment I never got a candidate at all. The Colonial Office did everything they could, but the fact remains that they were unable to find candidates for a number of highly important posts that remained vacant during the whole time I was there. It is not my wish to apportion blame or criticism in this matter, but it did seem to me very regrettable that here in the Colonial Service there should be this dearth of recruits from suitable personnel.
In conclusion, I would say this. Certain remarks have been made about the Government this afternoon in regard to Colonial policy, such as that the Government do not know where they are going. The word "scuttle" has been used, as have such phrases that the Government is "slipping," "slithering" and so on. Well, my Lords, it fell to my lot in Cyprus to have several important, crucial, I will almost say critical, matters to discuss with the Secretary of State, and we were always able to come to an agreement. If I had any criticism to make it would be only that I was sometimes surprised how long it took him to find that he completely agreed with me! I must say that in all the conversations and transactions which I had to conduct with the Secretary of State, I certainly received no impression that the Government did not know where they were going, or were "slipping" or "slithering," or anything of the sort. What I did find was a Cabinet Minister who had the clearest ideas in his mind of the policy which he desired to follow and is, in fact, following in regard to the Colonial 1228 Empire. If ever there was a man who is out to help in these matters, who sees his policy perfectly clearly and is pursuing it single-mindedly, it is the present Secretary of State for the Colonies.
But, of course, the Government's task in this matter is a difficult one. It is that of ending anomalies which inflict injustice on the indigenous people while at the same time endeavouring to do the minimum of injury to the interests of our own people who are concerned. That is their task. They have to end a system which, I do not think it is denied, partook largely of the nature of exploitation—and to end such a system without inflicting hardship is, I feel, an almost impossible task. The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce, said that we were accelerating the pace too much in our Colonial policy. That is always said about any new departure from policy. When Stephenson gave us the first railway in this country there was a clergyman who got up in the pulpit and preached that it was contrary to the will of Almighty God that mankind should proceed at twenty miles an hour. The same thing was said about the abolition of slavery: that we were going too fast. Yet who would wish to turn back that page in history? The abolition of slavery was probably the most disinterested act of statesmanship which has ever been accomplished in the history of the world. It may be that, in proportion, and in more moderate terms, the same sort of thing will be said about the Colonial policy which His Majesty's Government is pursuing to-day.
But let the last word I utter be no word of commendation on the Government's policy. Let me pay a tribute to the personnel of the Civil Service as I made acquaintance with it in Cyprus. Whatever may be the Government's policy, and whatever may be their task of administration, in the long run it all conies down to the men in the Colonial Civil Service. While I was still on the Island I was told that one of the high officials of the Customs and Excise Department had come to the end of his period of service and was retiring. I invited him to Government House to luncheon, in order to congratulate him upon his long and excellent career and to wish him happiness in his retirement. As I looked at him at the table, I saw that 1229 he was a man of modest and simple appearance and demeanour; and I thought to myself, "Here is a man who has served all these years in the Levant and during that time transactions in goods worth millions of pounds must have gone through his hands as a matter of duty." I know perfectly well that even in the Levant nobody thought it was worth his while to go to that man and offer him a little something in order to get his goods cleared, or anything of that sort. It is upon that complete honesty and incorruptibility of these servants of the Colonial Civil Service that in the end the successful conduct of our Colonial administration turns. I am glad to have the opportunity of paying this tribute to them.
§ 6.11 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Winster, first of all said that there had been no criticism of the Government; but in the latter part of his speech he proceeded to try to answer some very grave criticisms which have been made against His Majesty's Government. I for one regret that I have heard nothing which relieves my uneasiness that His Majesty's Government really are slithering down a slippery slope. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, said that times change. I well know that. I am a fourth generation which has lived and worked in India. Of course times change. They always have changed and they always will change, but that does not mean that we must divert from our path like a flock of sheep every time we hear a dog barking one side or the other.
We are the heart of an Empire, and we must therefore have our principles. I see no harm in having those principles asserted and reasserted from every Bench of your Lordships' House. The principles are that as trustees we intended to lead in partnership, one by one, in good time, each of the Colonial territories to a goal of self-government within the British Commonwealth. These things are often stated, but do we always know exactly what we are talking about? What do we mean by "government"? Noble Lords opposite belong to a Party that tend to think of government in terms of school dinners and free spectacles, but what is the good of free dinners if your children are kidnapped on the way to school? 1230 What we mean by government in the Colonial Empire is the first and elementary principle of government, which is law and order. If British rule cannot give law and order, then all the frills and furbelows of Government are in vain. I will return to the question of law and order in a minute.
Meanwhile, what of our second factor, the time table? The answer surely is that there cannot be a timetable. A timetable must be completely flexible, but our resolve, of course, must remain inflexible. The final goal can be attained only when the peoples are ready to take over and provide at least as good law and order, and at least as good justice, as we are able to provide at this moment. Any premature departure before that goal is attained would be a complete and absolute betrayal. The time of our stay will, of course, reflect the capacity of the people themselves. We must not skimp it if it seems to us that in certain cases our stay is long. The length of our stay is much more a reflection of the capacity of the people than it is likely to be a reflection of the incapacity of our leadership. If people cite the case of India, India was handed over to the class of people who had ruled on behalf of the Moguls, who had ruled before us for two hundred years. In Africa, the contrast is great. One or two generations ago, our ancestors, and in some cases even our fathers, rescued these people from the most barbarous and savage conditions under their chiefs. Rather should we compare our timetable with Burma. In Lancashire they say "clogs to clogs in three generations." His Majesty's Government have produced "chaos to chaos in three generations." We must never hand over power until the people are completely ready for it. Having rescued them from savagery, and having had them know better things, it would be unthinkable for them to return.
To come back to the question of law and order, which is the root of all government, law and order mean the police and, in the last outcome, the Armed Forces. Are the Colonial police all happy, contented and at full strength? Police work means information. Is the money there to buy the information and can we be sure that informers can feel secure after having given that information? The Governors, the men on the spot, presumably take the advice of their 1231 police chiefs. Are we sure that His Majesty's Government take the advice of the Governors, or do they attempt to rule from Whitehall with the aid of some Fabian handbook? Here in this country law and order have been established for so long that I think we do not realise the terrible disaster it is to a country when the police cannot protect the people. We talk about the "Iron Curtain" and the fear that lies behind, but that is nothing to the fear that exists in a Colonial people if bands of men become stronger than the law.
To-day, the threat all over the Empire is Communism—not the Communism of the political party and the political belief, but the Cominform striking at us through the Colonial Empire, using as its tool the ambitions of the ambitious and the primitive, savage instincts of the people which are never far below the surface. We have been brought up to believe that free speech and the right to form free Parties are an essential principle of democracy. That is all very well if those Parties play the game of democracy, but when one sees Parties which are used by unscrupulous men with a view to attaining power—and we know that once having attained power they will never relinquish it—one begins to wonder whether that is indeed a political Party within the meaning of the words. I do not think we must regard Communism as a political Party in this way. Its aim is to secure power for the few, and in the Colonial Empire the people are only one or two generations away from savagery. Its triumph would put the people back precisely to where we found them. White tyrannies are bad enough, but history shows that there is nothing worse than a black tyranny.
I submit that we should deal with subversion as the men on the spot think fit. If it pays to show no mercy, show no mercy—because these people know none. Do not be afraid of driving movements underground. The dangerous people are already underground, and the enormous proportion of the population will not follow things underground; they will not belong to a movement which a strong Government does not countenance. The Brazilian Government, who have had to deal with this precise problem, have worked in that way, I think without regrets. Of course, we must combine 1232 strong government with the utmost co-operation between blacks and whites. There again that is where the Communists will try to thwart us. In Brazil, where there was no colour bar or no colour consciousness, the Communists came on the scene and they have worked on the blacks to make them conscious of their colour and to make them believe that the whites are their enemies. That is a diabolical thing to do in one of the few countries in the world where whites and blacks have for years played and worked together at all levels of society.
To sum up, we are trying to teach the Colonial peoples the art of self-government. That includes the acquirement of tolerance, patience and justice—qualities which are not very common in combination in this world to-day. We believe we can do it, but it takes time. Let us assert our beliefs and, above all, never let down the people through whom we are working, nor let them think we may let them down. The people will get impatient at our timetable, and their impatience will be played upon by those who seek to establish a tyranny, with themselves as tyrants. It is our duty to protect the people in our charge from these movements; and, above all, if we are to keep the respect of these people, we must never give them cause to think we have lost faith in the direction we are going or that we can be blackmailed.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I think you will all agree with me that we are greatly indebted to the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, for initiating this debate. I think we all agree with the noble Lord who said that it was of prime importance for the Prime Minister to bestow the portfolio of the Secretary of State for the Colonies on one of his ablest colleagues, and fortunately in the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, this country had that. Before I go any further let me add the good wishes of all noble Lords who sit on this side of the House to the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, on his maiden speech. It was a speech we all found not only interesting but also amusing, and I am sure noble Lords on all sides of the House hope that we shall often hear him speak again in the future.
This debate on the whole has had a slightly African bias. That is natural, 1233 because two-thirds of the Colonial Empire lies in Africa. A great many questions have been asked to which the noble Earl will be replying when I sit down, and when he replies we shall listen with the greatest care. Those replies will be considered far outside the walls of this great Council of State, as many fundamental issues are involved. There was once a time when we in this House could have debated Colonial affairs in isolation, but now they are so bound up with foreign affairs and defence affairs, and even domestic affairs, that the whole lot must be considered together in relation to one another.
The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has called upon the Government to announce a clear policy, to re-affirm the old convictions. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, also asked a number of questions, one of which was whether the legislation taking place on the West Coast of Africa means that we in this country are regarded in that part of the world as foreigners. I would like to add one question of my own—namely, if we are considered foreigners, do we produce and shall we continue to produce prodigious sums of money to assist that country? I would like enlightenment on that point from the noble Earl. Almost every speaker said, at some stage in his speech, that we in this country have full responsibility for more than 60,000,000 of these Colonial peoples. Indeed we have, and I do not think that responsibility has ever been heavier on us than it is at this very moment. The responsibility lies through the British Parliament with the British voter and taxpayer. Let me read to your Lordships the result of a "Gallup poll" taken by the Central Office of Information the other day. Three per cent. of those who were approached imagined the United States of America was still a British Colony; over half could not mention any single British Colony; three-quarters could not tell the difference between a Dominion and a Colony, and more than three-quarters thought that every British Colony paid tribute in some form of gold to Britain. My Lords, that is a lamentable state of affairs.
The noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence warned us most carefully that this was a changing world, and that our policy must change with it. We 1234 are all grateful for his advice. But this Empire has lasted where all others have crashed, because it has been progressive where they were static. It always has moved with the times. The others were rigid and inflexible, and time moved past them and they broke down. If we need Lord Pethick-Lawrence's advice on that score we are lost already, because we have lost our power to move with the times, and I doubt whether we could ever catch up with it again. He is right: we move in different times now. In the last ten years two other Empires have grown up. There is the Russian Empire, which has taken in eleven more countries of Europe since this war ended and runs them under a tyranny which even the ancient Persians world have h ad-difficulty in exceeding, if not indeed equalling.
I do not suppose there has been an event of greater significance to the civilised world in the last two centuries than one that has gone by comparatively unnoticed—that in regard to China. As the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, reminded us, its effect will be felt in Malaya, and that effect may well spread like the ripples on a pool until it reaches further and further towards the heart of the Empire. Then as Lord Mancroft reminded us, the American Empire has grown up. They have never been backward in maintaining their vital interests in Hawaii, the Philippines and elsewhere. Almost overnight they acquired the bases in Newfoundland, Jamaica, Bermuda and Trinidad. But that is an Empire which means no harm to anyone, unless some nation should attempt to upset the peace of the world.
Then there is our own Empire, which has been here a very long time. It is worth remarking at this point how it grew up. It grew up in a great variety of ways but in no single instance by the deliberate policy of any single British Government. Three countries I know well—Jamaica, which was occupied after a war with the Spaniards, Malta, which joined of its own accord, and Uganda, which was exchanged with the Germans for Heligoland. The transaction was described by the then Prime Minister as "a suite of clothes for a trouser button." Some trouser button! It very nearly lost us two wars. But since I have been alive, and before, a constant campaign of slander has been directed 1235 against us. It has always been said that we held on to the British Colonial Empire by military force—whereas in fact not one in three of our Colonies had ever seen a British soldier before 1939; that they paid us some form of tribute in taxation—a gross distortion of the truth; and that they formed a great trading preserve into which no one else was allowed—an assertion to which figures give the lie.
As the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, said in his excellent speech—in which he gave us a microcosm of what Africa was like as he first knew it and the changes that have taken place since then—we have done little to fight that slander. It is one of our weaknesses, or perhaps a demerit of one of our virtues, that we regard the justice of our case as self-evident. If you do not make a case in these days, in this propaganda-filled world, it is assumed that you have no case to make. Formerly, slanderers without, and Jeremiahs within, were all agreed on one thing: that if a world war ever broke out this same Colonial Empire would seize the golden chance to dissociate itself for ever from us. What actually happened in Africa? In the year 1939 there were 19,000 African troops under arms. By 1945, purely by voluntary recruitment, for we could put no conceivable pressure upon them, the number had grown from 19,000 to 375,00. In three notable theatres of war they earned themselves great glory. Most noble Lords who have spoken have already touched upon this point.
At the moment we have great forces against us. With regard to Communism, as we know, as far back as 1925 Marshal Stalin, or perhaps he was then Mr. Stalin, laid down to a large audience the simple plan by which, he argued, the metropolitan countries of Europe could be destroyed by stirring up trouble in their Colonial possessions. His speech was delivered with all the turgid oratory of revolutionary Marxism. It was in fact a directive on how to create revolution in three easy lessons. And the Communists have not relaxed their efforts. They have intensified them. We have worked in this country and Empire as hard as any country, and a great deal harder than most, to make U.N.O. a success. It is a very sad thing that the Trusteeship Council of U.N.O. should be 1236 used in the way it is used in seeking to embarrass the Government of this country. Trusteeship has been discussed to-day. We have administered trusteeship for many centuries and know what it involves. In fact, it is we who invented the word. It was not invented in 1945 to use in exactly that sense, but in a Parliamentary Committee in 1837. We have put up from the Trusteeship Council of U.N.O. with interference with our Dependencies which Russia and the United States would never have considered putting up with. I think we have shown the most admirable forbearance. If U.N.O. is going to succeed, it will be as a group not of single nations but of groupings. If the only grouping that has stood the test of time and the smoke of war is to be dissipated, U.N.O.'s chances of success are very small.
When you live in a persistent air of slander, as we have done, it has its effect. A certain defeatism has grown up in this country, and now that we have vociferous public opinion showing itself for the first time in this way in so many of the British Colonies I think the growth of that spirit has been accelerated. There has grown up, too, a curious foggy way of thinking—which is, I consider, quite understandable—among our fellow-citizens, who, having read some of the publicity about the Colonial Empire put out over the last three years by different Departments, are beginning to wonder whether we are in the Colonial Empire in order to work as partners with the people there, or whether the Colonial Empire exists to produce margarine and oils for us as soon as possible and in the greatest abundance. Then we have the eternal propaganda put out by those contemptible pigmies whose sole stock in trade is to read and rewrite history to hang their heads in shame at what they have rewritten. In our time we have all met those who loudly boast of the shame they feel for their country, and who vilify long-dead statesmen. I think we all share the same reaction to them—that theirs is the only line of thought in the world that it is impossible to respect.
The expression "slip and slither" has been used to-day and the suggestion behind it has been denied by the noble Lord, Lord Winster. But, with all these circumstances, many outside observers are driven to the conclusion, on looking 1237 round the Colonial Empire, that we have, forgotten how to rule because we no longer believe in our right to rule. Some countries, emboldened by that, have gone to considerable lengths. From Guatemala there has been a demand for British Honduras and fantastic claims have been put in from certain countries to parts of the Antarctic.
I do not share Lord Winster's admiration for the work of his colleagues. Under the lire of criticism which has been levelled at them from all sides and from different points I believe His Majesty's Government have become benighted, beyond the point where the short view stops, and short of where the long view begins. I believe that, by trying to be everything to everybody, and with all the necessary hesitation and apology that goes with that, we have got to rather a dangerous pass. I think it can be said with absolute truth that in Malaya we are dealing now with a situation which should never have been allowed to grow up. In West Africa—the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, discussed the merits of this case in the last debate, and I will not go into it again—I think we are heading towards a dangerous position.
No one has a higher respect than I have for the personnel of His Majesty's Colonial Service. I had the honour to serve in it some fourteen years ago. I believe that they are suffering from a feeling of frustration and uncertainty which in the long run can have only an adverse effect on their efficiency and upon the tasks which they have to carry out. The question is this: Are we going to shoulder our responsibilities squarely, to guide from Britain and develop the territories under British rule, hand in hand with the people of those countries; or are we going to surrender those responsibilities in response to the criticisms which have been uttered, and consign those countries, perhaps, to the same terrible prospect as Burma faces at this moment? There is no middle course. We, on this side of the House, could never consider the latter.
Noble Lords have made a number of points which I will just run over very briefly. In view of the great kaleidoscope of colours, creeds and castes in the Colonial Empire, with one Colony like Bermuda, which has a Parliament going back to the Seventeenth Century, and 1238 several of them so near the stone age still that they have no Parliaments at all, it is impossible, as Lord Mancroft said, to generalise. I think there are three hard facts, of which the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has spoken and to which nearly every speaker has subscribed, which must be borne in mind. The first is that political independence can come about only when economic independence has been secured, and only then when the capacity for government—ir other words, the capacity to be independent—exists. The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, in his most interesting speech, said, under this head, that he thought perhaps the preoccupation of the Government was too much with the political and too little with the economic. I leave it al that. He is a great authority on the subject on which he speaks. The second point is that in all African Colonies, and many others besides, Colonial peoples cannot hope to make headway without European leadership, European capital and technical help. This help will count for nothing unless we can take some Colonial peoples along with us in partnership, as Lord Winster so exactly expressed it. Last of all, there has been a great deal of talk about the part we have to play in the future. I believe that Britain must reconcile herself to playing her part in many of those countries long past our life-time and possibly for many decades to come.
To go briefly over these headings—it is difficult to make a short speech on such a gigantic subject—everyone agrees that there can be no sealed pattern, just as there can be no timetable for handing over government. No real political independence can exist without its economic side. Unless we have economic independence, we have no real control over our destiny. We are pledged to help and work with these countries until, in the words of one document, "they can stand by themselves in the strenuous conditions of this modern world." How many and complex are the factors that come in! How many of these countries have what are called "plural societies"—different religions which are bitterly opposed to each other and different races within the same territory who are far more: dissimilar at the extremes than are the nations of Europe? We sometimes hear the expression, "Give them their freedom." We cannot give freedom, as a 1239 present is given, or as a reward is conferred. Freedom is something that is achieved by one party and recognised by the other. It cannot be given. If you can transfer power to a people, it must be to the people as a whole, and not to any handful, however forcible a pressure group they may represent. We are wedded to the Westminster form of Government, but if we went to any of these countries and said, "Here is the ballot box; get on with it," what would happen? Take Fiji; Indian immigrants heavily outnumber the original Fijian population. The small but vigorous white settlers in Kenya, who have done so much for that country, would be swamped if the ballot were administered in such a form.
Too soon or too late! One of the most successful examples of the work of the Colonial Office is Ceylon. The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has drawn attention to it. We have gone on in perfect harmony, until Ceylon had achieved strength and independence. Now she is a free and equal country beside us. What a monstrous disservice we would have done to the people of Ceylon if, twenty years ago instead of last year, we had sought to leave them and handed them a ballot box! On the question of Colonial forces, I think the case of the Ceylon Regiment, quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, was a monstrous one. It is generally assumed that as a country proceeds further and further towards running their own affairs, so it is accorded a greater and greater share in its own defence. Every single British Colony, Mandated Territory and Protectorate acquitted itself most manfully in the last war, either in the military sphere or in the production of the necessary articles of war.
In the last three years the African Continent has increased several times the significance that it had before. It must be a great buttress of a great defensive system. Before the war there were several famous regiments in Africa. They were all one arm; numerically they were inconsiderable, and acted more or less as police battalions. When the war came they were recruited up from 19,000 to 375,000. What we need in Africa, and perhaps also in the West Indies, and in other parts of the Empire, are small skeleton divisions of all arms. However 1240 tiny they may be, every man should be a potential N.C.O., so that in time of war, by recruitment and training, they can become full divisions. War now is not merely the declaration of war. For this cold war which Russia has launched, we need the Colonies as we have never needed them before: for at the behest of Russia (though no declaration is made) in half-a-dozen countries triggers are pulled and bullets fly. If we are going to have an African Force of that kind, we must give the proper inducements to secure the right kind of British officer to serve out there.
I come to the question of Western Union. An arrangement in Malaya was described by the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, as the best example of regionalisation he had seen. The gathering together of those countries who believe in freedom and are prepared to defend it is called Western Union. In almost everything we have ever had to do in the past, geography has been against us. For once, geography is on our side. Those nations of Western Europe which are with us have as their wards almost the whole of the rest of the African Continent that is not British Africa, or the Union of South Africa itself. It was a long time ago that General Smuts first preached the idea of an African Council by which nations would get together, regardless of their frontiers and without the slightest detriment to their sovereignty, to fight those things which do not recognise frontiers—disease and famine, the tsetse fly, the rinderpest and other scourges. If we could devise such a modus operandi it would open up a great vista for Africa, and Africa, in turn, would open a great vista for Europe.
The Colonial Service has been described in glowing terms to-day. Certainly no praise is too high. One thing is certain about the Colonial Service; that is, that we must have the best people or none at all. Only the best will do. If we are to attract the best people into this onerous form of service, requiring separation from home, we must have foresight. As more and more the Colonial people become educated, and more and more English-born officials are succeeded there by locally-born ones, so more and more must any candidate having knowledge of the Service be excused for thinking that it is a shrinking asset. We 1241 on this side of the House are the last people to advocate a slavish desire for security, but there is a degree of security that every prudent person must desire. I should like to hear from the noble Earl what are the future plans when English-born officers are replaced by native-born officers. Men in later life know almost certainly they will not obtain jobs in England. The Devonshire Report made some interesting recommendations, some of which have been carried out. I would like the noble Lord to inform me on that point.
When I joined the Colonial Service in 1934, I found that if you had done twenty years in the Service, you might have a fair chance of some day becoming a Governor. In those days the Colonies were more or less isolated. Now they are hitched to world politics and world economics. If a man has spent his active years in a remote part of Africa, it is almost manifest that he does not know any wider field, and many people in the Colonial Service are beginning to fear that the chances of their getting to the top of the tree are becoming more limited as the years pass. The Devonshire Report laid down that all those who were selected for the Colonial service should undergo an initial course of instruction that certain officers should be selected to do another course a year or two later to compare notes and improve their experience, and that certain other people who have done nine or ten years' service should be brought back and given a special course, roughly equivalent of that given at the Imperial Defence College. I should like a specific answer on what effect has been given to those recommendations.
A number of questions have been asked, and I think we shall all listen with the greatest interest to the answers which the noble Earl gives. One afternoon is a short time in which to deal with this subject. I will detain the House no longer, but will just remind noble Lords of some historic words of Lord Curzon. I said earlier on, quite advisedly, that it appears to some observers outside that perhaps we have lost our genius for ruling because we no longer believe in our right to rule. These words, I feel, supply a complete answer to that. They are from Lord Curzon's valedictory address in India and they are as applicable to the Colonial Empire now as they 1242 were to the India of his day. Lord Curzon said:Remember that the Almighty has placed in your hands the greatest of his ploughs in whose furrows the Nations of the future are germinating and taking shape. To drive the blade a little further in your time, and to feel that somewhere amongst those millions you have left a little justice, or happiness, or prosperity, or sense of manliness, or moral dignity, or spring of patriotism, or dawn of intellectual enlightenment, or stirring of duty, where it did not before exist—that is enough. That is the Englishman's justification in India. It is good enough for his watchword while he is here, for his epitaph when he is gone.My Lords, it is good enough for our watchword, too.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
My Lords, I shall not attempt to vie with the periods of Lord Curzon. I think your Lordships will agree that we have had a long and exceedingly interesting debate, worthy of the high standard we expect or such occasions. Before I go any further, I should like to join in the congratulations that have been showered, I fear in somewhat embarrassing profusion, on the: noble Lord, Lord Killearn, on his delightful and instructive maiden speech. I happened to be in South-East Asia at the time when the noble Lord was packing his trunks to go home. I heard many accounts from those on the spot, men in the most favourable position to judge, of the invaluable work that the noble Lott had done in preventing famine, owing to the calamitous rice shortage, and in promoting inter-Governmental co-operation during the difficult times after the war. The noble Lord has an unrivalled knowledge of China and South-East Asia, and I can assure him that his views will be welcome and sought whenever those subjects are being discussed in this House.
I am also grateful, as other noble Lords have been, to the noble Viscount opposite for moving this Motion in a speech which, if I may say so without being presumptuous, seemed to me to be exemplary in balanced judgment and of constructive quality. It is one of the most useful functions of this House to scrutinise at regular intervals, in the spirit of a Council of State, the broad principles of policy pursued in different fields by His Majesty's Government. I think your Lordships will agree that the time has been well chosen by the noble Viscount opposite for an- 1243 other discussion of Colonial policy. I welcome the opportunity he has provided to restate the principles which guide my Department, and to examine carefully, as he has invited me to do, their application in the circumstances prevailing in the world to-day.
It is fortunate that the starting point of so many Government policies, for defence, for foreign relations, and for Commonwealth co-operation, as well as for the Colonies, is not in itself a matter of Party controversy. This wide area of agreement gives these policies far greater weight in the outside world than they would otherwise have. I was glad to notice that the restatement of Conservative policy by the noble Viscount was in complete accord with our views on these Benches. I accept—and I am sure my right honourable friend would accept it, although I have not had the opportunity of referring the matter to him—the view that there is a need for an overall plan for the Colonies. I also accept the five points which the noble Viscount enumerated as being essential to its fulfilment. The special value of this non-Party approach to Colonial matters is that it convinces our foreign critics that the policy they decry is not a mere aberration of the Party in power at the moment, and that it fortifies our many friends in the international field in the knowledge that the policy they are backing will not be reversed after a General Election. Moreover, the loyalty of the Colonial peoples to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth must depend in considerable measure on their belief that our devotion to their interests is a British policy, because it is based on the will of the British people. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth said—I think it was also mentioned by Lord Mancroft—about the first requirement of a broad policy for the Colonies being that it should be a national policy.
But there are divergencies, of course, in the Colonial field between different United Kingdom Administrations. They are to be found in the way that these principles have been applied in practice; in the emphasis that has been placed on this, that and the other aspect of policy; and in the speed, energy and imagination with which the economic development of the Colonies and their social and political 1244 advancement have been pursued by successive Governments. Our main purpose (I willingly re-define our policy, and I hope the definition will not sound too platitudinous—perhaps if it is platitudinous that may be regarded as a virtue) is to guide the inhabitants of our Colonial Dependencies to responsible self-government within the Commonwealth, in conditions that will give them a fair standard of living and freedom from oppression. I think that includes the essential points mentioned by the noble Viscount opposite as being indispensable prerequisites to self-government.
The principles behind this policy may be summarised as trusteeship and partnership, for in the working out of our policy for the Colonies we are moved by a sense of responsibility for their welfare which can properly be described as "trusteeship." Yet a sense of responsibility is not in itself enough to evoke the response that is required for progressive change. That is why our disinterestedness of purpose must be combined, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, rightly emphasised, to an increasing degree as social and political evolution continue, with active co-operation as equal partners with the Colonial peoples in the achievement of our joint purpose. Trusteeship alone conveys a suggestion of immobility and passive acquiescence, and savours faintly of patronage and condescension. In relation to the Colonies, it has sometimes been misunderstood to signify the attitude of a guardian towards a minor. This legal analogy is entirely misleading, for trusteeship without partnership would avail little, if at all, to bring our goal within reach.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Winster (he is not here at the moment, but I hope he will read the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow) when he said—not in so many words, but with this meaning—that nothing of lasting value could be achieved without the full and active co-operation of the Colonial peoples themselves at every stage in the work we have undertaken on their behalf. Coming from the noble Lord, with his personal experience of Colonial administration, the point came with special force. It is our first duty to encourage by every possible means, by the development of local government institutions, by suitable constitutional arrangements, the growth of a representative, intelligent and responsible 1245 public opinion in each Colonial Territory. It is through the growth of such a public opinion that local communities can play an increasing part in the executive and legislative functions of government, and will be able to make their own wishes and aspirations felt in fostering the development of their territories.
May I turn to some of the economic policies which are directed to the establishment of conditions which, in our view, must precede self-government? If the Colonies are to be able to stand on their own feet in the conditions of the modern world, their economies must be stable and capable of sustaining the Government services which are essential to an efficient and orderly society. Our primary object in fostering the economic growth of our Colonial dependencies is to develop their resources for the benefit of their inhabitants and to make economic prosperity the basis for social advance, so as to build on ground that will not subsequently give way.
The three essentials of economic development are money, materials and men. Money to-day is no longer the obstacle it used to be in the past, The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce, referred to the very large sum available now for the development of the Colonies, and noble Lords are aware of the large sums voted under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to be spent during the years between 1946 and 1956. All Colonial Governments have been invited to prepare ten-year development plans financed from their share of these funds, to be supplemented by local revenues and such sums as they may be able to raise by borrowing on their own credit. These plans are designed to improve the capital equipment of the Colony by expenditure on roads, harbours, railways and so on, to develop its natural resources for agricultural and mineral production and, at the same time, to expand the social services to match the rising standard of living.
The ten-year plans of twenty-nine separate Colonial territories have been submitted for the approval of the Secretary of State—of course, this has all been done since the war—and, of those submitted, twenty-four have already been approved and are now in full operation. These Governmental activities are supplemented by the operations of the Colonial Development Corporation and the Over- 1246 seas Food Corporation, which have powers and funds to undertake large-scale commercial ventures which lack the quick returns or substantial profits usually necessary to attract private investment. All these activities of public bodies—and I should like to emphasise this, because I think it is a point which has been misunderstood—are intended to supplement and not to supplant the operation of private enterprise, which we welcome as a most useful and, indeed, valuable ally in the development of the Colonies. There are thus, as I have said, ample financial resources in existence to stimulate Colonial development.
But it is far more difficult to find materials than to find money. Local raw materials exist, or can be produced, in abundance, but modern techniques demand much in the way of steel, cement and machinery which can come only from the industrial countries. Here we are brought sharply up against present world shortages. By the careful use of our limited dollar resources and by the planned allocation of home production, most of the essential needs are being met. For example, we have recently arranged for a greatly increased allocation of steel to the Colonies from home supplies. But money and materials by themselves are useless without men with sound health and technical qualifications to use them fruitfully. This is also essential for the successful functioning of the local administrative machinery, for 96 per cent. of the Civil Services in Colonial territories are recruited locally. I think that is a figure which, to some people, may be a little surprising, and it shows the ground which has already been covered in the direction of manning these Services by local personnel.
Of course, education has a very important part to play. We are fully aware of that, and we are looking to the new universities and university colleges in the West Indies, West Africa, East Africa and Malaya, to turn out the local scientists and technicians who must be found to guide the productive efforts of the Colonial peoples. We must match skill in direction with an increased productivity in the individual workman, and here improved health and better balanced diets can make a vast difference. Incentives to increased output must also be found in a more plentiful supply of consumer goods, without which inflation can- 1247 not be kept in check or the standard of living effectively raised.
As production expands we are looking to the marketing arrangements necessary to ensure stability and a fair return to the producer. Long-term contracts have been arranged—for which, in certain cases, the noble Viscount opposite has expressed approval—for such products as sugar and citrus fruit juice from the West Indies, whereby a guarantee is given by the United Kingdom Government to purchase all the exportable surplus over a period of years at a price which can vary only between prescribed limits. Such a contract gives confidence to the producer and encourages him to expand his output, and for the purchaser it creates a reliable supply of staple commodities. As an insurance against fluctuating prices, stabilisation and development funds have been set up for the benefit of many groups of producers—for example, the Uganda Cotton Fund and the West African Cocoa Fund. Part of the abnormally high prices now current for such products is paid into these funds which are used in many ways: to improve the amenities of the workers, for research in improved strains of plants and the battle against plant disease, and to be drawn on later if the world price seriously declines. At the end of 1948 the total resources of these various funds amounted to £81,000,000, which I think your Lordships will agree is a very useful cushion against trade recession.
The expansion of Colonial production has for us an importance rivalling its importance to the Colonial peoples concerned. The Colonies have a vital part to play in the European Recovery Programme. Many Colonial products are dollar-earning or dollar-saving—for example, rubber and tin from Malaya, where output has been maintained and improved in spite of the present disturbed conditions. The Colonies also sell to the United Kingdom and Western Europe many raw materials which would otherwise have to be purchased with dollars. By expanding dollar earning production and restricting hard currency expenditure, the Colonies have converted an adverse balance with the Western Hemisphere in 1946 into a substantial net credit balance in 1948, all in the course of only two years. I am sure your Lordships will agree that this is a magni- 1248 ficent contribution to the hard currency resources of the sterling area, and I am sure it is fully realised in the Colonies themselves that the trading strength and financial stability of the sterling area is an essential factor in their own prosperity.
This is the major interest which the Colonies have in the success of the Marshall Plan, but it also has for them other advantages. For instance, we are arranging with the United States under this plan to get the services of a number of technical experts, such as geologists and surveyors, to till the gaps left in the Commonwealth output of such specialists by the restriction of training in the war years. These experts will help with the much needed survey of Colonial resources required to release the great potential wealth as yet unexplored, and to push forward the development of transport in Africa, which is equally necessary if the resources of this Continent are to play their full part in the development of the wealth of the world. I hope the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce, will agree, after hearing this story, that we are really doing our utmost to open up these economically backward territories within the British Commonwealth Dependencies.
Physical development is only part of the overall advance which is required before Colonial peoples are equipped to face the problems of self-government. Social progress must accompany economic expansion. It has sometimes been said in criticism that, in the allocation of funds, social welfare receives greater consideration than economic development. But I do not feel that there is any reason for describing pure water supplies, improved nutrition, preventive and curative medicine, technical and trade education, and many another social need, as other than vital factors in economic activity. Much important work has been done recently in medical research, and very valuable work is proceeding in the various fields of trypanosomiasis research. The fight against the tsetse fly is of the utmost importance to the future economic development of Africa, and I can assure noble Lords that it is proceeding vigorously. The malarial mosquito is in retreat. Cyprus can now claim to be free from malaria, and striking advances are being made in British Guiana and Mauritius.
But education is the vital social service. I have already referred to the formal 1249 education at the new universities, which we hope soon will supplement the excellent results already obtained from the older foundations, such as Hong Kong. At the other end of the educational ladder, experiments in what has been called "mass education" in Africa are perhaps even more novel and exciting. Community development is the term we now use for this movement to stimulate initiative amongst social groups in Africa. Here a whole community are encouraged to come together to learn to read and write, to hear about the outside world, and to learn simple lessons in health and sanitation which must be widely diffused in clear terms if the people are to be revitalised. In this essay in self-education great stress is laid on better agricultural methods, and people are encouraged to construct for themselves, from local materials, the schools and dispensaries, minor irrigation schemes and soil conservation works, for which they might have to wait a generation if they relied on the few overworked experts of the central Government and the supply of imported equipment. This is a very great new development in the technique of social advance in the Colonies.
What I have said is but a brief and necessarily incomplete sketch of the work which is being done to create the essential practical basis of political advance. People must be taught to govern themselves, and the best teaching is practical experience in conditions where the task is not too large and the result of mistakes is not too serious. Hence the emphasis which is now being placed on the development of local government. The old policy of indirect rule followed in many of our territories was democratic, in the sense that it left the local or provincial affairs of the Colonial peoples to be managed to a very great extent by the traditional authorities, the chiefs and rulers, recognised by the people themselves. For some time, however, we have been seeking, while recognising the structure of native society, to adapt this policy to modern conceptions by evolving towards more flexible forms of native administration which give room for the progressive and often younger elements of Colonial societies to play their part. This system, we hope, will come more and more closely to resemble genuine representative local government as it is known in the older 1250 democracies. We are encouraging the growth of more broadly-based local units by forms of tribal federation, and by creating regional organs which have advisory, deliberative and, later, representative powers. Such development is strengthening among the people a sense of social obligation, and is providing the experience and opportunity which will fit them to work the institutions at the centre.
I have so far dealt mainly with the economic measures which are leading to a higher standard of living and a larger capacity for self-government. But I should like now to say something about what we are doing on the political side to promote constitutional development, and to take as an example of what has been happening recently in the Colonies the changes that have been occurring in our African territories. I think Africa is the best example, because not only is it the largest area we administer but it also contains the vast majority of His Majesty's Colonial subjects. Representatives of the local African communities (and in East and Central Africa the immigrant communities) already play an important part in the formation of policy, both through their membership of the Legislative Councils and in an advisory capacity, and the local communities are finding an increasing plat: in the higher ranks of the civil service.
But it is recognised that this is not enough. If political and social development are to go forward smoothly and effectively, experience shows that the local population as a whole must feel that their representatives are in a position to exercise a real influence in the course of events. Representatives of the local communities must therefore be brought into the executive side of Colonial Governments at a high level. There have for some time been unofficial members of Executive Councils, but these have had no specific responsibility for executive departments of government but only a general say in matters of policy that come up for discussion before the Governor's Executive. In the West African territories there have since the war been African unofficial members of the Executive Councils. The time has now come to consider moving another stage forward in West Africa. The Coussey Committee in the Gold Coast, on the basis of the 1251 White Paper issued by His Majesty's Government last August, are considering the question of appointing African members of the Executive Council, drawn from the Legislative Council, who would have definite responsibility for groups of departments. This is a stage in evolution, and not by any means what is commonly regarded as the final step. In Nigeria, one of the questions which will be considered in connection with the forthcoming review of the constitution will be how to bring Africans on to the higher executive side of government, especially on the regional level.
During the last ten years much progress has been made in developing the unofficial side of the Legislative Council in Africa. Most territories now have unofficial majorities on their Legislative Council, majorities consisting almost entirely of Africans in West Africa, and of Europeans, Indians and Africans in East Africa. These unofficial majorities exercise a very important influence on policy through their powers in legislation and finance. But it is not simply a question of electing or appointing a sufficient number of unofficials to legislative assemblies. The key to successful democratic development is the existence of a solid and representative body of public opinion. It is essential that the unofficial members of Legislative Councils should be closely linked with this public opinion through a proper system of representation. Hence it has been necessary to devise a system of representation linking the unofficial members of the Legislative Councils with local public opinion in the towns and rural areas.
It is to meet this essential need that in most African territories a system of indirect election of African members has been built up, starting from the Native Authorities through Provincial, and in some cases Regional, Councils to the Legislative Council at the centre. This system is working successfully in a number of territories. It is ensuring that the unofficial members on the Legislative Councils represent not simply their own views but the views of the people for whom they speak. It is ensuring that the Legislative Councils are not merely representative of the more advanced and politically-minded groups in the capital cities and some other main centres but 1252 also of the great bulk of the population spread over the territories as a whole. Thus, in considering constitutional reform in Africa it is now necessary to reckon not only with the educated element; nor only with the native authorities and chiefs, but with the bulk of the people who form the population of a territory. This leads naturally to the conception of sound local government institution in Africa as the only healthy basis for political advance. The aim is to secure an effective system of local government not only in the towns, but in the rural areas as well. In all this we agree entirely with the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, who, I think, has given no indication of any difference of opinion during the course of my remarks.
Our object is to make local government bodies representative not only of the traditional elements of the population but also of the rising middle classes, the farmers, the industrial workers, and the educated minority, all of whom have a great part to play in the development of these institutions in their home areas.
So much for the broad survey. Now I should like to deal with one or two specific matters which have either been raised in the debate or are of topical interest—I shall endeavour not to continue so long that any of your Lordships expires from fatigue or hunger! May I say a word about Malaya, because it has bulked more prominently than any other territory in the debate? On my return journey from Australia and New Zealand I was able to spend a night in Singapore with Mr. MacDonald, our indefatigable Commissioner-General for South-East Asia, and this gave me an opportunity to hear from him what has been done to stamp out lawlessness in Malaya during the past ten months. There has been a modest, gradual but steady and uninterrupted improvement in the situation. This should not lead anyone to underestimate the dangers that must still be faced, or to indulge in the sort of optimism that leads so easily to a slackening of effort.
Your Lordships may wish to have some account of the way in which events are shaping. I mentioned to your Lordships, on February 23, that the peak of bandit activity in Malaya was reached last November. Since that time there 1253 has been a steady decrease in the number of bandit attacks, until in the last week of March there were no more than sixteen, compared with an average weekly figure of sixty-five during November. This is the lowest figure for any week since the disturbances began. That week, too, was the first since the start of the emergency in which no single civilian was reported to have been killed. Moreover, our operations against the bandits are continuing on a considerable scale. The police and military forces—and I should like to associate myself with the tribute paid to them by the noble Viscount—assisted as occasion demands by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, are carrying out some sixty or seventy combined operations every week, in the course of which they have already killed or captured over 900 of the enemy. The total number of the enemy is small, so that, although it is only a small number of men killed or captured, it represents, comparatively, a fair proportion of the total enemy involved.
The Government's determination to handle the situation with the utmost firmness has brought about a general improvement in the morale of all the communities in Malaya. This is shown principally by a striking increase in the supply of information about bandit activity. The success of military operations in jungle warfare largely depends on information which enables bandit camps and hide-outs to be detected and destroyed. The authorities in Malaya fully recognise that one of the most important factors in ending these disorders as quickly as possible is the extent to which the Chinese community show willingness to co-operate with the forces of law and order, and to live on good neighbourly terms with the other communities which make up the population of Malaya. The inauguration on February 27 of the Malayan Chinese Association, to which reference has already been made, which is supported by most of the influential Chinese in the Federation and which has as its object the restoration of law and order and the promotion of good will between the races, is, therefore, a particularly heartening event. Another recent event which promises much for the future of Malaya is the formation of the Communities Liaison Committee on which leaders of all the 1254 principal communities sit and which is now meeting regularly for the discussion of means whereby the different races can work together for economic and constitutional progress.
Meanwhile, production of the two major commodities of Malaya, rubber and tin, continues at a most satisfactory level, despite the hardships and dangers to which those responsible for its maintenance are in many cases still subjected. I should like to associate myself most warmly with what has already been said by way of tribute to the steadfast efforts of the planting and mining communities in Malaya. Interesting evidence about the absence of unrest in Singapore is furnished by the municipal elections which took place early this month for the first time since the war. The election campaign and the voting on polling day took place in a completely orderly manner and aroused widespread and keen interest throughout the territory. The most notable feature of the electoral campaign was the absence of any reference to racial issues and to any attempt to win support from the electorate on a communal basis. Meanwhile, preparations are going forward in the Federation for the registration of Federal citizens, which is an indispensable preliminary to the establishment of an electorate for the several Legislatures in Malaya. A registrar was appointed some time ago, and the necessary organisation will be completed at the end of this month.
I hope that what I have said will indicate to your Lordships that although there is still a long way to go in Malaya, and nobody should blind himself to that aspect of the problem, steady progress has been made. We are gradually overcoming the violence of the Communist bandits, and, in spite of the dissention and unrest they have sown, we are restoring communal good will and preparing the ground for a greater measure of democracy These are practical steps in carrying out the broad policy from which violence cannot deflect us and which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has most usefully underlined by his statement of our intentions in another place this afternoon. The statement made by the Prime Minister is the very assurance for which the noble Viscount opposite asked in the course of his speech.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I understand that that is the case. Several noble Lords have mentioned the need for vigilance in the matter of internal security in the Colonies. All Colonial Governors are alive to the dangers of Communist propaganda, and counter-propaganda is being organised on our side in addition to the provision that is being made for improving security intelligence. A review of the latter has recently been held, and training arrangements for new personnel have been set up. In addition to a drive for counter-propaganda and better security intelligence, a general effort is now being made to review the condition of Colonial police forces and to give every assistance to Commissioners of Police in strengthening the organisation of their forces. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, will be glad to hear this, for he expressed a certain amount of anxiety about the condition of the police in Colonial territories. For this purpose, the strengthening of the organisation, the Secretary of State has recently appointed a Police Adviser. This gentleman has already visited Cyprus and is now visiting West Africa, and his reports will be of the utmost value in showing where our help can be most effective. But, of course, the most effective answer to subversive activities is to remove the causes of complaint and dissatisfaction among the population of the Colonies. Our constitutional reforms and plans for economic development are calculated to create in the course of time a reasonably contented and loyal public opinion. The effects of these changes are, however, bound to mature slowly, and we are by no means unaware of the likelihood that agitators will exploit every possible grievance in the meantime.
The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, referred to the dangers inherent in the spread of Communism among Colonial students in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, also emphasised the importance of these students as the future leaders of their communities in the territories from which they come. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that most Colonial students are immune from Communistic influence, and I am sure that he would not expect us to do anything to interfere with the political 1256 views of any section of students in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there is no doubt that bitter dissatisfaction arising from personal problems often leads to extreme political views, and we are doing what we can to help students to solve their personal problems and to prevent them from feeling embittered and frustrated as a result of their sojourn in this country. We are particularly anxious about some of the private students who come here, most of whom are ill-provided for financially and lack the academic qualifications possessed by scholarship students. We feel that many of these students would have done better and been far happier if they had completed their education in the Colonies, and we are asking Colonial Governors to consider the establishment of student advisory committees to discourage students from coming to this country without suitable financial backing and academic qualifications. Those already here can get help and advice from the Colonial Government liaison officers, who have been appointed since the war by an increasing number of territories to look after the personal welfare of students in this country.
I am proceeding rather at random from one subject to another, and I hope your Lordships will forgive this somewhat disjointed story. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, raised the question of Colonial defence. The noble Earl, Lord Cork, also referred to the importance of Colonial troops. The importance of military forces in East and West Africa and in other Colonial territories is fully recognised by His Majesty's Government. The future organisation of these forces is now being carefully considered by the appropriate Departments in consultation with the Colonial Governments concerned, and in this review we are of course taking into account not only the local rôle of these defence forces, but also the rôle which they might be called upon to perform in Commonwealth defence. I cannot say more at this stage and I am sure the noble Viscount would not expect me to do so. It is under active consideration at the moment. I will certainly draw the attention of my right honourable friend to the comments on this point made in the course of his speech.
It is difficult for me to know when to stop because I am afraid of wearying 1257 your Lordships, causing intense fatigue and imposing an unfair strain on your Lordships' attention. However, if I may, I will deal briefly with one matter relating to the West Indies. As your Lordships are aware, the ground is being prepared in the West Indies for the establish-merit of a Federal Constitution. A Standing Closer Association Committee was set up to study and to recommend the form of Federal Constitution most in accordance with the wishes of the peoples of our West Indian territories. This Committee has already held two meetings, of which the second took place last month. The outcome of these is not being published pending the consideration of the views of the Committee by the Governments of the territories represented. But it is extremely satisfactory that sufficient agreement has been reached for unanimous recommendations to go forward for the drafting of a Federal Constitution for the West Indies. I should like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, to congratulate the Standing Closer Association Committee on the excellent progress they have made in their work, under the patient and skilful guidance of their Chairman, Sir Hubert Rance. I thought that might interest the House as being a report on the latest large-scale constitutional development in the islands.
Now I think I ought to say something about West Africa, as that has been a topic dealt with at some length. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, referred again to the Gold Coast and I thought he suggested that the Government there were drifting away from events. I cannot accept that suggestion, and I hope that what I say will refute the assertion made by the noble Lord opposite. I am afraid that on the subject of immigration restrictions I cannot add anything to what was said by my noble friend the Leader of the House on March 17. Discussions on the subject of immigration procedure are still proceeding between the Gold Coast Government and the representatives of business firms, and it will not, of course, be possible to make any further public statement until the outcome of these discussions is known.
Since last month's debate in your Lordships' House there has been one development of some importance in the campaign against "swollen shoot" in the 1258 cocoa plantations. The Gold Coast Government have submitted to the Legislative Council their proposals for an intensified cutting-out campaign, and the Legislative Council have agreed to increase expenditure on this programme by £500,000 during the year 1949–50. It is also encouraging that responsible opinion throughout the Gold Coast is accepting the proposition that cutting-out is the only effective remedy for this disease. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, I would like to assure him that any Englishman, Scotsman or Welshman, who goes to any Colony is not a foreigner but enjoys all the privileges of British citizenship.
May I now add one word about the groundnuts scheme, and also deal with the ravages of the trogoderma beetle among groundnut stocks at Kano? The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has directed attention to the problem of groundnuts in Nigeria. We are fully aware of the importance of making the best possible use of this valuable product, both from the point of view of the local population and to increase the fats available at home. The failure of transport to remove the groundnut crop as soon as it was harvested has resulted in the piling up of 44,000 tons of old crop at Kano, in addition to the 276,000 tons of current crop which is now ready for clearance. These figures are entirely correct, and are corroborated from official sources. The piling up of this quantity of groundnuts has been due to the shortage of locomotives, rolling stock and equipment to maintain the railway line required to handle the traffic. Owing to these transport difficulties, the amount of nuts carried by rail fell off badly between March and August of last year. But an improvement resulting from the arrival of new locomotives was reflected in the amount carried for the next six months—namely, August to January last—and this improvement had by last month just about made up for the falling off in quantities carried during the previous period.
This improvement is expected to continue with the arrival of new locomotives and wagons. By June of this year the monthly railings—I understand that that is a technical term for the volume of nuts carried by rail, and has nothing to do with the more familiar use of the word 1259 "railings"—should have gone up from 30,000 tons to about 36,000 tons a month. The second half of the year should show an average figure of about 38,000 tons a month. At 30,000 tons a month, the rate is just about sufficient to clear current crops, including French ground-nuts. Anything above this starts to overtake accumulated stock. Thus, with railings reaching 38,000 tons per month, stocks at the end of October will probably be about 100,000 tons, as compared with about 150,000 tons at the same date last year. The whole of the 1948–49 crop should be cleared by January, 1950. We are doing our utmost to improve the efficiency and carrying capacity of the railway. The supply of locomotives and wagons for the Nigerian railways this year is proceeding satisfactorily. I could give the noble Lord the details, but perhaps it would be more convenient if I were to give them in the form of a Written Answer rather than in debate, as this is perhaps a somewhat technical subject for those who have not a special interest.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Would the noble Earl follow the excellent example of Lord Bruce, and append them to Hansard, if that is in order? I noticed that Lord Bruce did it.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I will do that if it is possible. The noble Viscount opposite also drew attention to the ravages of the trogoderma beetle among ground-nut stocks at Kano. As soon as this pest was detected, measures were taken to prevent the spread of infestation and to cleanse infected stock before export. About 14,000 tons have already been treated, and a further 8,000 tons remain to be treated. At present only 75 tons have proved to be a total loss, which I think is a comparatively small figure in relation to the total amount of the accumulated stocks. Because of these preventive measures, I can safely say that if further infestation occurs—and I hope it will not—it will be speedily and effectively dealt with.
I should like to say one thing about the noble Viscount's reference to the indebtedness of cocoa farmers in the Gold Coast. I think the problem has changed somewhat since the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, was in West Africa. High prices 1260 for cocoa in recent years have greatly reduced the difficulties of the cocoa farmers. Quite apart from the considerable amounts which individual farmers have saved, the Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board have accumulated very large sums in their stabilisation fund. In that way, thanks to the prosperity of the cocoa industry, most of these farmers have succeeded in clearing off their indebtedness. But it is also our policy (and one which will, I am sure, be approved) to encourage the growth of co-operative societies to provide an alternative to the moneylender as a source of credit. I am most grateful to your Lordships for the many constructive and helpful suggestions which have been made in the course of this long and interesting debate. I will certainly submit them to my right honourable friend for his earnest and immediate consideration, and I sincerely hope they will help both us and the Governments in our Colonial territories to proceed with the utmost efficiency in the discharge of our duties.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, first of all, let me say that I entirely withdraw my suggestion that the table should be appended to Hansard. I am advised that the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce, committed the greatest possible social and constitutional solecism in what he did. But I will certainly arrange to put down a non-oral Question as soon as we meet again, and I shall be much obliged if the noble Earl will give me the figures.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
I am afraid that I entirely refute the suggestion as to my action, and I offer no apology at all, because my action saved the House from being worried with all those figures.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
May I interrupt to say that I welcome the statement of the noble Viscount? I confess that the incident to which the noble Viscount referred had escaped my notice. It is entirely wrong that details that have not been given in the House in debate should be entered on the official records. I will take up the matter, and I hope that this procedure will not be followed any more.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
In view of the very severe rebuke that I have received from the noble Viscount 1261 the Leader of the House, I would like to point out that it shows that progress goes on al] the time, and that we should ever watch these progressive moves that are taking place! In the Parliament of Australia, of which I was a Member for some time, I think we were as jealous of great precedents as any Parliament in any other part of the Empire, including this, the Mother of Parliaments. The practice that I ventured to suggest should be followed here is one which is pursued in the perfectly respectable Australian Parliament. As it is a practice which is followed in my own country, I really cannot apologise for suggesting that it should be adopted here.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I would remind the noble Viscount that we, too, enjoy Dominion status.
I am certainly not going to make a speech at this stage and forfeit thereby the very charming compliments which the Minister of State paid me at the beginning of his remarks. I merely thank him most sincerely for an extremely interesting and informative reply—one of the most interesting and most informative replies that we have had in any debate in this House, if I may say so. It was a reply which was worthy of the debate. I would add an apology to the House that, for reasons entirely beyond my control, I was unable to be in the Chamber for three-quarters of an hour or so during the debate. I was delighted to hear the Minister of State say that we were in complete accord on the principles which I had ventured to enunciate. I am sure that that statement will give confidence and encouragement all over the Empire.
I would only add that I most warmly agree with what has been said as to the great opportunities that are open to Africans in what the Minister called, as I did also, "our great partnership." There is a tremendous field of opportunity and service. There are many Africans already, and there will be many more hereafter, fully qualified to seize those opportunities. And I would assure my African friends—of whom there are many—that to give that service they do not need to wait for their country to attain Dominion status. There is a tremendous field open now in the administrative Services. I was present at the initiation of some very good young Africans as district officers. They were 1262 the sort of men who will certainly rise to be Provincial Commissioners. There are great openings in commerce—and commerce is only too anxious to afford more—in local government, in whatever central Legislative Councils may exist (and they are and will be varied) and also—and I am glad to think that I was present again when this was initiated—on the Executive Councils and Cabinets of Governments. There are certainly great opportunities there, and the more the Africans take advantage of them the greater will be not only their success but also the success of the partnership. Once more I thank the Minister of State for his reply, and beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.