§ 6.13 p.m.
§ LORD RENNELL rose to call attention to the Gold Coast Gazette Extraordinary, Number 11 of February 1, 1949, on immigration procedure; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the paper to which the Motion standing in my name refers is the Gold Coast Gazette Extraordinary, Number 11, of February 1, 1949. It came into my hands last week. I would like to preface my remarks by saying that I have no financial or business interests in the Gold Coast whatsoever. 826 I think the only part of this document with which your Lordships will find yourselves in agreement is the description of it as "Extraordinary." Before going into its contents, I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to a few, to my mind, very extraordinary peculiarities. The document itself is called a general notice. It is known as "Gazette Notice 192," and it is entitled "Statement on Immigration Procedure." It then outlines what the Gazette or the statement describes as "a directive," issued to the principal immigration officer by some unknown person. The notice is not signed, and there is no indication of the authority—if it has authority—under which it is issued.
§ I do not know the word "directive" in legislative documents; I do not know what it means. During the war we heard a great deal about directives, which were very sharply distinguished from operation orders. They appeared to be general statements of intention which had not the force of orders. "Directive" is a word which we have borrowed in modern times, I believe from the French, because on looking it up in the dictionary I find that there are three meanings given to it; that two of them are to the word "directive" as an adjective, and only one of them to the word as a substantive. The meaning under the heading "substantive" is described as "obsolete." Here we have what purports to be a legislative document which is called "a directive." I would like to know from the noble Earl who I understand is going to reply what this document is intended to be or to mean; under what authority it is issued; what he understands "a directive" is; whether any person who does not comply with a directive is liable to pains and penalties and, if so, under what ordinance.
From investigations I have made, I imagine that this directive—whatever that may mean—has been issued by somebody under the Gold Coast Immigration Ordinance, 194i, as amended by the Gold Coast Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance, 1948. I have taken the trouble to turn up and read the Gold Coast Immigration Ordinance Number 7 of 1947, and I find that the major part of that Immigration Ordinance deals with the prohibition of the arrival in the Gold Coast of prostitutes and procurers.
Roughly, the first three pages of the Ordinance deal with definitions of those professions, and the Ordinance generally tries, very properly, to seek to prohibit the arrival of those people. Lest anything, however, shall have escaped the net of the definitions in that Ordinance, the then Governor in Council had inserted in the Ordinance a clause, Number 12, the first section of which reads:
Notwithstanding anything in this Ordinance contained, the Governor in Council, or in an emergency the Governor himself, may prohibit the entry into the Gold Coast itself of any person or any class of persons.
I do not know whether it is under that clause of that Ordinance, or Clause 18 (1), that the so-called directives or statements have been issued. I should have thought it would have been a matter of good order to have quoted the Ordinance under which provisions such as those I am going to read out to your Lordships in a minute were issued. In my opinion, this method of making unsigned announcements in the Gazette, without reference to the powers under which they are made, can properly be termed sloppy legislation—if it is legislation—which I much regret should have been undertaken or given publicity to by any part of His Majesty's Government in any part of His Majesty's Dominions.
I now come to the contents of the directive. The directive—from which I am afraid, with your Lordships' permission, I shall have to read a number of extracts—is a remarkable document. I begin with the second paragraph. The part of that paragraph which I want to read says:
This statement, which summarises the directive"—
therefore, the statement which has been published is not even a full statement, but a summary of something else which nobody has been allowed to see—
issued to the Principal Immigration Officer, sets out the present position including the recent procedural modifications.
Those modifications, so far as I know, have not been published. I will deal with paragraph 3 a little later. The second paragraph, to which I have referred, concerns the arrival of persons from overseas, either by air or by sea and, I think in certain circumstances also, overland, because overland arrival is also covered
by the Immigration Ordinance No. 7 to which I have referred. In paragraph 4 we find that temporary visitors will be given three months' visitors' permits. They may be required, in the discretion of the Immigration Officer, to make a deposit or enter into a bond, and they will not be allowed to undertake any employment locally—I will let that pass.
We then come to a section which is devoted to owners or partners in businesses or professions, other than temporary visitors. It says—and this is an extremely interesting point, and a very surprising one to me:
such persons who are already resident in the Gold Coast should obtain re-entry permits before they leave.
The best is yet to come. It goes on:
New partners in a reputable established business"—
no attempt is made to define what "a reputable business" is, and it is a very slack use of English to insert it here—
or profession, above the number normally engaged in that business, will be required to show that the expansion of the firm is in the economic interests of the Gold Coast, before a long-term permit is issued to them.
Continuing, the same paragraph, dealing with an owner or a partner, says that he will be required to show that he has the capital to establish his business, which is no doubt quite reasonable. It goes on:
If he is able to prove this, he will be granted a long-term permit endorsed with the condition that he may not take up any other business, employment or practice without the authority of the Principal Immigration Officer.
We come a little later on to more functions of the Immigration Officer. Who is he? Is he the Labour Officer or the Governor of the Colony? Who is this person who is going to decide whether anybody may change his employment and whether his business requires the addition of other personnel in the interests of the Gold Coast? This is attributing to the Immigration Officer functions that I believe have never before been attributed to him in any country.
We now come to another paragraph which deals with employees:
The Gold Coast offices of all firms or mines should ascertain, before allowing their employees to embark, that new employees intending to work in the Gold Coast will be allowed to enter the Gold Coast. Each firm or mine is to be allotted a quota for its expatriate staff.
I do not know what "expatriate staff" means, unless it means staff which was in the Gold Coast and has gone on leave. But such staff are to be included in a quota based on the number of expatriate staff employed on one of two dates, on whichever it was the greater. It goes on:
such quotas may not be exceeded without the permission of the Gold Coast Government. A condition of entry under a quota will be that the person does not change his employment without the permission of the Government.
I will examine that in a minute, because I want to read only one other short extract and that is about wives. Incidentally, it also deals with children who may have been brought up there and who, after the age of sixteen, are to be pushed out, because they have to keep the immigration quota, whether they are living with their parents or not. But let that go.
We now come on to wives:
Wives accompanying or joining their husbands will normally be treated similarly to their husbands but a condition of entry that they do not undertake any employment without the permission of the Government may be imposed.
Incidentally, that prohibition of wives undertaking employment without the permission of the Government might exclude the wife of any person living out there from undertaking nursing, welfare work or secretarial work, either in her husband's business or in any other business. Furthermore, that restriction about wives does not apply to Government servants, and a discrimination here is clearly being made against the wives of persons engaged in business.
§ May I come back for a moment to the question of quotas? Here we have a quota imposed on one of two dates—whichever date gives the larger quota—under which a concern operating out there is not to increase its staff, and the staff which it has can graciously he allowed to go back, on permission from the Immigration Officer to complete the work which they began to do there, but are not allowed to change their employment. Let us examine what that means. It means that, supposing the underground manager of a mine is to be promoted to take on some other function in the mine (which is a change of employment), the mining concern is not to be allowed to do that without the permission of the immigration officer. Furthermore, an accountant in a commercial firm is not to 830 be sent out to become a produce buyer without the permission of the immigration officer. Does this not seem to your Lordships to be attributing to an immigration officer in the Gold Coast not only managerial functions, but a knowledge of each business superior to that of the local managers and of the boards of directors of the companies themselves? A condition of that sort is absolutely preposterous. As I say, we shall no doubt hear from the noble Earl that it is not intended to apply this directive in this way. Then why put it in? It is an absolutely unheard-of restriction on the activities of any commercial business, and one, in my view, which would effectively preclude any new business from going to establish itself there.
§ Secondly, let us consider the effects of the quota, perhaps on a business which is expanding. Whoever issued this directive said there is no intention of restricting commercial development, but here we have a statement of policy from somebody that a quota will be imposed whereby expatriate employees, including people who are on leave, have to get permission to come back, or have to get permission to add to their number, and may have it refused. Suppose there is a mine which wants to develop or sink a new shaft. That means that another engineer or another technician has to go out from here, and has to obtain the permission of the immigration officer to do so. In other words, the immigration officer is placed in the position of deciding what mining development there is to be.
That is not the end of this sad story, because I go back to the second paragraph of this extraordinary Gazette, and I read:
The procedure set out below will apply irrespective of nationality or race to British subjects and to aliens.
That is a pretty severe statement to appear in any Government publication. It means that a British subject is to be assimilated to, and treated in the same way as, an alien in one of His Majesty's territories overseas. I do not believe that that has been done before. I am aware that there are restrictions on the immigration of British subjects in various territories, and for very good reasons. None of us would object to that. What I think all your Lordships will join me in objecting to is that subjects of His
Majesty should be treated in a British Colony overseas in the same category as aliens. I should like to know from the noble Earl what is the reason for this extraordinary provision. Not only is the provision extraordinary in itself, it contains what I believe to be that same sloppy legislation to which I referred in the early part of my speech.
At the end of last Session your Lordships will remember that we had before us the British Nationality Bill, which has since become the British Nationality Act. In the first section of that Act it is stated that every person who:
under this Act is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies … shall, by virtue of that citizenship, be a British subject.
A great deal of discussion took place in your Lordships' House and in another place about the distinction, in the first place, between a British citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and British subjects or British nationals; and, for better or for worse, that distinction was made in the Act. There is no reference in this directive to a "British citizen" as apart from a "British subject."
§ Your Lordships will also remember that it was pointed out in this House that His Majesty's subjects in overseas Colonial territories came under the definition of "British citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies." Not only is there no reference to that in this extraordinary document, but it seems to me that, had there been a reference to it, it might have provided the solution to what the authorities of the Gold Coast are trying to achieve. The early part of this statement says that it is not intended to prevent people going to the Gold Coast—but they obviously want to keep certain people out. It is commonly accepted that there are two kinds of immigrants into the Gold Coast whose entry the authorities want to restrict, and they are Indians and Syrians. Syrians, for the purpose of this and other such legislation, are aliens—now to be treated in the same way as British subjects. If it had been desired to keep Indians out of the Gold Coast, it would have been simple to restrict their immigration as "British subjects" by allowing greater latitude to the immigration of those persons who are described in the British Nationality Act as "British citizens of 832 the United Kingdom and Colonies." I should like to know whether this document has yet received any attention in the Gold Coast, and, if not, why not?
§ My Lords, I hope that this form of document will never again see official daylight. I hope that statements by which British subjects are to be treated in the same way as aliens will not again appear in a document issued by any of His Majesty's Governments anywhere. Finally, I hope that the whole document will receive further attention, and that it will be withdrawn until it has received that further attention. I beg to move for Papers.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Surely we are to have a statement from the Minister. I thought that was understood.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am entirely willing to oblige the noble Viscount by making a statement which I think will throw some light on the situation at this stage in the debate. I am sure he will be equally willing, if it proves desirable for me to comment on any subsequent speeches, to allow me to intervene a second time.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, has raised this question this afternoon, because I think there is a good deal of misunderstanding about the restrictions on immigration to the Gold Coast; and not only about the nature of the restrictions, but about the reasons for them. In fact, I am not sure that I did not detect one or two misunderstandings in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rennell. What I shall try to do now is to explain the reasons for these restrictions, the policy behind them, and the actual nature of the procedural regulations set out in the Gold Coast Gazette, to which the noble Lord has drawn attention.
May I, first, answer one or two minor points made by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, in his speech? He asked who had issued this directive. The directive was issued by the Government of the Gold Coast. I agree that there is nothing on the document to show that its authority is derived from the Government of the Gold Coast. The noble Lord did not like the word "directive," and I myself am not wedded to any special term. I do 833 not think that that is a term which need be used, because the document contains, in fact, a number of procedural regulations. Lord Rennell also asked what was the legal force of these regulations, whence they derived their legal force, and from what source their authority came. Their binding force derives from the amended immigration Ordinance of September, 1948. This Ordinance gives the Government of the Gold Coast authority to make the necessary administrative arrangements to restrict immigration into the Gold Coast. I will read the relevant passage amending the earlier Ordinance, because I think that sets out the legal source of authority in this matter. It may be of interest to the noble Lord, and to other noble Lords, to know exactly what the wording of the amendment is. The amendment defines the persons who will be restricted, or who will be added to the persons already restricted, and the grounds on which they can be restricted. The Ordinance now includes:any person or class of persons whose intended occupation may, in the opinion of the Governor-in-Council, prove detrimental to the economic life of the inhabitants of the Gold Coast.I am trying to keep this a kind of factual story, because I think that that will enable noble Lords to arrive at their own conclusions with the greatest likelihood of making the conclusions just and fair.
I can also assure noble Lords that this idea that an immigration officer has power to decide about applications for employment is not correct. That is entirely a matter for the Gold Coast Government, and cannot be decided by an immigration officer. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, took the view that children will be turned out after they reach the age of sixteen. I am glad the noble Lord limited his statement because the great majority of children, after they reach the age of sixteen—that is, the children of Government officials and business men—will continue to stay, if they and their parents wish to stay. These restrictions are applicable only in those cases which would obviously be exceptional—cases, perhaps, in which children who reach the age of sixteen would wish to go into busyness and remain in the Gold Coast. These matters will come under consideration. It may be that in certain cases permission will be given to those who wish to stay in the profession or do something else they 834 desire. Does the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, also suggest that wives are likely to be refused employment in the ordinary way; and that a wife would not be allowed to be her husband's secretary?
I was trying to show the distinction, that wives of public officials were not subject to these restrictions.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Yes, I agree, but I would not like the impression to get about—and I am sure the noble Lord did not intend it to get about—that in the ordinary case the wife who wants to do work with her husband, or take up voluntary work, will be refused permission to do these things. Obviously, unless the employment was paid employment, no application would have to be made. Let me pass on to the more general question. In this, of course, we go back a long way before the present Administration there. It has always been a fundamental principle of British policy in the Gold Coast, as in other West African Territories, that non-African settlement should be discouraged, so that the African peoples may progress economically and politic ally without the complications which would be created by the establishment of settled non-African interests. In the last year or two, since the war, arrivals of non-Africans seeking a home in the Gold Coast have increased. In particular, a class of immigrant has been seeking admission whose intended occupation is in trade and commerce, generally on a small scale, and in a few cases in farming, and who will buy up property for the purpose.
With the growth of education and general social development in Africa, the African is advancing into new fields, not only in the Administration but in trade and commerce and in the professions. The Governments of the West African territories have a duty, therefore, to see that African ambitions are not frustrated by an overcrowding of these fields by immigrants of other races. In so acting, they are backed by a strong public feeling in the territories, which grows ever more powerful as the African fits himself for these new enterprises. In September of last year, the immigration law in the Gold Coast was amended in the way I have already shown, by providing another cate- 835 gory of prohibited immigrant. It was clearly necessary that this amendment to the immigration law in the Gold Coast should be followed by some notice to the public and by some directive or procedural regulation on which the immigration authorities were to act. They must be shown how to operate this ordinance. The Gazette notice, to which the noble Lord has drawn attention this afternoon, contains these procedural regulations.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I was merely using the other phrase because the noble Lord did not seem to like the word "directive."
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
They have the same legal force, whether you call them a "directive" or a "procedural regulation." I would not like any mistake to be made about the meaning of the word "regulation," which has a technical sense in this country. I do not wish it to be confused. I am prepared to adopt the term "directive" if the noble Lord prefers it. When I comment, as I was doing just now, on the policy which the Gold Coast Government have adopted, I should like at the outset to make two points absolutely clear, because I think they are the outstanding points relating to these restrictions. In the first place—and I think there has been a good deal of misunderstanding about this—it is no novelty for the Government of a British colony to impose control over the immigration of British subjects; such control exists in East as well as West Africa, in some of the West Indies and in other Colonial territories. Indeed, I have here a document with which I was furnished to-day, dated December 22, 1945, headed "A Law to impose Restrictions on Immigration by British Subjects." That document is published under the name of the Acting Governor of Jamaica.
Does that contain the same assimilation of British subjects to aliens, which was the point of my remark?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I cannot say whether it applies in the same way 836 as the Ordinance, but I shall come on to that a little later, if I may, because I shall be dealing with this document again. The immigration laws in several other territories besides the Gold Coast provide also, in the way of this Ordinance, for the examination of the economic background of a prospective immigrant, and for his rejection if it is not thought desirable in the interests of the local inhabitants that he should be allowed to come in and settle in the occupation which he proposes to take up. In Uganda and other East African territories, for instance, the immigration authority has to certify of an immigrant that his engaging in his particular trade, business or profession will not be to the prejudice of the inhabitants generally. In Jamaica, the Governor-in-Council may prescribe as prohibited immigrants any class of persons deemed on economic grounds, or on account of habit or standard of life, to be undesirable immigrants. That is the passage to which I wanted to come. The restrictions apply to any class of persons. Therefore, it would include aliens as well as British subjects, which I think answers that point.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Precisely, from the point of view of preventing them from coming into Jamaica if they are going to take up employment which can be done by the local Jamaicans. As your Lordships know, there is a great problem of over-population in the West Indies, which makes it all the more necessary that the jobs which are available should go to the local people. Therefore, if the Gold Coast Government have decided to take similar powers of control in the interests of the economic status and development of their people, as they have done, their action cannot be questioned on the ground that it is without precedent. I am inclined to think that that is another misunderstanding because, if I did not fail to grasp the significance of one passage from the noble Lord's speech, I am inclined to think that he thought it was without precedent for this restriction to be imposed on British subjects and aliens.
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. The noble Earl keeps on confusing the issue so far as I am concerned. My objection was that British 837 subjects were being treated as being in the same category as aliens. I did not express myself clearly perhaps; if I did not, I wish unhesitatingly to withdraw what I said. I did not say that restrictions were not being imposed on British subjects going into other Colonies, but I did take grave exception to their being treated in the same category as aliens.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Yes, I quite understand the noble Lord's objection. I am merely pointing out that this procedure is not a novelty. It has been done before, even though it has not attracted the noble Lord's attention. I believe it is also true that the Uganda Ordinance, to which I have just referred, applies to aliens as well as to British subjects. I should like to correct what I said about Jamaica. The Jamaica Ordinance applies only to British subjects. I apologise for what I said before.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I here and now give the Minister of State notice, and I hope that, with every encouragement to him to speak again, the House will be informed whether the new form of "Imperial Preference" in Jamaica is to give a preference to aliens.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I shall certainly find out before the end of the discussion what is the position in Jamaica, although I am quite sure that aliens are not given preference over British subjects. The reason—and it is a simple and an understandable one—why the Gold Coast Government have decided to take these powers, is to control the immigration of persons, wherever they may come from, who would be doing work for which Africans are suited and available, or which they can be trained to do, so keeping local people from the jobs they are qualified to do in the Gold Coast. The only absolute ban, as the noble Lord will have noticed in the course of his study of this copy of the Gazette, is upon new retail traders. They are the only class of business people who are to be kept out of the Gold Coast.
838 I would like to explain as fully as I can this question of procedure for limiting immigration. The Gold Coast procedure lays down that in regard to established private or partnership businesses or professions, the expansion of the firm which necessitates the entry of new partners is in the economic interests of the Gold Coast. If an immigrant wishes to establish a new business or profession, he must show that his occupation will be in the economic interests of the Gold Coast, and that he has the necessary capital. In the case of employees of firms and mines, however, the Gold Coast Government have decided to proceed by a quota system. Every firm or mine is to be allotted a quota for its expatriate staff, based on the numbers of expatriate staff employed on September 1, 1939 or on February 1, 1949, whichever is the greater. Such quotas may not be exceeded without the permission of the Government, but an excess over the quota for a period of three months will normally be allowed for handing over to reliefs.
Of course, it must not for a moment be thought that permission will be refused to any firm which asks for an engineer or an administrative man to come in over and above its quota. It merely means that permission must be sought, and that a decision will be taken in the light of economic circumstances in the Gold Coast. I hope that it is not thought this will prevent business enterprises in the Gold Coast from expanding. The thing that we sincerely desire is the increasing of their activities, because clearly they will be able to get the staff they want, either European or from local sources, and no man will be refused unless his place can equally well be filled by somebody on the spot. I can and I do assure the noble Lord and other noble Lords, that the last thing we want to do is to check a private enterprise on the Gold Coast which has already done good service to the Colony. The last thing this quota system is designed to do is to put any obstacle in the way of its functioning satisfactorily. Indeed, the Gazette notice states specifically thatit is not intended to apply this procedure"—that is to say the quota procedure—in such a manner as to prevent private enterprise from playing a useful part in the development of the Gold Coast in spheres which the indigenous population is at present unwilling or unqualified to enter.839 My Lords, I hope I have been able to provide your Lordships with some useful information about this matter, in order that you may be able to make up your minds as to the desirability or otherwise of what has been done. I would sincerely hope that your Lordships will, perhaps on a later occasion, study in Hansard what has been said, because this is a complicated, delicate and difficult matter, and I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is most undesirable to arrive at a hasty decision.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I think all your Lordships will be grateful to the Minister of State for having intervened at once in order to throw such light as he has upon this matter, but I do not think we can agree with his statement that this directive, which has the full force of a regulation and which is being applied now, is not a fit subject for immediate debate in this House. We may wish to return to it upon a later occasion, but there are things which should be said at once, here and now, in Parliament.
This is an amazing document. I have listened with great care to all that the Minister has said, and I feel sure that those of your Lordships who take part in this debate will come into it adequately informed, not only by the statement of the noble Earl, but with your own experience and with knowledge of this document. After all, it is this document which has been published and broadcast in the Gold Coast which the Government have to defend. The noble Earl said that the regulations, as we should now call them—they have been called procedural directives, but normally they are the regulations—
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
May I interrupt the noble Viscount? I said "procedural regulations" in order to make certain that they could not be confused with any other type of regulation of a legally binding force.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am much obliged. It does not become clearer. They are binding, or they are not; things are happening, or they are not. As I understand it (and the noble Earl said the directives were in full force), this policy is now being carried out, and it 840 affects every British subject who seeks to go into the Gold Coast, even though he may have been there before. Therefore, we are discussing what is being done. Whether or not this was legally done I am not going to argue, but at any rate it is what is being forcibly done in the Gold Coast.
The Minister said that it was being done under the Ordinance of September, 1948, which gave the Governor-in-Council power to include in this class—which, as the noble Lord has said, has previously been confined to prostitutes, brothel keepers, convicted criminals and idiots:any persons or classes of persons whose intended occupation may, in the opinion of the Governor-in-Council prove detrimental to the economic development of the inhabitants of the Gold Coast.That was only an enabling power, and one would imagine that before this extraordinary directive or decree was issued some information would be given to Parliament—assuming, that is, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Minister of State knew what the Gold Coast Government were doing. Because the words of this document are very important, categorically I ask the Minister of State: Was this directive submitted to the Secretary of State before it was issued?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I can answer that immediately. The answer is "No," because this is a piece of administrative machinery which would not normally be submitted to the responsible Minister in this country.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
That is a most extraordinary thing. Generally, when it comes to the maintenance of law and order, no discretion is left to the executive officer, the Governor on the spot; but when there is concerned a vitally important piece of policy controlling the entry of every British subject, white or coloured, into one of His Majesty's Colonies for which the Secretary of State is responsible, then the Minister says "Of course that would not come before the Secretary of State. It is a matter for the Governor of the Gold Coast to deal with." I should have thought that if a Commission of Inquiry were sent out to investigate everything in the Gold Coast and everything was referred to the Secretary of State, it is surprising that this was not. Now we have learned that 841 the Secretary of State for the Colonies did not know that this document was being issued, although it affects every firm in this country and in America which may be thinking of developing in the Gold Coast. It affects the whole social and economic life of the country in the future.
While, of course, I accept the statement that the Secretary of State did not know about this, in my view he ought to have known about it. Now that he does, I hope most sincerely that he will take some very definite steps. Why was a Gazette Extraordinary rushed through except that it was an extraordinary directive? Assuming that a directive was required, could anything be more unfortunate than the terms and language of this document? And it is the language that matters. This is going to be read by the people. It will be read by everyone who can read in the Gold Coast—you may be sure of that. It has received, and rightly received, great publicity. It will be read on both sides of the Atlantic and it has become a document of great importance.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount for a moment, because I think there has been some misunderstanding? I understood the noble Viscount to ask me whether this issue of the Gazette had been seen and approved by my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State. My answer was: "No, it had not." But my right honourable friend had already been notified of the regulations which were going to be made under the Ordinance and subsequently included in the Gazette, so he was fully cognizant of the contents of the Gazette to which the noble Viscount is taking exception.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am still not very clear. Do I understand—because this is the peccant document—that the Secretary of State knew of the wording of this document and approved?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
He knew of the wording of the regulations contained in this document. I will not read them. The noble Viscount will see them with his own eyes if he glances at the document. They give, for example, under paragraph 4, the procedure with regard to temporary visitors, and so on.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
What the Secretary of State did see, apparently, and approve, is paragraph 4. What he did not see—I am not sure whether he approves or not; I sincerely hope that he does not, for reasons to which I will come later—is the preamble and paragraphs 2 and 3. It seems odd that the Secretary of State should be consulted as to the precise detail of the language to be applied in respect of wives and employees, but should not be consulted as to the statement of policy and intention which precede it, which, of course, is of paramount importance, and which governs the way in which the other paragraphs are to be carried out. I say at once that this document, whoever was responsible for it, whether it was the Secretary of State, the Minister of State, the Governor or the Immigration Officer, is a bad document.
The whole emphasis and outlook is wrong. What does it do? It covers everyone—anybody and everybody who is not now in the Gold Coast, including, of course, all Africans in adjacent territories. I say that the emphasis and the outlook are both wrong. I understood that it was our policy—indeed I thought I heard the Secretary of State say it was our policy—to encourage the development of our Colonial territories and, what is more, to invite new capital, not only British but American, to engage in that enterprise. I would ask your Lordships what chance there is of getting new capital, British or American, into the enterprise if it is to be wholly at the mercy of a local Government with a right of veto upon any man going out as an employee, senior or junior, to engage in the business. There is not even a right of appeal. There is an Ordinance in Kenya—I know, of course, what that was directed against—and under that Kenya Ordinance the immigration officer or the Governor is not the judge. There is a right of appeal to an independent tribunal presided over by a High Court Judge or other appropriate person, with three independent unofficial members, and their decision is final. No such appeal is provided for here. There is no appeal from this regulation.
With whom does the policy of development rest? Is it a case of half and half? Is it with the Secretary of State or is it with the local Government? The Minister of State spoke of the Government of 843 the Gold Coast wanting to do something or other or thinking it right. Perhaps it is a divided responsibility. Perhaps the Government of the Gold Coast are responsible for the first half of the policy and the Secretary of State for the second half, as apparently was the case with these regulations. I should have thought that essentially it was a matter for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that it ought to be so, because the whole of his planning policy depends on it. As we have said so often, policy issues in action; and this is the kind of action in which the policy has issued! The emphasis is all wrong. It is an emphasis not to encourage but to deter and to inculcate the erroneous idea of a conflict of interests between the European and the African.
Look at paragraph 2 of this document:It should be understood that it is not intended to apply this procedure in such a manner as to prevent private enterprise from playing a useful part in the development of the Gold Coast in spheres in which the indigenous population is at present unwilling or unqualified to enter.This suggests a false divorce between the interests of the European and the African. It means that if the African enters, the European should be kept out. That is not the way in which Africa can be developed, either economically or socially. And this will be lapped up; it will be read with interest; it will be promulgated by persons who, as we know already, have been engaged in the Gold Coast in trying to undermine good order and all the measures which the Government are trying to carry in the very interests of the Africans. How different is this deterrent directive from the wise words of the greatest African teacher there ever was in Africa—Aggrey, the founder of Achimota. His policy and his watchword was "The harmony of the black and white keys." That was the watchword of the greatest African teacher, a most practical visionary. It is a very different conception from that contained in this document.
When we turn from the general to the particular, could anything be more obstructive and unreasonable? No established firm is to be allowed, without a local permit, to send out a single extra man. How can the immigration officer judge? The Minister said that it was 844 not the immigration officer who judged. So far as I can see, all applications go to him. If there is some industrial department, the regulation ought to say so. It does not. Let me take a concrete example, because after all I am talking about something I know. For two years during the war I was in West Africa, when we had co-operation very different from this. Take the great manganese mines in the Gold Coast—they are admirably managed, very efficiently run, and they are excellent employers of labour. And take the development of bauxite, on which my noble friend Lord Llewellin worked together with me. Is a firm which has hundreds of thousands of pounds sunk in such a concern, and which is being invited by the Government to go deeper with its investments in these ventures, not to have the right to decide whether they should send out an extra engineer? The Minister says probably they would get leave, if the Gold Coast Government thought it right, and at any rate the job should first be offered to an African.
Nobody would accuse me of not being an advocate of the greatest possible African employment. I am aware that they did things during the war—things which people hitherto said they could not do—but if you want to advance the African in commercial and industrial employment, in engineering and technical work, you will do it in only one way—by giving him work alongside the best European people who can be found. If the local Government take the view that an engineer whom a big firm think necessary is not to be sent, who is to take the financial risk? Is that to be borne by the firm or by the immigration officer? There should be some sense of responsibility in this. Just look at the quota—an arbitrary quota taken on two arbitrarily fixed dates, a date in 1939 and another date in 1948. As my noble friend said, some businesses are receding and others advancing; some may be efficient and others less efficient. Do we not want to encourage the more efficient? I thought that in this country the President of the Board of Trade was trying to get rid of controls of materials particularly because nothing would be more unfair, and a greater deterrent to efficiency, than the retention of arbitrary controls of materials fixed by what some firm was using so many years ago. If that is true of material, it is equally true of personnel. 845 Even in this country, with all our controls, we do not try to say what is to be the supervisory staff of every firm.
Then there are the missions. It is very comprehensive, this document. Your Lordships will be surprised to see that it is directed not only against British and American firms but also, I will not say against, but strictly to regulate missionary enterprise. It says in paragraph 3—I do not think this is the one approved by the noble Earl; it is the one before to which he gave his definite verbal approval:The Gold Coast offices of all firms, mines and missions should make the appropriate inquiries regarding their expatriate employees.So the immigration officer is to be head of the Church as well as head of the State! There is the provision about wives. The noble Earl did not think that this was unreasonable. They might do a job, so long as they did not get paid for it; sweated labour is all right! The paragraph says:Wives accompanying or joining their husbands will normally be treated similarly to their husbands.I think that "normally" is good. I suppose the immigration officer is to "vet" a wife to see whether she falls into the category of a lady who is to be treated as normal or as not normal, or into the category of a lady to be normally or not normally treated. At any rate, they will normally be treated similarly to their husbands, but one of the conditions of entry will be that they do not undertake any employment—unless she is the wife of a civil servant—without the permission of the Government. Suppose that someone goes sick—and people often go sick in West Africa. Suppose there is a seasonal rush, which everybody who knows West Africa knows about—a rush at the cables and a rush at the banks. The normal thing has been that the wives come in to help. I know that when I was in West Africa it was the wives of business men and civil servants, working to all hours in my typing office and in my cypher office, who enabled me to do my job. Now, without a special permit from the Government or from the immigration officer, a wife is not to be permitted to take a job.
No new person is to be allowed into the Gold Coast, or to engage in any personal trade or business. Does this apply to an African coming from Nigeria or Sierra Leone? Is this exclusion the first 846 step in closer union? These directives have been called "procedural regulations." That appears to me to be a euphemism for a change of policy and a change of law—the first fruit, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, has pointed out (and the first fruit which I am sure the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor never expected when he commended the measure to the House) of the new British Nationality Act. It is the imposition of unheard-of, unprecedented restrictions by which the British subject is to be assimilated to the alien. I have no hesitation in engaging in this debate from the information the Minister has given the House and from what has been published. I say that this document should be withdrawn. It must already have done much harm. It is bad in form and bad in substance, and still worse in spirit.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, for asking for some clarification of the reference to missions in this curious document. I share the noble Viscount's hope that the document may be withdrawn, but if it is not to be withdrawn, it is evidently extremely important that the status of missionaries on the Gold Coast should be clarified. The general expectation is that a directive should make the law clearer. In this important respect the directive does nothing to clarify the intentions of the Government with regard to missionaries. I trust that this subject is one on which the noble Earl will be able to enlighten the House.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, it is late and I do not wish to detain the House for more than a few minutes. The reply given by the noble Earl was so inadequate, and I was so surprised by some of the parallels which he offered to us as precedents for this legislation, that I wish to put certain questions to him, which I hope he will endeavour to answer at some time. This at least must be clear to us. If his defence of this Ordinance is all that he is able to offer us, and if he is unable to say that the Ordinance will be withdrawn, then I hope my noble friend who raised the question will at a later date put down a further Motion which 847 we can support. It is intolerable that Ordinances of this kind, couched in language such as this, should be issued in a British Colony. I hope the noble Earl will make a note of the questions I desire to ask; they may require some research, and I do not expect an answer now.
The first is: Is there any precedent in the British Colonial Empire for established residents being required to obtain re-entry permits before leaving the Colony? I have not heard of it anywhere. Secondly, is there any parallel or precedent for a differentiation of this kind between the wives of officials and all other wives in any part of the Colonial Empire? We understand that under this directive wives of officials are entitled to enter into remunerative employment, whether it clashes with the interests of the native population or not, and require no permit to do so. Thirdly—and the noble Earl has not answered this question, although it was put by my noble friend Lord Rennell: Of what status or rank is this Principal Immigration Officer? Who is it that has these enormous powers over the industry, the development and the population of the Colony? Is there—and this is most pertinent—any parallel or precedent in the Colonial Empire for these powers being given to an immigration officer without a right of appeal of any kind? I feel certain that if other Statutes are investigated it will be found that there is always an appeal to the Governor-in-Council, and frequently either to the High Court or to a special tribunal. There is certainly an appeal in the Kenya Act, and in Uganda. I very much doubt whether there is any precedent for powers of this sort being exercised by a subordinate official without appeal.
Finally, I would ask the noble Earl another question which he has not answered, but which is very pertinent. In the language of this astonishing Ordinance we are told that it is only a summary of the directive which has been issued. What are the other regulations, and why are they not published? If there are regulations, even more grotesque than these, let us have them. I hope that before we discuss this matter again—as we shall certainly have to do—the complete regulations will be made known to us.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, has asked me a number of questions about matters of Colonial administration in which he is so well versed. I am glad that he did not presuppose that I had the same knowledge of comparative Colonial administration as he has. I will gladly look into his questions and give him a reply at the earliest possible moment. The last question I think I can answer now. It is clear that the Gazette contains only a summary for the purpose of setting out the regulations in the most concise manner, for the benefit of those who have to administer them and of the public, who can purchase copies of the Gazette. I am convinced that the longer edition will not contain anything new in any matter of substance which would be of interest to members of this House.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
Before the noble Earl passes from that, may I ask, if there are fuller regulations, that we may be given copies of them?
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
If there is anything fuller than this I shall certainly see that the noble Lord and any other noble Lord who wants a copy has one.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I thank the noble Viscount for that suggestion. If there is anything further I shall be pleased to have a copy laid in the Library. I would like to answer a question of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. He asked whether these restrictions would apply to neighbouring Africans—Sierra Leone, Nigeria or possibly Gambia, and other parts of West Africa. From reading these regulations, I imagine that they apply equally to any one coming from outside the Colony, from a foreign country or from another Continent. I share the conviction, which I think is shared by everyone who has spoken in the debate, that it is most important that British subjects should be able to circulate as freely as possible throughout the Commonwealth; that they should be able to take up whatever vocations may be congenial to them, and in that way benefit both themselves and the part of the Commonwealth in which they do their work. I am entirely at one with every 849 thing that noble Lords have said, either explicitly or by implication, as to the importance of keeping to an absolute minimum any restrictions of movement or restrictions on settlement anywhere in the Commonwealth and Empire. That, I believe, is a general principle which all those who are believers in the Commonwealth would like to apply; but, of course, its application depends on the circumstances.
I should like to remind your Lordships—although I have no doubt that in the case of several noble Lords it is unnecessary—that the Gold Coast has a very highly advanced political Constitution; it probably has the most advanced political Constitution of any of our West African territories. There is an African majority on the Legislative Council, and there are several Africans on the Executive Council. I am sure noble Lords will agree that, the more advanced the type of Colonial Constitution with which one is dealing, the more undesirable and difficult it is to exercise wide control of the internal affairs of the Colony. We have to be extremely careful in our dealings with these Colonies which are well on the road to self-government; we do not want to interfere unnecessarily with them, or to deprive them of any functions which they ought to be able to carry out if they are to be responsible and stand on their own feet. Again, we have to be very careful of local opinion. In such matters as immigration, which affects the local population very closely, we have to study carefully the repercussions of any decisions that may be taken on local public opinion. That, of course, is a matter of very great importance in the Gold Coast, as your Lordships are well aware.
I have listened with great interest and concern to what noble Lords have said, because it is obvious that they take strong exception to what has been done. I can assure noble Lords that their views will be submitted to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, and also forwarded to the Governor of the Gold Coast for his observations. I am delighted that noble Lords feel that this matter should be given serious and prolonged consideration, and I much hope that the pros and cons in this very difficult issue will be weighed most carefully before a decision is taken. It is one of those questions of balancing different in- 850 terests, in which the task of striking a balance is exceedingly difficult and in which very serious mistakes can be made, with serious repercussions in the Colonies if the balance is wrongly struck.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I cannot at the moment say what the other relevant documents are, what form they are in or anything of the kind. I do not feel in a position to accept a Motion for Papers without the capacity for producing the Papers.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
The noble Earl has forgotten that this extraordinary statement in the Gazette says:This statement, which summarises the directive issued to the Principal Immigration Officer.…May we have the directive?
I raised the point only because I thought the noble Earl might have accepted my Motion and offered to lay Papers.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I did offer to put this Paper in the Library, which I think would be the proper thing to do.
I am glad to hear it. What has been said by other speakers has been a matter of great satisfaction to me, because I see that the conclusions I have reached over this extraordinary document are felt by other members of the House to be at least as serious as I myself believe them to be. Your Lordships have elicited from the noble Earl one or two very surprising statements: that the authorship of this document is in serious doubt, and that the front part appears to have been done by one person and the hinder part by another, rather like the pantomime horse. I do not quite know what the relation is between the two ends of the horse, but perhaps that will come out when the documents to which the noble 851 Earl referred have been laid. We do not, in fact, know whether the Governor of the Gold Coast has taken the initiative in the matter and has had the agreement of the Secretary of State, or whether the Secretary of State has taken the initiative and the Governor has willingly or unwillingly agreed.
We are agreed, at any rate on this side of the House, that the document itself is slipshod beyond words. Even the noble Earl in his reply, I think felt a little uncomfortable about the fact that the document had not been signed. He has told us that it is not a directive but it is procedural regulations. That is not entirely correct, because it is a summary of them. We were told verbally by him the Ordinance from which the powers were derived—namely, the Gold Coast (Amending) Ordinance—and from that we elicited the information that the Governor of the Gold Coast had agreed upon "another category" (the words used by the noble Earl) of persons whose immigration is prohibited into the Gold Coast, the first category being prostitutes and procurers; and in the Amending Order all British subjects and citizens have been dealt with. I think it is an unfortunate association.
I had hoped to hear from the noble Earl that some further consideration would be given to these procedural regulations (which are not "a directive"), and that they might be held in abeyance until such time as further consideration was given to them. I should have thought it wise to do that, even if not wiser to withdraw them altogether until a little more thought was given to the matter. At this late hour I do not wish to press my Motion, but I wish to give notice to the noble Earl at this stage that I will set down a Motion drawing attention to the policy which governs the administration of the Gold Coast, of which this last example is only one of several of a very unsatisfactory nature. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.