§ 2.46 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR rose to call attention to the administration of Colonial affairs in the African Territories; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, when I first put down this Motion it was to call attention to Colonial affairs throughout the whole Colonial Empire. Since then I have narrowed the scope of my Motion, because all the really significant problems that face the Colonial Empire can be found within the confines of the Continent of Africa. Before I launch into my main theme I should like to say this. As the Election approaches, our Party differences will become sharper and sharper, but this is one of those subjects which can be discussed without the smallest reference to Party, where this House acts as a great Council of State to bring the forces of the opinion of all sides to promote, we hope, a constructive result. The last big Colonial debate that we had in this House was held last April. Since then, as there always is, there is something new out of Africa. From East and Central Africa we have had a Report on the ground-nuts scheme. We have had several bulky volumes of criticism from the Trusteeship Council of U.N.O. on the territories that we administer. In West Africa we have seen the publication of the proposals for constitutional reform in Nigeria, and the much more recent publication of the Coussey Report. In recent weeks there has been serious unrest and rioting in Nigeria, and now that a period of comparative tranquility appears to have returned we should all be most grateful if the noble Earl who is to answer in this debate could see his way to giving us some information and, indeed, a detailed statement of what has taken place.
Looking at the pattern of Colonial affairs, I think we should all agree that never has our responsiblity towards our Colonial wards been heavier than it is today. Never has leadership been more necessary. But, as I shall seek to prove, I believe that a most dangerous state of uncertainty exists in these same territories, and uncertainty is, after all, the very antithesis of real leadership. I believe that uncertainty exists in the moderate African, whether he belongs to the educated few or to the uneducated many.
You find it among the communities, the settlers and traders, in the ranks of His Majesty's Colonial Service, and in the minds of the world at large. Let me quote from The Colonial Empire (1947–1948) (Cmd. 7433) presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, these words on page 1:
The central purpose of British Colonial policy is simple. It is to guide the colonial territories to responsible self-government within the Commonwealth in conditions that ensure to the people concerned both a fair standard of living and freedom from oppression from any quarter. But though the policy is clear enough, the problems to be overcome in carrying it out are numerous and complex.
I shall return to that statement later on. There appear to be three burning questions. In East and Central Africa the question is asked: Where are we going? In West Africa the clamour of the agitator reaches the outside world, framing the question: When are we going? In addition to this, quite steadily and quite inexorably, the population of Africa is rising. It will be doubled in about thirty years, but there is little sign as yet as to where double the amount of food will come from.
§ My Lords, I direct your attention first to East and Central Africa—Central Africa being really South East Africa. The Secretary of State in the words that I read out, referred to "the people concerned." Who are the people of East and Central Africa? To my mind, they are all those people who call that country "home," and who intend that it should be the home of their descendants. The African is in a vast numerical majority, but the great proportion of the development has been undertaken by those much smaller communities, the European, the Indian and the Arab. I am convinced that those four communities are all entitled to the fullest consideration and to equal consideration. I think that we in this country have unwittingly given the impression that the final pattern of Government for those territories would be something much more similar to our own in this country, than it is in fact likely to be in the foreseeable future. I think the impression has gained ground that the time is not far off when the ballot box will be the instrument of Government.
§ Let us consider that matter for one moment. The ballot box to us is a symbol of democratic Parliamentary government. There are many territories 1058 under our own purview where it would not have that effect at all. To take a striking example, and one outside the Horn of Africa, let us consider Fiji. If we were to give the Fijians the ballot box at this moment, it would absolutely guarantee that the native-born Fijians would have little or no hand in controlling their own affairs, because they are a minority against the immigrant population from India. The time may well come when the frontiers of man's mind change, and race and religion are not the determinants of Party. So I believe that we cannot afford to allow any further impression to be fostered that minorities of race in East and Central Africa are to be eclipsed, whether those minorities are racial or religious.
§ Representation by community appears, then, to be the object to strive for. But that is not a very lasting basis. We cannot depend on a permanent racial coalition it much too brittle a relationship. We had this same question in Ceylon and we moved first to representation by community, and it was not very successful. It was, however, a vital step, because we moved quickly and easily from that to an elected form of Government where a Party system arose which overrode the narrow bounds of nationality. What we must make absolutely clear is that when we hand aver power we hand it over to all the people and not merely to one section.
Now the question is posed: how long are we going to play our part in these territories? The smallest indication is quickly magnified into an idea and an impression. It is easy to see the implications that are drawn from the system of the thirty-three-year lease in Tanganyika, whereby if a European wishes to take up land he can do so on a thirty-three-year lease, which is much less than the working span of a man's lifetime. I would like the Government in their reply to comment carefully on that. Again, on this same side of Africa, this question is framed: To what extent do we ourselves intend always to shoulder our responsibilities? The United Nations Trusteeship Council l as produced several bulky volumes of criticism, ideas and advice. A Commission composed of four men spent six weeks in studying and assessing the problems of six million people in Tanganyika and gave us the
benefit of their views. Under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter, the Colonial Powers agreed to furnish where required
statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to the economic, social and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible,
and an ad hoc committee was set up to deal with the procedural side of these reports. If the resolutions which are now before the General Assembly of U.N.O. are approved, that ad hoc committee will virtually become another Trusteeship Council with the same powers over the whole of the British Colonial Empire.
§ My Lords, as a country I think we are always ready to listen to advice, we are not afraid of criticism, and we can be said to have done and to be doing now a great deal more than, or at least as much as, any other country, to make U.N.O. a success. We invented the word "trusteeship." It was first used in a House of Commons Committee in just that sense, not in 1945 but in 1837, and we practised it long before. Since then we have moved from the fatherly conception of trusteeship to the more brotherly conception of partnership. It is a great pity that the United Nations Trusteeship Council cannot move in the same direction too. Advice, I am sure, we would welcome; criticism we are not afraid of; but when it amounts to intervention we must make it absolutely crystal clear that ours, and ours alone, is the responsibility, and that we will discharge that responsibility to the people for whom we are responsible.
§ I would draw your Lordships' attention to the other side of the Horn of Africa, to West Africa, where the Nigerian proposals for constitutional reform are now in print. The previous Constitution, associated with the name of my noble friend Lord Milverton, came into being in the year 1947. Two years later we have proposals for a new one. I have never heard it said that the 1947 Constitution was not working extremely well. Two years is surely much too short a time to tell really whether a Constitution is going to work or not. The indications were that it was getting off to a very good start. Now we find proposals in print for a brand-new edition of the structure of government. I would like 1060 the noble Earl when he replies to tell us exactly what is the genesis of these proposals and the views of His Majesty's Government on the subject.
§ In the Gold Coast we have an entirely different picture. It is probably within your Lordships' recollection that a Gold Coast Constitution was published, agreed and put into force in the year 1946. It followed upon one that had stood for twenty years. Two years afterwards, in 1948, apropos of nothing in particular, there arose serious disturbances. A Commission known as the Watson Commission were empanelled to report upon these disturbances and their cause. They went far beyond their terms of reference and produced a large volume reporting on and recommending for every sphere of the life of the Colony. As a result, a Committee of widely divergent views were brought into being to study new constitutional proposals. They were presided over by that distinguished African jurist, Mr. Justice Coussey. They produced what, to my way of thinking, is a sober and statesmanlike document, which sheds great credit on the distinguished Chairman and those taking part. But it does raise a slightly unfortunate impression that that Constitution was in fact the outcome of the disturbances in 1948, the two things being linked by the Watson Report.
§ Many of your Lordships will, no doubt, have studied the Coussey Report. Its recommendations go very far; make no mistake about that. Surely, in whatever final form the Constitution takes, we must give it a long and full trial to see exactly how it works before there is any question of going on to another. Until you try out a Constitution carefully you cannot possibly assess whether it requires change, what is good and what you wish to keep, what does not work and what you wish to alter. Parliaments in democracies do not have power just according to their Constitutions. Rulers rule by the consent of those they rule. Parliaments have power according to the prestige they enjoy among their people, and it is impossible for a new Constitution to win the confidence of the people until the people have seen it working. That takes a much longer period than two years. This is not distinctively a West African problem; it occurs in territories under our supervision all across the Continent.1061
§ Certain elements have set out to lobby the world. They have raised considerable confusion in the minds of the moderate Africans, who are the vast majority. Their cry reaches the outside world and causes great confusion of thought there. These same people are a tiny fragment of the population of these countries;,but a whisper into a powerful microphone may seem to be the voice of a multitude. Words such as "freedom" and "self-government" are freely bandied about. They are words which are very precious to liberty-loving peoples. I have heard it said that we should produce another Statute of Westminster in such and such a country—I quote here— "to give those countries their freedom." You cannot give freedom in that sense. The Statute of Westminster did not give anyone freedom. The countries that were concerned have gone steadily forward and grown not only in economic strength and power but in clear identity, and they were so unmistakably capable of managing their own affairs that they had achieved freedom long before; and some years afterwards that document gave it full acknowledgment.
Now as to self-government. Those who ask for self-government do not realise that self-government is not what they want. They had self-government before we went there. What they are asking for is a peculiarly British invention, which is responsible government. It took us a long time to achieve that in this country. Two hundred years ago, a defeated Minister in Britain faced impeachment. Now he is made Leader of the Opposition and his salary is a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. But that is government by toleration, and absolute toleration is a prerequisite of the grant of responsible government. I believe we do a monstrous disservice to any country under our care if we invite them to step one rung higher up the ladder when their feet are not first firmly planted on the rung below. There are terrible problems of nature which strike deep at the very livelihood of several of these African countries. In West Africa, the Gold Coast, the awful blight known as swollen shoot is eating into the very vitals of that country's life. No one has yet discovered any other cure than the wholesale cutting out of diseased trees, which is not at all a popular measure to have to take with the owners of the trees. Govern-
ments, however, often have to do things that are not popular. In East and Central Africa pastures are being gradually ground into dust under the hooves of myriads of scrawny cattle, and erosion is eating into the farms—both of which troubles require drastic steps to erase. The Watson Report at page 51, speaking of the "swollen shoot" issue on the West Coast says:
This cocoa problem is not a sectional nor merely a farmer's problem, it is a national problem since the economic life of the Colony is at stake. The Swollen Shoot issue is really the prime test of the ability of African leaders to shoulder political responsibility.
So much for the other side of Africa. There are the two great questions of over-grazing and erosion as well.
§ I would now like to direct your Lordships' attention to problems of His Majesty's Colonial Service. We make the most prudent investments we can when we invest our capital of money. How much more important is it to see that we wisely invest our human capital? I had the honour of serving in His Majesty's Colonial Service for a short time. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who will speak later, has served in it for thirty-nine years. It is, in a sense, a dedicated life; a sturdy British mixture of idealism and common sense. The Colonial Service is the steel framework, and will for many years to come continue to be the steel framework of the administration of Africa; but like the steel framework in a building it is invisible to the passers-by outside. You may read of many wondrous doings in Africa and of many exciting things taking place there, but you will rarely read of the great work which the Colonial Service does. An idealist can stand anything except one thing. If in the pursuit of his ideal he feels even a suspicion that what he is doing is being built on sand his idealism will evaporate. Only the very best men will do for this Service. We must seek above everything to see that we get the best, whether it be by pay, conditions of service or whatever means. Unless those conditions of service are reasonable, I do not think that we can get the best. After all, a man leaves this country what amounts to all his working life, and if he gets married and has sons, he will naturally wish to educate them in England, and he will eventually find himself having to maintain two establishments. Unless he has con- 1063 ditions of service which will prevent his being overburdened with cares, then idealism, instead of running in harness with common sense, will compete with it; and common sense will win.
§ As a country progresses, the Colonial Service becomes progressively redundant. Fifteen years ago—as I know from my own experience—men in some of the jobs of comparatively low seniority that I enjoyed gave orders. Now they more often give advice. The time will come when they will be giving, probably, less advice. The time may come when their advice will no longer be needed at all. What we must do is to see that for a man who enters the Colonial Service, if his career is interrupted because the Service is becoming rapidly redundant in that country he is employed elsewhere. Thus he will be able to see a full life-time career in front of him. I will give your Lordships most alarming figures, taken from a highly reliable journal, the Economist of October 8. I want the noble Earl, who is to answer, to pay particular attention to this matter. The Economist said that there are 1,400 senior staff short in the Colonial Service out of 12,000, mostly in the higher technical grades; that the ex-Service intake had dried up, and that the ordinary university candidates did not seem to be forthcoming. I view this position as one of the utmost gravity. I should like a statement from the noble Earl in reply as to whether that is the position and, if so, exactly what His Majesty's Government intend to do about it.
§ Two weeks hence we have a full debate on ground-nuts, and I am not going into that somewhat touchy subject to-day. If it is true, and it seems to be undeniable, that in thirty years the population of Africa will have doubled, we have to start, and start soon, if we are to win the race between population and production. I believe that there is a considerable misconception in this country and elsewhere as to the resources of Africa. There are many who think because Canada went from an undeveloped country with a tiny population in fifty years to the third or fourth biggest manufacturing power in the world, that Africa can do the same. But that is not so: there is a vast difference. Let us tackle the 1064 question in these steps. The vast majority of the people in our African territories are going to make their living off the land. They must have education for the life of the land. When we find in African schools—and these are actual cases—young Africans who must live by the land —men who will never see the sea—being taught the principal shipbuilding centres of Great Britain and Greek mythology, one can only wonder whether we are going to win that race. What we need is education of the people of these countries to do the jobs that the countries most need, to produce not hundreds and hundreds of political lawyers, and even greater numbers of clerks, but doctors, agricultural officers, engineers, veterinary surgeons and the like. That surely is the fundamental step.
§ The next step is this. There is a heresy abroad that one cannot have large-scale production from an aggregate of same-scale units. We can. My noble friend Lord Swinton can bear the most eloquent testimony to that, because he was responsible during the war for our ground-nuts scheme, which took the form of getting people who grew ground-nuts to grow more in the place where ground-nuts grew. If the noble Viscount has an opportunity when he winds up perhaps he will tell us something of the organisation of that interesting experiment. That was the sane approach. I am not going to speak of the ground-nuts scheme in Tanganyika, except to say this. I believe that one of the roots of its failure is the apparent inability to see that there must be two spheres of capital investment, one for public and one for private investment, and if these two overlap and one tries to do the job of the other, we get nowhere at all.
§ This last point is one about which I know people of different sides disagree, and I put it forward for what it is worth. I was reading the other day a brochure put out by the United States Chamber of Commerce entitled "Investment Possibilities in British Africa." Their conclusion was that there were not many possibilities at the moment, for the reason that only when the heavy work of Government investment has developed ports, railways and the like, will channels be created down which private investment can flow. Africa is a hard continent to develop. Over a great many years a great deal 1065 has been done, but a great deal more remains to be done in the preparation of communications. We need capital to help us in developing this country, from whatever source it comes; but it must come on general terms, without any strings, and we would welcome American private capital. I do not believe that the psychological barrier which has always stood between us and the Americans in Colonial matters, is such a formidable obstacle as it used to be. It has been heavily breached at many points. The West Indies are equally British and in a sterling area, yet a vast amount of American money is at the present moment being put into Jamaica. I believe we could interest them. The fact that we have not interested them in the past does not deter me from thinking that we shall not one day in the future be able to win, if not their investment at least their skill and sympathy.
§ I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion. It has now become a platitude that welfare waits on development. It has become a platitude but it is none the less eternally true. I believe that because of the uncertainty I have mentioned a drag has been put on the advance of Africa, a drag which is a confusion of thought, with which is mingled some little distrust of our motives. When we are attacked we must make a case in reply. We too often think in this country that a good case stands on its own merits; but if we do not make a case in these propaganda-filled times it is assumed that we have no case to make. We should answer every slander fairly and squarely, before it is allowed to canker and become an impression which then grows to become an accepted fact. We cannot develop Africa alone; the Africans most certainly cannot do it alone: together we can do it, in the pattern of a partnership—in the words of that great African, Doctor Aggrey, by the "harmony of the black and white keys." We have had that partnership before on a gigantic scale. In 1939 there were 19,000 Africans serving in the African Forces. In the darkest time of our fortunes, when even if we had wished we could have put no kind of pressure on the Africans to rally to our flag, they recruited in such numbers on a purely voluntary basis that their number went up from 19,000 in 1939 to 375,000; and they distinguished them- 1066 selves in three different theatres of the war. Only if we get that partnership can we hope to win the race between population and production, and only then can these countries hope for the hastening of that political independence that must wait upon the coming of economic independence.
An intelligent foreigner who wrote about this country before the war wrote that one of the secrets of the survival of the British Empire and its present strength was that we refused ever to commit ourselves to any over-all paper solution however attractive that solution might seem at the time. We have said that when self-government in its different forms comes to these very diverse countries, there will be no blue prints and sealed patterns. It is early days yet to discern the primary colours, but if we cannot say where we are going let us make clear some of the places to which we are not going We must clear the way of this uncertainty, marked with distrust, which we find not only in many of the modern Africans but also among those communities called the people of Africa. Let us not sit down under slanders, from whichever source they may derive. Let us answer back and show that we have the mastery of events. We shall all listen with great interest when the noble Earl comes to reply at the end of the debate. I regard this situation in the Colonial Service as one of the deepest gravity. This Government will be judged by results, not by their ability to employ impeccable sentiments. Let us make clear, last of all, that we do not intend to lay down the smallest portion of our responsibility until that responsibility is discharged. In the words of Edmund Burke, which are quoted by Mr. Justice Coussey in his address to his Committee:
We are in a conspicuous stage, and the world marks our demeanour.
My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, the Motion before us to-day covers so wide a field that one is forced to pause to consider where one should first begin. In any case, the field is so wide that it is necessary to be selective in one's treatment of it, in order to bring comments within the compass of a reasonable time. If I say little about East and Central 1067 Africa, it will not be because I in any way underrate the importance of those parts of the Continent, but because I know that there are other speakers in this debate who have personal knowledge and experience of that part of the country —experience which I lack—and who will deal adequately with the problems there. In passing, I should like to say that I was glad to hear the noble Lord who moved the Motion refer to the claims of races other than African races in those parts of Africa. After all, European and Asiatic settlers in East and Central Africa have rendered immeasurable service to the countries where they have settled, and they have a just claim for special consideration there. I propose to begin with a few comments on the operations of the Overseas Food Corporation. I have no intention of attempting to anticipate the special debate which will take place later in this House, but there are one or two points in relation to their operations which I think ought to be mentioned in a debate on Colonial affairs. I propose to say something about the United Nations Trusteeship Council; then to deal briefly with the Coussey Report and the Gold Coast and, finally, to offer a few general conclusions on Colonial administration.
It happens that the handling of West African affairs in recent years exemplifies some lessons which are, I think, of worldwide validity. Much of the criticism which one is forced to make lays one open to the charge that it is destructive. It is inevitable that there should be an element of destructiveness about the criticism, but I hope not only to deplore what has been done, but also to say generally what might have been done, and what I think should not have been done. I propose further to try and relate my criticisms to the mental and physical background of to-day. Let me say at once that in my opinion the plea of inevitability is no justification for the Nemesis of past weakness or irresolution. I shall also ask a few questions, in the hope that I may obtain genuine answers. Speaking with due respect, we have become rather accustomed in this House to Government replies the phosphorescent inadequacy of which has played gracefully over the surface of the subject but has contributed no real illumination to it. The handling of Colonial affairs in the 1068 past four years has not, in many respects been happy, and I am tempted to apply to the present Cabinet the Tacitean comment: Capax imperil nisi imperasset, which I hope your Lordships will forgive my translating into English: "We might have thought they could do the job if we had not seen them try."
I turn now to the subject of the Overseas Food Corporation and the ground-nuts scheme. So much has already been said on this subject that I desire to he brief. I feel that the only sensible and honest thing to do is to appoint a Commission of Inquiry, if only to enable the bad past to be written off and to allow the present staff to get on with the job. My sympathies with the staff there, who have to endure the most discouraging position, amid the laughter and the ridicule of the world, are very considerable. I cannot understand why the Government so obstinately refuse to have a Commission of Inquiry. It may be that it is to protect the Minister. However, that will no doubt be gone into in our debate at a later date. Perhaps nobody could have foreseen that the addition of Whitehall to the normal difficulties of the African climate would he too much for any enterprise to carry. But my point to-day is that the enterprise has never been handled by anyone with any knowledge of Colonial affairs, and as it has turned out it is a great pity that the administration of this scheme was not entrusted to the Colonial Office, who might have been made responsible for it, instead of to a Ministry whose ignorance is apparently as unbounded as their optimism. The Colonial Office seem to have been ignored.
There is a question I should like to ask to-day. I will not ask any of the other questions, which will no doubt be asked in the later debate, but I would ask the Minister of State whether the local agricultural department in Tanganyika were ever consulted about the ground-nuts and sunflower seeds scheme; whether the agricultural adviser to the Secretary of State for the Colonies was consulted, and, if so, whether he gave the scheme, and still does, his blessing. I would say, in passing, no more than that had the scheme been under Colonial control in any sense the financial responsibility would have been recognised. Financial control in the Colonial Service is very strict and a district commissioner who lost a thousand 1069 pounds through irresponsibility would probably also lose his job. Of course, no Colonial servant has ever tried losing millions—perhaps the magnitude of the irresponsibility carries its own extenuation! It is certainly of almost Cabinet rank, if I may say so.
Incidentally, I am told that when the Corporation in their search for machinery for this scheme, swept the world for war spares, amongst other places they swept was the Pacific. Every kind of instrument which might be useful was taken and transported at great expense, and left in the bush of East Africa. But there was one machine which apparently defied identification, until at last a marine engineer came along and identified it as a special and expensive piece of machinery for scraping the plates of battleships. I can suggest only that a little more money should be spent on that equipment and that it should be given another journey to England where it might be used for removing the barnacles from the Ship of State. The sad fact remains, however, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has supported the Minister under whose ægis £30,000,000 has been squandered. A similar sum expended in England, I am told, would have given all the fats required; and certainly one-tenth of that sum expended in Nigeria on superphosphates and extension of the railway would have given an immediate increase of another 50,000 tons of groundnuts a year—which is a great deal more than we expect to get for some time from East Africa.
I turn from ground-nuts to the United Nations Trusteeship Council—another farce on the big scale. If one studies the recent resolutions of the Trusteeship Council, one must be impressed not only by their futility but even by their impertinence, in every sense of the word: the flying of the United Nations flag, the insistence upon a separate Administration, with a capital in the territory, and the steady encroachment of entirely ignorant critics in a sphere where they make no contribution of any real value. These men and these nations take no responsibility; they make no financial contribution, and only too often their intention is only to harass the mandatory Power. Their demands for information and their claims to interfere are likely to grow if we weakly acquiesce in them. I 1070 suggest that we should take a firm stand on our duty and right to administer Mandated Territories under the terms of the Mandate, unimpeded by ignorant and possibly malicious representatives of nations whose standards may be quite different and whose experience of Colonial administration is nil.
To turn to West Africa, I propose first of all to deal very briefly with the Gold Coast and the Coussey Report. The Report has had a favourable reception in England, and generally so in West Africa. Without expressing at the moment either agreement or disagreement with its recommendations, I should like to pay an unqualified tribute to the ability and tact of the Chairman. Mr. Justice Coussey's Report is a model of clarity, of balanced udgment and fair-minded presentation. Its literary merits are also considerable. It is a State document of great historical importance and it reflects great credit both on the Chairman and the members of his Committee. Coming as it does frori an African Chairman, with an entirely African Committee, the Report is something more than a set of recommendations—it is a declaration of faith; and as such it merits the great respect which it has been already accorded.
It is now necessary to consider the circumstances of the origin of this Report. The terms of reference made specific reference to paragraph 122 of the Report of the Watson Commission of 1948. In this paragraph the 1948 Commission had gone beyond their terms of reference and made recommendations for constitutional and political reform. After the riots of 1948 the Watson Committee had been appointedto inquire into and report on the recent disturbances in the Gold Coast and their underlying causes; and to make recommendations on any matter, arising from their inquiry.After one month in the Gold Coast the three Commissioners were apparently bitten with a desire to make history, and they proceeded to report to the Secretary of State and not to the Governor by whom they had been appointed, for the reason, they said, that their recommendations were of such importance. They recast the constitutional and political future of the Gold Coast. The Watson Report has little value other than as an essay in temerity by unqualified persons, and the fact that the Secretary of State 1071 for the Colonies has made it the basis for the Coussey Report, which is at least the Report of a body of men who knew the people and the country, because they were writing about their own people and their own country.
Let me give an instance of what I mean. In paragraphs 108 and 110, the Watson Report says:Indeed, nothing impressed us so much as the volume of evidence we received, not alone from the more forward sections of the community, of the intense objection to Chiefs being elected to and sitting in the Legislative Council. We were constantly reminded that the place of the Chief was among his people.The Report goes on to say that among Africans with modern political outlook the Commission had found that the day of the Chief was over, and so forth. I do not want to quote any very lengthy excerpts from that Report. Now, if we turn to the Coussey Committee, who were appointed with one of the paragraphs of this, to my mind, valueless Report among their terms of reference, we read the following in paragraph 22:Contrary to the view expressed in the Watson Report, we believe that there is still a place for the Chief in a new constitutional set-up. Certain aspects of chieftaincy may, and indeed will, undergo changes consistent with modern development, but the central core of the institution remains. Indeed, it is upon the ability of the Chiefs to adapt themselves to rapidly changing conditions that their success will depend. We are convinced that they have this ability.That is a flat contradiction, by those best qualified to pronounce judgment, of what was said in the Watson Report. Without quoting in extenso, I should like to make further reference to paragraphs 36 and 77 of the Coussey Report, in which these statements about the Chiefs are underlined. The Report stresses the vital part which the Chiefs play in the community, and adds:No African of the Gold Coast is without some admiration for the best aspects of chieftaincy, and all would be loth to do violence to it any more than to the social values embodied in the Constitution itself.To turn to the Report, may I briefly point out what are the differences proposed in the new Constitution? At the present moment, the Governor has an Executive Council, which is advisory only and which includes official and unofficial members. The Legislative Council has six ex-officio members, eighteen elected and six nominated by the Governor. There 1072 are three area councils, the Joint Provincial Council, the Ashanti Confederacy Council and the Northern Territories Council. There are the four municipalities of Accra, Cape Coast, Sekondi-Takoradi and Kumasi, and also a system of State Councils. The Coussey Report proposes that the Executive Council should cease to be advisory and should become responsible only for policy. The Committee's full recommendations were not accepted by the Secretary of State, but that Council, in the amended state, will consist of the Governor and six African members of the House of Assembly who will hold portfolios, two other members and three official members—three ex-officio members of the House of Assembly. The Coussey Committee recommended, by a majority of one—twenty votes to nineteen —that there should be two Houses, and they gave the reasons why; but this was rejected by the Secretary of State who felt once more that the House of Assembly (strange to hear this to-day!) would not be able to get on without the presence of Chiefs—the men who really knew something about administration. In its amended form that House of Assembly is to consist of seventy-eight members, one-third of whom are to be Elders or Chiefs. There are to be four regional administrations set up, including a new one for the Transvolta and South Togo-land area of the Colony, Ashanti, and the Northern Territories. Under those four regions there is to be a system of district, municipal, rural, urban and village authorities of various classes, A, B, and C. The territorial councils are also to be kept.
Considering first of all the regional and territorial councils, I find myself in rather unusual company. I cannot help agreeing with the rider that Doctor Danquah wrote to this Report. It seems to me that there is some cogency in his criticism and the dissent recorded in paragraph 479. I think it is worth my reading this in full. He says:It is our view that in planning a new constitution for our country it is best to tamper as little as possible with existing institutions, so that transition from the old to the new should be as smooth as possible. To instal for the Gold Coast immediately, or all within one year, not only a newly constituted Central Government, but four additional regional administrations—an incomplete picture of federal governments, but without the reality of independence and finance—is about the easiest way to confuse and disorganise the 1073 thoughts and dispositions of the people towards the new set-ups. When it is recalled that no less than five separate Select Committees and five Budget sessions are proposed in each of five separate administrations—namely, the Central Government and the four regional administrations—it can be seen that, apart from the possible prohibitive cost, a frightening bureaucracy of the kind not yet known to the Gold Coast is about to be laid upon the shoulders of the people.I cannot help feeling considerable sympathy with that criticism. There are only 4,500,000 people in the Gold Coast and it seems to me that under the new Constitution they will be very much over-governed.
I realise that in the Constitution for which I was responsible in Nigeria there are three regions; but one has to remember that in Nigeria the centre region contains more than double the whole population of the Gold Coast, and the other two regions about the same as the whole population of the Gold Coast. The position is not at all similar. I recognise that in the circumstances as they hive been allowed to develop, approval of these recommendations is almost inevitable. We have drifted too far for any other conclusion. The only merit that I find in the Secretary of State's despatch is that he did recognise the urgency of an early recognition of the position in which he found himself. I cannot, however, agree that this can be called "making a decision"; it is merely a belated recognition of the results of indecision and weakness which in the end leave no alternative.
However, I desire to make it clear that we wish the Gold Coast every success in this step in the dark. Many questions arise to one's mind which will have to be answered. Where will be found eight Ministers of adequate ability and integrity? Where will all the staff for the councils be found? What is to be the position of the existing European civil servants? So little is said of them, and their position which will be both precarious and difficult; and yet so much will depend on their patience, loyalty and ability. Will they be sure of proper treatment? Will the Secretary of State pledge himself to see to this? He dismisses them in a airy sentence at the end of a despatch when he could so easily have set all doubts at rest by making it clear that the interests of the men upon whom these appalling burdens fall will be safeguarded, that they will not be 1074 asked to perform miracles without adequate power and that regard to their terms of service, careers and prospects will not be forgotten. May we have some assurance on this subject from the Minister of State?
In another connection a Times editorial recently said:Either independence will be nominal, in which case the proposal is dishonest, or it will be real, in which case it may be disastrous.The fact that the whale transaction has been rushed does not increase one's confidence. In accordance with the growing habit of the Labour Government, Parliament has been muzzled and left to discuss the matter after a decision has already been made. There are no return tickets on these journeys; it is not possible to go back upon a decision of this kind, whatever may be the view of Parliament. There is apparently nothing in the modern practice of His Majesty's Government to prevent Parliament waking up one day and finding that decisions irrevocably weakening the peace of the whole Colonial Empire may have been made without their being consulted.
We all know about the man who "made a desert and called it Peace." It has been left to the present Government to combine bankruptcy with chaos and call it planned economy. Whether it be devaluation of the currency or granting self-government prematurely to a Colony, this so-called decision is merely, in my view, surrender to events which one has failed to control. In wishing the Gold Coast Godspeed on its new journey, it is necessary to note that the recommendations of the Coussey Committee were not unanimous, in that nearly a quarter of the Committee rejected the proposal for ex-officio members of the Executive Council and wanted the Governor's veto abolished. The Committee wanted the Executive Council to be responsible to the Assembly and not to the Governor and also wanted ex-officio members to be removable on a two-thirds vote of the Assembly. Neither of those proposals was accepted by the Secretary of State. It is assumed—I hope rightly—that the Gold Coast will accept there proposals as amended. Its refusal would prove that the offer is even more premature than I fear it to be. After all the time has now come to prove rot a capacity to 1075 organise demands but a capacity to govern.
I do not propose to go into the detail of what is happening in Nigeria, where the new Constitution of 1947 has again been thrown into the melting pot, for the matter was adequately dealt with by the noble Lord who moved this Motion. I am naturally somewhat prejudiced, as I was responsible for the 1947 Constitution there; but I feel strongly that no Constitution has any hope of being a success, or proving whether it can be a success, if at a time when it is apparently working well it is "dug up" again because it is considered time for further advance. Surely the proposals were rapid enough—that the Constitution should be allowed to exist for nine years, with three-year intervals at which minor alterations might be made. I should have thought that the best thing to do was to leave it at that. Nine years is a very brief space in the history of a nation, a very brief time in which to try out a Constitution. However, I will not pursue that subject.
In passing, I remark merely that the pace of constitutional reform is being forced on, with the open support of the Secretary of State, far beyond the personal and economic capacity of the people to make it a success. I am well aware that lip service is paid to the necessity of sound economic foundations, without which political advancement and self-government must be a hollow mockery. In Africa, and throughout the Colonial Empire, there is a feeling of insecurity, as was mentioned by the noble mover. The Colonial Service is finding difficulty in obtaining recruits of adequate numbers and adequate calibre. We have been told by the Secretary of State that he does not know the reason. I can tell him the reason. It is because no one has any confidence in the way in which the present Government of this country have handled Colonial affairs, or in their understanding or grip of a situation which may be difficult when it arises. There is no confidence in their ability, or even in their wish, to govern or to rally to the side of orderly progress the many moderate people who wait in vain for any sign of leadership.
By our weakness and irresolution we have encouraged revolutions at the intellect- 1076 tual level, which evolve in a vacuum and then afflict an ignorant people with popular slogans. Surely it is time that the British Government realised that faith in democracy is not proved or confirmed by allowing others to debase its name and pervert its purpose. You cannot expect healthy adolescence from a diet of Fabian mush, and the soft and kindly humanism of the Fabian Society, which wakes to active life only in order to decry the record of our own race, is not the "kindly light" which will lead us "through the encircling gloom." Faith in ourselves, courageous and competent leadership, and a sure touch on the controls are conspicuously absent in carrying out Colonial policy. There is no Party difference to-day in Colonial policy, but there is a world of difference in the attitude of mind in carrying it out. Nature abhors a vacuum; and if we allow authority to be undermined, and teach by practice that nothing pays like disorder and then retire murmuring shibboleths about self-determination—well, the Communist has the last and loudest laugh, for at least he does know his own mind. I suggest that nationalism is often merely evidence of de-tribalised discontent and of the failure of a Government to create the instruments whereby man can master his environment—in other words, the absence of an economic and social policy. If Whitehall is to be dazzled into inaction or surrender by every prophet of a pseudo-nationalism it is but opening the door to the hooligan and the political trafficker in unhappiness. After all, the hoisting of a popular flag does not change the pirate into an innocent merchantman.
In passing, my Lords, I would say one word about the Press. To my mind, this is an excellent example of the split personality of the present Government. We have constant protests by Ministers in His Majesty's Government about the Press of this country and about their criticisms of Ministers. At the same time, in the Colonies we have, completely unhindered and unchecked, some of the worst and most scurrilous "gutter Press" in the world. The difference is that the "gutter Press" of West Africa, shall we say, is not attacking His Majesty's Ministers; it is attacking the officers of the Colonial Service who are not in a position to answer back.
1077 Furthermore, as the practical reality of self-government approaches, the deep internal dissensions which have been disguised under British rule begin to show themselves. In a brilliant analysis, Professor Evans of Bristol has truly said that the real tragedy of Colonial nationalism, and also a cause of most baffling difficulties, is that it is not an expression of national consciousness at all. It is the expression generally of an inferiority complex fortuitously shared by miscellaneous collections of peoples, mostly without any other close affinity, though it lacks nothing in vigour for that reason. As he says, whole decades may pass without any transformation of nationalism into a healthy sentiment of national cohesion. Self-government is only the beginning of a very troubled era. Perhaps the reason why the present Government of this country seem to be almost unaware of the troubles they are so impulsively and recklessly unloosing is just that they themselves have often been applying parochial concepts to global conditions—sometimes with disastrous results.
I am well aware of the emotional forces which have to be considered to-day in dealing with Colonial matters, but I strongly deplore the forcing of the pace of granting political responsibility by those who do not understand the working of Western democracy. The result is and must be the hastening of de-tribalisation by forcing these reforms on the peoples and breaking up the cement of the society they understand. It may be a good thing to do, but it has to be done with discretion, and reasonably slowly. We already see an accentuation of the tensions existing amongst even the educated classes in Africa the moment outside pressure is released. In our universities, and in places like the London School of Economics, we can to some extent neutralise our own de-tribalised intellectuals. They have done a great deal of damage to us owing to their craving to manage everybody's business except their own, and they may yet wreck the Colonial Empire if they are allowed a free hand in these matters. In the last Colonial debate which took place in this House in April, I was deeply impressed by the speech of the noble Viscount. Lord Bruce. What he said then remains true to-day. All the excellent principles laid down are valueless unless they are backed by practice. I would say that video 1078 meliora proboque, deteriora sequin is written across our Colonial record of the last four years.
Another point which I should like to make is in regard to West Africa. It has been said that British self-interest first brought British rule to West Africa. That may be so; but surely African self-interest demands that the British stay there should be prolonged. The products of West Africa can be successfully produced in other parts of the world, and the creation of unstable political conditions there may Well be the worst service that can be rendered to the African. Let us not forget that the future development of the Colonial Empire depends upon the degree to which extraneous capital can be tempted for investment in those countries. The International Bank, in its Annual Report, says:Perhaps the most striking lesson which the Bank has learned in the course of its operations is how limited is the capacity of the under-developed countries to absorb capital quickly for really productive purposes.The British Government, in one of their more sober moments, have admitted that there is no greater disservice that we could render to Africa than the investment of capital pushed too far too fast.
My Lords, the subject is very wide, and the need to bring one's remarks to a close must necessarily lead to one saying that there is much which might have been said but there is not the time to say it. May I conclude with a personal story? I was recently reproached by an African politician for some of my strictures on the present Government. He said, in effect: "You claim to have been teaching the uses of freedom all your life, and were not Your last years in West Africa spent doing just that under this Government?" I wrote back saying that I have never accused this Government of opposing freedom abroad. The precise point of my complaint is that the liberty and freedom o the individual has become involved in Sir Stafford Cripps' export drive, so that there is none left for the home consumer. The Government, who give their support to every organisation abroad which claims to stand for freedom, however flimsy its pretences to that title, is simultaneously employing its energies in diminishing those liberties at home.
1079 In conclusion, may I say that I share the feeling of uncertainty and insecurity that pervades the Colonial Service. There is a feeling of being afloat on a ship with no one on the bridge. An Australian paper commenting recently on this Government, compared them, strangely enough, to Christopher Columbus. The reason they gave was that he started out without the slightest knowledge of where he was going and he came back with no knowledge of where he had been. My Lords, in the tide of great events we are faltering and drifting irresolutely. The reason, I suggest, is that the present Government have themselves no real faith in our Colonial administration. If they have not that confidence themselves, how can they inspire it in others? To my mind the danger is that the motto written across our Colonial administration will be:Too weak to enter, bide or leave The lists they cannot rule.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD BADEN-POWELL
My Lords, I confess that it is with some slight trepidation that I rise to address your Lordships this afternoon and, in so doing, I would ask your Lordships' indulgence. May I, then, detain you for but a few minutes? We have listened with the greatest interest to the enlightening speeches made this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I am particularly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, for affording me this opportunity to address your Lordships this afternoon. He gave us some interesting facts on Colonial affairs in Africa, and, as it happens, such affairs have, even if only in a very minor way, been very much my own business during the course of the past few years. I hasten to qualify that remark by adding that my experience has been confined only to the self-governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia, from where, however, it has been possible to observe the trend of Colonial affairs in Africa from a more advantageous angle than from this country. I trust that I shall not be considered out of order if I speak of a Colony which both geographically and politically is midway between a Dominion and a Crown Colony; it is probable that there is a certain similarity of policy between Southern Rhodesia and our other 1080 Colonies in Africa. The remarks I am about to make are the observations of one who has lived and worked in Southern Rhodesia (not, I may add, in any particular post of authority) over a period of fifteen years, which ended as recently as six months ago.
It should be borne in mind that Southern Rhodesia, as a land where civilised people live, is still very young, in comparison with the long history of this or any other European country or, indeed, of much of the Union of South Africa, our big next-door neighbour. In fact, I have no doubt that many of your Lordships can well remember such events as the Matabele Rebellion of 1896. This occurred only a bare six years after the initial occupation of the country by the first pioneer columns under Mr. Cecil Rhodes. This forceful leader, having floated the British South Africa Company for the opening up of Southern-Central Africa, planted the roots of what are to-day the self-governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia and the Crown Colony of Northern Rhodesia. In 1923 Southern Rhodesia was accorded self-government, and has since continued to develop rapidly in every way and along thoroughly democratic lines. I may interpolate here that the Colony has always been, and still is, under a form of government whose policy has been far-sighted and well formulated. During my fifteen years' residence in the Colony I have been able to observe how rapidly it has gone ahead—economically, politically, commercially and industrially. Even so, however, I find that there is much ignorance in this country of conditions in Southern Rhodesia. Few people seem to realise, for example, that in area the Colony is about the same size as Germany; or that the white population, which numbered only about 60,000 in 1934, are to-day double that figure. Imagine, then, all the inhabitants of a place the size of, say, Southampton, put into a country the size of Germany, and you have some idea of the thinly populated nature of the country.
I have mentioned so far only the European section of the community. Let me now turn to the other races within the Colony. There are Indians; but they are very much in the minority, mostly engaged in running native trading stores. Many of these people, born and brought 1081 up in Rhodesia, now look upon themselves as true Rhodesians, as is the case with many Europeans. Then there are the coloured folk, who are neither white nor black but a mixture of both. Many of these originally came up to Southern Rhodesia with the pioneer columns, and established a coloured community in the Colony. Others are the children of mixed marriages, that thoroughly undesirable state of affairs which is seriously frowned upon by European and African alike. Finally, there are the native Africans themselves: cheerful, friendly, law-abiding folk, very much in the majority. I believe that the total African population of the Colony to-day is about 2,500,000, including those who have entered Southern Rhodesia from the neighbouring territories of Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Portuguese East Africa. Few come in from the Union of South Africa or from Bechuanaland. For generations prior to the advent of the first white settlers, the warlike tribes of the Matabele had constantly waged war upon their weaker neighbours, the Mashona. To-day, however, the African realises that he is in a peaceful land, and tribal jealousies are virtually nonexistent.
The average native is, none the less, very immature mentally. But he cannot be expected to pass in but a single generation from a state of primitive savagery to that of a highly-civilised human being. This is a process which takes time, and it is amazing how many Africans have advanced individually. However intelligent, he may be, the African is still bound by his deep-rooted superstitions and tribal customs; he still looks to his Chief and headman as his natural overlords. With the impact of European civilisation, these ancient traditions are gradually waning, as Africans become progressively more de-tribalised with the necessity of working in towns and on farms, in mines and in factories, often far removed from their natural habitat. While many Africans are now becoming proficient in skilled and semi-skilled occupations, the majority are unskilled labourers. Those who are not in employment carry on an easy-going peasant life in the huge native reserves which have been set aside for their habitation.
The Native Affairs Department, in which I had the honour to serve for 1082 several years, is responsible for all matters of native administration, and, as native affairs within the Colony develop, so that Department expands, both in staff and in the scope of its activities. To-day there is one sub-department which deals with native education; others are concerned with instructing Africans in measures to combat soil erosion, the conservation of water, and the improvement of crops and cattle. All these and other measures are undoubtedly proving their worth—except, of course, in certain places where the instruction given is flagrantly disregarded —and, as a result, the native agriculturist is gradually beginning to realise that the white man's methods are, in fact, better than his own. Instead, too, of confining all his energies to the growing of his customary maize, millet and, of course, ground-nuts, he is now launching out in other directions, even it in only a small way, with such things as tobacco, wheat and vegetables. The African who leaves home to work for a European is in a rather different category; he tends to become progressively more sophisticated, depending upon the environment in which he works. He thereby begins to lose his respect for his tribal Chief and the old customs and superstitious beliefs. He is, however, a reasonably good worker, provided that he is well supervised. His wants are few, his cost of living is cheap, and thus labour is inexpensive, besides being plentiful. This latter fact is of inestimable value to all employers of native labour, and, in particular, to those engaged in the mining of gold, chrome, coal and asbestos, as well as to those farming tobacco, maize, cattle and so forth.
Numerous industries both great and small, have sprung up throughout Southern Rhodesia in recent years, and a large proportion of the available native labour is being absorbed into such industries. It is therefore apparent that the white mart's brain, coupled with the African's brawn, can and will, by working in close harmony, bring about an ever-increasing development of the Colony as a whole. The African brain, however, is now gradually coming into the picture, and much is done to encourage this, largely through various forms of welfare. Schools, hospitals, recreational and sporting facilities, all help to broaden the African's outlook on life. Yet with all 1083 these amenities, the average African is still very ignorant of the world outside his own immediate surroundings. His mentality is that of a child, and his general education on all matters progresses but gradually. He has no idea of political affairs, and thus the time is not yet ripe for him to take part in matters of that sort. However, he is being gradually encouraged in that direction by the establishment of Native Councils, an elementary form of local government, and no doubt some day the Africans will elect their own representatives to the Rhodesian Parliament.
Well, my Lords, I have in these few words given you some information which I trust may have been of interest to you. May I just repeat that while what I have said concerns Southern Rhodesia I have no doubt that much of this information is also applicable to other British possessions in Africa. Finally, may I say that I have every confidence that Southern Rhodesia will continue in future to progress as rapidly as it has done in the past few years, with the European assisting the African towards a higher state of civilisation and both races living and working in harmony together.
§ 4.17 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure I have your Lordships with me completely in tendering to the noble Lord who has just spoken congratulations on a most interesting maiden speech. That speech had the advantage of providing us with a great deal of most interesting information. I have a family connection with Southern Rhodesia, and all the information that reaches me bears out entirely what Lord Baden-Powell has said. I am sure it is a great asset to your Lordships' House to have in it so experienced a Colonial administrator as Lord Baden-Powell, and I hope that he will contribute to our debates on many occasions in the future. For my own part, I would like especially to support what he said about de-tribalisation. I understand that in Rhodesia the authorities are trying their utmost to maintain the tribal system and to avoid some of the evils that have occurred further south. I intend, later, to bring Southern Rhodesia into the few remarks which I am going to venture to offer to your Lordships. May I be allowed, first 1084 of all, however, to make a comment on the very interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, to which we listened a short time ago. I understood from his remarks that he was not satisfied with the administration of the Colonial Office. I remember well the sad day when the noble Lord, felt it necessary—
§ LORD MILVERTON
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord, but it was not the Colonial Office of which I spoke, but Colonial affairs.
I understand—Colonial affairs, which are administered by His Majesty's Government. As I was saying, I remember the sad day when the noble Lord broke away from my colleagues and myself. I understood then that it was on the question of steel—in fact, on the Iron and Steel Bill. What tortures he must have suffered in the intervening years under this vista of disasters rolling out from the Cabinet's sub-committee on Colonial affairs! My heart bleeds for him. He must have suffered the tortures of the damned. The amazing thing is, why did the noble Lord take his seat on those Benches over there? I do not say this with any disrespect either to him or his present colleagues, but I ask why is he sitting on the Liberal Benches at all? He should have moved below the gangway to the Conservative Benches. I have heard speeches of the sort he made —not, of course, with such elegance and polish—in another place from diehard Conservatives, sentence by sentence and sentiment by sentiment, exactly. That was not a Liberal speech. I spent forty years in the Liberal Party and I should know. I watched the faces of the distinguished Liberals on their Front Bench, and the face of the noble Leader who has now gone out in particular, and I think they must have shared my ideas. It was a typical Conservative speech, all about the dangers of extending self-government amongst these untutored peoples and so on.
What were the feelings of the noble Lord in 1948, when he was still with us, apparently a contented and loyal member of my great Party, when he read or heard what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies said at the Africa Conference? I dare say the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, was there. 1085 I was not and I overlooked this speech until I happened to read it again recently. Mr. Creech Jones said:Where the new Dominions stand to-day, East and West and Central Africa may stand to-morrow, if their peoples have the will to make the effort.That is the old Liberal policy and that is the present-day Labour policy; it has been the policy of the Fabian Society for the last forty years and it is bearing fruit. Furthermore, it has been the policy of successive Governments, of whatever political colour. There has been a continuity in Colonial administration. I can recall the words of the late Duke of Devonshire, one of the greatest Colonial administrators we had, on the whole theory of trusteeship for the African Colonies and the task of fitting the Colonies for self-government. What must have been the pain suffered by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, serving overseas in his tropical dependency, when he hread the remarks of the noble Duke of Devonshire! We had an excellent example of good Conservative policy in the admirable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, in opening the debate.
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, brought out the fable of the use of battleship-scrapers in the jungles of Tanganyika on the ground-nuts scheme. We all know the story, and I will cap it. The battleship-scrapers, with a big job lot of all kinds of things, some of them useful and some of them useless, were bought from the Pacific battlefields and depots for an old song and were sent out to Africa. I was talking about this very thing to the Minister of Food and he said. "I am terrified about these battleship-scrapers because the Communists have discovered anew mare's nest. They have discovered that all the expenditure on ground-nuts was really a camouflaged plan to make a great air and naval base out there. If they discover that battleship-scrapers were sent out it will be reported throughout the Communist Press all over the world as adding support to their theory that the ground-nuts scheme is not to get edible fats but to build up a great strategical base."The noble Lord, Lord, Milverton, has to bring out this old fable, this joke about battleship-scrapers. I am very surprised, and I hope he will move below the gangway so as to show deference to the memory of the great 1086 Liberal leaders of the past who played a vital part in Colonial affairs.
If I may comment on the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir's, admirable opening, I would remark that what I have missed in all these discussions and what I missed in his speech is this: the noble Lord spoke about the race that is being run between population, which is rapidly increasing owing to the stopping of the tribal wars, the suppression-of the slave trade, better health services and so on, and the not-so-rapidly-increasing food supply. That is the great problem of Africa, although according to my noble friend, Lord Boyd-Orr, it is the problem of the whole world. Why is that only our responsibility? We are only one of the great African colonising Powers. What I always miss in these discussions about the United States of Europe, Western Union, Confederation of Europe, and all the rest, which are all very admirable, is any real proposal for a confederacy of tropical Africa. I do not speak now of the Berber and Arab countries of the North or the Dominion of South Africa in the South, abut only of the central territories which I think were engaging The attention of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir. These are under the Colonial administration of four Powers—Britain, France, Portugal and Belgium. The more one studies the problems of that part of the world, the more one sees their interdependence.
That brings me to the question of Rhodesia. There is a movement, to which the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, referred, for confederating the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland—something more ambitious than the present Council. The more one studies the problems of what, looking a long way ahead, could be the eighth Dominion, the more one sees how dependent those territories are on access to the sea, bosh in the West and in the East, through Portuguese territory. I should like to see some real attempt to form an economic zoilverein—I use that German term because I think it applies closely here—betweel the Portuguese Colonies and the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, so that between them they could get access to the sea, improve the ports which could become thy, entrepôts of that whole part of Central Africa, and deal with the problems of transport and hydro-electrification. When we talk of Western Europe and economic co-operation, about 1087 which we hear so much, why not a real attempt to bring about economic cooperation between the French, Belgian, Portuguese and British Colonies of Africa? I know a certain amount has been done in the way of exploration, but I think along those lines the great development of the future in Africa will depend, and on those great developments and on exploiting the great resources and wealth of a United States of Africa, which, incidentally, will raise the standards of the African peoples, will depend the economic prosperity of the future United States of Europe.
I am looking ahead, but the developments I can see in Africa should fall into that sort of pattern. When people make attacks on the present Government, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has done about the ground-nut scheme and the expenditure on it of some millions of pounds, and about extravagance (and I expect we shall hear a great deal more from the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, in a fortnight's time) they overlook that it is the germ of a great scheme of development in Africa—a great scheme of communications, irrigation and hydroelectric power. To carry this out on a worthwhile scale we must bring in our Colonial neighbours with their rich territories and teeming populations. I am bound to say to the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, as a senior member of the Cabinet, that I am sorry we are practically excluding Italy from Africa. The Italians are wonderful engineers and are good workmen in hot climates. For that reason I am sorry that so far Italy will be prevented from playing her full role in developing, this great Horn of Africa, as the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir described it. I hope it is not too late to bring. Italy in on the economic side and use her skill and engineering technique to solve these great problems.
I am sure the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, for having raised this subject. It is perhaps the most important subject your Lordships' House could discuss, and I am glad to say we have a wealth of experience to assist us, as is obvious from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell. We shall all listen with interest to the speech of the noble Earl who is to reply. I 1088 hope he will not brush aside the idea of pressing on, so far as we can, with an international approach in Africa such as I have described. It may be asked how we can possibly combine, for example, the Rhodesias and Portuguese East and West Africa. We might have regard here to the example of the United States. In the United States there is the State of Florida, which was Spanish, Louisiana, which was French, and the Mexican States of New Mexico and Texas, and so on, with the inhabitants speaking different languages and having different ways of life and of thought. Yet they were able to federate all those States together to make the mighty nation that we now see. I feel that a United States of Africa in the future—looking ahead to when the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and I are very old men—may be the great economic solution for the troubles of the Old World.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, I should like to be allowed to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, on his speech. He showed just what my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir meant when he said that the definition of somebody who lived in a Colony, and was a true member of the Colony, was a person who wanted to make it his home. I am sure the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow him in his polemics, as one who has left the Liberal Party for the Labour Party, on one who has left the Labour Party for the Liberal Party.
I should like to deal with one particular aspect in one part of Africa of which I have a little knowledge; it was mentioned in the comprehensive survey of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, when he opened this debate. The population of East Africa is not keeping pace with its capacity to produce food. It is only just on the balance, and it cannot really look forward to security, so far as food is concerned, with any sort of ease for the next few years, let alone for the next thirty years. One of the difficulties in balancing is that while there may be good supplies of food in one part of Africa it is often difficult to move it to another part. It is vital, before we go in for political argument and before we go in for educational adventures—for instance, in Greek mythology—that we approach the whole prob- 1089 lem of producing for the people the food upon which the economic life of the country is based. If the people have not food, the whole of the rest of their economics—the iron works and industrial development—must fall down. Therefore, food comes first, and transport and ports next.
This terrible word "ground-nuts" seems to have a great fascination. I am not for a second going to condemn the efforts of those who have probably been devoted servants, doing a great deal in the ground-nuts scheme. What I would question is the subject of Colonial administration and how the funds available for our Colonial Possessions are administered. There is a great deal of talk of various sums of money being available—Colonial development funds, Overseas Food Corporation funds and so forth. There is very little equipment available to-day and we must be careful before we apply it for some scheme, whether one calls it a ground-nuts scheme or, as I think it has lately euphemistically been called, a great social experiment. We must consider whether that is the right way to use our limited funds or whether they could be better spent. I feel that £12,000,000 devoted to Kenya, £12,000,000 devoted to Tanganyika and £12,000,000 devoted to Uganda, along lines already available for improvement, would have produced much better results in the way of water conservation Find soil conservation. Whatever we do in the future, we must watch supplies and the threat of famine, and we must be sure of saving great areas from erosion.
I have had the honour to meet and make friends with a great many Colonial servants—district officers, and so forth. I have also had the honour to meet and make friends with a great many agricultural officers—including veterinary surgeons, grassland officers and other forms of agricultural development officers. The need has been stressed for more such officers, and for the continuance of their existing high quality. If we are to save great areas from erosion by teaching the African population to look after their own soil, it is desperately necessary that we should attract enough of the right type of men. The work that is being done to-day, with an attentuated staff, is beyond all praise, from what I have seen of it. But quite apart from the question of administration, 1090 we cannot develop these countries until we have much more agricultural research of a vital nature. I believe that we could combat the dangers of famine in twelve years, certainly in East Africa, if we could establish in each locality a really suitable hybrid maize—to name but one plant. It is fundamental that in our administration in the future we should consider far greater basic research on the agricultural side. I will give one example. Grass the world over is probably the most important crop there is. For the whole of Kenya there is one devoted grassland officer, too often called upon to find new mixtures of grass for golf greens; and until recently he had not a single educated European assistant. He now has one Russian, who cannot talk English, as an assistant systematologist. That man is doing devoted work but if we are to find the meat for Africa the grassland research there needs to be not doubled but increased twenty-fold; and the information thus gained must be made available to the practicing farmer, be he African or European, so that he may make two blades—and more—grow where one grew before.
§ 4.39 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who moved the Motion, and my noble friend Lord Milverton, have covered much ground that it would be idle and a waste of time for me to go over again. However, I would like to add my measure of congratulation to Mr. Justice Coussey on the Report which he has produced, and in particular—this may be a slight point, but it is a point which is of some importance to those of us who read these Reports—on the eminently readable and pleasant literary form in which it has been produced. In these days it is in such marked contrast to so many other Government publications that I feel it calls for particular comment in this debate. I wish to emphasise what Lord Milverton has already said about the difference of outlook and knowledge between the Coussey Report and the Watson Report, on what is a fundamental social structure of Africa still—namely, the system of chieftainship. The strictures of the Watson Report can to described only as a glaring example of the ignorance of people visiting a country for a first time and believing everything they are told.
1091 What is so clearly stated in the Coussey Report cannot be too often emphasised and should be remembered by everyone who has to deal with Africa and by a great many of the members of the Labour Party and their supporters, although it is not necessary to say this to the noble Lords opposite. That is contained in the sentence which describes what is chieftainship and the democratic quality of chieftainship. It is, of course, a pure myth to suppose that a chieftainship is a form of autocracy which ought to be abolished by any democratically-minded Government. Mr. Justice Coussey rightly says—and I quote it only in the hope that it may have even more publicity than it has already had in your Lordships' House—No Chief, for example, speaks as the head of his State except with the consent and approval of his counsellors who are the acknowledged representatives of the people.Only when that is forgotten, and these synthetic schemes for local government which have been proposed in many quarters see the light of day; only when you get the "expert" and people who do not know the country about which they are writing, will you find the opposite conclusion reached.
There is, however, one aspect of the Report to which I must draw attention. The Report recommended setting up what is frankly—and this has perhaps incurred the strictures of Doctor Danquah—a very elaborate system of government, a system which, in my submission, is ahead of the present state of educational development in that country. It would have been interesting if there had been included in the Coussey Report an estimate of the additional number of qualified people required to administer this rather elaborate system of regions, of Class A, Class B, and finally Class C and village authorities. In every country in the world we are suffering from a lack of skilled administrators, people who are skilled enough to conduct the affairs of a country such as our own, in the complexity of the modern world. Everywhere we go we hear the same complaint about the insufficient supply of people with the education or technical background necessary to deal with these immense problems. In the Gold Coast we see a country which has come out of the stage of primitive African administration into what I think 1092 was aptly described by the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, in the course of a previous debate in your Lordships' House, as a country which might be called middle-class. That is a better and more satisfactory way of talking about the detribalised urban Africans in the large centres. They are the beginning of a middle-class which has broken away from the traditional territorial system.
Perhaps, but I do not like the word. The fact is that even with the beginning of that class we have in the Gold Coast, as in every other Colony, a wholly insufficient supply of man-power to carry on the government which is being carried on at the present moment, even with the addition of European man-power which is provided not only by the Civil Service but also by the administrations of commercial and industrial concerns. Anyone who has been in any African territory, not only during the war when man-power was even more depleted, but now when schemes of development are being started or are growing, cannot fail to have heard the constant complaint of the inability to obtain staff to do anything; not only the higher technical staff to which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, referred when he was talking about the gaps in the ranks of the Civil Service, but clerical labour, men who can read and write, keep minutes and do elementary accounts. Yet the regional and local government system proposed in the Coussey Report will require an immense number of educated people in addition to those who already exist to carry on the administration of the country.
I should have liked to see in that Report some estimate of the number required to carry this system of government into effect within, say, the next four or five years, and to compare that number with two figures which I think are vital in this context but which I have been totally unable to obtain, of the number of literary Africans in the Gold Coast to-day who have passed out at primary school standard, and, secondly, the number of Africans who have attained Matriculation standard. If those numbers were made available, they would show that, however much we may agree with this revolution in government, 1093 at the present moment it is surely not practical politics. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, referred to the Liberal view in government. I am not questioning the necessity or the desirability of changing the constitutional set-up, whether in the Gold Coast or in any other African territory. I am not necessarily questioning the speed at which it ought to be done in the context of political wisdom. But I do severely question whether it can be done in the light of available man-power, even if it were wise. I believe that is the fundamental issue on which self-government or the devolution of government in Africa is going to stand and fall. Until those figures have been produced, I shall not be satisfied that it is possible to carry into effect this scheme, or anything like it, for a very considerable time.
The debate in your Lordships' House to-day has ranged over a fairly wide field but has, in the main—with the exception of that pleasant speech by the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, to whom we listened with such pleasure and whom I hope we shall frequently hear in your Lordships' House speaking with the knowledge he has of these territories—been concentrated on the Western side of Africa. Much as I should be tempted and would like to say something about what are known, I think wrongly, as the Central African territories—by which is meant Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—at this hour it would perhaps be more convenient if I also restricted myself to West Africa. Some four years ago almost the first debate in which I took part in your Lordships' House was on the 1946 Constitution of the Gold Coast. After four years we come back again to discuss the Constitution of the Gold Coast. In those four years, not only has a great deal happened in West Africa, but we are perhaps also at the end of a chapter here, and it is therefore fitting to take stock of one or two of the main elements in West Africa which must affect not only proposals such as those contained in the Coussey Report but the attitude of His Majesty's Government to Colonial government in West Africa generally. In the first place let me, who have been a substantial critic of a great many pieces of administration—or lack of administration—in West Africa, start by saying how glad I am to see the immense improvement which has taken place in 1094 the handling of the Nigerian ground-nut crop. It is only fair to say, after the strictures which many noble Lords have passed for some years on the accumulation of ground-nuts, that the rate of clearance in Nigeria at present is not only higher than it has even been but at last brings within a measurable time the possibility of complete clearance of the ground-nut crop. That reflects immense credit on the Nigerian railways and administration, and upon those who have contributed to it in this country. With that, I hope we may be allowed to forget the miserable years during which the ground-nuts were accumulating.
The second major issue is a less happy one—the question of the economy of the Gold Coast as a whole. For as many years ahead as I can see, and above all in these vital years during which constitutional progress is going to be made (I say it is going to be made, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, will note that) as a result of recommendations such as those in the Coussey Report, the future of the Gold Coast will turn, and must turn, on one thing only—the prosperity of the cocoa industry. There will perhaps come a time when other crops and mineral development can take the place of the cocoa crop; but they cannot do so during these vital years. And until a remedy has been found, or until the elimination of swollen shoot has made more progress than it has to-day, the economic future of that country is in such jeopardy and in such a precarious state as to make it of almost academic interest to discuss whether the administration of the Gold Coast shall be conducted on a unicameral or a bicameral form of government. There is a complete lack of a sense of proportion in that. The fact is that starvation is facing many people to-day in Africa, notably in the Gold Coast, and will do so until this scourge of disease can be brought under control. And I must say that I do not find the somewhat optimistic statements made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies about the progress in the elimination of disease in trees in any way satisfactory. The rate of destruction of diseased trees at the moment bears only an insignificant relation to the total amount of infection which is taking place.
That brings me to the second point about the economic situation of the Gold 1095 Coast and of other territories where constitutional and political progress is being made. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, and other noble Lords have touched upon the matter; and the Coussey Report, equally, deals with the question of non-African populations in African territories. If your Lordships look back over the history of the last twenty or thirty years you will find that it is apparently considered reprehensible that a foreign element—that is to say a non-African element—should have a permanent place in the structure of the African economy. It is supposed to be not quite respectable, for instance, to have in a number of training, industrial and commercial concerns in the Gold Coast a settled white community who have assisted in the development of that country. I wonder why this fashion grew up. I wonder why it began to be thought that foreign persons coming into a country were not desirable. One has only to look back at the history or every European country to find that the immigration of foreign persons has always been an important factor in the life of that country.
Take this country alone. We are ourselves, of course, a mongrel mixture; and those with any experience of the African territories will know that the same can be said of them. We know how the merchanting Jews came to this country in the Middle Ages, and how we accepted them and their system of trading. We know that our banking system was introduced here by the Italians, and that that system has become the greatest banking system in the world. I do not know why in the last thirty years the idea has grown up that it is reprehensible to bring in foreign persons. It requires only a little study to see the absurdity of it. I do not want to set out now to show that absurdity, but it is apparent enough. There is practically no country in the world to-day, not even an African country, where there is really an autochthonous, indigenous people; every territory in Africa contains a mongrel mixture of all sorts of people.
We have to keep in mind the historical aspect in dealing with political problems. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of a remark of King Feisal at the Peace Conference at Versailles when for his- 1096 torical reasons our French Allies were claiming a certain interest in Syria. Feisal observed, as some of your Lordships may remember, that if it came to historical claims the Arabs could put forward a much better claim than the French, seeing that they were the bearers of the torch of Greek civilisation in the East at a time when France was a province of Germany, England was a race of savages, and America had not even been discovered. This question is one which can be solved only by one very simple process, which is to accept the fact that these persons are there and that after a shorter or longer period of residence they become part and parcel of the country in which they have come to live and settle. They are as much a part of the country in which they have made their livelihood as the people who received them when they came in—I say deliberately "received them." This question of whether they are there by right of conquest or by right of commerce is immaterial. What is material is that they are there, that they have not got out and that they are contributing something. To that criterion there is only one corollary—that is, that they are entitled to stay there and to have their share in the government of that country.
As we know, in these difficult questions of mixed races and of races living side by side, that does not mean that the question has to be dealt with in the same way as it is in this country, where every man has one vote. There are a hundred and one democratic ways in which these problems can be solved, but they can be solved only by supposing that the people who are there are there as of right, and are not to be "chucked out" because their skins are a different colour or because they wear a different shaped hat. So, if there is a criticism of this Report—and that same criticism applies to much of what has happened in Nigeria in the last few months—it is criticism of the failure to recognise that the British and Syrians in West Africa, the Indians in East Africa and the Chinese in the Far East are there and must stay there and must have their part in any form of government which is set up.
To come to a more particular issue —what is happening in Nigeria—may I say this, which will satisfy the noble 1097 Lord, Lord Strabolgi: that in spite of his earlier remarks Liberal sentiments still exist on the Liberal Benches.
I never said they had not. I was surprised at the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, from the Liberal Benches.
I thought the noble Lord had some doubt about the Liberal Benches as a whole. I am glad to hear that was not so. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, is now part and parcel of us, and no doubt he will acquire further Liberal sentiments, if he has not already done so, by association. The point about these Constitutions is really this. Everybody accepts that the initial mistake of the Watson Commission, and the failure to repudiate the Commission who went so far beyond their terms of reference, led directly to the Coussey Report, and has led to a development of the proposals for constitutional change in the Gold Coast earlier than would otherwise have been the case. It is rather like a stone being thrown into a pond. That ripple of the Watson Report spread and caused the next stage, but it has also caused a disturbance further afield—that is, in Nigeria. I accept absolutely that, with the prospective change in the Gold Coast, a change in the constitutional set-up in Nigeria was also probable. I should like, however, to point out how involved has been the conception of constitutional change, even there. I take in particular the proposals which have emanated from the northern region of Nigeria. That, I feel sure—at least I hope—will be the model of such changes as are bound to take place in Nigeria, and it will be followed by the adoption of similar conceptions and systems in the west and east.
Why are the changes so much more involved? The reason for that is clear. It is because that region has had practice in self-administration for very much longer than have other parts of Nigeria. The conclusion and the moral from that is that you can secure this development which noble Lords here welcome, and which I think everybody in this country at heart welcomes, only by development from within and not by the imposition of ideas from without—by the imposition of ideas from without I mean also propaganda to do things in a country 1098 that is not yet ripe to do them. I feel strongly on one particular point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir— namely that where criticisms, slanders, and even proposals that seem to us in this country premature come to us from abroad they should be combated by everyone in this country on the grounds that we probably know a good deal more about the developments needed than do the critics, and that in any event those developments which are necessary in each African village must come in the first place from within and not be suggested from without. That does, of course, involve following a clear line of conduct; it involves fighting with all the resources which we have at our disposal —and they are not small—that insidious propaganda which is coming in and which is, in fact, merely subversive propaganda designed to make trouble. If that involves the restriction of certain liberty, including a restriction on the liberty of the Press to vilify people who cannot answer for themselves, I for one on these Benches, as a Liberal, hope that those liberties will be severely restricted.
Here in a debate of this sort one can go no further than to say this. We wish that His Majesty's Government, of whatever complexion they are and whatever may be the mistakes which they have made—and I have done my best to point out a good many of them in Colonial matters at one time or another in this House—will lave the strength to say from time to time; "No, not yet," but at the same time will maintain that progress towards self-government which not only have we advocated but which the whole of the direction of British administration in Africa and in every other part of the world has done its best to stimulate for the last forty or fifty years. It is idle for the diehards, who I know do not exist in this context in Africa, to say: "We know how much better we could run this country than others if we could have direct rule and if everybody did as he was told." We have been preaching to and educating people to govern themselves for the last seventy years, since we have been in Africa. How can it he suggested that we should now turn round and say: "Oh, no. You cannot govern yourselves. We know that you cannot, and we are going to go on 1099 doing it for you." That is not the right way.
That has a direct bearing on this question of the civil servants. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, in deploring the state of uncertainty—I would not call it the breakdown of morale —in which so many of our civil servants in Africa have found themselves. That is engendered through their experiencing difficulties in their own situations and uncertainty about their future. If that could be eliminated, I have no doubt that the body of civil servants would be the first to assist in that development to which they have already contributed so much; they would willingly become advisers where they were the rulers, as they have already done in so many places, and would not leave their task undone until they came to the end of their useful careers in the Colonies. But that requires that His Majesty's Government in this country, and the Colonial Office in particular, shall give them the guarantees to which they are entitled to enable them to live without fear and anxiety for themselves and for their families in the future. Given that, and given also that they would have confidence that the Government can say "No" when "No" ought to be said, I believe that the ranks which have been depleted will rapidly be filled.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, the ground in this debate has been so well covered that I shall not detain you long. It has been a characteristic debate of noble Lords speaking from their practical experience, and the agreeable maiden speech to which we listened from Lord Baden-Powell was no exception to that rule. We welcome him for the name he bears, and we welcome him doubly for the admirable, practical speech which he made to us. As was natural, a great deal of attention has been paid in this debate to what has come to be known as the Coussey Report. Mr. Justice Coussey has received a number of well-deserved compliments. I have known him long enough and well enough to appreciate his wide experience and his sound judgment, and when I was the responsible Minister in West Africa I had good occasion to profit from both those qualities. His conduct of this large and varied Commission and the thoroughness of the 1100 long Inquiry are a lasting monument to his high qualities, and I would, for my part, pay particular tribute to the wisdom which that Commission has shown in not trying to follow the sealed pattern of a Westminster model. It was the natural thing to do, and I daresay there were not wanting a number of vocal persons who advised them to do it. Indeed, they had before them a document which has come to be known as the Watson Report—a singularly silly document in many respects. It was written by people who had little or no knowledge of the place of which they wrote or of the subjects with which they dealt, and who had no hesitation, to the great embarrassment of the Secretary of State, in stating with complete certainty in the course of a few weeks their views, conclusions and forecasts on many subjects about which those of us with a decade or more of experience would have hesitated to express any firm view at all. In few matters were their opinions not demonstrably ridiculous.
It is most satisfactory to find Mr. Justice Coussey, with his forty or fifty African colleagues, completely repudiating all this nonsense. The Watson document said that the time had come to make an end of the Chiefs; that they cumber the ground. What happens when you get fifty varied Africans together under an African chairman? They say that that is the greatest possible nonsense; that the Chiefs are an essential element, not only in their own territories but in the governance and administration of the whole Colony; and that they must have their place not only in the local loyalties of their own people but in any House of Assembly. The question of whether there should be one or two Chambers is a little academic. It was not at all academic in our debate yesterday, but, after all, we have advanced some way with the British Constitution, though we are for the time being, but only for a very short time, receding. Here the two Chambers are, of course, very necessary, but I am bound to say that in the case of this partial form of self-government what is really important is to get one Chamber that will work. There may not be the personnel to fill two Chambers. I do not think the precedent taken from the Mother of Parliaments is necessarily a wise precedent to follow in the gradual evolution of an African Assembly. I am sure that in that case one good Chamber would be 1101 better than two bad Chambers. What is necessary here is that there should be one good Chamber; the second or other Chamber may not be quite so good. I was interested in the views expressed. I cannot remember which way the betting ran in the end. One of the horses won by a very short head, but I have forgotten whether it was for one Chamber or for two.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I understand that those advocating two Chambers won by one vote. But the argument of those who wanted the one Chamber was particularly interesting to me—namely, that they wanted to have the Chiefs in a single Chamber because they considered that their influence, their knowledge and their experience in that Chamber would be of great value. I think that is a very interesting approach.
Then there was the wise realisation—and the more one knows of Africa the more one appreciates this—that there is not as yet, certainly in any of these African territories, a consciousness of Nigeria as Nigeria, or of the Gold Coast as the Gold Coast. I understand there are some people with a Press having a limited circulation who are going round the colony saying "Ghana," "Ghana," "Ghana." I do not know what extension Ghana may have in future, but if anybody went to the northern territories and started speaking in that way, I do not suppose the people there would know what he was talking about; and if they did, he would get an extremely rude answer in reply. What are in evidence are the intense local loyalties—the small loyalties of a particular stool. Then there are the larger loyalties of the Ashanti Federation which I am glad to say I had the good fortune to restore, and which has re-created, as I think, an intense localised loyalty for the Ashanti people. It is extremely unwise to try to ride roughshod over them. Then what may perhaps suit the ballot box views of the intelligentsia might not at all suit the northern territories, who yet have a remarkable capacity for making their wishes known. I will not delay the House now to tell your Lordships in detail about it, but when one gets into the northern territories, nothing is more interesting than to find in a place where perhaps only 5 per cent., if that, of the people are liter 1102 ate, the most intense interest and knowledge of how their money is being spent and how their local government is conducted. I can remember bags as symbols being produced, so that some thousands of people in a kind of assembly could decide how their money was to be spent —so much for administration and so much for education. They were all keen on having education and wanted more, but it was said, "There are no more money bags left"—it is rather a lesson for us. They were told, "If you want more for education or for the supply of water, there must be more money bags," and that would mean another sixpence or so on the taxes. They were quite capable of making up their minds as to what they wanted and as to whether they were prepared to be taxed in connection with it, and they were able to express their views in a popular way.
I can understand that there has been a good deal of criticism about over-weighting of the Administration. I must say it looks a little top-heavy, with the three-tier arrangement which is provided. There is great force in what Lord Rennell said. It is not only the gentleman who sits in the Assembly who has to be taken into account, but also the fellow who has to carry out what the Assembly decide. I think I follow the reason why it was adopted in order that there should not be over-centralisation but that instead there should be decentralisation, so far as could be permitted, in order to give local administrations full play. That new system must be carefully worked out. I believe that the broad lines proposed for it are sound.
I would like to endorse what I think has been said by every speaker in this debate: that when the new set-up comes into operation it must be given time to work. Do not try to dig it up almost as soon as it has been planted. And do not be afraid of giving expression to that point of view. There are a certain number of vocal people to deal with who are, quite honestly, our most hostile critics, and they are people who do not want this or any ether scheme to succeed. Do not be afraid of saying that to them. Ninety-nine per cent. of the Africans realise the force of this argument and they will be behind you. Give the scheme time to work. Ministers will have plenty to do and plenty to 1103 learn. The best Ministers—and I speak as an old Minister myself—are those who go on learning all the time. I incline to the belief that if they stop learning it is about time they ceased to be Ministers. I am sure that new Ministers will not mind being given one or two tips by an old hand. Of course, the first prerequisite of any form of self-government is a capacity to govern. That is elementary. This new body will have a pretty severe test when it comes to dealing with swollen shoot. I know the difficulties, and I agree with what Lord Rennell has said, we are simply deceiving ourselves if we say that we are defeating this menace at the present time. Of course, we are not. We are fighting a rearguard action; we are retreating.
I am going to say something about propaganda in a few moments, but before I leave this question I want to emphasise that it will need the best efforts of everyone concerned if success is to be achieved. I am sure that all in this new Administration—for it is a new Administration—will more than ever need the help of the skilled civil servants. May I, again, as an old Minister say this to the new Ministers who will be coming into being: however experienced you are, however long you may have held office, you will not get on without the full assistance of the able staff at your disposal. They are absolutely loyal and fully experienced. You will need them at least as much as we do in this country, and they are the last people with whom we would dream of parting. Deliberately, I add this, and I am sure I shall not be misunderstood. I wish this scheme all success. I believe it will succeed. But the King's government must be carried on, and I am sure it is necessary that the reserve powers should be clear and adequate—adequate not only to certify, but, if need be, to carry out what is certified. That is only a recognition of the fact that the function of self-government is government. I am sure that if the reserve powers are plain and adequate it will be the greatest insurance that those reserve powers will not be needed.
One other matter on which I wish to add a few remarks is that of defence. My noble friend who introduced this Motion spoke of the wonderful record of the West African and East African regi 1104 ments in the war. Nearly 400,000 men came to the Colours. There was no pressed man among them; every one of them volunteered. They joined the Colours to serve in a war which was far removed from their land, a war which never touched their country physically. There was no bombing there. But, some-how, even in the furthest corners of the Bush, they recognised by a sort of sixth sense, stimulated, no doubt, by their intense loyalty to the King, that it was their war as well as our war. And how well they acquitted themselves! In defence, a common interest remains. It is now closer than ever. Preparation is the one insurance, and science has now practically annihilated distance—it has almost annihilated time and space. Those peoples will want to take their part; we are all in this together. Just as in defence this side of the Equator it is recognised not only that Western Union must be strong, but that it must be completely linked and integrated by the Atlantic Pact, so I am sure it is true that you must bring all Africa into this co-ordinated and integrated whole. I do not want that fact to be lost sight of.
And now one word about propaganda. I do not particularly like using the term "propaganda" at all. Let me call it "information." I find in the Watson Report one thing with which I can agree. It is stated therein—and it is true—that over a large part of the Gold Coast the only media for carrying information were the lorry driver or the itinerant hawker. No imaginative attempt had been made to secure the presentation of Government policy in a balanced way, even to the literate population. Whether you have self-government or half-and-half, or whatever form of government you have, it is very necessary to have some practical form of information service. There is no Press there such as we have in this country, where newspapers go into practically every home. There is no wireless on any such scale as that which we know. It is, however, necessary for the Government to be able to make clear to the people, what their policy is. Take agriculture for example. Take swollen shoot. The policy which has been adopted upon that almost met with defeat by reason of the lies which were spread—probably by a small, Communist-inspired, section, a sort of fifth column. The answer to that sort of 1105 thing is not to go chasing lies but to have a really effective service which will tell the truth and explain your policy. It is necessary to think more imaginatively on this. Ideas that spring to one's mind include mobile information units, with their cinemas and radio, rediffusion services and so on, all designed to show to the people what the Government's policy is.
Finally, let me say a word about U.N.O. We all support U.N.O., doing the job they ought to do and, heaven knows! they have enough to do inside their proper functions; they cannot be meddling and muddling all over the world. In our domestic politics anybody has a right to express a political opinion, and the less one knows about politics, the more dogmatic one has a right to be. That is democracy: one man, one vote—and even vermin have votes. But even in politics it is a good thing to have the administration conducted by peopleé who have had a certain amount of political and administrative experience. When we come to Colonial administration, practical experience counts for a great deal. In this we have a disinterested record second to none. We are prepared to listen to all the advice we can obtain and to listen to opinions, if they are informed opinions. But one thing I say for certain: no part of the British Empire or the mandated territories associated with it can be governed under two flags. That is quite certain.
I have seen something of the only example we ever tried of a condominium. It was the one blot on the whole British Colonial Empire, and the greatest disgrace both to us and the French. And both Powers knew something about Colonial administration. As anybody who had anything to do with it will remember, it was fortunately over only a relatively small territory. But it was a grotesque failure. A pentarchy, in which the five delegates who have not been wholly successful in governing their own countries come in and share the responsibility with the British Government for our mandated territories, is not possible. I must congratulate the Government on the firm stand which they have taken in this matter. We have our reputation and our standards, and they are very high ones. This is a trust which we will faithfully discharge, but there can be only 1106 one Government responsible for the administration. We will discharge this trust faithfully and to the full, but it is a trust that we cannot and will not share with any body else.
§ 5.34 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF LISTOWLL)
My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, for giving us an opportunity for the interesting discussion we have had this afternoon on Colonial affairs and also for the thoughtful and constructive tone of his speech. If I may say without impertinence, the noble Lord's speech, like that of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, never seemed to stray from our common concern for the welfare of the peoples of the dependent territories for which the Government and Parliament are responsible. Before passing to the substance of the debate, I wish to associate myself with what has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, and by other noble Lords, in congratulation to the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, on his maiden speech. He gave us a most interesting account, based on his own first-hand experiences, of life in South Africa. His name is known and respected all over the world, as I can testify from my personal experience of travelling in the Colonies. When I visited Scout groups in South-East Asia and the British islands of the Caribbean I always found a common respect for the name of the founder of that great movement. I know that, we all hope Lord Baden-Powell will speak to us again on matters concerning the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
Judging from what I have heard this afternoon, I do not think the House will wish me to speak at any great length on the recent disturbances in Nigeria. Statements have been made in another place earlier this week by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, and your Lordships will have read what was said on Monday afternoon. I am glad to say that since that statement there have been no further disturbances. The go-slow movement in the mine at Enugu still continues and the safety position in that colliery is giving rise to anxiety. The authorities at Enugu are still engaged in discussions with the miners in the hope of securing a resumption of full work. 1107 The Commission of Inquiry which has been appointed by the Governor of Nigeria will, we all hope, start their work in the very near future. The two members of the Commission from this country are leaving by air to-morrow, and the Commission are fully aware of the urgency as well as the importance of their task. I do not think that noble Lords will wish me to go into further detail as it is for the Commission to investigate both the causes of the disturbances and the course of events. I am sure, however, that the House will fully share the Government's deep regret that these disturbances should have occurred, involving as they have done serious loss of life.
There have been several references during the debate to the recent meeting of the United Nations, which is still going on, and to the attitude expressed at the meetings that have taken place towards the Colonies and trust territories. This matter was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, and by the noble Lords, Lord Tweedsmuir and Lord Milverton. I agree entirely with what Lord Tweedsmuir said in his opening speech. There is a dangerous tendency, which has become more marked in the past year, for other members of the United Nations to try to assume the duties exercised by us as the administering authority of trust territories in East and West Africa. The powers of the United Nations in regard to trust territories are laid down clearly in Article 87 of the Charter, and we have never at any time suggested that these powers should be diminished or whittled away; nor have we opposed their legitimate application in the appointment of visiting missions or the scrutiny of annual reports submitted by the United Kingdom.
We placed these territories voluntarily in trusteeship in order to avoid any suspicion that we had annexed Colonies as spoils of war from the vanquished enemy. We have constantly acknowledged our accountability to the United Nations for their good government, but the proper role of the United Nations is to watch, to criticise, to admonish on occasions if necessary and to supervise generally the conduct of the administering authority; it is not to take any part in the actual process of administration. The Trustee 1108 ship Council and the General Assembly are fully entitled to make suggestions and recommendations about the way in which these territories should be governed, and such advice will always be carefully considered by the United Kingdom. But the final decision as to whether any or all of their suggestions can be accepted and, if so, how they are to be carried out, must rest with the Government of the United Kingdom as the administrative authority.
We have sole responsibility for formulating the policy pursued in these territories and for choosing the right method of putting our policy into effect. We cannot allow any outside authority to usurp a function which we regard as essential to sound and progressive administration. It is our duty, in judging policy, to consider, first the welfare of the indigenous inhabitants and to reject the counsel of the United Nations Assembly when in our opinion it conflicts with their interests. Hence our attitude to some recent resolutions accepted by the General Assembly, which we have regretfully had to oppose. They included a proposal that the administrative headquarters of trust territories should be located inside the territories, which would mean that the Cameroons and Togoland would no longer be administered from Lagos and Accra respectively. A further proposal, to which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, alluded, was that the United Nations flag should fly beside the Union Jack in all trust territories.
No less dangerous has been the tendency to use Article 73 (e) of the Charter, to which Lord Tweedsmuir referred, as the means of encroaching upon our unqualified responsibility for our own Colonies over which we have ruled for a long period of time. This clause of the Charter places us under an obligation to convey to the Secretary-General of the United Nations information relating to economic, educational and social conditions in the British Colonies. The Assembly has now been asked to request Colonial Powers to add to the subjects about which we have already agreed to give information the political and constitutional development of their Colonies, and to appoint a committee, which will sit for three years, with powers of roving inquiry into social conditions and educational practice in 1109 Colonial territories and, indeed, into the question of whether any particular territory is or is not self-governing. It looks as if the intention in some quarters is to establish a counterpart of the Trusteeship Council which will subject Colonies to the same scrutiny and criticism as trust territories. But the United Nations Organisation has no more right to advise us about the policy we ought to pursue in building up social services, or introducing constitutional reform in the Colonies, than it has to give us its views about the way to run the National Health Service or the proper functions of your Lordships' House. Indeed it would be a dereliction of our duty to the peoples of the Colonies if we were to offer to share our present responsibility with the representatives of other countries.
I hope it will not be said that we resent criticism—the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, said we were not in the least opposed to criticism—or that we turn down outside advice on the grounds of national prestige or because we consider that the administration of the British Colonies is so perfect that it cannot he improved. Such a judgment would he a complete misunderstanding of our motives. We welcome constructive criticisms from any source, but what matters is the spirit in which the criticism is made and the motives of the critics themselves. Our reasons for not wishing to throw the Colonies into the arena of debate at Lake Success are that criticism there is too often warped by anti-British or anti-Colonial prejudice and too infrequently directed to serving the genuine interests of colonial peoples. In the second place, the criticism we receive from the United Nations is characterised by an absence of realism and a failure to put forward practical suggestions, which results naturally and inevitably from the ignorance and inexperience of non-administering Powers. Finally, there is the unfortunate and, I am afraid, constant attempt, to which I have already alluded, at "back-seat driving" by fifty-eight nations, which seem unable to draw the dividing line between supervision of trust territories and interference in administration all along the line. I should not like to leave the subject of the United Nations and its attitude to dependent territories without paying tribute to the skill, patience and courage with which our delegates to 1110 this year's Assembly have put the unpopular British case. I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, for his words of congratulation, and I ant sure they will be appreciated in the right quarters.
Now let me turn to the subject of Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, suggested that to some extent we are allowing policy in regard to constitutional advance in Africa to be influenced by the course of events. He seemed to suggest that we are being pushed forward under pressure from extreme nationalist groups. I assure the noble Lord that this is not the case, and that agitation in the Colonies makes no difference one way or the other to the pace of our constitutional advance. Our policy of helping the peoples of the Colonies, after consultation and by agreement with them, to reach as soon as possible the successive stages along the road to responsible government within the Commonwealth has been so often repeated that I hesitate to repeat it again this afternoon. But this is the policy which we have consistently pursued, from which we have not been deflected by events, and which we shall continue to carry out, both in Africa and elsewhere. It follows from what I have said that we cannot fix a time-table for the attainment of the different stages in this journey towards self-government. Some people, both here and overseas, would like a definite date set for the achievement of self-government, because they feel that this would hurry things forward. Others would like a time-table for the opposite reason, as a brake to slow down the speed of constitutional change. But, after all, the growth of a Constitution is more akin to the growth of a living organism than to the building of a house. It depends on the wills of men, on the economic and political conditions under which they live, and which they themselves create; and these are factors which cannot be calculated or evaluated in advance. We shall continue to do everything we can to encourage progress towards self-government in all territories for which we are responsible, taking into full account the stability of government, the degree of material development and the readiness and desire of each particular people for further responsibilities.
1111 The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, referred in some detail to the political scene in West Africa, and asked me to say something about our policy in relation to the West African territories—indeed, that was the theme of several speeches to which we have listened this afternoon. I hope what I say by way of answer to Lord Tweedsmuir, who was good enough to give me advance information about the points he intended to make, will also meet the questions raised by other noble Lords in this debate. We are firmly of the opinion that the stage is now being reached in this part of Africa when participation by Africans in the formulation of policy is essential. It is no longer enough that Africans should have elected majorities in their Legislatures, and this stage in constitutional advance must be superseded by a further step forward. It is time for Africans to undertake the responsibility of framing policy, of carrying it out by administrative decisions and of answering for their actions and their policy to elected Legislatures. There are three main lines of advance in this further stage of progress towards self-government. First, elected African members of the Legislature must be brought into the executive side of government as Ministers and must share in its responsibility. Secondly, the Legislatures must be enlarged and made as representative as possible, on the basis of whatever form of popular election may be suitable to local circumstances. Thirdly, there must be reforms in the system of local government to give full representation to all elements of the population, and to provide the training and experience required by the future legislators and Ministers at the centre.
Let me now deal with the present position in Nigeria, the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone. What I shall say about Nigeria is one example of what I have already said about the difficulty of timetables, and the need for full consultation with the accredited representatives of the people before constitutional changes take place. As your Lordships are aware, and as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, mentioned this afternoon, a new Constitution was introduced in Nigeria, a short while ago which made important changes in the structure of the Government. This 1112 new Constitution was largely the work of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and it has owed much of its success to his sound technical advice and skilful administration. The view taken by the noble Lord when he proposed the new Constitution, was that it should be subject to review as a whole in nine years' time, and that certain aspects of it should be reviewed in the meantime after three and six years. I understand from what the noble Lord says that he adheres to the view that the final review should not have been made for nine years.
The noble Lord's successor as Governor of Nigeria, Sir John Macpherson, decided after full consideration and local consultations that progress had been so good under the existing régime that arrangements for a review of the Constitution could be put in hand after two instead of three years. He therefore consulted the views of the Legislative Council this year, and as a result of the Council's decision a process of consultation with representatives of the people at provincial and regional levels, as well as at the centre, has been put in train. The final stage of this inquiry into the views of the people will take place in Lagos in January of next year at a conference which will be attended by representatives of all parts of Nigeria. Any proposals adopted by this conference will then be considered by the Legislative Council and by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I am glad to say that the reports received at the Colonial Office up to date show that the discussions at provincial and regional levels have already aroused deep interest and careful thought on the constitutional future of Nigeria. I need hardly say that we take full responsibility for the decision that the review should be made now and not at a later date.
In Sierra Leone—which has not been mentioned this afternoon, but I think the intention of the noble Lord was that the whole situation in West Africa should be discussed—we are also consulting the views of the local inhabitants. The Governor has published a memorandum in which proposals indicating the line which the next stage of constitutional advance might take have been presented for consideration and discussion. This memorandum covers the three main points of policy I have already men- 1113 tioned—participation in the executive machinery by elected African members on the Legislature, enlargement of the Legislature to make it more representative and the development of a democratic system of local government. The Governor is still awaiting the conclusions which public opinion will draw after these questions have been fully and widely considered.
Now let me say something about the Gold Coast and the Coussey Report, to which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, and several other noble Lords have referred this afternoon. Let me first thank noble Lords who have spoken for their expressions of approval, which I am sure will also be appreciated in the Gold Coast. Indeed, I am certain that the tribute which was paid by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in another place to the quality of this Report and the work of the Coussey Committee will find an echo wherever this document is studied. The strength of this Committee was that it consisted entirely of Africans and represented all parts of the territory. I think noble Lords will agree that the care and thoroughness with which the constitutional problems of the Gold. Coast have been studied, and the sober and reasonable tone of the recommendations made in the Report, are a good augury for the successful undertaking by Africans of the responsibilities which they will bear when these proposals are put into effect.
The proposals for constitutional advance in the Gold Coast are an example of the way in which the three principles to which I have already alluded can be applied and practised. It is proposed that there should be an Executive Council on which African Ministers drawn from the Legislative Assembly will work as a team with official members. The Ministers will be in the majority, and the Council will be the principal instrument of policy. The Legislature will be greatly enlarged and will be chosen mainly by popular vote, by direct election as at present in the towns, and by indirect election in the rural areas. We welcome particularly the proposals of the Coussey Committee on local government, which will give the people of the Gold Coast a great opportunity of building a modern system of local government on the foundations of tradition. This blend of 1114 the best in their own traditions with the best of our own Parliamentary practice characterises the whole Report. I would like to quote this sentence from it:In embarkine on a new order of political life we have chosen the British model and have sought to blend it with our traditional institutions.I was glad to hear the tribute which was paid by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, based on his own intimate experience of the Gold Coast, to the traditional institutions of that great territory.
Some uneasiness has been expressed in certain quarters about the effect on the public service in the Gold Coast of these changes in the Constitution. We all realise how much the progress of the country and the successful operation of these Constitutional reforms will depend on the devoted work of the public services, whether recruited locally or overseas. District commissioners, officers in the secretariat, technical and professional officers, have a great part to play. They have discharged their duties in the past with conspicuous success, and they will be just as necessary to the well-being of the country in time to come. My opinion is that among Africans of all classes there is a full realisation that the effective development of the country, both political and economic, will continue to require, the services of administrative as well as professional and technical officers from this country. It is perfectly natural that members of the Civil Service should ask themselves not only whether they will still enjoy the security of tenure which brought them into a career of public service, but also whether the conditions under which they will work in the future will be such that they can effectively carry out their traditional functions. I am glad to say that there is a strong feeling among responsible Africans in the Gold Coast that it is essential that all matters of public service should be kept clear of politics. We therefore welcome the proposal in the Coussey Report that a Public Services Commission should be set up on a statutory basis with this object in view. The whole subject is one to which His Majesty's Government and the Gold Coast Government attach the greaten importance, and my right honourable friend is at present in consultation with the Governor about it.
1115 There is also the question which has aroused a great deal of interest in your Lordships' House, as to the position of the very important commercial and industrial interests which this country has in the Gold Coast. As my right honourable friend has said in another place, British firms have played a great part in the development of the Gold Coast, and they have a great part to play in the future. Responsible African opinion, while anxious to develop African enterprise, fully recognises the continuing need for European capital investment and technical help, and realises that economic enterprise in the Gold Coast should enjoy a fair field. The Coussey Report went so far as to state that there should be representation of these interests in the Councils, both in local government and at the centre. That is a matter which will require careful consideration when detailed proposals are being worked out, and I would prefer to do no more for the moment than to assure noble Lords that both His Majesty's Government and the Gold Coast Government, as well as responsible opinion in the Gold Coast, have fully in mind the need to ensure that there will be favourable conditions for the employment of British capital and enterprise in the future.
I will now pass on, as the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has invited me to do, to say something about the problems of East and Central Africa. The main difference between these territories and West Africa is, of course, the existence of considerable settled immigrant communities. Our policy for helping these countries to achieve responsible government in this part of Africa must, of course, embrace these communities as well as the indigenous African population. It is our task—as I know the immigrant communities themselves recognise—to help the Africans to develop politically, socially, and economically so that they can take their full part in tile administration and development of the countries concerned and in local and central politics. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, will be assured that there is no prejudice against these immigrant communities and no desire in any quarter to minimise their importance to the life of the territory in which they have settled. In East and Central Africa, 1116 Europeans, and in East Africa, Indians and Arabs, have made their homes for generations and they must now be regarded as belonging to those countries just as much as the Africans themselves. The skill, ingenuity and enterprise of these immigrant communities have made possible economic and social progress which would have been inconceivable without them—and all in the short space of some fifty years.
In Kenya, for example, the budget has now topped £10,000,000. Twenty-five years ago, it was little more than £2,000,000. Income and and other direct taxes paid by Europeans and Indians are bringing in over £1,400,000 per annum. Direct taxation of Africans brings in some £650,000 per annum. Fifty years ago great parts of Kenya were sparsely inhabited and most of its inhabitants were living under most primitive conditions. There was not a harbour, a road or a railway in the country. We cannot exaggerate the results of the initiative, courage and hard work of men and women alike who brought to Africa blessings and opportunities which the African could never have received in any other way. We hope that in Kenya, as elsewhere, there will be a growing sense of partnership between all concerned in the joint enterprise of developing this great territory for the benefit of the whole population. In the vast and sparsely populated territory of Tanganyika, enterprise and investment, whether European or otherwise, has a most important part to play.
It is, of course, our policy to safeguard African interests and to ensure that the present and future land requirements of the Africans are adequately met. But it is no less important that social and economic services should be built up for the benefit of the whole population. If medical, educational and agricultural services are to be provided on the scale required there must be sufficient revenue to cover this expenditure. The money can be raised only if the economic development of the territory continues. For this purpose we shall need not only capital but the ability and experience of European and other farmers, planters, miners, and technicians. The planned development of mining, food crops, tobacco and sisal must go forward if a reasonable standard of social services is to be pro- 1117 vided, and for this purpose we must create and maintain the right conditions for the employment of capital and technical skill. The report of the visiting Mission of the Trusteeship Council created a feeling of insecurity to which reference has already been made when this subject was debated in your Lordships' House on an earlier occasion. But I think our reply to the report, which was endorsed by the views expressed by your Lordships, will have done much to remove the sense of insecurity it caused in Tanganyika. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has referred to the question of the limitation of leaseholds for non-African settlers, in some cases, to 33 years, and this subject is under active consideration at this time by the Governor and by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The Governor hopes to be in a position to make an announcement about it very shortly.
Throughout East and Central Africa, Africans are taking an increasing part in government. In Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika there are four Africans on each Legislative Council, and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland each have two. This will give them the opportunity of learning their responsibilities towards the community as a whole. As citizens it is the interests of their country (as it must also be for the European and the Indian and the Arab) that they must have at heart, not any one part of it or any one section of the community. What we want is a partnership between all who have made their homes in these territories. I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, said on that point. But I feel that, contrary to his desire and mine, such a partnership would be most unlikely to work on the basis of communal representation in Legislative Councils. What he suggested was, of course, a temporary expedient. I hope that, on reflection, the noble Lord will agree with me that experience has shown that such a system would make closer co-operation and closer association more difficult, rather than easier, in time to come.
We are doing what we can to provide greater opportunities for experience in local government, for such experience provides the best possible training for the conduct of affairs in a central Legislature. In Kenya, the African District Council Bill is designed to enable elected African 1118 representatives to decide how money shall be raised and spent on a wide variety of local needs such as roads, housing, education, markets, dispensaries and water supplies. These African district councils will also be concerned (as the present local native councils which they will succeed are also concerned) in the choice of candidates for the Legislative Council. In Tanganyika, steady and encouraging progress is being made in the development of local African authorities, in the extension of their functions and responsibilities and in making their membership more representative of the people. In this territory it is the intention of the Government to set up in each province a Provincial Council, with considerable financial and executive powers, in which all communities will be represented. One such Council is already in being in the Lake Province. In Uganda the trend towards increased responsibility in local government is well under way, and financial and legislative authority is being devolved on local African bodies. Representatives in these African bodies are increasingly chosen by election, and they are linked with the Legislative Council through Provincial Councils.
In Northern Rhodesia, steady progress is being made in the development of local government by the creation of stronger African tribal councils, on which existing chiefs and traditional councillors are joined by the more progressive and efficient Africans of the tribe. A system of African Provincial Councils is well established. The African Representative Council is serving a most useful purpose as a forum for the discussion of African problems. In Nyasaland the same process is going forward. The Provincial African Councils and the Protectorate Council are working most satisfactorily. I am sure that this experience in the field of local government will enable Africans to serve much more effectively alongside their European, Indian and Arab colleagues on the Legislative Councils of the territories to which they belong, and to discharge their duties as legislators with real efficiency and sound judgment.
The true interests of all the people in these territories with mixed communities lie in mutual recognition of each other's needs. European and African interests in East and Central Africa are essentially complementary. There is growing a 1119 general recognition by each of the communities in East Africa of the advantages of co-operation and mutual understanding. There is so much to be done for the future that it is essential for every responsible person, whether he be European or African, Indian or Arab, to play his part in building up a prosperous economy and political responsibility. All responsible leaders recognise that the bitterness and strife of racialism are an evil that must be banished if progress is to be achieved. In Nairobi, the Kenya Academy, where the people of all races will enjoy concerts, lectures, plays and films, will soon be built. In Uganda, an Indian citizen has given £10,000 to help found a commercial institute for Africans. In the Kenya Highlands, European farmers have built at their own expense a welfare and community centre where Africans may come for medical attention, to study and to trade.
These are actions of wise and farsighted leadership, which will be remembered in time to come and which have laid the firm foundations of future progress. It is to such example and inspiration that people will continue to look when they are seeking what should be done to help forward the peoples of Central and Eastern Africa. There is one more subject with which I shall deal this evening, for I have already spoken at considerable length. Several references have been made to the Colonial Service. I should like to give your Lordships a few facts, and also a few conclusions which we have drawn from those facts. The pace of recruitment in the Colonial Service has been faster this year than last, and we have filled a larger number of existing vacancies in the Service. Yet the fact remains that at the end of this October there were still 1,168 vacant posts in the administrative and technical branches of the Service. Of these vacancies, 788 were in the African Colonies. There is a slight discrepancy between the figure quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, from the Economist and the figure which I have just given, but the margin of error is not very considerable.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
No. These are administrative and technical posts, for 1120 which anyone with the necessary qualifications is eligible. The difficulty is that, so long as people with the necessary qualifications are not available from the Colonies, so long must the individuals be recruited from this country and from other Commonwealth countries where young men with the right training wish to come forward. I agree with the noble Lord opposite that this is an extremely serious state of affairs. I would not wish to minimise it. We cannot underestimate its gravity because, if it continues, it will impair the efficiency of our whole system of administration in the Colonies. It is just as well that that should be widely known. The particular problems which we have to face are, on the one hand, the feeling of insecurity which exists in some quarters amongst serving officers and potential recruits and, on the other, difficulties about the salaries of the Colonial Service compared with those offered for similar posts at home.
As regards the insecurity in talking about the Gold Coast, I have already said that there is wide recognition among Africans of the essential part that European officers have to play in the development of the country. There is also a general desire to remove Service questions from politics and to create the right atmosphere for dealing with this problem. The whole question of security of service is at this moment under consideration by the Secretary of State, as well as by the Colonies concerned. I cannot say any more to-day except that we are fully seized of the vital importance of this aspect of the problem. The difficulty about conditions of service arises from the fact that it is not always easy for Legislative Councils in relatively poor countries to pay salaries that will compete with the salaries offered for similar posts in this country, especially where they are under pressure from people who do not fully understand the reasons for the disparity between the pay of the expatriate and the local staff. I am sure that it would be an unwise economy to offer to expatriate officers salaries that did not attract and retain the best men. We are determined to do everything we can to secure adequate conditions of service for members of the Colonial Service in the Colonies.
I am glad to say that it is not the fact that recruitment is tending to run down. 1121 During 1949 (the present year), the rate of recruitment was 25 per cent. better than in 1948, and the indications are that that trend will continue. I do not think that it is unfair to say that the recruitment situation is steadily improving. Moreover, within the limits of what is immediately practicable we are doing everything we can to improve recruitment further. We hope that as the result of better recruitment efforts there will be a further improvement in the number of recruits by next summer. I have often thought that, if I could live my own life over again and choose my own station, I would like to be a district officer in the interior of one of our African Colonies or in British Guiana. The work that is done there is of a fascinating quality, such as no other occupation or career offers. The noble Lord opposite can from his personal experience testify to what I have said. It is the quality of the work and the opportunities which it offers which provide compensation for any physical hardship or absence of material reward that may face those who go in for the Colonial Service. I am hopeful about the future. We shall try to get more recruits from this country and from our sister nations in the British Commonwealth, but we need all the help that we can obtain from noble Lords, from Members of Parliament and from all who have any opportunity of bringing the needs of the Colonial Service before the minds of the public, and particularly before the minds of the young men who are now approaching the threshold of a career and who will have to make this vital choice.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I am deeply grateful to the noble Earl for his careful reply. It is a reply which meets many of the points I and my noble friends have raised. I think that the Government's attitude, as stated by the noble Earl, on the question of the United Nations Trusteeship Council will give tremendous satisfaction to all who have studied this problem. He has stated it in words with which we on this side of the House entirely agree. The part of his reply dealing with immigrant com- 1122 munities will give great satisfaction, far beyond these walls. Somewhere near the beginning of his speech he said that we could not commit ourselves to producing a time-table or blue prints to advance self-government. I hope the noble Earl does not think I suggested that. Nothing was further from my thoughts. I was calling on him to remove so many misapprehensions that have grown up. I am glad to hear that the question of the thirty-three-year lease is under consideration. I am also pleased to hear that, though the situation in regard to Civil Service recruitment is still grave, things are slightly better and may tend to get even better still. It is satisfactory to know that His Majesty's Government appreciate the depth and the gravity of that state of affairs.
I should like to add my congratulations to those of the noble Lords who paid a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Baden-Powell, in his maiden speech. It is a fine tradition of this House that one speaks on subjects about which one knows something. The noble Lord comes to us after spending fifteen years in Southern Rhodesia, a country which, like the whole of South Africa, once knew and loved his great father so well. I was pleased to hear him say, towards the end of his speech, that the harmony of the black and the white people was not only something which was achievable, but that he had seen it achieved in his experience. I hope we shall often hear the noble Lord speak in this House. We have had several speeches to-day from people who know the whole African scene. There was the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, with thirty-nine years in the Civil Service behind him; and there was the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, with several decades of African administration behind him. There were the noble Lords, Lord Rennell, Lord Portsmouth and Lord Strabolgi. Large as this subject is, I think we have gone into it fairly fully in the course of our debate, and we have received some reassurances on the questions I asked. Accordingly, I now beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.