HL Deb 28 November 1950 vol 169 cc530-52

3.7 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, knowing your Lordships' approach to Colonial questions, and particularly to Colonial development, there should be no opposition to the passing of this Bill, which was welcomed and passed through all stages in another place without any difficulty. Assistance for Colonial development has now completely changed from what it was previous to the First World War, for at that time very few Colonies had the good fortune to possess substantial mineral wealth, and in comparatively few were there manufacturing industries. The majority were almost wholly dependent on the limited resources derived from agriculture, the value of which varied widely from year to year as conditions fluctuated in the world market. The result, of course, was that Colonial revenues provided an unreliable basis for a policy of steady progress and development. In many Colonies the position was aggravated by heavy burdens of expenditure and indebtedness. Many were unable to finance out of their own resources any development, research or survey work, or any schemes of major capital enterprise, or the expansion of administration or technical staffs which were necessary for their full development. Nor were they able to afford an adequate standard of health and general social services.

His Majesty's Government began to realise this after the First World War, and in 1929 an Act was passed setting up the first Colonial Development Fund for financing, by grant or loan, various schemes for economic development in the Colonies. This was a notable step forward, but the progress made in the next decade was in no way sufficient to meet the needs of the Colonial Empire. Your Lordships will appreciate the inadequacy of our contribution to the Colonies during this period when I say that the Colonial Governments received from the United Kingdom Exchequer only some £17,000,000, £12,000,000 mainly to overcome their annual deficits, and an additional £5,000,000 from the Colonial Development Fund of 1929, while commitments for future schemes amounted to £1,600,000.

In 1940 the Coalition Government took a bolder step forward, when they passed the existing Colonial Development and Welfare Act. Here, may I pay tribute to the memory of the late Lord Lloyd, who was Colonial Secretary at that time and who, with myself, piloted the Act through Parliament? This Act provided that money, amounting to £55,000,000 spread over ten years, should be available not only for schemes involving capital expenditure necessary for Colonial development in the wider sense, but also for helping to meet re-current expenditure in the Colonies and for certain services such as agriculture, education, health and housing. Under this Act the amount which would be spent a year was raised from £1,000,000 to £5,500,000, but this limit was never reached in any of the six years of its operation; in fact the total amount spent during those six years was about £10,000,000.

The 1945 Act marked yet another important change—and may I say here how much we must all regret the continued illness of Mr. Oliver Stanley, who played such an important part in piloting that legislation through another place. Until 1945, a fixed amount could be spent each year and, as is the case with the Votes of Government Departments in this country, nothing which remained unspent could be carried over to the next year. In 1945 this was all changed, and the sum of £120,000,000 was made available for the next ten years, from April 1, 1946, to March 31, 1956. This made possible for the first time the full planning of schemes over the ten-year period.

The Bill which I now commend to your Lordships does not extend the ten-year period, but raises the total which may be spent from £120,000,000 to £140,000,000. It has been quite clear for some time that the £120,000,000 under the 1945 Act would be insufficient to meet the essential requirements of Colonial development up to March, 1956. We made a slow start, but this was inevitable, because of the shortage of technicians, skilled man-power and materials following the war, and also because development plans of the scope envisaged under the new Act took time to work out and get going. The expenditure is now rapidly accelerating, and it has become clear that £120,000,000 is not sufficient to carry us on until 1956. In 1946–47 only £3,500,000 was spent but this amount was nearly doubled in 1948–49, doubled again to £13,000,000 in 1949–50, and is estimated for the present year to amount to no less a sum than £18,000,000. Up to the end of the last financial year, £29,000,000 had been spent and this will have been raised to nearly £50,000,000 by the end of the current financial year. This means that by March 31, 1951, when the 1945 Act will have run half its course, somewhat less than half the total provision will have been spent, but the tempo is now increasing so rapidly that there is every reason to sup-pose that the remainder already fully committed will be absorbed by 1956. To allow for this increased rate of expenditure in the second five years of the Act we also propose in this Bill to increase the limit which may be spent in any one year from £20,000,000 to £25,000,000.

Of the original £120,000,000, £85,500,000 was allocated to the individual Colonial Governments. Of the remaining £34,500,000, £23,500,000 was allocated to various services, such as research and surveys which could best be coordinated or directed from the centre. Here again, all the available funds are now being committed to the carrying out of development already planned. It is interesting here to note that the amount spent on research has increased from less than £100,000 in 1945–46 to about £2,000,000 this current year, and some 400 research schemes have been made since 1940. These schemes deal with every branch of physical, economic, agricultural and scientific research, while large sums have been spent upon surveys. There is no doubt of the advantages which this work brings to all the Colonies. The remaining £1,000,000 of the £120,000,000 was kept as a general reserve, and this also is almost all committed. Instead of our allocating to the individual Colonies the greater part of the further £20,000,000 for which we are asking in this Bill, this sum will be retained also in reserve, ready for allocation to those schemes we regard as most desirable. We think this plan is best, in view of the relatively small sum and large area over which to spend it.

Reference to the area brings me to Clause 2 of the Bill. This clause pro-vides for the repeal of that part of the 1940 Act which limits the benefits of the Act to Colonies "not possessing responsible government." This clause came in for a considerable amount of comment during the debates in another place. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State pointed out, the whole process of constitutional advance in the Colonial territories is a gradual, though continuous, movement towards self-government. In that process it is difficult in practice to decide at what particular stage an individual Colony may be said to have reached responsible government so far as this Act is concerned. It might happen that in a certain Colony.

constitutional changes have brought about a state of responsible government for the purposes of the Act, and the Secretary of State might therefore be prevented from continuing assistance to development schemes already under way and of vital importance to the development of that particular Colony.

We had this sort of difficulty three years ago in connection with Malta. We were then advised that it was essential to include a clause in the Malta Reconstruction Act of 1947 to enable us to continue to give assistance to Malta under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, as it was held that constitutional changes in Malta would result in its having a "responsible Government" and would" therefore place the Island outside the scope of the Act. There is no question of extending the scope of the Act; we are merely looking to the future of those Colonies who are already receiving Colonial Development and Welfare assistance. Moreover, I can assure the House that if this clause is passed the accountability of the Secretary of State to Parliament for his operations under the Act will remain unaltered.

Finally. I know your Lordships will wish to have some idea of what results we are getting from this vast expenditure of money. So far, ten-year development plans have been approved for the Colonies, involving a total figure of nearly £195,000,000. Of this about one third, £65,000,000, is to be provided from Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. The rest, some £130,000,000, is to be found by the Colonies from local resources and from loans. Thus your Lordships will see that the Colonies' own contribution towards their development plans is in a ratio of about two to one of that provided by the United Kingdom. Of this vast sum it is also interesting to note the general breakdown. There is to be spent on development and social services 47.2 per cent.; on economic development 23.5 per cent.; on communications 19.4 per cent., and the remaining 9.9 per cent. on development of miscellaneous services.

It can be said that in the last twenty years the aim of all past Governments in Colonial policy has been to advance the interests of the inhabitants of the territories. As a result of their efforts during that period much has been accomplished, but there is room for further active development of the natural resources of the various territories so as to provide their people with greatly improved standards of life. Some of the Colonies can make, and have made, much progress in strengthening their economic position without recourse to outside help. They are improving as time goes on, and the social services which minister to the well-being of the people as a whole are making further progress. It should be appreciated by the Colonies themselves that this nation is making a great monetary contribution which in future we may not be in a position to continue on the same scale, and we should look to, and expect, all the assistance we can obtain from the Colonial peoples, so that this large expenditure of £140,000,000 in ten years can be used on schemes that will bring lasting benefit to the peoples of the Colonial Empire, and there will be brighter prospects for them and those who follow them. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Viscount Hall.)

3.25 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the House will give an easy passage to this Bill which has been moved in such an agreeable and informative speech by the First Lord of the Admiralty; and equally I am sure that on all sides of the House we appreciate and would wish to endorse the tribute the noble Viscount paid to Lord Lloyd, in whose work he himself had a large share, and also to Mr. Oliver Stanley, who so well carried on that work. It is an agreeable thing that in 1940, in the darkest days of the war, the National Government set this great enterprise on foot. It is a remarkable proof of the confidence we had then, as we have now, in ourselves and in our Colonial Empire. Nor shall I cavil at the clause which repeals the rather odd section about territories which enjoy responsible government. It is never very easy to try to give verbal definitions about a varied and changing organism like the British Empire, but I am sure we all know what is meant. Although it is not easy to define the clause, what I think it means is that if there is a territory where a Colonial Minister—by that I mean a Minister in the Colony, whether he be European, African or West Indian—has responsibility for a particular department, that should be no bar to the Colony receiving in respect of a service for which such a Minister is responsible a grant in aid out of the Colonial Development fund. I think that is certainly right. I understand why the limitation was put in, and probably if we had thought more about it in detail at the time it would have appeared inconsistent with the broad purpose which we have in hand—namely, expansion for the Colonies which would also expand in their individual responsibilities.

I do not think there is any conflict among us about the retention by Parliament of its responsibilities for a grant to what is called a "responsible Government." After all, the Secretary of State decides on and is responsible for commending to Parliament any particular scheme which it is proposed to help out of this Fund. I believe there have been cases in the past (I am glad to say not many) where the Fund has been used for a general grant in aid of a budget deficit in a Colony. The noble Viscount will correct me if I am wrong about that. There may have been good reasons for doing that in one or two cases, but the Act was certainly not intended for purposes of that sort, and I hope they will be avoided in future. The Act was intended to further and assist, in partnership with the Colonies, schemes which would be for the benefit, expansion and development of the Colonies. Therefore, the Secretary of State remains responsible and has to justify to Parliament the expenditure of the money which the British Parliament grants. Nor do I think it is difficult to secure with what is called a responsible Government or a responsible Minister that the scheme for which the grant is given will in fact be carried out. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred I believe it always will be. But should money paid out for a scheme not be applied to that scheme but to some other purpose—a most improbable contingency —then it would be perfectly simple to refrain from paying further instalments. I see no difficulty in that regard.

I should like to make one other suggestion—namely, that when we find this money, we should see not only that it is spent in accordance with the scheme, but that our generous contributions are used to increase local efficiency. I think that is worthy of our attention. After all, when, in this country, a grant in aid is given by Parliament to any business—I have been responsible for a great many proposals of this kind myself—Parliament has always ensured not only that the money will be spent in conformity with the scheme but that the business which is assisted shall be efficiently managed. We have done that in some cases by putting Government directors on boards, and have taken steps generally to see that the managements will be efficient. I well remember one instance in which I invited a whole board of directors to resign, and I am glad to say that they accepted my invitation. One of them was re-appointed. He was the only one we required to continue, and he did so with an extremely good board of directors, greatly to the benefit of the business and of the taxpayer. Equally, when a bank or a finance corporation come in to assist to finance an ordinary business, the first thing they do is to make sure that the business is going to be efficiently managed.

We had much better speak frankly about these Colonial questions; I do not believe in not having complete frankness between partners. There are in the Colonies admirable cases of undertakings which, whether run by the British Ministers or British civil servants or by Africans or West Indians, have been excellent. On the other hand, there have been some fairly bad ones. I have come across one in particular—the noble Viscount will be well acquainted with it. I have not seen the full document but only an extract. It is a report on the Nigerian Railways and was published, only this month, I think, by a Mr. Pallant who, as I understand, is a high-ranking officer in British Railways or the British Transport Commission. It gives a deplorable picture of the inefficiency of the Nigerian Railways to-day, of the delays and depreciation and of the lack of discipline and good work. I was all the more shocked to read that report when I recollected what an admirable organisation that railway was at the time I was out there during the war. As a matter of fact, I took the same precaution: I got one of the ablest men in the English railway administration, who was then in the Army on transport work, and asked him to lock at both the Gold Coast Rail-way and the Nigerian Railway. His report on the Nigerian Railway was to the effect that it could not be better; he could not make any recommendations to improve it. I regret to have to add that he could not say the same thing about the Gold Coast Railway, which we had to take steps to improve. Therefore, it did shock me to see coming from a completely impartial quarter a report showing such serious deterioration in that vital transport link. I cite that as an example. I think it would be right in principle and in practice that, when Parliament is giving the money, we should insist on efficient management. I am sure that if this is insisted on from the start, the condition will be accepted in the Colonies. I am also sure that whether the man responsible for administration be an Englishman or an African he will be only too glad to have at his back that lever to secure the necessary reforms and improvements—that the grant of help must be conditioned by efficiency.

I have only one further thing to say. I suggest that special consideration should be given to schemes which will benefit more than one Colony. I imagine that there may be great scope for this in the West Indies. Take, for instance, British Guiana. If you came development to be carried out in British Guiana you are probably not only benefiting British Guiana but making it possible to get immigration into British Guiana from the very densely populated islands of the West Indies, such as Jamaica. Incidentally, if you can give a grant in aid out of this fund, which is of such high standing and repute, you may be doing something to make federation a more practical reality in the West Indies. We all want to see it become a practical reality. Therefore I would express the hope that preference will be given to those schemes which can benefit more than one Colony. Having said that—and I hope it is constructive—I give the Bill a very warm welcome.

3.36 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to support this Bill I should like to be allowed first to add my tribute to those which have already been paid to the late Lord Lloyd and Mr. Oliver Stanley. I had the privilege of working under both of them, and I was in a particular position to appreciate how well merited were the tributes that we have heard this afternoon. In view of the general unanimity of support for the principles of the Bill it is not necessary for me to detain your Lordships by going over ground that has already been so well covered. But there are one or two principles to which I should like briefly to call attention, because I feel that at times these issues are over-simplified; there is a tendency to think that the mere granting of large sums of money will effect what cannot be effected by money alone. In the past, the emphasis of these development and welfare expenditures has been very definitely on welfare. I should be the last to decry either the need for or the value of social services, but I suggest that it is necessary to pre-serve an overall view, and to keep all these things in their right perspective.

The Secretary of State said in another place last week: I do not want a superstructure of social services, which will at some time collapse because the economic foundations under them arc not sound. I should like to support and slightly amplify what the Secretary of State said. He stated further, when dealing with the same question (he was deploring the fact that so many of the citizens of these Colonies should be educated in England as lawyers): I should like more of them to want to become engineers, scientist technicians, and artisans. That again, in my opinion, strikes one of the vital points in this connection. He also said something else which I should like to stress. He said that it was very desirable that the people of the Colonies should feel that they had been taken into complete partnership in all of these schemes. Then he further said: However good our plans may be, we shall fail unless as these plans develop we increasingly associate with them the people in the Colonial territories … That again, I think, is a point which is somewhat apt to be overlooked in our haste to get on with various schemes.

If I may, I would refer for a moment, before passing to those points, to what the noble Viscount has just said about a scheme which would benefit several Colonies at the same time. He quoted the West Indies as an excellent area for that experiment. Just as roads and railways and ports are urgently needed in Africa, a counterpart to that is the urgent need in the Caribbean of a British shipping service. No greater contribution could be made to strengthening our position and our reputation in the West Indies than urgent and early consideration of such a service. Apart from federation, the whole economic development of the West Indies depends largely on the institution of services which are at present almost non-existent, and the field appears likely to be taken by the shipping services of foreign Powers. However friendly these Powers may be at the moment or are likely to be in the future, I should have thought the lesson in the last war should be remembered, if only for our own interests. In the last war the Royal Navy said that but for the British Mercantile Marine we should have lost the war.

It is obvious, I suppose, though we should always keep it before our eyes, that ultimately these schemes must be self-supporting, by which is meant that new wealth must be created in the Colonies, so that in the future they may be in a position to support the schemes. I gathered from the noble Viscount who moved this Second Reading that that future might be earlier than we wish. I think it is generally realised to-day that all these schemes require a proper economic basis which will support the aspirations for wider educational facilities and greater social services, and that unless political development is to be a mere sham the economic foundation must be soundly laid. The food and health of the people are bound up with the possibilities of real advance. The people must be qualified not only to talk the political jargon of the day but also to take the lead and manage their own agriculture, veterinary, medical and other services, and the business of their own countries. As the noble Viscount indicated, it is for such purposes that much of our funds should be spent, in trying to educate and bringing these people on to that position.

The dilemma in which we find ourselves to-day, however, is that we have encouraged roseate visions of independence without regard to the limits of speed which must at all times qualify educational, social and economic progress, which are to-day still further restricted by shortages of trained personnel and materials. In our anxious effort to produce these development plans we have had to produce them with European officers, with the result that a feeling of detachment towards them has been engendered in the people of these countries, who think of them as if they are not their schemes but ours. That is a serious tendency, because unless and until the people of the Colonies regard them as their very own these schemes will not reflect their purpose and cannot be successful.

The problem of bringing these people on is intractable, or close to being so, at the moment, because of the emphasis that has been placed on speed, and be-cause we are dealing not with one problem but with the mass of interlocked problems involved in the task of making our dependent peoples jump the centuries which it took for ourselves to reach our present position. If speed is to be the essence of this development, then, unless a certain measure of authoritarian method is permitted, I say that the task is impossible; and we may as well admit it. before failure ends in disaster. But if speed is not to be the overriding consideration, if wisdom and common sense are to be allowed to control enthusiasm, and if we are determined not to abdicate entirely our position of senior partner and controlling trustee, then the difficult task assumes manageabls proportions. Even so, we are in the difficult position of encouraging independence while still fulfilling the rôle of tutelary Power. We have so much still to teach the people of the Colonies. Most of their vocal leaders speak of democracy without appreciating its practice. They think of it as a means to power, whereas it should be looked on as a means to opportunity. The chief danger is that there may be too much high thinking and loose talking about political independence, before the economic foundations had been properly laid. After all, the roof is not the first consideration, even in a political house. Anyone who has had practical experience of administration in the Colonial Empire knows how conservative ignorance is in agriculture, food, hygiene and all matters which affect the daily life of the people.

I have one final brief remark to make: that is about the worship which seems now to be accorded to the economist— I do not refer to the paper so much as to the persons so named. It has become customary for some to regard the economist as a kind of witch doctor, to whom one appeals for a ritual blessing for every scheme and plan which may be set afoot. We have been encouraged to have an exaggerated belief in the economist's power to regulate the human societies in which we live and to mould their own affairs and their environment. I suggest that there has been a serious exaggeration of his power to affect all these vast changes in the whole of the social system of other peoples, or even of our own people, in the brief time which we have been encouraged to envisage. There has been, too, an almost pathological emphasis placed on the size of projects. When this Bill was being considered in another place the other day, we heard demands that far bigger sums of money should be spent. It would be very difficult to spend usefully these vast sums of money, and it does not follow that because the task we set ourselves is a big one we are any the more able to carry it out.

When people say, "Develop Africa"— or whatever it may be—what does that mean? It means disintegrating the whole social system of the country with which we are dealing, and that is an extremely precarious thing to do, unless we put something in its place. We cannot disintegrate a society and put something in its place at speed. It has to be done slowly, with infinite thought and tact, and by the method of trial and error which is necessitated by the changing circumstances of the day. These people have been divorced from the whole economic system which is the one we know in Western economy to-day. It is true that they are possessed of a sort of psychological discontent; that they wish to have, in a vague way, all the benefits which have come to Western society. But should we not carefully educate them to understand that that means a change in the whole of their system of life? After all, what is meant by "welfare of the Colonial people?" Whose is the valuation of welfare—ours or theirs? I do not think there arc many of the Colonial peoples who realise how fundamental is the difference between our points of view. They have lived in a society in which they were secure in the dictates of the past. It is true that part of that security was given to them by the protection of the British Government, or whichever of the tutelary metropolitan Powers it happened to be concerned. Whatever may be the future, with the present thought of the world before these Colonies, that cannot be. No longer can they hope to repose under the security of the British Empire in that sense, because this idea of thought and progress has said that they are to move rapidly towards self-government.

I suggest that serious steps should be taken, partly to slow up the pace of the disintegration which must accompany re-building and partly to educate these people into appreciating what it is that they are demanding, and what responsibilities come from demanding to be a member of the Western economic system, which is, in effect, what is happening. In relation to this Bill, and to similar Bills, I also suggest that our major task in Africa, or wherever it may be, is not to bribe backward people by means of offers of material benefits. It is surely to convince them that, in the future of this world, neither sovereign Powers nor Colonies can stand alone; that there is a harmonisation of our mutual interests in which we both need each other; that the best of futures for them would lie in partnership with us; and that, just as we need them, so they need us. In conclusion, I do urge that it is not possible to bulldoze a people into progress. Just as you cause soil erosion if you proceed too rapidly with bulldozing the bush, so if you try to bulldoze a people and destroy their customs and social habits you cause moral erosion. I suggest that the money to be spent should be spent with the objects which I have mentioned clearly and firmly in view.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to speak for a few minutes on the human side of this problem. I want to pay tribute, first of all, to the line of Colonial Secretaries—and the present First Lord is one of them—who have made a great contribution to the enlightened administration of our Colonial Empire, and especially for their making the people at home realise that it is a trusteeship that the British people have undertaken, and not mere domination of the Colonial people. I wish to support this Second Reading; but when the First Lord tells us that £140,000,000 is to be spent in the course of ten years, I should like to emphasise that there should be stricter accountancy in the spending of that money. I observe that Mr. Vernon Bartlett, a journalist of repute, had a series of articles in the News Chronicle in which he mentioned that the Colonial Office had awarded 200 scholarships to West Africans to come over here to study law and political economy, and that only one scholarship had been awarded for the study of agriculture in this country. Soil erosion has been mentioned more than once in the debates on the Colonies, and I should have thought that the Colonial Office would pay more attention to agriculture instead of trying to rear a horde of briefless barristers. Those of your Lordships who served in the Army would say that the biggest nuisance was the barrack-room lawyer. I suggest that more of the money should be spent in trying to turn some of these people into farmers.

I should also like to say, in no controversial spirit, that I trust there will be a quick settlement as to where the responsibility lies for the development of the Kongwa area—the nuts area—of which great play has been made in previous debates. I suggest that it should not be the responsibility of the Ministry of Food. That Ministry should exist to bring home the bacon from Denmark and perhaps some beef from the Argentine— but that is by the way. I trust that we shall have a pronouncement from His Majesty's Government that schemes like the Kongwa scheme will be vested in the Colonial Office. I should be more content if Lord Reith had something to do with it in his new department. With regard to the Kongwa area, I am sorry that the noble Viscount. Lord Swinton, mentioned in our last debate that we had wasted a great deal of money. In passing, he said that every gallon of water brought for drinking in the Kongwa area cost 6½d. Water is cheap at any price if you are almost dying from thirst. The reason I am speaking of this matter is because I have friends in that area. One is a Danish Bishop, who possessed a "Tin Lizzie" and went every day to bring water to his own community, no matter whether they were Christians or Moslems; and that water was cheap, even though it cost 2s. a gallon. I wish to pay tribute to the missionaries in that area. That is the line which I wish to emphasise.

It has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, not merely that we have to emphasise economy, but that these people are human entities. This Bishop wrote and said that the wages of the people in his community were paid on a Saturday, and that the wet canteen was open on that day. The result was that many of his congregation were unfit to take their part in worship on Sunday. I suggest that that is a serious point. I would rather they were paid their wages on a Sunday afternoon when the canteen is closed, and then there would be little of the absenteeism which takes place when the men are soaked in bad beer. I put the emphasis on the word "bad," because I think your Lordships will agree with me that some beer is not bad.

I wish now to turn to another field which has been mentioned, and that is the West Indies. I have friends in every one of those islands, and I am not going to apologise for them because they are called missionaries. More and more we are realising that these men, for an almost starvation salary of £250 a year, have a most difficult task, especially in trying to bring hope, comfort and a real foundation of belief to the coloured population. Coloured people form 95 per cent. of their congregations and arc in a very poor state. I, for one, admired the courage of the late Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Arthur Creech Jones, when he appointed a member of your Lordships' House as Governor of the Leeward Islands. I know from the letters I have received that he became a hero, even to his kitchen maid. If any of your Lordships has a valet in these days, I am sure he is a hero to his valet. The finest epitaph given to that Governor of the Leeward Islands was given to him spontaneously by the children, because they loved him. I for one, rejoiced when he "put the cat in the dovecotes" of Downing Street by doing some unorthodox things.

We are going to spend a great deal of money. I wish to bring to the notice of the Colonial Office—because I cannot expect a reply from the First Lord this afternoon—that the worst blizzard in living memory has taken place in Antigua. Very few of the houses are left standing, and schools have been destroyed. Some of the churches have also been destroyed, and the coloured people, with their slender means, have no chance of re-building. I ask the Colonial Office to make a grant of £4,000 in materials, which is better than money. That sum, spent now in rebuilding schools, which these people, with proper supervision, will build for themselves, will be put to good use. The schools will be used not only on six days a week, but also on the seventh, for the worship of God and for the singing of calypso tunes—for which they can be excused. What I want in the West Indies is a fellowship which transcends the colour bar. I remember a cricket match in Trinidad. The manager of the firm, the son of a missionary, was batting against a tiny little fellow—5 ft. 2 ins., I think he was—who "spoofed" him out. That was Rhamadin, and the manager said: "That fellow must come to England." I wish we could have him at Brisbane on Friday. He was one of the most honoured guests of this country only a few months ago. I simply mention that to show that human relationship can do a great deal towards building a better and proper understanding.

So far as I understand it, Parliament has given home rule to Jamaica. The trouble with Jamaica is that they have not got over their growing pains and, as one of the principal Ministers in the Jamaican Government said the other day, it is not money they require. They require more than money. They need to build on a surer foundation than money.

I intervened in this debate although I have never been to Africa or the West Indies, but ever since I was a boy I have been soaked in the subject by listening to people coming from those places. This great country of outs has received an equally great trusteeship, and we need not apologise for what we have done in the past. Wherever the lectures may come from, whether from the United Nations or even from the Americans, we have the "know-how" by tradition and honourable service, and by the splendid army of civil servants we have sent to the Colonies—of whom the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, is not one of the least. I say that most sincerely, and I have no reason to apologise one scrap for it, though I regret that he should be sitting where he is sitting now. I do not like the company he keeps. I am sorry I have been tempted from the paths of strict debating rectitude. I rose simply to ask for your Lordships' indulgence to speak for a few minutes in welcoming this Bill. This money must not be spent as if it were manna from heaven, and there must be stricter accountability to Parliament. With those few remarks, I support the Second Reading of this Bill.

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, I remember all too bitterly my early days as Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office nearly thirty years ago, and the bitter experience of the grant-in-aid Colonies and Dependencies. In fact, I was early warned that the one hope for any of our Dependencies was not to get under Treasury control, because the Treasury maxim, once the grant-in-aid had to be given to keep that Colony going, was always reminiscent of that most strange and baffling Parable of the Talents in the New Testament, which ends with these words: For unto every one that hath shall be given. A prosperous Colony like Uganda had money thrown at it, but if it was Somali-land or Nyasaland it was a case of but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. That was the Treasury attitude, particularly when it was on the question of the really growing services which would enable the Dependency to pay. They would never cut down on the police, or the administration or, above all, the tax collectors, but they slaughtered the agricultural departments, absolutely destroyed the forestry departments, and did the least they could for communications.

That was the whole tradition of the British Treasury in relation to Colonies when I was first associated with Colonial administration, and of course it was a hopeless position. The gradual getting over that awful tradition has been a long, slow process, culminating in the series of Acts of which this is an amending Bill to-day, and I welcome it generally. I should, however, have liked to hear from the noble Viscount the First Lord of the Admiralty that the expenditure under the Bill, and the control of the agencies working under the Bill, were to be kept within the framework of the Colonial Governments and the Colonial Office. I am quite frankly horrified, the more I hear of the whole story of the famous groundnuts. The Director of Agriculture, who knew the country, and the people there were completely ignored. The great tradition of Sir Donald Cameron (who after-wards went on to Nigeria) in safeguarding native land was ruthlessly swept away, and vast areas which had been declared to be native land were taken over by the Central Government. The ordinary company, the ordinary settler, was excluded. This belief that the Central Government can do no wrong is dictatorship. I think the rules as to when you can alienate native land to the State ought to be just as carefully and just as amply safeguarded in carrying out these schemes as if they had been undertaken by a company or private enterprise. It is a terrible story, on that side alone. People with practically no experience, and most of them with none at all, were "carted out" to Africa, and it really is a shocking story.

After all, look at what has been successful in Colonial development. When I was a boy there was no cocoa growing in the Gold Coast, yet to-day the Gold Coast is the largest exporter of cocoa of any country in the world. When I was a boy the first few bales of cotton were grown in Uganda, and that industry has grown up gradually. There is a great danger, particularly in Africa and even in the West Indies, of wishing to grow too large too quickly. When you have proved your land, your climatic conditions, the adaptability of your people and their willingness and ability to co-operate in making the scheme a success, then you can expand at accelerating rates. But some of the schemes under the Colonial Development Corporation make me apprehensive that they want to grow too large too quickly. It is much better to prove your case, because you have to prove it not merely to us, to Parliament, but you have to prove it to the local in-habitants if you are to get their full co-operation. Therefore I say that I dread these outside bodies. My hope is that the Overseas Food Corporation may be wound up lock, stock and barrel, at the earliest possible moment, and that we may have the proper operation of this Bill that we are considering this after-noon in co-operation with, and through the agency of, the Colonial Services.

I have the highest regard for our Colonial Services, not merely for the Governors, and Colonial Secretaries, and people of that sort, but for the increasing efficiency and knowledge of our other services, such as the agricultural service, the forestry service, and the geological service, which have been built up in recent years. In their individual Colonies, or in East Africa or West Africa as a whole, they now form a team of experienced men who are far better advisers than any number of people brought in from outside on a Cook's tour to tell you how to do this, that and the other, and, above all, who are not led up the garden path, as Mr. Strachey was, in what he was told about the land in the Southern part of Tanganyika. We know that these people are now experienced responsible people, and in most of the Colonial Governments there is a good teamwork between the administrator and the technical heads of his departments, and they see the matter in proportion. It is necessary in all these cases that the Director of Education should be told: "We want so many of such-and-such a standard, and in five or six years' time we shall want so many people with this speciality." Can you do that in your schools? If not where are we going to get them? I entirely agree with those who say that one of the troubles to-day is that by far the largest number of Africans who come for a university education in this country obtain a legal qualification. The result is that those who are very good no doubt earn large incomes as barristers, but those who fall by the wayside drift into journalism as briefless barristers, while these countries continue to be hungry for engineers and technicians of every kind. The bias in Colonial education should undoubtedly be in that direction.

One outstanding example has been mentioned this afternoon of where these schemes have to consider not only one Colony but the relations of Colonies with one another. In the West Indies the political problem and the economic problem as a whole is the problem of shipping. It is no use our developing these places if there are not the ships to take the stuff away. If there is not intercommunication there cannot be co-operation and unity. The tragedy to-day is that we are dependent on dollar-standard American ship-ping, or on the French or the Dutch. There is practically no British shipping line operating in the inter-island traffic in the West Indies. That is a problem to which only the Colonial Office and Minis-try of Transport in this country can find a solution. By far the biggest problem of the West Indies is the problem of sea communication.

Another thing of which I am convinced is that when it comes to introducing new cultures and new developments in native territories, particularly in Africa, it is necessary to provide object lessons. When you provide those object lessons you want to keep down the European staff and the European control to the minimum. I do not think I have ever been more struck by the success of an experiment than I was this year in Southern Rhodesia. I came to a place where there was one white agricultural officer—admittedly a man with a university training. He was the only white man in the place. There was a pleasant perennial stream coming down the mountain-side and flowing over a flat piece of land across the road, and the native agricultural authorities of Southern Rhodesia said: "Up and down this road thousands of natives come, going back-wards and forwards. It is the main road of communication." They have used that stream to develop a hundred-acre perennial irrigation model scheme. Each of the native holders—and they were drawn from different places; they were men who had shown that they knew something about agriculture—had two acres. It was perennial water and in the tropics, and provided that the men managed their lands and went in for effective rotation of crops, there was a continual production of wealth.

The rule was that each man had to grow and harvest on every yard of his plot two crops a year. One must be leguminous; the other could be anything else. The scheme was a brilliant success, and everybody is asking for an extension of this idea. The natives are asking be-cause they have seen its success, and from the very first an ever-increasing responsibility was thrown on to the emergent bodies. That was one of the most successful experiments in intensive production. When I was given the figure of what the out-turn of that hundred acres was per annum, it was simply staggering. Everyone said: "The great thing is that it is a small scheme; and it will grow, and others like it will grow elsewhere." It is a great mistake to think that you will develop Africa and the native in Africa if you start too large. That is all-important.

Once you have the impetus, and the confidence of the people and their understanding that they can do it, there is no race in the world so ready to co-operate and so good to work with as the African Negro. I have the greatest affection and regard for many individuals among them whom I have known for many years. If you try to impose something from outside, without teaching them in that way that they can do the work, they get the idea "We are the under-dog and you are the boss," and it is not the same thing. It is essential to get their co-operation. Therefore I implore the Colonial Secretary and everybody connected with this scheme: Do not think, because you can show and trumpet to the world "We have spent so many thousands of pounds here, and so many thousands of pounds there," that that is achievement. The real achievement can be measured only in terms of human progress, and in the output of human food and raw materials in a still vastly under-developed Continent and in the islands throughout the seven seas. I bless this Bill, but I do hope that these principles—and I re-echo a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said—will guide those who will be responsible for administering this Measure when it comes into force.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a most interesting debate, and none of the speeches has been more interesting than that which has just been delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Harlech. So far as this Bill is concerned, there is so much common agreement between us that I am not going to take up much of your Lordships' time, particularly in view of the important debate which is to follow. I shall, of course, draw the attention of my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary to the main points, which have mostly been constructive, and I am sure that he will give all the attention he can to those points. There are, however, one or two matters with which I should like to deal. First, there was a reference by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, to money from this Fund being devoted to grants-in-aid. None of it can be devoted to grants-in-aid. It must be used solely for the purposes which are laid down in the Act. Then the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, referred to the question of assistance being given not to individual Colonies but to groups of Colonies. As both noble Lords will know, there was a central fund. Almost all the research and the surveys were paid for out of that central fund and the research, in particular, which was carried out benefited quite a number of the Colonies in the West Indies, in West Africa and in East Africa.

I entirely agree with what has been said about training and education. I would infinitely prefer more technicians and fewer lawyers, not only in Africa but elsewhere. But we cannot help ourselves, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, had no end of difficulty, particularly when he was in Nigeria, in selecting the subjects that students coming to this country for education should take up. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. The noble Lord, Lord Calverley, asked that the Colonial Office should make a grant of £4,000 to assist the Island of Antigua.


In addition to what you have done.


Of course, His Majesty's Government have already given £50,000 in connection with this matter.


I know. I am very grateful.


I have no doubt that the door is not closed to any appeal which might be made. Again may I say that, if I had to deal with all the points which have been raised, particularly in regard to the ground-nuts scheme, I am afraid I should take up so much time that the next important matter could not be debated to-day? All I can say is that I thank your Lordships very much for the reception which you have given to this Bill. I take note of all the remarks which have been made in connection with it and I will draw the attention of the Colonial Secretary to those points with which I have not dealt.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.