§ 2.41 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order), on the Motion moved by Lord Ogmore on Wednesday last, That an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty for Papers relating to the proposals for Central African Federation.
§ LORD AMMON
My Lords, since the adjournment of this debate a good deal has happened with regard to the subject now under discussion and, in the words of The Times, we meet under the shadow of opposition in Southern Rhodesia to the draft which we are now discussing. In addition to that, there appeared in last Friday's issue of The times a powerful and striking letter from Professor Frankel. That, I think, indicates the 727 growing opposition to the draft as it is now presented. I hasten to say that, so far as I can measure both the discussion which has taken place in your Lordships' House and outside criticism, there is no opposition to some sort of understanding, federation, or whatever it might be, of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland; but this particular draft does not fit the bill. From that point of view, I think I might ask whether, in view of these criticisms, the Government would be prepared to take the scheme back again and reconsider the position.
Opinion grows against the scheme, not only among the Africans but also among Europeans. It is right to ask why, because there is much in the draft which at first sight should commend itself. From the African point of view, I imagine that the objection is more intuitive than anything else, but often intuition on matters concerning human relations is a far better guide than mere dogmatic statements, such as that you must have this Bill, or that you ought to have it. In my view, it is better to take note of those people who will be most intimately concerned, and whose opinions are no doubt moved by past history and by events which they see happening very close to them. May it be that the opposition was summed up, in a way unintentionally, by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when he said that this was meant to preserve the British way of life in Africa? May it not be that, after all, the Africans are not so concerned as are the whites about preserving the British way of life; that they may see in it an insuperable barrier to their further development and to their progress as a people? In that connection, one cannot help noticing that the timing of the publication of a draft of this sort has been very bad. The Africans cannot fail to observe what is happening in South Africa with regard to the segregation of the races. The Bamangwato trouble is still fresh in their minds, and these things are being literally drummed through Africa: the bush telephone beats, in rapidity and in intimacy, anything that we have at our disposal in Western civilisation.
While none disputes the necessity of a closer connection, and the advantages that may be derived from it, and while none will depreciate the great benefit that has 728 undoubtedly accrued to the African people, both culturally and in many other ways, through their association with white people, nevertheless, there are other matters which give them grave cause for doubt. To a certain extent I have been forestalled by the right reverend Prelates the Lord Bishop of Chichester and the Lord Bishop of Coventry in drawing attention to the resolutions passed by the British Council of Churches and the various missionary societies. I suggest that these resolutions cannot be lightly swept aside. After all, the members of these associations are more in touch with native life than many who hold Government positions, and the Conference held at Belfast recently represented the voice of all the Protestant Churches in this country. Anybody who has had any contact with missionaries on the field knows well how intimate is their contact with the people whom they serve.
In addition, there has appeared in The Times of Friday last the letter from Professor Frankel, who is an authority who cannot be ignored or lightly swept aside. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote a paragraph from the letter. It refers to Chapter V, which is the crucial chapter of the draft. In speaking of the African position, the writer says:It is difficult to see how in a multi-racial society, in parts of which differentiation is to-day the key-note of much political and economic action, and of deeply ingrained habit-patterns of thought, the board is to succeed in ensuring that any federal legislation will not 'differentiate either in terms or in operation between Europeans and Africans to the disadvantage of the latter'.That is a point of view which cannot be ignored. It should be taken careful note of. It is no good our hiding our heads in the ground and saying, in effect, "We have come to this conclusion and you must take it or leave it," for the matters at issue are too grave and serious. What is at issue is the living together of two separate races of people; the harmonising of the different ways of life of the white and the coloured people; and whether or not in the distant future (I do not think it is too much to say this) the final disruption of the British Empire may be involved. After all, Africa is the last remnant we have of the old British Empire, and what is going to happen in the future largely depends upon our relationships. Africa is the last link between this country and the British 729 Empire. Parliament has an opportunity to forge between two races a spiritual and economic partnership, fraught with good or evil for all time. If it is to be the former it must be a real partnership of equal human dignity, co-operating for the benefit of mankind, and not that of overlord and hewers of wood and drawers of water.
While everything possible seems to have been inserted in the draft to maintain the existing status and the existing rights of the coloured people, there is no provision whatever for their future freedom of development: and it is that, more than anything else, about which the African is naturally concerned. These conditions cannot be achieved under the draft scheme; and with lack of adequate African representation in the Legislative Assembly, it would be almost impossible for them to get anything whereby they could improve their position.
That is all I have to say, except that I would venture to call your Lordships' attention to this fact. If it were possible for us to look out of the window across the road, we should see in course of erection but a few yards from this House a monument on which will be inscribed a tribute to one of the finest acts the British Parliament ever did. I refer to the memorial to those men who worked and strove for the emancipation of the slaves. It is a strange irony that we should be considering at this moment something that very nearly approaches handing them back and making it possible for something similar to happen in the not very distant future. It is because of that danger—not that I think there has been, or is any intention or desire in that direction on the part of those chiefly concerned (at least. I hope not) but there is the danger—that we cannot afford to allow any draft to go through which lends any countenance to that suspicion, and which may do something to drive a wedge between these people who have been and are loyal supporters of the British Crown and the British people. They are growing up and, as they grow up, so they have that right to demand, as others have demanded, that they shall have the liberty to grow and develop and express their personality. For these reasons, I hope that the Government, in the, light of the increasing and cumulative opposition to this scheme, will think again.
§ 2.52 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in. venturing to address your Lordships on, this subject, I should first like to refer to the points which have been made by the noble Lord who has just sat down. He says that opinion is growing against this idea of federation as expressed in the scheme before your Lordships' House. That view appears to be based merely upon the fact that more publicity is being given to the opposition, but whether opinion is growing or not is a matter upon which we must differ. I personally should suggest that it is not In the course of the remarks which I propose to make I shall, with your Lordships' permission, deal with the other points which the noble Lord made, for I think he laid undue stress, as I shall suggest later, upon what is happening in South Africa. In regard to the resolutions passed by the Council' of Churches, too, I shall have a few respectful remarks to make later.
Throughout the noble Lord's speech there ran the idea that the settlers in the Rhodesias are not to be trusted. If you start any Constitution, or any scheme_ with the idea that the most important partners in it are people not to be trusted_ obviously it can lead you only to one conclusion—and I shall have more to say about that later. If I may say so with respect, even so high an authority as Professor Frankel seems to suggest that it is necessary to have, outside the ordinary machine of government, an organisation independent of that machine, charged with the duty of seeing that the Government does its proper duty. To my mind, it is the fantastic product of a theorist, if I may say so with great respect. I have been concerned throughout my life with practical administration, and I know that, whatever theories may be held, it is necessary for government, for practical administration, to be carried on. I should like briefly before saying the things which I wish to say on my own account, to refer to one or two of the things which were said in the debate on the first day, because I feel that I cannot pass them by without comment.
To begin with, I feel rather disappointed in the noble Lord who moved this Motion because, with his knowledge of the facts of the situation and with his knowledge of the circumstances of Colonial administration, I had expected that he would be a supporter, and an 731 open supporter, of the present scheme. It is true that he left us in some doubt about his actual views but, if I may refer to the report of his speech in Hansard, he said that he did not propose to deal with the details of the scheme because he thought that the most important thing was the general attitude towards federation. In that, I would venture to agree with him; the actual details of this scheme are relatively unimportant compared with the emotions and the sentiments which must govern the possibility of making it a success. In the OFFICIAL REPORT (Vol. 177, Col. 596) the noble Lord says that the attitude of the African "is based upon fear." He then goes on to detail what kind of fear he is referring to. I agree that the attitude of the bulk of the Africans is based upon fear, a fear which they have of the unknown. But I suggest that that is not the real thing which is causing opposition to-day: the real cause of the opposition is the use which is being made of the fear of those multitudes by a certain small number of people who are able to appeal to their racial emotions and get behind them the force of that fear. I say that they are exploiting that, but I shall have a little more to say about that later.
In the course of his remarks, the noble Lord made a very romantic reference to the Barotse Chief who was afraid that the touch with the Throne in England would be diminished by this kind of thing. In the course of this somewhat romantic irrelevance, if I may say so, the noble Lord said that this particular Chief to whom he had talked in London had in his boyhood had the pleasure of speaking with Livingstone. In passing, I should like to say that the age of that Chief is estimated to be about sixty, and Livingstone died eighty years ago, so that, historically, there seems to be a certain difficulty in that part of the story. In any case, the reference to the fear that the "shield of protection" (to use the noble Lord's words) of the British Crown would be diminished is not, I suggest, a valid objection. Throughout my career in the Colonies, and throughout the Empire, one can hardly help being struck by the deep and abiding loyalty to the person of the Monarch. That does not mean that there may not be different views held from time to time about the British Government. In the native mind the two things 732 are regarded separately, and it is, I suggest, stretching matters considerably to bring the idea of diminution of the loyalty and respect for the Monarch into any action of this kind in relation to the Constitution. I still look forward, and with some confidence, to Lord Ogmore's saying openly at the end of this debate that he is a supporter of these proposals. That would not in any way surprise me, in view of what the noble Lord has said about these proposals in the past.
I should now like to make one reference to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, especially as I am speaking as a Liberal—a National Liberal. I heard with amazement what he said, and I doubted the evidence of my own ears. I leave you with the idea about the noble Lord's phantom army and about the mythical millions he represents. But when, with reference to the settlers (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, Col. 602), he speaks ofexploitation by what are called the white settlers, who in the past have not scrupled, and in the future will continue not to scruple, to turn things to their own advantage in a country where civilisation is only slowly coming to political adolescence,I can say only that I deeply regret that any such slander should have been uttered in this House upon the settlers in Southern or Northern Rhodesia.
Would the noble Lord allow me just for a moment to explain? I think there is some mistake. Obviously, I did not mean for a moment that all the white settlers exploited the natives. It is known to your Lordships' House that certain unfortunate and regrettable incidents have occurred in the past. African natives fear that something of the same sort will happen again. I went out of my way to praise the excellent work done by the white settlers in general, and to say that I denounced them in generality is quite inaccurate. I think there is some mistake.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I do not wish to lay too much stress upon what the noble Lord said, but I could hear, and his words are recorded in Hansard. The noble Lord was good enough to pay a handsome tribute to the Government servants, but he made no reference to any settlers who deserve to share in that tribute. Naturally. I should accept any praise which he accords to the Colonial Service as highly merited, but I think 733 it a little odd that he should have found it necessary to refer to these men in this kind of way. After all, my Lords, who at this moment are the settlers in the Rhodesias? Are they not just the same sort of men who made the reputation of the British Empire; who went to the ends of the earth and carried the idea of personal liberty which Liberals are supposed to value, and who carried the idea that the English man stood for justice and all of those qualities? It is just that same sort of man whom we are now discussing.
My Lords, if I may pass on to the remarks made by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, he said (and reiterated, I think, in reply to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, when he was questioned as to what he was representing) that he felt he had the right or duty to represent African opinion in this House. He said that he based what he said on reports from missionaries and Africans to whom he had spoken. My Lords, with my experience I should be the last person to deny the immense debt which is owed by the Colonial world to the work of the Christian Churches; but I should like also to add that one of the most harmful people who can be met with in any Colony is a missionary who decides to meddle in local politics; it is not his business, and he should keep away from it.
In relation to African opinion, which is very relevant to our debate, may I say what, as I see it, that really is? As one noble Lord pointed out during the debate on the last occasion, in a generic sense there is really no such thing. African opinion is largely what the bulk of the people are told by a few politically minded and educated men, men who have decided to use their influence as the educational leaders of those people, to use that vague fear of the African of things he does not know or understand, and to guide it into opposition, say, to this proposal, or into opposition to any proposal which may suit the aims of those few. I suggest that to-day in Central Africa African opinion on this scheme represents largely the ambition of a few men. These men aim to use racial ambition in order to climb to power and to African domination of that part of the world. At the moment, I am not condemning; I am merely trying to record 734 what, as I see it, is happening in that area of the world. I suggest that if we use the phrase "African opinion" we should endeavour to make clear what we mean by it.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that Labour and Liberal opinion and opinion in the Church of England took the same view, on broad lines. I suggest that any fair-minded listener, hearing the speeches in the debate on the last occasion, could hardly appreciate what was the Socialist Party's point of view because the speakers varied so much among themselves; and the Liberal view was so manifestly contrary to that of the noble Lord who opened the debate. If I may at this moment prove that point, I should like to give a quotation from something which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said about the settlers some eleven months ago. Then he said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 173, Col. 203):I do not know why, but for some reason anyone in Eastern or Central. Africa who happens to have European blood in his veins seems constantly to be the object not only of criticism but of slander in this country.He then goes on to relate things which he himself had seen, and he concluded:I thought it a great tribute to the people who had gone out there that they had spent so much thought, time and money on helping their African fellow citizens. To hear these same people castigated by persons who have never been nearer Africa than Southend really makes one feel upset.Those are Lord Ogmore's words, and I must say that I wholeheartedly and entirely agree with him. I assume that he still holds those views, and that is why he felt some difficulty in taking a definite stand on this question.
My Lords, there are so many points which one would like to take up, but I feel that I can take up only one or two before I go on to say what I wanted to say on my own account. The urbanity with which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, urged us, when we are face to face with a position which manifestly ought to be met, to suspend judgment and to wait a little longer, involves just that kind of paralysis which, I suggest, in the face of a demand for leadership, will condemn Central Africa to a very unhappy future. The noble Earl referred to Mr. Churchill as ultimately having been very statesmanlike in his attitude over the India Act, but seemed unable to draw the obvious conclusion that here was an Opportunity 735 for the display of similar statesmanship, if that be the right name for it, by the Opposition Front Bench. As a Liberal, I strongly object to monopolies, and why the Socialist Opposition should insist upon leaving to Mr. Churchill a monopoly of statesmanship, I do not know. I think it would to the benefit of this country if that monopoly were broken by the display of some statesmanship over this question.
The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, made a number of criticisms, all of which, ultimately, were based on this distrust of the settler. I need not go into that in detail, but I feel that I must, in view of the position I used to occupy, enter a protest against the remarks he made and which are recorded in Hansard. The noble Earl said (Col. 646):Look around the world and you will find that there are a good many countries where leaders, very great leaders, with a world reputation, have spent years in British prisons. That is so in most Colonial countries. The politically active men are the ones who have been in prison.I should like to repudiate as emphatically as I can any suggestion that our Colonies are at the present moment being managed unofficially by a number of ex-gaolbirds. The noble Earl's statement has no relation to the truth or to the facts. One or two people may have been at one time or another interned, but that sort of statement, I suggest, leaves a very wrong impression of the men who are in charge of those unofficial bodies.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
The noble Lord will not deny, I take it, that that is so in the case of the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast.
§ LORD MILVERTON
Yes, I quite agree. But I think the noble Earl, like many Africans to-day, is obsessed with a Gold Coast complex. But there are many territories in the British Empire other than the Gold Coast, and that remark does not apply to them.
§ LORD WINSTER
Will the noble Lord forgive my interrupting for one moment? Would he not agree with me that it is very derogatory to apply the term "gaolbird" to a man who has been in prison only for his political convictions?
§ LORD MILVERTON
If the noble Lord feels that way about it, I can only 736 say that I had no intention of using an offensive expression. I do not quite know what expression one should use—
§ LORD MILVERTON
The noble Lord suggests that we should use the description "political prisoner." But it was not said in any way by the noble Earl that those people had gone to prison solely for their political convictions.
Passing to the proposals before the House, I take it that most noble Lords are agreed upon the virtues of federation at some time or other. It is obvious that the inter-locking interests, the continuous inter-flow of population between the territories and the complementary nature of their physical resources all point to that inevitable end. I gather that, largely for political and social reasons, amalgamation has been rejected in favour of a federation in which each of the three component countries can pursue their common objective of the economic, social and political advancement of the Africans in partnership with the Europeans, in their different way and at a different pace to suit local circumstances. I myself am a wholehearted believer in federation, and so, I understand, are most of your Lordships and most of the European residents of Central Africa, so long as the interests of both Africans and Europeans are adequately safeguarded. And I would lay stress upon the fact that the Europeans there are just as much entitled to have their interests safeguarded as are the Africans. Some of us to-day are so busy in being fair to other people that we have no time, it seems to me, to be fair to our own people. My personal belief is that the safeguards now proposed are full and adequate. That is where some of us part company. It is also where the vocal section of African opinion in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia differs. They say that they do not want federation, and do not believe that any safeguards, short of universal suffrage, could be devised which would give them what they want.
Let us face this position frankly. There are, as I see it, three courses before Central Africa. First, universal suffrage, That is quantitative democracy—or mob rule, if you like to call it that. Whichever name you prefer, in the circumstances of Central Africa, universal 737 suffrage now or in any early future would mean economic, social and political suicide for the European settlers—white Africans, whose home it is just as much as it is the home of the black Africans, and whose energy, experience and ability not only has built up the present economy but is essential to its maintenance and to the hope of the future progress and prosperity for all Africans, white or black. The black Africans have been encouraged by certain sections in England and deluded by their own dreams to think in terms of West Africa. The circumstances, historical, social, political and economic, are so entirely different that no true analogy exists. In West Africa now self-government on a basis of universal suffrage is at worst a premature African gamble. In Central Africa it would be a European sacrifice and betrayal. I think we can reject the likelihood of any British Government behaving in this way or endorsing such a policy.
The second possible course is the forcible maintenance of European domination. I think we can also reject the possibility of any British Government adopting this policy. It would have no supporters here or in Central Africa. The third course is the one desired by Sir Godfrey Huggins and Mr. Welensky—a system of partnership in a multi-racial society wherein all races would co-operate to the full extent of their capacity in developing a country in the best interests of all its inhabitants. They aim at this multi-racial society in which parties would arise, but parties whose differences would be based on policy, not on colour. As Sir Godfrey has said, the problem of race is a human problem, best handled by those who live in the same country, not by prejudiced doctrinaires in London or anywhere else. He claims that the Africans of Southern Rhodesia know and trust their European fellow-citizens and that no sane Rhodesian would advocate a policy of suppression which must ultimately end in disaster, if not for himself for his children.
It has been alleged that the Africans of the two Northern territories fear the native policy of Southern Rhodesia. If that is so, they have been very badly misled, since the record of Southern Rhodesia shows that far more has been done there for real African welfare than in either of the other two territories—or, indeed, in 738 probably any other British Colony. I do not know whether your Lordships are familiar with the booklets issued by the Government of Southern Rhodesia. They deal with what has been done for Africans, what is being done and what they aim to do—in education, health, agriculture, housing and so forth. Anybody reading these booklets impartially could say honestly that there is no need for a special organisation to look after the welfare of the Africans. We can see sketched there the most far-sighted policy which any Government in the Colonial Empire has yet adopted. It is true that vocal African opinion opposes federation, but it is also true that the bulk of Africans have no idea what this is all about. Their views on this, or any other subject, are dictated largely by a conservative fear, a dislike of any change, coloured by the distrust and suspicion of unknown things. For the African there is no such feeling as omn2/8/2007e ignotum pro magnifico—quite the reverse: their "unknown" is peopled by evil spirits.
There has been a deplorable tendency to exaggerate the difficulties of doing what is generally known to be right in Central Africa. I know that it is no use crying over spilt milk, but at least one may regret that no firm lead was given by the British Government a year ago. I suggest that it is the duty of the protecting Power, in such circumstances, to give unequivocal advise, and to say whether or not federation is a good thing or a bad thing, and whether they are satisfied that the interests of their protégés will be adequately safeguarded. In this instance, to the African, silence must imply dissent, or at least doubt. If the Africans as a whole are capable of grasping this issue, and if their decision is the only one that matters, then what becomes of the need to have a Protectorate status there at all? In that case, they are quite competent to manage their own affairs. But in point of fact the bulk of Africans are notoriously unfitted to decide for themselves, any more than, shall we say, the population of this country is fitted to decide on a complex question of financial policy. We all know that they are not, and we all know that: such questions are never referred to them in those terms.
The absence of such a lead has left the field wide open for those who wish to make trouble or to confuse the issue.
739 In passing, may I suggest that there is no necessity to drag South Africa into this question? What is happening in South Africa at the moment, and whether we approve of it or not, does not seem to me to affect the rights and wrongs of this issue of federation. The question is: Is federation on these terms a good thing on its own merits, in the local circumstances of Central Africa? I have been concerned with the introduction of new Constitutions in Fiji, Jamaica and Nigeria, and I never failed to give definite advice to those whose interests were the special concern of the British Government. In Fiji and in Nigeria, particularly, I found leaders of the people who were opposed to any change in a modern direction because they were fearful of the unknown. I succeeded in persuading them that, in their own future interests, they ought to agree to superficially unpalatable, political development in order to fit themselves to take their place in a world which would not, and could not, wait indefinitely for them; and that none but themselves and their own capacity could ultimately decide their destiny, if they were but willing to fit themselves for it.
A heavy responsibility rests upon any one who fans the unreasoning mistrust beween European and African. Many critics of federation, moving clumsily about in worlds not realised, seem to be, no doubt unwittingly, bent on creating an atmosphere in which trust and mutual confidence can hardly be expected to grow. The draft proposals for a Central African Federation represent an honest attempt to reconcile contending views in detail for the sake of greater general principles and an ambitious conception to ensure peace and prosperity in the future. It seems to me a pity that a great opportunity such as this could possibly be lost through a petty craving to express in legal terms an ideal which defies definition and which essentially cannot be defined. We cannot inspire confidence unless we feel it, and that is the damage which is being done to-day by people who suggest a lack of confidence. I think that the men in Central Africa, in Northern and in Southern Rhodesia in particular, who are backing this idea of federation are men who are very suitable legatees of our trusts and respon- 740 sibilities in those territories. They are men whose idea of those responsibilities is strengthened by the fact that they have made the country their home. I implore noble Lords on the Opposition Benches to think again before they oppose what may be the last chance of peace in Central Africa.
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord in order to secure clarification? He has talked very understandingly about the necessity of the Government making up their mind and giving advice but are we to understand that the noble Lord thinks that the Government here should impose a scheme against the solid will of the Africans?
§ LORD MILVERTON
My answer to that question is that after suitable and simple explanation in the manner which was suggested last week by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Coventry, has been given to the bulk of Africans. and after every effort has been made in the brief period between now and the autumn to see to it that the truth of what is being attempted and the safeguards involved are put to them, it is, in my opinion, the duty of the British Government to show that leadership which is expected of a Government and to put to the Africans the best way. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that time is a great healer. It is indeed. If these proposals are put through, in spite of a certain amount of opposition from Africans, I am confident that within two or three years they will realise how great an advantage has been done them unawares. I know from my own experience in Nigeria that had I stood aside and given no advice, the people of the North would have opposed what is today praised by everybody as the best hope for the future of Nigeria. Opposition died only when they found that the thing worked—and that is the best way to convince the African to show him that it works and, not only that, but that it works to his advantage.
The spirit of Cecil Rhodes inspires these proposals; and that spirit still waitsTill the vision he foresawSplendid and whole arise,And unimagined Empires drawTo Council 'neath his skies.Those lines were written some time ago. But this is one of the unimagined empires which might spring easily to council if 741 only we can give the Africans united advice that it is a wise thing to do. In conclusion, I would ask your Lordships to remember certain other words that were written. Cecil Rhodes died fifty years ago, and the words were written:Dreamer devout, by vision ledBeyond our guess or reach,The travail of his spirit bredCities in place of speech.So huge the all-mastering thought that drove—So brief the term allowed—Nations not words he linked to proveHis faith before the crowd.If something of that spirit could inspire our words and acts to-day, I think there would be less difficulty in persuading the African of our sincerity and of their own interests. No doubt it is a wise precaution to keep our feet on the ground, but it is surely a mistake to limit our national spirit to purely pedestrian exercise. I unreservedly support the federation proposals, because they seem to me to be workable and to give a fair deal to both European and African—if I may use the phrase, to the white and the black African—and on that basis to hold out hope of a peaceful and prosperous future for Central Africa; a future which can be obtained in no other way, and which, if obtained, will be an example and perhaps an inspiration to the countries lying north and south of her.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
My Lords, I have no wish in this long two-day debate to detain your Lordships unduly, but there is one aspect of this matter which I want especially to stress. First of all, let me indicate, in the fewest possible words, both the good will and the grave anxiety of vast numbers of Free Churchmen in this problem. Earlier in the debate the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Coventry, speaking, as he said, from the angle of the missionary societies, concluded his speech with these words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, Cols. 665–6]:… I feel strongly the objection that we are overriding the Africans. There are problems in this House for mutual consideration and thought, and I suggest that we should not be in too great haste, though the issue may be of great urgency.I am sure that that advice is wise, and hope that the Government will heed it.
It is well over forty-five years since I first entered the House of Commons as the Liberal Member for Rochester, and 742 during the greater part of the intervening period I have been a member of the Methodist Missionary Committee. I can assure your Lordships that we are very much alive to the difficulties of the Government, because we, on our part, are faced with the problems of the multiracial Church. At the request of our Committee two of our secretaries have just paid a visit, of some months' duration, to the Rhodesias, where we have both African and European Methodist ministers. Upon their return they have issued a most helpful and penetrating report to the Committee, running into nearly eight pages of closely printed matter. Without divulging any confidences, I think I might give your Lordships the gist of three short paragraphs, the first two dealing with Northern Rhodesia. The first paragraph says this:There is much that can be done … if the European minister regards himself, not as one who is entrusted with keeping the present organisation going in the certainty that there will be someone sent out to take his place when be is done, but as committed in all his work to such planning as his African colleague may inherit.The second passage, also dealing with Northern Rhodesia, says:We feel that at present the Methodist Church can contribute more in Northern Rhodesia by retaining a definite Church attachment with the Church in Britain.…But they add:We would like to see a greater development of African leadership.…As to Southern Rhodesia, they say:As the Church overseas develops, its administration is undertaken more completely by nationals of the country.I can certainly claim that we are in active and intimate touch with many of the peoples of Central Africa and their problems. The Methodist Church in this country has a very special responsibility towards the Methodist Church in both Southern and Northern Rhodesia, and is naturally watching closely the proposals for bringing the Governments of those two territories, together with Nyasaland. into one Federation.
I very much hope that no antagonism to the Europeans in Africa will be inferred from anything I am about to say, for I feel it is common ground that the African natives owe a great deal to the European settlers; and, for myself, I would add that, if the situation is wisely handled now, they may yet owe a great deal more. But that, I submit, must not 743 close our eyes to the fact that, notwithstanding the provisions for the protection of African interests, the present scheme for the federation of the three territories is revolutionary rather than evolutionary, and is not one that the Northern Rhodesian and Nyasaland Africans will look upon with favour. In fact, they are almost unanimously opposed to federation in existing circumstances, whatever the future may hold. For, while they trust the Colonial Office—as well they may—rightly or wrongly they fear the domination of Southern Rhodesia, which is so much stronger, politically and economically.
Is such opposition to be wondered at when one remembers that, among other invidious things, the Southern Rhodesian franchise is restricted, admittedly for whites as well as for coloured people, to persons with property qualification of at least £250—yes, and with educational qualifications, too, which few Africans at present possess? In my submission, no enactment of federation should be approved that does not carry the full consent of the native peoples themselves. That seems to me to be axiomatic, in view of the findings of the official Committee set up in 1950. In their Report (Cmd. 8233) it is maintained that any form of co-operation or federation should be acceptable to the inhabitants. No such acceptance of this scheme is forthcoming by the Africans. The Times, in a leading article on May 7 last, stated:There is still the intractable problem of African opposition.Now I am sure that the only way forward at the present time is to direct all our energies towards encouraging partnership between the two races who have their permanent home in Central Africa, and then await the future with faith and hope. As Mr. Lyttelton has well said:There is no future in self-government by Africans alone or in self-government by Europeans alone—the solution will lie in partnership.That is profoundly true at the moment, but my plea is that nothing should be done to prejudice or make more difficult the possibility of self-government by Africans themselves in the future on some such lines as the present Governments of India and Pakistan. In the meantime, I feel that any federation, other than a freely accepted partnership, would destroy 744 the basis on which ultimate success would depend. Much more African self-government, both local and provincial, should, in my judgment, be conceded now and with the utmost sympathy and generosity.
Very much as I dislike joining issue with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who leads your Lordships' House with such conspicuous ability and unfailing courtesy, I cannot refrain from referring to his declaration that, in his belief, this scheme represents thelast chance of maintaining the British way of life … in that part of the world.So far from allaying our anxiety, that declaration has rather added to our disquiet. In that connection I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to read a short extract from an article on the leader page of the Methodist Recorder of the 26th ultimo. I would remind your Lordships that that paper has the largest circulation of any Protestant religious weekly in this country. This is what it said:Every conceivable safeguard of the African's status and rights has been inserted in the draft and yet the Africans, all but unanimously as it seems, dislike it. Why? Perhaps because everything is guaranteed to the African except, to him, the most important thing of all—a progressive future, the advancement of his status within the federation. His existing rights are scrupulously preserved; but so also, according to Lord Salisbury, is 'the British way of life in that part of the world'—and this, the African may feel, is a quite unnecessary bar on his own rightful development. It might be as well if the Government looked at the scheme again in this light and in the light of the avowed motive of native trusteeship.I am sure that that is another piece of sound advice. This is not a matter which can be hurried. I would commend to the noble Marquess the words of the prophet Isaiah:He that believeth shall not make haste.Let us, however, face the facts and be quite frank about it. Two hundred thousand Europeans in Central Africa seek to safeguard their power and wealth. On the other hand 6,350,000 Africans are apprehensive that, before they become more versed in the subtleties of modern civilisation and sufficiently experienced to manage their own affairs, the die will be cast and the Europeans whom they out-number by 31 to I will be entrenched in their supremacy and consolidated in their political power. Is it any wonder 745 that so many Africans refuse absolutely to be a party to any scheme which they believe, rightly or wrongly, may jeopardise their own future? Their ultimate goal being self-government, are they likely to interest themselves in federation unless and until they are qualified to take a major part in it?
§ THE SECRETARY of STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
The noble Lord has said several times that the ultimate goal of the African is self-government. Does that mean the entire elimination from Central Africa of the European? He appeared to me to differentiate between what I call the British way of life and self-government in Africa—that is to say, some share in the ultimate share in the Government by Africans. Does he regard those as alternatives? In my view, unless the British had gone to Africa at the present time there would have been no peace, justice or security there of the type they have now. If we leave, they will go back to where they were before.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
I would agree with the noble Marquess in his concluding remarks, and remind him of the analogy of the Gold Coast. I am talking about the ultimate view, however far it may be in the future. As I said before, what I regret about this scheme is that it is revolutionary rather than evolutionary. I believe that if we handle this situation carefully we shall help the Africans in their ultimate goal.
The Europeans' attitude, on the other hand, of "Now or never," would seem to be to secure power resting in their hands from the start. With the two parties taking such diametrically opposed views, unless we are very careful we shall be faced with a head-on collision. Never was there more need for wise and cautious statesmanship on our part, for it is for us to see that justice is done between these conflicting interests. As I think back on the past—and I am sure the noble Marquess will forgive me—and recall the days of his father in your Lordships' House some forty-five years ago, when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the Liberal Prime Minister, I question whether there are many members of your Lordships' House (barring the Leader of the Liberal Party, Lord Samuel, Lord Simon and Lord Stansgate) 746 besides myself who heard this declaration. I heard Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman say after the conclusion of the Boer War:We do not want you at our feet. We want you at our side.That, I am sure, is the spirit which should be exemplified to-day in handling this question of the Central African Federation If we fail to keep open the door for an ever-increasing measure of self-government by the Africans themselves, then submit that our responsibility as trustees will indeed be a grave one, for we shall have left undone that which we ought to have done. God grant that we may not fail to do for these Africans what they at this juncture cannot do for themselves! We should do well to remember Christ's own words:Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.Most earnestly I would urge the Government to think again before pressing forward with this scheme.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ammon, in opening the debate to-day, said that he had heard that there was increasing criticism of the scheme, both from natives and also from certain elements of white settlers in Rhodesia and he seemed to conclude that, therefore, the scheme was a bad one. Now, surely, if these are the facts, they are open to precisely the opposite interpretation. If both the extremes criticise the scheme, surely there is some reason to believe that it is a good scheme and a satisfactory compromise. At least the argument is equally valid.
Furthermore, the noble Lord, if he will look back over the history of federation, and especially of the different Federations that have been brought into operation in the world in the last two hundred years, he will find very much the same sort of story. Federations, to the best of my historical knowledge, have never gone through without a great deal of argument and criticism. The noble Lord has only to look at the history, at the end of the eighteenth century, of the United States. Let him read The Federalist in its various issues and see the various views on the idea of federation and the criticisms of them—and yet it has proved a terrific success. Let him, to take a more recent 747 case, look at the history of Canadian federation. I heard someone say the other day that in the case of Canada so little was originally agreed that the authors were afraid to hold a referendum because they feared that if it was held the idea would be defeated. Well, my Lords, no one looking back would doubt that Canadian federation has been an enormous success. The same thing was true of Australian federation, and again it has proved a great sucess. Therefore the fact that there is no general universal agreement about this scheme does not necessarily mean that it is a bad one.
On the contrary, I suggest that it means that it is a very reasonable compromise between opposing, and what some people might call irreconcilable, points of view. It seems to me that many of the opponents of the scheme, in their heart of hearts, do not agree with the facts of the situation in East Africa—from which we cannot get away; that is, that it is unlike West Africa. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, was guilty of overlooking this point, if he will allow me to say so. East and West Africa are not the same kind of territory. They are not in any way alike—climatically, geographically or racially.
In the preamble to this scheme it is stated that these territories are:… the rightful home of all lawful inhabitants thereof, whatever their origin;The opponents of this scheme have got to make up their minds whether they agree with that fundamental assumption or whether they do not. If not—and they are entitled to take that view—then what Lord Rochester said is all right. He talked about ultimate self-government being granted to the Africans. But if you accept the assumption that these territories are,the rightful home of all lawful inhabitants thereof, whatever their origin,then you must devise a scheme of multiracial government which does not imply self-government by the Africans. I am sure the noble Lord did not intend that. I do not know whether noble Lords opposite quite accept the fundamental assumptions that we are faced here with a multi-racial problem in which the white man has every bit as much right to live on his bit of Africa as either the native or the Indian.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
For all time. You cannot conceive of any measurable time in which there will be a system under which the African section only of this multi-racial group is to have complete power over all others. And that is a denial of the whole essence of the multi-racial problem. You have to devise some means by which that power is shared by all, whatever their numbers. I maintain that the white settlers have just as much right to be in East or Central Africa as have the natives. The natives there are a congerie of tribes whose migration there is comparatively recent. They came in with a low standard of civilisation and with a very low standard of cultivation. They had not invented such a primary form of help as the wheel or plough. Their recent history shows that they have lived and cultivated by methods which have resulted in loss of soil fertility and in erosion. There is no question that but for the white immigrant the condition of these natives would be far worse than it is to-day. We all say that we are trustees for the natives, and I think we all accept that fact. But we are trustees, surely, not only for their moral and social conditions but also for their material conditions, for a steady improvement in these material conditions. But for the whites there would have been no improvement in those conditions. These natives have proved that they are incapable by themselves of making progress. I commend the fact to your Lordships that the object of this scheme for federation is to increase the real wealth of the inhabitants of the areas, including the natives.
So many of the speeches made against this proposal have ignored the economic facts of the situation. We have in Southern Rhodesia a large area of relatively infertile land. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, knows that the great bulk of the plateau of Africa is singularly infertile. It will be a problem during the next fifty or one hundred years to increase food production to provide for the increased native population that, as a result of medical progress, we can anticipate. You have in Northern Rhodesia a single industry, the extraction of copper. 749 You have Nyasaland equally largely dependent on one or two agricultural products. Surely the history of the last forty or fifty years shows that a single small unit cannot be a viable proposition. What is required is as diversified industries as possible. I am bound to say that no one ought to be more anxious to see this federation, making a large economic unit, than noble Lords opposite, because they had the experience, as we did, during the inter-war years, of seeing those areas of this country which were dependent upon single industries becoming the distressed areas. It was the Midlands that, through diversity in their industries, recovered in the least time. Therefore, from the economic point of view the arguments in favour of federation are overwhelming. And yet, so far as I remember or have heard, not a single one of the critics of this scheme of federation has applied his mind, or at all events his speech, to explaining how, without federation, it will be possible to get that economic strength that we all believe to be necessary.
The same applies to finance. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, explained on Wednesday that there are large numbers of very important projects, such as the Kariba Gorge and the Kafue River Electric Scheme, which are to benefit not only Southern Rhodesia but also Northern Rhodesia and, to some extent, incidentally, Nyasaland. It will require vast sums of money, of the order not of millions of pounds but of tens of millions of pounds, to launch those schemes successfully and to see them carried through to completion. It will require more than the individual resources of Northern Rhodesia, of Nyasaland or of Southern Rhodesia; but if those three are grouped together they make a powerful unit, both from the economic and from the financial point of view. Therefore, I believe that from that point of view the case for federation is unanswerable.
In his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, if I may say so, discussed most cogently the question of African opinion. Again, so many of the speeches from the Benches opposite criticising this scheme have confused two views of what African opinion is. African opinion is not like that in a great country having a single language, although, it would be difficult enough, at any given moment, even with the aid of Gallup Polls, to 750 ascertain opinion. There are two African opinions: one vocal, consisting of a very small number of educated or semi-educated people, who, judging by their representatives' refusal to take any part in the recent Conference in London, which I think is to be regretted, really hanker after, not a multi-racial settlement of this question but the institution of some scheme like the West African Government. There is no doubt about that at all. On the other hand, there is the opinion, if you can call it so, of the millions of silent, uneducated Africans who, after all, constitute the most important human element in the whole native problem. As the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, so rightly said, and as such small experience as I have had out there shows me, the ordinary native is both conservative and suspicious of change. But above all I would go so far as to say that he prefers a definite order.
Let me give two instances on the agricultural side. If you tell a native that the Government have issued an order for him to clip his cattle, he will understand it and he will accept it; and so long as he is adequately supervised, he will do it. But if you start trying to explain to the ordinary native the importance of rotation of crops, the subject is completely beyond his understanding. If you go further and tell the ordinary native—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will agree with me on this—that the Government want to know what he thinks about a particular proposal, his first reaction will be that the Government do not know their own mind; he will be suspicious and his native suspicion will tell him to say: "I will vote against it." Therefore, it is impossible in this House or in this country to talk about a unitary African opinion. If I may be allowed humbly to say so, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, when he said that if the district officers were allowed not only to expound but also to explain the scheme, we should find that in the vast majority of cases it would be accepted peacefully as a Government decision.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked, I am sure quite sincerely, about his anxiety in the present situation due to the growing distrust and suspicion. I think there is growing distrust and suspicion, but I would attribute that growing 751 distrust and suspicion to the delay in coming to a conclusion and in working out a satisfactory scheme. That delay has been taken advantage of. I am certain of this—I do not think there is any doubt about it—that, while delay may have been inevitable, advantage has been taken by the small, educated African opinion to foment that distrust and suspicion. From what I have been able to see out there, I believe that what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said is true: that this is probably the last chance. I do not take the same view as the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, that if this matter is delayed things will come right. The longer a decision is delayed. in my humble view, the more distrust and suspicion will be sown; and eventually a situation will be reached where, however able the district officers are, it will be impossible to put over a scheme of federation at all.
Of course, the other danger in delay is the question of the attitude of Southern Rhodesia. It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Ammon, to talk about the opponents of the scheme, in Southern Rhodesia, but the scheme is supported by the Southern Rhodesian Government at the present moment, and if we turn down the scheme here, in my view Southern Rhodesia will be unable in the long run, and possibly even in the short run, to remain a viable entity. Her resources will not be adequate for her proper development by herself, and we may well find that, as a result, Southern Rhodesians will turn in despair towards their stronger and larger neighbour in the South. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, shakes his head. After all, I can claim some slight knowledge, because I have been out there probably more than either the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, or the noble Lord, Lord Winster, and I say, with all sincerity, on such evidence as has come my way, that this is not by any means a fanciful danger.
Before I sit down, there is one thing that I must say to supplement what the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said about the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, last Wednesday. Since he made his intervention, I have glanced through the text again, and I can find no words at all of any qualifying nature. He spoke about the excellent work done by the white officials but he used those words which 752 the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, quoted about the white settlers. I cannot help saying, quite definitely, that in my humble opinion remarks of that sort do an infinite amount of harm. I venture to suggest, most respectfully, that it is altogether regrettable that the noble Lord, claiming to express the views of millions of Liberal-minded people, both in this country and abroad, should, without any first-hand knowledge of the countries concerned, allow himself to make statements of this nature. Not only are they untrue but they give grounds and justification, I think, for men like the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Godfrey Huggins, to say, as he did recently:I would like to ask my fellow Rhodesians not to be influenced by statements made from time to time in Great Britain.…The British people from time to time love to hug themselves on account of their own self-righteousness and sense of fair play. They suffer from a kind of unctuous rectitude which is disliked by foreigners and their overseas kinsmen.I personally cannot believe that the Liberal Party in Southern Rhodesia, some of whose leading speakers are criticising the existing scheme, will be at all pleased to have heard a noble Lord claiming to speak on their behalf, saying nevertheless that in future they will not scruple to turn things to their own advantage.
Would the noble Viscount allow me to interrupt? I explained to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who unfortunately did not accept my explanation, that nothing was further from my mind than to accuse white settlers in general of any such conduct. If the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and the noble Viscount would read on to the next column in Hansard, they would see that I am perfectly justified in refusing to be put amongst those who always say that the white man is wrong and that the foreigner is right, and I make a great point that people who can see in the hand of the white man nothing but a whip are taking a quite unrealistic attitude. I really must refuse to be put into that category.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
No doubt the people concerned will read the noble Lord's explanation, but in view of the situation I think it would have been much better had he not used those particular 753 words. On the contrary, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said so well on Wednesday, the ordinary Englishman emigrating to Rhodesia, anxious to make a home for himself, for his children and for his children's children (because it is a country and a climate which, so far as we know, is capable of sustaining a white population for a long period, being quite unlike West Africa), does not suddenly lose all the characteristics of tolerance and of Christian faith which have made our nation so great in the past. We have a Church on our estate in South Africa, and we know the value of the work that is being done in that direction. I am sure it will be agreed by those who know their Southern Rhodesia that relations between the settlers and the natives are, on the whole, warm and friendly, otherwise how could we get the necessary amount of labour to carry on our agricultural industry? How otherwise could we get men coming down from Nyasaland voluntarily to work in increasing numbers on our farms than as a result of the stories that have gone back to Nyasaland telling of the way in which they have been treated? On the whole, that is a common experience.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
Walking there and back. They are now asking to be allowed to bring their wives, their children and their old people to set up Nyasaland villages on our farms. That is not evidence of distrust and suspicion; that is evidence of warm and friendly feelings between the settlers and the natives. I believe that British settlers are proud of their British traditions, that they are still conscious of the ideals of Cecil Rhodes, and that they are anxious to develop their new country, their new homes and their new fellow-inhabitants in a spirit of partnership and enterprise. I earnestly beg your Lordships to trust them and to help them forward in this great new experiment in setting up a permanent multiracial country.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I spent part of the week-end reading the speeches made in Wednesday's debate. and I think it would be the opinion of all your Lordships that, in the broad, those speeches 754 were characterised by the absence of prejudice, by a complete absence of any desire to "flog" party views and, above all, by a spirit of abounding good will to the Africans. I can only say for myself that I am sure that to-day's debate will take the same line. I sincerely hope that the debate will be most carefully read and studied by all those concerned before the next Conference takes place. I hope that, so far as it lies in the power of Her Majesty's Government to ensure that that is done, they will take what steps they can to that end.
I said that I thought the speeches were free from prejudice, but there was one exception. I am bound to confess that I thought the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, revealed traces of prejudice, so much so that I wrote to the noble Earl that I should feel bound to call attention to that fact to-day. I feel some doubt, however, whether the noble Earl has received my letter. Therefore, I will greatly moderate what I had it in mind to say. as on no account should I like to run the risk of criticising a noble Lord unless I were quite sure that he had had notice of my intention to do so. But I think I may fairly say that the noble Earl admitted that he set out to be "very wounding" (those were his words), and in referring to the speeches of the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and the noble Earl, the Lord Listowel, the noble Earl considered they had done "a good deal of mischief"; that they had not "encouraged … reconciliation or good feeling" that they showed "fatuous and irresponsible hostility," especially in representing that Europeans "cannot be trusted to deal fairly with the Africans."
My Lords, that is a travesty of the speeches in question. The speech of the right reverend Prelate was instinct with a spirit of humanity and of fairness, and the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was equally distinguished for being cool, temperate and wise. In not one single word did either of the speakers attempt to arouse any prejudice whatsoever, and in fact the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, was unable to quote anything to support his statement to that effect. I should like to recommend to the noble Earl, in all friendliness, that he should read a book by E. M. Forster called: 755 Two Cheers for Democracy, in which the following passage occurs:If you don't like people, put up with them as well as you can. Don't try to love them; you can't, you'll only strain yourself. But try to tolerate them.I think that is admirable advice, not only for the noble Earl, but for anyone engaged in the practice of politics. Since I am referring to the speeches in that debate, may I for one moment refer to the noble Marquess, who described Lord Listowel's speech as being "Cassandra-like"? I am sure the noble Marquess's classical education is far superior to my own, but may I remind him that the trouble about Cassandra was not what she prophesied, but that Apollo laid a curse upon her that she would never be believed; and it was in consequence of that that, although she prophesied rightly about the Trojan War, Troy was lost. Perhaps the noble Marquess will recollect, when he is thinking over the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that Cassandra was right: the only trouble was that the people did not believe her.
This question of Central African federation involves far more than administrative arrangements; it involves policy conceptions calling for bold conceptions and bold handling. The noble Marquess said on Wednesday that many of the speakers had either not read, or at any rate did not dilate very much at length upon, the proposals in the White Paper. I will not go into that to-day; time does not permit. But I have read the White Paper with the greatest attention, and I say at once that, if we are to have federation, I think these are workmanlike proposals, and they show in many directions a wish to hold the scales perfectly evenly between European and African, and to ensure, so far as can be done on paper, that the African does not suffer too greatly from discriminatory legislation. There is one thing upon which, if I may, I should like to ask the noble Marquess a question. It is this. He mentioned the question of paramountcy, which is, of course, of great importance in considering the proposals of the White Paper. He said that it was not a question of the paramountcy of the African or the paramountcy of the European and added:I repudiate both those principles.756 As I understand it, the position is this. In September, 1948, the Secretary of State for the Colonies was asked a Question on this subject, apropos the announcement of the Secretary for Native Affairs in Northern Rhodesia that the doctrine of paramountcy was dead. And the reply of the Secretary of State for the Colonies was this. He said that the Secretary for Native Affairs in Northern Rhodesia had said that the White Paper of 1923 on this question was dead, in the sense that it had been superseded by the Report of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament of 1931, which is now the operative document, and that paragraph 73 of that Report contained the following passage:The doctrine of paramountcy means no more than that the interests of the overwhelming majority of the indigenous population should not be subordinated to those of a minority belonging to another race however important in itself.I hope that the noble Marquess, with his great sense of fairness, may be able to tell us that, while he does repudiate the principle of paramountcy for African and European alike, he stands by that reply of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that that is the authoritative and operative view in regard to paramountcy.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It certainly was not my intention to repudiate anything that had been said by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. But the noble Lord will understand that I was using the word "paramountcy" in a much broader sense. The noble Lord will have read the report of the speech made by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and the impression I gained from that was that, in his view, in Central Africa the interests of the Africans must prevail. What I wanted to make clear was that I do not believe—I do not say it is the right view, but it is the view I hold—that the interests of the Africans should always prevail. Nor do I think that the interests of the Europeans should always prevail. I believe in a partnership between the two. No doubt, as I have already explained, we are at present the senior partner in the way of development, because we are a more progressive country than they are. But I should like basis of partnership between the two to see Central Africa grow up on the races. That is really all I meant.
§ LORD WINSTER
I thank the noble Marquess very sincerely for the courtesy of his reply. I felt that his words were possibly liable to misconstruction. I thank him for, as I understand, affirming that he supports the reply given by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in replying on this question of paramountcy.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was not referring to the more technical aspect. As I say, the word was used in a broad sense. I was not really dealing with this particular point at all.
§ LORD WINSTER
I think the exchange leaves the matter on a completely satisfactory basis.
Passing from the details of the White Paper to the economics of the affair, I say at once that I think the economic arguments in regard to federation are very strong indeed. I am greatly impressed by them; I think the three territories are complementary as regards supply and demand for labour. In many respects, I believe, their individual economies are unbalanced, though I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that more yet could be clone by co-operation without necessarily having federation. Yet I think federation would promote economic location of industries and efficient distribution of labour, while a stable economy over a large area would attract investment and provide a market for our exports. So I say at once that I am strongly impressed by the economic arguments in favour of federation.
Let us look at British commitments in regard to racial policy, which is so much an issue in this matter. These are definite beyond all dispute. The policy of equal rights for members of all races has frequently been asserted in the past by the United Kingdom Government, and has been incorporated in many treaties with the rulers of native races. May I briefly recall to your Lordships' memory Queen Victoria's Proclamation when annexing Natal in 1843. The Proclamation said:There shall not be in the eye of the Law any distinction of colour, origin, language or creed, but the protection of the Law in letter and in substance shall be extended impartially to all alike.Mr. Churchill, when holding the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, said:There is only one ideal that the British Empire can set before itself, that there should 758 be no barrier of race, colour or creed which should prevent any man of merit from reaching any station if he is fitted for it.I think that declaration is quite impeccable. But recent years have witnessed in several territories a decline from these ideals. A colour bar policy which, in my opinion, is a corruption in life, has taken firm root in the Union of South Africa and also in Southern Rhodesia. Here, policies of racial segregation deny to coloured British subjects and British protected persons that equality of rights, opportunity and citizenship which we are pledged by so many treaties to accord to all subjects of the Queen.
The problem, I agree, is not only one of how the African feels. The European must not be made to become discouraged about the future. I entirely agree about that. Progress in Africa depends upon the European, as well as upon the African, and the aim must be to raise African living standards without depressing those of the European upon whom the economic development of Africa so largely depends. May I remind your Lordships that Mr. Creech-Jones, when Secretary of State for the Colonies, fully endorsed these views when he said:European settlement is imperative for welfare and advancement.think there is great force in words used by a considerable authority upon Colonial matters, Miss Margery Perham, who said that the British citizen at home in,endeavouring to impose his standard of racial justice upon white communities in Africa is using the political power of the State to enforce sacrifices of the gravest kind which he will never have to share himself, and that in a situation of which he has no personal experience.Those words, I think, are extremely wise. The English in Southern Rhodesia need not be thought of as so very different from the English at home here. If one were to go canvassing in a constituency in Southern Rhodesia I expect that a cross-section of Europeans whom one canvassed would be found to be extraordinarily similar to a cross-section of Europeans in an urban or rural community in this country. I think what is dangerous in racial relations in Africa is a certain lack of awareness in European officials, who are so skilled, so incorruptible and so just in their administration, yet at the same time fail in their personal relationships with Africans. One wishes they 759 were more imbued with a sense of working with the African, rather than with the sense of the ideal which they so nobly uphold of working for the African. I think that the ability to work with the African while at the same time working for the African is a matter of the utmost importance for the future.
In considering the provisions of the White Paper, the Committee on the Central African Association hints that reserved powers in Colonial Constitutions have been weak and ineffective. But the new proposals,guarantee that no right, privilege or opportunity which Africans now enjoy will be abated or circumscribed in any way.That strikes me as perhaps a little negative. I do not know that the Africans enjoy many rights, privileges or opportunities at the present moment, and I do not think it is a question of not taking these limited rights away. Surely we want them to have more. In this respect, I am sure that nothing worries the Africans more than the security of their rights in land. We must not be surprised if Africans fear for their land under federation. They have seen the laws which protected their rights altered so that their land could be alienated. Land and labour dominate the African mind and there is great force in the saying, attributed to an African, that,When the white man came, they had the Bible and we had the land: now we have the Bible and they have the land.They think that a Federal Government controlling finance, development and economy will be able to influence other Governments in regard to land policy, and that as it will also regulate immigration, there will be claims for African lands which even the United Kingdom Government will find themselves unable to resist.
The Africans see that even to-day the Government of Northern Rhodesia can grant to non-natives occupational rights in native trust lands and grant land in native reserves to corporations. And these rights have been assumed by the Government of Northern Rhodesia by Orders in Council as recently as 1947 and 1951. Such things give the Africans a sense of insecurity, not allayed by the incautious remark by a certain European representative that African land must be taken for European settlement. However that 760 may be, they have seen proposals to take control of forest reserves inside the native trust lands, coupled with the suggested demarcation of national game parks in the reserves. What the African wants is to retain the native land rights conferred on him of old by treaties between the British Government and the chiefs. I think they have good cause to fear that those rights may be vitiated under federation.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
The noble Lord has just destroyed one of the arguments of those who oppose federation. If this happens under the Colonial Office, then it could not be worse under a Federation.
§ LORD WINSTER
"Better the devil you know than the devil you do not know." I would not be too sure of what the noble Viscount says.
I want to enlarge on the matter of African representation. I fear that here again the African may well feel some uneasiness. In Southern Rhodesia only 4,000 Africans are on the electoral roll, so that if they all voted, they could effect little indeed against European wishes. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said that the reason so few took the trouble to get on the electoral roll was because they were not politically-minded. There may be another reason. They may feel they can do so little against the vast majority by which they are faced. In any case, Africans are practically excluded from the franchise by the income qualification of £250 a year. The educational qualification has also been tightened up. Again that has been done by an ordinance as recently as 1951. On this question of representation, I think the African may well feel nervous.
Look at the arrangement about the Federal Legislature. There are to be seven elected members for African interests, three for Southern Rhodesia and two each for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The three Southern Rhosedian members will be elected under regulations made by the Governor. Only two of them will be Africans; the other will be European. The two representatives from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will be elected under regulations made by the Governor, from a body which he designates as being representative of the African community. While I should be the last person in the world to 761 throw doubt on the good intentions of the Governors concerned, I think we must put ourselves in the shoes of the African, and I consider that he may well feel some doubt about his representation under such regulations as these. The three Africans on the African Affairs Board will not be elected by those whom they are to represent, but nominated by the three Governors, and will sit on that Board in a minority of three to four.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Is the noble Lord now talking about the African Affairs Board? He says that the Africans will be in a minority. If he reads the White Paper, he will see that it is exactly the opposite. He will notice that on all occasions the chairman has to vote with the Africans to keep the matter under discussion.
§ LORD WINSTER
I agree with the noble Earl on that point. In case of disagreement the Chairman must always vote with the Africans.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
My Lords, may I also point out that the Governor is not to be elected by the Southern Rhodesians? He is to be nominated by the Home Government and. presumably, that should be adequate guarantee that the Africans will get justice done.
§ LORD WINSTER
I am well aware that the Governor is appointed by the Governor-General. Let me go on to the question of partnership, for a moment. The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has defined his idea of partnership as,the total rejection of any form of racial domination and suppression and a sincere acceptance of the fact that black and white are indispensable to each other and that each must, by his conduct and actions, earn the confidence and good will of the other.It is a matter of common agreement that Southern Rhodesia has done much in subsidising education, health and agriculture, and the Sunday Times has described the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia as,the unwearying champion of inter-racial partnership.When I look at the racial legislation in Southern Rhodesia, however, I am bound to say that it appears to me to have far more in common with, than difference from, that of the Union of South Africa. The European and African races are segregated into two areas by what is 762 called, not segregation, but "parallel development." Under this "parallel development" 136,000 Europeans have 48,000,000 acres, and 2,000,000 Africans have 37,000,000 acres. Naturally, the Africans believe that future European immigrants are likely to absorb much of the 17 per cent. of land still unallocated.
There is segregation in housing. As I understand it, an African may not own land in a town. He may live near a town only if he is employed by a European. Certain occupations are reserved for Europeans. In extensive municipal areas no African trade union is legally recognised. Forced labour is imposed upon unemployed Africans. They may not grow certain crops which would compete with European production. An African must have a pass to go from one district to another, or from one part of a town to another. He cannot be elected to the Legislature. I ask the question—because I should like to be convinced on the point, and I put it in perfectly good faith: How can these things be reconciled with partnership, or with what the Prime Minister has described as "the total rejection of any policy of racial domination and suppression"?
These are the things with which the African is faced in his daily life. It is not fear of the unknown, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said, but fear of the known, the knowledge of the circumstances of his daily life, which operates in his mind. I believe that those things weigh more heavily with him than the subsidies and the generous provision that the South African Government has made in regard too the matters I have mentioned. In view of these things, I am bound to say that I nib my eyes when I notice the remark of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—and these were his actual words:The picture these critics draw of racial antagonism and repressive Government policy is a pure figment of their imagination.I really cannot reconcile that statement with the facts I have endeavoured to put before your Lordships regarding racial legislation at this moment in Rhodesia, facts which inevitably arouse the lively suspicions of the African as to what may happen to him under federation.
There is another question which has been touched upon to-day—namely, to what extent it is possible to gauge 763 African opinion accurately. That is a most important question in this matter. It seems to me that there are three bodies of opinion here. First, there are those who say that the Africans are incapable of forming an opinion on the federation proposals; that opposition is the work of a minority of agitators; that the bulk of the African population is indifferent, so their opinion can be ignored; that federation is going to produce great economic benefits in which the Africans will share; and, therefore, that we ought to go ahead regardless of African opinion. I found an echo of that view in the debate on Wednesday. The noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said:Federation should be backed irrespective of the masses who cannot understand or even be told in detail.The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in speaking of the White Paper gave us his reasons as towhy it ought to be acceptable to the Africans.In those two remarks I caught an echo of the celebrated footlerism of Mr. Douglas Jay that "The gentleman in Whitehall knows best"; they suggest that federation must be imposed whether the African agrees about it or not.
A second group, in my opinion, go to the opposite extreme, and are almost more African than the African himself. They wave aside all the difficulties and complexities of the situation, and are too easily guided by anything which is represented as African opinion, without questioning Whether it is representative or responsible. There is then the third group of those who wish to be constructive, whose views were fairly represented by what was written in The Times in October last year. They consider that the Africans generally undoubtedly oppose federation. They are not prepared to overrule African opposition but they are not prepared to consider the African side alone. They consider that the views of all racial groups must be taken account of and they believe a multi-racial society is quite possible if gone about the right way.
The fulfilment of these aims requires patience, tolerance and statesmanship, and I fear that the last quality is all too often in short supply. But I consider that it is almost certainly an exaggeration to say that the Africans do not under- 764 stand the issues involved. The proposals have been explained to them by British officials throughout the territories. They have been printed in the vernacular and have been circulated. In spite of that, in Northern Rhodesia, certainly, the Africans are totally opposed to federation. As to Nyasaland, I have seen the views of their representatives. I hope that, if this debate is read in Nyasaland, it may be noted there that I think that those views were represented in far too strident and abusive terms, which were calculated to do their cause harm. But again, in the case of Nyasaland, there is no doubt whatever that the proposals for federation are resisted. They do not want Nyasaland regarded as a territory for European settlement. They have noted the Gold Coast experiment. They are out for self-government. What they want is the power which would come to them with self-government, and not paternalism.
If anything, I would say that British public opinion is hardening against federation. I notice many great bodies, including the British Council of Churches and the Church of Scotland, are all against it. I would say, with great deference, that the opinion of the missionary societies should not be lightly disregarded, in view of their amazing record of work amongst the Africans. I feel sure that the Government will not fail to avail themselves of their unique experience. The Christian Council of Northern Rhodesia, while not opposed to federation in principle—which is the attitude of so many of us in this matter—believe that it cannot be put through in the face of existing African opposition. Similarly, the Conference of British Missionary Societies says:Any attempt to impose federation would destroy the basis on which its success must depend,and would stir up difficulties for us else-where in Africa.
My own strong conviction is that for a long time only a compromise is possible. I do not happen to like compromises—I am not a compromiser by nature—but there are times when compromise is the wisest course, and I believe that this is one of them. I believe that political reforms should precede federation, and that that is essential if the African is to have any confidence whatever in federation proposals, now or at any other time.
765 for instance, let Northern Rhodesia extend the franchise and cease restricting it to a small British-European minority. Let the mine-owners and the European and African miners trade unions discuss schemes for advancing African miners in accordance with their abilities, and in accordance with what Mr. Churchill said on that score. Nyasaland has no franchise, although other African territories, no more advanced, have. In the three territories the two races, the Europeans and the Africans, seem to have grown up almost as separate races, although they work together in industry and agriculture and live in the same towns and villages. Let the existing discrimination in public places be abolished—in schools, in hospitals, in hotels, I believe even in cemeteries, and also in cinemas: let them all be swept away, and educational differentials, too. Bring the Africans in the towns into local government and on to the town councils, and let the two races discuss the Constitution of the Central Government.
What we have to guard against is mutual racial dislike. If we continue to humiliate the African in this way—and he is humiliated by these racial laws, and this discrimination and segregation—he will become possessed with a will to humiliate the European. The two races must learn to live and work together in equality, respecting each other's dignity. The alternative, to my mind, is racial hatred and catastrophe.
The proposals attributed to the Northern Rhodesian Government, in a state-merit on partnership, are, I think, most wise, and they make free, wide and generous proposals indeed; but I wonder what has been done to discuss and try to work out something on the basis of those proposals? This is not, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, a matter of warm and friendly and even affectionate relations; it is a matter of allowing Africans to co-operate in political, racial and economic affairs. The master—servant, parent—child, approach arouses resentment, as does anything in the nature of patronage and a superiority complex. Having said that, let me say that Africans, equally, must accept that Europeans have developed the country, have settled in it for good, and must share in its future. But noblesse oblige, and it is for Europeans to make the first move. Equally, let Her Majesty's Government again 766 affirm its intention to resist any racial domination and to retain and exert its present powers in regard to racial legislation until the partnership policy has been worked out and made a fact.
In conclusion, let me say this. I should like to end upon a hopeful note. The proposals, and the discussion to which they have given rise, have revealed that great numbers of Africans instinctively look to this country when their fears are aroused about actions and policies in Africa. They distrust anything which they feel may weaken theft links with the Crown and with the United Kingdom Parliament. They still have confidence in us as the safeguard of their rights while they are so inexperienced in political and economic affairs, and they fear the disappearance of those British officials who at present help and guide them, but who will disappear with federation. These inter-racial problems provoke feelings of anxiety and perplexity. Let us not forget that to be harassed by them is in itself a sign of progress. At one time such problems were solved by the argumentum ad baculinum. They were solved by methods of enslavement or extermination. They have now advanced into the sphere of human conscience, as this debate, with all the differences of opinion it has revealed, has most clearly shown. There is dawning in Africa an idea of a common life and of co-operation, as well as of conflict. The trouble is that the conflict is news, so we hear about it. The evidence of a common life and a spirit of co-operation is not news, and so we do not hear about it. Now that that idea of the common life and co-operation is growing, may we do nothing which will interfere with it. It is because I do believe that federation imposed at this moment would check that progress that I hope the Government will at this late moment hesitate and decide upon a policy of racial reform before proceeding with their federation proposals.
§ 4.55 p.m.
My Lords, intervening towards the end of a two-day debate, it is a little difficult to find something fresh to say, particularly as the point of view of those who are in favour of federation has been so ably put by the noble Marquess, my Leader, last Wednesday, and again with such added vim by the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, this 767 afternoon. Having listened to, or read, every speech in the debate it is interesting to me, at any rate, to reflect upon the views so unanimously put forward by the Opposition. "We are trustees for the Africans" is the theme which has run through every speech, and there is no question that in their minds and, indeed, in our minds as well, "We" stands for politicians in Whitehall and civil servants in Whitehall. As for trusteeship, the views of the Opposition are evidently not that we should be permanent trustees: they aim at a time—in some cases not far distant—when control will be surrendered to someone else.
They have their eyes on what has occurred on the Gold Coast. I have not yet been to the Gold Coast, and therefore I cannot speak with great definiteness about it. But there are one or two things that all of us know to be true about the Gold Coast, and one is that it is not a white man's country. Another is that what has happened in the Gold Coast is still in the very earliest days of experiment; and, thirdly, that in no sense does a democracy exist in the Gold Coast. A democracy demands the existence of two parties—a Government and an Opposition. But in the Gold Coast and such territories there is only one policy put forward by the African politician, and that is to turn out the white man from political power and assume it himself. It is only when he has succeeded in doing that—as in the case, for instance, of India and Pakistan—that an opposition begins to arise and the true by-plays of democracy begin to operate. The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, even went so far as to express the hope that in the not distant future conditions of India and Pakistan would be reproduced in Central Africa.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
Will the noble Lord forgive me? I did not use the words "not distant future." I asked only that the door should not be closed, and that the die should not be cast to prevent intervention.
Let us accept that. I do not mind that so much. But the fact is that at the present time Europeans exist in India and Pakistan on sufferance only. Otherwise it would never be the case that the shares of such a magnificent company as the Calcutta 768 Electric Supply stand on nearly a 12 per cent. basis. The reason they do so is the lack of confidence in the shareholders and the fear that they may receive the same treatment as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company were allowed to receive at Abadan.
From the speeches of noble Lords opposite, it is clear that when they speak of the Africans, their minds are confined to the Barotse, the Mashona and the Matabeles of the Rhodesias. I came back from Africa last year in the same ship as the Springbok rugby side. Including their two managers, there were thirty-two of them. Ten of them had English names and the remaining twenty-two had Dutch names. They conversed naturally in Afrikaans. Incidentally, they gave the lie entirely to Dr. Malan's insane policy of setting one set of whites against another. They all got on extremely well together. Their manager and captain, both of whom were English-horn, were beloved by all of them, and when I saw them in their final match at Cardiff they were loud in their expressions of loyalty to this country. A nicer set of boys you could not meet.
Now, who were these boys if they were not Africans? That is the point I want to make. All of them were born and bred in Africa, of parents who had themselves lived in Africa, going back three or four generations. One of these boys was a Rhodesian. Except the two managers, I do not think any of them had been to England before. If anybody was an African, these boys were Africans, and that is the point that noble Lords opposite seem to me to lose sight of in their arguments directed to the support of the black Africans. They will always persist in talking of the white Africans as Europeans. I object to that word "European" applied to the men who have settled down and lived in Africa for generations. South Africa and Rhodesia are white man's countries. They can live there as they cannot do in the Gold Coast or in India. The circumstances in those places are different and, therefore, different treatment must be accorded to them.
White Africans have every bit as much right to be in Africa as have black Africans; and to pretend otherwise is just as reasonable as to say that the multifarious races inhabitating the United States have no right to be there because 769 the Red Indians were there before them; or that the New Zealanders have no right to be there because the Maoris were there before them. These men are African. They intend to stay there. They have no other place to go to—and we have to reckon with that fact and that intention to stay there. Moreover, they will not stay there in any subordinate capacity; they will not allow themselves to be left there on sufferance, as in the case of India or Pakistan, or be kicked out altogether, as we were by a small clique of students in Burma. Incidentally, the production of rice in Burma has fallen from 3,250,000 tons in the last year of British control to 1,250,000 tons this year, thereby causing great inconvenience to the economy of India.
Having established to my own satisfaction, and I trust to that of noble Lords opposite, the position with regard to white Africans, let me go on to consider the relative contributions of these two sets of Africans. What have the white Africans contributed? They have contributed courage, enterprise, knowledge, initiative and perhaps, above all, capital to the development of that savage territory. Where would the black Africans be but for the whites in these territories? What have the whites brought about? They have brought about great wealth. Great wealth has been produced in that country for the benefit of the world. No doubt they have also created some wealth for themselves—let us not deny that—but they have produced great wealth for the benefit of mankind. They raised and are raising the status of the African. The noble Lord, Lord Ammon, who opened the debate to-day talked about the Africans being mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. Hitherto, that has been the case to a large extent. But one must not forget that one of the reasons for that is that craftsmen going out to Rhodesia refuse to allow Africans to be taught their crafts. That has certainly been the case, and we should keep that in mind when talking of Africans as being hewers of wood and drawers of water. It would be much to the advantage of the white Africans if black Africans were to become craftsmen—bricklayers, carpenters and so forth; and I hope that when this federation scheme is completed this will be brought about.
There is a further point which I wish to make: that is, that the contribution 770 made by white Africans to the prosperity of Africa in comparison with that made by the black Africans, is totally disproportionate, and that therefore their opinion should be weighed accordingly in contrast to that of the black African. Reference has been made many times to this question of black African opinion. Oddly enough, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, had to call to his aid an octogenarian friend of his who had talked with Livingstone and whose grandfather had contracted a treaty with Queen Victoria. I think the noble Lord must know that a very great deal of water has rolled over the Victoria Falls since his octogenarian friend talked with Dr. Livingstone in 1873.
§ LORD OGMORE
May I point out that my octogenarian friend is the present paramount chief of the tribe of the Barotse, so he has present as well as hereditary knowledge?
I am not saying anything against him. But I doubt whether the noble Lord was consistent in calling him as an example. If I had said to him years ago that I thought I ought to be allowed to keep my coalmine because my grandfather had started it, and there was a strong sentimental attachment in favour of it, I doubt whether should have carried the noble Lord with me. Therefore, I do not attach undue importance to the opinion of the octogenarian paramount chief of the Barotse. We know that African opinion is usually that of a few examination-bred students, and that 999 black Africans out of 1,000 are good-humoured and rather lazy children, having no opinion worth having on any political matter at all. It is idiotic to pretend that they have this knowledge. But to hear the noble Lord, Lord Winster, and others talk, one would think the natives of Africa were always black Englishmen, so to speak. with our experience, our nous and political balance, and so on.
§ LORD WINSTER
May I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? I must point out that there was no single word in my speech calculated to give such an impression. If the noble Lord thinks so, let him quote it.
will read the noble Lord's speech to-morrow. My impression, when he referred to omissions 771 from the White Paper, was that there was a long list of matters which he thought might have been inserted. I do not know whether this was the impression he intended to leave, but he certainly gave me the impression that the black African knew a great deal more than people usually realise of the usages of civilised society. I am all in favour of that. We are on very delicate ground. The question of the colour bar is extremely difficult. The colour bar is now very much less than it was when I was in India, forty years ago. That can be said without any doubt whatever. I have not enough experience of Africa to speak so definitely, but it would not surprise me if the colour bar is decreasing there. It is my custom to visit an aged relative of mine living in the neighbourhood of Earl's Court. That is a very favourite residential district for coloured students; and my observations there certainly do not give me the impression that the colour bar is much in evidence in that area.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, asked Lord Milverton whether the noble Lord would enforce this scheme no matter what the Africans say.
It is the same thing. As a matter of fact, the Africans are not all against this scheme. The Southern Rhodesian Africans would appear not to be against it. Honestly, I would not attach too much weight to African opinion. It must be remembered that white African opinion is not all in favour of this scheme. I have received only by the last post a letter from a young nephew of mine in Southern Rhodesia, who tells me that a great many of the older men in Southern Rhodesia are not in favour of federation but are in favour of joining the Union. I am sure that no noble Lord opposite would wish that to happen. Ideally, in the long run, there is no doubt that the best thing would be a great union of Africa, stretching from Lake Victoria Nyanza, right down to Cape Town; but, as long as we have insane politicians like Dr. Malan about, it is quite impossible to make any approach to that ideal. None the less, there is the fact that, according to my nephew a number of the older men in 772 Southern Rhodesia are in favour of joining the Union and are not in favour of federation. On the other hand, he tells me that the younger men are mostly against Dr. Malan and in favour of federation. There is to be a referendum on the subject. We have to await the result of that referendum, but, assuming that it is in favour of federation, then, to my mind, that would clinch the matter, and l should answer the noble Lord—he did not ask me and I do not suppose he cares what I think—by saying that I should support the Government in carrying through federation provided it is heartily supported by white African opinion, even in the face of the opposition of black African opinion, because I believe that in the long run the white African, the Briton, has to lead or perish.
Before the noble Lord concludes, may I just say that I certainly care what he thinks. That is why I am always so sorry to differ from him, as on this occasion. I wonder whether he recalls what the late Secretary of State for the Colonies said in 1950 when he was announcing the establishment of a Committee of officials. Although it was the statement of a Labour Secretary of State to the Colonies, I am not aware that it was contested by noble Lords opposite. Mr. Griffiths said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 480, Col. 947]:This will include consultation with African opinion in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in accordance with His Majesty's Government statement made in the House of Commons that full account would he taken of it before any change affecting African interests could be considered.Does the noble Lord object to that?
In answer to that, I must point out to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, as I have had occasion to do many times previously, that I speak only for myself. I am not concerned about any remark of a previous Secretary of State or even with what the noble Marquess below me says. I give your Lordships' House only my views. If your Lordships think they are not worth hearing, no harm is done. I cannot be cross-examined about what some past Minister may or may not have said. I am not in the slightest degree bound by his opinion. I am bound only by my own.
May I intervene for a moment? The noble Lord made a remark which I find I cannot properly allow to pass without challenge, that British interests in India were thinking of drawing out because they were affected by being discriminated against. I myself am a director of a number of British companies out there and have trusted friends in others, and, to my knowledge, there is not a single company, including the P. and O. and other very large companies, which is thinking of leaving or considers that it is being discriminated against.
I never said anything of the sort. What I said was that Europeans remain in India and Pakistan on sufferance; and that that fact is appreciated by investors is shown by the fact that a magnificent company like the Calcutta Electric Supply stands on a nearly 12 per cent. yield basis, showing what a strong element of political risk is in the minds of investors. I did not say that any company has come out of India or Pakistan or thinks of coming out of India or Pakistan. Indian tea companies almost all stand on a very high yield basis largely for the same reason; and I assert, without fear of contradiction, that investors in British companies in India and Pakistan remain only on sufferance of the two Governments, just as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company remained in Persia only on sufferance of the Persian Government, as we saw last year.
I would point out that the electric supply company have invested many millions of pounds quite recently in India.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
May I intervene on that point, because I have contrary evidence? A leading British business man in Calcutta told me that there was more good will—which is important from the point of view of British business—since India became self-governing, than before.
I am willing to agree to that. It appears that there is much better feeling towards the British now than before they cleared out. I agree with that. But some noble Lords always look only one inch before their noses and not five inches. That is their trouble. Good will obtains there now because we are behaving like good boys, 774 and so far things have been prosperous; but we are told that Communism is gaining ground in India. When Mr. Nehru eventually departs, who will be the next Prime Minister of India? May he not be a Doctor Mossadeq? We had perfectly good relations with Persia—but we must not labour this question because we are talking about federation. All the remarks I made are perfectly accurate and I do not withdraw a single word of them.
§ 5.18 p.m.
My Lords, I desire to add the voice of a humble but firmly convinced Conservative to the appeal that has been made to Her Majesty's Ministers to think again about federation. I come from the Gold Coast and I am very proud to do so. I have been a missionary and I am about to "meddle" in politics. I have no direct knowledge of the territories under discussion, but I am not under the impression that the Gold Coast is the only part of Africa, or that conditions in one part of Africa are the same as those in another. I have worked in Uganda and have been a grateful guest of settlers in Kenya. I have nothing to say against the white African settlers with whom I have had the privilege of staying, except this: that I do not believe that they are as wise guides on the matter of black African political and educational advancement as are the Colonial Services.
Not having been to these territories myself, I naturally studied the papers that I could obtain and I would assure noble Lords who are sitting on these Benches that my attitude is not based on any strange doctrine. It is based upon a principle which is enshrined in the Preamble to this scheme. Point (e) of the Preamble stales:Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments responsible among other matters for local and territorial political advancement, so long as their respective peoples so desire.Why should the desire of these respective peoples be considered after federation and not in regard to federation? Would Her Majesty's Government say to these people: "We are going to impose federation upon you though you may object to it but, of course, we promise that we would never impose anything else upon you afterwards?" I suggest that that would be an impossible 775 attitude. What noble Lords who have made this appeal to the Government desire is that the opinions of the peoples (and note the words in the preamble, "the peoples", not "the Legislature") shall be respected. We are told by various noble Lords that there is no such thing as African opinion. I can only assure those of your Lordships who take that view that it is some forty or fifty years out of date. It was a remark which was frequently made in the days when I first went to the Gold Coast, but it is a remark which is not made there now.
My Lords, there is an African opinion, and every indication that comes to us is that in Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, despite the multiplicity of tongues to which the noble Viscount, Lord Ruffside referred, despite the traditional hostility of the Mashona and the Matabele, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Winterton, referred, that opinion is unanimously, or almost unanimously, against this scheme. The question facing the Government is, should such opposition be overridden. I had intended to argue before your Lordships that African opposition to this scheme was natural; but I need not do so because that has been done, with far greater ability than I could have done it, by the noble Lord, Lord Winster. I would point out, however, in addition to what the noble Lord said, that the hard, unpleasant facts of life for the African in Southern Rhodesia are not to be learned only from vocal students or from meddlesome missionaries, but are all stated quite clearly in White Paper Command 8235.
The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, was taken to task by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House for venturing to base some of his remarks upon a letter written by interested parties to The Times. That letter was written by people whose presence had been desired at the Conference at Lancaster House; but what is more important than the authorship of the letter is whether the statements made in it are or are not true. I assure your Lordships that on studying this Command Paper you will find that every statement made in the first paragraph of that letter is supported there. Let us not then delude ourselves by thinking that African opinion is not against this scheme, or that it has taken up an entirely unreason- 776 able attitude. It is true that the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia has stated in magnificent language, language which has the ring of sincerity, the principle of partnership. On page 6 of the White Paper he is quoted as saying:We are anxious to build up this country on the basis of a partnership between the various races, not to use colour as a test of a man's ability and culture. We can only develop and hold this country as partners.If your Lordships will turn to page 5 of the White Paper to which I have referred, you will find that what its authors say—and they are not vocal black Africans or meddlesome missionaries, is this:To-day, if we judge from the statements of the Prime Minister quoted in paragraph 9 below, Southern Rhodesian policy for the future does not differ materially from the stated aims of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.I would beg your Lordships to note particularly those words:if we judge from the statements of the Prime Ministerandfor the future.However backward in certain respects the African may be, I do not think I idealise him. If your Lordships look back to your own school days, I think you will consider that your teachers were the people least liable to hold illusions about yourselves. The African is a realist, and he is not satisfied with statements of policy for the future; he would like to see performance.
My Lords, we have been told by the noble Marquess that the Southern Rhodesian Government have spent more than the two Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland on African social services. Of course that statement is perfectly correct. But it looks a little different if you study this Command Paper and find the percentage of the expenditure which is devoted in these various territories to these objects. The estimated expenditure in 1950 in Nyasaland comes to a total of something over £3,000,000, and of that 16.5 per cent. was to be devoted to the social services benefiting Africans; in Northern Rhodesia, out of a total of £14,000,000, 11.9 per cent. was to be spent in that was, and in Southern Rhodesia, where the total was £22,000,000, the percentage to be spent on social services for Africans was 12.1.
777 I suggest that the opposition of Africans in the Northern territories to the native policy of Southern Rhodesia is justified, and I suggest that to impose federation on the people of those territories in the teeth of African opposition would be not only inconsistent with the clause which I have quoted from the preamble to the scheme, but unwise and wrong. What a start for partnership! The economic advantages which it is hoped will come from federation would surely be endangered. On the first day of our debate the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said that because of instability in the Union of South Africa the flow of capital from overseas needed for the development of the Union had dried up. I wonder what the noble Lord considers is the element of instability in the Union of South Africa? I should have thought that it was inter-racial bitterness, and that inter-racial bitterness might very greatly endanger the economy of these territories.
As for the political advantages, we know the desirability of having a strong bloc in that part of the Continent. But what will be the use of that unless it is a bloc of people united and happy in their association together? What is needed first is not the federation of these territories but the closer association of these races. I suggest that, without African support, the federated territory of Central Africa will resemble the description given by Edmund Burke to one of Pitt's Ministries:A piece of joinery so crossly indented and whimsically dove-tailed, such a piece of diversified mosaic, such a tesselated pavement without cement; here a bit of black stone and there a bit of white—indeed a very curious show, but utterly unsafe to touch and unsure to stand upon.I suggest that to create a Federation in such circumstances would be unwise, because it would spread alarm among the African subjects of the Queen and her protected subjects throughout Africa, undoing a great deal of the good that has been done in their minds by the grant of liberal constitutions to the Gold Coast. Nigeria, Tanganyika. I suggest that it would be wrong. Africans—and I have known Africans, and have taught them, from these territories, though I have never been there—seem to have very dear to their hearts two qualities: justice and loyalty. do not think they would consider it just that this scheme should be imposed upon them if it were done in 778 opposition to the wishes of most of them. I feel sure that they would regard us as being disloyal to our trust if we were to weaken the connection which subsists between them and the Colonial Office and the Government in this country.
The matter has been talked about for twenty years. Yes—but more than twenty years was spent in talking about Home Rule for Ireland, and the Party to which I belong never considered that it would he right to hand over loyal Ulstermen to a form of government they did not desire. Why should we do it to these people? Because they value their land? It is the land of their forefathers, and that cannot be said of all the inhabitants of those territories. I wonder whether your Lordships are aware that in 1950 there were 169,000 white Africans or Europeans in these territories, and in 1938 only 76,000. That means to say that twelve years before 1950 not half of them had been in that country. And I am informed that many of the miners working in the copper belt in Northern Rhodesia stay there for some eight or ten years and then go away: they are not only "cuckoos" but birds of passage also. Shall we be disloyal to these people because they rate performance above promises? Shall we be disloyal to them because they prize freedom above wealth? It is, I feel, unthinkable that we should in any way force them into this scheme.
What then can be done? Admittedly there are important arguments in favour of federation. I would venture to make this suggestion: that the advocates of federation should say, quite openly and frankly, "We find that this scheme is not approved by the majority of the Africans, therefore we will drop it and will not raise it for five years. In the meantime, we will prove what we mean by 'partnership' so far as we are able to do." If they will do that, I think there is a good chance that partnership will lead to federation. For in the letter which these African representatives wrote to The Times they said in their last paragraph:We prefer political reforms in each territory first.This means that they do not exclude the ultimate possibility of a federation. I suggest that it might be possible for the advocates of federation to be content for 779 five years with something on the lines of the East African High Commission; that each of the territories should restrict immigration and take stronger measures for the protection of African land; that in Southern Rhodesia trade unions should be recognised; that the property qualification for voting should be reduced; that African representatives should be admitted and their numbers gradually increased in the territorial Legislatures. Then, I think, something might be achieved.
No doubt this would require patience on the part of Europeans in these territories. Yes, we know this matter has been discussed for twenty years; but we cannot say that partnership has been discussed for twenty years; still less that partnership has been practised for twenty years. No doubt there would have to be some forgoing of economic gain. Yes, but these people are not impoverished. The preface to this scheme states that these territories, though their economies are vulnerable, are relatively prosperous; and you will find in Command Paper 8234, at page 44, that the exports of domestic produce from Southern Rhodesia in 1938 were of the value of £10,000,000 and that in 1949 they were of the value of £29,000,000. The value of these exports from Northern Rhodesia in 1938 was about £10,000,000 and in 1949 about £32,000,000. For Nyasaland the figures were: for 1938. £960,000, and for 1949, £4,000,000.
If this period of delay were granted, through the generosity of the advocates of federation, I think they would find that their African fellows were generous. They would find that Africans, who will take little from people they do not trust, will take even unpalatable proposals from those whom they have learned to trust. I believe that great political advantage would accrue, because of the healing and the reconciliation that would come about in those territories, and that then federation might come, not as the root of partnership but as its fruit, and that we should have then done much towards the solution of the great Imperial problem of our time—which is whether we can create and hold a multi-racial Commonwealth. If we can, we shall have done much to ensure the peace of the world.
§ 5.40 p.m.
My Lords, I should like first to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, on his magnificent contribution to the right viewpoint and the right attitude in this matter. It is most encouraging for us on this side of the House to have his support. I should like to say frankly that I have not yet been to Africa, although I hope to go there in the near future. I feel that this is an issue of outstanding importance, although it is easy not to think that when there are so many other matters pressing for consideration. I want to direct my remarks to the question of consent. I regard this question of consent and the ascertaining of African opinion as one of basic importance. One is frightened to hear such remarks as, "I would not give too much weight to African opinion." I think that sort of approach and that tone is thoroughly frightening. After all. this is as much a humanitarian as a political issue. There appears to be a universal lack of consent to these federation proposals. The word "partnership" is a mockery if the Government intend to proceed with these proposals. There cannot be a proper partnership in these proposals when one partner has no confidence in them. Noble Lords may deny that the Africans have no confidence in these proposals, but I hope to prove to your Lordships that this is the case.
One of the prime reasons for lack of faith is that federation would deprive these territories of the rights of eventual self-government. The Africans consider that the proposals are a reversal of the traditional British Colonial policy, which is a policy of gradual movement towards self-government by the African people themselves, and that the policy of indirect rule is a stage in that development. I think there is a genuine fear of Southern Rhodesian native policy. It must be realised that Southern Rhodesia would be the senior partner in the proposed federation, and that her policy as regards race is extremely similar to that of the Union of South Africa. Nobody can deny that. Many of the laws affecting Africans in Southern Rhodesia are simply copies of laws in the Union of South Africa. If any noble Lord thinks that that is not the case I should very much like to be enlightened.
781 The differences on questions of native policy between the three territories are admitted in the White Paper. The preamble to the White Paper says:Certain differences in native policy between Southern Rhodesia and the Northern territories still remained, but though important, they were felt to relate largely to method and timing: the ultimate objectives of all three Governments were broadly the same—namely, the economic, social and political advancement of the Africans in partnership with the Europeans.I think that is an unfair way of putting it. Words can be clever and they are clever in this case. I am sure that anyone with an unclouded sense of values and principles would regard this as a distortion of the truth. I would suggest that "method and timing" is rather a deceitful phrase.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but he rather asked for an answer. I do not accept the statement that the policy of Southern Rhodesia with regard to the natives and the policy of the Union of South Africa are the same. Take the common roll in Southern Rhodesia. It is perfectly true there is a qualification that a certain capital has to be held by the voters, but a large number of Africans have a considerable amount of money, yet only one in ten takes advantage of it. But there is a common roll. Is the noble Lord saving that there is a completely common roll in the Union of South Africa?
I agree with the noble Marquess. Perhaps what I am going to come to a little later will tie up with the question of the common roll. In passing, I would say that the point that only one in ten take advantage of the common roll is a point that has been misrepresented. because in fact the African is not encouraged to take an interest in politics, and if he finds that he cannot go to meetings with Europeans it seems to him that politics is not his world. I maintain that it is not only a matter of difference in method arid timing. It is fundamentally a matter of principle. Though I should be the last to run down wholesale the Europeans on the spot, the facts I have gathered make me think that we cannot be proud of some of them. There is a fundamental difference between us in this country and a large proportion of the people on the 782 spot. I think the British attitude is to accept the African as a human being who is entitled to the same rights and privileges which other people claim for themselves. We think that there should be no artificial barriers. We have a sincere attitude towards education, including political education. On the other hand, some of the European settlers on the spot, a vocal and important section, adopt the attitude that the African is an inferior being who should not take part in politics, and who should be ruled by a benevolent aristocracy. That is expressed as a clear and distinct philosophy, and I feel myself basically and strongly against it.
This attitude was put in a nutshell by Sir Godfrey Huggins himself, when he said, a few years ago:It is time for the people in England to realise that the white man in Africa is not prepared and never will be prepared, to accept the African as an equal, either socially or politicallyThese are very strong words. I should like to take this opportunity of defending the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester who on the first day of this debate was virtually accused by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, of raising the colour bar question as such. The noble Lord said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, Col. 660):Particularly did regret the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, because of the influences—of the prejudices (if I might say so without offence) which he dragged across the issue by his mention of the colour bar."By his mention of the colour bar"—I think that is an extraordinary attitude. I cannot help feeling that the Government are in danger of betraying the Africans over this issue. The idea of the trust in Africa is that we shall not line up with the European settlers any more than with anybody else. It is hard to see in the Central African Federation proposals anything but a tendency to line up with the Europeans in a distinctly biased way.
I suppose it may be assumed that if the referendum in Southern Rhodesia goes against federation—and my information is that that is quite likely—the proposals will be dropped. I am anxious to know from the Government what their intentions are if the Europeans accept the scheme and the Africans persist in their present attitude, as they undoubtedly must. I should particularly 783 like to ask the noble Marquess whether it is the case that, in spite of opposition from Africans, the Government plan and intend to go through with the federation scheme.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The best I can do is to quote what I said in my speech, and what I thought was perfectly clear. This is what I said:At the present stage it is very difficult to look beyond the next Conference. I am certainly not going to make—and I hope the House will not expect me to do so—any firm statement or commitment about what Her Majesty's Government do in circumstances which are still quite unknown and which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, himself said were very uncertain.That certainly is not a commitment to go ahead in any circumstances. It is as far as any Government could go at the present stage.
I am sorry to have to put the question quite like that, because I certainly heard every word of the speech of the noble Marquess. But it seems to me that the Government will find themselves in a difficult position if people on the spot are now propagating this particular scheme, and so many noble Lords on the other side of the House are saying that African opinion does not matter. In view of that, I feel it is worth while to have had repeated what the noble Marquess said, and I thank him very much. This question of consent, and the fact that we have had African opinion belittled by several noble Lords, makes me feel that it is the outstanding issue. If federation is pressed through in the present circumstances, I believe that we shall lose the confidence of Africa for ever, because what happens in this particular part of Africa will have wide and far-reaching influence. I do not want to raise this as a Party issue, but I believe I can say, quite categorically, that my Party would not consider pressing forward with this scheme in the face of clear united African opposition.
I should like to raise a point as to the ascertaining of opinion, because I have some information on how the White Paper was put across in the territories concerned. The noble Viscount, Lord Ruffside, said last Wednesday that there were seven languages in Northern Rhodesia and that is not denied. However, he rather implied that there were, therefore, likely to 784 be as many opinions on federation. It is quite clear from reading the noble Viscount's speech in Hansard that he thinks that the language problem has made it hard for the African to know what federation is. But, as noble Lords have already said, the White Paper (not this one, but the previous one) has been printed in various languages. My information is that the copies of the translation were given to district officers in the respective languages of the districts. As there are already in existence in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland Government-created organs for the expression of responsible public opinion, surely the Government would receive the reports brought through those organs. There is the district council, the provincial council, and at the top the Representative Council. These councils are regarded by the Government as both authoritative and representative at each level of African opinion.
Apparently what happened was that copies of the translation of the White Paper were given out and it was suggested that the proposals should be studied, after which there should be expressions of opinion—in the case of the district councils it was stated that there would be a district meeting in a month's time. After study, the answer in every district and every province was "No"; and this rejection by the lower bodies was confirmed by the higher body. I have here a report of a debate on closer association, from which I should like to quote. The report is virtually the Hansard of the African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia. It is dated September 12, 1951. I hope your Lordships will bear with me while I quote from the remarks of two different speakers. The first is an extract from the speech of Mr. Siwale. He says:In the report it is stated that the conference in London comprised only prominent government officials who know the fears and hopes of the African people and who worked very hard to formulate the report. Here the African is puzzled and feels that much fear had to be recognised, the fear of the African that he might not et a fair deal and the fear of the European that they would be swamped and consequently also not get a fair deal. One may ask from what did these fears come. From the fact that genuine partnership is not the existing criterion and that there was no sign that the partnership would become the guiding factor. If that could be achieved, suspicion would disappear. When Africans opposed the proposals in 1948 they said the 785 time was inopportune for them to accept any proposals. Despite that, the European has persisted in bringing forward more proposals, such as federation. It can easily be seen in the report that in a federal parliament we find inadequate and poor representation on the Africans' part. We, all of us, remember that we demanded an increase of African representation in Legislative Council recently, and our request was denied by the Government of Northern Rhodesia. They say that we are not fit to sit in the Legislative Council, and we cannot express ourselves fully in English. We can speak in our own languages and an interpreter could stand there as they do in other countries.The other extract I want to read is from the speech of Mr. Musumbulwa, who said:We are enjoying democratic government, but I believe that there are a number of dissatisfactions"—I feel that that is quite moderate—because democracy is a government of the people, for the people, by the people. I think I am right in saying that two ideas are applied. One is of the people, government of the people and the government for the people. The later idea, which I feel is most important, government by the people, I think is less practised. As far as administration is concerned, no African has yet been appointed to an official position. That shows that the Government is not allowing we Africans to participate in the direct administration of the Government.The second thing is that in the Legislature of this Protectorate, we have two Africans representing our interests, two nominated Members representing African interests. We are, I think, something like two million Africans in the country and then we find that our brothers or our partners, who are less in number, have more representation in central politics. I believe it is very important that if as Africans we had an increased representation in the Legislative Council we will be sure that we have a government run by us. We shall have satisfaction in that we are quite secure, we are safe because we have more people talking for us.Referring to page 12, paragraph 32 of the report, where it says, Urgency of the problem ', I feel our urgent need is the executive, administrative powers and increased representation in central politics. That, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of the House, is more urgent than the federal scheme, and I think it may make it possible at some time for Africans to consider some form of closer association.The point he is making is that of a true partnership before federation. He goes on—and I think the next sentence is a very good one:The position is, we are going with smaller power in our smaller government to a much smaller power in a wider government and it is very true that a good deal of what we want will not be done and cannot be done in that way.786 I apologise for detaining your Lordships, but I have one or two other points that I wish to make. I think we may conclude from such remarks that the Africans are not ignorant, and in the last few years (and this is the point) the pace of their political education has been rapidly increasing, which alters the whole position. Nor are they unaware of world affairs. It is not true that they are just rejecting this without alternative suggestions, and I want briefly to suggest what are positive alternative proposals on definite terms. When a thing is evil, it is easy to destroy it, but it is much harder to equate an alternative suggestion. There is one other thing I should like to state to your Lordships, and that concerns the unofficial delegates from Northern Rhodesia who were in London at the time of the Conference. I am informed that these people were not allowed to report back to their own Protectorate Council.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am not quite clear whom the noble Lord has in mind. Does he mean the white delegates or the African delegates?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am afraid that I cannot answer that point without notice. I did not know the point was to be raised. If I can get hold of a reply, I will let the noble Lord know.
I am obliged to the noble Marquess. As Sir Godfrey Huggins is one of the prime movers in these federation proposals, may I quote one or two remarks of his? He said:You cannot have a policy for individual human beings. You might think you had one but if there was much in it you could never carry it out in the constant change of human relationships. I think that what most people mean in these communities of Europeans and Africans is that there can be a policy in regard to the use of the land by natives. When the question of employment in industry arises it is not so much native policy as European policy.Sir Godfrey Huggins also said:After a long period of years our descendants will know what are the capabilities of 787 the different races. The more capable will rule the roost.The very tone of the speech does not seem to be encouraging partnership.At present we know where the ability rests but do not know how many uncommon people capable of sustained energy with creative and organising ability can be produced by the so-called native section after they have had some years of opportunity. When the Europeans came here the Bantu had no written language, and in view of the history of the world—that we are all descended from a common ancestry—it suggests that there is prima facie evidence that there is something wrong with the Bantu branch of the family.May I say one thing about illiteracy? I expect many noble Lords know fine people who are wildfowlers on the East Coast, or in any other part of the country, who cannot write well but whom we regard as some of the most experienced people we have known. Just because they cannot write, we surely would not wish to deny such people a true part in democracy. I think the same applies in the case of any other country in the world.
May I give, very briefly, one or two positive suggestions for what we might call positive partnership'? Could it not come about, for instance—it would tremendously ease the tension—that there should be no racial restrictions on Africans acquiring land either in town or country? Also, why not some declaration about equal pay for equal work? That would involve re-definition of the word "employee" in the Industrial Conciliation Act of Southern Rhodesia. Why not the abolition of the legal colour bar and, as much as possible, the elimination of the ingrained colour bar in hotels, trains and so forth? Would it not be possible to cease having nominated members? This would be at once democratic and a lesson in democracy to the Africans in their own District, Provincial and Protectorate Councils. Equally in the Central Government African membership should be elected. There is the possible intermediate suggestion of parity, so that, in the case of the Nyasaland Legislative Council, there would be nine official members, five Europeans, five Africans and five Indian and coloured. That might eventually lead to a common interest.
As the noble Lord, Lord Ammon, said, this is part of the same issue as the 788 slavery campaigns of 120 years ago or the abolition of slavery in the Empire 118 years ago. Obviously, we have divided loyalties in this country between the Europeans and the Africans, but surely our trust is especially towards the Africans, whose country it has been for far longer. I would not deny the tremendous amount of work put in by Europeans, and I appreciate that there must be some compromise solution. I feel that part of that compromise must be the eventual abolition of the colour bar. Could we not manage to be realistic and visionary all at the same time, and realise that paper safeguards are a debased currency? It is a question of reactions in the next few seconds between Africans and Europeans in the territories concerned. I therefore find myself having to oppose the proposals for federation, as at present put forward and at this present time.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD HAILEY
My Lords, I think many of us welcomed the opportunity of reading again the debates of last Wednesday, not because we should find in them an opportunity which some noble Lords have found of rebuking members on opposite Benches, but for a somewhat simpler reason. It does enable those of us who have tried to be students of African affairs to arrive at some sort of clarification of the position of the Government, as expressed by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. Our trouble originally was that the White Paper put forward this scheme as a series of proposals which, if approved, could be translated into a constitutional instrument—could be; that was very noncommittal. We now have it from the noble Marquess that the Government consider this to be a sensible and a workable scheme. In other words, I hope I am not assuming too much when I assume that the Government are behind the scheme of federation.
I am not going to ask, and it would not be fair to ask, and I know the noble Marquess could not be expected to answer the question, whether they feel so strongly in favour of federation that they would impose the scheme on the parts of Africa concerned, in spite of any opinion expressed against it. I think I am right in assuming that at present the Government stand behind, in principle, 789 the scheme of federation, subject to any alterations which may be made in the course of the visit of the three Commissions which are now on their way out there. I may remark that the changes that some of these Commissions are likely to make will probably be somewhat far-reaching. The Fiscal Commission, for instance, will have the making of recommendations which will somehow be woven into the Constitution, in order to provide for an extra sum which I, on my own estimate, place at about £10,000,000 a year and which must be raised by fresh taxation. Also there will be, I should imagine, some rather complicated adjustments in a scheme which will bring together three units, of which one—Southern Rhodesia—has a loan debt of between £85,000,000 and £90,000,000, and the other two have comparatively small public debts of about £4,000,000 or possibly £3,000,000. The Law Commission will also have some difficult problems to adjust in view of the different systems of law established in Southern Rhodesia as compared with the two Colonies concerned.
But if I am right in assuming that, subject to structural changes of that kind which will have to be made as the result of the visit of the Commissions, the Government intend to uphold the scheme of federation, I am going to ask one initial question. It is, I am sure, one which the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, had he been here—and I deplore his absence, because he has been connected intimately with this question for many years—would certainly have asked more than once in this House. That question is: Why do you not begin by amalgamating, or it may be federating, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland? If you were to take a step of that kind you would not have any longer to meet the more theoretical objections that were brought against such amalgamations or federations in previous years, because they would have been removed, obviously, by the decision of the Government on the subject of federation. But you would have this advantage, and a very considerable advantage it is: that you would enable the people of Africa mostly concerned to have some little experience of a union of that kind in its actual working. There would be the further advantage that you would enable the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia themselves to see the very particular 790 benefit they might derive if they could so adjust the terms of federation as to secure the good will of Africans in its operation.
I am aware that that would mean some period of delay, and we have heard on every hand that delay in this matter would be exceedingly dangerous. We have been told again and again that if we do not get federation now we shall never do so. I am not quite sure of the grounds on which that statement is made. I have questioned many of my friends and have not received a very precise answer. I think, if I may be frank, that it is connected in their minds with the possibility that Sir Godfrey Huggins, who was one of the chief advocates of the scheme, would be retiring from politics, and that without his advocacy there would be an end to the prospects of federation. I hope I shall not be guilty of any impropriety in speaking of the Prime Minister of another responsible Government if I say that it would be a tragedy if Sir Godfrey Huggins had to give up his part in politics. I think it would be regarded as such not only in Southern Rhodesia, among all Parties there and among all races, but also in the Commonwealth at large. But I hope there is enough strength for the case of federation, and that there are arguments for it which do not depend upon the continuance of the advocacy of Sir Godfrey Huggins, and if it is a viable proposition (if I may use a word which I do not quite understand) I hope it will stand on its own merits.
Your Lordships have heard a great deal on the subject of principle this afternoon. I propose to be more commonplace, passing at once to some questions of detail. The central point, the focal point, of the scheme is really the African Affairs Board. I think we should all regret that it has been found necessary to provide a measure of this kind in order to remove the apprehensions of Africans. Let me say at once that I consider that the advocacy of the existence of a board like this does not imply any condemnation of the attitude of the Europeans in Southern Rhodesia or Northern Rhodesia—either the settled community in Southern Rhodesia or the more or less transitory industrial European community in Northern Rhodesia. But it is perfectly clear that Africans have these apprehensions. I am told on many hands that we must 791 not make—and I am going to quote an expression which has been used here this afternoon—too much of African opinion because there is no such thing as African opinion but only a certain number of vocal Africans who lead others along the path they have chosen for them. Well, I used to hear a great deal of that kind of argument when I first went to India—I regret to say nearly sixty years ago—and for many years those arguments were directed against any scheme for reform or change in India. But gradually we came to learn for ourselves the truth that what we had to deal with was just that vocal opinion that was voiced by a number of advanced and, if you like, aggressive people because they assumed leadership of the country for the mass of the people. It was a leadership which we ourselves could not assume. Sooner or later we have to reckon with that class of opinion, and it would be exceedingly unsafe to neglect it now.
Therefore, when I speak of African opinion I am careful to be precise on the subject. I will say that it is the opinion of the progressive and vocal Africans that we encounter in these territories and who are gradually assuming the leadership of the mass of Africans. It is indisputable that they have these apprehensions; and if the interests of the white population have to be safeguarded in a federation of this kind, it is only reasonable to suppose that the interests of the African people must be safeguarded by a device of some kind such as the African Board. But in itself this is only really a compromise. The natural, ordinary, constitutional provision for a people—it may be a minority or it may be an inferior party—is to provide for a structure of federation or of government with a sufficient number of votes to make its opinions felt. In India it was once proposed—and I believe it has been proposed elsewhere—as an additional protection, that if a minority community having a certain number of representatives were unanimous against any proposal, that proposition would be held up in the Legislature. But that kind of device or that grant of a sufficient number of votes is apparently impossible in present circumstances. It would not be accepted by the European community. I think it would be unreasonable to ask that there should be anything of that nature introduced into the Federal Con- 792 stitution at this stage; the time is not yet ripe for it. But I think we must realise that, if there are to be safeguards for one community or another, then ultimately that will be the natural constitutional development. It is for that reason that I suggest that this scheme should be put forward at present distinctly on that understanding: that this is an expedient that has to be adopted until further Constitutional changes can take place which will give the African a more influential voice in the Legislature.
I say it is a compromise. From the African point of view, I am well aware that it is not a very desirable compromise, and for this reason—which has not been referred to here but I believe it to be the real reason: the Africans are afraid that the Home Government would find it very difficult to disallow any measure which had so strong a local European support that its disallowance might cause the fall of a local Ministry. If it were a matter on which European opinion was so strong that a Ministry would fall on the subject of a disallowance, then equally I think it would be impossible to provide an alternative Ministry to take its place. That is the reason, I think, why Africans are apt to say that this is the real weakness of this particular feature of the scheme. It is for that reason also that I repeat my suggestion that the African Board should be put forward distinctly as an expedient to tide over the time until African voting strength is sufficient to exercise its influence on matters to which African opinion objects.
There is in the scheme as it is drafted a further weakness that I can see and which I am sure Africans feel also. The matters of real importance to Africans are likely to arise much more in the executive and the administrative field than they do in the legislative field. That was certainly our experience in India when it came to questions of protecting the rights of minorities. We had to take there exceptional steps to see that the minorities particularly were protected in the executive and administrative field and not merely in the field of legislation. The fact is, of course, that you can exercise discrimination against a minority or another party as much by negative action as you can by positive action. Your budget and the provisions you make for social services and the like are often 793 much more powerful a weapon that any legislation which you can enact. I am well aware that the African Affairs Board can make certain representations on this particular subject, but it is difficult to see how all that elaborate procedure of reference to the Home Government and disallowance of legislation will have the same effect for the protection of African interests—and here is the point—as would be exercised by continual Colonial Office control over the proceedings of the Administration.
Of course, I am perfectly well aware—and the Government can quite reasonably make the point—that the definition of the respective fields of the Federal and Territorial Governments has narrowed the sphere in which the Federation can exercise executive as well as legislative action. But while I recognise that there are many African interests of the greatest importance that are protected by this definition of functions, while I recognise, for instance, that such questions as those relating to the land or the control of native courts—all highly important questions to the African—fall outside the federal sphere and are subject to territorial legislation, yet there are other subjects which affect Africans and which fall within the sphere of federal legislation: for instance, customs regulations which, at all events, if one listens to what has been said on the subject, have been used against Africans before now in other Colonies, the management of railways and the higher education of Africans. Those are all subjects entirely for exclusive federal control, and the Federation will have concurrent control in a number of matters which are also of considerable importance to Africans, such as marketing boards, prisons, and health, in the sense of public health regulations. If I read the White Paper proposals correctly, if there is a conflict of authority between the Federal and the Territorial Governments, then it is the decision of the Federal Government that will prevail, not only in legislative action but in administrative and executive action. You have, therefore, in that case also, distinctly a second weakness, of which your Lordships must be aware, in the proposals regarding the African Affairs Board.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord was referring to subjects on the concurrent list, I assume.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Not the large number of subjects which still fall under the Territorial Governments. With those, of course, the Federal Government will have nothing whatever to do. They cover the largest subjects affecting the life of the African.
§ LORD HAILEY
Certainly. As I said—I do not know whether I made myself sufficiently clear in what I was saying—I realise that there are a number of very important subjects, such as the control of native courts, land, and so on, which remain purely territorial.
§ LORD HAILEY
And they are outside the federal sphere. I said that there are other subjects which fall into the federal sphere, such as marketing boards and the like. I have my list here—customs regulations, management of railways, and the higher education of the Africans. Those fall into the exclusive control of the Federal Government. Then there are concurrent subjects in which, of course, the Federal and the Territorial Governments both have a sphere of action but, in the case of conflict, it is the decision of the Federal Government which prevails. Rightly or wrongly, I referred to that as being a weakness in the present scheme, but I am not going to pursue this examination of subjects in detail because perhaps we may have some subsequent opportunity of discussing what I should call the Committee points. I do not want to enter into them now. I would confine myself only to remarking that I think that some new definition must be attempted in this rather vexed matter of differentiating measures. The real point is that you can have a measure of differentiation which is concealed—that is to say, you can have legislation which applies to all communities alike but affects only one. We have had so many cases of that in India. I will not weary the House by reciting them, but it is clear that certain types of legislation, while apparently applying to all communities and therefore not falling within the scope of differentiation, nevertheless affect one community almost entirely. Therefore, I ask only that clue care should be given towards finding some more practical definition.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, who 795 speaks with such authority on this matter, but the White Paper says on page 24:differentiating measure' means a Bill or a subordinate law by which Africans are subjected or made liable to any conditions, restrictions or disabilities disadvantageous to them to which Europeans are not also subjected or made liable, or which might in its practical application have a like effect.I think that should answer the point which the noble Lord has made, because it is impossible to go much wider than that.
§ LORD HAILEY
If I may say so, I considered that passage very carefully, and I realised that while the question of differentiation is a matter almost of legal interpretation, the question whether something is "disadvantageous" to Africans is very much a matter of opinion; and on certain occasions the Governor-General can refuse to refer legislation if he does not regard it as being to the disadvantage of Africans.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is a point. I think that is a matter which might easily be considered further. It was meant to deal with frivolous matters, but if it makes the safeguard stronger it is a point that can be considered again. But I cannot agree with the noble Lord in regard to the scope of a differentiating measure as laid down here. The definition is as wide as it possibly can be.
§ LORD HAILEY
The noble Marquess will realise that I am only trying to point out matters which might perhaps be considered before the scheme is finalised. You will find a similar difficulty in the definition of "public officer," which has received various legal interpretations. But I will not labour that either. From those remarks on points of detail your Lordships will gather that there are certain matters which I think will have to be considered again by the Government, quite apart from the matters which may be referred to them by the Commissions.
I will return again to what I put aside for the moment—namely, this question of principle, and to the necessity of safeguarding the position of Africans in any scheme of federation. I find that Europeans, at all events in Southern Rhodesia, show a certain amount of indignation at the idea that anyone over 796 here should think it necessary to call attention to African interests in the matter, or to propose safeguards for them. Personally, I am one of those who do not wish in the slightest to overlook the enormous debt that the people of Central Africa owe to European enterprise, management and example. The results of that are entirely to the benefit of Africans. Neither do I want to overlook the fact that in Southern Rhodesia the Administration has shown a great deal of consideration and liberality towards native interests. I have examined the position with some care at different times, and I say that quite conscientiously, while at the same time I rather protest against the attempts that have been made to press, somewhat unduly in my view, the comparison between the amounts spent by Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia on social services. A fact that is overlooked is that Northern Rhodesia has only just been able to achieve the resources by which it can spend money on native welfare.
But one cannot judge of the attitude of a Government merely by statistical calculations of this kind: a large number of matters must be taken into account, and cannot be calculated merely by statistical comparisons. Indeed, if figures of this kind are to be a test, then on that basis the native policy of the Union of South Africa is far superior to that of Southern Rhodesia or Northern Rhodesia, or of most of our Colonies. If you take the bare figures as they were given, until recently the Union spent on the education of each of its African subjects £4 2s. 4d. a head, as against £2 7s. Od. in Southern Rhodesia and £3 16s. Od. in Northern Rhodesia. I put absolutely no weight on that at all. I merely say that I hope we shall hear very little more of these statistical comparisons.
If it is suggested that some safeguards are necessary to meet the apprehensions of the African, it is not because we have a mistrust of Europeans—be they the British in Southern Rhodesia or the Afrikaan-speaking population in Northern Rhodesia. We are perfectly willing to believe that the best of them, at all events, honestly approach this question in a spirit of partnership. But we are making this plea simply and solely because we believe that the federation would have a far better chance of success 797 if it carried the good will of Africans and if some of these apprehensions were removed. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton has referred to two of the advisory bodies—the African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia, and the African Protectorate Council in Nyasaland. If any of your Lordships would care to read the debates of those two bodies, some of which I have been through over a period of years, you will see that there is a body of responsible, respectable and intelligent opinion—by no means of the agitator type, but highly moderate in its form of expression. Indeed, a large number of the members of these bodies are chiefs or men belonging mainly to families who could not be regarded as anything but responsible in their own sphere of work. It is because we wish to carry with us that class of opinion that we ask for these safeguards and for this consideration.
May I just add one further word? In the study which I have attempted to make of African affairs during the last sixteen years, I have been convinced, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, was convinced, of the value of these federations or closer unions of various scattered parts of our Colonial Dominions. I believe that that is essential on general grounds, and not merely on account of the economic benefits which may be looked forward to as a result. In many ways the scheme that we have before us now is, I think, a great improvement on that which was brought forward from the original official conference. I can see minor points in regard to which it might be better, but now that the Government stand behind the scheme and the position is clearer, I hope that it can be put in its revised form before the three Legislatures concerned, and put as fairly as possible to African opinion. I myself should dislike to think that we were imposing it on Africans against their firm refusal to accept. I would plead only that it should be put now to the three Legislatures and to African opinion, and that we should get, if possible, as fair a view as we can and consider again in this country the impact of African opinion upon it. I am convinced that what we want to achieve in federation is not—as some noble Lord has suggested here to-day—merely the achievement of self-rule by Africans. We want to achieve, as a result of federation, 798 a definite process of self-rule by all the communities combined. I believe that it is only by federation that we shall get that balance of forces—the racial forces, the cultural forces, and the economic forces—which will make self-rule possible.
§ 6.40 p.m.
My Lords, it is not my intention to keep you very long. We have heard, both last Wednesday and this afternoon, the expression of a very considerable body of opinion on this matter of federation of the three Central States in Africa. I myself feel that the plan, from an economic, political and financial point of view, is certainly essential, and that the way it has been put in the Government White Paper shows that a very great amount of serious thought and consideration has been given to all aspects of white and native affairs. I think that the speeches made this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, have clearly shown why this project is a necessity.
I turn to the question of African agreement. I want to make my remarks as short as possible, so I will come straight to what I consider the vital points. I wish to stress one matter of which I have not heard very much—once only I believe has it been mentioned—and that is the effect of the impact of outside propaganda on African opinion in this matter. I do not know whether your Lordships realise it, but since the end of the war a stream of unequivocable and treasonable propaganda against this country has been coming from the borders of Abyssinia. It has been spread not only in West Africa and East Africa but also in South Africa—I am now speaking of the activities of the Soviet Ministry in Addis Ababa. I say that without fear of contradiction. I ask your Lordships, with that sort of thing going on for something like four years, how can you feel that it is possible to get a fair consensus of African opinion on a matter like this, which so vitally concern; the Africans themselves? I say that you cannot.
I feel very strongly about this. I am perfectly certain that a very great deal of this continued negativeness on the part of Northern Rhodesians, Africans chiefly, has been the result of this propaganda. It has come sometimes by circuitous ways, sometimes direct from 799 Africa and sometimes through the City of London, from our universities and through certain societies. I have no hesitation in saying so. I think that African opinion would not have been so—shall we say?—stilted if this propaganda had been absent. Therefore I feel that we must make adjustment in our adjudication of events to allow for this. And possibly the Government, when making a final presentation of the case to the Africans next October, will have been able to find some means to allay their fears, and also to stifle some of this propaganda. I myself do not think that we have a great deal to be apprehensive about in connection with native fears. I have tried to follow, though not quite so skilfully as the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, the methods and duties of the African Affairs Board. I think that African affairs are receiving every consideration. Naturally, we may consider further political reforms are necessary for the Africans—as, of course, they are. But I think that these reforms can probably come better through the area of this proposed federation, which will strengthen the hands of everyone and will be of a more permanent nature. I am convinced that at present the governmental systems of these three isolated territories are not strong enough really to put over the reforms directed to secure African participation which a closer union of these territories should bring about.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I think nearly every speaker to-day and last Wednesday has paid tribute to the Colonial officer—and I believe quite rightly. I believe that the great work which the Colonial service has done has been more properly recognised in recent years than it was before. Noble Lords who have spoken have in some cases wide knowledge of Africa. Some have lived there; some have visited it frequently. I think I am the only person speaking in the debate who was once a District Officer on the eastern side of Africa. I give my own opinion for what it is worth, but I think the late Government was extremely wise in having the original proposals drawn up by a Committee composed largely of Colonial servants. Whereas Governors and others come and go, the Service goes on for ever. I think 800 they produced an extremely workmanlike document which we debated on August 1 of last year. Speaking as one who was once a District Officer in East Africa, I would say that nothing could surprise me less than that the initial reaction of the Africans was a complete refusal. One can only too easily generalise about Africans, and I will not fall into that trap if I can help it. Whereas a Sicilian and a Swede are mightily different, it would be perceptible, to an outside observer from another continent, that they had some European similarity and were joined together by certain distinguishable threads. It is little different with Africans, and I do not think one is generalising about East and Central Africa when one says that an African will always initially resist any change in the status quo.
Now I speak for my own district—which, of course, is a mere microcosm compared to the whole continent. Every single novel scheme, whether for the education of the children, the vaccination of cattle, dealing with the tsetse fly or soil conservation—each scheme to meet the problem always met with initial resistance. Very often we took the step against their united antagonism, and then the African came round when he saw that the step we had taken really worked. But in the District Officer's job long hours, weeks, even years of patient explanation are called for. I think it has been ever thus—for I have heard it said, on the best authority, that Africans bitterly resented political authority being transferred from the Chartered Company to the British Government. Interference with the status quo is something they will always distrust.
The next point in dealing with a district—because though coming within the ambit of my own experience it does not belong to a distant past, for your Lordships if you look at me will perceive that I am not a very old man—
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
I am obliged to the noble Lord. Let not the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, think that the task of the District Officer is as easy as all that, in explaining the difference between federation and amalgamation to the Bantu people. There are no words to differentiate these two things and it can 801 be explained only by immense patience and care, and a whole volume of words. I know from experience how many difficulties one can fall into if one has not the correct African word to describe what is meant. In Uganda there was a sect who vigorously opposed, frequently with force, often with bloodshed and sometimes death, anything designed to promote health. The reason was based on one simple and silly fact. When the Bible was translated into their language, the word for physician was the same as that for witch doctor. Fifty years of patient explanation was unsuccessful in eradicating that sect or putting the conception right.
One thing has made the African particularly suspicious of this scheme. Contrary to precedent, it was launched without any lead being given, and I think that he seemed to see a "catch" in that. Introducing the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said that it would give us a chance of making up our minds. We have had a magnificent debate, but it is much harder for the Africans, the British electorate and the world at large, to make up their minds in this subject, as the air has been over-clouded with suspicion. When the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, produced his Report, it was said that there were those who were for it, those who were against it and those who had read it. The same might well be said of these proposals. Before the proposals were launched last year, even before the late Government had time to produce the original plan, a pamphlet, written by a well-known pamphleteer opposing federation, was widely circulated in Central Africa and in Britain.
There has also been a section of the Press purporting to express African opinion, which has acted as export houses of prefabricated arguments against federation, which are re-exported to this country as genuine African opinion. There is that strange school of thought, which would well repay a cool scientific analysis and which deems that if a farmer or a miner both considered admirable men in this country, lands in Africa, although the dust may not be off his hoots, he becomes a rapacious, grasping man, impatient, greedy, and oppressive. Then there are those who will not see that there are any other people of Africa than indigenous Africans. There are also those who equate public opinion in Africa with public 802 opinion in Britain, disregarding the fact that the people in Britain have had many centuries in which to build up an acumen in public affairs. Because our people in Britain are newspaper readers, and have access to radio, public opinion in this country is one of the liveliest in the world. In my short political career nothing, has struck me more about public opinion than the instantaneous reaction which washed against the Palace of Westminster on the question of the death penalty, and those with far longer political experience might well have thought it the most striking example of their career.
Before the noble Lord leaves the critics of federation, would he say a word about the missionaries? Does he join the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in thinking that they ought to keep their hands out of this business?
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
No, all the missionaries are not on one side. Personally I attach a good deal of importance to the opinions expressed by the Bishop of Salisbury in favour of federation. but the missionaries do not form one homogeneous group.
The noble Lord, with his great knowledge of Africa, is not telling us seriously that on the whole the missionaries are on his side?
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
No, I think they are more on the noble Lord's side. There is one thing we must be clear about. Most of the false analogies in the world arise from the fact that people approach a subject in terms of who is better and who is worse. There is not the slightest question of who is better, the Briton or the African. What is needed is a clear-cut recognition that both are very different. Do not think I lack sympathy for the Africans. Some of the best days of my life were spent in Africa, in the company of Africans, and I owe my life to an African who went almost to certain death to save me. But we do no service to the African if we somehow pretend that he is much cleverer than the Briton, and assume that he has learned in fifty years what it took us nearly twice live hundred years to. learn.
I very much regret the expression used by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I do not want to raise the matter again, because two other speakers have clone so. The 803 noble Lord explained that if one reads his speech carefully one will find the sting of his remarks on "exploitation" is nullified and mitigated in other parts of the speech, but that particular part, taken by itself, I think he would probably be the first to regret. I am prepared to accept that it was unintentional. But if we vilify the white settler, it is impossible to retain respect for the white man. Many of the hard things we have said about Southern Rhodesia are quite unsound. The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, had something to say in reply. I think that in the twenty-nine years of their existence as a self-governing, country the achievements of Southern Rhodesia are massive. At this moment the white Rhodesians are fighting in Malaya. Black Rhodesians are standing guard on the Suez Canal. It has had an extraordinary history of effective and, in its own way, liberal government. There is great force in what the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, said about the 100,000 labourers who come down every year and, when the season's work is over, return to their homes, taking their pay, to return again in the year following. That seems a strange thing to do if they find the native policy of Southern Rhodesia so repressive. If in our debates we give the white Rhodesians the feeling that we do not trust them, I believe we shall have made a profoundly unfortunate impression. It would not he surprising then, as time passed, that they tended to turn their eyes south of the Limpopo.
The truth about all federations is that they are born of turmoil, and there is nothing in all the field of human argument where opinion swings through such an arc. American federation is an example in point. It is interesting to reflect that, when that federation was organised, the document was prepared by Alexander Hamilton, of Nevis, a British Colony. That is why the United States have what, in effect, is a British Crown Colony Government and not responsible government. Take Canada, where racial hatreds were much fiercer. Last week we celebrated the 85th anniversary of the birthday of the Canadian Federation in 1867. In 1868, Nova Scotia wished to leave the Federation. They held an election, in which only one person who wanted to stay in the Federation was returned: but, 804 four years later, when they had another election, so far had opinion swung in favour that only one person who wanted to get out of the Federation was elected. Much play is made with the great and real difference between Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia, but your Lordships will recollect that their difference is less substantial than that between Ontario and Quebec and between Vermont and Texas. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, in his interesting speech, produced certain arguments for bringing into line native policy. As I see it, there is an argument for amalgamation and not for federation, which is something which I personally do not favour. But the great thing about federation is that it does not demand uniformity between the units federated.
I have now said enough. The federation issue is always a difficult one. Africa is a Continent sui generic. Add federation to the atmosphere of Africans, and you have a formidable problem on your hands. I do not think anyone who has spoken to-day, or last week, is 100 per cent. against federation in any form. A large number of noble Lords are in favour of federation now, or rather after the next Conference, in this form. There are some who take a middle course, who would prefer to see a somewhat different scheme probably adding to the African safeguards. A tremendous amount of thought has been put by the Government into these African safeguards. I cannot see that any safeguard which the African enjoys at the present moment will be weakened by transferring to this particular form of safeguard which the Government have devised, and which I feel is at least as strong.
I think we shall all continue to regret that the representatives of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland did not find it possible to attend the Conference, because their advice would have been most helpful, and the purely negative attitude that they have shown gets one nowhere. I think probably the majority opinion of those who oppose federation is something like this: "We think it will come; we wish it to come; but let it come in the long run in a more suitable atmosphere." The noble Lord, Lord Hailey, said that he could not see the urgency. I do not believe that there will be any "long run," in the sense that the conditions of to-day will remain the 805 same. I hope that I may be unduly pessimistic, but there are trends at work which are not prepared to stand still. I believe that if we do not pass this federation within a reasonable time we shall perhaps never pass it. It is either now, or not in our lifetime. I believe it only too likely that the stream of capital for Southern Rhodesia and the other territories will dry up, as it is now tending to dry up, and that the great schemes envisaged in relation to the Zambesi, and the other projects of which we have heard, may well, if federation does not go through, remain blueprints gathering dust in a pigeonhole. It requires only a drastic fall in certain commodity prices for the progress of countries like Nyasaland to be brought from a swift stride down to a stumble, and then to a halt, because you cannot have welfare without economic development.
Further to that, extremists are appearing on both sides. Extremists always beget extremists. This mist of controversy which we have at the moment may easily become the steam of bitterness, until we get to a fearful conflict of extremes, what Lord Durham described, in his famous Report on unfederated Canada astwo nations warring in the bosom of a single state.The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred to the vacuum of power. I believe that it is our destiny in Africa to do the leading and not just be led. I believe that the African, as he becomes educated—and more and more are—is beginning to ask, "Where are we going? What is our future?" I believe that this scheme of federation provides the material structure for that spiritual concept of a multiracial society, and opens up to the Africans and to the white men alike some goal to which they can march—instead of being isolated territories, buffeted hither and thither by boom and slump, and individually of little strength, becoming united as a great nation of the world. I do not accept for one moment any ideas of an African hegemony; nor do I accept the idea of a white hegemony. I believe that the scheme put forward may, with suitable amendments, be the only possibility of any real alternative—a Christian, British alternative—to the grim doctrine of racial supremacy.
§ 7.4 p.m.
My Lords, may I crave your Lordships' indulgence for a moment? The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who has just sat down, in what I thought was a very fine speech, also referred to some remarks of mine. I feel that the time has come for me to apologise to the House for the interpretation which has been put on these words, which has at all times horrified me from the beginning. I had no intention of giving the impression which seems to have been taken up in various parts of the House. I should like to say, frankly, that where I referred towhite settlers, who in the past have not scrupledto exploit, I should have said,"… those white settlers who have not scrupled" to exploit. For any misdirection, I beg your Lordships' pardon, and I feel most embarrassed that that interpretation should have been placed on my words. I thank your Lordships for allowing me to say that.
§ 7.6 p.m.
My Lords, as the first speaker after the noble Lord, Lord Rea, I am sure the House will wish me to say that his remarks are received in the spirit in which they were uttered. I must apologise for having been absent during the first day of this debate. I was laid low with lumbago, which, as some of your Lordships may know, is a somewhat depressing disease. But even in that condition I was able to appreciate the very high quality of the first day's debate when I read it; and to-day seems, in my humble and inexpert opinion, to have lived up to that same standard. Indeed, I cannot remember a debate so vital as the one which we have had to-day.
The advantage naturally seems to me to lie with those who have expressed anxieties about federation, but we appreciate the great knowledge of many who have taken the other view, arid certainly the depth of their feeling. If I may say so, without appearing patronising, sympathise with the Government in the situation in which they find themselves. They have been beaten about a good deal over the head, and they find themselves sharply criticised, not only from the Labour Benches—which perhaps they 807 are inclined to take for granted—but by the Liberals, by the representatives of the Church of England and the Free Churches, and by the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, who, if I may say so, in the presence of Lord Tweedsmuir, has probably had more direct experience of Africa than anyone who has addressed the House to-day.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is quite a point there. Would the noble Lord say that because a man has had experience of England he has also had experience of Rumania?
I know that the noble Marquess has a great experience of England and is perfectly prepared to lay down the law on Ireland, which is no doubt his domain at the present time. I return to my expression of sympathy with the Government in the predicament in which they find themselves. I certainly am not going to try, on behalf of the Opposition, to force a "Yes" or "No" from the noble Earl, Lord Munster, when he replies.
The Government, following the example of their predecessors, have taken immense trouble over the present scheme. I am sure we all recognise the great efforts which have been made—and, if I may say so to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the efforts which he in particular has made—to safeguard African interests, so far as is humanly possible. At this late hour, and with so many experts having already delivered themselves on this subject, I am not going to attempt to criticise this particular scheme. If I were to do so, I should regret the disappearance of the Minister of African Affairs. It is possible to say—and it is true in a way—that it would have been constitutionally peculiar. But, of course, this whole scheme, this federation of unequals, is bound to be a constitutional freak, and I speak as one who has had more experience of studying constitutional issues than 808 some of the other issues. I do not think that particular feature would have been any more freakish than the rest is bound to be.
The noble Lord, Lord Hailey, spoke with great authority about the practical and technical aspects of the scheme, and I will not follow him, except to say that many of those difficulties he mentioned must be underlined. I do not want to argue this matter, partly because of the late hour and partly because I do not want to suggest to the noble Marquess and the noble Earl that, if they could slightly improve the scheme, it would secure the approval of African opinion at this stage. I do not want to mislead anybody to that effect. The present position (and this is where I express sympathy) is that the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are solidly opposed to the scheme. I am not disputing the economic advantages of the scheme. So far as we can judge them. I do not think they are sensational, and many of them will, in fact, be achieved in other ways. Let us, for the sake of argument, agree that there are economic advantages which could be realised under this scheme. Again, I am not going to dwell on the argument in favour of the scheme, that unless we agree to this scheme now or in the immediate future, Southern Rhodesia may throw in her lot with South Africa. I noticed that the noble Marquess did not make use of that argument, and I am glad that he did not. I find it exceedingly hard to believe that Southern Rhodesia would throw in her lot with the Union, in any circumstances. Certainly that would be inconceivable if her ruling people are of the calibre that the noble Marquess explained to us they were.
§ THE MARQUESS of SALISBURY
As the noble Lord has mentioned my name, I think I ought to intervene. I did not use that exact argument, but what I did say, and what I believe to be absolutely true, is that if this scheme does not go through now there will be a tendency for those countries north of the Zambesi to look more to the north and for the countries south of the Zambesi to look more to the south. Therefore, the Zambesi, which should be the great link and source of power for territories on both banks, will become a boundary between them.
I know the noble Marquess speaks with very great authority on Southern Rhodesia. He, at any rate, did not use, as an argument for immediate action, the ground that Southern Rhodesia might otherwise throw in her lot with South Africa. It seems to me that anybody who takes that view takes a poor view of Southern Rhodesia. I think most of us in this House feel nothing but detestation for the sort of Government under which the South Africans are living at the present time—when I say "South Africans," I mean the white, coloured and black South Africans. It defeats my comprehension how the good people of Southern Rhodesia could contemplate joining forces with an organisation run on those lines. That argument was not pressed by the noble Marquess, and I therefore pass over it rather quickly.
We come back to the point that the Africans from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are strongly opposed to this scheme. The London Committee of the United Central Africa Association—a body who have given a great deal of thought to these matters—talks ofa few Africans from the two territories having come out against it.That, obviously, is an understatement to the point of absurdity. The Africans, if we can judge them by any tests we care to apply, are in fact opposed to it—and very strongly opposed. To that there is more than one answer, and I am bound to say that none of the answers which have been put forward from the other Benches seem to pass muster for a moment. There is the answer given by the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, in its clearest form, with which I think the noble Lord, Lord Milverton—who is in the House, while the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, is not—will agree. The argument was that there is no such thing as African opinion. There is something called vocal African opinion which can be disregarded completely as being the opinion only of a few. There is the other section of unvocal African opinion which can hardly be regarded as having an opinion at all. The short answer provided by Lord Hudson is that there is no such thing as African opinion. I think that is a fair implication of his words.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I endeavoured to make it clear—and I think the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, did, too—that it is impossible to talk of African opinion in the sense in which it had been used in this debate, because, to the bulk of Africans, opinion means acquiescence in what they are told by the people whom they temporarily follow as a leader; and the people who are influencing them at the moment are educated or semi-educated Africans who have their eyes fixed on another part of the Continent of Africa, and whose aim is African domination. It is not partnership or anything of the sort. That is what I was endeavouring to suggest: that the African opinion against federation is not so much African opinion in the larger sense, as African opinion carefully stimulated in favour of African domination.
If the noble Lord has made himself plain to himself he has performed a service to himself which I should not be able to render. I am bound to say that I am no wiser as a result of his intervention. I return to what the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, was understood to say: that there is no such thing as African opinion, in the sense that there is no African opinion which can be seriously considered in this matter. Let us take the representatives of African opinion—official representatives actually invited here to join in discussion with the Secretary of State. I need not go into the question of whether they were wise or not to refuse to take part in those discussions, but when the Government invited them they must have regarded them as representatives of something, and not just as a few ambitious Africans concerned with stirring up their fellows. I cannot make sense of the argument of the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, except on the supposition that it was all "make-believe" to ask the Africans to come here at all. I want to be fair to the noble Marquess. He has not used this argument. It was an argument used by Lord Hudson, who I see has now rejoined us. I was saying that, 811 according to the noble Viscount, there appears to be no such thing as African opinion on any political matter.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
In order to distinguish two kinds of opinion, I said that there is one small but very vocal section and Another very large and far more important section from the human point of view which was not vocal but which should not be regarded as having committed itself on this point.
That distinction is one I did draw for the benefit of the House in the noble Viscount's absence.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No, you did not. You said that the large unvocal part had no opinion at all. That is what you said the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, said. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said there was a small vocal section and another large unvocal section which was to be taken to have no opinion at all. What Lord Hudson said was that there is one section vocal and the other unvocal, and, therefore, nobody knew what their opinions were. He did not say they had not got opinions.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, is on record, and we shall be able to see whether he said that or not. If he agrees that the African opinion ought to be taken seriously, I assume he must agree that there must be some way of finding out whether this non-vocal section is in favour of federation.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
I said specifically that I was reasonably certain from my own experience—and you will see it in Hansard in the morning—that the district officers were instructed not only to explain but to expound the new scheme, and the result would be seen in a very few months.
That is not what I understood at all. The noble Viscount used the expression at one moment that they would understand it if they were given a definite order. That is a different thing from having the thing expounded 812 to them. The noble Viscount earlier told us that there were the vocal African, who could be set aside, and the non-vocal African, who would come round to the scheme if he were given a definite order.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
I said that on the whole the ordinary native in Northern and in Southern Rhodesia preferred to receive a definite order, and I quoted some agricultural instances. I never suggested that they were to be ordered now to accept this scheme.
I am sorry if I misunderstood him. The noble Viscount was referring to this scheme and also to definite orders, and the things became connected in my mind. The view of the noble Viscount is that we have not yet been able to discover the true African opinion. If that is indeed his view, I hope—and I shall believe until he contradicts me—that when we have made further inquiries he will accept the view of African opinion that they are against the scheme, if that proves to be the case, or to be in favour, if that proves to be the case. The noble Viscount bows his head—
§ LORD MILVERTON
May I interrupt for a moment? Africans in bulk—the majority of Africans—are not in the habit of thinking. They are not thinkers, and to suggest that at any time you can refer a scheme of federation to them and get them to reply to you is like referring a question of intricate financial policy to the general population of this country. The general population do not know about these things—they are not accustomed to know. They, and the African, or the native in many other parts of the world whom I have encountered, think what is told to them by their chiefs or their leaders or other people who influence them and whom they respect.
I get back to where I started. The noble Lords say that Africans do not think about matters of this kind, and therefore I must assume that the noble Lords consider that in relation to a scheme of this kind there can be no such thing as African opinion. I do not believe that that can possibly be misrepresenting the noble Lord. We on this side believe there is such a thing as African opinion in regard to the scheme and that it can be elicited, and 813 that the Government will be wise to consider African opinion. The noble Marquess in this House the other day did not challenge the fact that Africans were opposed to this scheme. He did not indulge in these metaphysical distinctions, and I think he was wise not to do so. I am not saying that ironically.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
This difficulty of the African opinion is getting more and more obscure, but I certainly would agree with what has been said on this side: that is, that there is only a small portion of African opinion that is vocal. I think it was earlier in the debate that the noble Lord, in an interruption, talked about a "solid mass of African opinion." There is not that. I ask the noble Lord to remember that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has spent a large part of his life in dealing with these people, and also that the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, has had a long experience. They are not to be swept away by saying, "We in our Party"—most of whom have never been near the place—"would take a different view."
I am not "sweeping away." I have given way about six times and would do so "unto seventy times seven." The noble Marquess appears to be committed to the view that there is no African opinion. I think it would be as well if the Government were to realise that there is an African opinion, and make it favourable if possible. I should have thought that that was the view of the noble Marquess. Deliberately to set out to try to secure African consent to this scheme would seem a very intelligent and sensible effort to woo African opinion. I think we have heard enough, here and elsewhere, from a number of experts—some of whom have spent longer in Africa than some noble Lords who are supporting the scheme—to lead us to reach the conclusion that the Africans are not altogether foolish in suspecting the dangers in this scheme. The Africans have said they consider that the relative influence of the Colonial Office will be diminished and that the relative influence of the settlers in Southern Rhodesia will be increased. Does anybody deny that that will be the result of this scheme? I hardly think that that will be disputed.
The educational standards of the Africans have been rather lowly rated this 814 afternoon by some noble Lords who supported the Government. But are they foolish in drawing a distinction between the attitude of the Colonial Office and that of the Southern Rhodesian settlers? I do not want to read many more quotations from the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, but there is one which I must read. I think the House may enjoy it. In a speech on June 23, a matter of which I have given notice to the noble Earl, he said:The Socialist Government of the United Kingdom set about ruthlessly to destroy everything in the Island Kingdom that had made her great in the past. That"—he went on—was merely a domestic affair of the United Kingdom until they installed a Fabian policy into the Colonial Office, and that shook to the core the complacency of the Europeans who had made their homes in Africa. The situation was made worse because the Government staff at the Colonial Office, who knew more in theory than in practice, proved a fertile soil for germinating the seed sown by their Red masters.That is the view of the Colonial Office in the last few years held by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. I think that the Africans are absolutely right in drawing a sharp distinction between the Colonial Office, so criticised by the Prime Minister, and the Southern Rhodesian settlers.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord is hardly fair to Sir Godfrey Huggins. He should have continued the quotation.
Sir Godfrey Huggins said in addition:We can, however, be of good cheer, because a generalisation such as I have just made is always unfair and not strictly true. There are in the Socialist Party men of practical common sense who are sustained by their bearing and knowledge and who do not live on theory alone. They face up to what is possible and what is not, and go for what is in the best interests of all under the prevailing conditions.I do not know whether it was my noble friend Lord Hall, who was the first Colonial Secretary, or whether it was Mr. Creech Jones, or Mr. Griffiths, or Lord Listowel, or perhaps Lord Ogmore. It might have been a whole lot of "Red masters" at the Colonial Office who are criticised as knowing more in theory than in practice and being "fertile soil" for this absurd seed. There is a distinction between the Colonial Office and the point 815 of view of the Rhodesian settlers, and in the circumstances it is understandable that Africans should prefer that the voice of the Colonial Office should not be diminished in favour of the settlers. I can say that, I am sure, without being accused of denouncing the settlers individually. I would therefore ask the Government whether they do not agree that at the present time we cannot really expect to get the Africans very interested in federation. As the Economist says—and that is not a "Red" Paper; it is a long way to the Right of the Government in economic matters:The British Government's difficulty is that it seems unable to offer them any attraction other than vague promises of economic betterment, whereas they are still confronted with an economic colour bar"—this is the Economist—maintained by some of the people who are most in favour of federation. In these circumstances,says the Economist,it is grossly misleading to say that African opposition is solely caused by agitators.The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, can argue that out with the Economist. He is a capable dialectician.
I forget what this small group was supposed to consist of—very ambitious men, and they did not appear in a very favourable light.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I will use a word which I am sure the noble Lord will understand—the intelligentsia.
I take that as an excellent joke, but the noble Lord himself, I should have thought, is probably an honorary Fellow of one of the Colleges, and a D.Litt. as well—certainly he is worthy of such honours. I am not looking up or down to him as one intellectual regarding a horny-handed son of toil—but that is in passing. There we are. That is the real position: that the Africans are expected to enter this scheme and to forfeit, as it seems to them, some of their protections under all the well-meant efforts of the noble Marquess and his colleagues.
816 The President of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress said in London:We have been asked: What is the alternative to federation? We have a mandate from our people not to compromise. Any form of alternative would consist of educational facilities to be fit for responsibility in government.I do think that those last words need particular notice. He is not demanding immediate equality in government, but educational facilities for them to be fit for responsibility in government. These words are worth quoting; they are, I hope, practically the last words I shall quote:The only safeguard is the African himself when he is able to stand on his own feet and defend his own rights. Then when this question of federation comes about we shall say Let us sit around and consider it ', but until then we shall not consider it.That, surely, confirms the view which was put forward with exceptional force by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, and in a different way by the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, in that remarkable speech—that to secure the confidence of the Africans, to secure their interest in the search for an adequate scheme of federation, we must tackle the colour bar in a way that they really understand. At the present time there is no prospect, as it seems to me, of the Africans agreeing to this scheme. That is my strong personal feeling. I may be proved wrong, but I talked to these Africans when they were in London, and I should be very surprised to find that they had changed. While that feeling remains, surely I carry many with me, and certainly I am summing up the thoughts of many speakers when I say with passionate conviction that nothing but evil for Africans and Europeans alike could follow the attempt to coerce them into federation against their will. I am not saying that that is the intention of the Government, but the noble Marquess has refused to give an answer to that point. I maintain that nothing but evil could follow from an effort of that kind.
Noble Lords from these Benches and from other quarters of the House representing various political Parties and Churches have already spoken very strongly on this subject. They have pointed out, as it seems to me with incontrovertible logic, the flagrant inconsistency between such a course and any idea that our rule in Africa is based on consent of the governed. The noble 817 Lord, Lord Rea, has been under heavy fire, but he made a strong point, on which he deserves congratulation, in his earlier speech when he said that a serious breach of trust would be involved if we handed over these Protectorates who are entitled under treaty to look to us for protection. This is a point which has not been made. Surely it should not be swept aside. I call the attention of the noble Earl who is to reply to consider that very carefully. Those arguments, which are strong and which I hope are prevailing in Government quarters, for refusing to hand over Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland to South Africa would be seriously undermined if we went against the wishes of the vast majority of the peoples.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not propose to go into this question of the people and whether we should or should not come to a decision in opposition to the people. I have explained my position about that to noble Lords this afternoon, but I hope that the noble Lord will not draw an exact analogy between handing over the territories to the Government of the Union and creating a Federation with most powerful safeguards, leaving the whole of the Northern territorial government in any case under the Colonial Office. There is no change at all.
I could not agree that no analogy could be drawn, but I agree with the noble Marquess that there would be important differences—I say that quite definitely. In my opinion it would lead to a very dangerous line of argument indeed. I throw that in as an additional argument.
In conclusion, I say that the idea of partnership which has been proclaimed so eloquently by more than one speaker would be mortally stricken if we embarked on a course of this kind. Partnership, in the full sense, must clearly mean a partnership of equals, and I think we all agree, whether or not we are accused of being too pro-African, that in the meanwhile the main burden of leadership must fall on the white minority. But even in the interim period, which may last some time, partnership can surely exist in a sense used by Sir Godfrey Huggins when he called fora sincere acceptance of the fact that black and white are indispensable to each other, and 818 that each by his conduct and, actions earn the confidence and good will of the other.In the interval, that seems to me a worthy conception of partnership. But there can be no confidence or good will when the stronger party passes beyond leadership and does something; amounting to, tyranny. I say that it would be a tyrannical act, contrary to everything we have done in recent years in our Colonial Empire and in the Commonwealth; it would be a caricature of our British way of life, if we imposed this scheme against the solid will of the Africans.
The Government, I am glad to notice, have not said, and have avoided saying, that they will take so calamitous a step. I implore them to say to-night that they have no intention of doing so, and if, in his reply, the noble Earl rebukes me for imputing so sinister a purpose, then I shall bow my head in apology and at the same time lift up my heart with a great joy. The situation is admittedly difficult. I suppose nobody believes that it needs only a little cleverness or a little bonhomie to put the whole thing right. It is difficult. Some who have worked so hard, not necessarily in the Government, for immediate federation might find it depressing. But I venture to suggest that there is no need for depression. When some of us, including noble Lords opposite, talked to the Africans visiting this country recently, we were not impressed with a purely negative outlook on their part, though we fully understood their reasons for opposition. We were impressed with what seemed to many of us their constructive outlook. The Africans appreciated that it would need white people in this country and abroad to give positive effect to their constructive longings. Above all, we were all impressed, I think, with the fact that they were not anti-British. I quote the President of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress again:We are not anti-British. If we were, we would not be talking to the British people.There is something deeply moving about the way these Africans cling to their trust in us and to our concern for their welfare. I, and all of us who have been expressing anxiety, with no reference to Party considerations at all, implore the Government with all our hearts to make quite certain that this trust is not reposed in vain.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, the debate which has occupied the attention of the House for two days has, I think, been characteristic of all those which take place from time to time on Colonial affairs in your Lordships' House, for nearly every noble Lord who has contributed to this discussion has spoken from either practical or personal knowledge of the economic, social and political problems of Central Africa. On this second day and in winding up for the Government, I think the House would not wish that I should travel over the ground which was so ably covered last Wednesday by the Leader of the House. I think my best course would be to try to remove some of the misconceptions which have found expression in various speeches to which we have listened, and at the same time to endeavour to reply to some of the questions which have been asked.
However, before doing that I want to recall to the House and refer in some detail to some recent events which I think have very considerable bearing on all that we have been discussing. I need not take your Lordships back beyond November, 1950, when the then Secretary of State for the Colonies announced that the Government had reached a decision that there should be a fresh examination of the problem of closer association between the three territories of Central Africa. The House will remember that a conference was held in London in the New Year, and the officials' Report which was published in June came to unanimous decisions. When that Report was published it was the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who initiated this debate, who stated in this House (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 172, col.52):His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, however, wish to say now that the proposals appeared to them to embody a constructive approach to the problem which deserves the careful consideration of all the peoples and Governments concerned.My Lords, I ask the noble Lord, could anything be less equivocal than that? It is obvious from all that followed the publication of that Report that the late Government intended and wished to proceed further with the plan.
It was in the autumn of the same year that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Secretary of 820 State for the Colonies visited Africa and took part in discussions with the representatives of all the communities. As the House will remember—I do not propose to read it because it is printed in the White Paper—a communiqué was issued after the Victoria Falls Conference. It was stated therein:That on the main question of federation as so far presented and examined, the Conference (with the exception of the African representative) showed itself favourable to the principle of federation.Moreover, the communiqué went on to say that:The Conference was gravely concerned at the danger that would flow from any weakening or dilution of the British connection.I was therefore surprised to hear Lord Ammon say in the course of his speech that he thought that African opinion to-day was very unconcerned with the maintenance of the British connection and British traditions in those three territories. Indeed, that is the first time that I have heard that mentioned, either in this debate or outside. I think it proves quite clearly that up to that date (that is, the end of the Victoria Falls Conference), the late Government were in favour of the principle of federation, and they were also eager to strengthen the British connection which, quite rightly, they said had yielded so much benefit to the territories—politically, socially, and economically.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am sure the noble Earl will forgive me, but he does not wish to throw any doubt upon the acceptance of the principle of federation—
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
—by the Party on this side of the House. I thought that was implied by what he said.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am coming to that particular point in one moment. I wanted to remind noble Lords opposite of what exactly transpired. After the General Election last November, the present Government announced that they were in full accord with the communiqué which had been agreed and accepted by both Secretaries of State at that time, and that, like the late Government, they favoured a scheme 821 of federation on the lines which were recommended in the officials' Report. A debate then took place in another place when both the former Secretaries of State again emphasised their belief in federation and the maintenance of the British connection. So it was quite obvious that up to March the main political Parties of the State favoured the introduction of a federal system of Government and believed that a basis for that federal Government was to be found in the officials' Report.
It seems to me, in view of all that has gone before, that it was a tragedy that no more support was forthcoming from members of the previous Administration, many of whom played a major part in the evolution of this scheme. It was the former Colonial Secretary who set the ball in motion, and at a later stage, in company with his right honourable friend, carried the whole proceedings a stage towards finality. I hope noble Lords will not be surprised if I say that we on these Benches find it extremely difficult to reconcile their views on federation and the scheme as outlined in the officials' Report, in the first place as the Government of the country and in the second place as Her Majesty's Opposition. It is also equally difficult to understand why they have not yet made up their minds. As I understood it, every member on the Benches opposite who took part in the discussion was against the scheme; but not one of them told us whether he thought it was a good scheme or a bad scheme. All they told us was that they were against the scheme, and the Labour Opposition had not yet made up their minds.
§ LORD OGMORE
I do not know to what legislative body the noble Earl is referring, but he is certainly not referring to this one. I did not criticise the scheme at all. In fact, as I shall be saying later on, I personally support a scheme for federation. What I said was that I did not want any scheme, however good, to be forced through against African opinion.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
Yes, but the noble Lord made other suggestions which I am coming to in the course of a few moments. I think he disliked the scheme and, in point of fact, he proposed an alternative to which I shall refer at 822 a later stage—namely, the appointment of some commission such as the East Africa High Commission. I will come to that in the course of a few moments.
§ LORD OGMORE
If the noble Earl is going to debate, he must surely get the basis of debate correct. I never criticised this scheme at all, and I said that if the Government could not get African support, as an alternative it alight be possible to impose something like the East Africa High Commission. I have always been in favour of federation.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I am sure the noble Lord has always been in favour of federation. I am not arguing that for one moment. All I am saying in regard to the scheme as published in the White Paper is that noble Lords opposite have not said whether they thought it was a good scheme or whether they thought it was a bad scheme. Except for the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, they all criticised it. They offered nothing in its place. It would be much simpler if we could have some assurance from noble Lords opposite that a scheme which they would propound and which would receive their support would be based on somewhat similar proposals to the scheme which found expression in the officials' Report.
§ LORD WINSTER
May I intervene to say that I was at particular pains to point out that I thought the scheme outlined in the White Paper was a workmanlike scheme, very well adapted if we were to have federation? I praised it for the particular pains, taken by those who had prepared it, to safeguard the interests of the Africans. My only argument was that I thought that, in order to gain the confidence of the African people, a reform of racial legislation should take place before the scheme was introduced.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I apologise to the noble Lord. It is true that he did make those observations. But I never really think of him as a strong and ardent supporter of the Opposition.
May I now turn back to the debate which took place last Wednesday and again to-day, and reply to some of the questions which were addressed to us? I think that there was a general opinion in the House, expressed by a number of noble Lords, that opposition to the 823 federal scheme was based almost entirely on fears which the African possessed for his future. One noble Lord spoke of the fear of exploitation, another of the weakness in the African Affairs Board. The right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, thought that the African would not receive any higher education, and criticised the constitution of the Federal Assembly. It was the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and indeed the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who suggested introducing a body somewhat similar to the East African High Commission. It was the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford (who I think has now left your Lordships' House), who thought that the new federal Constitution should be based on that which is functioning in West Africa. Finally, there was Lord Pakenham, who impressed upon the Government his belief that they should not push their proposals without first of all examining again and with great care African objections to the scheme.
That is putting it a good deal too mildly. With that reservation, I will accept the account which the noble Earl has given.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
May I now deal with some of the doubts which have been expressed? It has always been recognised by noble Lords opposite and by members of the Government that in any scheme of federation of these three territories, safeguards would have to be embodied within the Constitution to secure that the rights of all parties were preserved and respected. It is not because those rights and privileges would be dissipated if a federal scheme came into operation; for what we have been endeavouring to plan is an enlightened federal Administration which would uphold the interests of all communities. Nevertheless, we recognise that doubts and suspicions may exist in some quarters, and therefore it is right to include in the scheme provisions for the protection of African interests.
I do not want to be led into argument on whether there is a vocal African opinion or not, but I would say from my little knowledge of the African that there is nothing he fears so much as the unknown. He has for many years lived under a system of government which has brought him peace, tranquillity and 824 security, and he may well express reluctance to any change, although such change is intended to he, and must finally be, beneficial to him. It is nevertheless also the fact that in every single case where Africans have expressed doubts and fears about their future, elaborate steps have been taken to overcome them, and if they can now give concrete examples of how under the scheme their rights may in any way be jeopardised, we shall show the same desire to try and meet their difficulties. I have not much doubt that during the journey which my right honourable friend the Minister of State will make in Africa he will take the opportunity of contacting all forms of African opinion, and he will be able to report back on the conditions which he finds prevailing at that time.
I want to remind the House that the preamble of the scheme—and this is very important—lays down that the protectorate status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are to be affirmed, and that both those territories will continue to enjoy separate Governments, responsible among other matters for local, territorial and political advancement. So your Lordships will observe that, even after federation becomes an accomplished fact, the Territorial Legislatures will still retain control of all those matters which affect the daily life of Africans.
Now what are those questions which are probably uppermost in the minds of the African people?—agriculture, native administration, land questions and primary and secondary education. And on the subject of land questions, let me remind the noble Lord, Lord Winster, that in Part II of the White Paper he will see that all the Native Ordinances in these two territories dealing with land questions are, in point of fact, preserved. All these subjects will continue in future to be territorial subjects. It is true that higher education is an item on the federal list, but that does not mean, as implied by one speaker during the debate last Wednesday, that the Africans will not receive any higher education at all. In fact, the intention is exactly the opposite. Higher education, as we know, is a very expensive business which the territories at the present time could not afford individually, but jointly they should be able to provide for it. One would have thought that on higher education, at any rate, if 825 on nothing else, we could now have the support of the African community.
There were, as I also said, some critics of the composition of the Federal Assembly. It was pointed out that out of the thirty-five members only six are Africans, though in fact there will be nine members to represent African interests. As I think many of your Lordships will realise, the scheme does not prevent, either now or in the future, other members in the total number of the Federal Assembly being African. Really, with the best will in the world, I do not believe it is practical politics at the present time to give a greater number of seats to Africans. It was not until 1948 that the first Africans appeared in any Central African Legislature. We are aware—and there is no use hiding the fact—that educationally Central Africa is very backward, and a great deal more political experience will have to be acquired before Africans there can play a fuller part within the affairs of central Government.
I pass now to the African Affairs Board, whose composition and set-up were so fully and adequately explained by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House that I need not enter into those matters again except to make one observation. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, objected to the alteration of their functions and the removal of the Minister for African Interests outside the Federal Cabinet. As I say, we are always prepared to receive observations on this subject from any one who can speak with authority. On this ocassion we accepted the advice of the Fabian Colonial Bureau (which, no doubt, should please and satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham), who thought thatthe position of the African Affairs Board as outlined in the officials Report was decidedly dubious.On the subject of the Minister for African Interests, a pamphlet published by the Fabian Colonial Bureau says:If this Minister carried out his duties fully, it would be at least difficult for the Cabinet to work on the principle of collective responsibility.We altered that proposal in the officials' Report for reasons which my noble friend the Leader of the House gave. I think that the membership of the African Affairs Board is far stronger under the present set-up than when it first appeared in the officials' Report.
826 I come to the proposal made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that it might be possible to appoint an East African High Commission for these three territories. I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will be the first to agree with me that conditions in East Africa are quite different from those in Central Africa, and under the existing Constitutions the three East African territories are all under a Colonial form of government, which is responsible to the Colonial Office. In Central Africa, the three territories are in different stages of constitutional development and Southern Rhodesia has been an independent Colony for some twenty years or more. The essence of the East African High Commission system is that the governing body and legislative organ is a projection of the Governments and Legislatures of the three individual territories, and therefore that body can have only a delegated authority. Although I feel sure that the noble Lord made his proposal with the best intention, it is difficult to see how a body which derives its powers from three Legislatures so different from each other as those in Southern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland could possibly be expected to work harmoniously.
§ LORD OGMORE
I do not accept that for one moment, but if that were so, how is an even closer body like a Federation to work?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I tried to explain that the East African High Commission was a body which had been set up as a delegated body from three Legislatures. It deals with small plans compared with those to be dealt with by the Federal Assembly proposed for Central Africa. In the Federal Assembly there will be members from the three other territories and there will be a Cabinet with full power constitutionally. It is an entirely different body, from beginning to end, from the East African High Commission, and I cannot help thinking that the noble Lord would have been fully familiar with the set-up in the lifetime of the late Government.
§ LORD OGMORE
I attended the inaugural meeting of the East African High Commission and read the message from the Secretary of State. I am fully conversant with the East African High Commission, and although I do not think that 827 it is so good a proposal as federation, I see nothing in what the noble Earl has said to suggest that it is not workable. I agree that it is second best, but I think it is quite as workable as a Federation.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
At this late hour I do not want to repeat my arguments. The noble Lord has seen this body function, and I maintain that it would be better to have a Federation such as that outlined for the three territories of Central Africa.
There are a number of other points which I should have liked to answer. Perhaps there is only one I need deal with now—the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, who wished to see a form of government set up in Central Africa similar to that which is in operation in West Africa. Living in West Africa, as he does, the noble Lord must know that the countries are entirely different. That is inevitably so, and it must always be so, in view of the large number of settlers in East Africa and Central Africa compared with those who exist in West Africa. What is applicable to the Gold Coast and Nigeria, certainly could not be applied in a country with a multi-racial community. I hope that I have dealt with the main criticisms which fell to-day and last Wednesday from noble Lords, except the final one which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I regret that at the present time I can go no further than the statement which was made by my noble friend the Leader of the House.
I should like to add this, in conclusion. There is an obligation, and there always has been an obligation, on successive British Governments to promote the wellbeing of all our Colonial peoples, wherever they may be. I think that our mission as a Colonial Power is by no means completed, for there is much to be done socially, economically and politically. But looking back over past years I honestly feel we can take pride that as a nation we have gradually extended to all our partners in the Empire and Commonwealth our sympathy in their aspirations and our help to achieve them. The remarkable progress which has been made by the Dominions in the last seventy-five years is some evidence, I should have thought, of our intentions for the future. Their progress has depended, 828 to a large extent, upon their unity, and in conspicuous examples this has been attained through the introduction of a form of federal government. At the time when those Federations were introduced there were a number of people, as there are to-day, who for one reason or another were opposed to the federal principle. I think your Lordships will agree that time has proved those critics wrong, and the opponents of this scheme I would ask to derive hope from the successes of former days.
The whole of this plan is composed in the true interests of both Europeans and Africans, and the rights of both are fully and adequately safeguarded. If we can secure the rights of the Africans by other words within the federal plan which will give even greater safeguards, they have only to bring the concrete facts before us. The acceptance of this draft federal scheme by the African community will in no way lessen the obligations of Her Majesty's Government towards them. On the contrary, the duty which has rested upon successive Governments in this country for many years to advance and promote African interests will remain unaffected. I believe that we have a plan here, and that if we can go forward with courage and inspiration we shall again write another chapter in the history of our Empire.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, your Lordships will agree that we have had an interesting debate, in which we have listened to a large number of thoughtful speeches on both sides. It has been a real debate, with a clash of opinion. Noble Lords have spoken with great seriousness and with the knowledge that what they say might have considerable repercussions. We had two maiden speeches: from the noble Viscount, Lord Ruffside, whom many of us remember gratefully in another capacity, and from the noble Lord, Lord Leconfield, who spoke very shortly. I am sure that what he was going to say would have been interesting, and I hope that next time he addresses us he will feel inclined to speak a little longer, because we shall welcome what he has to say.
There was one curious criticism which was made on Wednesday, but which has not been made to-day, about the initiation of the debate. We were told that 829 no one should initiate a debate until his Party had made up their mind. If that is so, only when our minds are closed could a debate be opened. I am sure no one in your Lordships' House would consider that to be a tenable proposition. I should not like that to be inscribed by the Lord Great Chamberlain, who listens so patiently to our debates, over the portals of this Chamber. As a matter of fact, my mind is made up. I have never changed. My view is the same in Opposition as it was in the Government. Speaking purely personally, I see very little in the scheme proposed by the Government that cannot be improved, if necessary. So far as the federal scheme goes, I have sufficient confidence in the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, to know that to any amendment of details which might be required he would be willing to agree. I have great confidence that the noble Marquess would not want to do in Africa anything which he was not certain was in the best interests of the people of the territory.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Of course, it is the very essence of the second Conference that what is being said now should receive further consideration before that date.
§ LORD OGMORE
As I say, I am not making a Party speech, because I believe that in these matters this House has, and should have, great influence as a sort of Council of State, and what we say will be regarded very seriously elsewhere. The main point I made in my opening speech, which I should like to reiterate, is that, however good a scheme it may bee—and I think this is a good scheme, subject to a few amendments that can be made—I do not believe that it is practical politics to "bulldoze" it through against African opinion. We have had that view reinforced by a number of noble Lords, and not only from these Benches. There was the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, whom I must say I thought the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, attacked with a ferocity which he usually reserves for poachers. I do not know why the noble Earl should have treated the right reverend Prelate in the way he 830 did, because, after all, he was putting forward a point of view that is widely held in Church circles, as we all know. There was also the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, speaking for the Methodists, Lord Rea, for the Liberals, Lord Hemingford, for certain Conservative opinion, and Lord Hailey, who, in the last few sentences, said that although he believed, as I do, that on the whole this is a good scheme, he would be against pushing it through in opposition to African opinion.
It was not really until to-day that the vital problem was touched upon, and it was touched upon by, more than anyone else, strangely enough, the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson. At the back of our difficulties is the multi-racial problem, and we have not, in the time available to us, fully gone into that question. That is the basic problem here, as in the whole of East and Central Africa, as the noble Marquess well knows. The multi-racial problem is one which, so far, has pretty well defied solution, and that because we have never tackled it in a way in which we should have tackled it: we have never examined it under a cold light, and tried to think out what our plans should be. Largely that has been because we did not want to hurt people's feelings; we wanted to let sleeping dogs lie. There have been all sorts of justifiable reasons in our minds. Nevertheless, it is the fact that we have never really tackled this question of a multi-racial community, and of what will happen after a certain time.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, did raise that point to-day, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, almost did; but they both skirted away from it just as they were getting to the facts. I myself think—and here I speak like "Little Willie," as the only one in step in the regiment—that opinion in this country and in Africa is years behind the times. I feel that both Parties are behind the times; the Churches are behind the times, and African and European opinion is behind the times. I believe that, at some time or other, opinion in this country has got to consider my suggestion of a Council of Greater Britain, which will take care not only of those territories which can never stand on their own feet, politically and economically, but also of the multi-racial territories which, for the same reason, will never be 831 able to stand on their own independent feet. As I say, that is a purely personal opinion, and no one in the world other than myself must be regarded as supporting it, because I know of no one else who does.
Finally, I should like to say a few words about African opinion. We have been told to-day that there is no such thing, or that it is only a small vocal opinion. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who has a great experience of African opinion—perhaps it is in West Africa, but I do not differentiate greatly between the two—that in many things you cannot expect an African opinion on complicated matters; nor, for that matter, can you expect opinion in this country on complicated matters, as anyone who has fought an Election will know. But rural people—and the Africans are rural people—are very sensitive about land. That is generally one matter about which there is an opinion. There is no doubt that the idea has got about in Africa that in federation there is a threat to their land; that it would mean more settlers, and that their land would be taken away from them. I do not say that that is correct—I do not think it is—but that is what the representatives of the tribesmen told us when they came here. They were not concerned about whether there would be a Minister or an African Board. The one thing they said immediately was that they feared they would lose their land.
The second reason that makes me believe there is African opinion on this subject is that when I was in Kenya—not the last time, but the time before—and we carried out a tour of the East African territories, the first thing I said was that I was there purely for economic and not for political discussions. But when I got to a tribe which is not normally regarded as a political tribe—not like the Kikuyu—the first thing they said to me was: "We are afraid of these Afrikaan fellows; they are coming up here from South Africa. We know what they have done in South Africa, and we are afraid that they will take our land." I believe that right through East and Central Africa there is a fear of infiltration by the South African Boers into their territories. There may be no reason and no justification for that belief—although we 832 do know that there has been a large infiltration into Central Africa from the Union—but the fact remains, whether there is a justification or not, they do fear it. For those two reasons, I think there is an African opinion.
Both the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Munster, have been very fair to the House. They have listened patiently to what we have had to say, and have made excellent speeches themselves—indeed, I have never heard a better speech than that of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, on this subject. The impression I derive is that the Government are not absolutely committed. Naturally, they want to consider various opinions, and then there is to be the Conference in October. All I hope and sincerely trust is that the Government will be influenced by the views which they have heard so strongly expressed in this House. And I hope they will understand the necessity of taking with them not all African opinion, of course, but some responsible African opinion, as a first requisite for the success of this scheme. With your Lordships' permission, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.