§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (VISCOUNT SWINTON)
My Lords, if ever any scheme which has been brought before Parliament has been fully considered, it surely is this federation plan which your Lordships are discussing to-day. Ever since the time of the Bledisloe Commission in 1939, a closer union has been canvassed. We are all delighted to see the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, in his place to-day and it gives us added confidence that we are doing right when we know that we have his support. The increasing urgency of the situation led the Labour Government to embark on an intensive attempt to achieve a final solution.
478 Some people paint the whole picture black or white, and some think that all that the white men do is black. I must say that that seems to me to show little appreciation of what white civilisation has brought in peace and justice, health and education, to the Dark Continent. Take Southern Rhodesia, which has been so vehemently attacked. Fifty years ago it had a native population of half a million or less. To-day that population is two millions. It is even suggested that the white men are invaders who have no right to live in their own homes. Lord Noel-Buxton hinted at it a little in his speech, and indeed wrote it in an article which I was interested to read in Contemporary Review, when he said:They"—that is, the Africans—are actually there by superior right, because it is their continent as the indigenous people.That was his impression of Northern Rhodesia. The fact is that the Matabele invaded the indigenous people of Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia with slaughter and slavery only a few years before the first white settlers brought peace and freedom to those lands.
I think that even the most critical accept the economic advantages of federation, though some suggest that we can get the necessary economic cooperation without federation. There are some things that I certainly should not be dogmatic about, but no one who knows the facts can possibly contend that you can get that real co-operation with anything less than federation in these Territories. It has been tried and it has failed. That is the experience of the Territories themselves, and it has been the experience of the international lending agencies which have been ready to come in with finance. It is to the interest of all three Territories that the right thing should lie done in the right place. Not only is that so, but so much that needs to be done is complementary as between all the three Territories, as indeed are their individual economies. Certainly only a well-balanced and co-ordinated economic unit will command the necessary finance.
So many people in these debates say that they accept all the economic benefits, but brush them aside as being something inconsistent with what I will call 479 the social and moral benefits. Do not let us forget how closely the economic and the social are linked; you cannot have one without the other. That was burned into my mind when I went to the Colonial Office as Secretary of State in 1931, towards the end of the slump. I found eight or nine Colonies were "on the dole" and kept alive merely by Treasury grants. Many more would have been in the same position, but they were living on their reserves and rapidly exhausting them. The social services in all these Colonies, education, health, and agriculture, had suffered because the Government had had to economise—not under some wicked Tory Government, but under a Labour Government. Of course they had to. Any Government would have been forced to do that, because the money just was not there. I realised, as would anybody who took office at that time, that the one way of restoring the social advance and the life of these communities was to restore the economies of their Territories. I am sure anyone in my place would have carried forward that policy, and it was carried forward in every kind of direction. It gave to these Territories advantage by preferential agreements and the like, increasing their internal trade, their internal resources, and their exports. That was why it was possible for the economic and social advances to go forward together. Certainly, it is the same here. Take the case of Nyasaland—an uneconomic Territory on its own. I do not suppose anyone can suggest how Nyasaland can be made an economic unit on its own. It is only federation which can give the development which will bring ever-widening opportunities of employment and a higher standard of living.
It is said, with truth, that there are still colour bars in these Territories, and an instance is given of the employment of African labour. These are not easy things to deal with by legislation. If you try to deal with them by legislation, it must be by local legislation. On the whole, from what I have seen of these Territories or from what I saw of them a few years ago, I should be inclined to say that perhaps the bar was more pronounced in Northern Rhodesia than in Southern Rhodesia because of the predominant position of the white unions in 480 the copper mines of the North. But, my Lords, are we in this country altogether innocent of a difficulty and a problem of this kind, of discrimination in the matter of labour? Take the introduction of Italians into the coalmines. That was desired by the late Government, it was advocated by the leaders of the miners' unions, but it failed because in many of the coalfields the miners turned the project down. Do not let us ignore or underrate difficulties in these Territories when we find exactly the same sort of difficulties even in our own country.
I am sure that this problem will get better under federation, but in any case may I point out that, under the plan, trade union legislation is a territorial and not a federal subject. Sofar as the Federal Constitution deals with this matter, it deals with it in employment in the Federal public service and in a special provision about non-discrimination in the public service. But also do not let us forget that differentiating legislation is not always in the interests of the European and against those of the African. Let us, for example, take land. The complete reservation to Africans of vast areas of land in Northern and Southern Rhodesia is certainly very, much in the interests of Africans.
Before the noble Viscount continues, can he tell us why he thinks all this will get better under federation? He said he thinks it will, but he has not explained what he means by that.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I shall be coming to that in a moment. I hope I shall not be interrupted too much because I have to make a speech on a subject of the greatest gravity, and I should like to be allowed to have the opportunity of choosing my own words. I am going to develop throughout this speech why I think partnership and co-operation will bring this about. I will certainly tell the noble Lord—because increase in common interest by liberal-minded people will, I believe, most certainly increase the opportunity and the practice. We are all entitled to our faith in our belief. Mine is based on the knowledge of the men with whom I have been working with my noble friend in these Conferences.
Let me go on to this. There have been so many unjustified attacks made 481 on the Southern Rhodesia Government over the treatment of Africans that I think it is only fair to ask the House to consider for a few moments what the record of that Government really is. The Report which was issued under the Labour Government—it is Command Paper No. 8233, of 1951—should have shown to anyone who took the trouble to read it how unfair and how unfounded many of those attacks are. Let me give some of the facts, because facts speak louder than words. Take housing. By legislation, Africans who earn less than £9 4s. a month have to be housed at the employer's expense, and housed at prescribed standards. In addition to that, near towns the Government and the municipalities have erected housing estates few married and single Africans in urban areas, which in their layout and design would certainly satisfy any town planner, and they have drawn the highest praise from international experts who have visited them. Indeed, I heard that someone in my Department had received a letter from a settler in which he said,I am living in a house which is far worse than the houses Huggins is building for the Africans. They have got a water supply and an electricity system, which I have not got on my farm.And it does not end with housing. Take welfare. There are welfare societies with joint African and European membership—I should have thought that was a kind of partnership—and full-lime welfare officers who are largely Africans.
Next take Africans in industry. I leave out mining, but in manufacturing industry alone, in 1951—the numbers must have increased since—more than 56,000 Africans were employed. A recent Report which I was looking at shows the range of this employment—brushware, clothing, furniture, textiles, sheet metal work, coach building, cutlery and plastics, including highly skilled operations like radio-frequency welding, done by Africans. Take agriculture—agricultural training and demonstration under the Director of Native Agriculture. There are 84 Europeans and 541 African demonstrators. Applied training—and I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, will bear this out—has enormously improved native agriculture in dry farming. There are six or seven or more irrigation schemes already in operation in the nativeterritories. With regard to education, even 482 hostile critics have admitted that Southern Rhodesia is spending far more than other territories on education. And it is not merely on the two thousand primary schools, but on secondary education and trade schools as well. Then there is health. As we might expect, with a Doctor Prime Minister, health has featured largely, both as regards prevention of illness and its cure. Hygiene and hospitals—not just large urban hospitals, which are very remarkable, as I saw, but local clinics and cottage hospitals have a high place. Those are facts. They are facts quite well known to a great many Africans, and not only to Africans, in Southern Rhodesia to-day. Why is it that every year thousands of Africans come from Nyasaland, which, according to the right reverend Prelate, is such a paradise for Africans, in order to take work in Southern Rhodesia?
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
I hope I shall be forgiven for interrupting, but I must deny saying that. Nyasaland was a paradise.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am glad to hear the right reverend Prelate say that. I understood that the picture which the Lord Bishop painted was his idea—it certainly was my idea—of Paradise. But our ideas of Paradise may differ. He is more of an expert on that subject than I, and I should not claim to compete with him.
I have thought that it was right to digress in order to give a fairer picture of what the Southern Rhodesia Government is doing under a liberal-minded and enlightened Prime Minister. It is necessary to do so also—and here I have the Lord Bishop right because I took his words down; I think he was quoting the Hilton Young Report—in order to answer the question of the right reverend Prelate on the ability of Southern Rhodesia to discharge its task. It is a record of which no Government need be ashamed. It is certainly not the record of a callous or careless Administration.
I turn for a moment if I may—I apologise if I keep the House a little longer than I generally do but the subject is one of great importance; I will try to concentrate what I have to say—to the question of African safeguards. It is my belief that not only security but the future of Africans depends on the development 483 of co-operation, partnership and common interest, which is the essential purpose of the federal plan. That is why some of the most determined opponents of federation are to be found among Europeans who want domination and not partnership, and are, equally, to be found among Africans who, equally intensely, desire African domination. It is extremists on both sides, Africans as well as Europeans, who are the opponents. As Mr. Attlee well said:Between these extremes are the advocates of federation. They are liberal-minded and look ahead, seeing the solution of the problem in a partnership between the two communities.He did not seek to define it. I believe it is impossible to define partnership. We are asked whether it would not be possible to put something more in detail into the preamble on this point. Let me say at once that of course we could not alter these agreements, these White Papers which have been so closely considered and agreed. The principle is there. Suppose we were to try to make some more detailed definition, would it serve any useful purpose? As I see it, partnership is a spiritual concept which issues in action. I should have thought that even the narrowest planner would hardly seek to define it with more precision, or to confine within a formula the ever-increasing opportunities for both races. In a situation of such a kind, may it not well be that our plan is the wise, middle-of-the-road way?
I am certain that in a mixed community where Europeans and Africans must live together in partnership, and have a right to live together, a growing community of interest is the only solution and way of life; and as that community of interest grows safeguards will become less important. But it is right, however, that the safeguards should be there—and those safeguards are very complete. Let me take some of them. Land has been mentioned, and rightly mentioned, as a thing about which the African cares most and is most anxious. But land is entirely territorial, and, under this plan, land remains a territorial subject. Secondly, during the first ten years there can be no alterations in the legislative lists unless the Legislature of each Territory has agreed. And there is to be a review of the Constitution before the ten years ex- 484 pires. Of course, the African Affairs Board can require any differentiating Bill to be reserved—or any differentiating instrument (that is an Order) to be submitted to the Secretary of State. In our recent conference we all gave the closest consideration to making the Board a Parliamentary Standing Committee, and all of us, United Kingdom Ministers and representatves of the Territories, were sincerely convinced that it was a much better plan and at least an equally strong safeguard as the outside body—indeed,more effective.
Let me tell the House why. First of all, it is not easy to find an unlimited number of good men, competent men, particularly Africans. How can you find better members than those elected or selected to represent African interests in the Parliament?—and there will be three Europeans and three Africans, which is the same as under the original plan. Then again, Africans will have a voice in selecting African members, for they will be chosen by the members of the Assembly elected or selected to represent African interests.
Here is another reason: the Board will have all the knowledge and influence of Members of Parliament in the discharge of their duties. It has been said inside and outside Parliament that these members are likely to be overridden by their colleagues. That is not our experience, in this Parliament, of minorities. Anybody who sat in another place and remembers James Maxton and his little band would not think it very likely that minority members are so easily overridden. You may get this kind of case. This is the sort of instance, I suppose, where discrimination is most likely to arise—not that it will. A whole Bill is not likely to be discriminatory but you may get one clause in a Bill which is alleged to be discriminatory. Is it not much better that that should be debated in the Federal Assembly—debated by African members who can put their case? I would warrant that in nine cases out of ten that will be settled and accommodated, and agreed in the Assembly, and that the Standing Committee will never have to act in their capacity as African Affairs Board and ask to have the matter referred to the Secretary of State. And surely this Committee is consonant with the normal and proper 485 Parliamentary procedure. It avoids duplication and overlapping, which there certainly would have been, and possible friction with the outside body. I say, frankly, that my view, coming new to this proposal, was that this was enormously better than the original plan of the outside body. I do not think I betray any confidence if I say that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, when I said that to him, replied "I entirely agree; and for the life of me I cannot think why none of us thought of it before." Having thought of it and thought so well of it, as we do, we should have been wrong not to put it in.
I turn to one other point. It has been said in the debate to-day that the African representation in the Federal Assembly is too small and stereotyped. It is exactly the same representation as under the Labour Government plan. It has actually a higher proportion of African representation than exists in the Northern Legislatures. But, my Lords, remember this: the specific African representation provided for—three members from each Territory—in this Assembly is not a maximum; it is the minimum number of African members that there must be. And Africans who choose to go on the Common Roll will influence the election of the European members. They can stand themselves. I am told that already in at least two constituencies in Southern Rhodesia the African vote is a very considerable factor. Moreover, as I said, there is nothing to prevent an African from standing for a general seat, and African voters may cast their votes as they please. I agree that the Constitution is stereotyped, in the sense that a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority. But we cannot have it both ways: that two-thirds majority was firmly insisted upon by the representatives of the Territorial Governments in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. And in the interests of the Africans we really cannot have it both ways.
Now I come to the vexed question of African opinion. It is said that all Africans are opposed. If by "all Africans" is meant the African Congress Party, I entirely agree. I think that probably every member of the Congress Party is opposed. There are not a great many of them. A comparatively small number of extremists are opposed. They 486 are opposed to the whole idea of cooperation and partnership, exactly as are the European extremists on the other side. And I must say that these people have been propaganding with the maximum of misrepresentation. We are all used to a little latitude and imagination at Election time, but not to downright lies—at any rate not to downright lies which are so obvious as this, and I am sure in neither the Party of noble Lords opposite or mine would there be any lying of this sort. It is stated by these people: "The African will surely lose his land." My Lords, land is absolutely safeguarded. It is entirely a Territorial subject. So is the Protectorate status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Not only has there been misrepresentation; there has been intimidation, arid intimidation of chiefs who are known to favour federation—and that applies to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
It is safe to say that the mass of Africans do not understand what it is about. That is why the trustee cannot abdicate his trust, and must decide. If that had not often been done in the past, many reforms in health, education, and native agriculture which have in fact occurred would never have gone forward at all. If I may say so, the African backwoodsman is innately conservative. It is easy to spread rumour and suspicion, but the mass look to us, as I trust they always will, for leadership and decision. I was told by a friend that one chief said to him: "For years you and the Government have told us what is wise and right. If you do not know and cannot tell us what is wise and right, then it must, be pretty bad." That is why—I do not want to be poltlinical—I feel that it was unwise and wrong to stop the district officers—who were the people to whom these Africans have always looked to give them the facts and to give them guidance and leadership—from doing that, and make them take up a negative attitude. Of course it played straight into the hands of the extremists.
I do not know whether the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester believes in federation or not. I know that there are some people who believe in it but who think we should hold back until everyone is agreed. More conferences! A most extraordinary conference was suggested by the right reverend Prelate. We have had years of 487 conferences. To hold back would really get us nowhere. It would not be to hold back, but to step back. This situation is not static. We cannot stand still: we must go forward, or we go back. And it certainly would not be right, in the interests of millions of Africans, that we should go back. In truth, to delay now would have just the results which those supporters of federation who to-day counsel us to delay would least desire. It would play straight into the hands of the extremists on both sides. In effect, it would give to the enemies of partnership the power of veto—and we know what that has done in another sphere. That is why we in this Government unitedly feel it is our bounden duty to decide and act. That is not imposition; it is the discharge of our trust. Delay would make for the worst of all worlds. Socially and economically, delay can do nothing but harm. All these countries must have certainty. In a critical period of the war, the Prime Minister sent me out to Africa. I made my headquarters at Achimota, founded by the genius and foresight of Aggrey, one of the greatest of Africans, with a vision like that of Cecil Rhodes. Aggrey had one theme that ran through everything he taught and everything he did—what he called "the harmony of the black and white keys." He and Guggisberg founded Achimota to make that dream come true. The arms of the College—black and white—symbolise that harmony.
To-day in Central Africa we have the opportunity that comes, if we are lucky, once in a lifetime. We should be faithless to our trust if we did not seize that opportunity. We should stand condemned in history, condemned in our own consciences and condemned in no long time by those for whom we hold the trust. We will not play them false. Let us go forward resolutely and confidently, discharge our trust and establish the partnership, the harmony. And as that partnership becomes effective in action, the strains of that harmony will carry far beyond the borders of the Federation with the vision and the reality of a new way of life.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BLEDISLOE
My Lords, for forty-three years I have been in Parliament, and for thirty-five of them as a Member of this House. I can- 488 not remember any debate in either House of a more epoch-making character, so far as the British Commonwealth and Empire is concerned, than that in which we are engaged here to-day. It is no exaggeration to say that the importance of this problem and the decision regarding it is calculated to affect, for better or for worse, the welfare of the dark-skinned subjects of the British Crown throughout the whole of the continent of Africa for all time to come. As Chairman of the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission of 1938–39, I feel that I cannot remain silent on this occasion. But if what I may call senile infirmity detracts from the lucidity or the intelligibility of the case as I am prepared to put it, I am going to venture to ask the House to give me the same indulgence which it is always prepared to give to new entrants to it on making their maiden speeches.
I want frankly to admit that the problem of South Central African Federation is intricate and difficult, and calls for the exercise of an exceptionally high degree of faith, vision and statesmanship. Pardon a retrospect. Fifteen years ago, my Commission were charged with the task of exploring the best means of effecting what was called "closer association." political, constitutional and economic, between these three contiguous Territories, and their complete amalgamation or merger was the proposal then favoured by the majority of the European population, and especially those in Southern Rhodesia. As the right reverend Prelate has stated, we saw insuperable objections to any immediate implementation of this proposal, and failing any practical alternative (I do not think there has been any reference to this, except in the debate last week in another place by one of my then colleagues, Sir Ian Orr-Ewing), we suggested an interim provisional scheme of inter-Territorial co-ordinated public services and economic development, including the establishment of two Boards, one described as the Services Board, to deal with all those services affecting all three Territories that could best be co-ordinated, and the other described as the Development Board, both of them operating under an Inter-Territorial Council.
I want to pause for a moment to say that we had in mind then what has been so much emphasised in recent discus- 489 sions—the initiation of a process of partnership, both territorial and racial. Within a few months war broke out, and these proposed Boards were never set up. Even the Inter-Territorial Council—what was subsequently the Central African Council—was not formed until 1945. In my judgment, such a system of experimental co-ordination and joint planning would have avoided many of the difficulties and apprehensions with which the present federation scheme is faced. We considered federation, as previously interpreted and actually effected in other parts of the world, and turned it down as inapplicable to Territories so widely apart in development and evolutionary progress as the self-governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia, on the one hand, and the extremely primitive Protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, on the other. The fact that there is no historical or geographical precedent for this new and untried type of federation, embarked upon without any previous process of experimental and transitional co-ordination (and I see grave risks in postponement in present circumstances and in face of spreading native suspicions and fears), emphasises the necessity for establishing adequate safeguards in the interests of native welfare. The adequate and effective protection of native interests is, naturally, a subject of somewhat acute controversy. We shall have to watch with great care the treatment accorded these interests under this scheme during the first few years of its functioning. We must regard these years as an experimental period, at the end of which the scheme can, if necessary, be completely overhauled and improved.
What I do want to emphasise is this—and I say it with regret, although I know it to be true. The ignorance of the Bantu, and his almost pathetic reliance on outside protection, direction and advice, well and prudently provided hitherto by the district commissioners, has resulted in his utter lack of a sense of personal responsibility. We emphasised that most strongly in our unanimous Report. The ultimate objective of British Colonial policy, as we are always being told, is to fit all countries within the British Commonwealth for ultimate self-government. To tie them too closely to the apron strings of White-hall, while supervising the welfare of 490 these ill-educated, child-like natives, does not, to my mind, conduce to the development of this sense of personal responsibility.
The small group of educated Bantus—and I may say, quire frankly, that they did not appear to exist fifteen years ago when my Commission was sitting—who now claim to speak for their fellows, are, I suggest, in no way typical of the bulk of natives of South Central Africa. To anyone who has mired with these primitive people—to one indeed, who, like myself, had some thirty to forty different meetings with their tribal chiefs in situ over the vast region to which this scheme applies, and attempted to elicit their views—the idea of consulting them with a view to taking their advice on any constitutional or economic problem would seem a ludicrous absurdity. While I was Governor-General of New Zealand I interested myself particularly with the welfare of the lovable, quick-witted Maori people. They come of the Polynesian race, a far less primitive type than the African Bantu, Lind have had a hundred years longer contact with European civilization and culture. I found the contrast extremely depressing. But even the Maoris, as a whole, would not be deemed the wisest counsellors regarding their own welfare, and least of all regarding the lines within New Zealand of optimum economic progress or development.
My Commission had similar terms of reference to those of another Royal Commission, which is sometimes forgotten, which included Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika Territory, and sat, I think, about three years previously. But unlike the Report of that other Commission, our Report was unanimous. The members, however, appended Notes emphasising considerations which they deemed of special importance. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to read some short extracts from the particular Note which was appended by my colleague, Sir Patrick Ashley Cooper, and myself, to the Report. One comment relates to the striking progress of Southern Rhodesia, a country which to-day, in connection with this scheme, is, I am sorry to say, regarded with the deepest suspicion, and as unsympathetic to the natives. Indeed, a recent letter to The Times, purporting to come from Rhodesian and Nyasaland chiefs, describes the treatment of them in Southern 491 Rhodesia as absolutely identical with the apartheid Malanism of South Africa, a statement which is wholly unfounded.
I now turn, on that subject, to the Note to which I have referred. It says, in reference to Southern Rhodesia:We think it desirable…to place on record our opinion that the Colony has, since it was entrusted with self-government fourteen years ago, made remarkable and commendable progress, which has been particularly marked during the last five years.I pause to say that I have every reason to believe—in fact, to know—that that progress has been maintained continuously during the fifteen years that have elapsed since this Report was signed. Our Note goes on:This progress has been achieved in face of no small difficulties and discouragements occasioned by temporary economic depression. livestock disease and other adverse factors…but there has been an obvious and increasing recognition of the outstanding duty of the State to improve social conditions, among Natives as well as Europeans as and when its finances rendered this practicable. That very much remains to be done to improve the physical condition, the education and the economic welfare of the Native Race no impartial person, conversant with the facts, can deny, but that this is fully recognised, not only by the Government but also by the bulk of the more responsible elements in the European community. we have no reason to doubt.I should like to refer to two other small paragraphs in this separate Note. It says, further:The urbanisation and industrialisation of the Bantu, although largely inevitable, may have untoward consequences, unless guided and controlled with vision and judgment. The severance of the Native from the soil of his country is fraught with no small peril, alike to his physical, moral and spiritual welfare and to the future stability of the whole body politic. The physically sub-normal condition of the majority of the Natives in South Central Africa is unchallengeably traceable to these factors and to the tendency of the impact of Western civilisation and industrialism to disrupt old-established conditions of domestic economic environment, without their systematic replacement by others of a definitely improved and enduring character.Then we point out, incidentally, the importance of the land, ofits maintenance, its enrichment, the retention of moisture, and above all, to the training of the Native from his earliest childhood to utilise it to the best advantage.We go on:Education is a crying need of the African, but its foundation should, in his case, be knowledge of the land and its proper treatment, on the one hand, and of the basic prin- 492 ciples of nutrition and hygiene, on the other. These lessons are even more vital to his true welfare than reading, writing and arithmetic and should take precedence of them.We refer particularly to the medical services and say:Even more essential than education is physical fitness and resultant educability. Adequate medical service and sanitation should therefore receive prior consideration.I venture to say that throughout the whole of Africa to-day there is not to be found a more progressive and competent medical organisation for the natives than is to be found in Southern Rhodesia. Your Lordships may be aware that there are certain diseases which are very prevalent there, including, I am sorry to say, a large amount of venereal disease, malaria, bilharzia and leprosy, and of course, sleeping sickness.
Then the Note continues:The progressive economic development of the Territories is a basic condition of native progress. The native and the European are complementary to one another. The capital and energy which the latter contributes are indispensible to the economic and social welfare of the former. During the present experimental period, and in face of changing conditions, native policy must be flexible, as the Government of Southern Rhodesia appears to realise. Moreover, administrative enterprise should be directed at least as much to the economic, as to the political, development of the Native race. From our personal survey of these Territories, we are inclined to the view that both land and labour are at present wasted, and that with proper utilization, it is doubtful whether there would be a deficiency of either.I have taken the liberty to quote from this Note which I drew up very carefully, in consultation with my colleague Sir Patrick Ashley Cooper, and I may say that I have not varied my views one iota since that Note was drafted.
Your Lordships will notice that we particularly stressed the importance of education. Apparently noble Lords on both sides of both Houses are all agreed on federation. The present criticisms of the White Paper schemes relate, if I may venture to say so with respect, to relative trifles, and surely should not impede the adoption of the scheme. Surely, we should have some faith in the future and in the capacity of level-headed administrators in those three Territories, and also, if I may venture to say so, in the overriding wisdom of our own Government of whatever complexion. In other 493 words, let us apply the motto "Solvitur ambulando." Do not let us assume that alterations in this constitution will necessarily be made upon a racial basis. Apart from the missionaries many Europeans are devoting themselves to native welfare. I would venture to say, in the presence of the right reverend Prelate, that the trouble about missionaries is that one branch of the Christian Church sends out its own particular missionary to a certain area and then there comes along in a few years, if not at once, others belonging to other branches of the Christian Church to compete with them in the good work. But over an immense area—the greater part of Northern Rhodesia for instance and a good part of Southern Rhodesia, as well as Nyasaland—there is none of this salutary missionary effort upon which depends the promotion of practically all the social services. In Southern Rhodesia, which is a responsible self-governing Colony, the responsibility for social services, including particularly health and education, rests upon the Government for the time being of the Colony.
I want particularly to emphasise, in this connection, that a very large proportion of the white men in all three Territories, including Northern Rhodesia, were giving up the whole of their lives to the advancement of native welfare—and I must, in justice, refer particularly to Sir Stewart Gore-Brown—long before the Colonial Office did anything very emphatic in this direction. On his estate, dominated by what we have always called his "baronial castle," on the boundaries of Tanganyika Territory. Sir Stewart Gore-Brown constituted himself some sixteen years ago what we should call "the protector of the aborigines"; and throughout that part of Northern Rhodesia that one man did infinitely more, during a long period, for the benefit of the natives than anything that we have done through our Colonial Office. No one can deny that.
There are great natural resources awaiting development in both Rhodesias—I will not say in Nyasaland, as there is no mineral wealth to be found there. There are two land industries which are carried on in the most progressive manner. One, of course, is cotton growing, under the Empire Cotton Growing Association, and the other is the tea plantations in the Southern part of the Protectorate, all of which are admirably conducted. The native population which is greatest in 494 this area seek their employment largely, and necessarily, even as far south as the Rand area of the Union of South Africa and, to a larger extent, in the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia, as well as in the gold mines, and particularly in the great Wankie Colliery of Southern Rhodesia. These great natural resources cannot be fully exploited except on inter-Territorial lines. At present tie coal in Southern Rhodesia, the copper in Northern Rhodesia and the skilled manual labour of Nyasaland are complementary one to another.
The past record of British colonisation is nothing to be ashamed of; indeed, it should be a source of pride. No nation has shown more sympathetic consideration for the natives in areas under its control than we have. I am old enough to remember the justifiable outcry and shouts of denunciation throughout the whole of this country at the Belgian Congo atrocities. Now, thank goodness! the Belgian Congo atrocities have ceased. In fact, do not think there is any area in Africa to-day that is better administered than the Belgian Congo. But it was largely due to the emphatic exhortations and protests that came from this country, and in light of its own more enlightened Colonial policy, that those improvements have taken place in the Congo area.
My noble friend Lord Swinton referred to the improvement of native agriculture in Southern Rhodesia. Judging by my experience of a certain competition that I initiated in New Zealand amongst the Maoris, I came to the conclusion that if only we could institute a competition there which would result in the black man hanging some glittering bauble upon his chest as an indication of his skill and direction in the matter of improving agriculture on modern lines, it would have a salutary effect. In New Zealand I instituted the "Son of the Soil" competition, with the provision of a large silver medal to be hung round the chief's neck. I inaugurated twelve years' ago a similar competition in Southern Rhodesia. Only three weeks ago I had a perfectly delightful letter from the Governor of Southern Rhodesia telling me that the scheme had had a very salutory effect there. The medal was bestowed about a month ago upon a chief in Southern Rhodesia who 495 had set a brilliant example to his tribesmen, as well as those of neighbouring tribes. By that and other means, and particularly by the wise direction of the native commissioners—not the European commissioners—native agriculture in Southern Rhodesia has improved enormously during the last few years. I mention that only as indicating one very important social service—if I may so call it—in Southern Rhodesia, and one which points in the right direction. There are risks, and I admit them. There are risks in embarking upon this new form of federation in a region of extremely primitive native people. But in face of the safeguards so wisely, as I think, and ingeniously framed for their due protection, in my judgment there are infinitely greater risks in not doing so, and not doing so promptly.
§ 5.25 p.m.
My Lords, I had not intended to address your Lordships' House on this occasion, and I shall do so for only three or four minutes. Just before I came to the House I heard that my noble leader, Lord Samuel, was, to his great regret, unable to address your Lordships to-morrow as he had hoped, and, therefore, if your Lordships will give me your indulgence for a minute or two I think it will be just as well at this stage that your Lordships should know where the Liberal Party stands. I cannot claim, like the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, the indulgence for a "maiden" speech, but in view of the short time I have had in which to prepare my remarks perhaps I might claim a certain respect for comparative virginity, if that is not a contradiction in terms.
The Liberal Party is well aware of the great troubles which are going on and are likely to go on until something is done. They, like other Parties, have the advantage of expert advice. It has sometimes been said that speeches should not be made upon this subject unless the speaker has actually been in the Territory concerned. That, I suggest, is rather a dangerous principle, for I should regret it very much if one of the qualifications of the noble and learned Lord who sits upon the Woolsack should be that he had spent a spell at Broadmoor.
I feel, nevertheless, that we have come very much to the same conclusion as noble Lords on the Government side of 496 the House, and that is that federation is the only solution. It is a good solution, and the work which has been done in respect of federation in trying to get this scheme out is good work. We should also like to pay tribute to those who have spent so much time and trouble in dealing with this matter. If I may be deliberately invidious, I should like to mention the noble Leader of your Lordships' House, who is known throughout all Parties and to the people of Africa as being always accessible, always fair-minded, and, if he will not take it as an insult, always liberal-minded. In paying tribute to the politicians in both Houses, I should like to add also one to the Government officials, especially those in the Territory who have done work in particularly difficult circumstances, and the white settlers, the vast majority of whom have built up, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, has said, a very fine tradition of British development in the Territory which we are now discussing.
The only thing about which we are sorry is that the Government should think it necessary to put this scheme into operation immediately. I would suggest to your Lordships that we are at a very interesting state in the progress of the world—that is to say, in the advancement of science and knowledge generally. It took about one million years to develop from the man with a chunk of stone in his hand up to the bow and arrow man; only a few hundred years from the bow and arrow man to the gun-powder and cannon man, and relatively only a few decades from that to the atomic and supersonic developments of to-day. It seems to me that in a very few years we may well be as far ahead of to-day as to-day is ahead of 1066. It is a matter of opinion whether that is a pleasing outlook or not; but it seems to me that a point may well come when the human frame and mind will be unable to stand this geometrical rate of progress. I mention this because the argument against delaying this scheme is that it will take too long to develop what it is necessary to develop—that is, to give more responsibility to the African people: to educate them further so that they are in a position to take up the position which. I think, noble Lords on both sides of the House wish they should assume.
I believe that the real division between noble Lords on my left and noble Lords 497 opposite is only one of timing. Noble Lords on my left think that something good can be done before something bad overtakes it, and noble Lords opposite seem to be convinced that bad will overtake any policy of delay. I submit that when you do not do a thing it is still there, available to be done. If you do it, it is often irrevocable. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, mentioned that discretion was the better part of valour. I would add that indiscretion is the greater part of squalor, and we should be immensely careful not to act precipitately. I therefore suggest that it is not too late to delay. Something constructive can still be done; and although we on these Benches are in favour of federation ultimately, we hope that Her Majesty's Government will wisely reconsider and listen; and that, if possible, they will postpone the measures they now propose to put into operation. If it be of any interest, I may say that I have heard from my noble Leader, Lord Samuel, that if this matter were pressed to a fruitless Division he would abstain from voting; and I should take the same course.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, has left the Chamber, because I wanted to say a word about something that he said. But I will leave it to the latter part of my speech in case he does return.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I am much obliged to the noble Lord. First I would say that I think my noble friend Lord Swinton has, if anything, accentuated the importance of complete confidence in the scheme which has been put forward by the Government. He dealt with every aspect that I had read about which forms the opposition to this scheme; and I do not propose, therefore, to repeat what has been said. Thus I shall be able to take rather less time over what I was going to say and so help other noble Lords to speak in the time at our disposal. In regard to what Lord Swinton said about misrepresentation, even intimidation and lies, I must tell your Lordships that when I came into the House this afternoon I was handed a registered envelope containing a letter, and this is how the letter began: 498The fool-hardy advocates of the imposition of Central Africa Federation against the solid unanimous opposition of the African people….My Lords, there is Lot a word of truth in that. It is a long letter, and I have not read more than the beginning of it; but observe that it is signed by a gentleman named Semakula Mulumba, who signs himself as "Representative of the Bataka The Elders of the People of Uganda." That sort of thing is being circulated up and down the country. It is a dreadful thing to think that people should say these things when they are completely untrue.
My excuse for intervening in this debate is that I spent many years of my life, very often alone, m the Territories which it is proposed to federate, and I came to know quite a good deal about the psychology of the natives. I have been at pains to study the present situation and have had discussions with my friends, all of them prominent men in the area. I will mention one of them who, to me, is probably one of the greatest leaders we have to-day, and that is Mr. Welensky. I am sure that anyone who has met Mr. Welensky must appreciate enormously his power of exposition of any case he might put forward, and also his great personality. I have come to the conclusion, as a result of this study and of meeting such men as Mr. Welensky and others who have intimate knowledge of present day conditions, that this scheme of federation is absolutely necessary, and necessary now, for the welfare of those Europeans and Africans who live in these three Territories.
The right reverend Prelate in his admirable speech—with which I am bound to say I did not agree—did not say anything by which I could gather whether he knows that there are a great many different types of Africans. There is what we used to call the "Cape boy," who is a mixture of black and white. Then you have the pure-bred Negro. The right reverend Prelate is no doubt aware of the fact—which I am most anxious to emphasise—that the ossification of the head of the pure-bred Negro finishes at the age of sixteen years. Therefore, you have a fully grown man who has the intelligence of a boy of sixteen. These Negroes are admirable people. I have, as I say, lived amongst them and I have 499 had them working for me for years. Once they know you are going to play the game by them there is no one who would be more faithful and more quick to help in time of difficulty, and no one I should rather have with me to help if I had my back against the wall.
I am much influenced also by the unanimous opinion set out by the members of the Conference whose Report is contained in the White Paper (Cmd. 8753) published in February of this year. I will quote one passage which occurs at the end of paragraph 1.It runs as follows:These"—that is, the conferences, visits, commissions and Reports—have now culminated in the Conference of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland which has been meeting in London since the 1st January and which has reached agreement on the whole matter.Let us see who signed that. First, there was my noble friend, Lord Swinton, and then the right honourable Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, the noble Marquess who leads this House, Sir Godfrey Huggins, Mr. Rennie and Mr. Colby. Now, my Lords, can we ignore the unanimous opinion of such men as these? I will not read anything of the Reports, because Lord Swinton has already dealt with the sentences which I had in mind. In my view, any individual or Party—and I feel very strongly about this—who opposes those who have come to these conclusions takes on a very heavy responsibility. The spirit inherent in this scheme is embodied in that word "partnership" to which Lord Noel-Buxton referred. Of course, there must be at the beginning senior partners and junior partners, but there is no reason why there should be any difficulty as regards that. We have in our own country some similar situation in many organisations.
I am glad to see Lord Noel-Buxton has returned, because I wanted to draw his attention to one point. He made reference to the social side of things. I should like to put this thought in his mind: that there are two sides to that matter. The African is just as proud of the social side as the white man is. We had a strong indication of that in the objection which was raised to the 500 marriage of Seretse Khama to a white woman. We have got to take into consideration the strong pride which the African has in his own race—a pride as strong as our own in our race. It is all very well for us to talk about protecting the "poor African"; of course we have got to do that, and it will be done, as I see it, under this scheme. I thought I should like to refer to that matter and remind Lord Noel-Buxton that there are, as I have said, two sides to this question of pride of race. That is all I have to say on that point.
I do not suppose for one moment that we shall divide on this matter, but that it had to go to a Division in another place is really terrible. If ever there was a strong case for unity, it is now on this all-important question involving the welfare of so many of Her Majesty's subjects. There is no doubt in my mind, from information I have, that there are certain people who deliberately—and my noble friend has referred to it—are trying to misrepresent this scheme of Federation and frighten the Africans into opposing it. There is no doubt that the vast proportion of Africans understand nothing of federation, and in many cases know nothing about it. The African is concerned principally about his land, about his cattle, and about his wives. He does not realise that his situation will be much more secure under this scheme. I am certain that Africans will in due course thank federation for the better conditions it will bring to them.
Let us for a moment think what the white man has done—I am talking now to those who discuss the rights of Africans in the matter of self-government. The Africans had full rights for hundreds, indeed thousands, of years. During that time they never built a railway, they never built a hospital, they never built a road or even a house. There were only mud huts, as noble Lords who have been there well know. It was not until the white man came along that the country became developed. The black population were immensely benefited by the coming of the white man. They really had not even what we should possibly describe as a Government at all.
I should like to turn for a moment to what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I am surprised at his speech. It 501 would appear that, since the debate in another place the Liberal Party have altered their views, because I notice that, when the Division took place in the other place, they voted against this scheme of Federation. I am delighted to hear that the noble Lord says that, if there were a Division here, he would not vote against it but would abstain. That shows that the Liberal Party are now perhaps—I hope it is true—veering round to the idea that this scheme of Federation is not so bad after all.
I think there is a slight difference between the two questions. One is whether the scheme is a good scheme, and the Liberal Party do support that. But, if it comes to a decision as to whether it should be implemented immediately, the Liberal Party reluctantly do not support that.
§ LORD TEVIOT
I take note of what the noble Lord says. I should like to go back a little into history to refresh the mind of the Liberal Benches. In 1909, when a Liberal Government was in office, the federation of what is now called the Union of South Africa—that is, Natal, Cape Colony, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State—was brought into operation. The franchise then was only white. It has gradually been extended over the years but it is still not complete. As I see it, the principle and basis of federation suggested is a progressive augmentation in the light of experience of the 1909 Act. It is interesting to look back at the 1909 Act, opposed in those day by the Conservatives, but sponsored by the Liberal Government of that time.
I entirely support the noble Lord. We still maintain that position, and it is quite obvious that the Liberal Party in this House is at the moment single-minded.
§ LORD TEVIOT
Now we have the Conservatives sponsoring an improved Act which they opposed forty-four years ago, while Liberals—I am referring only to the voting on it now—are taking the position that the Conservatives were in. As a Liberal, I am convinced that we National Liberals are right in supporting this scheme. I regret more than I can say that my erstwhile colleagues are opposing it, or did oppose it in another 502 place. The noble Lord cannot get away with it; they did vote against it in another place. I am delighted to hear that they would not have done so in this House. This is the kind of Liberal Conservative relationship in which no hyphen can be found.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, your Lordships will forgive me if I do not enter into domestic disputes between the various segments of the Liberal Party. I am glad, however, that the true Liberal Party are not only single-minded but single-handed. I want to congratulate my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton on moving the Motion, and also on the excellent speech he made to your Lordships. I am sure that your Lordships all feel that in this House it is no easy task for a young man to make an important speech on a great occasion such as this. Whether or not we agree with what he says, we appreciate that he has accomplished his task very well indeed.
I should also like to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester who I thought made an extraordinary powerful speech, one which I am sure must make the Government think whether they cannot of reconsider their plans, even at this late stage. I do not expect them to change their plans for us, but they might do so for the right reverend Prelate, who is both powerful and persuasive. We on this side feel strongly in this matter and we are officially behind the Motion of my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton; but whatever our decision might have been had the circumstances been different, we feel that we could not get a representative House tomorrow, in view of the Easter Recess, and therefore we shall not divide the House on this question.
I myself feel that this is a matter of political judgment. I think that there are many arguments for and against and everyone, both in this House and outside, must make up his or her mind on the balance of the arguments. I am bound to say that we on this side were disappointed in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. He rightly said that this was a momentous occasion, but we thought that much of his speech was 503 irrelevant and that he did not reply to the many cogent arguments addressed to the House by the noble Lord and the right reverend Prelate whose names appeared above the two Motions on the Order Paper. Perhaps that deficiency will be remedied when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, comes to reply. Until then, we must feel—I say this in all seriousness—that most of the arguments put up by those two speakers have not been answered, because the crux of this question is the principle of imposition. That is the whole crux of the matter, and, as we see it, that has not really been answered at all.
The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, put up and knocked down a number of old "Aunt Sallies" of his own. No one had suggested many of the things that he said had been suggested. The noble Viscount said that the Africans do not understand what this is all about. He gave us absolutely no proof at all of that very serious statement, which was directly contrary to the speech of the right reverend Prelate, who brought in aid of his testimony an article written by the Bishop of Nyasaland. After all, because of his position and his personality, the Bishop of Nyasaland is a witness whose testimony we should accept with the greatest confidence. I would not in any way care to put any opinion I had against an authority such as the Bishop of Nyasaland. I did not take a note at the time, but I think I remember correctly that the Bishop of Nyasaland wrote that he had never known such a widespread understanding of any matter as there was among Africans with reference to this matter. Probably I have not got the words right, but I believe that that was the gist of what the Bishop said—I see that the right reverend Prelate agrees with that.
The noble Viscount said that only extremists, and not Africans of moderate opinion, are against this plan. Again, those are not the exact words, but that is the gist of what the noble Viscount said. There is no proof at all of this wild statement. I think there is no doubt that the overwhelming mass of African opinion, so far as it has been expressed, is against this federal Scheme—I am not saying wisely against it, but certainly it is against it.
§ LORD TEVIOT
May I ask the noble Lord if he can give us definite evidence of that statement. He has made a distinct statement. We make a distinct statement in the other direction. Can he give us any concrete evidence substantiating his statement?
§ LORD OGMORE
Yes; I would instance the article that has been read by the right reverend Prelate, containing the opinion of the Bishop of Nyasaland on this point. The noble Lord will see it in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, and I think he will see that it bears out what I have said. But, in addition, there are the already expressed opinions of the chiefs, and also the opinion of the African Congress. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said that the franchise in South Africa was not yet wholly complete. I would regard that as the finest example on record of an understatement. I leave it at that.
§ LORD TEVIOT
Does the noble Lord say that the franchise in the Union of South Africa at the moment is complete?
§ LORD OGMORE
No, of course I do not. I say it is about the most incomplete thing there is. It is in fact merely a franchise of the white population. And even the coloured people who have had it for, I suppose, a century, are now, if the Union of South Africa Government are successful, to have their franchise removed from them. I am sure the noble Lord will, on reflection, agree with me that his definition of the position in South Africa is an under-statement of a remarkable kind.
My Lords, I feel that we on this side must accept some responsibility for this scheme. We started it and the present Government found it "on their plate" when they came down to breakfast on the morning after the Election. We cannot at this stage deny all responsibility for it nor do we wish to do so. But I believe that had we been returned to power in 1951, we might have carried the plan through. That is only a belief, but everyone is entitled to his belief. Possibly through no fault of the existing Government—or perhaps a little fault—the hiatus created by the change of Government, with the introduction of the new personalities, the different outlook that the Conservative Government were thought to have on these subjects, and 505 the speeches of supporters of the Government at home and abroad, all made a difference. I mention this particularly because, when this plan was first mooted—I knew of it very early on because at the time I was in the Commonwealth Relations Office—it was rather thought that the chief objection to the scheme would come from the white settlers; and it was felt that great pains would have to be taken to persuade them that it was a good thing for them. They allowed or wished the Central African Council to languish; it was a pale shadow of what it was intended to be. It was thought perhaps that they might do the same thing to the Federation.
I think it was a mistake that the Africans did not join in the talks over here. But that fact is evidence of how opposition in Africa was hardening against federation. I also believe (I am giving all the trumps to the Government at this moment) that in certain circumstances it may be necessary for a Government to impose its will upon people for whom it has a trust, even though they are against it. I can conceive of cases such as that; but they are exceptional. We ourselves did not undertake to force this plan through. We submitted it as worthy of study and consideration, and I am quite certain that if we had been returned to power, and if African opinion had hardened against the scheme, we should never have attempted to force it through against the expressed opinions of the Africans. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, was, I think, quite wrong in attributing any different opinion to my right honourable leader, Mr. Attlee. I am sure that I am right in saying that Mr. Attlee is against the imposition of this scheme in the face of African opinion.
As I say, I do not see how we can safely override the overwhelming weight of African opinion as expressed because, as I understand it, this federation scheme depends upon their co-operation. That is the crux of the matter, and that is the important point with which the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, did not deal. I am sure all noble Lords are anxious about this matter: they want to be quite certain that we are taking the right step. Here we are left without any guidance from the Government on that very important and crucial point. We do not know what the Government view is of 506 that. How do you work this scheme which depends on African operation? However excellent it may be on paper, however desirable it may be in fact, how do you get it to work if the Africans are against it, and if they will not work it? That is what we should like to hear from the Government, and that is what we have not heard yet.
Frankly, I admit that many of the arguments used in relation to the old "Aunt Sallies" that Lord Swinton put up and knocked down with great gusto are quite right. I fully agree with him that economically and socially there would be more advantages from federation. But that is irrelevant. The point is that, in spite of the advantages, the Africans do not want it. What do you do then? The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, shakes his Lead, but that is in effect what the Africans have said. No doubt the noble Viscount will make his own speech on that point. As I see it, the issue now goes deeper than federation. This century has been called, not the century of the common man but the century of the coloured man. The relationship between Asia and Africa, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, will, I feel, determine not only their future but ours as well. One of the great contributions of the Labour Government throughout its term of office was, if I may be allowed to say so, a realisation of the new spirit in Asia and Africa, and I shall, perhaps, be excused if I dig down, very shortly, to some of the fundamentals.
Since the war, as your Lordships know, right through Asia and Africa there have spread nationalism and reformism, reformism particularly with regard to land tenure. Chiang Kai-shek lost to the Communists because although he was nationalist he was not reformist, and his chief followers were usually greedy and grasping, and, very often, nothing but crooks. In Burma, the Communists lost to the nationalists because, although reformist, they were rot nationalist; they took their orders from the international Communist directorate. Africans in East and Central Africa becoming more and more nationalists and reformists, too, as in Asia and in other parts of Africa. What is nationalism? What is reformism? This is the sort of questions we ought to ask ourselves, because they lie behind 507 this trouble and other troubles in Africa. Unfortunately, in this country, as your Lordships are aware, with rare exceptions—some very valuable exceptions, and I am glad to see some of them in this House to-day—the public are not really interested in Colonial matters; and that is reflected in Parliament. The small attendances on Colonial days have long been in the Colonies the subject of what is, in my view, quite proper criticism. The result is that these fundamental questions are never postulated in Parliament, because of the lack of interest, except by the very valuable few who are interested in them.
I should say that nationalism is basically the same, whether it be Indian, Burman, African, Boer, Welsh, Irish or Scottish or any other that we can think of. It is a nostalgia for the past; a desire to be separate, to hug and cherish the things that distinguish the people from other peoples, even if the things are almost obsolete, like the Irish language, or harmful, like female circumcision among the Kikuyu. It is the past seen through rose-tinted spectacles. It is a spiritual revolt against a dominant and pervasive alien influence. We can see the beginning of it even in this country in the resentment in certain places of United States power and practices. What is reformism? It has tended in primitive countries, in the East and in Africa, to concentrate on land tenure, as this is by far the most important element in the life of simple peoples. Your Lordships will remember that the right reverend Prelate spoke of a Nyasalander who had told him, "Land is our treasure." A very touching phrase that, and a very true one. Here, I think, blame must be somewhat diffuse, for the fact is that we have not understood the real basis of the feelings of these peoples.
I will tell your Lordships why we have not understood it. For many years, in this country, the educational authorities, the great universities, the Inns of Court, the Law Society and, particularly, the historians have tended to devote their attention to English history from the time of William I. They have tended to devote their attention to the feudalism he brought in as modified in the last century or so by laissez faire. That may seem rather far-fetched, but I am certain, from my own observation, that there is 508 truth in it. These educational institutions have never devoted their attention to the very interesting tribal system of the Saxons, which was not feudal; they have never devoted any attention to the Irish system—and in this connection it is interesting to note that in the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, we have a representative of one of the great Irish tribal families—the O'Neills—or the Scottish tribal system, or the Welsh tribal system. They have not devoted any attention to these. Your Lordships can look at any book in the schools, and you will find that very little attention is paid to any of those matters. So not only have the people who have had to deal with primitive races had no experience of tribal custom and tribal ways—which they could have had, had they been taught something of them in this country—but they have also tended to feel a contempt for them, believing that there was only one system—namely, the system in which they themselves were brought up.
Like many others of your Lordships, I have had some experience of the tribal system in Borneo, in Malaya, on the frontiers of China and in East and West Africa, and I have read about the tribal system in Scotland, Ireland and Wales—it is all much the same. Under the tribal system, land is held by the community or by the tribe or large family group. The community is small and scattered; there is plenty of land; the people are pastoral or, where agricultural, there is a shifting cultivation; the cattle, other stock and produce may be owned by the family and, occasionally, by an individual on behalf of a family or group. Law and custom is settled and changeless. The elders declare law and custom. There is no real distinction between breach of contract, tort, criminal offences and breach of good manners. Finally, and perhaps as important as any, a man's prestige grows with his years. He is an ever-growing fish in a small pond whose boundaries are defined and do not change.
We can imagine the impact upon tribal society, wherever it may be, in the East or in Africa, of Westerners, ignorant and possibly contemptuous of the tribal system. Your Lordships will know that one of the allegations (I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, true or false) made by the Kikuyu is that their tribal 509 lands were not regarded as tribal lands, owing to the fact that at the time of the first white settlement they had an outbreak of smallpox which had decimated the tribe. They say that their lands were regarded as vacant lands, when in fact they were tribal grazing lands. I do not wish to make any comment upon it, but that is the allegation. Very often, in primitive countries, the tribal system was ignored; taboos were upset; ancient law and custom were derided, and the alien law and administration was imposed—with the best of intentions but often, in my own experience, with farcical results. Tribal lands were parcelled out to individuals and owned by them. And a thousand years of Western change were telescoped into one African decade. Is it any wonder that there is bewilderment in Africa? Is it any wonder that the Africans dread change, any change, and fear the new proposals when so many in the past have been detrimental to them?
Africa as a whole is watching the centre of Africa. The Continent is rousing itself after a long slumber. I remember the late Field-Marshal Smuts telling me, just before he died, "Africa at last is corning into its own. It is a great Continent and we are on the threshold of new things." We are playing this drama, I feel, on a stage brilliantly lit and before millions of eager, watchful African eyes. We cannot afford to make a mistake. Your Lordships may say, "That is all very well, but what action should be taken?" I would say, first, that the Government should not press on with this scheme at the moment. Much as I realise that it is economically advantageous, I feel that the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages that would be obtained. The Government must take such action as they can to obtain African confidence and support.
They may ask, "What action?" I refer your Lordships to an interesting letter published in The Times of March 4, signed by the most reverend Primate, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council. These distinguished men said this:There seems to be an urgent need, before federation is inaugurated, for imaginative action, promoted by trust and understanding, 510 to demonstrate to Africans that the intention behind the federal scheme is to provide the necessary political and economic framework within which all races can progress in effective co-operation. Nothing could so effectively demonstrate this intention as the removal of some discriminatory legislation and of some day-to-day practice; which destroy racial harmony. The widespread fears of Africans will not be removed by constitutional safeguards alone but rather by good will made effective by action.The last phrase is the most important one: "good will made effective by action."
I ventured to suggest this last time to your Lordships, and at the risk of boring your Lordships I will repeat it again, what happened when the representatives of Central Africa came over here to meet the Government to discuss the federal scheme. When they got to the airport they were not allowed into the refreshment room. Now what is the use of telling a man who comes to this country, enters any hotel and has lunch in your Lordships' House, that he should sever the bonds—or, I should say, loosen the bonds—between this country and his own and should lighten the bonds between his country and Southern Rhodesia, which does not allow him to use a restaurant?
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
Perhaps I might be allowed to say this. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that that was a great mistake. But I think it is also a mistake to make that point in a speech as an important point against federation or in favour of further gestures of good will. I lunched in the airport two or three months ago, and there were some Nigerian chiefs lunching in the restaurant with me. They were going home and they were dressed in their national costume. Therefore I do not believe it is a general rule. I think it was an unfortunate incident and I do not think that it should be taken by the House or the country as the general trend of policy here.
§ LORD OGMORE
If the noble Marquess, whom we respect so much, gives me that assurance, I am delighted to hear it, because when the men came over it was the general rule. When he assures us that Africans in Livingstone and Salisbury are allowed into the airport refreshment room I am delighted.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was with them at Heath Row. I thought the noble Lord was referring to an incident here. It must be borne in mind that we are all in favour, broadly speaking, of gestures of that kind; but there is more in it than that.
§ LORD OGMORE
I am glad that we are not confusing Heath Row with Livingstone and Salisbury. We are now straight: they could have lunched in the restaurant of London Airport but not in Salisbury. If it is now the practice to have Africans in the airports and hotels then we shall be delighted to hear it. No doubt we shall hear something about it to-morrow.
In 1947 I was Chairman of the Frontier Commission in Burma—I was the only European on it—which had the task of trying to associate the frontier areas of Burma with Burma proper. I was told by the Burmans then that the thing they chiefly objected to in our rule was not so much the exploitation which might have occurred—which they did not regard as very important, except perhaps from a platform point of view—but the fact that they were not allowed to meet on equal terms with Europeans. Hotels were barred to them. It is an insufferable thing that a man—I do not care what is his colour or religion—cannot go into a hotel in his own country. I think that is insufferable, and how people in Southern Rhodesia can really expect, and talk about, partnership I do not know. I have a partner and if I said to him, "You are a good fellow in working hours, provided that we do not work together too closely, but we cannot meet outside; and you cannot come into my house; I cannot take you to a hotel," he would soon tell me, "I do not regard this as a partnership." And I am sure all noble Lords will feel the same.
As the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said, you cannot have a partnership without action. He said "Partnership is a spiritual concept which issues in action." Then he quoted Dr. Aggrey—the noble Viscount is always quoting Dr. Aggrey. Dr. Aggrey, the great man who founded Achimota Training College, talked about "the harmony of the black and white keys," but he meant real harmony; and we can see what happened to Dr. Aggrey's policy in West Africa. There is harmony, but it is not what the noble 512 Viscount, Lord Swinton, wants. He does not want a state of affairs in Central Africa such as that which exists in West Africa. Therefore I cannot see how he can call in aid poor Dr. Aggrey, who would have objected, I am sure, to being called in aid in such a case. It is deeds, not words that we want. The colour bar has to be lifted, and the white people of East and Central Africa, however much they dislike it, must realise that fact. The colour bar of the modern age must go; there is no place for it. While it is very desirable to talk about partnership you cannot have partnership with a man whom you cannot take into a hotel to have a drink—I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, would rather I said, "to have a meal with." But you cannot have a partnership like that.
We ought to try to make the Central African Council a reality. I do not believe, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has said, that it is impossible. We have to put teeth into it. We have to make it as much like the East Africa High Commission as we can. I believe that it is possible to do so. I believe that it is possible to have an economic Council which has many of the facets of federation without the political implications of the federal scheme. Quite frankly I do not think that that is as good. I believe that if Africans would come into a federal scheme it would be better; but in the circumstances I would say that it is the second best for which they should go. In conclusion, I beg the Government to pause while there is yet time, and not to blunder on with this plan, irrespective of African wishes. And I say to the Government: "Pause until you can take Africans with you. If you cannot do that, drop the plan." It would involve no loss of prestige—indeed, the Government would gain prestige. To go the other way means disaster: disaster for the Africans and disaster for us.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD HAILEY
My Lords, I hope I may be pardoned if I do not follow noble Lords in the more controversial aspects raised here and elsewhere on this subject, partly because I believe the position is much too serious for any display of pure dialectics and also because I have in my mind a vivid recollection of some of the consequences of the discussions which led up to the great India Act of 513 1935. I have been told that there has been no subject relating to the constitutional development of the Dependencies which has caused an interest equal to that produced by the scheme of Central African Federation except the discussions which led up to the 1935 Act. I think the analogy which is suggested between the two is an exaggeration, but there is no doubt that incidents occurred and consequences followed from the discussions that took place in the years preceding 1935 which had a most unfortunate effect on the possibility of the working of that Act.
Your Lordships will recall that no one had any serious doubt as to the advisability of some form of federation in India, but acute controversy arose regarding the extent of the powers to be given to the Governor-General and to the Governors for the maintenance of law and order and the like. The controversy which took place on those points and the frequent resort to Divisions in Parliament made many advanced Indians believe that there was a Party in Great Britain which was determined to refuse to concede any real advance towards self-government in India. The consequence was a great hardening of heart of most of the advanced Indians against the scheme. But Party divisions had equally unfortunate effects in another direction. Advocates of the scheme found themselves in a false position. In order to meet Party objections in this country, they had to emphasise the force of the safeguards embodied in the scheme, while they were obliged, with their eyes on India, to explain that in the natural order of things these safeguards must fall into abeyance. No doubt there were other reasons why this Act never came into operation, though we all believed that if it had come into operation we should have avoided the partition of India and many of the incidents which followed our own transfer of power there.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord will agree that the main reason why the vital part of the 1935 Act was not used was because of the opposition of the Princely States in India and not on account of Party controversies in this country.
§ LORD HAILEY
I agree with the noble Earl, but my recollection is that 514 the attitude taken in opposition to some of the proposals regarding safeguards strengthened the feelings of those Princes who were opposed to federation and made them decline to give their adherence to the scheme of federation which was necessary to carry it into effect. I have, however, merely wished to draw the conclusion that the scheme of Indian federation was bedevilled by discussions in this country before it had a chance of even coining into being. Is the scheme for Central African Federation to be bedevilled in the same way? Everyone in this country agrees about the advisability of some form of federation. Everyone has agreed here and in another place that federation is the one way of achieving the economic advantages of union. Yet there are other unfortunate incidents attached to the controversy which has arisen.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, to go back a little time before 1935, when I was Secretary of State for India, did we ever propose any scheme for the Government of India that did not involve repeated, reiterated consultation with the Indians—the Simon Commission, the Shrankan Nair Commission, the first Round Table Conference and the second Round Table Conference? I am amazed to hear the noble Lord say that the difficulty was that we did not go ahead on what we had decided. The difficulty always was to secure the assent of thinking people in India.
§ LORD HAILEY
The noble Viscount has his own recollection of the matter; my recollection is in some ways different. We never obtained the consent of Congress. Nevertheless, we passed the Act. We went ahead with it. Why it did not eventually come into being was because of the hardening of the opposition of Congress and the encouragement given to the Princes to oppose it.
I have tried to draw the lesson that some of the controversy that has arisen in this country regarding the scheme for Central African Federation might have the same untoward effect. I notice that it has had very much the same consequences on some of those who have had to discuss the scheme. Prominent protagonists of Central African Federation have asserted while in this country that the machinery for which the scheme pro- 515 vides will fully safeguard the position of Africans, but after their return to Rhodesia assured the Europeans there that these safeguards could not stand against a determined European front. That is one of the types of mischief that arise from overstressing Party discussions on a question like this. These untoward incidents have not been confined, of course, to the supporters of the scheme.
There have been equally questionable arguments from the other side. I am going to quote one in particular which I know has had its effect in this country. It is claimed by some opponents of the scheme that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, because they are Protectorates, stand in a special relationship to the Crown which forbids us to complete the federal organisation now proposed. I think there can be no ground for this. I think it is based on a false interpretation of the meaning of a Protectorate. The original institution of a Protectorate was due historically to the need for providing a form of declaration which would make certain that the Territories over which we desired to maintain our authority or control were placed well beyond the grasp of other Powers. The declaration of a Protectorate carried no other necessary implications in itself. Is it seriously contended that we have moral obligations to the Africans in a Protectorate which we do not owe to our subjects in the Colonies? Is there, for instance, any legal basis, or any other basis, for saying that we owe to the Africans in the Protectorate portion of Kenya (for there is a Protectorate portion of Kenya) a consideration we are not prepared to give the Africans in the Colonial area? In all the numerous declarations I have seen of the purposes and objectives of our Colonial policy or of our obligations to the Colonial peoples. I have never seen one which differentiated between Colonies and Protectorates. The fact is that though there is some distinction for purely juridical purposes, there is in all other respects, in respect, for example, of administration and jurisdiction, no difference at all.
§ LORD HAILEY
It was advanced on behalf of certain chiefs in Nyasaland in 516 a letter to The Times, which perhaps noble Lords will remember and has been repeated elsewhere. Now, the only special obligation that could be quoted in such a case is one that might arise from a definite agreement made at some stage by our Government with the people, or a section of the people, of the area concerned, as, for example, the Uganda Agreement of 1900 or the Agreement made with Barotseland in 1898. But I have never seen one of the various Agreements we have entered into which would present any obstacle to applying to these two Protectorates the constitutional development which is proposed in the present scheme of federation. It is fantastic to suggest, as was suggested in the other place, that what we are now proposing involves the transfer of sovereignty. Really, it is nothing of the kind; and it can be nothing of the kind so long as the Colonial Office retain their control over the two Protectorates.
In all this welter of argument and counter-argument we must, I think, turn to some basic principle for guidance in making a final decision. The principle that I should apply is sufficiently obvious. One of the outstanding problems of Africa to-day, as has been so often pointed out, is to prevent the spread elsewhere of that mentality which is now driving the Europeans and Africans of the Union of South Africa into two different and opposing camps. The test I should apply to the scheme of Central African Federation is whether it seems likely in the long run to serve this purpose. If we can feel that it is likely to do so, then we can overlook some of the points of detail which we might otherwise find difficulty in accepting; and we could also afford to pay somewhat less regard to expressions of African opposition to the scheme.
I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that we have had on occasion to disregard opposition to schemes which we have had in view and which we have seriously believed to be in the interests of Africans. We have constantly had to do that, and not always with the worst results. We have been told, I know, that if we proceed with this scheme we shall only be intensifying the feeling of tension that has arisen between the native and non-native communities in South Africa. That is a point of view I myself do not accept. We have during the last half 517 century found only one method of dealing with situations in which the interests of an official Government and the public of a Dependency appear to be in conflict, or where there is an appearance of conflict between the interests of a European community and the indigenous population. The way we have dealt with that position is to bring the interests face to face in a Legislature where they have been forced to explain and justify their opposing points of view. That is the process in which we have always placed our faith, and, if it has not always produced its solutions, it has, at all events, produced the atmosphere to make solutions possible. That is, in essence, the course proposed in the federal scheme. That has an additional advantage which I think has sometimes been overlooked—namely, that it does hold out to the Africans of Southern Rhodesia a type of representation in the Legislature which, quite frankly, they would have had little chance of achieving if the scheme of Central African Federation had not come into being.
There are those who fear that the cause of the African will suffer because his representatives have not the same debating power as Europeans, and because his representation in the Legislature, as provided in the scheme, is comparatively small. But how often have we not seen a minority in a Legislature, when it has the backing of a large majority of the population, make its presence felt and compel its opponents to recognise its influence? How often have we not seen a constitutional provision which appeared to restrict the representation of a particular interest modified again and again as that interest succeeded in impressing itself upon the majority? It is for that reason that I myself attach less importance than others have done to these provisions of the scheme of Federation, which, at first sight, seemed to stand in the way of increasing the representation of Africans.
§ LORD WINSTER
Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt. He spoke of a minority in a Legislature being able to effect its wishes in the teeth of a large majority. Has the noble Lord seen that happen in a mixed Legislature of two different races which are at very different stages of advancement and culture?
§ LORD HAILEY
The only personal experience I have of that is the early days of the Legislature in India, where the Indian representatives were in a minority, in face of a large majority of Europeans. There is no doubt whatever that they did make their presence felt.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
But they had the whole assistance of the British Parliament. They were always protected by the British Parliament from the time of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms right on. They were never cut off and pushed away to struggle for themselves.
§ LORD HAILEY
I was referring, really, to the effect that they could produce on a Legislature, and certainly on the population it represented. I have no doubt that the mere fact that, at the outset, the representation of Africans in the Legislature is small will stand in their way; but I think, in the natural order of things, as they Increase in debating power and as they increase in the power of organisation, they will make their presence felt strongly in the Legislature, and through the Legislature they will be able to affect the European community. If I find a difficulty in the existing provisions of the scheme, I think it halts at one point when dealing with the possibilities of the revision of the composition of the Legislature. It contemplates that after a stated period a Conference shall review its provisions. I think it would be far better if it gave that Conference the position of a constituent body which would have power to alter the Constitution.
Much has been said regarding the moral aspects involved in this scheme. But do not let us forget its dynamics. If the Federation comes into being it will unite something like 6,000,000 Africans, and will give them, at all events, the beginnings of representation in a central Legislature. Their leaders will no doubt come to recognise that, apart from their numbers, they provide the labour without which European industry and farming must come to a standstill. Africans occupy in these Territories an area of native land which makes them far less dependent on earning wages in European enterprises than are the natives of the Union with their very much restricted area. This fact gives the natives in these Territories an additional power of manœuvre and of making their pressure 519 felt. These considerations may not be palatable in some quarters, but they must be stated if we are to weigh all the long-term advantages and disadvantages of the scheme. I had at one time some misgivings about it, partly because in its original form it did not seem to me to give sufficient guarantees for the maintenance of the interests which appeal most to Africans—I refer to the tenure of their land and the organisation of the native administration. But I have now come to feel that, taken as a whole, the scheme will have advantages for the Africans which far outweigh its disadvantages.
If I may refer to one part of the scheme in particular, it is that of the African Board. I have never had any doubt myself of the weakness of an institution of this nature standing outside the Legislature. I have never had any doubt whatever that it would occupy a far better position if it were in the Legislature itself. The Scheme of Federation has often been represented as a challenge to Europeans in the Rhodesias—a challenge which calls on them to manifest their spirit of partnership. Well, whatever partnership may mean—and it seems to have quite a variety of meanings—it is true that it does make a challenge to them to take their part with Africans in the working of a Constitution, and I hope that Europeans will realise on their part that their future in the Rhodesias will depend on the spirit in which they meet it. Looking at the forces at work, both in Africa and elsewhere, it will be difficult for Europeans to maintain their position unless they are prepared to share the responsibilities of government with Africans, and that, I think, is the dynamic fact which is going to count. But do not let us forget the other side of the picture. Federation will offer the Africans a range of opportunity which will equally be a challenge to them, and it is there, if anywhere, that we shall find the answer to the vexed problem of their capacity for government.
Many of the pleas I have heard to-day were not directed against federation and not entirely directed against its details, but were pleas for delay, and I wonder in my own mind how far delay will really profit us when what we have at stake is the possibility of putting Africans to this 520 test of their capacity. For myself, I believe that delay—I shall not say it will be dangerous as some of my friends have said, and I shall not say it will be entirely detrimental—would be inadvisable and in the long run would do us no good.
May I put to the noble Lord a passage in a speech which he made last year? If he thinks that it is unfair for me to raise it now I will allude to it when I speak to-morrow. Last year the noble Lord in his speech said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 177, col. 797):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 on it.Would the noble Lord care to comment on that?
§ LORD HAILEY
We have had the impact of African opinion on it, and I am quite prepared to agree with those who say that such African opinion, as is in any way vocal and can be credited with understanding the situation, is against it. That I am perfectly prepared to agree. But, in spite of that, I have come to the conclusion that it would be wiser to go forward. You are justified in urging that I said before that it would be wrong to impose this on Africans. I have, however, come to the conclusion that the advantages it offers to Africans are so great that, although they have opposed it, it should still be put into force, for I do not think myself that they have fully seen the advantages of it.
§ LORD HAILEY
I shall be perfectly frank about it. I hesitated much before I came to the conclusion that it would be wise to go on.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD AMMON
My Lords, almost everything has been said, both in the House, in the Press and elsewhere, on this subject. My noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton, in his opening speech—and may I congratulate him on his speech and say that the mantle of his father has fallen upon him?—said that he was concerned not so much with the economic side of this question, but with what he would 521 call the human side. I think that if we pay attention to what has happened we shall admit that first of all it is a long while since a question like this has interested so wide a circle of people as this has done. They have been mainly concerned with what I would call the moral and spiritual implications of it and not so much with the economic aspect, although it would be foolish to ignore it. That which has exercised the minds of the ordinary people is the position of this country and its reputation with regard to other races, and also its agitation for freedom of expression. I, for one, deplore that this question has been dragged into Party matters. It ought to be one on which we should be able to find some measure of agreement.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, as indeed I have listened to that of the noble Lord who has just sat down. I could agree with almost everything the noble Viscount said with regard to federation, but the trouble is that this is not federation; this is something which is altogether one-sided and not likely to produce the fruits of federation. The analogy put forward by the noble Lord who has just sat down—and I would not cross swords with him with regard to his experience—between India and Africa, will not hold water for a moment. There is a long history of and a long association with India and there is also the fact that the various consultations which have taken place have always had a voice in this House, and all were entirely different from anything proposed in the scheme now before us. I think that he rather gave it away a little when he said that if the scheme goes through it will give Africans a chance that they would not have had in a lifetime. That does not speak very much for the association or help which they will get from the white people out there. He also said that it will unite 6,000,000 Africans. I am afraid that it will: it will unite them under their leaders probably against the white settlers, and give us a great amount of trouble.
If we try to look at it from the African point of view, what is the position as we see it to-day. The African looks to Southern Rhodesia and sees nothing to inspire him with hope. As far as my Parliamentary experience goes—and it is 522 a long one—I have always heard questions and complaints in Parliament as to the treatment of the natives, from the point of view both of humiliation and of other matters in which they have been made to feel their inferiority in Southern Rhodesia. There we have at once something which indicates the unrest that disturbs the African. We hear the views of the African chiefs and, after all, they express the view of their people; but in spite of that, the Government seem determined to railroad this scheme through. We are not pleading that the African is fit to enter into full government or anything of that sort. We are pleading that he shall be given a fair chance to develop, as people have in other countries, in order that he may manage his own affairs.
This will not do it. Under the scheme he is assured of his personal position, but there is no road for progress and no road by which he may go on to something further and achieve even greater possibilities. It is a question largely of political psychology. So much depends upon the mental approach of the British people towards it. We are coming to the old objections we have had in times gone by, that the African leaders do not represent the mass of the people behind them. Suppose they do not? How long is that going to last? The men who rise above the general mass find themselves thwarted and frustrated because there are no means whereby they can develop and express themselves. They become centres of trouble and disaffection. There should be the possibility for us to train native officials to carry on the work and so lead to a wider and better understanding between the people and ourselves. The trouble is that we are likely to create an Ireland in Africa which will give us considerable trouble and which will also be of considerable concern to both Australia and New Zealand, if any trouble arises to a great extent in Africa itself. The African may be unready for political power. If that is so, then surely this is the wrong time to transfer power to a group of people, however high-minded they may be, who are land-owners and employers.
There is no assurance whatever in this. If there were, nobody in this House, on this side or elsewhere, would be against a proposal for real federation. What we are concerned about is that it shall not be done against the express wish of the 523 Africans themselves. That is the road to certain trouble and difficulty, and it can be avoided. There are other means whereby the economic difficulties can be overcome by agreement and understanding. But for goodness' sake do not let us force this on the Africans and so create and drive underground a movement which we may live to regret, and which may even mean the smash-up of what is left of the British Empire. That is a possibility, and because of that some of us are very concerned about what might be the immediate economic outlook. In the long run, if we take the Africans with us, progress may be a little slow but it will be steady and sure, and we shall cement together a body of people who might otherwise be against us. It is not a question of whether federation is good or bad. It is decided that federation will be good if it is carried out along the right lines. But to impose it upon people before they understand it, or before they approve, is going to lead to disaster.
§ 6.53 p.m.
My Lords, I trust that your Lordships will extend to me your customary kindliness on this, the first occasion that I have had the audacity to address your Lordships' House. I feel emboldened so to do having a personal knowledge of Central Africa, where I spent some part of my life. The opponents of federation make the point that the native does not want it and, therefore, why impose it on him? I would say that 90 per cent. of the natives do not know whether they want it or not. All they wish is to remain under and in close contact with our present British district commissioners, whom they love and trust, and for whom we all have the greatest admiration. Under federation this happy relationship would not be disturbed. It really beats me how you can explain to a native the difference, for instance, between amalgamation and federation, when there is not a word for either state in his own language.
Now with regard to the white settlers. From what one reads in some letters to The Times, they might be a body of cutthroats, out to exploit the native and live on their ill-gotten gains. As a matter of fact, they are not only most loyal 524 citizens, as was proved in the last war, but they have undergone tremendous difficulties and tribulations in bringing the not very fertile land of Southern Rhodesia up to its present prosperity. They understand the native; indeed, their livelihood depends on getting on well with him. The native is under no obligation to work for them, although Africans come in large quantities from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, as well as out of the native reserves, to work for the European. They could live in their reserves, but they like having a little extra money to buy those luxuries such as a tin of meat, perhaps a younger wife, or a three-speed bicycle. In neighbouring Territories not under the British flag, forced labour is still in vogue. Rhodesia is a very different story.
The right reverend Prelate has asked for delay. To my mind delay is most dangerous. In Southern Rhodesia a referendum on federation is being conducted. I hope it will result in a vote in favour, but, certainly, if there is any what might he called "shilly-shallying" here, federation will be turned down out there. After all, they will not know what they are voting for. I ask your Lordships to consider a fairly dismal picture. If federation does not take place, the only alternative for Southern Rhodesia is the Union of South Africa. She is far too small a Territory to stand on her own permanently. Southern Rhodesia will be in the Union, and the natives about whom you are so anxious will, I am afraid, not have such good treatment.
As regards the two Northern Territories, without the stimulant of British white farming settlement they will deteriorate rapidly. Mining operations may be remunerative, but they do not produce food. You will then see the state of eroded and worked-out land, scrub cattle and famine-stricken natives. It is only about two years ago when there was a very bad famine in Nyasaland. Southern Rhodesia had to send maize to them, grown by the white settler, and a great number of natives also came across in the hopes of a square meal. In other words, the clock will have been put back sixty years, and I am rather surprised to hear so many noble Lords opposite, who represent the Party of progress, acquiescing in this. Let us go forward in the for- 525 mation of a new British Central African Federation—and I hope shortly a British Dominion—where the British and the Bantu can work together. After all, they are complementary and not competitive. As regards a colour bar, there should be no economic colour bar, but a social colourbar is essential, not only for our own race, but for theirs, and for posterity. The easiest way is seldom the best way. It might have been far easier to acquiesce and delay and take note of this small obstructionist opposition; but I am glad to hear from the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, that the Government intend to go forward, if necessary to save the African from himself arid bring about a policy that will result in the greatest good to the greatest number.
§ 7.1 pm.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, by a happy accident of the "batting list," I have the privilege of congratulating the noble Lord who has just spoken upon a very fine innings. A maiden speech is always an ordeal; I think it is like spring bathing: the water looks terribly cold but the rubdown afterwards gives a very fine feeling. In other words, it is hell to speak, but it is heaven to have spoken. But I am sure I shall be voicing the opinion of all your Lordships if I say that we do, indeed, congratulate the noble Lord upon his speech and that we look forward to further occasions when we shall have the benefit of his wisdom and experience in our counsels.
I have been in considerable anxiety on this question of federation, and have really tried hard to make up my mind about it—on the facts, and without reference to Party feelings, which, as a matter of fact, I do not think have come so much into the question as some noble Lords seem to imagine. But I think the gentleman who finally made up my mind on the subject was Mr. Hopkinson, the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, who made a speech at Salisbury last year on the question of federation, when he said:Not merely will Rhodesia be fulfilling her destiny but you have the chance to-day of creating a great new bastion of British power in Central and Southern Africa.Well, my Lords, I do not happen to want to create any great new bastions of British power in Africa or anywhere else. Mr. Hopkinson went on to say that he had 526 found in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasalanda fear of white influence.He then congratulated Southern Rhodesia upon itsout-and-out determination to remain British in heart, word and deed.This, he said, was one of the reasons why federation must come. Not a word about self-government, which is the avowed object of British policy, and not a word about African interests. This is the language of Kipling: it is a voice from the grave; but it confirms my opinion that the Minister of State went to Central Africa as an advocate and not as an observer—which I understood was the purpose of his visit.
§ LORD TEVIOT
May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I am most interested to hear his view on what the Minister said. But does it not occur to the noble Lord that the Minister was referring not so much to "British" as "British subjects," which they all were in that area?
§ LORD WINSTER
I think the Minister of State is a sufficiently experienced Parliamentarian to know that if he meant "British subjects" he should have said "British subjects." A man must stand by what he says, and that is what the Minister of State said. I thought, as a matter of fact, he was a little confused, because he said that in Southern Rhodesiamost Africans would welcome Federation.But then he made another statement to the effect thatit is almost impossible to get African opinion with any accuracy.It seems to me that accuracy is when a thing suits Mr. Hopkinson, and inaccuracy when it does not.
So much for the man. What about the master—the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs? He also has spoken on this subject and made some very interesting comments. He has said that the Government areseeking to build a society founded upon partnership.I shall have something to say about partnership later on. He said:No future lies in a Central Africa always dominated by one raceMany of us, however, see in this scheme of Federation a scheme for ensuring the 527 domination of one race—the European race. The Secretary of State said thatrejection or delay would lead to dangerous forces being unleashed.If for the words "rejection or delay" you substitute the word "imposition," I should be heartily in agreement with the Secretary of State. I feel that imposition must lead to dangerous forces being unleashed. He said further thatadvancement could be secured only by the races working together.I cannot find in the racial legislation of Southern Rhodesia any great example of a wish that the two races should work together.
As regards what has been said about the economic side of this Federation plan, I am still in the dark as to why certain things can be done only in federation. I cannot see why these things could not be done by the three Territories working together, in agreement with each other. I cannot help feeling that if the three Territories have not been able to come together in these economic schemes, which would benefit each of them, it has been because of jealousy and differences of opinion about the sharing of the "swag." I feel that it is this which has been responsible for these schemes not being carried through, and that if the three Territories had worked together in a good spirit it would have been possible to put the schemes through without federating.
May I remind your Lordships, with great respect, that this great economic argument was brought out at the time when the Union of South Africa was brought into being? We had the same argument at that time: that on the economic side it would be very good indeed in the interests of all concerned. But the Union of South Africa was formed out of four Territories, two in the South, which had a fairly liberal outlook, and two in the North which had an illiberal outlook; and it is the illiberal outlook which has prevailed. It cannot be said that the interests of the Africans in the Union have improved because of the economic argument which was brought out in favour of the Union.
Much has been said to-day about alterations in the Territorial Constitutions—not alterations in the Federal Constitution, but in the Territorial Constitutions. It is said that they will go on as before; 528 that they are Protectorates, and so on. But I notice that if any changes in the Territorial Constitutions are proposed, Her Majesty's Government will seek the advice of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty. Why have the Federal Government—in which I think Southern Rhodesia will have a predominant place and influence—any right to intervene when changes in the Constitutions of the Territorial Governments are proposed? I am not going to say I am suspicious, but I feel apprehensive about this, because I have certainly been given to understand, as regards the alterations about the African Affairs Board, of which we were told to-day—the noble Marquess said: "I cannot understand why we did not think of them before"—that in Southern Rhodesia they had thought of them before and that they were in fact very largely proposals which were put forward by the Southern Rhodesian Government. Therefore, as I say, I feel apprehensive about this clause saying that Her Majesty's Government will seek the views of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty upon matters affecting the Territorial Governments, and not the Federal Government.
As regards the Constitution which is proposed for the Federation, I think it might be said that it approximates fairly closely to the policy of self-government, which is, as I say, the objective of British Colonial policy. But, even if that argument is admitted, even if that is so, that fact does not, in my opinion, abrogate our responsibility which is often spoken of as "trusteeship" in respect of Africans who are too backward to govern themselves. I agree that we must maintain that trusteeship but I do not identify "trusteeship" with European control of African affairs on the spot. I do not see that at all. Europeans, however, will form two-thirds of the Legislature which is proposed for the Federation, and that does, to my mind, imply European control. In the three countries for which federation is proposed, there are communities living at very different levels of development. They live there side by side. In such cases, the Home Government should have power to intervene until all the communities have developed sufficiently to play a part in public affairs. Until that stage has been reached, it seems to me that the Home Government should not devolve its responsibility upon a mature European 529 majority living amongst backward people. I recollect from something I read that Lord Lugard himself was of that opinion.
I think the matter was very well put recently in the Manchester Guardian, which said that the scheme:does not make adequate provision for the maintenance of the trust hitherto exercised by the British Government over peoples still in need of it.That I think is a just and proper criticism. I agree also with two or three lines I saw in The Times:All that can be said is that if the Board"—that is, the African Affairs Board—does not work as it is intended to work, the whole structure of the federal constitution falls to the ground.It added:Both Houses of Parliament must search their consciences and be sure it will curtail no African rights and close no doors to African advancement.On that point I, with many other noble Lords, I am sure, again feel apprehensive. Mr. Hopkinson, the Minister of State, said that 90 per cent. of the Africans involved by this scheme have no opinion. I notice that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, also at a Press conference, said that there is a good deal of opposition by the Africans in the Northern Territories. I do not know if he thought that the "good deal of opposition" is 10 per cent., but if the noble Marquess thinks it is more than 10 per cent., then he is at issue with the Minister of State, who says that 90 per cent. "have no opinion."
I think there is good reason to believe that the Africans are as opposed to federation to-day as they were to amalgamation in 1938. The supporters of federation claim that the opposition is confined to a small minority of the Africans in the African Congress in each of the Territories, and that the vast majority of the Africans cannot form an intelligent opinion on it. In regard to that, may I point out that great numbers of Africans from Northern Rhodesia and from Nyasaland have worked in Southern Rhodesia. They know only too well all about the effects of Southern Rhodesia's native policy and legislation—racial legislation which I venture to say British Governments have shown great weakness indeed in not resisting, in not taking advantage of the entrenched clauses to 530 resist some of this legislation. Labourers from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, having had experience of that racial legislation in Southern Rhodesia, are probably quite able to decide whether they wish to enter into close association with a Territory whose Government practises that types of racial discrimination. They fear that Southern Rhodesian ideas on native policy would, little by little, spread to their own Territories, and I fear there is only too good a reason to believe that they are right. Far from believing the Minister of State to be right, I feel there are good grounds to believe that there is an instinctive African opposition to federation, and that it is widespread, persistent and not at all irrational. If those views are accepted, then I would call attention to the Central African Government's Report of 1951, when they agreed that federation was impossible except by consent and that it must be acceptable to the inhabitants of the Territories concerned.
Sir Godfrey Huggins has been quoted several times this afternoon. He was described by the Secretary of State as a man of very liberal tendencies. I regret to say that Sir Godfrey Huggins has not a very high opinion of us in this country. He said thatif Europeans behaved in a Christian, civilised manner, there was nothing to fear.So we do not behave in a Christian and civilised manner here, but racial discrimination such as that practised in Southern Rhodesia apparently is both Christian and civilised. The British people, he says,love to hug themselves on account of their own self-righteousness. They suffer from an unctuous rectitude.So those who are opposed to some of this legislation are suffering from "unctuous rectitude."
§ LORD WINSTER
It includes the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, and the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton. They are suffering from "unctuous rectitude." Sir Godfrey Huggins has his followers, quite evidently. I recognise that.
§ LORD WINSTER
But I think that what is rather more important than Sir Godfrey's opinion about us in this country is what he feels about the Africans in his own country. He says:Their background is all wrong. We Europeans are the only people fit to be in control of federation.There is "unctuous rectitude" there, I may point out. He is supported, as is most proper, by his Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Greenfield, who says:One of the principal reasons for federation is to get as much power as possible out of the hands of London.Again, there is no anxiety about the interests of the Africans at all. That is one of the principal reasons for federation. I am not sure if it has been mentioned. He says:If we get much interference from the Secretary of State, we are powerful enough to make ourselves prevail.In face of such statements as this by Sir Godfrey Huggins and his Minister of Internal Affairs, it seems to me that, when federation comes into force, our power to assist the political advancement of the Africans from London will very largely have gone. For that reason, I join with those who feel they would like to see this decision delayed.
Though I am not prone to like delay, I should like to see a Commission, competent and impartial in Colonial affairs, examining anew, on the spot, the problems of political and economic co-operation. After all, the Committees and conferences so far on this matter have been confined to the race which desires federation. The race which is apparently going to have it imposed upon them has taken no part in the deliberations of these committees and conferences. To impose federation hastily, at the instigation of those biased in its favour, may alienate African good will, not only in the Rhodesias and in Nyasaland but in other Territories where the proposal is being noted and studied on racial lines.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
May I ask the noble Lord one question? Would he or would he not impose the Report of his impartial Commission in Central Africa?
§ LORD WINSTER
I quite appreciate the question and, if it is of interest, the noble Marquess will find that I shall state 532 my own personal view in the few minutes more that I shall speak. But as it is, to establish a Legislature in which 250,000 Europeans are represented by two-thirds, and six million Africans by one-third, of the members seems to me to be perpetuating European dominance. The Constitution can be changed only by a two-thirds majority, which the Africans can never have. That seems to me to load the dice very heavily against them from the very beginning.
My Lords, in conclusion I should like to say one or two words about partnership. I see that an African member of the Northern Rhodesia Legislative Council said this:The Federation sponsors are doing a lot of talking about partnership. Why do not they show it first by removing some of the existing colour barriers? Otherwise, how can we have any faith in their sincerity?I was interested to note that in the debate in another place, Mr. Walter Elliot said:The most dangerous thing in Northern Rhodesia is the rigid attitude taken up by skilled Europeans against the advance by a hair's breadth of skilled Africans.Mr. Walter Elliot recognises that partnership does not always appeal in practice. I would ask your Lordships to consider for one moment the extent of the racial discrimination which goes on. I do not think it is too much to ask your Lordships for a moment or two to put yourselves in the position of the victims of this discrimination. After all, had Hitler been rather more successful, it is not impossible that we might have found racial discrimination being practised upon us. Therefore I do not think it is too much to suggest that for a moment we should try to understand how it appears to an African. Just look at the racial discrimination that they have to endure: the money qualification for the franchise raised if African voters become too numerous; Africans must carry a pass; they are excluded from hotels and restaurants; there are separate entrances for them at post offices. The trouble starts young for them; they cannot even join the Boy Scouts. They have to worship in different churches; they have separate accommodation in public vehicles; trade unions are not recognised; and there is land segregation. In face of this, the Minister of State says that it is only by a policy of practical 533 partnership that we can hope to settle race relations in these Territories. These are the discriminations which the Africans have to endure—discriminations which are bruising and hurtful to pride, and which embitter the African. That is not partnership.
The noble Marquess asked me, if there were another conference and a more acceptable scheme were produced, what would I say about it? I will give my answer in two sentences. My purely personal opinion is that I myself would agree to no plan unless there was satisfactory evidence that a great majority of public opinion was in favour of it. Again as a purely personal thing, I could agree to no plan of Federation whilst such social legislation as I have described disfigures and stains the Statute books of Territories which practise it.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at twenty-seven minutes past seven o'clock, and resumed at a quarter to nine.]
§ 8.45 p.m.
My Lords, my services to the Conservative Party, to which I am proud to belong, have been so infinitesimal that I am truly sorry to find myself out of agreement with the Party on one of the few matters on which I would dare to address your Lordships. I am bound to look at this question in the light of convictions which I formed during twenty-six years of residence in Africa, in We stand in East Africa, but never, I regret to say, in Central Africa. Those convictions are that British leadership in Africa avails little unless it wins an African following; that infinite patience is required to persuade Africans; that Africans will accept even unpalatable proposals from leaders whom they fully trust; and that it is wiser to postpone the best-laid plans than to forfeit that trust. I am therefore convinced that no federal scheme can succeed, either economically or politically, unless it has the general support of Africans. And that is not at present the case.
I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester that African opposition is overwhelming. It has been expressed by bodies which are officially recognised by Government as entitled to speak for African opinion 534 —the African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia, the Protectorate Council of Nyasaland, the African Mineworkers' Union and, in Southern Rhodesia, the Supreme Council of eight African organisations. In addition, it has been opposed by the Indians in Southern Rhodesia. We have to remember that there are Asians, as well as Africans and Europeans, in these Territories. I feel that African opposition is reasonable. I agree that the native policy of Southern Rhodesia is bound to make them doubt whether it is Southern Rhodesia whom they would wish to see predominant in a Federal Assembly.
Listeners to this debate might well wonder what to conclude about Southern Rhodesia. On the one hand, they have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, praising it, and, on the other, they have heard others of your Lordships deploring what is happening in Southern Rhodesia. The explanation, I suggest, is to be found in that passage which was quoted by the right reverend Prelate from the Comparative Survey of Native Policy (Cmd. 8235).I will not read that passage again; I will venture to paraphrase it. It is to the effect that there is a difference in policy as between the two Northern Territories, on the one hand, and Southern Rhodesia, on the other. In the Northern Territories the policy is that an African, if he is to take a full part in the advancement of his own people educationally and materially, must be given increasing political responsibilities. In Southern Rhodesia the policy is that if the African is to take a full part in politics he must first be able to progress materially and educationally. Now it is open to any one to decide which of these policies makes the greater appeal to him, but I think there is no doubt which policy appeals more to Africans. Every African belongs to a clan. He knows that all his life, whether he is rich or poor, whether he is a good man or disreputable, he will always be a member of that clan, belonging to it, accepted by it and counting in it.
With a background of that kind, it is inevitable that, when he is introduced to other communities, such as the community of a Colonial State, he expects that in that community also he shall count. Miss Margery Perham, whose scholarly studies on Africa many of your 535 Lordships will have read, put the point in a letter to The Times. She said this:Realists consider it sufficient to show that the African will benefit from the economic advance. But upon the evidence of our contemporary world people who feel their human dignity injured cannot be soothed by material palliatives.Uneducated though many Africans in these Territories may be, I think nearly all of them will be able to count; nearly all of them will be able to tell the difference between six and thirty-five—those two figures appearing in the Federal Assembly—and they are bound to be puzzled. Some of them, the more educated, will argue: "How can it be? Either we are so immature politically that we need the continuance of the full protection that we have been given in the past, or else we have advanced sufficiently towards political maturity to deserve a greater share in the Federal Assembly than we are being given." I think it is reasonable that they should desire clearer opportunities of partnership, and reasonable that they should place no trust in the permance of paper safeguards.
Many quotations have been given today from Sir Godfrey Huggins. May I, very reluctantly, add that quotation in which he spoke of the African Affairs Board—which, we are assured by the Government, is the main safeguard provided for African interests. Sir Godfrey said of the Board thathe did not see that it could do any harm, and if it were found that it was serving no useful purpose, they could get rid of it.It is reasonable that Africans should object to what has been called the irrevocability of this scheme—the fact that any alteration in the Constitution will require the support of two-thirds of the Assembly, constituted as is planned. That gives great concern to numerous societies and countless individuals in this country, including, presumably, the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, who said that he wished that the Conference that will review the Constitution had been given the powers of a constituent assembly.
I venture to suggest that the advocates in Central Africa of federation have mishandled this scheme from the start, because they did not in the beginning consult the Africans, who afterwards were asked to endorse the scheme, declined to do so, and then were told that it would 536 be imposed because it was so urgent. Is this partnership? Is this a promising beginning for a partnership plan for the future? How sad it is that this should happen when we have so much in our Colonial record of which to be proud. Think of Tanganyika, where a new and popular Constitution is being introduced with the co-operation of all communities, including that of the settlers. African opposition to this scheme is overwhelming. In my view, it is reasonable and I would add that that African opposition merits and deserves respect.
It is alleged that this opposition has been stirred up by, and even that it is limited to, a handful of educated people. Now this is a type of person with whom I am well acquainted, for I have been teaching in Africa, and I suggest that it is a great mistake to undervalue the public spirit of these few people. A great proportion of them are disinterested men, out to serve their fellows. It would be a great mistake to undervalue their ability, and it would be the greatest mistake of all to underrate their influence, for they are the men whom their less educated kinsmen will naturally tend to follow. We are told that African opposition, being uninformed, must not deflect the wise trustee from doing what he knows to be best for his ward. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, a trustee sometimes has the right and duty to make a decision in the face of the opposition of his ward, but not all that is lawful is always expedient. I appeal to noble Lords who have been the fathers of young sons growing up into manhood to recognise, as I know they do, the difference between being the trustee for a baby or a boy and being the trustee for an adolescent. I suggest that the peoples of Africa are at varying stages of political adolescence, and that, as with an individual, the first consideration is that of trust, but expediency, in the circumstances, also requires consideration. What will the rest of Africa think about this scheme? I have no hesitation in saying that in West Africa the view that will be taken by most Africans is that a body of settlers has been frightened by the constitutional advance of the West African peoples, and are tightening their grasp; that in Uganda there will be a recrudescence of the horror of federation in East Africa which has been shown there before; and 537 that everywhere in Africa there will be resentment among Africans. Therefore, I join with those who plead that the Government will think again about this matter and consider the possibility of delay. I hope, as all your Lordships will, that if this federal scheme does go through Africans will accept it, swallowing any bitterness that they feel, and determined that any failure that may occur in partnership shall not occur on their side.
It is, indeed, encouraging that we have a letter from the Secretary of the Nyasaland African Congress dated March 20, 1953, in which he says:The recent chiefs Conference was again a very historic one. Thousands of people attended from various districts over Nyasaland.…The unanimity of the Africans of Nyasaland in opposing federation has not changed.…But we make it perfectly clear that our resistance will be a non-violent one, and we are doing all in our power to educate our people against using any form of violence. We know violence won't benefit us anything and would only cause us the loss of the support of many supporters and sympathisers we have gained now.It will, indeed, be great, if in those circumstances Africans should adopt that attitude; it would be even better if they were to adopt the attitude of trying to make the federal scheme work. But dare we expect this? Of what people treated in this manner could we expect it? To-day, when good relations are the great need of our time, essential to the prosperity and, indeed, to the preservation of the British Commonwealth, and essential to the peace of the world, delay, I suggest, would be wise.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in following the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, I find some difficulty at first in expressing exactly why I differ so profoundly from his conclusions. There are so many of the generalities in which, if I may say so with respect, he indulged, which would in another context, or in an impartial context, receive universal approval. For instance, the noble Lord says that the Africans are very susceptible to leadership; and, indeed, anyone who knows the Africans as we do would at once endorse that statement. But that does not mean that all the leadership they get is good; and the real trouble about this question is that over the past two or three years such leadership as they have had has been extremely bad. This, I suggest, is one of the first occasions in 538 recent times when really good leadership is being shown to the Africans.
May I interrupt the noble Lord simply to elicit his meaning? Does he mean that this bad leadership during the last two or three years has been shown by Africans or by Englishmen?
§ LORD MILVERTON
By Africans—and an absence of leadership from Englishmen. Absence of leadership in many circumstances, I am sure you do not want me to tell you, is almost as bad as indefinite leadership.
As the right reverend Prelate also said, there is this alleged difference in policy between the two Northern Territories of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, and Southern Rhodesia. What is it that is stated by those who refer to it? It is, apparently, that the alleged Colonial Office policy of giving political rights to people before there is any assurance that they are fit to use them properly, is the right policy; and the southern Rhodesian policy, apparently, of saying, "You shall have political progress pari passu with your economic and social progress" is a bad policy. But, surely, in recent times we have all, under the ægis of the Colonial Office, learned to prate about the necessity of political progress going hand in hand with economic and social progress. That, as I shall try to show you in a moment or two, is precisely the Southern Rhodesian policy.
Another point which the noble Lord raised was that it was easy to find which policy most appealed to the Africans. Once more may I ask whether it is to be our criterion of Colonial policy that we go to the people least fitted to offer an opinion and allow ourselves—we, who are supposed to be their wise mentors—to be guided by it? Of course you can find a policy which would be pleasing to the Africans, but that does not necessarily mean that it is the right policy in the interest of the community. Surely that must be obvious to any administrator. I must admit that I failed entirely to follow the noble Lord's argument that because the Africans were under the scheme to be given a small share in the Federal Government, therefore they were entitled to press for a bigger share at once. I was unable to follow the reasons behind that argument, and I suggest that 539 the proper use of the advantages given under the scheme would afford the greatest argument for an increase in representation, which, incidentally, it would be open to them to get when they qualified as voters.
Much play has been made with quotations from speeches of Sir Godfrey Huggins. I do not propose to indulge in this, nor do I propose to indulge in searching through newspapers and other places for comments which may be favourable to the views which I hold. It is only too easy a game. What I do propose to do in a moment or two is to try to show, not what Sir Godfrey Huggins may here and there have said, but what he has done, for in the last nineteen years it has been within his power to do things and we can see the results in Southern Rhodesia. At least one must admit that Sir Godfrey Huggins is either entitled to the credit or the blame for those deeds. There is one quotation which I shall deal with in the interests of fairness. He is said to have made remarks about getting rid of the African Affairs Board if it was found not to be functioning. I ask you, my Lords, to put yourself in the position of a man who is very conscious that during all his working life he has looked after and guarded the interests of Africans as few Colonial servants have ever been able to do. Here is a man who sees an African Affairs Board appointed by a number of eager amateurs in England in order to see that he does the job to which he has devoted his life. It is natural that he should accept the position. He is quite confident that it will not embarrass him in any way, but he probably regards the Board—and is entitled to regard it—as unnecessary, because he himself is the most active guardian of African interests.
Surely it is not quite fair to make these comments about the Africans not being admitted to full partnership at once. Surely it is quite clear that the whole policy aims at a developing partnership, a partnership arrived at by stages, as the people concerned become qualified to take on that responsibility. I feel that I cannot allow to pass one remark which was made by the noble Lord who spoke first in this debate. I refer to the outrageous statement, if I heard him right, that Europeans in Southern Rhodesia do 540 not regard Africans as human beings. I do not know how any responsible person, in a debate of this importance, could make such a statement.
May I interrupt the noble Lord? Broadly speaking, I think that what I said was perfectly true. I do not think that you will get any genuine partnership until the majority of citizens in Southern Rhodesia look at the matter differently.
§ LORD MILVERTON
I do not doubt the noble Lord's sincerity, but I think it must be as manifest as his inexperience. I will not go any further with that, because so many of the comments in the Press have been shot through with prejudice of this kind that it is very difficult to take a reasonable view of a discussion.
The right reverend Prelate referred to the pass laws. I will deal with that matter in a few moments, but I should like to take it in the place in which I meant to take it. The right reverend Prelate also mentioned that the missions are taking a large share in private education. I take it that he did not mean that that detracted from the credit due to the Government. Every Colonial Government, all over the world, has always gladly accepted the help of the missions in educational work. The right reverend Prelate asked what was to be the policy of the Federal Assembly. We are setting up a Federal Government. Are we to understand that it is seriously proposed in this Chamber, composed very largely of men with long experience in administration, that the first thing we should do is to lay down the policies for this Assembly to follow? The thing becomes a mere puppet and an absurdity if you proceed in that way. Furthermore, there is the suggestion, which has also been made by several noble Lords, for a round-table conference. What is the use of inviting to a round-table conference people who will come to it only on condition that you do not discuss the subject you wish to discuss; who will not touch federation in any shape or form? It is no good stating, further, that it is obvious that the African Congress, and those who think as they do, will not discuss federation because their aim is an African State, a purely African domination. They are entitled to think that way, but we have obvious comments to make on it.
541 The question was mentioned about raising the salary qualifications for the electoral roll in Southern Rhodesia in order to keep out African electors. The amount required to qualify now is still a very small one. Are we to understand that the qualification fixed some years ago for an electorate is the only thing, in this world of changing money values, which has to stay where it was? When wages and everything else have gone up, is it reasonable, in fixing the qualification to be an elector, to pretend that the value of money has not diminished? Surely it is reasonable to argue that merely raising the money standard required, adjusting the figure to the present value of money, does not necessarily make it more difficult for an elector to be qualified than did the former figure.
One noble Lord asked how the federal scheme would be made to work if Africans will not co-operate. That rhetorical question remains among other questions which call for an answer which must be obviously unacceptable and untrue. I can tell the noble Lord. To begin with, the Africans will co-operate. The point is that the Africans at present have not—at any rate, most of them—been in a position to know anything about federation, or to express an opinion. Although the majority of vocal African opinion is against it, that does not mean that, when the federal scheme is put into force, it will have the unanimous opposition of the whole African community.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Has the noble Lord seen recent references in the Press to a statement by African representatives of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland which suggests that they do not desire to co-operate in a Federal Assembly and would not propose candidates for election? I merely wonder whether the noble Lord's attention has been drawn to that statement, because he said that the Africans would co-operate—suggesting that there was no element of doubt in his mind.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
May I remind the noble Earl that in the course, I think, of the last General Election, Mr. Bevan said that if the country was unwise enough to return a Conservative Government, no element in the trade unions would co-operate with it?
§ LORD MILVERTON
I wish to make one further comment on the speeches which have preceded mine. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, ended with a peroration of great literary merit, in which he said that he would have no part in this kind of scheme until the stain of discriminatory laws was removed from the Statute Book. But there are no discriminatory laws on the Southern Rhodesian Statute Book. There is only one which might perhaps be so described, and that, indirectly, is the one which, in effect, allows discrimination in the Copper Belt in certain sections of the industry. He also stated—and this is the kind of thing which makes one feel so hopeless: all the Press hate been scattered with complete mis-statements, and I am sorry that the noble Lord is not now here, but I must correct his statement—that Africans were not allowed to join the Boy Scouts. That is not true. In Southern Rhodesia, there are troops of African scouts and troops of European scouts. They meet without embarrassment on scout occasions. After all, there are welfare societies with mixed membership in Southern Rhodesia, and there are various bodies which at the present moment are encouraging inter-racial meetings. That process is going on; but it is a process which you cannot hurry. That is the tendency of to-day.
I should like now to say one or two of the things I wanted to say on my own account. It is obviously necessary to be selective, because it is such a wide field; and it is not possible to deal with all of it. Moreover, the case for federation has been put so cogently and, I think, so ably that I will not weary your Lordships at this time by going over the arguments which are familiar to you. As I see it, the scheme now before us does hold the field as the only workable one. It contains every possible safeguard for the natives of the African community which could be committed to writing. So much, I think, is conceded in principle, even by those who oppose the scheme.
What then is the real basis of opposition? As I see it, it is a disbelief—and we always come hack to that—inthe good faith of those upon whom the initial burden of working it will fall, and especially a disbelief in the policy and intentions of the white community of Southern Rhodesia. Furthermore, the 543 opponents of the scheme claim that the African population is wholly opposed to federation. I should like just to make one brief remark about the latter contention. It is impossible for anyone to dogmatise about African opinion, because vocal African opinion is by no means as unanimous as some people assert, and the bulk of the population, as we have heard over and over again, not from people who sit in this country but from people who have been out there and from people who have lived there, is either ignorant of what it all means or indifferent to the issues involved. I pass over the evidence we have of intimidation by the African Congress and of the chiefs who would like to speak in favour of federation and do not at present dare to do so. It is no use regretting past mistakes or lamenting the lost chance of giving the African community a lead through the Civil Service two years ago. The only way now to convince the African community of the very real benefits to them which federation will bring is to show them in practice how it works. Deeds, as we have been told this afternoon, speak louder than words.
I propose now to turn to Southern Rhodesia for a moment and to try to show, if I may have the temerity to underline some of the things that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said, how false is the accusation that the white minority there is indifferent to African interests. It is a puzzle to me how so many sincere people can use the terms they do when the record of the Southern Rhodesian Government stands there for everybody to read who cares to do so. Take education. Last year three out of every five African children of school age went to school. Year by year this proportion is rising; children now stay longer at school, and a greater range of educational opportunity is being offered to them. In 1951, a quarter of a million were enrolled out of a total indigenous African population of one and three-quarter million. No other African territory can produce comparable figures to these. This is part of the work and policy of Sir Godfrey Huggins. This stage has been reached in less than half a century, and most of the work has been done in the last ten years. It is the publicly stated aim of the Southern Rhodesian Government, and it is printed in their books, to provide primary education for all, and post-primary and higher 544 education for those who are capable of profiting by it and who can render an efficient service to their own people and to the community as a whole. That Government's policy is that the African, in his education, should be exposed to those influences which mould his character in the Christian pattern of life, with the fullest development of the spiritual, mental and physical capacities of the African child.
Southern Rhodesia is fully alive to the need for the greatest possible development of her natural resources. In those natural resources she obviously includes human as well as physical elements. The furthest an African, or a European, for that matter, can go in Southern Rhodesia is the matriculation standard or its equivalent, but the policy is, in partnership with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, to establish a college for Africans. In regard to health, there is the same story to be told. Sir Godfrey Huggins is himself a member of the medical profession and may be expected to understand as fully as anybody how important that is. There are 10,000 hospital beds for the 2,000,000 Africans, and that proportion is steadily going up. In 1950 250,000 inpatients and over 3,500,000 out-patients were treated in hospitals. There is a constant expansion in all these things, and the medical policy of the Government is the provision and maintenance of services for the Africans in the form of hospitals, clinics, maternity homes and out-patient departments.
I suggest that these things are worth more than all the speeches full of platitudes about the Africans. These are deeds. The Government in Southern Rhodesia have concentrated on the training of professional and auxiliary personnel, on preventive services in hygiene, and nutrition services. They are concentrating on training African personnel for these things where they can. The main problem is to induce the African to acquire the knowledge and sense of responsibility which will permit him to undertake the health promotion of his own people at all levels of that profession, and the technical skill which is required for this purpose, and steadily to improve the facilities for that higher training. Let us turn to agriculture. An immense effort has been made to teach the African improved methods of agriculture, the main- 545 tenance of land fertility, a food production drive, irrigation schemes, stock-breeding, soil conservation, correct land usage and so on. Much of the present achievement has been secured by direct Government intervention, but the policy is to hand more and more responsibility to Africans as they become willing and able to accept it. It is, however, not always possible to hold up, for example, soil conservation or the development of communications to await the emergence of African initiative. The work goes on apace, however, bringing the Africans improved living standards and a greater prosperity which increasing numbers of them are beginning to appreciate.
Now let us turn to industry. Whether as an employer or an employee, the sphere open to Africans is steadily widening. The present is a transition period. The current policy is not designed to condemn the African to the position of a helot in the community. The restrictions on his advancement in certain places and certain trades are perhaps better known than his freedom to attain the highest rewards his talents can command in many other directions. Four figure incomes are not unknown amongst the Africans. A year or two ago an African estimated that there were at least 1,000 of these. In some industries there is a strong European artisan element, and African opportunities are limited. In others, of which we hear nothing in this debate, where the element of competition is absent, Africans can and do take a much larger share of responsibility.
With the development of new industries, the scope for Africans in skilled employment is increasing every year, as is their capacity, thanks to the spread of education, to fill more responsible posts. Southern Rhodesia, as we know, is only at the beginning of its stage of greatest development. It has massive resources and potentialities which need development and will necessitate higher productivity by all. Even with the remarkable rate of white immigration of recent years, there cannot be enough white hands to do all the work. But the future of the African in industry will be determined, I suggest, by economic considerations, and not by decrees from this country. If the African can become as efficient and productive as the European, then prejudices 546 which are already being modified can hardly be expected to withstand economic forces.
In marketing, again, the Government are giving every encouragement by way of instruction in enlightened agricultural practice, by way of provision of marketing facilities on the African's doorstep, and by a policy of guaranteed prices which offer him a good economic return. There is no price discrimination based on the race of the producer. So far as housing is concerned, we have heard from the noble Viscount what a fine record there is in Southern Rhodesia of dealing with the urban and rural housing problems.
In relation to administration there is the Land Apportionment Act, on which I shall have a word to say later. But the general policy is the agricultural and general economic development of the reserves and native areas. It also aims at the provision of a framework of this kind for the development of local self-government. They have avoided in this way difficulties which have affected the States in West Africa which started on their career without any properly developed system of local self-government. The Southern Rhodesian Government have avoided that difficulty by carefully training the African in the reserves. We have to remember, too, that, originally, residential or territorial segregation was the almost unanimous wish of both races. The Southern Rhodesian Government have given every encouragement, as I have said, to local self-government, and are endeavouring to graft European practices on to the traditional system of the Africans.
I should next like to say a word about pass laws. Among the country's 2,000,000 African inhabitants there are well over 250,000 migrating Africans from other territories who have come to seek their fortunes in Southern Rhodesia but who have no roots in that country and are in a strange environment. It can readily be seen that, in the interests of the indigenous African, as well as of the European, some measure of control is necessary. Nor is it sufficiently realised that outside of the larger towns, where a pass is required for an over-night or longer stay, there is no restriction on movement at all; the indigenous African is free to move anywhere he likes in the country. The only document he requires is a 547 registration certificate which is nothing more or less than an identity certificate. These laws have been justly and liberally administered, as I should have thought Southern Rhodesia's record of internal peace over the last quarter of a century showed. I may also say that all the pass laws contain provision for the exemption of individuals who have reached a certain standard of education and are of good character. The development of native policy, of human relations, is an evolutionary process and can take place only in a favourable environment, when it becomes inevitable. Environment in Southern Rhodesia is, I suggest, favourable, and will remain so unless it is disturbed by outside influences. The system encourages Africans to acquire all the benefits of Western civilisation and also gives scope for a distinctive African addition to culture.
One final word in this connection about the African's place in the community. The African is being asked to assimilate and put in practice Western ideas of democratic government, law and the responsibility of the individual to a unit larger than a family or small tribe. These conceptions cannot be implanted and cultivated in a people or a State by legislation or by administrative action; they have to be lived with and acted on for a long time. After all, it took us centuries. The African can be given tools in the shape of a pattern of life, but he has to fashion the final product himself. The sociological sleep of centuries has been broken, but he has to find his way forward, and Southern Rhodesian policy is based on the belief that the African has the capacity to develop, socially, economically and spiritually, so as to play a full part in the community.
But the policy of geographical segregation has made possible a development of those areas and of their inhabitants, which would have been impracticable had there been complete admixture of the races and of their land-holdings. It has permitted the economic standards of the African to rise without the risk of suppression by European competition or complete economic absorption. It allows Africans to develop along their own lines and to retain the best of their own traditions and institutions without inevitably 548 being committed to a slavish imitation of the European. It is also probable—and I think we should admitit—that geographical segregation is necessary for a considerable period of time to prevent Europeans from degenerating during the process of raising the African. The disparity in general intellectual levels and economic position rules out for the present any prospect of the complete disappearance of social distinctions based on colour. Sudden revolutionary change of attitude in such matters is not possible in the world of practical politics, and one can safely say, at any rate, that the average white Rhodesian has a genuine desire to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and common interest. The rest must be left to time and social evolution. It is believed that a harmonious relationship can be built up without its finding expression in unfettered social mixing-up of people, whether or not ready for it, on either side.
I am pleading for the desirability of maintaining a discernible relationship to realities and for some appreciation of the value of trained knowledge. If I may say so with great respect, sentiment and prejudice have tended to supplant or to fill the vacuum in knowledge and thought. There is no evidence at all that African interests will be adversely affected by the federal scheme. I am not dealing with the frivolous disregard of facts which has disfigured some newspaper correspondence. After all, neither the Observer nor the Daily Worker seem to believe in the British Empire. I believe in it, and in the British way of life, and all that it stands for in the things of the mind and the spirit. It is the one solid human achievement in the world of to-day. And in so believing, I think it is worth more to humanity than all the dreams of Utopia by the short cut of the United Nations—united, apparently, only in their inability to agree or to appreciate what in theory they stand for. It was Lord Milner who said:It is not the soil of England, dear as it is to me, which is essential to arouse my patriotism, but the speech, the traditions, the spiritual heritage, the principles, the aspirations of the British race. They do not cease to be mine because they are transplanted—my horizon must widen, that is all.That idea brings me to a point which seems to me to have received inadequate attention. We have heard much about 549 African interests; but what about British interests, upon the maintenance of which the support of African interests—the ability to support them—must depend? The creation of a great new British Dominion in Central Africa, which brought so much scorn from the noble Lord, Lord Winster, will bring fresh strength to British trade. Was it not also Lord Milner who said this? I am afraid that if Lord Winster were here he would say that this is another voice from the grave; but there are many voices from the grave which we should do well to listen to to-day. Lord Milner, in a speech at Manchester in 1906—and he might have uttered these words to-day, instead of nearly fifty years ago (I see noble Lords on the opposite Benches smiling: I am sure they will smile still more when they hear his words)—said this:What is going to become of all your social well-being if the material prosperity which is essential to it, though not identical with it, is undermined? And you cannot have prosperity without power, you, of all peoples, dependent for your very life, not on the products of these islands alone, but on a world-wide enterprise and commerce. This country must remain a great Power or she will become a poor country; and those who in seeking, as they are most right to seek, social improvement are tempted to neglect national strength, are simply building their house upon sand.My Lords, I think we should do well to consider those words to-day.
In short, I suggest that in supporting Federation we shall be supporting British interests, and that only by promoting those interests can we have the strength to serve humanity and maintain the British way of life as a force for good in the world. I suggest that the issue is a simple one. Let us assume that we can find to-day an adequate number of Africans with the mental capacity to assimilate, under proper guidance and education, the technical skills of Western civilisation—it is a large assumption, but let us make it. That is not enough without the spiritual capacity to inform and direct their use. In other words, though some speed may be possible in technical progress, it is not possible—and I cannot say this too often—in creating and transmitting a way of life. It may take generations to fulfil, but it is a worthy aim. That is surely the real point, the survival of the 550 British way of life in Central Africa. Do we or do we not believe in the British way of life? If we do, surely, such belief connotes the strength of mind and the courage to support it. That is what Federation will do. If the answer is "No," if we fear our fate too much then history will write over our failure that our deserts were small.
Federation, with all its risks—and there are risks, of course—carries the prospect of a great vindication. The risks involved in delay or in premature promotion of the African to a controlling position are something more than risks; they put a premium on disaster. I am confident that the electors of Southern Rhodesia, with their proud record of achievement over the past fifty years, will stand on that record, and will ask to be allowed to bring to fruition their policy of partnership, whose principles I have tried so briefly and so inadequately to outline. It would ill become us to falter in our faith, or to leave them in any doubt that we still believe in ourselves and in them as the latest exponents of our way of life, which, after all, is founded on the Christian faith. The path of duty, of progress, of self-interest and of African interest all point the same way, and I pray that we may have the courage to go that way.
§ 9.47 p m.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I apologise for interjecting a few sentences, but I happen to have some first hand information which I should like to share with the House, arising out of the unhappy interjection from the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton. I happen to be one of the bi-trustees in Southern Rhodesia whose duty it is to distribute annually in the Rhodesias, a large sum of money left by Sir AlfredPike. I should like to tell noble Lords that nearly all the requests for help from that fund are now made by people trying to help the natives. As a trustee, a few years ago I visited a great many of the missionary stations throughout Southern Rhodesia, where so much of this work is being done—work like establishing African clinics, teaching African women who have no knowledge of mother craft, and raising their whole status. That work is going on all over Southern Rhodesia. This fund runs into six figures, but if we had more money to give, the demand for it would take it up over and over again.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ LORD ADDINGTON
My Lords, we have heard a great deal to-night about native African opinion. I only propose, briefly, to bring some evidence of a spirit of co-operation and partnership, unity and consultation between leading Europeans and leading Africans. A lead in this direction was given by an African, Godwin Lewanika, founder and first President of the Northern Rhodesian African Congress. Last year he visited the world Assembly of the Moral Rearmament Movement at Caux, in Switzerland. On his return, he first apologised to Mr. Welensky, who, as we have heard, is the leader of the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council, and later arranged the first round-table talks to take place between Europeans and Africans. What he said was:My chief concern, above everything else, and above Party politics, is good relations in this country, because, whether we like it or not, Europeans and Africans and other races are bound to live side by side in Northern Rhodesia. I shall do all I can to work side by side with all men of good will, among the Africans and Europeans, to bring all races together in harmony. I find this to be very necessary and therefore it must be done, whatever the cost may be.At those talks the basis for discussion was a memorandum which contained the reasons which prevented Africans from accepting federation. This memorandum was published in papers representing European and African opinion. The latter commented:The importance of the conference lay in the fact that Europeans and Africans met for the first time and were impressed with each other.Speaking at such a round-table conference Mr. Hove, the editor of the Bantu Mirror in Bulawayo, himself an African, who had also come into touch with the Moral Rearmament Movement, reported that national leaders of the European and African trade union organisations were for the first time planning together to influence the greatest number with a positive ideology. He had broken a lifetime vow by staying in an English home and said, "We are finding a new answer through Moral Rearmament, We have found the kind of men, European, for whom we would organise a revolution to keep in our country." One of my friends wrote from Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, on March 14, 1953, reporting 552 a meeting held recently for about eighty of the African leaders. One of the African speakers expressed his concern at the suspicion and lack of unity among the Africans. He added:We have been selfish, without love for our objectives, We need the four standards—absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness and love—in which you must find greater strength.An African headmaster told my friend afterwardsI never knew before that there was an ideology on which all men could unite.A further unofficial round-table conference was held on March 22, in which the European and African leaders met with the aim of finding a new dimension of racial unity for Africa. My friend wrote in that letter of March 14 that the federation issue is causing a lot of tension and controversy in Salisbury now—which is clear from this debate—and that Mr. Lewanika had done a magnificent job in bringing moral standards into the fight and making it clear that, federation or not, unity was still the most vital issue, that European leaders had responded with a considerable measure of statesmanship so that they could at least appreciate each other's qualities and manage to disagree without being disagreeable. He added that in Southern Rhodesia there are two most hopeful signs—and I would emphasise that word "hopeful." The first is that many leaders amongst Europeans are coming to see that there must be contact and consultation with the African leaders on a new level and in an atmosphere free from suspicion and fear. The second is that African leaders are beginning to take the initiative themselves in working out the ideological strategy for Central Africa.
It is surely clear from this debate that this question of the federation of these three Territories has to be looked at as part of the questions of relationships of the different races in Africa and the conflict of world ideologies as a whole. The ideology to which I have referred is leading Europeans and Africans to build those race relationships on a foundation of respect, trust, confidence and understanding; and they are learning to live together in an area which now belongs to both and for the benefit of which they must surely continue to work together. It is a world-wide ideology, and supplies the ideas which will govern the minds and souls of men in Africa, 553 as in many other parts of the world. From Africa alone, ninety leaders from twelve different areas have been to Caux where this ideology is not only taught but lived and caught. It takes folk of every race just where they are, builds on the foundation of the principles they have, and leads them on to a whole new level of life and thought which I have found can be achieved thoroughly only in the love and power of Christ. It involves the change of heart of which the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, spoke when he opened the debate this afternoon. I suggest that there are thus firm grounds of hope for a solution, both of this particular problem of federation in these three Territories and of the wider problems of unity and race relationships in Africa and many other parts of the world.
§ 9.57 p.m.
My Lords, I shall detain your Lordships for only a short time, but I can look back on over fifty years' connection with the Union of South Africa. I hope that your Lordships will allow me to speak for a few moments this evening about the Union of South Africa. I remember that when I first landed in Johannesburg an African was not allowed to walk upon the pavement in the street, and if he addressed you not barefoot he was regarded with some suspicion. Last month the first Swazi to become a fully qualified physician returned to Swaziland in order to serve his fellow-compatriots. There was a civic reception, and the Resident Commissioner met him, together with some of the principal inhabitants of Swaziland. Had his father gone to Johannesburg he would not have been allowed to walk on the pavement. Of course, that is an extreme comparison, but I would draw your Lordships' attention to what happened in the 1907 election in the Transvaal. That was the first election after the Liberal Government handed back the country to General Botha and General Smuts. I remember that election rather well because, with all the effrontery of youth, I took on the job of opposing General Botha. A libel action followed in which I was the defendant.
My memory is rather bad, but I think General Botha 554 was Prime Minister thereafter. Compare the election of 1907 with the elections now being held in the Union of South Africa. The African is the one question at issue. The whole election turns on the African and on how he is to be treated. I remember that in 1907 both parties dismissed what was then called the African problem by saying that their policy would be firm and just. One party said "firm and just" and the other party said "just and firm." It was a matter of taste in which order these adjectives came. I was interested to see in a newspaper a defence of the Belgian policy in the Belgian Congo, written by a Belgian. He had been attacked by someone belonging to the Party of noble Lords on the other side of this House for there being no representative system for the natives. His answer was "The Belgian policy in the Belgian Congo is firm and just." I believe it is so. Indeed, all policies should be firm and just.
I am now going back into history, to recall an event that happened in Cape Colonial history. In 1857 an African native bearing the beautiful name of Nonquause and her uncle Mhlkaza were sitting together when they were visited by the spirits of departed warriors. They were given a message which ran as follows: "Go to your fellow-tribesmen and tell them to slaughter all their cattle, destroy all their crops and even the seeds they have in hand for sowing for the next season. When you have done this, the Europeans will be swept into the sea." Nonquause went to her people and gave them this message. They carried out the behests of the spirits of the warriors and awaited the great day. The result was that thousands died of starvation, others were dissipated into neighbouring tribes, and 30,000 were driven to penetrate into Cape Colony and seek service under the Europeans, who they had been told were to be swept into the sea.
That incident—a rather famous incident in Cape Colonial history—has some bearing on the Mau Mau incidents going on in Kenya at present. It also has some differences. But it is not to the Mau Mau troubles to which I wanted to compare it. I want to compare it with the passive resistance movement now being directed in the Eastern Cape by the descendants of Nonquause and her people against Dr. Malan's apartheid policy. That passive 555 resistance movement is based on a movement organised by Mahatma Gandhi in favour of the Indians, and it is conducted without any influence from the Europeans. It is thoroughly well organised. About 7,000 have gone to prison.
This year we celebrate two centenaries. One is the birth of Rhodes and the other the institution of the Common Roll in the Constitution of the Cape. That Roll was instituted in 1853. Since then, and especially since the passing of the Act of Union, the Common Roll has been steadily whittled down, and Dr. Malan is trying to do away with what is left. But it is curious, and worthy of note, that the Common Roll has been revived in Southern Rhodesia, which is the country founded by Cecil Rhodes. I have noticed that the Capricorn Manifesto adopts it. Some people say that they want evidence of liberalism in Southern Rhodesion policy. I think the fact that the Common Roll is admitted as a principle in what is called the Capricorn Manifesto is a gesture in that direction.
I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, pay a tribute to the liberal opinion he had found in Johannesburg, in the Union of South Africa. I also noticed a statement made by no less a person than Mr. Kingsley Martin in the New Statesman. He went to Kenya and was struck by the liberal opinion he found amongst the settlers in Kenya. There is no doubt that considerable liberal opinion exists on the native problem. But at any rate the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, found liberal opinion in the Union, and he said that he was not a settler. I rather regret that, because I was a settler, and I have had some experience with settlers. I am in touch with settlers now. You cannot be a settler in South Africa, or in Africa generally, for five minutes without realising your complete dependence on the African. Without the African a settler can do nothing. Without the African the white European can do nothing. That is the strength of the African, and the African is beginning to realise that. The passive resistance movement among the Africans in the Union is beginning to show that they are realising it; and increasingly they are realising it. They are becoming educated. The people of the Union have been in 556 contact with the African longer than anybody else, and I believe that for that reason the African in the Union is more advanced than any other African. He is capable of doing much more, as I think has been proved.
There has been a remarkable development in regard to Johannesburg University. Johannesburg University opened its medical schools to Africans, and the Union Government made subventions for African students to attend. When Dr. Malan's Government came in, that subvention was stopped. I may say that when that scheme started there were separate classes for the Africans and the Europeans. The Europeans objected to that and said that they would like to have the Africans in with them, so the classes were combined. When the Union Government withdrew the subvention for the African students, the European students started to pay for the Africans, and with the help of money which came, I think, from Southern Rhodesia and other places for that purpose, they collected a sum of £5,000. At the present time two Africans are being educated and trained as physicians at an expense of £250 a year for each. These are things that are happening in the Union which is the least progressive country in Africa on the subject of the African question.
I am never much impressed by the chiefs who say they appeal to Queen Victoria and that they knew Livingstone. I do not like that backward view. I think they might have a more forward view. In the first place, Livingstone died in 1873. I remember one chief's story was that he helped to paddle Livingstone to Victoria Falls in a canoe. But according to his own account, Livingstone came to the Victoria Falls on his feet. I believe that the African is capable of something more. I was going to say something about federation, but I have listened with great pleasure to the noble Viscount the Deputy Leader of the House and to the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I really do not think I have anything to say on that subject. I agree with all they have said and I thank them.
§ 10.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, our debate has been a long one and, like many of the debates in your Lordships' House, it has drawn an unusually wide range of talent this evening, ranging from 557 the experience in the Cape of the noble Lord who has just sat down, to Lord Addington, who has just given us, if I understood him aright, hopeful news of a spirit of better race relations in Southern Rhodesia. We have had the great authority of the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, and also of Lord Milverton. But I should like to mention particularly the maiden speech of Lord Forester, which we were all glad to hear. He and I made our first acquaintance with South Africa a great many years ago. I am only sorry that his further travels in Africa have led him to the wrong conclusion on this particular matter. Nevertheless, I hope that we shall often see him in this House in the future.
As always, I think we enjoyed the sallies and the wit of Lord Milverton. We enjoyed his "crack" about the Observer and the Daily Worker. I must say that I thought one of his shafts was slightly ill-directed. When I heard him talk about "eager amateurs" who had designed the African Affairs Boards, looked at the Government Front Bench expecting them to flinch, because the noble Viscount had told us only this afternoon that he himself—or his office—was the author of the new African Affairs Board. However, I think the shaft flew over their heads and landed harmlessly.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I think the shaft was directed at the original African Affairs Board promulgated by the Labour Administration, and not at my emendation of it. Is that not right?
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
Then I must apologise. I thought the noble Viscount took credit for it, and I was expecting him to feel the shaft.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
On one other matter I think Lord Milverton's speech requires a little comment. He made a slight attack on my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton for saying that in Southern Rhodesia Africans were not treated as human beings—I think that was the sense of it. I do not recollect the phrase in my noble friend's speech. I can only suppose that he was referring not to legislation in Southern Rhodesia but to 558 the ordinary customs of the country. I should like to ask Lord Milverton, from his experience of Southern Rhodesia, whether, if he were a European living in a city there, he could invite Africans to his houseas guests, whether he could sit down to a meal with them in a restaurant or a cafe, and whether he could walk down the street with them. If his answer to those questions is "No," then I think my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton had every justification for what he said.
My Lords, let us go back to the terms of the Motion as put down by my noble friend. He has asked Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to proceed with federation, regardless of African opinion. The phrase "regardless of African opinion" is the crux of the point. Many of the speeches this evening have related to the safeguards of the federation scheme, but, with great respect to those noble Lords who discussed this aspect, I suggest that the safeguards of the scheme, and the Constitution, are irrelevant in the present situation. Safeguards in a Constitution are all very well when the question is one of a merger or an association of two equal communities that trust each other—equal communities entering into a willing partnership. But there is nothing of that in this case. It is the exact antithesis of that. There is here no confidence on either side. There is, in fact, what The Times described in a leader as:a complicated chain of fears and suspicions.Europeans in Africa, we know, are obsessed with the fear of African nationalism. They think that if nationalism is allowed full rein there will be no future for Eurorpeans in Africa, that they will be swamped economically. Africans suspect the motives of the Europeans: there is no question about that.
In a previous debase in this House, I believe, a noble Lord asked, "Why should they distrust Europeans, for Europeans are just the same whether they are in this country or in Africa?" Whether Europeans do acquire different outlooks and different standards when they find themselves in Africa or whether they do not, the point is that the Africans believe it. The Africans believe that the Europeans who are in Africa for their living are not disinterested, and that they aim to restrict the African, to keep him down—hence the colour bar. And the 559 Africans, I may mention in passing, draw a clear distinction between European officials, missionaries and teachers, who, they know, have no personal interest but are merely earning salaries there, and those who go out as settlers and business men in order to make a living from the country. It is these people whom the Africans do not trust. They suspect their motives. They fear that a Federation dominated by Europeans will freeze the present political status of the Africans.
Their view, I think, is expressed in the words of a letter written by delegates who came over a year ago, and published in The Times. They wrote:We oppose Central African Federation on principle on the following grounds. We fear the extension to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland of the native policy of Southern Rhodesia….That is true. They fear also a weakening of the old link with the Queen. The noble Lord, Lord Forester, talked of going back sixty years. That is the sixty-years old tradition which is valued by the Africans—the direct link with the Queen. One of the chiefs said:We want direct rule from England with no other rule intervening. What we want is for the Queen to be able to say: 'These are my children of Nyasaland'.They are afraid that the interpolation of a government between their own Territorial Government and London will weaken that link which they prize so much. They fear also that they will lose their land. It is true that the land is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and in theory it is perfectly well safeguarded. But the Africans are by no means simple. They know that the declared object of many of the quite progressive Europeans in Southern Rhodesia is a great extension of European immigration—your Lordships will have read that in the statements of the Capricorn Society and in other documents. They look forward to an influx of millions of Europeans into that country. "Well," says the African, "if more Europeans come, they will need more land," and so he puts little faith in that particular safeguard. Take it all round, the Africans do not have any faith in those safeguards, and who shall blame them when we see the things that have happened to entrenched clauses elsewhere?
We have heard a good deal about the material advantages which Southern 560 Rhodesia has given to the Africans. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, must have studied very closely the admirable series of little coloured books that the Southern Rhodesian Government have published—excellent productions, and I do not disbelieve a word of them. It is quite true that more money is spent on education, health and so on, but that is not the point. People who are beginning to acquire a sense of nationalism and a sense of pride are not going to take material advantages as a substitute. Surely, the whole of recent modern history shows that nationalism takes no account of economic benefit at all. Countries all over the world have undergone economic suffering in order to gain some political advantage. It is not hard to understand why Africans distrust this scheme. They distrust everything that comes from Southern Rhodesia. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said he thought he was a realist on this subject, but realism surely is to appreciate as a political fact that Africans do not trust Europeans. They do not trust the proposed scheme; and are you then going to impose it? Turning to the advantages claimed for it, we are told—
§ LORD MILVERTON
May I interrupt the noble Earl for one moment? I should not like him to suppose I accept that as a fact. I am prepared to accept that as the noble Earl's opinion, but I hold it to be entirely wrong and disproved by the facts.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
If the noble Lord does not accept that, he presumably believes—in fact I think he said it—that 90 per cent. of Africans, or a large number of Africans, are not competent to understand federation, do not understand it and do not bother about it. Many noble Lords have expressed that view. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, talked about African opinion which is hostile to federation as being the opinion of a small number of extremists, and I think he said the mass of the people do not understand it. But it surely is misrepresentation to talk about "a small number of extremists." The noble Viscount said that the Africans expressing the opinion he dislikes were a small number of extremists, but he must remember that Her Majesty's Government asked for Africans' comments and criticisms on the proposals, and they got 561 them. How did they get them? It was no question of a small number of extremists. They were delegates from bodies set up especially for the purpose of informing the Government of African opinion. There was no mystery, no ju-ju about this. They were not a few wild men. They were sober, respected chiefs and others, chosen by the Government from all levels, from the village councils, district councils, divisional councils and finally the Protectorate Council in Nyasaland and the Representative Council in Northern Rhodesia. Those were the people who passed resolutions and sent their delegates to London last year to see the Secretary of State, at the Secretary of State's request. They came with express mandates from their councils not to agree to federation. One might say that that was foolish and bad tactics, but there it was. The unanimous opinion of these councils was that they would not have federation.
At the same time another section of Africans came over to London last April. These were the representatives of the African Congress, some of whom possibly could be called extremists. The remarkable thing was that the official delegates and the Congress delegates were in entire agreement. Both would have nothing to do with federation. So, with all respect, I submit that if there is any misrepresentation, it certainly is not all on one side. To dismiss African opinion, as it has been dismissed, is completely to falsify the facts. There can be no question that the opinion expressed is overwhelmingly against federation. There may have been intimidation: there is in any community when strong feelings are held by a great majority. Of course, it is difficult and unpopular for those in the minority to come out and express their views, but that only reinforces the point that the overwhelming majority are against.
I come back to the question of the small number of extremists. Has there ever been any popular movement that has not had its political leaders? We cannot have a movement without leaders, and are we going to ignore the leaders and say we are going to take the opinion only of the illiterate masses? That seems to be what noble Lords opposite are saying. They are becoming more Socialist than the Socialists. They will not listen to the 562 leaders, but only to the rank and file. Political leaders are those who grasp problems in advance of the rank and file, and they are naturally the people to whom to listen. In India, Congress were probably a long way ahead of the mass of the people, but they expressed the people's desire for national independence and it is to these leaders the ruling powers must pay attention.
The big argument, and the argument which I understand the noble Lord, Lord Halley, considered overwhelming and which led him to revise his previous opinion and decide that federation ought to be imposed, is the economic argument. That was the argument that led the Labour Government to call the conference to promote federation, to circulate the scheme as a "constructive approach" to the problems, as I think it was described. Of course, in theory it is admirable to have a larger unit more likely to be able to stand on its own feet. But in deciding whether the advantages are so great that we must overcome our scruples and impose the scheme, who do we think will reap advantages from the scheme? Take Nyasaland, which we all know is a small country, rather thickly populated and with very few resources. All they have to offer to the other two Territories is their manpower. If they come into federation, the other two Territories will have control of this reservoir of manpower, which they will tap as much as they want to keep their industries, their mines and their agriculture in a prosperous condition. But I wonder what Nyasaland is going to get in exchange. Are the Northern and Southern Rhodesians going to tax themselves in order to provide development funds for Nyasaland? We were told—I think the noble Viscount said it specifically—that in Nyasaland there would be wide opportunities of employment in the country. But I ask myself: Are they going to behave in this altruistic way, providing funds for a neighbouring country from which all they want is the labour?
Clearly, if there were a big influx of capital into those countries many developments could take place which would increase their wealth and make for a better standard of living for all the inhabitants. But where is that money to cone from? After all, the taxable capacity of the Territories as they are will not grow of its own accord. The only 563 source from which capital can come is outside. The argument is that a large stable Territory, a budding Dominion, is going to attract overseas capital. But I wonder whether this Federation, when it is set up, will be such an attractive place for the American or other investor. I doubt whether such a country would inspire the confidence in the investing public and the investing agencies overseas that would be required. In order to inspire that confidence there must be stability, and there we come back to the question of imposition. Stability can come only if there is willing co-operation by all the inhabitants. I think one noble Lord said that other methods had been tried of getting co-operation without federation. There was a Central African Council, and one usually hears that it failed. But I suggest that it failed because it was not whole-heartedly operated by all the partners in it.
We have heard of political advantages. I do not want to go into them, but have the Government considered the effect of this measure on our negotiations over the High Commission Territories, where we have always stipulated that we must consult the inhabitants before there is any question of handing them over? I wonder whether the position will be so easy to maintain if federation is imposed contrary to the wishes of the people of Central Africa.
Finally, the noble Viscount said that there have been many cases in the past where we as a Colonial Power have imposed what we thought was best for the Colonial territory, against their will, and good always came of it. That is perfectly true. But are the Government living in the past? We could do that in the past and there was no question. The ruling Power ruled according to its own lights and did not bother about the opinions of the people it governed. But that has changed. Nowadays we cannot attempt to rule a Colonial empire, I suggest, except with the consent of the governed. That is the basic point which Her Majesty's Government do not seem to appreciate, and I can only think it is because they have not grasped the change that has occurred in the last half century. In the Victorian days we were a Colonial Power. Now we have to reckon with the opinions of the people we govern. 564 Moreover, those opinions are the result of our own teaching, because we have always instilled ideas of democracy and we have always put education within reach of them.
I do beg the Government to think again. This is not just another routine piece of Colonial political development. It is not just another improved Constitution for some Colonial territory. This is not only a measure which, if it succeeds, will result in the birth of a new Dominion; but it is an entirely new principle. It is a new principle and, incidentally, I think opinion in this country is very gravely concerned at the idea that we should impose federation contrary to the expressed wishes of African opinion.
I think also that world opinion is watching it very closely. All the countries, East and West, have an eye on how we shall handle this problem. It is not a routine job. As I see it, a focal point has been reached by the whole racial problem in Africa at this moment. It has come to a focus in this question. It is a very difficult race problem where you have the immigrant white communities. I do not think we can just say, "We think this is best, so we shall impose it." I think that that is running the gravest risk. There is a perfectly good alternative. It is that the scheme should be postponed for, say, five years. During that time the remedy for the whole situation and, in fact, the remedy for the whole African position is in the hands, not of Her Majesty's Government here, but of the Europeans in Africa. It is within their power to convince the Africans of their good faith, and in fact it was put most admirably in a letter to The Times written by the most reverend Primate some months ago. He said:Europeans must recognise the naturalness and, indeed, the frequent justifications of African suspicions and fears; and as members of the more developed race they have a special duty to make their good will and their true intentions of fairdealing evident.I hope the Government are not too far committed to think again.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I will not follow the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, beyond these two points. The first is to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Forester, on his extremely interesting maiden speech. One more Peer, if I 565 may say so, who can add to the sum of personal knowledge of the African will be welcomed by all parts of your Lordships' House. But knowledgeable men find themselves acclaimed as experts by those who speak only if they happen to agree with the speaker's view at the time. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, on one point only, and that is that world opinion is watching. In fact, in the words of Edmund Burke:We are on a conspicuous stage and the world marks our demeanour.I will not follow the noble Lord into many channels into which I could follow him, and should enjoy following him. I will merely say that it is an extraordinary proposition which he put forward that economic expansion of these Territories would not further African advance. I simply fail to understand his reasoning. To me it appears to be fundamental to it. If the noble Lord will excuse me, I will not make an argument of that, because I want to-night to focus my argument on the two points which, quite frankly, divide the people who want to have federation in this form now and those who generally agree with the form of federation but wish to have it postponed.
May I say, at this juncture, that in putting forward federation Her Majesty's Government take a very great responsibility? May I say that those who oppose it take a great responsibility, too? The two bones of contention, as I see it, are, first of all, that this is being thrust upon the African against his will. I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said that that was really the principal objection. The secondary one, it might be said, is that the Constitution, as it is framed, will have the effect of subjugating the interests of one race to another, for perpetuity. Taking the first point first, I cannot understand how anybody is in the least surprised that there should be considerable opposition, and considerable feeling, on the subject of this federation in Africa, for four perfectly good reasons. All federations, in all countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth, have always aroused terrific controversy, and always arouse a host of opponents. Secondly, for the reason which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, made very plain, the apprehensions of the Bantu are such that they will always oppose any change from the status quo. Thirdly, we have 566 always been looked to in Africa, and, indeed, throughout the world, for leadership. The steps that were taken, in the past, to bring federation about, appeared to the Africans to show that we were unsure of ourselves—we seemed to them to act out of character. Last of all, there has been a straightforward misconception by the Africans as to what was going to happen to their land, and much else—amisconception which was most assiduously fanned by the most expert advocates.
I attach enormous importance to these points. On the subject of federation in general, do not think I stray too far from relevance when I cite the Federation of Canada. In 1867, it was a country where communications were very tenuous, newspapers were very few, and racial bitterness and religious bitterness were by no means absent. It provides a remarkable example of how the pendulum of opinion can swing on this very point. There were anti-federation riots and powerful speeches. Britain, I need hardly say, was accused of abdicating her responsibility. As your Lordships know, the Federation became a fact.
Two years later, in Nova Scotia, an election was held on this issue to decide whether or not they should remain in the Federation. Only one man was returned to Parliament who wanted to stay in the Federation. Two years later they held another election, having been prevailed upon, in the meantime, to stay in. At this second election only one man was returned who did not want federation. It will be within your Lordships' recollection that there was tremendous controversy surrounding the federation of Newfoundland—or rather the inclusion of Newfoundland it the Federation of Canada. It was only about three or four years ago. We had powerful speeches, deputations, and letters to the newspapers. The referendum was passed by only a trifling majority, of something like 3,000. A knowledgeable man whom I know, who has recently been there, has told me that if a referendum were taken to-day there might easily be a poll of 90 per cent. in favour. The extraordinary thing about such Federations is the sameness of the arguments "for" and of the arguments "against." Federations are always an act of faith—giving up something you know, in return for something I that you do not know.
567 On this point of the apprehensiveness of the Bantu, on which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, expatiated, and rightly, I would say that the Bantu have always led lives that were haunted by apprehensiveness—apprehensiveness of tribal wars and raids of slave traders. Even the Matabele, who were masters of the field, and the tribes too remote for the slave traders, had apprehension of famine, drought and pestilence. All these things have been removed. The slave traders were driven out, and the tribal wars have been quenched. But apprehensiveness is graven on the Bantu character and will probably be so for centuries to come.
Thirdly, there is the matter of leadership. Affection and respect are indissolubly linked. I do not know of any people of whom that is more true than the Bantu; the things they respect most are, first, scrupulous fairness; and second, leadership. I will give your Lordships three examples of people whose names are imperishable amongst the Africans of East and Central Africa. The first is David Livingstone. They talk of him as if he were still alive. He had that spark. The second was Rhodes. My father was at Cecil Rhodes's funeral and there was a guard of honour there of Africans 100 miles in length—because there was magic in the man. He too had that spark. But you will not easily understand what these men meant unless you understand the premium these people placed on leadership. I give you a far stranger example from the 1914 war. We have never agreed in our Colonial ways with the Colonial ways of the Germans. We thought their rule in East Africa was restrictive and harsh, and even brutal. Von Lettow Vorbek took the field at the head of Germany's troops, against much larger forces of ours, in an entirely hostile country. He kept the loyalty of his Africans for four years, and was undefeated at the end. And thus do they feel about this quality of leadership, as an almost divine gift.
I instance that to show that we nearly failed over this federation business, because we seemed to be not absolutely sure of ourselves. I have always thought the initial approach was wrong. Instead of calling representatives from Africa and making it clear that we were going to have federation, we threw it into the pit 568 of discussion; and it seemed to many that we were not sure of ourselves or of what we were doing. I always thought that it was a terrible mistake that the district officers should have to act so out of character as to put this whole matter not, as they would normally do, in a straightforward way but by saying "We will not influence you; there is this and there is that, and you must make up your own minds." That was very largely responsible for the suspicion that remains to this day. Another most unfortunate thing—because I am strongly in favour of the African Affairs Board, and I imagine that every single one of your Lorships is, too—is that if you construct the Board for the specific purpose of defending the African, the African, very naturally, will say, "This is a strange occurrence. What do I have to be defended against? There is something behind this."
Last of all, there is misconception and, with the very greatest possible deference to the Bishop of Nyasaland who was quoted here today by the right reverend Prelate, you cannot expect the Bantu to understand what is in the White Paper. A hazy misconception and distrust has grown up, but is deeply thickened by the smokescreen of the agitators. Let me clear up one point, if I may, for the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, who was a little worried about—or rather, found it hard to define—the word "extremist", a word that has been used at one time or another by every speaker. It is very simple. An extremist in this context, is a man who is an all-out opponent of partnership, who believes that only the black man should rule or, alternatively, that only the white man should rule. Their number is not very great, but they influence a great number of unsuspecting souls.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
May I suggest that the word is really used to discredit those who express African opinion?
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
I do not accept that for one moment. I made myself abundantly clear. I remember that two years ago (I think it was in July), when we debated the proposals produced by the last Government, and the Government's proposals—that was, the officials' report—had only just come out. I was given a copy of a pamphlet very cleverly written in English, circulated, as I understood, widely in Central Africa and in this 569 country condemning federation in every possible form. This pamphlet was published and circulated three weeks before the pamphleteer could have the slightest idea of what the then Government's plans were. We cannot expect the Africans to realise how much their future depends on economic progress or to recognise the world trends that can redound to their detriment.
Some years ago, for a short time, I was a district officer in East Africa. All those who have served the Colonial Office have at one time or another had to impose upon the Africans such things as inoculation, vaccination, education, child welfare and the like. You could not expect them to know that these things were beneficial. You could understand their opposition. But we should have made a mockery of our mission in Africa if we had reacted by dropping the scheme. What we did was to put the scheme through. We patiently explained it, and when they saw the betterment that flowed there from, they co-operated with us enthusiastically. Much of this present distrust of, and opposition to, federation is based, as I say, on the apprehensiveness of the Bantu, on the one hand, and on misconception, to take one point, that they may lose their land. Misconception and apprehension are things that you must attack with the weapon of truth. You must show that they are misconceived and ill-conceived, and that no grounds exist for them. But one thing you cannot do is to legislate for misconception or refuse to legislate because of it. What would blow this misconception and misapprehension away, is the putting through of this scheme on its due timetable. Then they would see that much that has worried them and caused them to be concerned was, in fact, no cause for concern at all.
Turning to the second point, I am no constitutional expert, but I should like to draw attention to the fact that many noble Lords are concerned that the Constitution, as drawn, would subjugate the African to the white race, in Rhodesia, for perpetuity. It was a very intelligent foreigner who wrote that one of the great secrets of the long continuance of the British Empire and Commonwealth was that we never produced a blue-print to cover all situations, however attractive it might seem 570 at the time. As a country we have the longest continuous history of effective and humane government of any in the world. We need not be shy of it. We have had a greater experience of drawing up Constitutions in our Empire than any other country. No antagonists of federation could say that this Constitution was not drawn up with very careful consideration. No supporter of federation is going to claim that it is perfect. The prototype of an aeroplane is the work of the brains of those at the draughting board; its real performance can never be known until it has been tested at high speed. Thus it is with this Constitution. The ideal federation is something that has never been achieved. It is the federation that everybody wanted and was unanimous about. That has never happened. All federations are a compromise, and this one is no exception.
The majority of us regret that African representatives did not take a larger part, as they were invited to, in the drawing up of this Constitution. I understand that two members from Southern Rhodesia, who attended one of the sessions, played a useful and constructive part for the period of their stay. Anyone who underrates the African as a man does him a very great disservice. Anybody who overrates the African in his capability, at this stage of his development, does him no service either. The trend is moving. Until the year 1948 there was no African member of the Legislative Councils of Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia. Now there are, partly because there were men coming forward in training who could take these positions, and partly because white opinion in this part of the world was moving too. But the mere drafting of a Constitution is only part of it, and the rest of it, and in many ways the most important part, is the good will to operate it. There is nothing very much wrong with the United Nations Charter, but where it does not work it is because good will is lacking on the part of certain members who sit round the table. I do not want to sound a discordant note, but I declare it to be a monstrous assumption on the part of anybody, to suggest that this Constitution is to be operated intentionally in bad faith. This is a tremendous test of statesmanship to which I believe those who will be responsible will 571 be equal. I am not going into the many other matters that have been raised, but I say this in all sincerity: we all agree in this House, whatever side we espouse, that the future of Africa lies with the moderates. It certainly does not and cannot lie with the propounders of the two new nationalisms of Africa. These two new nationalisms are opposites, and each hardens the other's heart.
My Lords, that leads us to what we must do. It has been suggested by the opponents of the scheme that we delay federation. In fact, without exception, all the opponents of the scheme produced that as their solution. If you delay federation you give the most tremendous stimulus to the leaders of the extremists who, realising that the issue is now in suspense, will redouble their efforts to prolong and extend that twilight era of apprehension and misapprehension of which I have spoken, and I believe that in that era all real hope of racial harmony will vanish. If you withdrew federation it would never again be possible in this form—perhaps never again in any form. Then extremists will appear to be the leaders and the British will be held to have abdicated their position for ever. The extremists will inflame each other's views, until finally we shall get a terrible conflict of extremes. And all the time the problems go on unsolved—de-tribalisation with no hope, in those circumstances, of promoting a great drive for mass African education to meet it. The population will march steadily ahead of production with little or no hope of the latter's catching up, and the African himself will be caught in that appalling deadlock which he is threatened with now in these Territories, when education waits for prosperity and prosperity waits for education. We realise all these things, and the 572 African does not. Where then lies our duty? As I see it, to press on with this scheme, create a constructive British alternative and build up a new country in Central Africa which will offer a far wider horizon to its peoples than they could ever hope to see in their present isolation, a country where races can advance in co-operation end friendliness with each other. Without it, Africa will be torn and riven by these two nationalisms until the whole Continent will be racked with their convulsions.
§ Moved, that the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Listowel.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I have been asked by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester to explain that he has had to leave to catch his train and to say on his behalf that he does not move his Motion.