§ 11.8 a.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Noel-Buxton, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for Papers relating to Federation in Central Africa.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I think your Lordships would wish to know that I have had a telegram from the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, to say that he is very sorry he will not be here to-day, owing to the sickness of his wife.
I believe that, so far, every speaker in this debate has tried to express his own considered opinion on this issue, whether it agrees or disagrees with the policy of the Party to which he belongs. This has been a matter of conscience for us all, on both sides of the House; and we have weighed our views with care, and with a real sense of responsibility for what we are saying. Like many other noble Lords, I have endeavoured to assess this federal scheme from the standpoint of Colonial policy and from the point of view of its impact on all the races in these three Territories who have made their homes there. This I have done ever since this matter was first discussed in Parliament. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that in the debate that took place here last July I suggested the withdrawal of the proposals contained in the White Paper published after the first London Conference. My reason for that was that at the time I felt that the scheme would be unworkable on account of African opposition.
574 Since then, two important changes in political opinion have taken place. My own Party, perhaps, fortunately, less rash than I was in committing themselves in this issue, and of course representing a very large section of public opinion in this country, have decided to oppose immediate federation. At the same time African opinion in all three Territories has hardened against it. There has been an increase in the number and intensity of the opposition among Africans in Africa to federation. I do not think anyone would claim that all Africans either oppose or even understand the federal scheme. But, on the evidence I have seen, I think it is fair to say that most of the chiefs in the two Northern Territories, as well as other articulate Africans, are now definitely opposed to it.
Before I make a few comments, and ask the Government some questions, about specific provisions in the scheme, I should like to state my position, quite broadly, about this issue of immediate federation in Central Africa. I believe that anyone who has followed the history of the Commonwealth realises that the direction of progress is towards closer association between Territories which are too weak and small for self-government if they stand alone. I think that that view is shared on both sides of the House. Most of our sister nations in the Commonwealth have achieved self-governing status through federation. At the present time, the West Indies are on the same road. These three Central African Territories, of which none is capable of becoming a self-contained sovereign State, should also clearly aim at federation as their ultimate objective. But the view we on this side of the House hold is that union should come about by consent, and not by coercion, even if that means delay. We do not want to see federation dropped or forgotten, but we should like it postponed until it is more generally acceptable to the African population in those Territories.
There is a certain contradiction, I feel, in Government policy. Can the Government explain why federation in Central Africa should be imposed, while federation in the West Indies will depend on consent? In the West Indies, I am glad to observe, the present Government are continuing the policy carried out by 575 every Government since the war. The establishment of a federal system there will be conditional on the willingness of the majority of the inhabitants of each Territory to enter it. Unlike Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, any Territory which does not like it can stand out and refuse to join. The Government are not forcing British Honduras or British Guiana into a West Indian Federation. Why should Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland be treated differently? Government servants in the West Indies, from Governors to district officers, have been told to explain federation, but have been forbidden to take sides on a matter that is one for local decision.
In the two Northern Territories the Colonial Service has already lost the good will of the African population, because it has had to champion federation. I feel that this is extremely unfortunate, because it is the first duty of a district officer in the Colonial Service to win the confidence and trust, and if possible the affection and respect, of the people among whom he works. If he is unable to do that, then his power for good is very much reduced. I believe that one of the results of forcing this political change upon Africans has been to lessen the efficiency of the Colonial Service in the field to help forward people for whom it is responsible. I cannot help wondering why, in Central Africa, it appears that European opinion only is taken into account, while in the West Indies, which is also an area inhabited by several races, the views of every race have been carefully weighed.
I feel that your Lordships will agree that the view we hold, that the success of federation will depend, in the long run, on the willingness of the African population to work it, is not a view invented by political opponents of the present federal scheme. Your Lordships will not have forgotten that African opposition to the amalgamation of these Territories in 1939—which was one of the problems the Bledisloe Commission were asked to examine—was one of the main reasons why the Bledisloe Commission reported against that proposal. The Africans are just as afraid of federation to-day as they were of amalgamation before the war; and their hostility arises, as it did at that 576 time, from a similar fear of what will happen if they lose the protection of the British Crown and are placed under the control of the European settlers.
I should like to read to your Lordships a short passage from the Bledisloe Report, which might have been written yesterday, if the word "federation" were substituted for the word "amalgamation" in its context. The Report says:If so large a proportion of the population of the combined Territory were brought unwillingly under a unified Government, it would prejudice the approval of co-operation in ordered development under such a Government. We do not mean to suggest that amalgamation must necessarily be postponed until such time as a positive demand for it arises amongst the natives of all the Territories, but we are agreed in doubting the practical wisdom of such a step, until, through longer acquaintance with the issues involved, the fears and suspicions at present prevalent amongst the natives have been substantially removed, and they are themselves in a better position to form a considered judgment on those issues.We are asking the Government to follow the advice given in the Report of the Bledisloe Commission in 1939. This view was endorsed by the officials of the three Territories which reported to the Government as long ago as June, 1951. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote a sentence from the officials' Report. They say:We have constantly borne in mind that whatever is proposed must be designed not only to promote the well-being of the Territories and their inhabitants, but must also be acceptable to the inhabitants"—those are the words I should like to underline—and to the governments and legislatures concerned.It has been said that the fear and suspicion of the Africans is largely due to prejudice and misrepresentation; and no doubt that is often the case. But surely that is all the more reason for allowing the advantages of federation to percolate gradually into the African mind. What we must remember is that it is not the reasons for opposition, which may be good or bad, that matter; it is the fact of opposition—not, may I add, that grounds for reasonable doubt about the scheme are lacking. I cannot believe that any impartial observer of the federal scheme would say that, on the face of it, it shows a desire for equal partnership between the races and Territories of 577 Central Africa. It places an enormous preponderance of power in the hands of one race of one Territory. I do not know of any federal constitution in the world which subordinates the federal units to one another in the way the two Northern Territories are subordinated to Southern Rhodesia in the present scheme.
It may be argued that this subordination is due to the political backwardness of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. But I remember dealing with a similar problem when Burma became a self-governing country in 1948. It was our responsibility at that time to safeguard the minorities in the new Federal Constitution of Burma. We had to make sure that the Hill States of Upper Burma received a fair share of political power through their representation in their Legislature. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, who no doubt has an equally vivid recollection of the Burma Office, will correct me if my recollection is not accurate. He will agree, I know, that these Hill States were far more backward even than Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and that they had been directly administered by the Governor of Burma ever since Burma ceased to be a Province of India—they did not come under the Burmese Parliament But the Burmese, acting with greater wisdom than we are acting or proposing to act at the moment, realizing that their Federation would not work without the co-operation of their minorities, gave a majority of the seats in the Upper Chamber of their Parliament to these hill peoples. This Burmese Constitution is one of the many cases in which federal constitutions have used a Second Chamber to strike a fair balance between the federation units.
A more topical example, and one that is within the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, is the proposed Federal Constitution for the West Indies. In order to prevent the Federal Parliament there from being dominated by Jamaica and Trinidad, which have a much larger population than the other Territories, it is proposed that there should be a Senate in which each Territory, regardless of its population, will have equal representation. Of course, there is no Second Chamber in the present scheme for Central Africa, in the scheme which we are considering this morning. It is true that the power of the Federal 578 Assembly to amend the Constitution includes a power to set up a Second Chamber. But any amendment of the Constitution will require a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, and the elected members for Southern Rhodesia will therefore always be in a position to prevent the Constitution from being altered in favour of the two Northern Territories. It is most unfortunate and most regrettable that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will not have much more say, as they would have had in a properly balanced Legislature, in the initiation or rejection of legislation which will affect equally the inhabitants of all three Territories.
It has already been pointed out how little the composition of the Federal Assembly will represent a fair balance between the races. As representation in the new Federal Assembly is going to he based on race rather than population, it is fair to ask why one of the three races in Central Africa, the Asians, is not represented at all. There is representation for Europeans, there is representation for Africans, but no representation has been proposed for the Asian minority in these three Territories. Now there are over 12,000 Asians in these Territories, and their numbers arc rapidly increasing. Most of these people are Indians and Pakistanis, and are in the main people who have made their homes there and work there, like the Africans and the Europeans. They are shopkeepers and salesmen, and much of the retail and wholesale business in towns and villages is in their hands.
Those of your Lordships who know India will agree with me that Indians are keenly aware of political issues and quite competent to express a judgment about them. I should like to point out—because it has not been mentioned so far in either House during the debates that have taken place—that this Asian minority has already expressed a view. I should like to know whether this view has been considered by Her Majesty's Government. At a conference in Nyasaland last July, the Asians of the three Territories claimed representation on both the Territorial and Federal Legislatures. They expressed agreement about federation as being desirable in itself, although they wanted it to be with consent and with equal rights for all races. I wonder 579 whether this claim has been considered by Her Majesty's Government. I gave notice that I would ask this question, and I hope the noble Marquess may be in a position to reply when he winds up the debate. I believe that there is a strong case for the allocation of at least one seat in the Federal Assembly to the Asian minority. They can claim this both on account of their numbers and their political capacity. After all, the 4,000 Europeans in Nyasaland will have four elected seats. I think on the present franchise in Nyasaland one can certainly say that at the first election, at any rate, the four elected seats in Nyasaland will go to Europeans. To give another illustration of the practice in another Dependency, so far as representation of a minority is concerned, in Kenya the Arab population of about 24,000—about double the Asian population of Nyasaland—have two seats on the Legislative Council.
I should like to make one comment on the provisions for African representation in the Federal Assembly. The main drawback there, of course, is the rigidity of the Constitution, because this will enable the permanent European majority in the Federal Assembly, if they wish to do so, to prevent any increase in African representation at the centre to correspond with the increasing political experience and competence of the African population. Another unfortunate consequence of this position is that the freezing of the disparity between the races in the Federal Assembly, owing to the difficulty of amending the Constitution so as to give Africans more seats, is bound to cause increasing friction between the Central and Territorial Legislatures. In Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland our traditional policy for the political advancement of Africans will add more and more African members to the Legislative Councils, and later on to the executive councils of those Territories. African advancement will remain the responsibility of the Territorial Legislatures. But as the power of the Africans in the two Northern Territories grows, so also will the danger of a serious collision with the centre. Indeed, unless the present African hostility to federation lessens, it is hard to see how a conflict which would threaten the very existence of the federal state can be avoided.
580 Several speakers yesterday expressed their doubt about the safeguarding of African interests by means of the African Affairs Board. I cannot believe, on the experience we have had in time past, that constitutional safeguards are ever an adequate substitute for representation in Parliament. May I for one moment look at these safeguards? Surely they can work only if there is a genuine intention to work them both here and in Central Africa. That is an assumption which must be made. I am sure that the Government here, whatever Party may be in power, will do their best to work these safeguards in the Federal Constitution. But can we be certain that the European leaders in Central Africa have the same intention? I am sure that your Lordships have read certain disparaging remarks made by Sir Godfrey Huggins and Mr. Welensky about these safeguards. At least that must throw some degree of doubt on the intentions of the leaders of the people who will in fact control the Federal Assembly. We cannot be sure that they will operate this machinery in the same spirit as it will be operated here.
May I ask the Government this question? The noble Viscount said yesterday that we are in a relationship of trusteeship to the three Territories, and this federal scheme is the discharge of the obligations of a trustee. But would an ordinary trustee transfer any of his responsibilities for the protection of a ward to another person if he had the slightest doubt about that person's intentions? I believe, on all the evidence, that we are bound to feel an element of doubt about the intentions in the minds of responsible European leaders in Central Africa. And let us remember this: that in the last resort there is no way at all in which we can enforce any of the provisions of the Constitution of this Federal Government if the Federal Government itself chooses to disregard them. Provisions in a Constitution of this kind are not enforceable in the courts in the way that provisions of domestic law would be enforceable, so that we have to rely on good will and honest intentions.
The second difficulty I see about these safeguards is that the veto of the British Government on federal legislation is obviously inconsistent with self-government status. That was a point made by 581 my noble friend, Lord Noel-Buxton, fairly and justly, I think, in the speech with which he introduced this debate. The preamble to the Federal Scheme states quite rightly that "the attainment of full membership of the Commonwealth is the aim of the Federation." Of course this aim is utterly incompatible with any vestige of control from Whitehall. There will, therefore, be increasing pressure on Her Majesty's Government here to discontinue the authority it exercises through the African Affairs Board. The time may not be far distant when this Board will be regarded as the symbol of interference from Whitehall and the most conspicuous obstacle to self-government. It is hard to see how such a conflict can be resolved without sacrificing our sole means of protecting the interests of the African population.
Another important statement in the preamble is that we shall preserve the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories "so long as their respective peoples so desire"; and so long as this status continues there can be no self-government. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whose views are to be regarded by the Government here as representing the wishes of the responsible peoples in Central Africa. Will the African representative bodies be consulted? Will their decision be regarded as binding if we ask them whether they want what remains of the protecting powers of the British Crown to be removed? Or will this matter be referred to the Legislative Councils? The Legislative Councils at present in two Northern Territories represent a minority of the population and I cannot believe that this would be a fair or satisfactory way of deciding the question. I hope, at any rate,—though I know Her Majesty's Government cannot go into details now—that we may have some assurance that when the views of the peoples concerned in the two Northern Territories about the continuation of their Protectorate status are sought, they will be consulted through bodies which genuinely represent the African population.
There can be no doubt that there is serious fear and anxiety amongst Africans in these two Northern Territories at the present time. They are alarmed both because of the uncertainty of the safeguards and because of the heavy weight- 582 age of the Federal Constitution in favour of one race and one Territory. These are reasonable causes for doubt and anxiety, however much unreasonable prejudice there may also be. The Africans are seriously worried about the transfer of vital powers from their Governments—which, of course, would still be subject to control from Whitehall—to a Federal Government so constituted. It has been said by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in another place that matters affecting the daily lives of the Africans will continue to be a responsibility of the Territorial Governments. But surely it would have been more accurate to say that some important matters affecting Africans will remain a Territorial responsibility while other matters, no less important, will become a Federal responsibility. There are, for instance, defence, taxation, citizenship, immigration into the Territories and higher education. I think these examples were given by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester in his speech, and of course the whole range or transport and communication services are also examples from the Federal list of powers alone.
The future of higher education for Africans which will be a Federal power was not, I think, discussed during yesterday's debate or in another place, and I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government what facilities they anticipate will be provided by the Federal Government. I cannot imagine that they would give up their present responsibilities in this regard in the two Northern Territories without a firm assurance that educational prospects of Africans will not be affected by the change. It is common knowledge that Africans will not be able to reach the top level in the public services of Central Africa, or get into or make headway in the professions, without university qualifications or qualifications of a university standard.
This is a very serious problem indeed. We know that the pattern of higher education in the Union of South Africa and in the Southern States of America is to provide separate universities for the two races. That is a reflection of racial separation, and the very reverse of partnership. I sincerely hope that that will not be the pattern of higher education in Central Africa. I think that everyone will agree that separate universities or 583 separate university colleges are, academically and socially, most undesirable. I should like to ask the Government whether they anticipate that the new university college, about which the Commission will be reporting before long, is to be open to all races. And how about the university which is under contemplation in Salisbury? Will it be for white people alone or will it be open to members of other races? If it should happen that separate universities are set up, then there is good reason to fear that the African university will be inferior in teaching qualities and amenities to the white university. I cannot help wondering whether a situation of this kind could not have been completely avoided—I am not saying it has arisen—if the two Northern Territories had been given an opportunity to set up a university catering for all races in Northern Rhodesia which would be just as accessible to the peoples of all races in those Territories as the University College of the West Indies in Jamaica is to peoples of all races in the West Indies.
Now, the transfer of this power over higher education is one example of the abandonment of a first principle of British Colonial policy. This principle, which seems to have been followed, not without exception but as a general rule, by Conservative, Labour and Liberal Governments for 250 years, has been to refrain from handing over powers of self-government to one of our racially mixed Dependencies until such time as they can be shared by all major races. If we had given self-government to the British settlers in the West Indies during the 18th and 19th centuries, the very real racial partnership which now exists there, and which many of your Lordships must have experienced, would not have had the opportunity to grow. Racial spirit is something which grows. If we accept this principle as a right principle, all advance towards self-government in racially mixed territories should be much slower than in countries like West Africa, or the old Commonwealth countries in the past, where the majority of the inhabitants belong to a single race. In what are now known as "plural societies" the impartial authority of the British Government, which stands equally for the rights of all races, is indispensable for the growth 584 of racial co-operation and understanding. There are, of course, other British Dependencies in Africa and Asia where several races have made their homes, and one of the things about this federal proposal which worries me is this: I very much fear that the precedent we are setting up in Central Africa will encourage those mistaken persons who want to force the pace of self-government elsewhere.
I gave the noble Viscount opposite notice that I would ask for information about the method of choosing the representatives of African interests in the Federal Assembly. I made this request—although it may sound a matter of detail for a debate of this kind—for two reasons, reasons which are linked with very important issues of policy. In the first place, I think that Parliament should have the information which it needs in order to be satisfied that the views of the African population will be properly represented in the Federal Assembly. As your Lordships are aware, under the federal scheme there will be nine persons who will represent African interests. In the second place, I think it is no less important that Africans should realise that it will be possible to send their own spokesman to the Federal Assembly and that none of these nine seats will be filled by docile African supporters of the Government. I think that is very important, because there is a serious danger that the Africans will boycott the Assembly by refusing to nominate candidates for the African seats. I think that would be a very unwise thing for them to do, but it has been done before, and it had very serious consequences. Your Lordships will remember that the members of the Moslem League who were elected to the All-India Constitutional Assembly refused to take their seats, and that led to the Partition of India. It is a very serious matter indeed if any large section of a population refuses to participate in the work of the Parliament which has been set up to represent its views and its interests. That is why I should like it to be absolutely clear to the Africans that they are to be given a fair deal.
My first question is this: How will the two African specially elected members for Southern Rhodesia be elected? All that we are told in the federal scheme is that they will be elected by regulations made 585 by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia. But who will vote for them? Will they be voted for by Africans or Europeans on the Common Roll, or by a mixture of both? I think we ought to know that. It is vital. I do not say that the information can be given now, because the African Governments will have to be consulted; but I think that before the amending Bill is introduced and the scheme becomes law, if the Government intend to proceed with it, the information should be publicly available.
My second question is: How will the specially elected European representatives of African interests in Southern Rhodesia be elected? Again, all we know is that the Governor will make regulations. Will they be elected by voters on the Common Roll, or will there be some other procedure, so that Africans also may have some voice in the choice of their European representatives? My third question is this: In Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the two European representatives of African interests will be appointed by the Governors? Will the Governors be acting in their discretion, or will they be acting on the advice of their Executive Councils? I think that is a very important question, and one which certainly carries a great deal of weight in the minds of Africans. In paragraph 28 of the federal scheme, we are told that the European representatives of African interests in the two Northern Territories will be appointed by the Governor. I think that it is important that we should know in what capacity the Governor will act, because while the Africans would, I think, almost always trust the Governor, they might not trust some of the European members of his Executive Council. The Government have said that a postponement of federation, which is what we are asking for, will encourage the extremists—that is to say, people who believe in racial domination on both sides. That may be so, but I am convinced that imposition will do much more than delay to strengthen those on both sides who believe in racism, in a narrow nationalism, or even in force. More Africans will follow the leaders who talk about "Africa for the Africans" arid will use the present disregard of their opinions to show that Africans will never get what they want by constitutional methods. I am afraid that that is bound to happen.
586 African extremism, in its turn, will make the Europeans more than ever afraid of African domination and, therefore, more reluctant to concede political and social claims made by the Africans. The racial embitterment that federation will set up, the loss of confidence in British administration, as the right reverend Prelate put it, seems to me to outweigh the local economic advantages which have been used as the main argument in favour of the imposition of the federal scheme. I am certain that most of the advantages of closer economic association could have been secured, and can still be secured, without any change in the political relationship between the three Territories. In this way also, the economic disadvantages of racial conflict which this political change will undoubtedly bring about could have been avoided. So I hope that the Government will pause and reflect.
On my reading of Commonwealth history, no self-governing or quasi-self-governing country in the Commonwealth has ever been established by the British Government under more dubious auspices than will be this new State in Central Africa, with opinion divided both at home and in the Territories concerned. I know of no precedent for such a deep cleavage and division of opinion among the people who will receive a quasi-self-governing status and those who are giving it. But if the Government, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said yesterday, are determined to proceed with federation, in spite of the fact that neither Britain nor Central Africa is behind it, I believe that they should do everything possible to mitigate the adverse effect of this decision upon race relations. Many Africans are genuinely afraid that federation will lead to another racial State on the pattern of the South African Union. Nothing would do more to allay this fear of racial domination than a definition of partnership in terms of a policy aiming at equal rights for members of every race. I suggest that a definition of this kind should be associated with a practical gesture or demonstration of the desire of the Federal Government gradually to lift the colour bar.
The noble Viscount said yesterday that partnership cannot be defined. If racial partnership is a policy, then surely it can be defined. I cannot conceive of any 587 policy that cannot be defined, or at least described. But if it is not policy, if it is, as the noble Viscount said, a spiritual concept which issues in action, then surely we should say so; and we might be able to find words which express more accurately what we mean than the word "partnership." For instance, is not what the noble Viscount really means something more like "practical good will" or "practical friendship" towards members of other races? This is a matter of the utmost importance, because the wrong interpretation of partnership—the interpretation of partnership as a policy in Africa—is misleading Africans and undermining their confidence in the honesty of British intentions. I still hope that the Government may go back to the view that "partnership" can be defined as a policy; but if their view is that it is no more than a disposition of mind, a practical benevolence towards other races, then will they say so and allow partnership to drop out completely from the context of African policy?
My Lords, I should like to ask the Government to consider a proposal made by my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton, when he introduced this debate yesterday, in a speech which, if I may say so, I thought entirely worthy of the fine, humanitarian traditions of his family. The proposal was that the word "partnership," which occurs in the preamble to the federal scheme, should be there defined in the form of a statement of fundamental rights such as occurs in many constitutions. Unlike the Constitution, the preamble has no binding force in law, so that citizens would not receive any legal rights or obligations as a result of such a statement in the preamble to the Federal Constitution. I think that is important. Obviously, it would be undesirable to include a statement of that kind in the Constitution, because it would suggest that this change could be made immediately; but in the preamble such a statement would represent an aim or intention of federal policy, like the attainment of fully self-governing status, which is already mentioned.
My Lords, it cannot be said that such a definition of "partnership" would change anything in the scheme, because it would merely clarify the meaning of a word already there. Therefore I do not 588 think that it would in any way be altering the substance of the scheme to the detriment of the Southern Rhodesian electors who will vote in the referendum. I suggest that the Government should consider whether they are prepared to ask the Central African Governments' opinion. As the noble Viscount rightly said, to alter the text of the preamble in this way cannot be done except by agreement, because partnership must either be a gradual and progressive extension of equal rights or the permanent subordination of one race to another. The latter alternative is what the Africans fear at the moment, and this suspicion will continue to poison race relations unless the African partnership is defined on the lines of a gradual realisation of equal rights in these Territories.
The reassurance that equality as the goal of partnership would give African opinion should, I think, be coupled with some expression of intention by the Federal Government, when it is constituted, to start lifting the colour bar. It might, for example, guarantee equal access for all races to public buildings, such as banks and post offices, owned by the Federal Government and therefore under their control, and equal access to transport services taken over or provided by them. My Lords, the practical effect of such a gesture might be small, but its psychological effect in Africa would, I am sure, be tremendous. I strongly urge upon the Government the desirability, especially if they intend to proceed with this federal scheme, of a further effort on these lines both here and in Africa, to reconcile African opinion to the scheme.
I apologise for speaking at such length. I do not often trespass upon your Lordships' patience to this degree. I believe that, in spite of the honesty of the intentions behind it, the imposition of federation on Central Africa would be the most tragic mistake in our external policy since the policy that led up to the outbreak of the last world war. It will antagonise liberal opinion in all the friendly democracies in Europe and other parts of the world; it will be bitterly resented by the non-European peoples of our dependent territories and in the self-governing countries of the Commonwealth; and it will therefore diminish that good will which is the real cement 589 that holds together our Commonwealth of nations. Finally, my Lords, above all, I feel that for many decades to come, it would increase the danger of a racial state in Africa and sharpen the conflict between races who have made their homes in the African continent.
§ 11.56 a.m.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
My Lords, the noble Earl finished his speech by saying that he thought that if Her Majesty's Government imposed this federation scheme on Africa it would be one of the most tragic mistakes; that it would be misunderstood by liberal opinion in this country, and also in the Dominions. I had better start off by saying that I think that if it were not imposed, if there were delay, it would be a far more tragic mistake. Perhaps noble Lords will allow me to attempt to show why I think that, if we are misunderstood in the Dominions and by liberals, it would be merely because they had not appreciated the real fundamental facts of the situation with which we are faced in Central Africa.
I have listened to practically the whole of this debate yesterday and to-day, and I have been impressed by one fact (I hope that noble Lords will not consider me discourteous) which appeared to me to stand out from all those speeches: that they had not taken any adequate account of the fundamental facts of the situation. They have talked a great deal about African opinion and the possibility of adverse effects of the proposed step by Her Majesty's Government on African opinion. But the fact of the matter is that we are faced by a quite particular situation here, imposed on us not by any individuals but by the hard facts of geography and climate. We are dealing here not with an ordinary tropical area, but with an area divided up into three—Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. For the most part—there are of course exceptions—it is an area with a gorgeous climate, thoroughly fitted for inhabitance by white races. Not only is it an area for them to live in during their ordinary lives, where they can try to accumulate money to return to this country, but it is predominantly suited, so far as we know, for them to remain, and hope that their children, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will continue to live in the area.
590 I will go further. I would say that the British and other white settlers in Central Africa and Southern and Northern Rhodesia have every bit as much right, morally and otherwise, to be there as the native inhabitants. I believe that that is generally accepted, at all events by the leaders of the Party opposite. Here—and the case is different from that of other areas in Africa—the Bantu is a comparative newcomer, a very real newcomer in terms of history. He occupied the country very sparsely. His ancestors murdered, enslaved and drove out the original inhabitants. How very sparsely the Bantu occupied the country anyone who has flown over it can see. He has maintained a very low standard of agricultural production; he never even invented the wheel, and for the whole of his time, so far as one knows, he has lived by abusing the soil, by destroying it, making it subject to erosion, and then moving on. Therefore, from the moral point of view, the white settler, who has moved into the empty spaces and done his best to counter this destruction of the soil, and who, by imposing the Pax Britannica and applying welfare measures has enormously raised the standard of living of the people, has every bit as much right to live in, possess and occupy that part of Africa as have the natives.
That is the fundamental difference between Central Africa and other parts of the Continent, such as West Africa, Nigeria, or, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has said, between Central Africa and the West Indies. I cannot believe that the noble Earl was really serious in speaking of the West Indies in relation to Central Africa in regard to this question of federation. The West Indies are occupied by people who have been in contact with white men for hundreds of years. Their standards of living, though not identical, are more or less alike in the different Colonies; and there really is no analogy between the inhabitants of the West Indies and those of Central Africa. Therefore, there is no substance in the noble Earl's query as to why we should go forward with federation in the West Indies by consent and yet should impose it in Central Africa. I believe that that is the real answer also to the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, who, in a most eloquent and sincere speech yesterday, said that he had lived 591 a great deal in Africa. He stated that he had lived in East Africa and West Africa but not in Central Africa, and there is, as I have said, a very great distinction. The noble Lord suggested that if we imposed federation in Central Africa it would have a bad effect on the native inhabitants of West Africa. There is no reason why it should: conditions in West Africa are totally different from those in Central Africa. But if, in fact, the noble Lord is right, and to impose federation would have such a bad effect, it means merely that the inhabitants of West Africa have not apprehended in the slightest the difference between the two areas concerned.
It is, of course, easy to be wise by hind-sight. In my view, one of the major causes of the difficulties with which we find ourselves faced to-day lies in the fact—I do not want to be controversial; I am trying to be historical—that when the leaders of the Socialist Party were in office, they decided that federation was a good thing in principle, though the details remained to be settled and the various schemes threshed out by officials at the various conferences which have been held. I think it is fair to assume that the leaders of the Government Party of that day must have decided that federation was the right thing in principle. The Secretary of State at that time said that he was going to consult African opinion. Now the trouble about the word "consult" is that it has a very different connotation, according to whether you are an Englishman or an African. The Secretary of State of that time went out of his way not to say that he would be bound by the result of their consultation. He would not ask for African consent. If he had intended to ask for African consent, and to accept the results of consultation, presumably he would have said so. He left Englishmen to understand that consultation would take place and that, after consultation, the Government of the day would come to their final conclusions; and he left Africans to believe that nothing would be accepted by His late Majesty's Government to which they were opposed. It is that fundamental fact, I think, which has been the cause of so much of our trouble to-day.
592 The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I thought, was slightly unfair to the district commissioners in suggesting that it was through some fault of theirs that a great deal of the trouble arose; and according to the right reverend Prelate we have lost the confidence of the natives through the same cause. But it was not their fault. The loss of confidence was due to the fact that the district commissioners were not allowed to explain to the natives that a decision had been reached. Again, I do not want to be regarded as censorious, because it is so easy to be wise after the event; but it is pretty clear that if the district commissioners had been told to tell the native Africans—the chiefs and others—that His Majesty's Government of the day had decided that federation was sound in principle but that they would consult all the various bodies concerned about the details, native African opinion overwhelmingly would have accepted that; and the natives would have gone forward to discuss sensibly the details, rather than the principles of the thing. But that was not done.
I think that everyone who is much more knowledgeable than I am about the African native agrees that, on the whole, he is the most conservative—with a little "c"—individual in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in his most interesting speech yesterday, described the results of the tribal system. He spoke of what happened in consequence of men having lived for generations in a tribe, conforming to the rules of the tribe and the taboos of the tribe, always subject to the discipline of, and accepting the words of, the chief. A man like that is clearly going to be—and history proves it—reluctant to have any change. The whole history of our administration in Central Africa shows that. Practically without exception, all the steps which have been taken towards improved welfare, in the broadest sense, of the African, have been opposed by the Africans concerned, and have been accepted only when the district commissioner has said, "This is the Government's decision."
In regard to agriculture there was violent opposition to contour control. In the case of disease there was violent opposition by all the natives concerned to measures for the suppression or reduction of venereal disease. In the matter of education, there was violent opposition to 593 any suggestions for the education of girls. All those things have now been accepted. They were accepted once the Government in London had laid it down that they had made their decision. That accounts for the fact that we are trustees, and we shall have to continue to act as trustees for a long time to come.
If the House will allow me, I should like to give one illustration of what happens when Africans are consulted. On a ranch with which I am connected out in Rhodesia, the Native Commissioner asked us to move a whole settlement of natives because, as a result of neglect by the previous administration, they had reduced the area where they were living to a desert. The whole of the natural vegetation had been browsed off, and there was very serious erosion. Naturally, we complied and moved them, and with the help of the local government authorities, the conservation officers and so forth, we planned their new land. We planned where the land was to be cultivated, where the village was to be sited and where the water supply was going to be.
When I was up there last September, I found that there was considerable discontent, so I went to find out and explained to them again the advantages of the proposed layout. It was pretty clear that they were still not satisfied and finally I said, "Well, how would you like it to be laid out?" They explained, and I said at the end, "Are you all agreed?" and there was a unanimous shout of, "Yes." I had consulted them, but the layout they wanted, if I had accepted it, would have reproduced in the matter of a few years exactly the conditions of desert from which we were moving them. Would the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, suggest that I ought to have accepted their views, or ought I to have imposed my own? In fact, I proposed my own, as the result of the advice given me. When I went back in January of this year to have a look, I found they were all perfectly happy, industriously building new huts and laying out and stumping the ground they were to cultivate; and everybody was as happy as a sandboy. That is a typical example of the result of consulting African native opinion and of the dilemma in which the trustee finds himself—whether he is to accept the advice of the native or exercise his own judgment.
That is really profoundly what is happening to-day in regard to federation. 594 So far as African opinion on federation is concerned, I would go further still. I would venture to say that as a result of delay, very largely caused by consultations with the district commissioners, we are faced not with African educated opinion, which we have heard so much discussed, but with African intimidated opinion. Opposition to some form of amalgamation has been in existence in Africa for a long time. I do not think that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was quite fair in his quotation from the Bledisloe Commission's Report. I have not the Report by me and therefore I cannot check what I am going to say, and I should not like to detain your Lordships so long as the noble Earl in order to go through it and make sure, but the noble Earl read a paragraph in the Bledisloe Report which said that the Commission were of the opinion that we should be doing a very wrong thing if amalgamation were imposed against the wishes of the natives as expressed to the Commission. He suggested that Her Majesty's present Government should follow the then advice of the Commission. But surely the circumstances are not the same. It was because of the opposition to amalgamation, based very largely—indeed, almost wholly—on the differences between the state of civilisation which had been reached by the natives on the one hand and the white settlers on the other, that amalgamation was turned down, and precisely because of those differences and in order to meet that difficulty, which had been expressed by the Commission in their recommendation against amalgamation, that federation was put forward.
Do not let anybody think that the proposal of federation was imposed by a few people sitting in London with no consultation with the natives. Actually, the views of the natives were taken and their original objections to amalgamation—their fear that they would lose their land and their Protectorate status, and their fear that there would be no scope for political advancement, which were the main objections to amalgamation—have in fact been met in this federal proposal which we are discussing to-day. It was because the differences between Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland could not be met under amalgamation that we have this compromise 595 federation scheme, in which we put under Federal control all those things where there is little or no difference in the practice of the three Territories and retain under Territorial control those particular subjects where there is a wide difference in practice to-day. Therefore, in fact, we have met the whole of the legitimate native objections to federation.
While on the subject of African opinion, I would say that it is noticeable that since these changes have been made and the new scheme has been published, the educated Africans are refusing to discuss federation and the new proposals for safeguards inserted to meet their earlier fears. What they are now doing, as we all know, is to concentrate their attacks on a whole series of subjects—the colour bar, trade unions, and Rhodesian passes—which have nothing whatever to do with federation or the Constitution. Some of these things may be bad: I am expressing no opinion on that; but, at all events, they have nothing to do with federation and are not included within the power of a federal body. I hope I have said enough to show that this opposition on the part of Africans is really fictitious. I think the real explanation is that the so-called educated Africans are now hankering after the type of government that exists in West Africa. I think, frankly, that they have abandoned, if they ever entertained, any argument that what we have to find, by some means or other, is a Central African multi-racial settlement, and they do not realise that the white settlers are there to stay and continue to live for ever.
May I say a word about the economic arguments, because they have been brushed aside as of relatively little importance compared with the human and so-called moral arguments? As I see it, the really important thing is that none of the three Territories is viable by itself: there is no doubt about that. It is significant that during this two-days' debate no real suggestion has been put forward about how we could make them viable by themselves, if they do not have federation. It was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that we could put teeth into the Central African Council, on the lines of the East African High Commission, but really the two are not comparable and the problems before the 596 two are not comparable. The East African High Commission have at their disposal and are administering a whole number of self-financingservices—railways, ports, harbours and so forth—but the problem before the Central African Council is development on a very large scale.
These three Territories cannot stand on their own and continue to progress unless there is enormous capital development. Despite all the good will there has been on the Central African Council, the fact remains that we have three separate Territories, each with its own views, and with no means of compelling them to agree. In the case of the East African High Commission, they are all Protectorates of the Government and in the ultimate resort the Cabinet in London could impose their decision. But there is no such sanction behind the Central African Council; nor, in the nature of things, unless we have federation, could there be such a sanction. Therefore it is idle to suppose—and if the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, had been here to-day I should have told him he knew it perfectly well—that it was any way of solving the difficulties.
If these three Territories separately are not viable, and there is no federation, what will happen? In all probability, Southern Rhodesia will be exposed to such an attractive offer to join the Union that in three or four years' time she will be quite unable to resist. You will not have the Kariba Scheme, you will not have the Kariba Gorge Scheme, and you will not have the full development of the coal resources that otherwise will be available to them. Nyasaland is completely nonviable. They have practically no taxable capacity; they have no natural resources like West Africa or Nigeria. For example, at the present time the expenditure on education is about 2s. per head of the population, compared to 8s. per head of the population in Southern Rhodesia. That is not because people do not want to spend money. Actually the proportion to the total income of the country of 2s. per head in Nyasaland is greater than the 8s. per head in Rhodesia. The only reason why they cannot spend money on the Rhodesian scale is because the money is not there, and it cannot be raised. Even now, as noble Lords know, it is a drain on the British Treasury. The only result of setting up self-government 597 in Nyasaland would be seriously to reduce the standard of living of the people. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, thinks that that would fully compensate them for a drastic reduction in their standard of living.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
The noble Lord is entitled to his views, but I take leave to doubt whether they would agree with that. So much for the economic side. I think the case is quite overwhelming that unless you have federation in the immediate future, all the inhabitants of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are going to suffer, and we shall find ourselves faced with Southern Rhodesia attracted to the Union.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
I said that if we do not have federation in the immediate future, the standard of living of the inhabitants of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will suffer, and Southern Rhodesia will be attracted to the Union. I do not think which Party wins the election will make any difference—that is purely a personal opinion. South Africa could, if she wanted, offer Southern Rhodesia such attractive terms that the chances of Southern Rhodesian opinion refusing them would be very small indeed. That, I imagine, is hardly what the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, and the right reverend Prelate wish to see.
So far as racial relations are concerned, I should like to repeat something I said on the occasion of the debate last year. I should like to try and disabuse people's minds of the prevalent idea, in some circumstances, that when Englishmen or Englishwomen leave this country and go to the Colonies, to Rhodesia or elsewhere, they automatically cease to be ordinary, decent, Christian people and at once become hard-faced slave-drivers. I seemed to detect underlying some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, some opinion of that kind. He said that British settlers hardly regarded black men as human beings. That simply is not true. An Englishman remains an Englishman when he goes to Rhodesia, with the same 598 ordinary feelings he has when he is in this country. It is not surprising that those of us who go there fairly often detect an increasing tone of bitterness among a large section of the population at reading so many speeches and articles which imply, at all events, a sort of "holier than thou" attitude here. That is doing a great deal of harm.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I think the noble Viscount has in mind a remark of mine yesterday, when I said that whether or not the Europeans change their character for the worse when they go to Africa, Africans believe they do. That is a fact you have to recognise. Africans do not have the same faith in European settlers that they have, in officials.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
I do not think that is the case. Again, perhaps noble Lords will allow me a personal statement. It cannot be the truth that Africans regard the whole of the settlers as hard-faced slave-drivers, otherwise you would not get the flood of volunteer labour—and I emphasise the words "volunteer labour"—that comes down to find employment in Rhodesia on the farms and in the factories. I know of a whole body of boys who walked down from Nyasaland to Southern Rhodesia and another lot who walked from Portuguese East Africa. That is not evidence of belief on the part of the natives that they will not get a square deal from the British settlers—and cases of that kind could be repeated at length. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, said that actions speak louder than words. There is a case in point in which the action of the ordinary settler speaks louder than words.
If I may again interrupt the noble Viscount, the obvious reason in that case is that there are far too many people in Nyasaland to find jobs there.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
Not a bit of it. They do not have to come down to Southern Rhodesia; there are other places where they can go. The fact that they come down in overwhelming numbers to Southern Rhodesia is proof that they know they will get a fair deal and be treated justly—firmly, but justly. This feeling of bitterness about what is said so often in this country in relation to the settler was illustrated by an old farmer quite close to us, who, about a fortnight 599 ago, was asked how he would vote on federation. He said: "I am going to vote for federation." When asked why, he said: "There are two first-class reasons: first, the Communists are against it; and secondly, the British Socialist Party at home are against it."
Great play has been made in the debate about the risks of federation, particularly if federation is imposed as against what is called African opinion. I am quite certain that there may be some risks in imposing it, but they are nothing like the risk involved in delay. It is reasonably certain that if you delay you will merely give more time for the Africans to intimidate opinion among those who are favourably inclined towards federation; and, what is equally bad, you will give more time to the white extremists, of which there are, unfortunately, only too many, who are against federation. Personally, I do not think there will be any trouble. From such information as I have from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, once the natives are told that this is the decision of Her Majesty's Government, I think you will find it will be widely accepted. I hope at the same time that it will convince the so-called opponents at the present moment that much the most useful task they can do on behalf of their friends and brothers is to join in trying to establish, under federation, a workable scheme in which both races can live together; because both races have got to live together, and there is no chance, so far as we can see, of setting up in Central Africa anything corresponding to the West African Government, or admitting African domination over white. It has to be a condominium and a multiracial settlement. I personally believe that if we do impose federation, as I think we should at once, future generations, not only British, but Asians and Africans as well, will live to bless our decision.
§ 12.30 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, my intervention will, I hope, be extremely brief, but I have a few things I wish to say, and I should be uneasy if I had not said them. The first is this. There is no kind of doubt—and we want to underline this—that this question is really of momentous importance, coming at this particular time of world unsettlement, and coming in Africa, 600 in every part of which inter-racial relations are of critical concern. It is inevitable that, whatever action is taken in Central Africa at this moment, it will have potent effects whether for good or for evil. Secondly, we must all regard the question of federation primarily from the point of view of African welfare, not from that of European welfare—for this single reason: that Europeans have either been given by Providence or have assumed for themselves, a trusteeship for the African peoples in Central Africa. As trustees, they are bound in honesty, as is every trustee, to consider first the interests of those to whom they stand as guardians. Thirdly, I think it is agreed on both sides of this House that the solution can be found only in an honest partnership—a partnership which, from the nature of things, must be unequal for a good long time to come, but which must always be honest.
There has been a demand for a definition of "partnership." I doubt whether it is possible to give a definition. I think it is more than anything else an attitude of spirit applied continuously in practice as one thing or another comes up. But I do not think you can anticipate the general questions which will arise for solution, and say how they must be solved by partnership. I will give a definition of my own. I would define partnership as having two heads: first, a settled purpose to do everything reasonably possible with mutual good will for the progressive, social, intellectual and moral advancement of the African peoples. That, I think, we all accept. Secondly, the inevitable result of partnership must be that the proportionate place held by Europeans will steadily diminish, and the place occupied by Africans will steadily increase, as the results of economic development and educational and social development have their effect. I trust that there will always be a multi-racial partnership, but within that I think it should be quite clearly recognised that the European share will inevitably and steadily decrease. I do not think there is any doubt about that. But let us say it openly, and possibly it has not been said sufficiently openly in the past.
Next I come to the proposals themselves, believing, as I do, that partnership in that wide sense is the object on both sides of the House. There is no 601 difference in principle between the two sides: the difference is as to ways and means. So far as the principle goes, it is such as to command universal Christian support. When you come to ways and means, differences are possible, and it is perfectly possible for equally honest, wise Christian people to differ as to the wisdom of the particular ways or means. I wish to say this definitely, because there has been a kind of suggestion in some of the propaganda in this country that no Christian could be anywhere but on the side against federation. I said something a little time ago, and I wish to repeat it. The principle of federation, as believe, is accepted by all honest people and on both sides of the House. It is a question of timing and of ways and means, and on that question honest people are open to have different judgments and different decisions. But let it never be suggested that one attitude is more Christian than the other in this matter.
Then I come to the fact that, looking at the arguments, it is difficult, in my mind, to strike a balance. The thing is so balanced that to reject one side and take the other is by no means easy, and anybody who decides on one side should not dare to throw a stone at those who decide on the other, for there is no one argument in this field which is conclusive. On each side can be constructed an argument of very great strength; but each side has its own weaknesses, too. Whenever in the course of this debate I have heard any point cheered on either side of the House, I have said to myself, "That is one of the rather weaker sides of the case." The reason why it is so difficult to strike a balance is that the whole thing really depends upon probabilities and on assessments as to what is going to happen in the future; and people may so easily differ in their judgments as to what will happen.
May I venture to indicate my own position? I cannot think that, whether federation is accepted or rejected, any of us can be without grave doubt and anxiety for a good long time to come to know how in fact it will work out. Weighing these imponderables for myself, I am inclined to think that the balance does tip in favour of federation, and in favour of federation now, because I cannot believe that delay is going to 602 help the matter at all. The right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, said yesterday that African opinion was against the principle of the thing and not against the details. Well, it will take a very long time to change an attitude to a principle merely by discussion; and of course there are other reasons why, if there is delay, it will be used for ill as well as for good ends.
Therefore, for myself, thinking it is only a question of the tipping of the balance, I shall not complain if the Government decide to go forward with federation. What has most weighed with me is this. I have had to consider what would be the result if the proposed federation were cancelled—and I just mention these things. If the referendum in Southern Rhodesia were defeated, it would be taken at once as a clear victory for those Europeans whit the least adequate idea of what partnership is. I do not think one can get away from that. If the Government withdrew federation, it would have the same effect—it would appear as a victory in the same way.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
It would cause rejoicing in the tents of the Amalekites—that is to say, among those in. Southern Rhodesia who have the least conception of what partnership really means. I think that cannot be resisted. But the same is true; I would say, on the African side. The victory there, if federation were withdrawn, would really be with those who do not trust partnership at all, and who are desiring not partnership but something else.
I would also say this. If federation were withdrawn, two great positive things would be lost. Under federation there will be a direct association between all the Africans of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia, and, if you like to put it so, the Africans of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are coming to the aid of their brethren in Southern Rhodesia. They are certainly creating a much stronger body of African life and opinion, which, as I would say, cannot but have some kind of effect on the Federal Government. Equally, if federation were rejected it would mean 603 loss of a direct association between the authorities in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia and the authorities in Southern Rhodesia. I think it is a link of immense value that the authorities of Southern Rhodesia should find themselves constantly working with the experience and judgment of those who have hitherto been responsible for the Protectorates.
On the other side, there is this fear of possible disaster, of possible rebellion or outburst, a lack of co-operation or a refusal on the part of the African to co-operate. That, I think, is why there is such anxiety in our minds. This is of immense importance. One has to analyse it; and as I analyse it I cannot feel sure how deep that African opposition goes. The Bishop of Nyasaland has been quoted. I have had letters from the Bishop of Nyasaland, and I have noticed again and again that he speaks of the African Congress sending propagandists into Nyasaland in increasing numbers in the last few months and of African resistance increasing proportionately. I am not sure that that means any real conversion of the whole community of Africans—but propagandists can always show results. I am not convinced that if, in the end, federation is applied, and proves to bring great benefits, moral and economic, it will not be found that that opposition was rather unsubstantial. Some remarks which the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, made just now supported that view. I cannot feel it is a final objection, though, of course, it is a matter of immense concern.
I am not very interested in these arguments about the safeguards; it is possible to argue one side or the other. There are solid safeguards and there are also solid gaps in the safeguards. The question is, will this Constitution be worked in a spirit of real endeavour to make the partnership grow, or will it not? Deeply Christian people who have been working in Africa—missionaries and others—have told me recently that, although it is the unpopular opinion in Christian circles, they have become convinced that federation is right and is the best thing for the future of the Africans. These people have experience, and I have not. There are many, of course, who say the opposite thing. That is the quandary in which we are all placed. All I can say is that 604 I believe there is a great amount of good will behind this scheme and a desire to give it a good chance of working; and I believe that if that is indeed so, it is the best possible thing for the Africans. If this fails, on the other hand, the partnership will have failed. Southern Rhodesia would go its own way—I do not mean into South Africa—and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland would be left economically stranded, lacking the power they would otherwise have had to exercise their influence within a Federation.
I believe, further, that if this chance is taken there will be a flowing tide to carry it forward in a true spirit of partnership. The flowing tide is of two kinds. The first is that tide which is inherent in our tradition and in our blood, and I am not going to believe that in Southern Rhodesia and the Protectorates it will fail. In the nature of things in this world, as it is at present, all who look for progress look along the lines of partnership. The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton spoke of a wavelength and said, I think, that Southern Rhodesia was at present on the South African wavelength. I do not believe that that is true. From what I have heard of Southern Rhodesians I think that they are not on that wavelength. Moreover, I think that federation would be a step towards making sure that they will never get on to it but that they will get on to a wavelength of another kind—the kind for which we in this country have always stood. Rejection of federation would destroy the partnership. But adoption of it would give it its chance; and in that hope I should be content if it went forward.
There are two final points that I would make. The first is that this decision must, of course, be made only with anxious thought as to the future. The second thing is this: how relieved we should all be if there could be some action in the near future which could make it obvious that this good will is really there! Education is the heart of this problem. If there could be some statement that there would be a centre of higher education for these Territories, without any division between races, the whole thing could go forward in good hope.
§ 12.47 p.m.
My Lords, I should begin by making an apology, in that it was impossible for me to be in 605 your Lordships' House yesterday except for a short period. I had engagements which I think most of your Lordships who know of them would agree I could not have broken. I have been reading the speeches made in yesterday's debate, and I hope that any remarks I make—and they will be brief—will not be too repetitive. Your Lordships will have observed during this debate the extreme difficulty which speakers have in speaking briefly on this subject. I hope that I may prove an exception. Indeed, I intend only to ask for certain information.
I am going first to make a general point. All the speakers on this side of your Lordships' House have said that their fundamental objection is to imposition of this scheme. To this it has been—I think quite rightly and reasonably—replied that if you are in a position of guardianship it may be that you have to take a decision for your ward the motives for which he will not appreciate, and to which, indeed, he is opposed. I would not underrate the strength of that argument; but if we are to continue the practice of argument by analogy, perhaps I may point out that when a ward becomes of age, then, if you are talking of wards in the wide political sense, there is a criterion by which the maturity of the ward may be tested. It is quite clear that you cannot put off the coming-of-age until such time as every member of a community is fully able reasonably to understand, in detail, any problem which may be put to him. If that were so, we should have to disfranchise many of our own electors, and probably those of the representative Governments in almost any country. Every country has its leaders and those leaders are propagandists. The most reverend Primate made a rather disparaging reference to propagandists. All of us who have appeared on a platform must plead guilty to being propagandists, and I do not think there is anything to be ashamed of in that. We believe, indeed, that it is a creditable thing to stand on a platform and explain to people who might not otherwise understand the matter the merits and demerits of a case.
The criterion which can be used to test the moment when you can overrule your ward's objections, as opposed to the moment when you would accept them even if you think they are wrong, is the time when your ward has reached a point 606 at which his leaders are able to explain the situation to him and when he, for better or worse, is able to follow those leaders, because that is the moment when the community—not necessarily every individual in it, but the community as a whole—has reached political maturity. We who are older may think that the ward who has just come of age is still pretty young and pretty brash, but the fact remains that he is of age; and, because he is of age, his opinion must be considered and must carry weight. In the end, in fact, he has reached an age at which he must be responsible for decisions which affect him.
This, it seems to me, is the situation in Central Africa. I think there is a rather wide measure of agreement on all sides of the House that African opinion, by whatever means you use to test it, is opposed to federation. The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, referred to the fact that the African attack on federation was directed to many things which have no part in this scheme. No, indeed they have not. There is no mention in the scheme of a colour bar, though there are special provisions for the employment of Africans in the Civil Service. But the reason the scheme is being attacked on these, as it were, extraneous subjects is that Africans believe, and I think believe rightly, that the predominating influence under the federal scheme will be Southern Rhodesia. They fear that the practices in Southern Rhodesia will thereby be spread throughout the three Territories. They believe and fear that their own progress will be prevented, will really be petrified, at the present moment of advance.
If that is so, surely they have a very good case. For what in fact is the position? Under this scheme, the first elections are to take place under the existing electoral rules in two of the Territories, and in the third Territory special provision is to be made because there are no electoral arrangements. But what, in fact, are those rules? In Southern Rhodesia it is true that they have a common roll, but under that common roll a very small number—I think 370 Africans as opposed to 40,000 Europeans—are registered. It has been computed that there are large numbers of Africans who could come on that roll if they got themselves on the register. I believe that the maximum number is only about 4,000. In those 607 circumstances, is it not plain that the Africans are going to have little say under this common roll procedure in the Southern Rhodesian elections? There is also a common roll in Northern Rhodesia but there, equally, it is entirely a political advantage upon paper, because in Northern Rhodesia only British subjects have the vote; British-protected persons do not, and the vast majority of the African population of Northern Rhodesia are protected persons. Therefore, they are without a vote. So that, in these first elections, in two Territories they have a common roll—I am a tremendous believer in the common roll; I will say in one moment why I believe in it so strongly—and this procedure of the common roll will, in fact, operate to exclude Africans from voting.
The most reverend Primate said a great deal with which I am in agreement. He made two principles. He said that he would not define but would describe "partnership." He said that he would divide it into two parts: that there should be between all the communities a desire to co-operate for their mutual advancement; and, secondly, that it must be faced that the Europeans under partnership would at the beginning play a predominant rôle, but as the partnership progressed, and as the peoples forming the partnership progressed, they would play a steadily diminishing part. That is a description with which very largely I would agree, and it is for that reason that I believe that this diminishing function, on the one hand, and an increasing function, on the other, could very well be made to operate through a common roll, a common roll on which more and more Africans would come, until such time as they were playing a part which was proportionate to their share of the population in the country as a whole.
But under this scheme—and this is where I begin to ask my questions of the noble Marquess who will reply, and I will be as brief as I can in asking them—as I understand it, the first elections will take place under the present arrangements in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. I have already spoken of the inadequate functioning of the common roll in those Territories, but the Legislature is given power to draw up rules—again, I think it is slightly unfortun- 608 ate that they may be different rules for the three Territories—for future elections. On the other hand, it is under no compulsion to do so. In other words, the present arrangements may, if it happens to suit the majority of the Legislature, continue for ever. It will stereotype and will petrify the position of Africans as it is at the present time. In those circumstances, it seems to me that African opposition is not only reasonable but wholly natural and proper. That is one point which I wanted to ask about. What would in fact happen in this connection supposing that the electoral law were introduced into the Legislative Assembly? Suppose this electoral law laid down that, for example, the qualifications for an elector should be the same as they are in Southern Rhodesia at present—that is, a high property or income qualification which, in fact, disfranchises the majority of Africans, would that be differentiating legislation?
When that legislation was introduced, or was recently amended, in Southern Rhodesia, some of us went to see the then Secretary of State to protest against it, saying that it was discriminatory. The Secretary of State said that he could not act because, in fact, it was not discriminatory. It has been said to me that this term "differentiating"—I think it is quite reasonable to say so, reading the Act—is very much wider than "discriminatory"; that if legislation of the type of which I am speaking were introduced, though it might not be discriminatory it would be differentiating. If that were so, and if the African Affairs Board protested and their protest was sent to the Secretary of State, I should like to ask—and obviously it is difficult for any Minister to reply for a Minister in the future and, therefore, I would put it in a perfectly personal way—if the noble Marquess were the Secretary of State in those circumstances and he received this protest, what would his own reaction to it be? Because I think all the House would agree with me that the reaction of the noble Marquess is likely to be both just and honourable. Therefore, it would be a guide to us of what another Secretary of State might possibly do. But supposing in fact that did happen—and I think it might happen—I should like to ask also whether, equally, supposing that the said legislation laid down that in the case of Northern Rhodesia there should be no 609 vote for British protected persons as opposed to British subjects, would that be differentiating legislation, or would it not? These are very important points from the point of view of African prospects of political advancement under this Constitution.
I have also spoken about the African Affairs Board. I should like to ask the noble Marquess a question about that. It is laid down that there shall be three European members. It is not, of course, stated whether the Chairman is to be an African or a European; but I think it is not unreasonable to assume that in the first instance it would be a European. The Chairman is given a casting vote. He is also directed to cast his Vote in such a way as to keep the discussion open. I believe the same term is used in connection with the vote of the Speaker in another place. My impression of that was that he would have to vote against sending forward the recommendation to the Governor-General, or rather, I think, to the Speaker of the House who transmits—
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (VISCOUNT SWINTON)
May I correct the noble Lord? The position is exactly the opposite. It is exactly like the point we were discussing here about keeping the question open. Keeping the question open means that the process of reservation should have the chance to operate. It would be just as easy for the Chairman to give his vote exactly in the opposite sense to that which the noble Lord has suggested, and that is what he will do.
That was just the answer I was hoping to get. But I want to know what then happens. Is this piece of legislation to which the African Affairs Board has objected, returned? Is it, so to speak, thrown out of the House for the time being? What are the mechanics of it? Obviously, if the discussion is to remain open the Bill cannot become an Act.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
What happens is this. I think I can clear up this matter completely and remove a great deal of doubt. The Bill can be passed by the Legislature—
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
The African Affairs Board may object at any stage. But what is important is, whether the Bill becomes an Act. It does not, it is reserved. If it is reserved for Her Majesty's pleasure it cannot become an effective Act of Parliament until, on the advice of the Secretary of State, Her Majesty has agreed to it. If Her Majesty is advised not to signify her Pleasure, then it is dead.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
The scheme sets out how the thing is to be presented to Parliament. If certain things are objected to, then certain steps have to be taken.
I thank the noble Viscount. I had heard this interpretation before, and I was really trying to get an assurance. In fact, we may assume that if there is an equal vote on the African Affairs Board that piece of legislation will not be signed by the Governor General, bat will be sent home to the Secretary of State just as if there had been, as in effect there will have been, a majority vote in favour of its being regarded as a piece of differentiating legislation. I am very glad to hear that. It considerably strengthens the position of the African Affairs Board. On the other hand, of course, there are considerable anxieties about the Board itself. I know there are arguments on both sides as to whether the change in the set-up of the Board as between the original scheme and the present scheme is or is not an improvement of its Position. But I am very anxious, because it seems to me that the Africans may well be under such pressure from their electorate that they may find themselves in the position of insisting too frequently that legislation is differentiating. However that may be, I think those are really the major questions that I wanted to ask.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, said that African anxieties extended to land, to their protected status and to political advance. I understand their anxieties on all those points. It is perfectly true that land questions are reserved to the local Legislatures, but under this scheme those powers may be surrendered by the local Legislatures to the central Legislature, 611 and obviously even on that subject they cannot be too certain. As to their protected status, it must of necessity follow from federation that that status will be affected, because in fact the metropolitan Government are surrendering a part of their responsibility for these people to the Central African Federal Legislature. That must be so. But the surrender of responsibility, and the rest of it, while it may not apply to all things which concern Africans most closely, may have some application, and therefore their protected status is inevitably affected.
Finally, with regard to their political advance I have already said quite enough, and many other people have spoken at great length on this subject. I maintain (I hope that the noble Marquess will be able to convince me otherwise in regard to this) that the inevitable result of this legislation will be to petrify the African political position as it is at present. That seems to me almost an inevitable conclusion. But I will say again what has been said before—I apologise for repeating it, but it seems to me to be supremely important. I do not believe that the best scheme in the world—the best scheme that angels could work out—would have any prospect of success without the support of the majority of the people in the Territories affected. I am convinced that the consent of the Africans is really of the essence of the matter. I believe that that consent could be obtained. I believe that, with alterations in this scheme, if the Government were to give their mind to some of the points which have been raised in this debate by my noble friends and others, African alarm and disquiet could be allayed. I believe, for example, that if the Government had proceeded with the talks in regard to the reform or alteration of the Northern Rhodesian Constitution a great deal might have been done to allay African anxieties. Inevitably, when those talks were postponed they felt that, here again, they were being pushed into the background and that concessions were being made to Southern Rhodesia.
If I may say so, in this regard the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, was a little less than fair to my noble friend Lord Listowel, when he said that my noble friend's arguments about federation, drawn from the West Indies, were wholly 612 fallacious, since no one could compare the populations of the two countries. I do not think my noble friend meant to compare the populations; he was merely talking about federation as applied in other places—whether it be in the United States of America or in the West Indies. There are general methods that you use when you are making a federation, and they have not been operated and are not being used in the case of Central Africa. A vastly predominant position is being given to Southern Rhodesia. That may have been necessary in order to get Southern Rhodesia's agreement, but it is inevitable that this predominance should give cause for alarm to Africans.
I believe that if Her Majesty's Government were prepared to reconsider this scheme, to make amendments and alterations in it, to press forward, within the Territories which they control, with many of the reforms which I am certain most of them would agree were desirable—such reforms as the abolition of the colour bar in certain respects—they would find that, in a comparatively short time, they could make a real change of atmosphere in Central Africa and get some prospect of a satisfactory scheme which would be acceptable to all communities.
§ 1.9 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, the noble Lord opposite ended his speech on a very familiar note. The most familiar note in the speeches of noble Lords opposite is, of course, "There is something to be said for this scheme, though it is very dangerous as it stands. Put it off. Go on with endless talks, endless conferences and debates in your Lordships' House and in another place, and endless talks with the African inhabitants. But put the whole thing off." They seem quite unable to recognise that this matter has been discussed for the last quarter of a century with the European inhabitants of both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, who are getting (if I may be permitted to use such a phrase) "fed up" with the attitude of politicians in this country who want to put everything off, who have not the courage to come to a decision. I charge noble Lords opposite with that lack of courage.
It was their lack of courage when they were in office, and when they had the 613 opportunity of dealing with this matter, that has led to the situation which exists to-day. It is the mistakes which they made and the false impression they created which have led to so much of the present trouble. Let me hasten to say that I am sure they acted quite honestly. No one who knows noble Lords opposite or their colleagues in another place could accuse them of being other than disinterested. I know that after being a personal friend of many Members of both Houses for many years, and I should never dream of making the slightest suggestion against their integrity. But it was by their muddle and mismanagement of the situation—and that especially refers to the Ministers who were in office—that the situation was made infinitely worse than it need have been.
I speak as one who has some knowledge of Africa. I think I am the only Member of your Lordships' House who has had land out there for forty years. I have known practically all the leaders of European opinion, and a great number of the leaders of African opinion, and I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon (and this applies equally to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, who has not had experience of these matters), that it is really no use coming here and in a somewhat tutorial—I might almost say "governessy"—fashion, telling the European inhabitants of Northern and Southern Rhodesia what they should do. I should like to make a quotation in that connection, because I see no reason why one should avoid controversy in this debate. We were told originally—especially by noble Lords opposite—that we should avoid controversy. But every speech they have made against federation, including the speeches of the right reverend Prelate and Lord Noel-Buxton, have been impregnated with controversy.
The noble Earl would not claim, I suppose, that speeches which have been made from his side of the House have been free from it.
I never said that they were free from it. I was hoping to get the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham to agree that it was ridiculous to say in a matter of this kind, upon which sincere views are held on both sides, that controversy should be avoided. I do say 614 to noble Lords opposite that if the Labour Government had dealt with this matter as they should have done, a great deal of this controversy could have been avoided.
I do not want to detain your Lordships for long, because we have had somewhat lengthy speeches to-day. The noble Earl who opened the debate to-day spoke for fifty minutes, and I must confess that I was somewhat reminded of the observation once made by Lord Curzon about Lord Chancellor Haldane. The noble Earl, I am sure, not mind me, in my much humbler position, repeating it to him in his much humbler position. Lord Curzon, referring to a speech which had been made by Lord Haldane, said:We have the misfortune to have in the Lord Chancellor the greatest master of repetitive irrelevance we have ever had in your Lordships' House.The noble Earl spoke to us for fifty minutes to-day, and he told us absolutely nothing, so I really think that that sentence of Lord Curzon's might almost be applied to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, to-day.
As I was saying, I should like to quote to your Lordships something which was said by a Minister in Southern Rhodesia, because I think it is important in this debate that we should realise what I have already endeavoured to make clear; that is, how much resented is the attitude which some people in this country are taking up towards the whole point of view of Europeans in the two Rhodesias. Those of us who sit on this side of the House, and people in the Conservative Party generally, should attempt to rebut this. Believe me, my Lords, as one who knows something about conditions out there, nothing could be more fatal for the whole Commonwealth—I use the word deliberately—than for the European inhabitants of Africa, who, as the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson has said, have just as much right there as the African inhabitants, to think that there was a large body of opinion in this country which treated them—in the words used by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House in a previous debate—as "Simon Legrees." Nothing could be worse, nothing could be more calculated to cause trouble not only in the Rhodesias and in South Africa but also throughout the whole Commonwealth.
615 This is what Mr. P. B. Fletcher, Minister of Native Affairs in Southern Rhodesia, said at a meeting, referring to the Party of noble Lords opposite. He wished, he said, to make a strong protest at the wayour integrity is impugned by such speakers who had resorted to threats about enforcing the Constitution if they return to power.This, said Mr. Fletcher, was in keeping with the deplorable Party political level to which they had reduced the Commonwealth and Empire affairs. They would certainly not be permitted to use the Constitution as a vehicle to advance their extreme doctrines which were inimical to the Commonwealth in Africa. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will take up that point when he speaks. I suggest that it shows the dangers of threats by ex-Ministers in this country about what they will do if they should come into power again; it clearly shows the effect that sort of thing has on our fellow-countrymen in the Rhodesias. I had the impression that it would be out of order for me to refer to a speech made in another place by a leading member of the Socialist Party in which he spoke of what they would do if they came back into office. I hope that that speech does not imply any suggestion that they wish to treat Southern Rhodesia—
Would it not be fairer—and I know that the noble Earl is always particularly fair—to give the quotation about which he is now speaking.
§ EARL WINTERTON
That is a fair interruption. But as a matter of fact I have not the quotation with me. I was referring to a speech made by Mr. Griffiths, in which he appeared to suggest that if the Party of noble Lords opposite were in power they would adopt a different attitude to the Government of Southern Rhodesia from that adopted in the past. Possibly I am wrong, and possibly Mr. Fletcher was wrong; but he is the Minister of Native Affairs and that was his impression also.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I would suggest that this issue is really a very simple one. And I think it has become simpler since 616 we have had this debate and since the debate in another place. I will try here to avoid being controversial, and I should like to say something which may be a point for Lord Pakenham when he speaks. I think he may have some sympathy for the point of view which I am about to express. I would suggest that there is one most solid, stubborn, indisputable fact which opponents of federation persistently ignore, and I am afraid that among them I must include moderate opponents like the right reverend Prelate, because I presume that he must be regarded as an opponent.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
I am in favour of further consultation with the Africans in a way which they have not hitherto enjoyed.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I am afraid that I must repeat that I regard the right reverend Prelate as an opponent of federation, because one thing is certain—and I think I should say this with the greatest frankness. The Government, I believe, are absolutely right in saying that if federation fails to-day it will fail for all time, and a far more dangerous state of affairs will arise. I regard all those who support the idea that there is need for more consultation as being opponents of federation. And I think it is necessary to make it clear to Europeans in both the Rhodesias, through the medium of your Lordships' House, that the views expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester do not necessarily represent the views of the Church of England in this country as a whole. In this, as in so many matters, both temporal and spiritual, I think it is right to say that the Church is not wholly united. There are many men of great eminence, not only in the Church of England but in other Churches, who are believers in and supporters of federation. I should be very surprised to learn that they held the views in favour of delay expressed by the right reverend Prelate, because they know, even better than any of us in this House, what the danger of delay would be.
617 I apologise for the somewhat tautological interruption in my speech. I should like to state what I believe to be an indisputable fact. There is talk of the settlers, on the one hand, and Africans or natives, on the other. Those who talk in that way completely fail to realise, as the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, pointed out, that both have their homeland, which in many cases is the land of their birth, too, in these Territories. With the greatest earnestness, I would ask noble Lords opposite, especially the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, to have regard to what I am about to say. It is an indubitable fact, though their statements and speeches, and even some sermons in this country, completely ignore it. There are Africans of Caucasian descent and those of negroid descent, and we cannot say to these Caucasians, numbering more than 200,000 in the three Territories, that we are not going to allow them in any circumstances to federate and that we are going always to control their destiny from London.
I say to noble Lords opposite that to adopt that attitude, to say that we must be the judges here of whether they federate or not, is a reversal of the policy of every British Government since the time of the American War of Independence. What the Government in this country are entitled to say, in view of their responsibility for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, is that we must be a party to, and approve, the conditions of federation, in order to safeguard the interests of other and majority communities in these mixed racial Territories. The argument that these majorities must completely ignore the facts and that we should listen to objections raised by people incited by leaders, who in their turn have been incited by agitators in this country (here, naturally, I am not referring to noble Lords opposite, or to right honourable gentlemen in another place, but to certain people, including at least one newspaper, who have incited—there is no other word for it—these people to protest against federation) cuts both ways where the question of trusteeship is concerned. As trustees we are entitled to tell these people that in the long run they will be worse off and not better off without federation. Trustees in private life have frequently to say and do things 618 which the beneficiaries of the trust object to; and, with the best intentions in the world, as all of us knew from our private experience, trustees have often no power to protect the beneficiaries from misfortune.
We hear all this talk about the value of trusteeship in Northern Rhodesia. Why have we not heard in any of the speeches opposing federation, or in the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, who argued that we should not support the scheme without further consultation, a single word about the failure of the alleged trusteeship to protect the Africans in Northern Rhodesia from certain disabilities? Why, during the six years noble Lords opposite were in office, did they do nothing to stop the action of the European trade unions in Northern Rhodesia in effectively preventing the Africans from doing skilled work in the mines? Why have they not fulfilled their trusteeship? Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will tell us when he comes to reply. They had five years in which to do it.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl has forgotten the Dalgleish Report, which still waits to be implemented by the present Government.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I am not talking about the Dalgleish Report but about the fact that for five years the noble Lords were in office and during those years they were faced with this question.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
I do not think the noble Earl can be familiar with the reference to the Dalgleish Report. This Report deals entirely with industrial questions and the removal of restrictions. Nothing has happened.
§ EARL WINTERTON
That still does not answer my question. It does not require a Dalgleish Report or a Macmillan Report or any other Report to deal with a situation that should be apparent to anybody. The Socialist Government entered into power in 1945 and for five years they talked about their successful trusteeship of the Africans. They talk about it to-day, asking your Lordships to believe that they are the only people who are really interested in the Africans. Why did they do nothing?
§ EARL WINTERTON
If it is not the contention of the noble Lord, that is the spirit with which all their speeches are imbued. If the noble Lord does not take such a high and mighty view of their position, of course I will withdraw my statement. But certainly I am not going to withdraw my point about the Dalgleish Report. It does not require the Dalgleish Report to deal with the situation. Everybody knows there is this discrimination and everybody knows—I must say this quite frankly though it may be embarrassing to the Government to some extent—that no Government, whether a Conservative or a Socialist Government, can deal with it. We cannot force the white trade unions out there to do something they are not prepared to do. And, of course, a Socialist Government, above all, cannot do that, because to have a fight with trade unionists anywhere would be most inimical to their prospects here. Yet few of the opponents of federation, and those who talk about the Dalgleish Report, say that of course we cannot do anything. They say, "We must consider what is recommended by the Dalgleish Report." I am bound to say there is a lack of sincere approach—I do not think that will be regarded as an objectionable phrase.
In passing, I must say there is another matter which I find it difficult to understand. I am surprised that the opponents of federation have not told us about another part of Africa, where a far more primitive set of African inhabitants than even those in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—I refer to those in the Southern Sudan—are objecting, so far as they can do so, most strongly against being taken away from what they regard as the trusteeship of the British Government, to be handed over to those whom they regard, rightly or wrongly, as their hereditary enemies—the people of Northern Sudan, with, behind them, the Egyptians. They have unpleasant memories of slave raids and things of that kind. There has not been a word by Canon Collins in the pulpit of St. Paul's about the Sudan, and Canon Collins is a principal opponent of federation in Central Africa. Why are they so excited about the Africans of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Why, if they are sincere 620 —and I am sure they are—are they not equally interested in the welfare of the Dink as in the Southern Sudan? The Observer has hardly referred to them. If we are trustees in the one case, we are equally trustees in the other. When I hear speechs and read the statements and articles of the opponents of federation, I understand, though I naturally resent, as all your Lordships do, why the French sometimes refer to us as perfide Albion.
I have only this further to say. Not once in the course of this debate have we had one word from noble Lords opposite, or from any of the opponents of federation, to show in what respect the Africans would be better off if federation is not effected. Do they really think that this scheme, which offers great hopes for future confidence, if properly worked, and offers a tremendous opportunity for these races—both equally entitled to a place in the country in their respective Territories—to come together, will result in the negroid inhabitants of the Territories being worse off? We have not had a single word from the opponents of federation to show how the Africans would be better off if federation were defeated.
The opponents of federation must not think that those of us who support it are without our moral scruples. We are just as much entitled to say that this is a moral issue, and the opponents of federation are quite wrong, as the opponents of federation are to say that it is a moral issue and we are quite wrong. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, will tell us how the Africans will be better off without federation. Will it reduce the colour bar in Northern Rhodesia? Will it make the white tradeunions—and most of the white trade unions in Northern Rhodesia are in favour of federation—more likely to regard the Africans as fellow workers and not as inferior fellow workers? Will they be in a more amenable state of mind? Will it make Southern Rhodesia more determined to remain one of the most loyal and constant parts of the Commonwealth? Will it make the position of the African there any better? In what way will it improve things?
The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, and others, including the noble Viscount who spoke for the Government—no one will deny this—have shown the enormous practical advantages in the way of 621 economic development which will arise from federation. Surely, the most extreme advocate of the rights of negroid Africans cannot deny that an improvement in the economic conditions will benefit the negroid inhabitants. It is true, as the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, said, that the economy of the three Territories is not viable. If federation does not take place, there will be a great bar to future development. If federation is defeated, either by the Referendum out there—which I do not believe will happen for a moment—or by Parliament turning it down in this country, in what respect will the Africans be better off? In what respect shall we be better able to carry out the purpose of our trusteeship?—and here we are all at one in regard to the improvement of the conditions of the negroid inhabitants, and the reduction of racial feeling. In what way will that be improved? I cannot see that there is an answer to that.
I apologise to your Lordships for the time I have kept you, and I should like to end on this note. I have not thought of any ending to my speech; it comes completely out of my mind at the moment. I would say that we have here a tremendous opportunity of advancement for two races—I would say two great races—the people of European descent, of British and Dutch descent, and of Bantu descent. We have an opportunity of realising once again something of the dream of a man who was abused and insulted in his lifetime by people who were unworthy to tie his shoe laces—namely, Cecil Rhodes. We have an opportunity, too, of showing to the world that we have not lost heart in all the troubles and difficulties which we have experienced in the last forty years, but are still able and willing to advance the cause of prosperity and, I would add, in the long run, of self-government, in various parts of the Empire. If we say: "No; we are timid; we are nervous; there has been a great deal of opposition in your Lordships' House, and elsewhere; the Government have many other things to attend to, and we had better drop it," then a great responsibility will rest upon us; and it is a responsibility in respect of which I venture to say future generations will say that we were not lacking in blame.
§ 1.34 p.m.
My Lords, I have listened to many memorable speeches coming from the heart and, in a great number of cases, based on long first-hand experience. The noble Earl who has just addressed us is so dearly loved a public and Parliamentary figure that he needs no massage for his ego from me—in other words, he will not expect me to agree with his conclusions. He said that he would speak in a controversial way, which we welcomed. I myself felt that there was only one remark—I think it as unintended, and quite impromptu, and he would probably wish to alter it—which he let fall which was hardly worthy of him. If I heard him correctly, he accused the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester of lacking a sincere approach.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I am deeply indebted to the noble Lord. I certainly never intended to say that, and if I did it must have been my misuse of language. I regard all the opponents of federation, or those who wish to delay it, as completely sincere. What I said, I think, was that it gave the impression, when you said you were in favour of delaying federation, of an insincere approach. And I stick to those words.
I am obliged to the noble Earl; I felt sure he would wish to alter his phrasing. The noble Earl attacked so many of my friends, and some people who are not my friends, including certain editors of new spapers—not all of them named—that I should occupy your Lordships for a great many minutes if I replied on behalf of all those attacked. I might even speak not only as long as Lord Haldane but as long as Lord Haldane and Lord Curzon combined, which would take me quite some time. Therefore, I should like to issue an omnibus defence in respect of all individuals and newspapers attacked, unless I say anything to the contrary. I agree with the noble Earl that this is a moral issue. It is a moral issue on which Christians, as the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury said, are just as much entitled to hold the strong view that their faith leads them to a conclusion in favour of federation as we are to draw an opposite conclusion.
623 I should like to follow up a great many points raised by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, but time is short, and perhaps he will forgive me if I confine myself to one, in particular, at the moment, although I may refer to others later. He raised a point of some substance, in my view, which noble Lords on this side of the House and, indeed, the country generally cannot lightly set aside. Many points have been raised from the opposite side of the House during the past two days which obviously are important, but to which I cannot reply now. However, the particular point to which refer, on which I think I might pause for a moment, is that the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, asked why when we were in office we did not do more to get rid of the colour bar. Of course, no Government is perfect; and, while we made efforts, I am not able to point to the situation in Africa and say, "Look how good it was when we were in office." I think we must face the facts as presented by the noble Earl, and must not accuse noble Lords opposite of having conduced to this, or condoned it in some special way up to the present.
As the noble Earl will agree, this is a very difficult matter. I feel that as a nation we should do more at home than has been done in the past. But when we attempt anything of that kind we fall under a kind of censure in another quarter which I think rather appeals to the noble Earl. I know that we are not supposed to quote at length from speeches made in another place, but the noble Earl introduced this topic, and unless the House stops me I should just like to put our side of the matter. In another place, a recent Minister, Mr. Dugdale, spoke as follows (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 513, col. 703):It is important that it should be realised in the Rhodesias that when we can get power we shall, at the earliest possible moment, see whether it will be possible to alter the laws by which there is an industrial colour bar in Northern Rhodesia and whether the Dalgleish Report can be implemented.I thought that was sound language, and was in keeping with the spirit of one part of the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Winterton. I feel that we ought to do more than we have done in the past. But Mr. Dugdale was severely rebuked for that statement.
624 Many speeches have been referred to, including one by Mr. Welensky. I read in the Manchester Guardian of March 26 these words:Mr. Welensky took strong exception to the statement of Mr. Dugdale, the former Colonial Secretary, that if the Labour Party were returned to power in Britain it would see that the Africans' safeguards in the new Constitution were operated 'to the full'.In other words, Mr. Dugdale was criticised even for saying we were going to continue to preserve these safeguards and fulfil our trust. He did not there even go so far as to suggest that we should try to get rid of the colour bar. I do ask the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, who is a very fair controversialist and an experienced Minister, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who I know is interested in this matter, whether it is not right to say that this Government, the next Government, and, I hope, all Governments in Britain, will say that they intend to see that the safeguards are operated to the full. I ask the noble Marquess, when he comes to reply, to introduce that matter into his speech. If we are trustees and are introducing a scheme subject to safeguards, surely it is our duty to say that we will resist, and will continue to resist, any attempt to prevent those safeguards from being honoured and carried out to the full.
§ EARL WINTERTON
The noble Lord has quite rightly challenged me, but I am afraid I have not the quotation with me. I think it was that speech to which the Minister of Native Affairs took exception, but unfortunately Mr. Dugdale used the word "Rhodesias," which gave Southern Rhodesia the impression that there was to be a different attitude from that hitherto pursued.
I do not think I can follow up that argument as the noble Earl has said that he has not brought the quotations here. I have made the point, and noble Lords will be seized of it.
There have been many memorable speeches, and I suppose those which will be remembered longest are the speeches made by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and the most reverend Primate, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Still, I myself do not hesitate to say that I feel a strong emotional response—as I think many of us on these Benches must have felt—to 625 the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who spoke with so much evident love of the Africans from his first-hand knowledge and friendship with them. I hope that the noble Marquess will find it possible to say a few slightly more generous words about the very fine speech of my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton in opening this debate, because in our view he has not received very friendly or fair treatment from noble Lords opposite during the course of these two days.
The most reverend Primate made an important intervention, and it is no good pretending, from a debating point of view, that it tells in our favour. I am glad he spoke, because I think it is far more important that fundamental statements should go out to the world and be considered than that anyone should win a debating advantage. I quite understand the reason which has caused him to be absent for the end of the debate. Still, I feel a certain diffidence in replying to the most reverend Primate, because I am one of the comparatively few Members of this House who are not members of the Established Church. Noble Lords will forgive me, therefore, if I show the slightest lack of respect. I shall, of course, be able to quote one or two statements from eminent leaders of the Established Church which conflict with the view, as I understand it, expressed by the most reverend Primate this afternoon.
At this point I will say merely that we differ from him in one very sharp respect, quite clearly and definitely; and it is simply a question of faith. We consider that there is a difference of principle between those who wish to impose federation and those who do not wish to impose federation. The most reverend Primate did not deny that, but he omitted that point in his comparatively short remarks. He said that there was no difference of principle between the two sides. We say that there is. I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said yesterday that this scheme really cannot be called imposition, but I think he was effectively answered by the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, who said it was. I am prepared to take the latest of the Conservative speakers until he is contradicted by some more authoritative spokesman. We all know what we mean by imposition, and there is a difference of principle between those who favour it and those who do not.
626 There was one further point made by the most reverend Primate—I am sorry to say this in his absence, but it seemed a somewhat frivolous point on a very grave aspect of the matter. He said that if we delayed it would be regarded as a victory for all sorts of unspecified evil elements. I ventured to interrupt, and I did not obtain a very clear answer from him. He said that it would be thought to be a victory for the Amalekites. I have consulted an encyclopædia, which says that King Agag was a byword for old-time might and power, so there is no great opprobrium in that statement. King Agag was slain by Samuel as a sacrificial offering. If the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, were here, that might be our fate, but I think on the whole this particular allusion to the Amalekites was without very much relevance to the discussion.
The simple truth is this. If this scheme were defeated, in my opinion—and I think others will agree—it would be as a result of parliamentary and public discussion. We have been denounced for all sorts of things we have not said, and for all sorts of implications and backward thoughts. There has been a suggestion that there is something wrong in inciting people to differ from the Government. I take strong exception to that. Are we not to be allowed to argue and to have meetings? Is it an evil thing to stir up opinion against what we think is wrong? If so, I do not know what is meant by democracy. If this scheme were held up by the Government for a considerable time it would be a victory for the British way of life, about which we have heard so much, and also for the British methods of discussion. The noble Viscount shakes his head, and there is quite a bit of headshaking at this point. But I must give that as my own considered opinion. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has left us. I do not know whether he is going to return.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
He asked me to say that he had been called away on official business. He will be coming back as soon as he can.
It places me in a great difficulty. The noble Viscount was not here for very long yesterday, and having silenced me he fled from the 627 Chamber. He seems to have silenced me again this afternoon by this official business which seems to overtake him at critical moments. If he does not return fairly soon I shall have to allude to his oration of yesterday, because I do not intend to keep your Lordships long.
I am sure the noble Marquess will agree that public conscience is greatly disturbed, whichever way one decides this matter. I am sure that he would echo, as I would, the words of the most reverend Primate, that this problem of whether federation should be imposed confronts the nation with a great challenge to conscience, and that many people are uneasy. Some leading men with whom I was in close affinity in my own Party have come out in favour of going ahead with this scheme at once. The overwhelming majority of the Labour Party agree with us on these Benches but there is a very great concern outside. The Liberals took up a cryptic attitude and I cannot speak with clarity as to their position; but certainly in another place they voted with us, and unless they have done a quick somersault I must assume that they are still, as a Party, opposed to federation. The trade union movement, which nowadays receives many bouquets from noble Lords opposite, is entirely of the same way of thinking as we are, in that they have asked for delay.
The critics, of course, have been delighted by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. I gather that he is not with us now. I do not like to refer to any noble Lord, even rhetorically, in his absence, but there are certain ethics of debate even when it is impossible to remain to the end. The noble Lord poured scorn on almost everything, but he left his final attack for the United Nations. It seemed an unnecessary "crack," but that was clearly his state of health or mind. I must defend the United Nations against Lord Milverton—not that I think it needs much defence in a House of this kind, when the noble Marquess is one of the United Nations Association's most distinguished patrons.
The noble Viscount thinks so quickly that he always finishes my sentence before I come to it.
I was beginning to explain that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has denounced the United Nations and the United Nations Association is most concerned about this. Above all, the British Council of Churches—I speak subject to authority—is a very strong opponent of the imposition of federation. Last year—and this was the last recorded utterance on the subject by the British Council of Churches—this statement was made. Incidentally, I think that, for once, the Officials' Box will not be able to supply an answer. Last year the British Council of Churches said that the achievement of partnership will not be furthered by leaving the affairs of Africa in the hands of a few politically-minded people. The Report went on to say:The attempt to impose a plan of federation in the face of almost unanimous opposition…would destroy the basis on which its success would depend within partnership.I believe that to be the last recorded utterance of the British Council of Churches on this particular subject. No doubt the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester will correct me if I am wrong.
I am glad to see that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has been able to rejoin us. I think he is one of the most effective advocates of any case that one could wish to meet. If I were to get into trouble I should be very glad to have him defending me—particularly if I were guilty. Even if he did not get me off he would, I know, give the opposite attorney such a bad time that that attorney would never dare appear in that court again. But I am bound to say to the noble Viscount that we were very much disappointed with him with regard to the attitude he took yesterday. Serious, considered speeches, the fruits of much labour, were delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, and by the right reverend Prelate; and the noble Viscount 629 made no attempt to answer those points. I hope he will find it possible to be more friendly to us and less violently hostile.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
With the exception of the noble Lord, who is so bitter and pronounced an opponent of the scheme, nobody, I think, could call my speech discourteous or refer to it in the terms in which he has described it. Of course the noble Lord did not like my reply, because he did not agree with me. But I certainly did not say anything discourteous. I think I took more trouble over that speech than over any speech I have delivered in this House, because I felt I had never before spoken on a graver occasion. I may have failed but certainly not on the grounds which the noble Lord suggests.
Well, what has been said does not, at any rate, detract from my high regard for the noble Viscount. I think he had a difficult case, but there was one part of his speech which did cause much regret. The noble Viscount gave us his picture in this way (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181, col. 485):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 are opposed to the whole idea of co-operation 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.There, my Lords, is a passage which the noble Viscount tells us is a very carefully considered statement, so we must take that to be his considered view. I think one could draw the conclusion from that—certainly it appears to be drawn in the Press this morning—that the opposition among Africans is confined to a comparatively small number of extremists. It is open to the noble Viscount or to the noble Marquess who leads the House to amplify that statement or explain it and to tell us that it was incorrect to say that the noble Viscount was, in fact, referring to a small group. Certainly I think that is the impression created: that the opposition is confined to a comparatively small number of extremists. The right reverend Prelate said yesterday all that could be said on that subject. And yet the noble Viscount proceeded with this announce- 630 ment, and so I do not make any apology for returning to the matter.
The question is, how can we settle this question of whether Africans are or are not opposed to federation? If I want to satisfy myself on any matter of this kind I usually like to go to some reputable newspaper which tends on the whole to take an opposite view from mine. I have done so on this occasion and I should like to read to your Lordships this paragraph from The Times of Monday, March 23:The crucial point in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to-day is that the chiefs have turned against federation. A small number of politically-minded African white collar workers were against it from the start.Those are the people presumably to whom the noble Viscount was referring. The paragraph concludes as follows:But all this would have amounted to little if the chiefs, the traditional authorities, had not sided with them. It is the opposition of the chiefs to federation which lends substance to the claim that Africans as a whole are against it.I hope the noble Viscount or the noble Marquess either now or later will be able to tell me that I have misunderstood the noble Viscount's words.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I withdraw nothing which I said in my speech. We are all entitled to an opinion. People may look at a thing, and one may come to one conclusion and the other person to another. I do not withdraw what I said. I gave a considered opinion. That is my opinion and I stand by it.
I could easily cross-examine the noble Viscount as to whether he is in fact taking the view that opposition is confined to a few extremists, but I will not pursue the matter. The noble Lard, Lord Hailey, said yesterday in effect that African opinion in so far as it is expressed is hostile to it. I think there is a very understandable case in favour of federation and there is no need to misrepresent—I am sure unwittingly and quite sincerely—the matter in this way. If the case for federation is a good one, surely noble Lords opposite can accept a few facts against them, instead of brushing them off and saying that the opposition is in the hands of a few educated Africans.
§ EARL WINTERTON
That is not the charge that many of us are bringing. It 631 is a much more serious charge. The Government cannot bring this charge, but I can and do. Some of these people who are opposed to federation wish the Europeans out of Northern Rhodesia and to have a Negro Government. They are in sympathy with some of the extremists in Kenya. I say that with very personal knowledge.
That has nothing to do with what the noble Viscount said yesterday. The noble Earl is now making a further charge. I say you are going to add to the bitterness if you act in the way in which the Government seem likely to act at the moment. This is undoubtedly a very serious issue. I can sympathise with the Government, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said yesterday when he put the point so well. This was left on their plate by us. None of us has been disposed to come forward and say that this is some Conservative trick or something hatched out of the Conservative Central Office. This came forward in the Labour Government and now the present Government find it on their plate. They may feel that they have been hardly treated by fate or by their predecessors in finding it there at all.
I am not going into whether we have handled the question well or whether they have handled the question well. All Parties always feel that they could have done better than the people running the thing. We think that we could have done it better than the present Government and they feel that they can do it better. I am not going to follow up that argument. Diametrically opposite views can be held on that. What I am going to deal within a sentence or two is the case for federation and the case against. The case for federation was put plainly by the noble Viscount. Of course, I am not charging the noble Viscount, with his ability and experience, with simply wasting our time. He put the case for federation very well indeed. But what he did not do was to attempt to reply seriously to any of the major objections to the scheme.
I think the noble Marquess who is to speak at the end of this debate will accept this summary of the main case for federation. First, that federation offers certain economic answers which, in the view of 632 the experts, are the best answers available—certain economic advantages; secondly, that these economic advantages will lead to an improvement in the social and economic conditions of the Africans; thirdly, that whatever the Africans think about it, it is the duty of the trustees to go ahead in the interests of the Africans and the white people alike; fourthly, that, that being their duty, they would be signally failing in their trust if they failed to carry it out. I think that puts one side of the case very fairly. There are certainly many arguments for federation. I do not think the arguments are overwhelming; I do not think you will find a transformation when you get federation. These comparatively small communities can co-operate now without federation. I went to Rhodesia in 1950 to open the Livingstone Airport—that was a trunk airport. Now a trunk airport is being sited at Salisbury. That is clearly a waste of money, in view of the limited resources of the community. While, under federation, you might avoid that kind of absurdity, you might avoid it without federation if there were a little more co-ordination.
§ EARL WINTERTON
You might say that it is the duty of the Central African Council to avoid that, but it had no sanction behind it. Therefore, Southern Rhodesia is able to do exactly as it likes. It has spent over £1 million on the airport. With federation, one or the other would have been allowed or cancelled.
I am not going to argue on that point further, although you can argue that in favour of federation. I am saying that at the present time you could secure a much greater advantage than you are securing if a little more wisdom were shown. That is my own opinion, and I opened that particular airport. There is an opinion which is more important than such arguments and it was unfolded by the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, in a speech which was certainly eloquent and, speaking from a personal sense, most impressive, though, of course, he differs on almost every point of social philosophy from those of us who sit on this side. In effect, he said that if you do not federate, Southern Rhodesia will be likely to join the Union. If that is really so, it conflicts with the view that has been put forward that Southern Rhodesia is an enlightened, progressive and liberal-minded place. That 633 was unfolded in a vivid speech by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. If that is so, why should they be so easily attracted by Dr. Malan? I think you can argue it either way, but you cannot put both those points of view in one kind of argument.
I know I am making purely a debating point, but the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, and the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, told us that we were to conclude from the fact that the Africans are ready to work in Southern Rhodesia, that they are attracted by Southern Rhodesia and that they are sympathetic towards the set-up in Southern Rhodesia. Are we to conclude from the fact that Southern Rhodesia, on the noble Viscount's own showing, would be irresistibly attracted to the Union, that they are sympathetic to the set-up there? If Dr. Malan cared to make a proposition which was sympathetic to his ideas, would the noble Viscount suppose that Southern Rhodesia—he is a settler; he commutes between Salisbury and this House and he speaks with authority—
If you are going to say that Southern Rhodesia would be happy to join South Africa as part of the appalling régime there, how can one paint the picture that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, painted of a progressive, Christian-minded State?
§ EARL WINTERTON
That is a misstatement that is constantly made—I do not apply that to the remarks of the noble Lord. It is a misunderstanding that is constantly occurring to believe that because Southern Rhodesia might, as a last alternative, have to go into the Union, they are therefore supporters of Dr. Malan. If they went into the Union, they might just bring the balance of Malanism to an end. I do not believe they would be supporters of Dr. Malan if they chose to go into the Union.
I cannot believe that if, for instance, we in this Island were asked by Dr. Malan to join, any of us would entertain it for one moment.
§ VISCOUNT HUDSON
It is quite on the cards that Dr. Malan will lose the next election and be succeeded by a Liberal Government. In fact, I should think that the odds are seven to five on.
The noble Viscount opposite is obviously happy with that last intervention, but he said that, whatever happens in the elections in South Africa, whoever won, Southern Rhodesia would be attracted and be ready to join the Union of South Africa. I do take that argument seriously, that they might join the Union of South Africa. I think that something would be lost if federation did not go through, but I am answering the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, who asked: "What would be the gain in not going on?" The gain would be that you would avoid a certain tragedy whose end cannot be foreseen. That is the gain—or, if you like, the avoidance of a colossal loss.
I have touched on the arguments for federation which have naturally been deployed fully and ingeniously by the advocates of the scheme. Let us come to the question of the African opposition. We seem to be now agreed that, according to The Times,there is substance in the claim that Africans as a whole are against it.That being so, can we or can we not prudently set aside this opposition as though it is a relatively unimportant factor? Surely the noble Marquess would agree that it would be much more agreeable and pleasant if in fact he had been able to persuade the Africans. In the statement made by the present Government on October 21, shortly after they came into power, on a closer association, we read that the Government:recognise that African opinion in the two northern territories has declared itself opposed to the proposals in the officials' report; but they trust that, in the light of the assurances agreed upon at Victoria Falls Conference, and of the economic and other advantages of closer association, Africans will be prepared to accept them."'It was clearly an objective of this scheme to secure African acceptance. They have failed to secure it. I am not arguing about it. May be it is quite impossible, but they set themselves that objective and they have failed in it, and I hope they will admit it. It is a serious factor. I cannot help quoting—there have been interruptions which of course I welcome; they have been fairly frequent 635 and always very enjoyable—the pledge given by the late Government which Mr. Griffiths referred to in his main speech in another place, when, as Minister, he said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons; Vol. 513, col. 678):The second undertaking I gave was that we would consult African opinion, and that full account would be taken of it before any change affecting African interests was considered and decided.The noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, was, I think, probably opposed to that pledge. I do not know what he said at the time. I would ask the noble Marquess specifically, if he feels able to, to tell us whether he thinks it was a mistake ever to give that pledge of consultation with the Africans. I will pass the quotation to the noble Marquess. We consider that that was a wise pledge, and it having been given we must stand by it. In paragraph 35 of the Officials' Report we are told:We have constantly borne in mind that whatever is proposed must be designed not only to indicate the will of Territories and their inhabitants, but also to be acceptable to the inhabitants and to the Governments and Legislatures concerned.I must assume that that phrase refers to all the inhabitants; certainly that is the view of the officials. That was a wise expression of opinion—that the scheme should be acceptable to all.
That, my Lords, is where we find the matter at the present time. I have only a few more things to say. I suggest that the success of federation will depend on the spirit of its operation alike by Africans and Europeans. I should like to say specifically from this side that we do not regard all Africans as perfect. I hope that the impression will not get about that we believe that in every dispute between Africans and white men the Africans are always right. That is not our view at all. But I am sure that, whatever our Party, we feel a special responsibility for these people for whom we recognise an obligation of trusteeship. I do not know what co-operation the Africans will or will not offer. Naturally, we shall deplore any kind of violence at all. Certainly no words of mine are intended to encourage violence.
But I am not thinking of violence; I am not even thinking of strikes; I am not even thinking whether some particular union does or does not come out 636 against this scheme at some particular moment. I am thinking of the long years ahead, and of the effect on the relationship between the two peoples. I agree, therefore, with what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said yesterday, that in that sense, taking the long view, without the active co-operation of the Africans federation is bound to fail. It is not a short question; it is a long question. I heartily endorse his words. Success also depends on the spirit shown by the Europeans.
We have heard something about Sir Godfrey Huggins. I do not take the view, and I do not think anybody on this side has taken the view, that when you reach Africa you become a Simon Legrees and that ordinary Englishmen turn into brutal slave drivers; but certainly the white settler tends to adopt a different attitude towards the Africans from that of the average Englishman in this country. When I opened the new airport in Livingstone in 1950 I was surrounded with Europeans on the airport; there were Europeans in the enclosures and Europeans beyond that, and then thousands of Africans. Then, on a subsidiary dais I met the African chiefs. That is in Northern Rhodesia. I say that as long as that situation exists we cannot talk of partnership. I am not blaming the individuals. As a matter of fact my host, the acting Governor, is one of the most humane people that one could find anywhere. Therefore, it is not a question of bad faith or anything so unpleasant as that. But I do say that this colour distinction is a blot on the British way of life in Africa. Surely, we can be proud of what Englishmen have achieved overseas, without professing to be perfect. I believe there is a tremendous amount in what Lord Winterton said—that as a country we have not done enough to guide our brethren overseas towards behaving properly to the black men. I cannot put it higher than that.
§ EARL WINTERTON
I hope the noble Lord will not put those words into my mouth. I did not put it in quite that way.
I was grateful to the noble Earl for having helped me to find the words that I was looking for. I heard some noble Lords say that, after all, partnership, federation and the colour 637 bar are all rather separate matters. So they are in a way. That is a practical question. But through the minds of all of us there has been running a bigger question to-day—namely, what is going to be the future of the Africans and of ourselves in Africa. That was a question put so wisely and rightly by the most reverend Primate. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that while the colour bar remains in existence things are going to be very difficult. It is within the power of the Government to prevent partnership from being so much humbug if the intention is to remove the colour bar steadily and ultimately to get rid of it altogether. That is surely the real ideal of Her Majesty's present Government, and, in so far as they can, to help our own people, the white people, to understand it. We here stand for the abolition of the colour bar, root and branch, and though we realise the difficulties—it is much easier to say it in Opposition than to do it when you are in office—we beg the noble Marquess to-day to tell us that that is also his intention. It is a much bigger thing even than federation. The real issue is whether the Government intend, to the best of their ability, to sway the white man in Africa in order to get rid of the colour bar.
I implored the Government last year not to impose this scheme on the Africans. I am bound to say that, in my view, if the Government do impose it they are, with the best intentions, laying up a store of evil for generations to come, and they are undoing or going far to undo the ideals that we and they share in regard to Africa. But, even more fundamental than that, taking the long view (and this, I think, must have run through the mind of the right reverend Prelate, and I think it was running through the thoughts of all of us), is the question of how soon we can bring the Africans to a true realisation of our aims.
§ 2.19 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I rise to say a last word on behalf of the Government at the end of this long and important debate. I believe that the most reverend Primate called it a momentous debate, and I do not think that word is too strong. This is a debate which has occupied our attention for two long days, and in particular a debate which was to-day illumined by a remark- 638 able speech by the most reverend Primate. I think I have listened to practically all the discussion. In the course of it I have been asked a great many questions. I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I do not answer them all. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, alone subjected me to a regular bombardment of questions, but gave no notice of what he was going to ask, and if I attempted to answer him I should have to speak for several hours.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am quite certain that the noble Marquess does not suggest any discourtesy on my part. As I thought his noble friend Lord Swinton was the official spokesman in regard to Commonwealth matters, I spoke to him about the points I was going to raise in this debate. I thought that was the correct procedure.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I apologise to the noble Earl; I did not know that. But, in any case, as I say, if I were to give a full answer to all the points raised, I am afraid I should try the patience of the House too highly.
I am quite certain that neither the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, nor I will complain that your Lordships have returned again to the topic of Central African Federation, a subject which has occupied so many debates in recent months. For it seems to me, if I may say so without offence, to be about the only chance of bringing any sense of reality to the consideration of this problem, at any rate on the part of certain sections of opinion here: and though I do not want to be controversial, judging by a good deal of what we have heard yesterday and to-day we have still a very long way to go in that respect.
To me, at any rate, as one who has had long connection with this subject (I will not call myself an expert),this has been in many ways a very sad debate. It has been inspired, I am quite certain, by the highest motives on the part of the movers of both Motions and those who have supported them—every one of them. But they have, I am afraid, only succeeded in showing by their speeches a complete misunderstanding of both the nature and the complexity of the problem with which we have to deal. It is a remarkable fact, I think, that the actual details of the plan of federation—this scheme which has 639 been devised with so much labour, over so many months, by all that concourse of men, official and unofficial, both from the United Kingdom and Central Africa—have hardly been mentioned. Except for the remarks of the right reverend Prelate, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, all of whom devoted a portion of their speeches to the scheme, it has been largely ignored.
Nor have those safeguards which have been devised by officials and others with lifelong experience of the countries concerned, to ensure that an even balance should be achieved between the Europeans and Africans, been given any real objective examination. There were a number of references in the speech of the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and a rather briefer one in the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who I am sorry is not able to be here to-day, and of the other two noble Lords I have mentioned; but that is all. In the other speeches from the opposite side of the House the whole emphasis has been thrown—I thought the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, was a good example of this—on one point, and one alone: the question of whether these proposals (whether they were good or bad did not seem to matter at all) had the support of the African people. That is the point that has been drummed in throughout these two days.
It is said that there is opposition and that that opposition has grown. How far that statement is accurate it is difficult to say. The great masses of the African people in these Territories—as has been said by noble Lords with practical experience of them—are largely inarticulate; and, so far as there is articulate opinion, it has mainly been worked up by men (the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in his speech ignored this) whose main object is not to find a multi-racial solution at all but to get rid of the Europeans altogether, and who for this reason use any methods of distortion, intimidation or what-not to serve their purpose. It is really no use noble Lords opposite shutting their eyes to that. It is a fact which is confirmed by all our sources of information. But, in any case, I personally should not be at all surprised if the initial reaction to this scheme on the part 640 of the Africans were unfavourable—even strongly hostile. Indeed, I think that is almost inevitable, for in these Territories all past experience has shown that African opinion is always hostile to every reform and change, whatever that change may be, until it gets used to it. Then usually, if the change is a good one, opinion becomes equally violent in its favour.
Are noble Lords opposite aware that African opinion, so far as it was articulate, was opposed to the institution of hospitals and schools when they were first introduced in these areas, and that it was hostile to the transfer of Northern Rhodesia from the Chartered Company to the Colonial Office? Are they aware of the reason? The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who gave us an extremely interesting speech yesterday, gave us his reason. He said that Africans dread change because it is so often detrimental to them. With all deference to the noble Lord, I believe that assessment to be entirely superficial. I suggest that the real reason is far more fundamental than that. Africans dread change as a child dreads the dark; it is the fear of the unknown. The peoples of Central Africa are still, in spite of what noble Lords have said, very primitive peoples; and very primitive peoples, like children, cling to what they are used to. Anything new fills them with the deepest suspicion.
Take this case of the transfer of the administration of Northern Rhodesia from the British South Africa Company to the Crown in 1924. According to the information which I have received, this is what happened. An indaba was held, and was attended by the chiefs and headmen who were informed of the pending change. This news caused a good deal of uneasiness amongst the African population, and the chiefs expressed themselves as opposed to it. I have been further told that the opposition was undoubtedly no more than a manifestation of African conservatism and the dislike of change which has so often attended the introduction of new methods and improvements in education, agriculture and medicine and so on. What would noble Lords have done if they had been in office at that time? No doubt, holding the views that they do, the transfer of administrative power from a private company of settlers 641 to the Crown would be all to the good. But Africans, from motives of conservatism, opposed it.
One wonders what Lord Noel-Buxton, Lord Ammon and Lord Winster—who was so very emphatic on this subject—would have done. Judging by what we have been told during the last two days, and from other things which I have heard, they would have been bound to drop it—and, indeed, the introduction of hospitals and everything else. We may be told that such reforms would only have been postponed until the Africans had been converted. But, as Lord Tweedsmuir said in his brilliant speech yesterday, primitive peoples are seldom converted, except by experience. I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who did deal with this subject, that if he really meant that we should delay all reforms until the majority of Africans had approved them, it means, in fact—and we must face it—that we had better put them off for ever.
May I offer one reflection to the noble Marquess? Surely there is a difference between deciding that something is necessary in the interests of health and deciding that you are going to embark on a so-called partnership with someone who does not want to embark on a partnership in that form?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There is no difference between constitutional changes, such as the transfer of administrative power which I have mentioned, and this change.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord mouths the word "partnership" as if it explains everything. He does not really try to get down to the realities of this matter at all. I am trying—probably very inadequately—to explore how the minds of the Africans work and how we must deal with people in that stratum of society.
It has been suggested (it was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Ammon, yesterday) that this scheme has been rushed by the present Government—the word the noble Lord used was "railroaded." But nothing could be further from the truth. The question of the 642 closer association of these Territories, as all your Lordships know, has been the subject of innumerable inquiries almost since the days of Rhodes himself. If it has come to the fore again that is not our doing. It is the doing of the Party of noble Lords opposite It was they, in 1950 or 1951, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, very fairly stated yesterday, who appointed a Committee of Officials which discarded other solutions and recommended federation. It was they who called the first Victoria Falls conference to consider the Officials' Report. They did this, presumably, because they thought federation was the best form of closer union for these Territories.
The late Government must have known—at least, they ought to have known, if they had listened to their advisers and experts—that the initial reaction of the Africans to the Officials' scheme was bound to be hostile. Anyone with a knowledge of the country and the mentality of the primitive Africans could have told them that. Why did they set this ball rolling, unless they meant to see it through the goal? Why, in particular, having set it rolling, did they forbid the district officers—as I understand they did—who are the natural and trusted leaders of the Africans, to give any guidance on this? Why did they leave this entirely to the African Congress, many of whose members they must have known were only out to get rid of the Europeans? And what reason is there to suppose now that further delays will make things better?
During the last two days we have been appealed to, in impressive unison, by the noble Lords, Lord Ammon, Lord Winster and Lord Lucan, that we ought to start again from the beginning. We have been told that we ought to appoint a new and impartial Commission—that was Lord Winster's idea—or to postpone the decision for five years, which is, I know, the normal panacea of the Labour Party That was Lord Lucan's suggestion. And then, even odder, there was some other alternative, quite unspecified, which was Lord Ammon's proposal. But what good would a new impartial inquiry do? The officials' inquiry was an impartial one. No doubt that was why they were appointed. What possible value could come from a further investigation now? This new investiga- 643 tion must either come to the same conclusion, in which case it is not worth while to have, or it must differ from the views of our most experienced advisers. In any case, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, was careful to point out, the Government would not be bound by it, even if it did succeed in producing another proposal. What would noble Lords expect to get from that, except further bewilderment? Or what will Lord Lucan's five years further delay achieve, except five years further uncertainty?
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, the noble Marquess has asked me a question. I should say that it would give the Europeans an opportunity of removing the Africans' suspicions by a change of attitude.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It would also give the Africans an opportunity to remove the Europeans' suspicions. Noble Lords opposite never consider that. But what, in fact, would happen is that the Africans would become more rigid on their side and the Europeans in turn would become more rigid on theirs. Other noble Lords may know the country much better than I do, but that is my firm opinion from my experience of it. It is also the opinion of my noble friend Lord Hudson, who knows the country, and of everybody else who knows it and who has taken part in this debate.
As for Lord Ammon's alternatives, the noble Lord did not say what they were: so of course we cannot judge. But I would remind him, if he were here, that the officials considered all the other alternatives before they opted for federation. I would remind him further, that if the Africans were not present at earlier conferences, it was because they would not come. In any case, I understand from the noble Lord's speech it was not so much that he had any great hopes of these new alternatives; his main object seemed to be to obtain a little further delay. In fact, that has been the main theme of all the Opposition speakers—delay, delay, delay. But on this side of the House we do not accept the view that delay can do us no harm; nor is that the view of the Governors of the two Northern Provinces, and of others who 644 have reported to us. On the contrary, all our reports from Central Africa itself are to the same effect: that a situation of the utmost seriousness would be likely to arise. That is borne out, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Forester, in the very remarkable maiden speech which he delivered to your Lordships' House yesterday. The friction between the two races would become more inflamed. The more extreme elements among both Europeans and Africans would gain strength, the moderates would be squeezed out, multi-racial co-operation might well become permanently impossible and an enduring division caused. These are the fruits of delay. That is the fact which is causing anxiety among all those who really know Central Africa.
I should have thought that that would have penetrated the consciousness even of one with the self-confidence of the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton. But not a bit of it. He proceeds serenely ahead, wrapped in his mantle of rectitude—I do not say "unctuous" rectitude, for I did not hear the greater part of his speech. But that is what I would say about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, which I did hear. On the strength, so far as I know, of one comparatively short visit to Central Africa—I do not know how long he was there—the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton wrote an article in the Contemporary Review, which I read with great interest, because it appeared to be a confession of the noble Lord's faith. In this article he castigated those who had devoted their whole lives to the development of these countries for what he called their "certainty of superiority and conceit" If I may ask the noble Lord, with all deference—and I do not say this in an offensive spirit—is he sure that he himself is entirely free from those very faults?
My Lords, I do not think any of us can claim to be free from these faults, though we may try to be as free of them as possible.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
At any rate, to many of us it seems curious that the noble Lord should set himself up with such certainty, on the strength of such short personal experience, against so many men who have spent their lifetime in close touch with the problem on the spot.
645 One noble Lord (I am not quite certain who he was) said yesterday that the fact of whether or not a man had personal experience of the countries in question was not a conclusive argument either in favour of or against his views. I entirely agree with that: I think we all should. But if every noble Lord in this debate who has real experience of these countries takes one view, and every noble Lord who has no personal knowledge of Africa takes another, that is surely a significant consideration—I am not putting it higher than that. In this debate we have had, on one side, the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, who is the elder statesman on this question; the noble Lord, Lord Forester, who has lived in these countries; the noble Lords, Lord Hailey and Lord Milverton, who were great Colonial administrators; the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, who has very recent experience of Rhodesia; and the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who also speaks with great experience.
On the other side, we have had a number of most agreeable speeches from noble Lords, nearly all of whom have never been within a thousand miles of Central Africa. I felt as I listened—and perhaps the explanation is in what I have already said—that there was a remarkable difference in the whole approach, between the speeches of one group and those of the other. To the supporters of federation it was a practical problem. They are experts on the subject; they know the places themselves; they know the Africans, and have worked with them. On the other side, there was the academic school. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said— and I honour him for it—that from his point of view it was a matter of morals more than a practical consideration.
Why the laughter? Why is it a funny thing? When other noble Lords said it was a matters of morals, we respected it.
§ EARL JOWITT
The laughter did not come from the noble Marquess, but from 646 certain colleagues of his on the Front Bench.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord might at least hear what I have to say. I do not laugh at the noble Lord for the point of view he has taken. As I said, I honour him for it. But even morals ought not to be entirely divorced from reality. That is the complaint I have of his speech and others we have listened to in the last two days. I remember being told many years ago that Mr. Asquith once described a man who was in a debate, a little out of his depth, perhaps, as "bogged and befogged in a jungle." I could not help feeling that at some moments of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that was not a very bad description of him.
I should now like to refer to one or two other speeches. First, there was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford. The noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, comes into a completely different category from the noble Lords of whom I have been speaking up to now. I make no complaint—I am sure nobody will—that he should have expressed the views he did. I honour his sincerity; I recognise that he was voicing convictions formed from his experience in various parts of Africa. In that respect, of course, he was in a rather special position. On the other hand—and this is a point which the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, has already made—the noble Lord will agree—in fact, he frankly confessed it in his speech—that he does not know Central Africa. West Africa in particular, where the noble Lord, I know, occupied a distinguished position, is in two respects, I suggest with all diffidence to your Lordships, different from Central Africa, which we are discussing to-day. For one thing, West Africa is purely what may be called a black man's country. You can have white doctors there; you can have educationists, administrators, merchants and so on; but the climate is not suitable, and never will be, so far as I know, for a multi-racial society. Therefore, the same issues do not arise in regard to West Africa that arise over Central Africa.
There is also one other respect in which Central Africa, I suggest, differs from West Africa, the Gold Coast and other Colonies of that kind. The West African indigenous population, in many of these areas, at any rate, is far more 647 intellectually advanced than the population of Central Africa. The impact of Western civilisation has been with them, I suppose, much longer, and possibly that is the reason: at any rate, it is a fact that they are more advanced. The African population in the three Territories which your Lordships are discussing to-day are—and I should like to stress this—in no way comparable to the West Africans.
Since the noble Marquess seems so anxious to pursue this personal line of comparison, which seems to us so feeble, could he tell us from where the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, derives his experience?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has had great experience in Africa and at the Colonial Office, which, after all, covers the whole Empire. But I am not saying that everybody who has spoken on this side of the House has had a long experience of Africa. If I were to say that, I should be putting myself extremely in the wrong. I do know Southern Rhodesia, but I cannot claim to be an authority on the subject, and I never have claimed that in this House. But the fact remains that the list of noble Lords which I gave would be regarded by any unprejudiced observer as a strong team for dealing with this subject. It does not impress the noble Lord, but it will impress the general public, believe me.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
There are, of course, even in Central Africa some Africans who are extremely advanced, but they are very few indeed. The noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, compared the people of Africa with young people growing up to manhood—I believe I got his metaphor right, and I thought it was a good one. But if we are to use that metaphor, I suggest that the people of Central Africa are still in their childhood. For that reason, I would say to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that, in my view, the references which he made to federation in the West Indies are completely off the point and utterly irrelevant. In such circumstances, also, I am afraid I cannot, with the best will in the world, attach quite so much importance to the views of the noble 648 Lord, Lord Hemingford, as I would otherwise do.
Finally, I come to the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, who, I understand, has now withdrawn his Motion. The right reverend Prelate has never suggested, so far as I know, that the sentiments which he expressed were based on any personal experience. No doubt he was basing himself mainly on views which were representative of some of the missions in Central Africa Like the right reverend Prelate, and, I imagine, like every noble Lord in this House, I cannot express myself too highly as to the selfless devotion of these saintly men who give their whole lives to the welfare of backward peoples; it is an example to everybody, whoever they may be. But it is surely no insult to them to say that I am by no means certain that they are equally good advisers over the practical administration of an Empire, for which quite a different training is necessary. In any case, as the right reverend Prelate knows, the churches themselves are deeply divided on this question. We have been told, I think by Lord Pakenham, that the British Council of Churches were against federation. That may or may not be so.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
The British Council of Churches considered this matter of federation last April at Belfast, at a special meeting, and passed a fully considered statement at that time. They will no doubt consider it again when they meet in Birmingham.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But I understood that no final decision was taken; it was to come up for further consideration. I would point out to the right reverend Prelate, and to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that a great deal of water has passed under the bridges since then, and it is by no means certain that the view will be so strong as it was at that time. The right reverend Prelate quoted a number of sources, and naturally, as he was developing his argu- 649 ment, they were, on the whole, on one side. That might possibly give the impression that there was an overwhelming view on the part of all denominations against federation. I am sure, therefore, the House will allow me to quote the views of the Quakers of Southern Rhodesia. I would remind your Lordships, in doing so, that the Quakers have an unsurpassed record in the service of backward peoples. There is nothing secret or confidential about this document I am going to read—it was published in the Rhodesia Herald on March 14 of this year. I am going to read it at length, because it is a powerful document, and I think it is important in this context. This is the letter:Sir, the members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) resident in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, are deeply conscious of their special responsibility in a multi-racial society, mindful of the backward state of the African peoples, gravely concerned at the attitude of some political groups and religious bodies in the United Kingdom, and fearful of the consequences of a wrong decision on this great issue of federation, state:(1) We accept that any efforts to maintain the supremacy of one ethnic group over another by any means is wrong, and is bound to fail.We shall all agree about that.(2) We consider that the great advantages to be expected from federation offer the liveliest hope for the future development and progress of black and white alike in this part of Africa.(3) We believe—noble Lords opposite will note this—that not more than one African in 1,000 understands the great issues behind the federation question. We are convinced that to defer further the decision en federation would gain nothing and would probably add serious complications.(4) After the fullest examination, we hold that the proposals at present before the electorate of this Colony entrench all the present privileges and safeguard the future position of the African peoples of these territories—in many cases to the great disadvantage of the multi-racial Society as a whole. The economic advantages as well as these political safeguards are such that we believe its adoption to be justified in spite of opposition.(5) We fear the rejection of federation, either by this Colony or by the United Kingdom, will result in a very few years in an effort to maintain dictatorial white supremacy, which will inevitably be followed by a retreat to barbarism.(6) We as a body, deeply interested in the building up of a Christian social order in this part of the world, place on record that we are in favour of federation and pray 650 that God may guide all who are concerned in determining the future of Central Africa.My Lords, I do not say that equally good people might not hold a different view, but it is a powerful document, coming from those who are already devoting their lives to the peoples of Central Africa. It is, if I may say so, a very different kind of view from that expressed to your Lordships by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, and others who have supported him. For he implied—I do not wish to misrepresent him at all—that federation meant handing over the Africans to settlers who regard them as so inferior as to be hardly human. That is not the view of the Quakers. In any case, I should not personally accept the word "inferior" as a description of the attitude of the white people of Southern Rhodesia to the Africans. I would regard "less advanced" as a more correct description. If that is so, who of us will say that they are wrong? It is absolutely true and undeniable that these primitive peoples are at present centuries behind us. They must gradually be educated up. We all want partnership in due course—the fullest partnership. I think I have said this perhaps ad nauseam to your Lordships in earlier debates, and I do not withdraw what I said at that time. That is common ground to all of us, and I am glad to think that we are agreed that there have been considerable advances made in all these Territories since we first arrived there, now about seventy years ago. But it cannot be done all at once, as the most reverend Primate himself said this morning.
What is partnership? Several noble Lords have tried to define it in this debate, and nobody has made a complete success. As I see it, it is a matter partly of spirit and partly of organic growth; and, in the meantime, while the Africans are moving up to the state which would qualify them for full partnership, the main burden of responsibility is bound to rest upon the Europeans. I hope, as I suppose other noble Lords do, that the period which I have described may be the shortest possible; but it is bound to take time, and to suggest that the Africans are at present anything like as advanced as the Europeans or able to take an equal part is really—the noble Lord will forgive me, but anyone who 651 has seen them and knows them at all will agree—sheer moonshine.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
The noble Marquess spoke of full partnership as his goal. Does he mean equal partnership? Is that the same?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I have said that it is impossible to define, and it is. As I see it, these races are moving together, as it were, up a ladder. The Africans have much farther to go to get to the top of that ladder. The difference between what I may call our British creed and some other creeds is that some people think the backward races should always remain at the bottom. We do not think that, but equally we do not consider that they are near the top yet. That may not be what the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, described as "the London point of view." That was a phrase he used, I think, in his Contemporary Review article. But it is the truth, as is known by everybody who has studied this question for any length of time. I could not avoid the impression that, behind the attitude of the noble Lord and some of his friends who have taken part in this debate, in their heart of hearts they have a serious doubt whether the European should be in Central Africa at all. Perhaps they have a subconscious guilty conscience about it, and they unload it on those whom they refer to as the "settlers." That is why they use this word "settlers," as if they were birds settling on the trees preparatory to flapping their wings and flying off—as if they were temporary denizens of the country. In fact, that is not the position at all. Central Africa is the home of these people. Their fathers have been there, in many cases, almost as long as the Matabele have been there. They are no more settlers in the noble Lord's sense than the white peoples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United States are settlers. I hope that nobody on the other side of the House is going to argue that the British throughout the Commonwealth and Empire are there on false pretences.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But the essence of the word "settler" is that they are not the real inhabitants of the 652 place. Why, otherwise, do you not call them Southern Rhodesians?
If the noble Marquess will permit me to intervene, I am quite ready to call them that. If it is an insult to use the word "settler" I will not use it; but I thought it was a word frequently used even by their friends.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is a word used to differentiate between them and the genuine inhabitants of the country. I accept the sincerity both of the noble Lord who moved this Motion and those who have supported him. I am quite certain that they have been saying very much what is in their hearts. But the spirit which has been exhibited on that side of the House is not the spirit, in my view, on which the British Empire, with all its influence for good, has been built up. If the things noble Lords have said in these last two days really represented the view of their fellow countrymen, I should be inclined to agree that it is far better that we should give up our task of trying to lead the Africans forward. But it would be disastrous for the Africans, and, in my opinion, it is assuredly not the view of the vast majority of the British people.
The British people are, I agree, taking an immense interest in this matter. It is a remarkable fact how much interest is now beginning to be aroused. But the British people, or a great many of them, are beginning to recognise, too, that the policy which noble Lords opposite have recommended—this policy of delay or shying off—is likely to work out, whatever its intentions may be, as a policy of scuttle—an honourable Member in another place used an even more trenchant phrase. The British people do not like "scuttle." They know perfectly well—and noble Lords I am sure recognise it, although they have not mentioned it—that under British rule (and by that I mean not merely the rule of the Home Government, but the rule of the local British Governments as well) the slave trade has been abolished, cruelty and oppression have been crushed, and justice, equity and security, in the sense in which we mean those words, have been enshrined in their place as never before. But it is only if British influence is maintained that that situation will continue. If we were to have to leave, those coun- 653 tries, very rapidly, would sag back just where they were before we came.
That brings me to the federal scheme itself, a subject which I said earlier has been only lightly touched on in a good many of the earlier speeches. Of course, this scheme must contain adequate safeguards, safeguards for Africans, safeguards for Europeans, if it is to be acceptable to any of us. I personally, like my noble friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, believe that, as the scheme emerged from the last Conference, the safeguards for Africans are now about as powerful as the wit of man can devise. I do not want to weary the House by retraversing yet once more the ground which he has already so well covered, but at the risk of tiring your Lordships I should like to say one more word about these safeguards, because they are obviously extremely important. I frankly believe that they have been greatly strengthened by the changes which the assembled delegates made at the last Conference.
Take the African Affairs Board. Under the old scheme the Board was an outside body—an excrescence on the Constitution, which we ourselves should certainly have greatly disliked if it had been tried here. It is now an integral part of the Constitution, a Select Committee of the House, but one whose members are elected or selected to represent the African point of view. It is at least as strong a body as the old Board was; and it has the additional advantage that if is not only able to transmit to the Governor-General objections to legislation but its members are able to continue and press arguments in favour of these objections when the Bill comes before the House. In that way I should have thought that it would be able to exercise more influence than it could have done under the old scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, questioned this. But if he had been offered the alternative of membership of a body which could press its point of view in Parliament and one which could not, I am sure which one he would choose, and I am sure he would be perfectly right.
Then there is the new and very powerful safeguard to which the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, referred. For the initial period of ten years there is to be no change in the allocation of responsibilities between the federal, concurrent 654 and territorial spheres without agreement of all three Territorial Governments. That should be a massive protection for Africans; for it means that the Territorial Governments will retain all the powers they have for the whole of these ten years, unless all three of them agree to some change. I do not myself think it is inconceivable that some small change of machinery might have to be made by agreement. After all, if one is starting a new Federal Constitution one may in time discover some particular feature which is quite unworkable. Therefore, it is necessary to allow for some possibility of change; but there can be no change for upwards of ten years except by agreement with all the Territorial Governments. I would add that the review which is to take place at the end of ten years will surely be more realistic and valuable as a result of the experience which has been gained during that period.
I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Winster, is not here to-day. He quoted yesterday a Report of a Conference which was held in January of this year in which some of us took part, and he called attention to a statement in paragraph 38 in which it was stated that Her Majesty's Government would naturally seek the views of the Federal Government on any amendments to the Constitution. My impression was that he drew the conclusion that they may be biased by the advice they received. But he did not quote the early part of that same sentence, which says:The responsibility of Her Majesty's Ministers in the United Kingdom remains unchanged.That surely makes the whole difference to the sense. There was also criticism of the provision in the scheme by which there had to be a two-thirds majority in the Federal Parliament before any alteration in the Constitution could pass through that body. But I think the House ought to know that that particular provision was put in at the behest of the Northern Governments, and not of Southern Rhodesia, to ensure that the position of Africans should be safeguarded.
Some noble Lords seem terrified that the interests of Europeans are going to be safeguarded, too. But we cannot have it both ways. The interests of the 655 Africans are safeguarded, and I think that ought to satisfy these noble Lords The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me who would decide when the new Federation becomes a Dominion. I am speaking without the book, but I should say the correct answer is that we do—the other members of the Commonwealth and ourselves. The final decision rests with them and us and not with the Federation.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
The question I actually asked the noble Marquess was, who was to decide when the two Northern Territories would give up their Protectorate status, and not who was to decide when the Central African Federation would become a Dominion.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I take it that that would be a constitutional change, like any other, and would come under the ordinary procedure. The final decision then would rest with us. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham has asked whether I agreed that it was right for every Government to see that all safeguards were operated to the full. He knows that the United Kingdom has a certain position which is defined in the Federal Constitution. I think every Government should do the full duty that devolves upon them under the Constitution.
My Lords, if I have spoken rather more strongly to-day than is my wont, it is because I have been deeply shocked by the mistrust and hostility exhibited in this debate against our British fellow-countrymen in these three Territories. I cannot help saying that. And perhaps noble Lords will allow me to add this: let us not forget that these British people whose home, and I repeat the word "home," is in Central Africa, are blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, steeped in our traditions, passionately loyal both to the British connection and to all for which Britain stands; and, what is more, they share our outlook—let me emphasise that word "outlook"—towards the treatment of backward peoples.
When the last war broke out and we were in danger, though they themselves were in no way directly threatened, they sent to fight in the cause of liberty the very cream of their youth. I am speaking again without the book but I believe I am right in saying that a higher pro- 656 portion of the population went to the war from Southern Rhodesia than from any other part of the Empire. We did not hear, at that time, the sort of suggestions that are made about these people now. My Lords, I feel they do not deserve this treatment from us.
The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, I think, used the word "bitterness" with reference to the relationship between Europeans and Africans in Southern Rhodesia. I do not know from what source he got that impression. I can only tell him, from my own experience, which is a very small one, and I do not seek to exaggerate it, that I have not found this to be so. One or two years ago I spent a few weeks on a farm in the centre of the Colony. We were fifty miles from the nearest town, and fifteen miles from the nearest European farm; and we were on the border of a native reserve and surrounded by Africans. Yet no one thought of locking the outer door of his bungalow at night. That does not give great evidence of bitterness. Indeed, it compares very favourably with conditions in our own country.
Then, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said that he had gained the impression that the Southern Rhodesians would be happy to join the Union.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord may have got that impression. But I would assure him that that is not the position. The last thing the Southern Rhodesians want is to do that. But if people in this country continue to insult them and slap them in the face, they may well be repelled from us.
Finally, my Lords, it has been suggested that our policy should be dependent on the prior approval of the governed. This was not true of the late Government, the Government of the Party of noble Lords opposite. Their statement of policy in June, 1951, was most careful to use only the word "consultation." That is not at all the same thing. Anybody who is drafting an important document of that kind knows that there is a very great difference between "consultation" and "consent." I am not complaining of that. It never has been true of our policy to backward 657 peoples that it depends on the consent of the governed: it is not true now; and in my view, so long as those peoples are backward, it never can be true, any more than the policy of trustees towards minors can be dependent on the consent of their wards. No doubt, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, truly said, it would be much more agreeable if all concerned agreed from the first—of course it would be; but if they do not, then I am afraid that we are not absolved from our responsibilities.
My Lords, our duty as trustees at this most crucial moment is not, as I see it, to haver and waver according to the breezes of opinion, which are often fanned by agitators and extremists, white or black, both of them very dangerous. It is to face up to our responsibilities. It is to make up our own minds what is best for the benefit of Central Africa and for the inhabitants, African and European, who live there. If we do that, soberly and objectively, in the light of advice from those who have the longest experience, I have no doubt at all that we shall go ahead with this scheme, which is manifestly to the advantage of both Africans and Europeans.
I am told that there are perils in going forward. My Lords, of course there are risks, whatever course we take in a situation like this. But it is impossible for us to stand still; we cannot do that; and to go back would, in my view, be yet more dangerous. This is one of those occasions, I suggest, when the way of courage is the way of safety, and it is as such that I commend this scheme with all sincerity to the House.
§ 3.12 p.m.
My Lords, I shall be as brief as possible, as it is my duty to be, but I hope your Lordships will excuse me for speaking for a few minutes. The noble Marquess has challenged me on the certainty of my own point of view and the point of view of others on this side of the House. It is a rather interesting fact, I think, that I realised for the first time only the other day, that Wilberforce had never been out of this country. Was, therefore, the abolition of slavery and slave trading in the British Empire wrong on that account? My own forbear who took over from him had not been out of England. He may have spent too 658 much time shooting partridges in Norfolk. But those people did the right thing about slavery.
I submit that there is such a huge issue of principle involved here that it is possible to have an accurate view upon it without going to the Territories concerned. Of course, it is better if you have a chance to go. It is better to go for two months than for two weeks, and it is better to go for two weeks than not to go at all. In my own case—without boosting my own case, because I am not interested in that—I think there are certain merits in not going on a conducted tour, as it is so easy to do. In the course of being in Central Africa for two months, I had my eyes fairly open and, though it is a certainty of view which I have, it is a humble certainty, it is a certainty which does not really sound as the noble Marquess says in stating that one cannot have a genuine view point on this subject. A principle can be clearly viewed from a distance. A football match can perhaps be more clearly viewed from the touchline.
The noble Marquess mentioned how many centuries the Africans were behind us. I read this morning, in a publication of the Southern Rhodesian Government, a series called The African in Southern Rhodesia, issued by authority, this revealing sentence, which in itself is a subject for a whole debate in this House on another occasion:It is a salutary reflection that probably a higher proportion of Southern Rhodesia's Africans are more literate than were Englishmen at the time of Waterloo…or perhaps very much more recently.That is very interesting, especially coming from a Government publication.
§ TUE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It does not quite bear out the noble Lord's contention with regard to their being "scarcely human." It does not bear out the noble Lord's contention that the white settlers regard the Africans as being "scarcely human."
I think the point is that people on the spot are tending to be very blind. Most Europeans in Africa—I want in a second to go out of my way to dissociate myself from condemning settlers—do not really know the Africans. They only know them through their houseboys or other people who work for them. There are a great many people 659 who would be horrified to go into an African's hut. I have heard people say with passion, "I would not go into an African's hut."
The Government must be feeling very uneasy about this word "partnership." I would bet that some people wish it had never been coined in relation to this question of federation. The great question is "settlers." sI feel that, if one was a settler oneself, one would be too busy, as I suggested yesterday, building up one's farm or one's business, to have much time to consider this question of race relations. I further say that aspiration towards Dominion status is a noble thing in itself; and walking in the streets of Salisbury or Lusaka I immediately realised that this is like walking in the streets of Auckland, New Zealand, or Winnipeg or Adelaide. There is no difference. Yet in this particular case of Africa the situation is different, because there we are confronted with this vast native problem—the most explosive type of problem that can exist in the world. With all humility, I suggest that the individual settler cannot properly rise at the moment, or does not properly rise at the moment, to this question of how the races are to live together. I do not feel that we have had from the Government, in the course of this debate, any very satisfactory definitions of "partnership." Thinking back to early settlement in New Zealand a hundred years ago, it is rather interesting to read the remarks of John Godley who was one of the early leaders of the Canterbury Settlement, when he said of settlers there that they would never do anything great until you left them alone; they wasted their time and energy complaining of the Mother Country. Throw them into the water and they would swim.
I should like just to say one final word about relations with the Union. I have been accused by the most reverend Primate, I think wrongly, of saying that the Rhodesias are on the same "wavelength" as South Africa. The whole problem of European settlement in Africa is one problem. It has taken various forms in different parts of Africa. We need a change of heart on the part of the Europeans everywhere. It is so simple to think only of surviving and the problems of one's own race only. How can noble Lords defend Southern 660 Rhodesia, when there are such measures as the Land Apportionment Act, the Industrial Conciliation Act, the Pass Laws, the Mixed Marriages Act, and a whole host of things that approximate towards the Union? In the framing of some of these Acts, it is undeniable that Union legal opinion has been specifically consulted and advice brought in from the Union.
I should like to point to one place—and there are of course others, like the Domba-Shawa Agricultural School near Salisbury—where there is a really fine atmosphere, as I saw it. I admit that I was there for only a very short time. One place was the St. Faith's Mission and Farm at Rusapi, South-East of Salisbury. That is a really good example of practical partnership between the races. There is an African farm manager there. Every week an excellent discussion group is held, sometimes at the house of Guy Chitton-Brock, the farm superintendent, sometimes in an African's house; and matters like federation are regularly threshed out. There is a European farm worker there, and, as I say, the present farm manager is an African. When you are there it seems so normal; but as you go back on the train to Salisbury, or wherever else you may be going, you feel that you have not really appreciated how normal and natural, and yet how extremely rare, such an atmosphere is. I am not saying that the situation is getting worse, but it could get worse. Southern Rhodesia is a thoroughly uncomfortable country to live in. and places like St. Faith's are exceptional oases.
Finally, I say that to convince Africans we must first have individual improvements in the individual Territories before we can seriously consider moving towards a scheme of federation, desirable in itself, My Lords, we shall not divide the House, for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, yesterday; but noble Lords must understand that we could not feel more strongly than we do on this matter. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.