HL Deb 06 July 1953 vol 183 cc189-264

3.7 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty to acquaint the House that. Her Majesty places her Prerogative and interests, so far as concerns the matters dealt with by the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill which I have the honour to present to your Lordships this afternoon is really, as many noble Lords will know, an enabling Bill, but it is, nevertheless, one of great importance. It enables an Order in Council to be made, which will ultimately require an Affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament, to establish a Federation of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and to give effect to the scheme set out in Command Paper 8754. I hardly think it is necessary for me at this stage to delve deeply into all the technical provisions contained in the first and principal clause of the Bill. There are, however, two matters that I think I must specifically mention. Subsection (1) of Clause 1 enables an Order in Council to be made to bring into effect the scheme of federation which is set out in the White Paper to which I have just referred. The effect of subsection (2) of Clause 1 is, that the Constitution will be amendable only by the Federal Legislature, in accordance with paragraphs 144 and 145 of the Scheme or by Act of the Parliament of this country. The Order in Council will also make certain adaptations in Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament and in instruments which have been made under those Acts.

Central African federation is a subject which during recent months has occupied many debates in both Houses of Parliament, but I feel your Lordships will expect me, in presenting this Bill, to make some observations about the scheme which will be introduced shortly. I think it is true to-day, as indeed it has been for many months past, to say that even those who are most critical towards the setting up of a Federation have always accepted the economic advantages that must flow from the federation of these three Territories. It has never been suggested that the act of federation will at once remove all the economic problems but it will undoubtedly bring far greater opportunities of employment and a higher standard of living to the people. Indeed, as I see it, that is one of the underlying features of federation, for the better development of the resources of the three Territories must bring advancement in the social, political and economic spheres.

It is common knowledge amongst noble Lords who take an interest in this subject, that Nyasaland is over-populated and has little enough resources. On the other hand, Northern Rhodesia is under-populated and Southern Rhodesia is in a mixed position. But taken together, the economies of the Territories will after federation, be more broadly based. In all three Territories vast schemes of economic development are now being envisaged. Besides the expansion of the coal industry and big railway developments, there are also the hydro-electric schemes at Kariba, Kafue and Shire which we hope will one day come into operation. But these advantageous schemes would be far more difficult to implement if responsibility were divided amongst three separate Administrations, and it will, I think, be quite obvious that the advancement which we all hope to see will have a far better chance of success under a Federal Administration than it can have to-day.

On a previous occasion when your Lordships debated this subject, as the House will recollect, the most reverend Primate, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in his concluding remarks used these words (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181, (No. 53), Col. 606): Education is the heart of the 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. Your Lordships will remember that under the Federal Scheme higher education is to be the responsibility of the Federal Government, and although it is quite impossible for Parliament in this country to bind the new Federal Government, I would remind the House that Sir Godfrey Huggins has recently stated that in his view there must be a Central African University providing university education of a sufficiently high standard to enable undergraduates to qualify locally at levels equal to those obtainable in this country, and that this University should be multiracial, the undergraduates of any race sharing the same teaching and undertaking the same courses on a foundation of academic equality. Some noble Lords will also have heard, or perhaps have read, that the Inaugural Board of the Rhodesian University College has since passed a number of resolutions on this subject, including one, in particular, saying that admission to the University would be solely dependent upon educational attainments and the good character of students. The Board further indicated that they were sympathetic to the points which had been made by the Carr-Saunders Commission in regard to the siting of hostels, the academic standards which should be prescribed and the requirement that the University should have a real autonomy. I feel that to the liberal and generous spirit of these resolutions, we should all wish to pay tribute. In fact, all that has been said by the individuals who, in all probability, will be responsible for the Federal Government, is in consonance with the wise remarks made by the most reverend Primate, and will, I believe, have been received with satisfaction everywhere.

I think, and I am sure noble Lords will agree, that we should be wise to leave it to the good sense and wisdom of those most intimately concerned to prepare the ground for the decisions which the Federal Government will have to take when, towards the end of this year, it assumes responsibility for higher education. I should also like to tell the House that Her Majesty's Government are examining what practical help, including financial help, they can give to the project, but I cannot make any definite announcement to-day. I hope that when a further statement or report is made to Parliament it will be received with the same satisfaction as that which undoubtedly has greeted the announcement made by Sir Godfrey Huggins and the Inaugural Board on the University.

I said at the beginning of my remarks that the Order in Council will contain the scheme which is set out in the White Paper. That scheme has been agreed by all Governments who were parties to the Conference, and the extent to which African views were considered and ultimately embodied within the White Paper is indeed remarkable. At the time when the Officials' proposals were first produced in June, 1951, the district officers in the Northern Territories—for reasons which are better known to the Opposition than to me—were told not to recommend them to Africans but to ask for their opinion. The African organisations expressed fear of the proposals for three reasons: first, they considered them a threat to their Protectorate status; secondly, they considered them a threat to their land; and, thirdly, they felt that they were a threat to their political advancement. What then, I ask, has been the result?

This scheme has been drawn up so that the Protectorate status of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia is maintained, and their relationship with Her Majesty's Government remains unchanged. These two Governments will continue to be responsible for the local and territorial political advancement of their peoples. The House will remember that the Federal Legislature, in accordance with the scheme, will be empowered to make laws on any matter which is enumerated in the Federal legislative list. These powers will be exercised for certain matters which affect the three Territories, but the main questions touching upon the day-to-day life of the African will remain territorial subjects. For instance, all land questions and questions concerned with African agriculture, police, local government, primary and secondary education of Africans, and trade unions, will remain with the Territories. In fact, it is clear that the greatest care was taken, when drafting the scheme, that every safeguard and guarantee which would reassure African opinion on the matters upon which they had expressed foreboding would be written into the Federal scheme. I believe that it cannot be too often stressed that exclusive African interests will remain with the Territorial Governments, and not with the Federation.

There have recently been political developments in the Northern Territories to which I must briefly refer. Her Majesty's Government have agreed to the appointment of a third African Member of the Legislative Council in Nyasaland. In future there will be one African Member for each Province. The House will see at once that this is a further step forward in African political advancement. In Northern Rhodesia the constitutional discussions which were adjourned last January will be resumed in London in September. I would remind the House that at the conclusion of those earlier talks, it was agreed in principle that there was a case for some expansion in the unofficial membership of the next Legislative Council, both European and African. The charge that has been levied against the Government in some quarters, that federation would delay, or even bar, the political advancement of Africans in the Northern Territories, is without any foundation at all.

The House will expect me also to say something about the situation in Nyasaland where a good deal of Congress agitation and propaganda continues to be directed against the Federal Scheme. Here the Congress Party have concentrated their efforts on trying to persuade the Chiefs to resign their offices as a protest against federation and, similarly, to urge their people not to pay taxes. The latest information in my possession shows that this campaign has not been meeting with much success. Out of 130 Native Authorities and Subordinate Native Authorities in Nyasaland, only five have resigned, and two of these have since withdrawn their resignations. Eight others threatened to resign, but in the end lid not do so. As against this, fifteen Senior Chiefs and Native Authorities in the Fort Johnston area and the Zomba area, while expressing their disapproval of federation, have passed resolutions pledging themselves to co-operate with the Government in every way and to take their full part in the deliberations of the District, Provincial and Protectorate Councils. At the same time, three other Senior Chiefs sent a message to the Provincial Commissioner, which read '"We will not allow Mwase or Congress to give us orders. I sometimes believe that much of the progressive and liberal spirit embodied within this Constitution is ignored by those who for one reason or another are opponents of the scheme, but, in my judgment, the degree to which this spirit inspires the scheme is considerable. During the last ten years progress has been made in advancing political knowledge among the African people, and it was only a few years ago that any African first appeared in the Legislative Assemblies of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. On the introduction of federation, both races will be sitting side by side in the Federal Assembly. I imagine there will not be much doubt that in course of time the mutual respect which grows up even amongst opponents in our own Parliamentary institutions will develop in the Federal Parliament as well; and men will be regarded on their merits, rather than on their race.

Embodied in this new Constitution is the idea of putting the Africans into a position whereby they can show by their own efforts their capabilities to play an ever-increasing part in the political life of Central Africa. I am glad to think that, in expressing these views I can call to my aid Sir Godfrey Huggins. On his return to Bulawayo from the United Kingdom he was reported to have said that the Federation Party formed to fight the first general elections under the federal scheme would be open to Africans from the start. Our object, he said must be to get Africans into Party politics and not into black versus white politics. Here then it seems to me is a sound sentiment to which we can all subscribe, and I am glad to inform tie House that some Africans have already begun to join the Federal Party.

I now turn to deal with a matter which I know causes concern in some quarters. There are those who think that the Africans have been insufficiently protected, although all parties to the scheme have done their utmost to secure the fullest safeguards for them. Then, again, there are those Europeans who feel that they are called upon to make considerable sacrifices. We have a duty towards them, as well, and we should do our best to fulfil it. As I shall endeavour to show, the safeguards which have been drawn up by all parties seem to be sufficient. As I have said, we are all aware that fears have been expressed, both in this country and in Central Africa, that the rights of the African peoples under federation have not been fully safeguarded, but there is embodied in the Constitution a powerful, unique and influential body, the African Affairs Board, which will look after every aspect of their interests. The composition of the Board has now been altered, in agreement with all parties, and I think that much of the criticism heard in this House last year will have disappeared. Let me recall that under the original scheme the Board was an outside body, but the Chairman had automatically to be a member of the Cabinet. That position was widely recognised to be anomalous. Under the present scheme the African Affairs Board becomes an integral part of the Parliamentary machine and, in fact, may well be described as a permanent Standing Committee of the Assembly. The Board will retain all the powers enumerated in the earlier proposals, but with this important addition: that its members will now be able to speak on any subject which comes before the Assembly. They will, of course, still retain the power of making representations to the Prime Minister, as they consider necessary in the interests of the African people.

During a recent debate in another place questions were asked about the Chairman's casting vote. It has always been understood that the casting vote, if necessary, should be given in favour of keeping the subject under discussion. Provision will be made in the Order in Council to ensure that the Chairman's casting vote will always be used in such a manner as will enable further consideration to be given to the matter. I have nearly come to the end of my remarks. I apologise if I have kept the House too long, but these proposals, which have been agreed by all parties, are of fundamental importance, and I think it would have been wrong if I had appeared to treat them in a casual manner. Although they have been debated many times before, I was anxious to deal with the major matters which I know have been causing concern both inside and outside this House. We are fortunate that in the development of the Empire and Commonwealth the progress made by these countries towards becoming fully responsible institutions has never ceased—progress, in fact, continues almost daily. Its speed, however, must obviously vary from country to country. Naturally, we all hope that it may be as rapid as possible, but we should be utterly false to those for whom we act as trustees if we thought that the Africans living in the three Territories could assume now all the duties and burdens of government.

I would add this, in conclusion. The Leader of the Opposition in another place, speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill, used these words (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 515 (No. 103), Col. 427): If this becomes the law of the land it is the duty of all of us to try to make it work to the best of our ability …. I hope and trust that that significant advice will be heeded by all those who to-day find themselves still in opposition to the scheme. For myself, I firmly believe that we are laying now the foundations for a new and great country, and I trust that when the Parliamentary tussle is over, and when the Bill receives the Royal Assent and the Order in Council the Affirmative Resolution, we shall one and all turn to the task before us in good hope and with great expectation. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(The Earl of Munster.)

3.32 p.m.


My Lords, I feel sure that the House will be grateful to the noble Earl who has just spoken for putting before us clearly and succinctly, and at no undue length, the principles which are here involved. In this quiet and calm atmosphere, in the almost conversational tone which the noble Earl so usefully adopted, one might not realise that the decision we are called upon to take to-day, for better or worse, is a decision fraught with the most grave consequences. The noble Earl said that this scheme had been agreed to by all parties. I think he is quite wrong. Economic federation, or federation to secure economic results, is undoubtedly a good scheme, in broad outline; and in that sense, and in that sense only, has the scheme been agreed to by all parties. But the vital fact we have to consider here, and the difficulty in our way, is that this scheme of federation is, I regret to say, being imposed; and the mere fact that it is being imposed makes it start under had auspices.

I cannot help feeling that there is a certain unreality in our speeches to-day, and I find this a difficult speech to make, wondering what can be usefully said at tills stage. For there can be no doubt that this scheme is going through. I noticed that in the speeches made at the Rhodes Centenary Celebrations, which I read over the week-end, speakers there assumed that this scheme was through; and, of course, we all know, if we are realists, that that is not far from being the truth. I feel that this applies, also, to our Committee stage. If I had the wisdom of Solomon and the eloquence of Demosthenes, I doubt whether I should be able to induce the noble Earl who is in charge of this Bill to accept any Amendment on the Committee stage. He would no doubt say: "I am sorry, but we have discussed this matter ad nauseam with everybody concerned. This is an agreed policy. This is the agreed scheme, and I cannot amend it." He might have the courtesy to add: "I wish you had told me these things earlier, but it is too late to tell me them now."

Therefore, as I say, if we are realists, we know that this scheme is going through; and we know that the form of the scheme is going to be exactly what is in this White Paper, nothing more and nothing less. That makes our debate today slightly unreal, and makes it difficult for a speaker who wants to be helpful to know quite what line he should take. But may I put the noble Earl out of any anxiety by saying that, of course, I agree with what Mr. Attlee said. If this scheme becomes the law of the land, our duty is to make it work; and our duty, therefore, as I see it, is to use such influence as we have with Africans to that end. But Mr. Attlee also said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons Vol. 515 (No. 103), Col. 427): … even at this eleventh hour I urge that it is worth while delaying so that we may get some tangible proof of a new relationship which will bring Africans into greater harmony with the scheme. I do not belittle for one moment the observations the noble Earl has made about the new University. I venture to say that I wish that announcement had been made at an earlier date, before opinion had become crystallised. As it is, I recognise that it is a matter of hope and great importance. I think, too, that the announcement made by the Secretary of State in another place about trade unions is a matter of importance.

Here let me say what I think I ought to say—namely, that I recognise it is a fallacy to assume that all aspects of the colour bar are due to the wickedness of Governments. This is most certainly in no sense due to the Government, who for some time past have done their best in this matter, so far as I believe—however, that is a matter about which my noble friend Lord Hall knows much more than I do, and he can speak about it with authority, if he is so minded. Although the economic advantages of federation are obvious, to my mind it is a fallacy to say that those economic advantages could not have been secured in any other way. It is fallacious to say that, in order to achieve those economic advantages, you must have federation. To that federation—and here I make an assertion, which I have come, to after examining such evidence as is available to me—I believe the great majority of instructed African opinion is opposed.

It is quite true that there is only a small proportion of African opinion which comes within the description of "instructed African opinion." I venture to think that that is true of this country, also. If in this country you asked an ordinary elector at a meeting to express his views for or against this scheme, it is almost certain that he would know little or nothing about it. One of the few phrases in the speech of the Archbishop which I did not altogether like on a previous occasion was when he referred, I thought, somewhat slightingly, to propagandists, and said that "propagandists can always show results." I am bound to say that the results which propagandists show, particularly if they are speaking on political platforms, are not always what they would desire. Anyhow, it is the fact that there is nothing wrong in being a propagandist; indeed, if a man gets up and advances views which he honestly believes, he is doing what he should do in a political community, and he must try to achieve such results as he can.

If the objections of the Africans were wholly unreasonable, as they have been represented to be—they have been likened to the African childlike fear of the dark, or their inveterate resistance to change—then I quite agree that it would not be unreasonable to overrule them and to impose federation without regard to those objections. But if those objections are real and not fanciful, then it becomes eminently desirable to try to meet them. Are the objections wholly unreasonable? I happen to have seen the objections of the Nyasaland Chiefs, and I think I shall do no harm—and I may do good—if I try to represent to your Lordships, plainly and without any heat at all, what the objections of the Nyasaland Chieftains are, in order that your Lordships may see whether or not they are merely the objection of a child to the dark, or something of that sort.

Their position is this. In, I think, the year 1891—I am not certain of that, but I shall be corrected if I am wrong—they voluntarily surrendered their sovereign rights and put themselves under the protection of the great Queen, Queen Victoria. They were not so ignorant as not to know that the Queen ruled by her Ministers, and they fully understood that the Ministers of the Queen would be responsible for their government. At the same time, she represented a great ideal, and they were confident that her Ministers would represent that same ideal. I think it can fairly be our proud boast that in this country and in this Parliament all Parties have always followed the same ideal. In one of the previous debates a quotation by Mr. Churchill—made, I think, in his unregenerate Liberal days—was used. It would have been exactly the same to-day. I can give quotations from eminent Conservative leaders for years past to the same effect. This is what Mr. Churchill said: There is only one ideal that the British Empire can set before itself: that there should be no barrier of race, colour or creed which should prevent any man from reaching any station if he is fit for it. That, beyond any argument, has been the ideal of this Parliament and of all Parties in this Parliament for decades past.

The Nyasaland Chiefs then say this: "We were content to be governed by the Colonial Office. We knew that they represented those ideals of Westminster"—which I have just enumerated—"and with the Colonial Office there was no possible conflict of interest." Now they say: "It is a different proposition to be governed, as in effect we shall be governed, by the settlers of Southern Rhodesia, for they will be the dominant Party." Of the elected seats, I think I am right in saying, they have fourteen out of the twenty-six seats. I do not join in, and I do not think anybody has made, the accusation referred to by the noble Marquess opposite, who seemed to think that some people had referred to the settlers—who, after all, are of our own race—as though they were Simon Legrees, or something of that sort. I have seen the settlers for only a very short time. I went out to Kenya for only a week and I saw them there. That is certainly not the impression I formed of them. I had the impression of rather a fine set of people who were fully prepared to work for the African, though perhaps they were not quite so ready to work with him.

This is the Africans' case, and this is what I put to your Lordships, because it is no good dismissing a claim as fanciful if it has any substance in it. It is understandable that there is a difference between the white settler on the spot, who is in competition with the African for the natural wealth of the country, and the Colonial Office administrator, whose personal and material interests are not involved in the policy decisions which he is called upon to make. That the policy of Southern Rhodesia has diverged and differed from the policy of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland is quite certain. Here I quote from the Report of the Officials delivered in June, 1951, where they setout these facts. I am quoting from paragraph 18 of Command Paper 8235: The main difference then that we mark as between Southern Rhodesia on the one hand and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland on the other is this:— Policy in the Northern Territories holds that in order to fit the African to take his place in the community as a full partner with citizens of a more ancient civilisation he must be induced to play a full part in the politics and administration of his own area, and must play a direct part in the politics and administration of the whole territory. This is in the belief that without such political education there can be no assurance that the African would be able to play his full part in material and economic development. The policy in Southern Rhodesia holds that in order to fit the African to take his place in the community as a full partner with citizens of a more ancient civilisation it is first necessary to make him the equal of his future partner in health, material well being, and education. This is in the belief that without such advancement there can he no assurance that he will be fit to play a full part in the politics arid administration even of his own area, let alone the politics and administration of the whole territory. I am not for the moment saying which is right and which is wrong. Either policy may be held by most high-minded men. All I am saying for the moment is that it is quite certain that the two policies are different. The Officials go on to say: It is not for us, within our terms of reference, to say which, at the Africans present stage of development, we believe to be the right approach. Our duty is discharged when we have pointed out the fundamental difference of approach which we believe to be still there. They point out that the maintenance of important differences in native policy in these Territories cannot be for the good. That is the position, and the rival views can be stated without making any sort of attack on the white settlers, which I expressly do not make.

"But," say the Nyasaland Chiefs, "this scheme refers to a new constitutional organ"—that is, the Federal Government—"powers which have heretofore been exercised directly or indirectly by the Colonial Office." That they claim to be a breach of the contract under which they handed over their Territories. Of course, they recognise that there are safeguards, but they pray in aid the existence of these safeguards and say that the very fact that safeguards are needed shows the new situation which has developed. They recognise further, as we all must recognise, that no municipal court can question the validity of this legislation. No municipal court can consider whether it is or is not in breach of the terms under which the Chiefs handed over their sovereign powers; in breach of the terms under which the Protectorate was originally proclaimed. The fact that no municipal court can examine that matter should, I think, make us all the more careful in seeing that we are satisfied that there is no breach of that understanding.

This, then, is their case. They maintain that to put the predominant power in the hands of the white settlers in the Federal Territories will not secure to Africans the same measure or rate of political, economic, social and educational advancement as they would have achieved had they remained under the direct, undivided control of the Colonial Office until their ultimate goal of self-government was achieved. I do not think we can honestly say that that is fanciful or, certainly, a prejudicial claim. There is, as I have said, no possibility that a municipal court could investigate the matter. There is a possibility, of course, that the International Court might examine it. If some member State of the United Nations were to take up the case of the Nyasaland Chiefs, and if the majority of the members of United Nations, on that case being taken up, were to refer it to the International Court, then the International Court would be seized of this matter For under Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations we have agreed: To promote as a sacred trust the wellbeing of the inhabitants of those territories whose people have not yet achieved a full measure of self-government. The Article recognises that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories—all these inhabitants, that is—are paramount, and agrees to this end (I quote from the Article): To ensure their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment and their protection against abuses; and secondly: To develop self-government; to take due account of their political aspirations and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions. The Nyasaland Chiefs will, I understand, endeavour to get that case put forward.

They have recognised, I know—I have not myself seen them, but I believe this to be the case—the existence of the African Affairs Board. Six Africans and three Europeans will, of course, represent African interests. They also recognise the protection in respect of what is referred to, I think, as a "differentiating measure." The real danger, as they see it, lies not in a direct differentiating matter but in the adoption of a general policy, legislative, administrative and fiscal, which has the indirect result of fostering the interests of the white settler at the expense of the African. If you point out that there is a power in this Parliament which has granted this Federation to repeal or amend that Federation, they will answer that that power is more theoretical than real; and that there must always operate on the mind and thought of the Government at home the natural odium of opposing the wishes of the responsible Government.

My Lords, that is their case; and, having read that case, I, for my part, cannot dismiss it as unreal or fanciful, or put it on the analogy of a child's fear of the dark, or call it just an inherent opposition to any form of change. I thought it right to point out that case. I have tried to put it fairly, and as I believe that those Chieftains would have put it had they been able to put it to us here. I have put it for this reason. I think the fact that they know now that we understand what their case is, and that we are determined here to allay their fears, is in itself an asset—for this is, of course, a settled policy. The realistic view is that this policy is now settled; and having put the case to the House fairly, I hope, I earnestly hope, that the Africans will give this scheme every possible chance. They may be assured—and I think now I am speaking not only for my own Party but for the whole House that Parliament at Westminster will continue to keep a watchful eye on these matters.

There are three reasons why we should keep a watchful eye. First, we are committed by Article 73 of the United Nations Charter to see that these things which they dread do not happen, and we must therefore be able to see that they do not happen. Secondly, let it be remembered that after federation the federated Territory will occupy the position of Southern Rhodesia, and no more. Thirdly—and perhaps this is the strongest reason of all—Clause 146 of the Federal Scheme in itself provides that after not less than seven or more than nine years the form of the Constitution shall be reconsidered There will be a conference for the purpose of examining the working of that Federal Constitution. If this scheme is not working well or fairly, that will be an opportunity to see that we make good such defects as time has thrown up. Therefore, my Lords, knowing, as I do know, that we should not think it right in this House, which we regard as in the nature of a revising Chamber, to try to resist, save in the most exceptional circumstances, the Second Reading of a Bill which has passed through another place, the only thing we can usefully say is that we must use our influence to see that this scheme is given every opportunity of working.

I would add this. I have known Sir Godfrey Huggins for a very long time now, and I believe him to be a sincere and liberal-minded man. The fact that he is determined to see this scheme through, and to work it, as I am sure he will, on generous and wise lines, is itself, I think, some satisfaction to those who view this scheme with some hesitation, and perhaps with some distrust. I have not the pleasure of knowing Mr. Welensky, but I am sure, from what has been said in another place, that he, too, is a generous and liberal-minded man—and I believe, incidentally, that he is a member of my own Party, which of course is a passport to my confidence and affection. I speak with some hesitation on this matter, but I venture to think that the identity of the new Governor-General is now pretty well known. Worlds would not induce me to say who he is, but if he is the man I think, it seems to me an exceedingly wise choice. In the presence of the noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Alexander, I say this with some diffidence: I thought an eminent soldier would be selected for the post and I confess that I think that, as a broad, general rule, soldiers who deal in political matters make as bad a muddle as politicians would if they were placed in command of armies. I am very glad that the man who has been chosen to take charge of this matter is somebody who has graduated in the political school and is well able to assess political requirements and so on.

So, with some hesitation, and having thought most carefully what was the most useful thing to say here and now, in view of the fact that this scheme—about which I have not attempted to conceal my hesitation—is going through, I would say this to the Africans: "I believe that you have everything to gain by giving this scheme a chance. I believe that the more you co-operate, the stronger your case becomes to see that you are fairly treated." I do not dismiss the African claim—nor would anybody who has considered it carefully—as fanciful. But I do say that we shall watch to see that the fears which they have expressed are not realised. To my mind, there would be a grave responsibility on any statesman in any responsible position whatever in recommending any other course than the course I have recommended. Even in the most highly civilised communities, passive resistance may easily degenerate into active resistance. It is a dangerous course to advocate. I view the future—I say so quite frankly—with grave misgivings. I want to see that the leaders of African opinion are drawn from the universities. I dread the possibility of the leaders of African opinion being drawn from the prisons, from those who have shown their zeal and ardour by taking active steps against the law. To my mind that is the grave consequence which confronts us. I believe now that the best thing we can say is this: that a great act of enlightened statesmanship is called for by the leaders of the Federal Parliament. All we can do now is to trust that the leaders of the Federal Parliament will rise to the occasion and not fail us in this critical hour.

4.3 p.m.


My Lords, I would join with the noble and learned Earl who has just spoken in thanking the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies for the clarity arid conciseness with which he has expounded a scheme that is comprehensive and complex. This Bill and the Order in Council which will follow it are not open to amendment. They are in the nature of a treaty that comes forward for ratification, and this House can only say "Yes" or possibly "No." Therefore, while the Government will listen, no doubt with courtesy, to all we may say to-day, nothing will ensue except that our words will stand upon record perhaps for consideration at some later date. The Government are somewhat in the position of one of the characters in a play by Goldsmith who said When I am determined I always listen to reason, because it can then do no harm. This Bill, we are all agreed, deals with a matter which is difficult, delicate, even highly important, and dangerous. There is danger in action but also, we must agree, there may be danger in inaction, and we have to view this policy against the background of the whole Continent of Africa and of what is going on in it today. All Africa is astir. There are at this moment two historic movements that are overlapping, intermingling and sometimes conflicting. The first is—and this has been proceeding for some two centuries—the impact of Europe upon Africa. Within that period, almost the whole continent has been divided among the European Powers, and the Territories have become Colonies or Protectorates or spheres of influence. The other movement has sprung up mainly in the present century and aims at racial equality and national freedom.

If you survey the Continent of Africa at this moment, you will see that it is astir, in the north in Egypt, Tunis and Morocco; in the west in Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast and Nigeria; in the south in the Union of South Africa and the Protectorate of Swaziland and Bechuanaland; in the east, in Kenya; and, in the centre, in the Sudan and the three Territories dealt with by this Bill. The question in our own generation comes up: whether that movement of Europe upon Africa was from the beginning morally justifiable. Having been long interested in Africa and having visited Uganda, among other places, as long as fifty years ago, very soon after it became a Protectorate of the British Crown, and having followed African affairs since, in my judgment it has been morally justifiable. If some very intelligent, cultured African of to-day, animated by patriotism and taking into account the interests simply of his own people, were to survey the condition of Africa at the present time and compare it with what it was a hundred or two hundred years ago, with regard to the education of the people, their health, their standards of living, their security and, not least, their freedom from slavery, he might well come conscientiously to the judgment that for the Africans themselves Colonialism had been worth while as a stage towards civilisation—perhaps an indispensable stage: but only as a stage. For we have all realised for many a long day past that it must in time give place to a more acceptable system. You cannot set up a colour bar against freedom.

But it is essential that the people themselves should acquire competence for self-government and for economic development. Technical skills, and not only technical skills but skill in administration, can be cultivated only over a period of time. The independence of India is taken as an example for the nations not only of Asia but also of Africa. The Government of India, in a short period of five years, have achieved, on the whole, a most remarkable success; but that is in large measure because for a very considerable period, nearly two centuries, there had been gradually developed a civil service, a judicature, a system of public finance, of security and of education, especially higher education, wholly or almost wholly manned by Indians, so that it was possible, when the transfer took place, for all this machinery to come at once into effective operation.

In Africa that process is only at its very early stages. Unlike India, Africa has not behind it a long, ancient tradition of a high civilisation. So that, if these changes in Africa are too sudden, there is a danger that instead of self-government leading to a rapid rise in the standards of living of the people, it might well lead to a decline even in what has already been attained, and the Africans might fall into a welter of inefficiency and confusion. There is the problem as it now faces this country—and not only this country. It is quite clear that the days of colonial empires are ending—that lesson is being learned not only by Britain but also by France and by Holland: they must either change into something different, or they will disappear. Empires must evolve into commonwealths, possessions into partnerships. There are only two alternatives, evolution or dissolution. That then is the background against which we must conduct our discussion to-day.

I think there is general agreement in both Houses and among all Parties that, in principle, a Federation would be a better form of government for those three Territories than their separate existence indefinitely. I do not propose to argue that question to-day because I think there is that measure of agreement. The question is whether federation should be brought into effect at this time and in this way. The African peoples are watching the development on their Continent of two quite different policies. One is that which has been adopted especially in West Africa—a policy of equal status and of full self-government; the other is the Malan policy, adopted to a great extent in the Union of South Africa and threatening also the Protectorates of Bechuanaland and Swaziland. That is a policy, in principle, of permanent subordination, both social and political, of the coloured race. The area of these three Territories in Central Africa lies in between these two, and the people are wondering which policy will infiltrate into their own area. Will they be able to take the model of Nigeria, the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, or will Malanism infiltrate into Southern Rhodesia, where the capital of the Federation will be, then into Northern Rhodesia, and possibly afterwards into Nyasaland?

The problem—and it is one of great delicacy—which has had to be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government in propounding this scheme and endeavouring to command for it general support in this region of Africa, has been how to devise a system which will at one and the same time reassure the Africans in all three Territories that the Malan policy will not be infiltrated into the Territories, and also to reassure the white people in the Rhodesias that they will not be over-whelmed by the black majority in all three Territories. That is the problem. Whether it has been solved successfully, only events can show. I am sure that the Government have done their best to achieve those ends, and to do full justice to both those interests, but many of us think that they have proceeded rather too fast. I do not quite understand why it should be taken for granted that it must be "now or never." These are not cherry stones—"this year, next year, now or never." Federations have usually come about gradually. Sometimes they have been incomplete in the first stages, and one Territory or another may have come in afterwards. That has happened several times in the history of federalism, and we would have preferred that a longer effort should have been made, if necessary, to persuade the Africans, especially in Nyasaland, that this is a good scheme and the best that can be devised. Whether it is to come in one year, two years or three years is not the crucial point. However, that is not the position that is before the House. That view has been expressed in another place and in the country by those whom I represent here to-day, but that matter has been decided against us, and federation has been pressed forward with what we consider too much rapidity.

No doubt safeguards have been devised. The most important safeguard is that the matters which directly affect native life are not to be federalised. Nyasaland will keep its own control over all the matters which most immediately affect the indigenous population of Nyasaland. As to the other safeguards, I think that those who criticise this scheme are right to say that they cannot attach complete faith to the safeguards. One of the safeguards is that there is to be no change in the Constitution without a two-thirds majority. But there was a similar entrenched clause in the South African Constitution; and they now see that clause being swept aside and treated as of no account. On the other hand, it is impossible to have a Constitution which is completely rigid, and which does not allow of any alteration. As James Bryce said, a rigid Constitution necessarily represents the past and not the present. There must be some opportunity for change. But safeguards against misuse, like a two-thirds majority, cannot be relied upon to hold good continually.


May I intervene for a moment? The noble Viscount will appreciate that there is all the difference between a safeguard in the South African Constitution, which can be altered exclusively and entirely by the South African Parliament, and a safeguard in this Constitution, which can be altered only with the approval of Parliament here?


There is that difference. I was just coming to this further remark in regard to the powers of the Crown and of this Parliament: that although they may be excellent on paper, once a self-governing Constitution has been established, then in any time of emergency—perhaps of disturbance and alarm—if the local Government in question wish to make some fundamental change requiring the assent of the Parliament here and applies for that consent, which is refused, they can always resign office and if they command a majority of the Legislature the Colonial office will not be able to replace them. Either the Constitution would have to be suspended or the local Legislature and Government would have its way. So that these safeguards are never absolutely reliable. I have always thought that there was much wisdom in two lines of one of Walt Whitman's poems: Were you looking to be held together by the lawyers, or by an agreement on paper? Or by arms? Nay—nor the world, nor any living thing will so cohere. That is true. These paper provisions may be excellent, but they are not conclusive. It is not forms and formulas we must depend upon, but on the working in a friendly, reasonable and just spirit of the Constitution by those who are entrusted with power under it. And they must try to will the confidence and respect of those millions of Africans, by solid achievements for their welfare, by paying due respect to them as persons, and by giving full protection to their human rights.

There was a debate in your Lordships' House on this matter last April. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, as I was convalescing at that time from a short illness. Reading the report in Hansard of that discussion, I was greatly impressed by two speeches in particular. One was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, who is entitled to speak on these matters with an authority which is not surpassed by any of your Lordships. His classic surveys of Africa have informed him more fully than anyone else probably can be of the merits of these problems, and his sound judgment is respected by all of us. He said that after much hesitation he had come to the conclusion that this Constitution should no forward, and he attached first importance to these difficult problems being brought out into the light of day and discussed in a Parliament in the locality where contenders on both sides could meet one another and argue with one another. Therefore, the last words of his speech were (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181 (No. 52), Col. 522): I hesitated much before I came to the conclusion that it would be wise to go on. The second speech which so greatly impressed me was that of the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. During this controversy I had been much disturbed by a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in March last, because the missionaries of the Scottish Church have for a great number of years done most admirable work in Africa. They had proposed a rather strongly worded resolution regretting that the measure should be imposed upon the Africans and urging that every effort should still be made to try to secure their sympathy and their consent.


I have just been informed by a Scottish colleague that the Church Assembly did not meet in Scotland in March: it met in May of this year.


I have the extract here. It is a newspaper cutting. It may be that I have made a slight slip, but we will find the cutting and clear up the point.


I do not want to put the noble Viscount out of his stride, but the General Assembly is a rather important body.


If your Lordships will allow me, I will come back to this—which, after all, is only a minor point—in a few moments, when the cutting has been found. The most reverend Primate said that he had taken into account missionary opinion which differed within itself in some degree. He ended by saying that he was convinced that this scheme was right and that it was in the best interests of the Africans that this measure should proceed. Now those are two very weighty opinions from members of your Lordships' House which none of us can afford to under-value.

The cutting to which I referred has now been found. It is from The Times, and the report is dated "Edinburgh, March 4." The paragraph begins: The commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, meeting in Edinburgh to-clay, heard a statement on Central African federation made by the convenor of the foreign mission committee, the Rev. Robert Ross. I will not trouble the House by reading the whole of the cutting, but the essence is as I have given it. If the Church of Scotland has since passed any other resolution that, of course, would dispose of the matter. I was only showing the House the way in which I have arrived at my present conclusion, because I started off by being very hostile to this scheme and strongly convinced that it ought undoubtedly to be postponed. Now I feel that, though it may have defects and dangers, these are not so great as to lead us to think that it ought to be stopped at all costs.

The Bill having been passed by the House of Commons I feel sure that your Lordships would not propose to reject it on Second Reading. It follows from that, that since we are to pass the Bill without resisting it, we must hope that this scheme will work successfully in Africa: that it will not be nullified by non-co-operation on the part of the Africans, or by their obstruction—still less, of course, by anything in the nature of disorder or force. I think their friends in Africa and here—I count myself amongst them, for I have been a supporter of the Aborigines Protection Society, as it used to be called, for more than fifty years, and have often supported its policies when occasion offered—would advise them to make the best of the scheme as it comes to them, and not to allow such rights and powers as they have under the scheme to go by default by reason of any attitude taken up by them. Meanwhile, your Lordships will watch very closely the working of the plan, and, if the necessity should arise, your Lordships would at any time be ready to express your independent judgment—freely offered, as it always is—on the Federation, as it would be in operation and in practice. We can only hope that the outcome will prove to be not a slackening in these three Territories of the efforts to raise the status and promote the welfare of their millions of population, but rather an acceleration; and that, we all believe, if it came about, would be to the advantage, not only directly to the Africans but, indirectly, to the Europeans as well.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just spoken has asked us to look at the Bill before us with the background of all Africa, and in that I think he has given us a wholesome reminder of the significance of the debates and the action by both Houses of Parliament. For it is certainly true that the eyes of all Africans—and indeed, I would add, the eyes of Asians, too, and all people of colour—are upon the British Parliament at the present time. I am not now going to argue why I think that the procedure followed puts the success of the Federal Scheme in grave peril. Federation has obvious advantages if it is properly introduced and properly worked. Something has been said of the apposition of Africans, and I do not think that Her Majesty's Government underestimate the gravity of that factor. There is one point in that opposition to which attention has not been called in a very serious way hitherto, at any rate this afternoon, and that is the disregard by British governmental opinion of the educated Africans. Now the educated Africans are the people whom we, the Colonial Office, and our whole Colonial policy, have cherished and developed, and it is rather a severe indictment of our Colonial policy if we brush their opinion on one side. Nevertheless, since the Federal Scheme is to be put through and apparently no vote is to be taken on the Second Reading, I would make an appeal to Her Majesty's Government to take what steps are possible—and there are many—to make the co-operation of the Africans themselves less difficult for them.

It was claimed in another pace that federation marks a turning point in our history and that a federal scheme is a British solution of the racial problem. What is meant by "British" in this connection? Partnership? Partnership is in the forefront of the Preamble. We all agree, I think, in the use of that term; but what are the content which the Government give to this term. Is the partnership to be a truly democratic partnership—that is to say, a partnership based on the principle of equality and leading to a fuller and fuller expression of that principle in political action? Or is it to be a partnership of junior and senior partners, the perpetuation of what has been called this afternoon the subordination of the junior to the senior? That is not partnership in the democratic sense of the word: that is domination. I have the impression, and I am sure very many outside the House, especially in Africa and Asia, have the impression, that we in Britain, especially in responsible political positions, do not realise the terrible desire of the Africans for a say in their own affairs. It is because I want to emphasise the importance of this say in their own affairs that I venture to put forward seven points which, it seems to me, will lead to the development of equality, and of a democratic partnership based on equality in the working out of federation during these coming years.

First, I want to urge the utmost importance to the ultimate development of a common roll as the basis for election. It has already been said by the noble Earl, Lord Munster, that Sir Godfrey Huggins has appealed for a Federal Party which is open to both black and white, and for a disregard of white and black in the composition of the Legislative Chamber. That is a splendid move. Will that involve a common roll at an early date for the Federal Chamber? Will the qualifications for the common roll, if it is allowed, be based not only on a sufficient educational qualification, but on a financial qualification, if any, which is within the means of those who earn their living and are qualified otherwise? The present qualification on the financial side for the common roll in Southern Rhodesia puts it out of reach for the most part, even of elementary teachers.

The second point which I would regard as important is the preservation of the integrity of the Territorial Legislatures. Reassuring words have already been spoken by the noble Earl, Lord Munster, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, saying that the rights of the Africans in the respective Territories, so far as subjects not controlled by the Federal Assembly are concerned, will be fully preserved. Will the Territorial Legislatures be responsible for, and encouraged to accept responsibility for, advancing the Africans in all spheres which fall within their realm? Will they have power—and this is an important point—to amend their own Constitutions without the approval necessarily of the Federal Assembly—although, of course, requiring the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies? Will they have power to increase the number of Africans within their Legislatures?

Thirdly, I would call attention to the importance of the fullest backing of the Territorial Legislatures by the Colonial Office. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, said that the eyes of Parliament would be wide awake to what was happening, and promised a vigilant ear; but it is the Colonial Office which has to be the instrument of vigilance. I suggest it is of the utmost importance that they should not only have, but exercise, the initiative in developing the advancement of Africans in as many ways as they can. May I call attention to a particular danger at the present time? I am told, on excellent authority, that there is a considerable shortage of district officers. I am also told that, partly because of this shortage, and partly because of the need to save time, the district officers are all too often overridden by the technical staff. The technical staff have their special duties, but are not really familiar, by experience or long training, with the Africans themselves in the same way as the district officers are. I hope there will be no curtailment of the powers and no reduction in the numbers of district officers, who are the kingpin of the Colonial administration.

Fourthly, I come to the very important matter of the land. In his excellent speech, the noble Earl, Lord Munster, said a word about the land, and I thought he was going to develop that point; but, unless I misheard him, he devoted the period of his speech which I expected to be devoted to the land to the matter of the African Affairs Board. The land is the African's treasure. In Chapter 2 of the White Paper, The Federal Scheme, it is true, the native trust and native reserve land in Northern Rhodesia, and the native reserve area and special native area in Southern Rhodesia, and the native trust and native reserve land in Nyasaland, are all protected from compulsory requisition, but there is an ominous footnote on page 7 which I would venture to read. It is as follows: In view of the provisions of the Orders in Council mentioned in this paragraph and of Her Majesty's Government's undertakings to the Northern Territories in respect of African lands, it is not possible to transfer to the Federation control of the compulsory acquisition of such lands (including interests in or rights over such lands) for public purposes of the Federation. It would not, however, be reasonable to refuse the Federal Government permission to acquire the land, or interests in or rights over land, for public purposes which would be in the general interests of the community as a whole unless African interests would be adversely affected to a disproportionate extent, and the Secretary of State, who would have the final decision on this matter, would not normally do so. The Federal Government would be entitled to state their views direct to the Secretary of State on any proposal for the acquisition of African lands for public purposes. There is talk at the present time, I think by Mr. Van Eeden, of plans for closer settlement in the Northern Territories' lands, and the possibility, therefore, of acquiring lands there-from for Europeans. There is also talk of a review of native land tenure. It may be proper that such a review should take place, but this is not a very good moment for it to happen. Knowing, as your Lordships do—many of you much better than I—the deep absorption of the African in his land, you will not wonder that he should ask: "What is it all for? What is this talk of the improvement of our land intended to do? Who is going to state our case to the Secretary of State when the time comes?" They are extremely uneasy. I would beg the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, when he comes to reply, to give this matter some attention.


I should like to answer that now; otherwise I shall not have an opportunity to reply until to-morrow, and it would be most unfortunate if it got abroad in any way that this very limited power of compulsory acquisition of land would permit the land to be taken for any such purpose as somebody quoted by the right reverend Prelate (I do not know who) has said. It is complete nonsense. The sole purpose of this power is to acquire land for such things as railways, roads, telegraph poles and so on, which obviously it is in the common interest should go everywhere. Let me say, quite categorically, that not only is the position completely safeguarded in this way, but, in order that the African may be doubly safeguarded, there is no right to take land for these limited purposes, except by going through all this machinery. Somewhere else in the document, in order to make assurance trebly sure, it is laid down that African lands may not be taken in order to settle white people upon them. I am sure the right reverend Prelate will forgive me for interrupting, because he feels sincerely about these matters, as I do, and it would be a thousand pities if anything got into any newspaper, here or there, which gave twenty-four hours currency to an unfortunate misunderstanding.


I am grateful to the noble Viscount for that correction. It is of the utmost value, because there are rumours going abroad, and there is a certain Dutchman, of the name of Van Eeden, whose reports in this connection have received wide currency. Now they are contradicted in a most official manner, and I am delighted. I am glad that I made the remark, although it was based on a misunderstanding, because it has received an admirable, compelling and complete correction.

The fifth point leading to equality, which I would regard as of the utmost importance, is the development of the participation of the Africans at every level in local government and administration. Here, too, the responsibilities of the Colonial Office are increased. There is one point that I should like to mention, which I had not intended to make but which arises out of a remark which fell from the noble Earl, Lord Munster, as to the number of Chiefs who have been consulted or have expressed their opinions on federation. He said that there were 130 Native Authorities, and he gave us particulars of the views of thirty-six of them. He did not claim to give a comprehensive account of the whole 130. Therefore, there are ninety-four Native Authorities to whose opinions he did not refer. I expect that a considerable proportion of those Native Authorities may be similarly classified with those he mentioned. I would respectfully suggest that, with regard to Chiefs, whether they are Native Authorities or have their Native Authority positions suspended, even when they disagree with and say things injurious to Government policy, the greatest care should be taken in dealing with them and in depriving them of their Chief ship. For example, there is a Chief in Nyasaland, Gomani, whose name is much in the papers in the present time, who has been a Chief and has served Nyasaland faithfully for thirty-four years. His position as Native Authority was brought to an end. Not only was he deprived of his Chief ship, but he was also deported. I am not saying that the deportation was wrong in the end—it may or may not have been—but he had no opportunity for appeal, or to state his case, before such drastic action was taken. That may be the responsibility of the Colonial Office. I would beg for their continued and increasing vigilance in all these affairs.

I have a sixth and a seventh point, and then I shall finish. My sixth point concerns education. Reference has been made to the statement made in another place, and repeated here this afternoon, about an inter-racial University. That is a most welcome advance. The noble Earl who made the statement here did not define in any detail what was meant by "autonomous," or what was meant by "an adequate site." But your Lordships will remember that the Carr-Saunders Report, the Report of the Commission on Higher Education for Africans in Central Africa, published this year, laid the greatest possible stress on an adequate site of two square miles, at least, with opportunity for expansion and development; and they expressed a stout disagreement with a site within a built-up area in Salisbury, which they were a little afraid might be placed before them. The adequacy of the site has a very close connection with the inter-racial character of the University. If the site is inadequate, whatever may be the wish of the Inaugural Board it will be impossible, in fact, for any sufficiency of Africans to find their place within the University itself. I do not think that hostels away from the University, at any rate a considerable distance away, really meet the case.

I hope that the Government will give close attention to the whole chapter in this Report on a University. I hope they will also note what is said about the character of autonomy. The Constitution at present s said to be "inappropriate in all important respects for university institutions of the type we have in mind. It is not in accordance with our views that membership of the Inaugural Board and Council should be acquired by making donations. We believe that a University should not be a proprietary institution. Secondly, every Statute and every change in a Statute must be approved by the Minister of Education of Southern Rhodesia, and must not be disproved by the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia. Also, every regulation must be submitted to the Minister of Education and approved by the Governor. Since the Governor acts on the advice of the Minister, this means approval by the Minister. This point of view is not compatible with the autonomy of the University."

Then there is the whole field of secondary education. In this admirable Report a letter is printed from Sir James Irvine, Chairman of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education in the Colonies, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies dated February 22, 1951, before the time of the present Government. It begins with these sentences—I quote them because they have a bearing on the future, and the spirit in which we act now is very important for the future: The Inter-University Council has during the past two years been concerned at the absence of any general plan for the development of higher education in Central Africa. Agreed plans exist, and are being rapidly carried out, for higher education in East Africa, in the Sudan, in West Africa, in the West Indies, in Malaya and in Hong Kong, but for Central Africa there is no comparable formulation of long-term objectives to enable interim steps to be directed towards the achievement of an agreed and coherent scheme for the region …. The chief new factor which introduces the element of urgency is the South Africa Government's decision that no further Africans from outside the Union will be admitted to the universities in the Union. I venture to quote that paragraph because it has a very clear bearing on an educational advance within the three Territories and within the Federation as a whole.

I come to my last point, which deals with the amendment of the Constitution. I do not think that any responsible speaker, on either side of the House, will refuse the term, though he may qualify it. of "experiment" to the Federal Scheme. In fact, the very provision of a conference to review the Constitution before the ten years are up is itself evidence that we are not all clear that we have the best possible Constitution as yet. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill told us that there were two ways of amending the Federal Constitution. It might be by the ordinary procedure for constitutional amendment set out in paragraph 144 of the Federal Scheme, or, as in the case of the Constitution itself, by an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament. If that were the case, and reflected the realities of the matter, there would be no cause for disquiet, but I am sure your Lordships will all agree that it is most important to preserve the rights of Parliament in this matter.

The view has been expressed in a very high official quarter that the United Kingdom would not be precluded by law from amending the Federal Constitution without the consent of the Federal or Territorial Governments; but that, as the Constitution will be based on a scheme which has been agreed between the four Governments concerned, and will itself be so agreed, Her Majesty's Government considers that it would, in any foreseeable circumstances, be morally and politically indefensible for Parliament to indicate amendments which had not been similarly agreed. I think we ought to be very careful of the rights and the freedom of Parliament. Parliament should not simply disallow; it should have the power and the desire, where necessary, to initiate. We may be faced with the fact of amendments disagreeable to the Africans but agreeable to the Europeans. Are Her Majesty's Government and Parliament being precluded from overriding the Federal Government in order to dispose of those amendments and to put in their place—this is really the point—amendments of a more satisfactory character, with a view to the fuller participation of the Africans?

I have one last word. As your Lordships know, I myself have not been, and have never made any claim to have been, in Africa; but I have been, and am, in very close touch with missionaries and other workers in the three Territories. I am quite certain from what they say that the Africans are at present in a highly suspicious mood. But I am also quite clear that they are prepared to be friendly if they are given a chance through really friendly actions from this end. I myself am in favour of federation if federation is agreed with the Africans. I am against a measure which imposes federation, but once such a measure is passed, I, as a good citizen, accept it as the law of the land. In spite of the provocation they have received, I hope that the Africans themselves will not resist a Federal Scheme when it is finally enacted, either by active or by passive resistance. But I would point out that absence of resistance is a very different matter from co-operation. The Africans are not slaves, and they are not prepared to be slaves. And we have to bear in mind this fact, which is extremely important. I have these figures from Mr. Shaul, the Director of Census and Statistics for the Central African Council—they are to be found in the Carr-Saunders Report. In 1952, the Africans in the three Territories numbered 6,270,000, and the Europeans 200,000. The Africans form, therefore, 96.9 per cent. of the total population. In 1962, his estimate is that the Africans will number 8,100,000 while the Europeans will number 327,000, making the Africans 96.1 per cent. of the population. That is a very important matter; it gives us a serious problem to solve, and it can be solved only by complete and trusting partnership. I agree that many years must pass before full partnership by the Africans can be achieved, but we must make steady progress towards that partnership. We must not, as some—not in this House, and, I daresay, not many in Central Africa itself—would do, rule out partnership as something that is taboo. As the noble Earl, Lord Munster, said, we are laying the foundation of a new and great country. Our partnership, therefore, must be of a democratic character, based on the principle of equality, and it is only by fitting Africans through education, and by trusting them with responsibility in every department of African life, that the total welfare of that vast and important area will be advanced.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, I am afraid that the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken is clearly still very apprehensive about what I think is a real advance in the future of Central Africa. He looks back to the day when officials, recruited in England under the direction of successive Secretaries of State of one or other political colour in this country, ruled Africa, and hopes that these officials will continue to be the rulers of Africa. As I see it, in West, Central and East Africa, we are inevitably setting on a course where the power and the responsibility of the two Houses of Parliament of this United Kingdom, one responsible to our electorate and the other, the House of Lords, responsible merely to our hereditary selves, can no longer be maintained. We cannot put the clock back in the evolution of Constitutions in every part of the British Commonwealth—


I am sorry to interrupt, but I wish to disabuse the noble Lord of a misapprehension. I am in favour of full self-government for the Africans when the time is ripe, and of Parliamentary protection only under this scheme, while it operates.


I agree that the process is gradual. I am not sure that I ought to say this, but I was elected to the House of Commons more than forty-two years ago as a very young man. I got in by eight votes, and a Petition threatened me with a scrutiny. However, that was dropped, and the question turned rather on the exact validity of the votes of a number of dear old illiterate gentlemen, who had been illiterate from the time before the compulsory Education Act came into force and remained illiterate till they died. I agree that until the vast majority of the people entitled to the franchise are at least able to read the names of the candidates on the ballot paper, it is unwise to hasten the process of democracy.

May I switch very rapidly from that part in Britain to the area we are dealing with to-day. I am optimistic about the success of the scheme, from the point of view both of the Africans and of the Europeans. Going to Africa, I have always felt in a different world; and even though there is an Afrikaans-speaking Afrikaner minority the tradition of Rhodesia—one King, one flag, one language and more British traditions—is dominant and spreads right up to East Africa. Now, as to the future of the Africans, the Africans who are going to get the most from this Federal Scheme are the inhabitants of Nyasaland; and not only, those in Nyasaland but, still more important, those who really belong and were once domiciled in Nyasaland and who have all the best jobs, the highest paid jobs, and are among the most educated in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia. There are sections of the Africans in Nyasaland who may have regrets about being finally included in the Central area as opposed to the East area, because they have hitherto provided the crack battalion of the King's African Rifles. They have had a great history in East Africa and their inclusion in the Central area severs them from Nyasaland in East Africa.

I have been thinking of the European farms in Southern Rhodesia where one nearly always finds a head boy—as he is called, although he may not be a boy at all—who almost invariably comes from Nyasaland. I have the recollection of these people when under the first Labour Government—Mr. Thomas was then Secretary of State—I had the honour to be sent as Chairman of the first of the series of Commissions that went to East and Central Africa. I was accompanied by one Socialist and one Liberal. We entered by the Cape, went through the two Rhodesias and, above all, Nyasaland, and right up through Tanganyika to Uganda. Just as I was leaving Uganda there was a General Election. I was, of course, absent, but I was returned, and I received a telegram saying I had been reappointed to the Colonial Office. I was sent out by the Socialist Government and returned to report to myself. I remember the journey from Beira up to Nyasaland in 1924. It was an extremely hot afternoon and we travelled by slow train: there was no bridge across the Zambesi then. Gangs had been working on the lines and we reached a point where there were no rails; and we stopped so that they could replace them. I believe there was a Portuguese engineer in charge, but he was nowhere to be seen. I think he probably took a long time "off." The gangs were having their meal in the middle of the day and, after short palaver, we managed to get them to put back the missing rails. However, I was impressed by the head boy of the gang. He was educated in the Blantyre Mission and, like most people educated there, he got a good job outside Nyasaland, and was teaching the Portuguese Africans the Paraphrases of the Psalms of David in a strong Scottish accent.

When I was High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in South Africa, Swaziland was one of the few areas which was mainly agricultural. But we had a mine, the Havelock mine, one of the best asbestos mines in the world; and for the ordinary work the men with the best paid jobs, and the best-educated men among the Africans, were the Nyasalanders. I remember that 1924 trip, before we built the railway from Tabora to Lake Victoria. There was a small station there which was visited periodically by a district commissioner who had had a hut put up there, with a dispensary. The nearest European doctor's headquarters were sixty miles away and he used to visit this dispensary periodically. It was an area infested by lions and other formidable animals, and it was a place where they were cutting bush with cutlasses. The dispensary as a whole was very cramped. There again I found a Nyasalander whose only qualification was that he had been for some time in a mission hospital in Nyasaland. He had gone there nominally as a dresser, but he performed operations most successfully and quite easily, and saved lives. He was altogether a grand chap.

I believe that when this Federation is established we shall get many similar Nyasalanders on the new franchise in the Rhodesias, and that from Nyasaland will come a growing number of Africans fully fitted to take their part in any local assembly. That is my firm belief. Africans are born more unequal than Europeans, and some of them have far greater abilities than others. One has to face the fundamental fact of great human inequality there. The Mashona are more backward educationally than many other tribes. They were there long before any white man. Mozelokatze and even Lobenguela did establish a little law and order. But it was a most cruel and arbitrary government, and the Mashona were enslaved by the dominant military race. They never had any choice. They were easy prey to the war-like Impi walking through their territory. It was not until British government was established there that the Mashona stood a chance, and they are now making good progress.

I am glad to see that the essential basis of the franchise should be an educational test. I am afraid that the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, quoted only people who were Nyasaland Chiefs. Well, my Lords, we in this House are rather "blown upon" in advanced circles for being merely the sons of our fathers; and I am afraid that throughout Africa hereditary chieftainship no longer has the status or authority or influence that it had in the days when we were young. There are, of course, a few remarkable men, such as Tschekedi, but otherwise what I have said is true. I believe that this is inevitable. The progress of education has accelerated this process in all countries.


The reason I quoted certain Nyasaland Chiefs was because that was the only claim I happen to have come across. I do not know the claims of other people. I quoted that claim and said that I thought the claim submitted was not a fanciful or an unreasonable claim.


I understand that; but I rather doubt whether to-day the Nyasaland Chiefs can really speak for the bulk of the people of the Protectorate of Nyasaland. Certainly, I think, they cannot speak for the very large number of Nyasaland Africans who are now resident outside the Protectorate in all the neighbouring Territories. Of course, when you make anew Constitution devolving authority there is always a risk. We are taking risks in West Africa. We are taking risks everywhere where self-government is being given. But inevitably we are set on that course. Some people think we are going too fast; others think we are going too slow. But it is inevitable that this course of extending Parliamentary representative government is ahead of us. To say that you are not going to give more self-government until you have far more pure Southern Rhodesian Africans fit and capable by education to have the franchise is, I am sure, altogether wrong.

Forty-one years ago, in the days of the old chartered company, the country was first divided into Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. It would probably be better if it had remained one. But now that we have set up a white self-government, with a comparatively little show for Africans, for Southern Rhodesia which has carried on until now, we must take a further step. The great, fact is, of course, that the white population of Southern Rhodesia has more than doubled since the end of the last war and, thank goodness! that doubling is almost entirely from this island of Great Britain, and not from the Union of South Africa. I have known a good many of these people, private soldiers and non-commissioned officers among them, who fought in the last war in East Africa, Asia, or elsewhere; and I have seen undergraduates from the University of Wales, with which I am connected, go out there. There is undoubtedly a great future there, and now, thanks to this new British immigration, the country is full of modern ideas—ideas which all Parties in this House share.

I do not believe that, because you go to a country largely inhabited by another race, you instantly become a narrow reactionary. I was in West Africa last year, and I have never had a happier time than I did on the Gold Coast. I met all classes of people on the best of terms; I spoke to many of the African undergraduates; and all the many times that I have been in Africa I have never felt the slightest doubt that we British people and the Africans can get on happily and well together, and that our presence there is the best assurance of the advance of the African, intellectually, politically, economically and in every way. It is because I have that faith, because I believe in my own people, because I believe in the African, because I believe in Sir Godfrey Huggins as a grand man with a great heart, that I long to see this scheme go through and get a start. I believe that it will prove another great success in the devolution of power from the old Colonial Office and the official rule of Whitehall to a democracy, a multi-racial democracy, in Africa.

5.21 p.m.


My Lords, I have been and am opposed to these particular federation proposals, but I am entirely in agreement with the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that once this Bill is on the Statute Book, it is the duty of anyone who wishes to be regarded as a responsible person to wish this fateful experiment success and to do anything that lies in his power to further that success. Having said that, however, I am bound to add this: that until the Bill is en the Statute Book its opponents, in my opinion, have a perfect right to state their arguments against it and to refer to matters in the scheme which disturb them. I myself have been examining very carefully the arguments for federation as put forward in what I regard as an excellent pamphlet issued by the United Central Africa Association. That Association is composed of men and women of very great experience, and I think that their arguments are ably and cogently stated in the pamphlet. I have been examining them at some length and with some care.

The pamphlet has a foreword by Mr. Amery, who speaks of masses of uneducated natives quite incapable of understanding the Scheme. But he agrees that there also is opposition to federation from those whom he calls the extreme advocates of racial domination among the white settler community in Southern Rhodesia. I regard that as an Interesting admission about certain white settler elements, but the pamphlet seems to me to admit nothing of the sort. It says that federation is a proof of the capacity of Britons and Africans to live side by side in a harmonious relationship based on mutual respect and trust and, indeed, on mutual affection. It describes those who advocate federation as wishing to undertake the responsibility of uniting with the Africans to form a single nation and asserts that federation will bring shared peace, shared prosperity and a shared pride of nationhood. Partnership"— we are told— is implicit in every line of the federal proposals. That is agreeable reading, but unfortunnately the authors are not able to keep up very long the pretence of "one nation." It is laid down, for instance, as the "inescapable duty" of the European to make all policy decisions on matters which lie outside the purview of his African wards. I think a solicitor might as well excuse himself for embezzling his ward's money on the ground that she did not understand those money matters which he had made no attempt to explain to her.

The arguments in this pamphlet are advanced as if racial discrimination did not exist. It speaks of "dissimilarity" between European and African, but says: this should not he thought of in terms of 'superiority' and 'inferiority' but of 'differing aptitudes.' "No sense of superiority or inferiority," says the pamphlet; yet grave exception is taken to an African leader having said: the best government for the black people is a government fully manned and run by the black people of Africa. Surely, that is self-government. And I thought that self-government was a bipartisan policy with us in this country. The pamphlet speaks on the subject of new capital becoming available when federation is an accomplished fact. It seems to me that harmonious relationships, respect, trust and affection, are all very well to bait the prospectus, but capital is the thing. There will be "huge developments" once capital is forthcoming "in sufficient quantities to open up new reservoirs of wealth."

Let us hope that "partnership" will be kept in mind if these reservoirs materialise. Without capital, we are told, the territories "might well become an embarrassment." But it does not say to whom—an embarrassment to the European or an embarrassment to the African? Who is going to be embarrassed? The question to which I never get an answer is this: How do you combine all that the pamphlet and other advocates of federation say about "one nation," "mutual respect" and so on, and so forth, with the maintenance of racial discrimination? That is the question that I never hear answered, yet it is the crux of the matter. Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, who is going to wind up this debate, will give some answer to that and show us how you can reconcile the colour bar with partnership. I do not say that in any way to try to score a point off the noble Viscount. I have the greatest respect for his experience and knowledge, and I should read with the closest attention anything that he might say to try to clear up these discrepancies.

How can one avoid thinking of the relations between the races in terms of "superiority" and "inferiority" when there are pass laws and a statutory industrial colour bar, when one man can go into an hotel and another man cannot? Federation, we are told in the pamphlet, is to bring "a shared pride of nationhood"—yet the African may not share the same entrance to the post office as the European. How can there be no sense of "superiority" or "inferiority" when the idea of the African making (these are the words) "any significant contribution to modern government" or showing any ability to "compete in technical skills" is dismissed as ludicrous? In view of the experience of the Second World War, when so many Africans were drafted into our Forces and there learned many technical skills about the handling of internal combustion engines and other remarkable weapons of war, how is it that, in face of those facts, this idea that he cannot compete in technical skills is put forward? The authors speak of: the heroic devotion of the missionaries to have endured every discomfort and defied every discouragement"; and say: in Central Africa the Churches have a right, second to none, to speak about its future status. But surely the missionaries have offered most grave cautions and advice to the Government. They have placed on record how these federation proposals are uniting people in a really united opposition to federation, how disturbed they are by it, and also how dangerous it is for the future. The pamphlet says that "there are in Nyasaland two and a half million happy Africans," but I read a little time ago that the Bishop of Nyasaland is unconvinced and unhappy. Well, it seems to me very odd that when his flock is so happy the Bishop should be so unhappy. These two statements, again, I find difficult to reconcile.

My Lords, I think these attempts, I will not say in the pamphlet (I hope the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, will accept that) which we have repeatedly heard in discussions and arguments about this question of federation, to show that the Africans do not understand it or are not so opposed to it as all that, really cannot be maintained. The Times is impartial, and it cannot be considered an unfriendly newspaper towards the Government. It endeavours to maintain a standard of impartiality. I see that it has just spoken of growing concern in Northern Rhodesia over African demonstrations against racial discrimination in shops, Government offices, hotels and restaurants.


Government offices?


Yes, in shops, Government offices, hotels and restaurants. But this is the significant thing—


Would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? If the noble Lord quotes The Times, it is only fair to say that The Times correspondent out there (and I associate myself with everything that he said) suggests that a good deal of this opposition was instigated from this country. In fact, he was rude enough to say that it had been instigated from both Houses of Parliament.


Yes, I have seen statements of that sort, that these difficulties have been instigated from here. In fact, I have seen it stated that people have been grossly deceived by what has been said and put forward in this country; but I have never seen any evidence quoted on that point. I know these things are said, but I should like to see the evidence for saying them. But this is the significant thing about the extract from The Times that I have quoted. European opinion a seems inclined to "concede the justice of the African case." Coming from The Times, that seems to me a very remarkable statement indeed, and one which shows the depth of the opposition. It has been said in The Times that "the general opposition of the Africans cannot be challenged," and it has uttered a grave warning about the strain which is being produced on the European population, a strain which can hardly fail sooner or later to produce some reaction other titan laughter. Senior police officers with long experience feel increasing nervousness. In view of such statements by The Times, what is the use of saying that the African neither understands nor is opposed to these federation proposals? The correspondent of The Daily Telegraph in Salisbury has also spoken in the same terms—that African opinion is solidly against federation.

Mr. Hopkinson, the Minister of State at the Colonial Office, has been out to Central Africa. I understand that he was supposed to go out as an observer, but from all I saw reported of his proceedings it seems to me that he acted as an advocate. On one occasion, however, in a speech at Salisbury, he seemed to me to "let the cat out of the bag," by saying that the real object of Federation is the creation of "a great new bastion of British power in Central Africa." He uttered a veiled threat that if federation were not to be brought about, eyes would turn to South Africa. In my opinion, and I think in that of a great many other people, what we want is not "a great new bastion of British power," but a bastion of partnership which will prevent the Africans from falling into the extremism which is now being manifested in the Union of South Africa. I have seen the Referendum which was taken in Rhodesia spoken of as "a vote for the British way of life." What about the African way of life? The vote only increases African discontent. They see that a 3 per cent. European minority has power to decide the fate of three African territories, and to decide the fate in the interests of what is called "the British way of life." Mr. Hopkinson has been trying to persuade us that 90 per cent. of the Africans "know nothing about federation at all," and so we are entitled to go ahead. We know what is best for them. I see that his opinion is shared by Mr. Stumbles in Southern Rhodesia, who blamed Mr. Griffiths, the former Secretary of State for the Colonies because Mr. Griffiths: assumed that the African had an opinion and asked him what he wanted instead of telling him what was good for him. Mr. Stumbles evidently has a nursery-maid complex. The idea that the African understands nothing is very strong indeed amongst the advocates of federation.

Then we come to this word so frequently in use—partnership. What exactly is meant by partnership? I agree broadly with Mr. Griffiths, who laid down three or four points. He said that the African copper belt miners ought to be advanced according to skill and experience; that there should be consideration of the colour bar and removal of racial discrimination in Government Departments, and that there should be African representation on local councils and political advancement of Africans in the Territorial Governments and Legislatures. If we really mean anything when we use this word "partnership," those four principles laid down by Mr. Griffiths, it seems to me, point the way. I think that federation ought to have been preceded by conversations and discussions on partnership, but the idea languished after the Victoria Falls Conference. Mr. Lyttelton has never, to my knowledge (I hope I am doing him no injustice in saying this) attempted to define partnership. He has been completely vague on that subject. Where is the evidence of the white settlers endorsing the idea of partnership? My Lords, surely the fact is indisputable that racial discrimination makes nonsense of partnership. The two things cannot possibly go together. Where is partnership so long as federation and racial discrimination go hand in hand? I wish very much that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury had pointed this out when he expressed the hope that federation would be worked in a spirit of real endeavour to make the partnership grow. It cannot be so worked as long as racial discrimination exists.

This pamphlet does not hesitate to link the name of Livingstone with that of Rhodes, and it claims that Livingstone would have been in favour of the Bill for federation. Rhodes also had his ideas on partnership, and I think it would be a very good way to celebrate the centenary of Rhodes by being guided by his views on this question of federation. He said of the Africans: They have human minds. Help them to use their human minds. I do not believe they are different from ourselves. On another occasion he said: Equal rights for every civilised man south of the Zambesi. Then he said: What is a civilised man? A man, whether white or black, who has sufficient education to write his name, has some property, or works—in fact is not a loafer.' Finally, he said: Give the native opportunity and he will rise to it. There is the way to make federation a success; there is the way to true partnership—by adopting the words of Rhodes.

With regard to the safeguards, Sir Godfrey Huggins has been quoted this afternoon, with great respect and admiration. About the African Affairs Board, it was Sir Godfrey Huggins who said: The thing that is going to wreck this scheme is the so-called African Affairs Board. I do not think that the creation of the African Affairs Board is a sufficient discharge of our responsibility to protect the Africans. When you come to analyse its powers, what can this Board do except object and protest? Will the Board be able to stop Southern Rhodesia perpetuating and extending racial discrimination? Where are its powers to do that? It seems to me that we abandon effective control over the legislation of the Territories concerned, and the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will be permanently subordinated to the European minorities in these Territories, and to Southern Rhodesia. There is to be no political equality for them.

We have heard it said this afternoon that matters affecting African welfare will remain the province of the Territorial Governments. But everything dealt with by the Federal Government will directly or indirectly affect African welfare. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said that Southern Rhodesia will be the senior partner. And she will, therefore, get her way. This is not going to be a Federation of equals; it is going to be a Federation with Southern Rhodesia, with her racial discrimination laws, remaining the dominant partner in the Federation. Sir Godfrey Huggins has little affection for those who disagree with him. He says that Africans who do so are "rabid nationalists," or "partially educated"; or that they are "noisy boys." I would call the attention of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, especially to that. Sir Godfrey said that it was "noisy boys" who started the trade union movement in Britain. The result, he said, was a Socialist Government in Great Britain, and they "set about ruthlessly destroying everything that had made her great." I understand that all three Parties in this country now regard the trade unions as an indispensable Fourth Estate. As to what makes a country great, surely it is the happiness, the prosperity and the welfare of her people that makes a nation great, and I cannot see that the "noisy boys" have taken away and destroyed that element of greatness in our country. As I have called the attention of the noble and learned Earl to that quotation, perhaps I may call the attention of the noble Earl, Lord Munster, to another. Sir Godfrey Huggins does not like the Colonial Office. He says that it has proved a fertile soil for germinating the seed sown by their Red master. I do not know who this "Red master" is. I thought that we sent two very mild Colonial Secretaries to the Colonial Office. I do not know whether either of them is the "Red master" who is spoken of by Sir Godfrey Hugging—but there it is. Senator McCarthy would no doubt want to interrogate the noble Earl, if he had the power, because what has been going on in the Colonial Office, according to Sir Godfrey Huggins, has been the germination of Red seed.

To sum up what I feel on this subject, I do not consider that negotiation with the Africans has gone deep enough. There is a very remarkable story of Rhodes going off and sitting with the Matabele for two months, while they talked things over, day after day. As I say, I do not think negotiations have been taken deep enough. I think there has been too little understanding, too little sweet reasonableness, too little humouring of the Africans, too little sympathy, too little gentle persuasion, always remembering that we have been dealing with very unsophisticated minds. By patience, and, above all, by repealing racial legislation, we might have secured African agreement and so gained an immense prize—for it is an immense prize which we set out to gain when we talk of federation of these three Territories. It is a prize with great economic advantages, a system making for stability and prosperity, a new State, loyal and contented, inside the Commonwealth, with the possibility of a great extension; a firm buttress against dangerous South African policies. But without African agreement to the scheme then I see in it equally momentous dangers.

Mr. Lyttelton, on taking office, left no door open. He said bluntly that the Government were going ahead with federation. The Government have duly gone ahead, although African opposition was manifestly increasing. In my opinion Mr. Lyttelton has show had statesmanship in getting himself into a position in which he must either impose or abandon federation. He has totally ignored the fact that no Constitution, however cleverly drafted, can work against the will of the people it affects. I remain opposed to this Bill because I regard it as being an imposition on the Africans who are concerned, because I think it is fraught with danger to our whole position throughout Africa and because I think it is calculated to give us a bad name amongst those who are already criticising us as a Colonial Power. Having said these things, I come back to what I said at the start. Once the Bill is on the Statute Book, only if there were some attempt completely to destroy the provisions of the Constitution or seriously to invade the human rights of the Africans would anyone be justified in supporting opposition to the scheme.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord who has just sat down started speech by saying that he will support this Bill when it becomes law. I am glad that he ended his speech by quoting Cecil Rhodes with some warmth. That the noble Lord is taking a very patriotic line, I think we shall all agree. He has pledged his support for something with which he plainly disagrees very considerably. I am going to speak for a matter of about four minutes only. I am not going to thresh or re-thresh to your Lordships those arguments we had in our last two-day debate. I have been wondering in the last few weeks or months, when I studied the productions of the publicist, whether or not the old Latin tag ex Africa semper aliquid novi had not begun to lose its meaning.

Before I make my very few remarks—with an eye on the clock—I should like to address one observation to the noble Lord, Lord Winster. He says, in very forthright fashion, that racial discrimination makes nonsense of partnership, and blames the laws, a fortiori, for the fact that so many of these things exist. I do not have to tell a man who has been so long in public affairs, and has been himself a proconsul, the actual limitation of the mere passing of laws to achieve a result, when things of this sort are at stake. The noble Lord may know the island of Jamaica. Now in Jamaica there is virtually no colour prejudice and no discrimination. Why? Was it a matter of law? No. The colour bar is an attitude of mind, above which nations rise. But it may take a long time and a lot of living together to do it. In the West Indies, every man, black or white, is two things: he is a Christian and he speaks English. Furthermore, in Jamaica they have lived together for close on 300 years. We have been in Central Africa for only a matter of sixty years. I am not going to say that it will take 300 years to put things right there, but time and a great deal of good will will be required; and we must achieve the results step by step.

Perhaps I can help the noble Lord, Lord Winster, in one more thing. He said he had seen no evidence of propaganda deriving from this country to the inhabitants of Central Africa. I will furnish him with an interesting pamphlet, published by a gentleman called Dr. Banda, which was published just before the late Government produced their first proposals for federation. It was sent out to Nyasaland, and I think to the other two Territories, in a wide distribution at a time when it was quite impossible for the writer to have known what the Government's proposals actually contained. I think he will be interested in that publication.


My Lords, when I made that remark in the course of my speech, I was thinking of the two Houses of Parliament, following what the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, said I think he was referring, erroneously, to the speeches of Members of another place or to those of Members of your Lordships' House, and it was that which I was refuting. As regards the colour bar, I make full allowance for human prejudices, but I can never see a reason for enshrining them in legislation.


After many months of controversy we are now on the threshold of launching this Federal Scheme. One of the things that has been underlined in this debate, and in earlier debates, is exactly what is incumbent upon a trustee—how heavy is the weight he must bear on his shoulders. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Winster, regards Edmund Burke as having had a nursemaid's complex, but, if he had one, then I have one, too. I follow Burke word for word in this reply he gave to the electors of Bristol in 1774. He was their Member of Parliament and the trustee of their interests. They wrote lobbying him to vote for a certain Bill. He replied to them: Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment: and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion. There are times when a trustee may have to say that, and act on it. I will not try to define partnership for the noble Lord: I will leave it to a wiser man to do that. Partnership is hard to define, but we all understand, deep down, what it means. The most important thing in partnership is that if one side make a gesture, the other side must make a gesture to meet them.

I think it was a great and imaginative pronouncement, though perhaps a somewhat obvious one, that the University of Rhodesia should be multi-racial. It drew immediately from the organising secretary of the Southern Rhodesian African Congress, at Salisbury, Mr. Chiweshe, these words: The decision of the Board indicates that the British people who have made Southern Rhodesia their permanent home realise that the racial problems can only be solved on the basis of partnership between themselves and us who are sons of the soil. This bold decision must result in mutual respect between the races. A great deal of publicity has emanated from Africa over the past months. Mr. Chiweshe, whom I have quoted, is plainly a moderate and sensible man. And the future lies with the moderates. Unfortunately, one may preach moderation, one may advise moderation, one may counsel moderation, but one cannot agitate for moderation; and, therefore, the agitator has the hustings all to himself, and statements like those of Mr. Chiweshe are lost in the raucous speeches of the agitator.

I should like to say this about the matter of delay. I thought that, by implication, if not by his actual words, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, saw no reason why we should not have delay The noble Lord, Lord Winster, roundly blamed the Colonial Secretary for being in the position in which it was "now or never." Delay has not been strongly demanded this afternoon, but it is a view frequently put forward in this country. If we did delay, just whom should we convince? It has taken two years of patient explanation to explain what federation means to many thousands of Africans. If they do not understand it yet, they will not understand it in a further two or three months. Those who harbour groundless fears about their land, and about their Protectorate status, will continue to harbour them, however clear one is in explaining matters to them. Those who fear any change in the status quo—and that is one of the dominant characteristics of the African mind—will not change. And if we bring people for further talks round the table, people who have professed already to he completely irreconcilable, that does not hoot very much. Those who would claim delay as a victory would be the extremists—and by extremists I mean those men, either white or black, who believe that in the future Central Africa must be governed by one race only, and that their own. They harden each other's hearts.

It has never been our genius of government to produce a blueprint. We have never had blueprint government. It is dangerous to criticise the Constitution of other nations, but the French and Americans frequently find their Constitutions a hindrance. What we have given always, and what we are giving now, is a working model, and not a blueprint. As the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester said, it is not perfect. It cannot be perfect in the present state, but it can and will he perfected, given the support of men of good will of all races. That we can expect, and on that we must rely.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, I shall do my best to emulate the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, and keep my remarks short. A great deal has been said in the last two years on this subject. One wants to avoid repetition, but there is one factor in the situation which seems to me the most important single factor—that is, the question of confidence and good faith between Africans and Europeans in Africa. This was sail by the Bishop of Nyasaland in a letter to The Times not many weeks ago: In a multi-racial community such as Central Africa mutual confidence between the different races in it is and must remain, if it is to have any future the first prerequisite for economic or political development. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, talked of the economic advancement that must flow from federation. I suggest that his optimism is rather excessive, because if the Federation is launched in an atmosphere of mistrust and fear on both sides, how can it possibly be an attractive field for investment, on which the economic argument mainly depends?

What is being done to disperse the fears and suspicions of the Africans? Noble Lords may say that the Africans do not understand federation. Would the average voter in this country understand a complicated constitutional measure? But what he would understand, and what the African peasant understands, because he is a shrewd and hardheaded person, is any effect of such a Constitution which would hand over the control of his future in any degree to people whose motives he did not trust. What have we got to dispel this fear? A great deal has been said about the agreement on the new Central African University. I must say it is most welcome to know that the courses will be based on a foundation of academic equality. But there is no mention of social equality. I have a suspicion that in the mind of the African, social equality and the removal of the colour bar, which affects his social life, would count more than academic equality and the taking of courses similar to those taken by white students. Therefore, it is not going as far towards dispelling suspicion as many of us might hope, although I admit it is some small step.

I am afraid that the biggest single factor that has operated to intensify the suspicions of the Africans has been the sayings of Sir Godfrey Huggins, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. They have been quoted often, and equally often they have been discounted by noble Lords on the other side, who have said: "After all, Sir Godfrey is a very liberal-minded and progressive man." But men of great experience in public life do not talk at random; they weigh their words and use them for a purpose. Sir Godfrey Huggins said in April last, that there was only one valid reason for opposing the federation scheme, and that was that Africans were to be taken into the Federal Parliament. To some people that was sheer madness …. He said in the same speech: We must see what the Colonial Office have done and how necessary it is to stop this rushing to the edge of a precipice as they have been doing in Africa. We can put a brake on this policy and bring in a little bit of reason into Africa. Then, he said: The growth of African nationalism was one of the most serious things that had ever happened. It had been planned by a previous Government in Britain. If Sir Godfrey was referring to the Labour Government, I think he flatters us, because African nationalism is of much older growth than that. African nationalism was brought in by British missionaries and administrators many generations ago. That is what Sir Godfrey is so frightened of, and calls such a serious thing. Finally, Sir Godfrey said that he believed that the Southern Rhodesians have the opportunity of rescuing this part of Africa for the Empire. That is a statement by a responsible man in the Commonwealth about your Lordships' House and the other place; and about the Colonial Office, which is subject to this Parliament. With all those statements, can it be wondered that the Africans, far from being reconciled to this handing over of control to the Europeans in Africa, are becoming more and more suspicious and obstinate?

This Bill, as my noble and learned Leader said, has got to the stage when we must accept that it will pass into law, and with it the power to make the Order in Council which will bring into force the Constitution. There is still hope that Her Majesty's Government can do something to dispel those suspicions and fears. That can be done, I suggest, by writing into the Bill some of the provisions of the Constitution, or some of the admirable sentiments in the preamble to the White Paper. As we all know, the White Paper was the outcome of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Southern Rhodesia and the other Governments in Africa. In parenthesis, I would say that I have never been able to see how Her Majesty's Government could negotiate, within the accepted meaning of the word, with the Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which are, in fact, subordinate to Her Majesty's Government. It seems to me that the negotiations were between Her Majesty's Government, the Government of Southern Rhodesia and the European minority in Northern Rhodesia. However, that is by the way: the scheme was the outcome of those negotiations.

Clearly, Her Majesty's Government cannot go beyond the scheme without fresh agreement from the other parties; but it seems to me that the things which were agreed, and are printed in the White Paper, could very well go into the Bill. If that would in the smallest degree remove the suspicions and fears felt among the Africans, why cannot Her Majesty's Government do it? Many Amendments were moved in the other place, but they were all refused. The grounds given, so far as I could understand, were that it would be a difficult drafting operation, or that it would give rise to difficult constitutional and legal questions if a miscellaneous lot of provisions were put in the Bill. But if any advantage is to be gained by securing the confidence of the Africans, surely this is a case when that advantage outweighs the legal disadvantages. Even at the cost of a breach of legislative precedent, surely, Her Majesty's Government should embody in the Bill some of these additional safeguards.

However, from what we hear, it seems that the Government are determined to put this measure through. This seems to be one of the occasions when "the gentleman in Whitehall knows best" what is good for the Africans. If this scheme is going through, the responsibility is that of Her Majesty's Government; but once the Federation is launched, the responsibility will be that of the political leaders in the new Federation. They will be the only people who will be able to ensure the success of this new experiment. If they and their European constituents and supporters, show that they really mean partnership and mean to break with the past, arid to loosen up the social, the economic and the other colour bars in those countries, they will have done a great work, and will be able to launch this new country with the good will and co-operation of the inhabitants—not only of the 250,000 Europeans, but of the 6,000,000 Africans.

Do not let us forget the very serious words which the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in a letter to The Times last autumn, when he said: … if Europeans and Africans are to trust one another both must show themselves worthy of trust. … Europeans must recognise the naturalness and, indeed, the frequent justification of Africans' suspicions and fears; and as members of the more developed race they have a special duty to make their good will and their true intentions of fair dealing evident. We hope that, even at the eleventh hour, Her Majesty's Government will do something to improve the atmosphere as between Africans and Europeans. If they do not, the responsibility is put clearly on the shoulders of those Europeans living in Africa, and we hope they will prove worthy of it.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, it is with somewhat mixed feelings that I rise to take part in this debate, because for myself I should have preferred to have said nothing, especially after the first three speeches to which we have had the privilege of listening this afternoon. But in view of the fact that certain other things have been said after those speeches, it is perhaps desirable, very briefly I hope, to deal with one or two of the points in a general way. Like the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, I do not propose at this late stage to go over again many of the arguments in matters of detail.

There was one point which was mentioned again and again, and that was that federation is being imposed upon the Africans. "Imposed" is a word with certain connotations, and I would suggest that in Colonial matters it is a word which you can use in a certain sense because, in view of our position as trustees and in view of our responsibilities, during the whole of our association with Colonial territories we have had to do what we thought was right. It is not a very sensible proposition to suggest that our actions in doing what we thought was right for the progress of our Colonies, should have been limited to the extent to which we could obtain the agreement of people who were, without casting any undue reflections on them, not fitted to come to a decision themselves in the matters of intricacy or of moment about which we felt it necessary to take action.

I suggest that this is one of those occasions, and to impose an action upon a Colonial territory is nothing more than another way of saying that the British Government continue to do what they have generally done in the past, which is to do the right as they see the right. I suggest also that the realisation of that fact should in some way moderate the criticism which it is legitimate to make about a Government in Colonial matters. We should remember that the Government is dealing with people who do not understand the differences of opinion so freely expressed in public life here, and who are apt, if such opposition is carried beyond a certain point, to think that this country is divided upon it, whereas, as we have heard this afternoon, we in this country all believe that once a decision has been given the sanction of law it should be supported by all patriotic citizens.

As we know, nothing is easier than to play on the fears and suspicions of backward races. The people have been accustomed to receiving authoritative advice from us, and they have not reached the stage where they can do without that advice. For that reason it was unfortunate that, two years ago, the officers of the Colonial Service in these Territories were told that they must not give advice on the question of whether federation was a good thing or not. Those of us who have spent our life serving Colonial peoples in various parts of the world know that part of the trust which has been built up by ourselves is that, on any occasion like this, the ordinary native of the country, whether he be an African or any other race, can come instinctively to his district officer and ask for advice. If he is told that there is no advice to be given and that he must make up his own mind—a thing which has never been put to him in that way before—then he immediately thinks that there is something wrong with the proposal, and that his district officer does not care to tell him that it is a bad thing. It was certainly very unfortunate.

In relation to the doubts which the noble Lord, Lord Winster, cast upon the suggestion that there had been a good deal of perversion of the truth in this matter by opponents of federation—I do not mean in this House or in another place, but generally in public—I may say that had I been an African, and an educated African, and been subjected to the deluge of falsehood, fiction and fallacy with which this subject has been invested in certain quarters, I should probably have been just as much a dupe as many of the Africans have been, and I should have felt that there was something wrong with federation. This falsehood, fiction and fallacy has been so widespread and so unscrupulously used that it has perverted the opinion of many honest people in this country, not to say in other countries such as America. Since when has it been decided that a trustee of the interests of immature races must surrender his discretion and his responsibility to those who are unfitted to make a decision? Are we not setting up a kind of Divine right of ignorance in making such a suggestion? Did the old pioneers and missionaries go forth in their gallant fight against ignorance and superstition only to capitulate in the end to it? Surely that is not the case. They had the faith to move mountains of ignorance and superstitution.

I am anxious to avoid any implication that one Party or the other is on one side or the other. I am well aware that opinion is divided in every direction, largely, if I may say so with respect, according to the amount of knowledge of Africa which is possessed by people who hold those opinions. I hope that no Member of this House will be misled by the stubborn repetition which is still being made of many of the falsehoods about federation; many of the falsehoods about what are the aims of the people who will be in charge of the new Federal Government. I deplore the tendency to drag odd remarks of Sir Godfrey Huggins into the light of an intensive public scrutiny and to ignore thirty years of magnificent work on behalf of the Africans. It really is, I suggest, most unfair. May I note, in passing, the curious fact that little publicity was given to the declaration by the Paramount Chief of Barotseland, on behalf of himself and his people, in favour of federation. And, only a few days ago, there was the goodwill gift of 529 bags of grain offered spontaneously by one of the leading Chiefs of Matabeleland to the Queen's Forces on active service in Kenya, the Chief stating that he and his people had no sympathy with the outbreak of violence and wanted to help the soldiers to put it down. I mention this to indicate that there is a bulk of African opinion, and a growing bulk of African opinion, which feels that the Government merits support.

To come to the Bill before the House. Its aims and objects have been put before your Lordships, and I need not elaborate them, except to suggest that what this Bill seeks is an answer to this question: Is it or is it not possible for a multi-racial community, whose component parts differ not only in colour but in stages of culture and civilisation, in natural and acquired capacity, in tradition and custom, to be bound amicably together in a community which accepts the leadership of those best qualified to lead, and is content to work together for the objects and for the benefits of the best interests of the community, working slowly towards an equal partnership? I not impressed by requests for a definition of partnership. We all know what is meant by slowly progressing towards equal partnership, and I suggest that it is not necessary to have a watertight definition. This scheme has been evolved by successive British Governments, in consultation with the Governments of the three Territories concerned, and the main line of attack—if that is the right word: the main line of opposition—has been the desire for further delay and an expression of doubt about the good faith of those who will be in charge of the scheme. I do not think I need deal in detail now with what the result of delay world be—it has been dealt with so often before. But delay would play into the hands, not of those who think the scheme is a good one and might win the support of Africans, but of those who wish the scheme to be damned altogether.

My own view is that the only short way, and the swiftest way, of convincing doubting Africans, and also external disbelievers, is to prove in practice that their fears have no foundation. This Bill represents the last stage in giving legislative effect to the decision of the Governments concerned. There is no doubt that federation can be made to succeed, and by its very success to accelerate the steady disappearance of those discriminatory features of Central African life which are so deeply deplored by most people in this country and in Africa. It is quite certain that racial discrimination cannot be dissipated or stopped by decree, and least of all by decree from outside the country. Interference from outside of that kind can only accentuate it, and probably delay the process of steady elimination which is at present going on by natural forces. As the African raises his economic status, as he makes himself fitter for partnership, so inevitably racial discrimination will disappear.

I suggest, too, that there has been a regrettable confusion of thought in some quarters about this, because the social problems of Central Africa are not implicit in federation and are largely irrelevant to that issue. They were there before federation was thought of, and will remain there with a lessened chance of peaceful solution if federation should fail. It would seem that anyone who speaks recklessly to-day about these matters should remember the effect upon the African of such remarks, especially if they come from a House like this. Examination of the scheme shows no evidence to support the suggestion that African interests will be adversely affected, but now, probably, nothing short of seeing the scheme in practice will convince doubting Africans about the sincerity of the motives and the intentions of those who will run the scheme. I should like to ask one question, and that is: Are the peace, prosperity and happiness of all races in Central Africa the sole aim of the thought and action of those who continue to oppose federation? It is a question about which they should think deeply, and answer, because if they had their way, and federation were ruined by being denied a start, we should have thrown away the hopes of the African in order to gratify his fears; and the three Territories could look forward to nothing better than growing tension and growing racial difficulties. The worst fate of all would probably be that of Nyasaland, because she is the poor relation of that part of the world, in that she has not the large resources of the other Territories; she and her people stand to benefit most, by association with the two Rhodesias.

I notice that the right reverend Prelate said that great attention should be paid not only to African but to Asian opinion, and I hope that he will pay considerable attention to opinion of that kind. In last Friday's issue of The Times there was a article by the Aga Khan on racial harmony. With your Lordships' permission I will quote one or two sentences. After condemning violence he went on: Nor can passive resistance be tolerated; for, except in societies with long historical and emotional experience of religious quietism, it inevitably leads to violence when practised on a large scale. There will be a heavy moral responsibility on those misguided people who, forgetting the absence of this past experience of religious quietism, urge passive resistance in Africa. I hope that the dormant conscience of those who have taken time off to try to stir up opposition in Africa will be revived by those words. At the conclusion of his article the Aga Khan further says: We cannot expect societies with different racial, educational and cultural origins to unite if the trustees are divided. In Africa itself the ultimate need must be a general recognition of the principle that anyone who has the ability to succeed has the chance of achieving success in economic, political and intellectual fields. In other words, my Lords, the Aga Khan deprecates the invasion of Colonial policy by Party politics, and lends his powerful support to the principle of Cecil Rhodes—"Equal rights for all civilised men." That is one of the principles envisaged by the Central African Federation.

I believe in levelling up and not levelling down. I regard pandering to African vanity as a form of patronage—and offensive patronage at that. If we want the African to be an equal, if he is an equal, then let us treat him as such, and apply to him the standards that that implies. How many Africans to-day, in positions on Councils in the Colonies, are there for better reasons than that they are Africans? Many of them, I know, are capable men who deserve the position. Some, quite certainly, are men who are there because of their race. I suggest that part of the scheme for equality must be that intrinsic merit is the major consideration in such things; and those who ask for more African Members in the Federal Assembly at this moment cannot be conscious of the difficulty to-day of finding Africans of adequate ability to undertake such responsibilities. My Lords, in this House, we can all recognise a great constructive moment in our history, when opportunity beckons to the heights of honourable achievement in the service of mankind. We all know that They that dig foundations deep Fit for realms to rise upon, Little honour do they reap Of their generation. The men responsible for Central African administration do not ask for honour. All that they are asking for is the chance to do a great constructive work in which they believe; and the least that we can do, surely, is not to obstruct them in taking full advantage of that opportunity. I beg to support the Bill.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, I think we are all grateful—although this is perhaps the first time that this has been said from this side of the House—to the Minister for the fresh and extremely interesting information which he has imparted to Parliament in his admirable speech. If I might venture a criticism of his speech (I am sorry that he is not here at the moment, but I have no doubt that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, will reply on his behalf at the end of the debate) it would be that in dealing with Nyasaland he perhaps under-estimated the extent of the opposition to federation in that Territory and the danger which that involves for the future of Central Africa. I think it is most important that, before we consent to this measure, we should take into full account its possible consequences in Nyasaland, and consider carefully whether, by rushing federation and by forcing the pace, we are not causing difficulties which might have been avoided if we had taken the trouble to spend more time in convincing the African leaders in Nyasaland that federation is desirable. It would surely have been a much better thing if federation were as generally acceptable in Central Africa as it now is in the West Indies.

Everyone will agree that until now relations between the races in Nyasaland have been extremely friendly; and the local administration has had the full support of the African population, with the co-operation of the Chiefs as the Native Authority. The unfortunate fact is that now, for the first time in the history of this country, a number of leading Chiefs and some educated Africans, such as teachers and civil servants, are showing distrust of the white population and a loss of confidence in the Administration. Some Chiefs have resigned their posts as Native Authorities. I was grateful to the Minister for saying that only five had, in fact, resigned, and that of those five, two have already withdrawn their resignations. I think that is very reassuring, because other figures have been given in certain Press reports; but at any rate, the facts are that a few of these Native Authorities have already withdrawn from their posts. Of course, it would he generally agreed that local government in Nyasaland, being based on indirect rule, would break down completely if a movement of this kind were to spread to considerable dimensions.

Another symptom of the worsening relations in Nyasaland has been the setting up of a Supreme Council, representing the African National Congress and some of the traditional rulers, and the campaign of non-co-operation with the European community which this body has initiated. This, of course, is not a violent or revolutionary movement, and we hope that it will not degenerate into violence; but it is designed to stop African co-operation with Europeans in the economic and political development of Central Africa. If it should happen that there was a withdrawal of Nyasaland workers from farms in Southern Rhodesia, and from the copper mines in Northern Rhodesia, it would create a major shortage of labour in both Territories. A successful boycott of local and central government bodies in Nyasaland by the African population would prevent government by consent, which is the purpose of our government in that Territory. These events may not happen; let us all hope that they will not happen. But what cannot be disregarded is the state of mind from which support of such a policy as this proceeds.

I think we are obliged to admit that the result of forcing Nyasaland into a Federation which the Africans do not want and which they fear will subordinate them to Europeans in Southern Rhodesia, will be a loss of good will and trust which will be reflected in every aspect of race relations for a very long time to come. That, I feel, is the result of forcing the pace of federation, because I cannot imagine that any reasonable person could not be convinced of the advantages of federation if sufficient time were taken, and if the right approach were made.

However desirable federation may be in theory—and we are agreed about that—it can work smoothly and satisfactorily only if the local Europeans succeed in removing the present fears and distrust of the African population. I should like to emphasise the point made by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. Given a real act of statesmanship on the part of the leaders of the European community in Central Africa, there is still time to show the African majority that they have nothing to lose and much to gain by closer political association. For example, a really striking act of statesmanship would be on these lines: the three Governments in Central Africa might define partnership in terms of equal rights and accompany that definition with some practical gesture to show that partnership in this sense is more than a pious hope. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, spoke of equal partnership, but unfortunately that epithet has not always been employed in discussions on this subject, either here or in Africa.

I should like to endorse the suggestion made by Lord Winster. At this time we are celebrating the centenary of Cecil Rhodes. Surely there could be nothing more appropriate than a declaration of policy based on acceptance of his doctrine of "Equal rights for all civilised men"—defining the word "civilised" in the way he went on to define it. But the unfortunate fact is that any statement about partnership which falls short of having equality as the final objective, as the aim towards which the Governments in Central Africa will work and the Federal Government will work, will continue to be discounted by the Africans. Most regrettably, everything that has been said officially on this subject—and many things have been said, both here and elsewhere, both at home and in Africa—hasproved a bitter disappointment to African hopes and expectations. We all welcome the intention to set up an inter-racial University as a practical step towards equality in the field of education. I was very glad to have the further information about this University which the Minister was able to give. I thought that what was specially important was his statement that the Government had agreed to give financial assistance to the new University.

May I express the hope that, in providing financial assistance, the Government will also insist upon the practical condition of equality in the establishment of the University, because of course, as the right reverend Prelate pointed out, we cannot he certain or this equality of treatment which everyone has accepted in principle until we know more about the practical arrangements which will have to be made at the time that the University is being set up. The right reverend Prelate mentioned the question of site and the question of autonomy, and there was also the matter, mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, of the social treatment of Africans. All these practical questions will have to be determined before we know whether what is accepted in principle will be carried out in practice. We are most heartened by the declared intention to work for a genuine partnership, a genuine equality of partnership, in the sphere of higher education. I hope that this intention has been widely publicised in Africa.

Of course, more gestures of this kind are needed at the present moment, and before federation carries into effect. If I may, in all humility, make one suggestion, it is this, and it is something which the Territorial Governments might be able to do immediately. Why should they not put an end to racial discrimination in all Government buildings, and particularly the post offices? There was an interesting example of this the other day. At Broken Hill, in Northern Rhodesia, a wall in the post office building dividing the part used by Europeans from the part used by Africans was removed by the post office officials, and they also allowed mixed queues to be formed at the counters. Provided that no large and costly structural alteration is required, it is surely hard to see why Europeans and Africans should not be treated on exactly the same footing in all post offices throughout this area. The psychological effect of such a change, small in itself, would be out of all proportion, I feel certain, to any slight inconvenience or extra expense that might be involved.

In conclusion—I want to be very short—may I ask the noble Earl two questions, which I hope he will he good enough to convey to his noble colleague the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who may be in a position to answer them when he winds up this debate. One of our difficulties about supporting the Federal Legislature proposed in the Bill is that we do not know how the nine representatives of the African interests—out of the thirty-five members, nine will represent African interests—will be chosen. Without this information, we cannot judge whether they will in fact represent African opinion or whether, in the eyes of the Africans—they may be mistaken but the Africans should feel that they have their own genuine representatives in the Federal Assembly—they will be regarded as "Yes men" who will vote and speak as they are told by the Federal Government. That is a vitally important question to determine. We know from the Federal Scheme that in Southern Rhodesia there will be three specially elected members, two Africans and one European, to look after the interests of the Africans in the Federal Assembly. We are told in this document that these persons will be elected by regulations made by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia. I think that Parliament ought to know what principle will inform any regulations which the Governor may make. Are the two Africans, for example, to be elected by their fellow Africans, or by Europeans? As the noble Earl will remember, the existing Common Roll in Southern Rhodesia is almost entirely confined to Europeans, and if these two Africans were elected in this way, upon this basis, the African population would have no say in the choice of their representatives. Whether the representatives would be worthy representatives or not, they would not have the confidence—and confidence is the essential thing—of the Africans themselves.

In Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the two European representatives of African interests will be appointed by the Governors of these Territories. What I should like to ask is whether the Governors in making those appointments, will act in their discretion or on the advice of their Executive Councils? Will they be bound by Ministerial advice, or will they be acting in their own discretion, according to what they judge to be in the best interests of the Africans? This distinction is very important from the African point of view. Whereas most Africans, I think, would trust the impartiality of a Governor, many would not put the same trust in the unofficial European members of his Executive Council. All those are fears—whether they are true or not is of no importance at all—which exist in the African mind.

The second question I should like to put to the Government is this—it has already been posed by the right reverend Prelate, but I should like to endorse the importance which he, attaches to the answer to this question. What he wanted to know was whether changes in the Territorial Constitutions would be subject to the approval of the Federal Government. It was stated in The Times on June 29, that changes in the Territorial Constitutions in Central Africa would require the "concurrence" (that was the word used) of the Federal Government. The Times newspaper carries very great authority, both at home and in Africa, and it is most important that we should know whether this statement is correct. If it is correct, the Federal Government would, in fact, be able to veto constitutional changes proposed in all Territories, including Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. But this report in The Times does not seem consistent with the statement in the Report of the Conference on Federation that: Her Majesty's Ministers would naturally seek the views of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty. This statement suggests no more than consultation. It would be of great value, both here and elsewhere, if the Government could give us an assurance that what is intended is only that there shall be consultation with the Federal Government about any such proposed constitutional changes, and that the agreement of the Federal Government will not be essential before any changes of this kind can be made. My own deep misgiving about this Bill, and the reason why I am opposed to it, is that by forcing the pace of federation, by rushing federation, it will widen the rift between the European and the African population in Central Africa.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, as has already been said a number of times this afternoon, this Bill will inevitably be law in quite a short space of time. I believe it is the duty of everyone to try and establish in the minds of the South Africans as much confidence as possible in this scheme and in the men who will run it. The debate this afternoon may have had a good effect in that way, because the success of the scheme and the peace and smoothness of the running of the new federation plan will to a great extent depend on the amount of confidence that Africans have in it. Anyone who has the happiness and future of Africans at heart will not, I believe, foster the seeds of doubt that have been sown, or sow any new ones.

My own experience in the few times that I have travelled to parts of the British Commonwealth, has been that I have always been impressed with the difficulties in administration caused by great distances, and in getting the atmosphere and the picture of the situation when one sits in an office here in London. There is a need to strengthen responsibility and individual government on the spot, wherever possible. I believe this Bill does that. But, it must at the same time, effectively and ingeniously as human beings can contrive in a short space of time, safeguard a part of the population against the abuse and denial of rights that can arise out of such a situation as this. First, the Bill retains the Protectorate status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland; and secondly, it sets up what I regard as a double line of safeguards for African interests and rights. The first one is local—and, incidentally, it gives one a great deal of confidence that the African Affairs Board itself decides whether or not a particular subject comes within its terms of reference, which puts it in a stronger position than if that were to be decided by someone else. I think that that should not be forgotten. The second line of safeguards is that there is ultimate control by the United Kingdom Parliament over every law that is parsed by the Federal Legislature.

This Scheme has been attacked mainly, and even to-day, on the grounds that it is being imposed against the will of the broad mass of Africans. I do not consider that to be the case, because I do not believe that in this matter the broad mass of Africans have any will, as one might call it. The uneducated Africans are quite unable to formulate any mature judgment—certainly not about a plan as complicated as this. I do not believe that the ordinary, uneducated African has any real personal views of his own about this scheme. I went out to Tanganyika a few years ago, and found that while the ordinary African who looked after me—the houseboy who used to clean my boots, and so on—was a likeable person, cheerful and pleasant, none the less he did not seem to have a mind much more developed than that of a child of ten in this country. But although he may be mentally young and immature, the African has a great susceptibility to influence. He can assume a view much better than we can. I feel convinced that if there has been a broad expression of opinion on the part of uneducated Africans in regard to this particular measure, it has been one that they have borrowed, so to speak, from more educated people.

The people who have been primarily responsible for putting any particular view into the minds of the uneducated Africans are, in my opinion, the educated and more ambitious Africans. I believe there is a fairly commonly held view among them, amounting to a suspicion, that in competition with white people they will not get a fair return for the work they do; that an African with certain qualifications, perhaps holding some sort of degree, as compared with a white man with exactly the same qualifications will not get the same return or the same salary. That is a widespread suspicion amongst Africans, and it is one I have noticed particularly amongst Colonial students in universities in this country. However, I feel that that point is very well met under this scheme. First of all, the preamble to the scheme says that no person domiciled in the Federation who is a British subject or protected person will, on grounds of race only, be ineligible for employment in the Federal Service; that competence, experience and suitability will be the guiding factors. It is quite clear that the key to the selection of staff is to be one of merit. It is important to remember that, and important that every African should realise it. I do not believe that they do realise it at the moment.

Again, as Sir Godfrey Huggins said just after the recent referendum, in the end the people will take their place according to their worth and standard of civilisation, not according to the colour of their skin. There could be no clearer declaration than that from the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. We have heard today about the Central African University which is to be set up on a multi-racial basis. There is a pledge, a proof of sincerity, that the people will not be selected only on racial considerations. One could not have a greater proof than that. Finally, the preamble to the Constitution places on Territorial Governments the responsibility for the local and territorial political advancement of the peoples of those Territories. I hope that Africans will get to know about this basis of merit in selection, because I believe it will give them much more confidence in this scheme, which is something which we badly need to foster at the moment.

Let us face the fact that, to begin with, there will inevitably be many more Europeans than Africans in high positions and in Government positions. We cannot wonder at that. We must remember that the Africans have known our Western civilised institutions and have had the benefit of social and political education only for the last eighty or one hundred years, whereas we have enjoyed it for 2,000 years. It is hardly surprising that there should be some considerable difference in the qualifications of white settlers as against Africans, and inevitably it must be some number of years, perhaps generations, before the Africans can develop the same qualifications and qualities as the white man. That is only common sense. But I believe the basis of merit for selection must be acceded to, because I think it is a perfectly fair one. In conclusion may I say that Her Majesty's Government have taken the lead in this matter of federation. If they had not done that, they would have had to take the consequences of delay. If there were to be delay, the moderate opinion which is now gaining ground in the areas to be federated would be swept away, and the extremists would gain ground. That one wants to avoid at all costs. I believe that there is now an opportunity, and if it is not taken it may be dashed away, never to reappear.

7.0 p.m.


My Lords, in opposing this Bill to the bitter end, I believe that I am representing the views of a few English Conservatives, and of quite a number of Scottish Conservatives, and also that I am voicing the anxieties of a great many Conservatives in all parts of this country. I say that at the risk of being ridiculed as the private in the battalion who imagines that he is the only man in step. I think that those of us Conservatives who oppose this Bill are good Conservatives. One quality that we greatly cherish is that of caution: it is not, in our view, a good thing to take a leap in the dark. Here, I believe, we are being asked to take a leap in clear, bright moonlight into collision with a very large number of Africans. And I believe that it is a mistake.

Another quality which has been dear to the heart of Conservatives is that of sympathy for any part of the British Empire which is keen to keep ties as close as possible with the Mother Country. Those of your Lordships who can look back forty years will remember that in 1913 a little State which was receiving great attention and care from our Party was that of Ulster. I compare Nyasaland with Ulster. I freely admit that there are differences of circumstances and of personalities in the two cases. But if we study the past we shall find that Chief Gomani has been far less extreme in his measures than was Sir Edward Carson in the measures which he contemplated. We shall come to the conclusion that Michael Scott is mealy-mouthed compared with "Galloper" Smith. Nevertheless, there is an underlying likeness between the two cases, for in each the spirit of loyalty to this country was animating the people. In each case, a small State was objecting to incorporation in a larger State which would involve a lessening of the ties that hind it to the United Kingdom. I myself should deplore most sincerely and most strongly any resistance, whether passive or violent, on the part of Nyasalanders or other Africans in Central Africa to this Bill when it becomes an Act. But if there are people in those countries who do resist, I think it would be well that we should remember that old Conservative chant which I heard when I was a boy: Ulster will fight Ulster will be right. Opposition to this Bill has come from other sources. It has come from the majority of the members of the Labour and the Liberal Parties. That is evidenced by the small majorities which this Bill has received in another place. Opposition has come from Church bodies, from the United Nations Association and from the Anti-Slavery Society. And these are bodies which have a very honourable association with Africa. Some of those who originally objected have wavered; some have sincerely changed their opinions. None, I think, has entirely lost a certain disquiet about this Bill. Opposition has come also from Africans. When I speak about Africans in Central Africa, I am constantly reminded, by some noble Lord who disagrees with me, that have had experience in the Gold Coast. May I say that I spent eight years in East Africa, and I do know a little about the problems of a plural society. I believe that the cool disregard which has been shown for the opinion of Africans, at a time when every part of Africa is more sensitive than ever before to what is happening in other parts, is having a very serious effect now, when inter-racial confidence is so vital to the harmony of our Commonwealth.

I deplore the way in which African opinion has been treated on this matter. It has been sought belatedly. Nevertheless, it has been sought; but when found unfavourable it has been declared not to exist. The views of the majority have been rejected because the majority are illiterate. The views of the literates have been rejected because they are a minority. The noble Lord who has just spoken has referred to the ignorance of many Africans. On a matter of this kind he is, of course, perfectly right. What could be more natural than that the ignorant African should follow the advice of the educated African, probably a son for whom he has made great sacrifices in order to obtain education—and made those sacrifices, moreover, on the advice of British officials and missionaries, who have told him that the education we can give in our schools is what is needed for the Africans to advance.

The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, tells us that, because of this ignorance on the part of Africans, it is our sacred duty to do what we know to be right. I recognise the honesty and the altruism which lie behind that point of view, and I recognise that the noble Lord is right in saying that a great many Africans are not yet politically mature. What I think is puzzling, even to an educated African, even to an educated Englishman, is why, when the Africans of Central Africa are politically immature, their trustees should decide to divest themselves of a portion of their trusteeship—for that, in effect, is what is being, and will be, done by this Bill. Matters not classed as those which closely affect Africans—matters such as immigration and higher education—are to be dealt with by trustees other than ourselves. And if it is right, for some reason which I do not understand, that we should divest ourselves of a measure of our trusteeship, why should we appoint as fellow trustees the very people whom for thirty years, as we have explained to Africans, we have been carefully watching, lest there should be any conflict between African interests and those of these people?

It must be recognised that there is reason why people are puzzled by this Bill. But the Bill is going to pass. What now? I should like to give the Africans concerned advice which I believe to be wise, although I do not think it is advice which they will find palatable. But it is the duty of a friend to give advice that is sincere, even though it be unpalatable. I would advise them to do their best to make full use of the opportunities, inadequate perhaps, but nevertheless existing, which they will get under this Bill. I would advise them to take their places in the Federal Assembly. I would advise them to try to make the Federation a success, and I would advise them to work by every possible constitutional means for the amendment of the Federal Act.

As for the Europeans in Central Africa, I should like, as both a consistent opponent of the imposition of this scheme and as a former educationist in Africa, to add my tribute to the many that have been paid to those responsible for the wise decision that the proposed University in Southern Rhodesia should be open to all people who can qualify for admission, whatever their race may be. Those who have made that decision know, as the Africans themselves know, that there is no greater and surer safeguard for a people than the education of their children. In saying that, I wish to support the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester in the points he made about the autonomy of the University and its site. In regard to the site, obviously it is important it should be such as to enable the students of the various races and hostels to move together and mingle in the social life of a university, for—and here I can speak most surely from experience—it is in an atmosphere of that kind that students get the most favourable opportunity of forming friendships with people of another race.

May I suggest that it would be a good thing if the building which is to house the Federal Legislature had a dining room and smoking rooms for the members. We in this House know how valuable those amenities are in forming and cementing friendships. I am convinced that if the African members and the European members of the Assembly have the same kind of happy relationship in those rooms as we have in ours, it will make greatly for harmony in the future. But there are harder things than that for the people of Southern Rhodesia to do, if they are to get the confidence of the Africans, particularly those of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. Surely they must repeal, or at least amend, those laws which discriminate against Africans, those laws which have given the people of the Northern Territories so profound a mistrust of the Government of Southern Rhodesia. I will not weary your Lordships by repeating what these laws are; they have been referred to in previous debates. I suggest that that must be removed, for it is the fear of the Africans of the Northern Territories, not that those laws will apply to them—they know that under the proposed Constitution they would not automatically apply to them: what I think they fear, from their knowledge of human nature, is that in the Federal Assembly, where Southern Rhodesia will be dominant, there will be a gradual spread of the ideas that lie behind those discriminatory laws.

The noble Lord, Lord Harlech, has told us of the splendid men who come from Nyasaland. Let no one in Nyasaland have any just cause for fear that it will be difficult in future to continue to produce men of that kind. It is most interesting to look back on the differences between the policies that have been followed in Nyasaland, on one hand, and in the Rhodesias, on the other, policies which have, in the opinion of so authoritative a witness as the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, produced the finest men in Nyasaland.

Several noble Lords have laid emphasis on the importance of Parliament watching—and, may I add, if necessary, acting. I wish to support most warmly the seven points made in the right reverend Prelate's closely-reasoned and informed speech. I should like to put this question to the Government. The White Papers on this subject have referred to a Secretary of State. Is it yet decided which Secretary of State that shall be? I urge that it should be the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whose Department has had a richer experience in African affairs than has any other Government Department. I urge that the Government of this country should do a generous act in making a substantial grant for the foundation of the new inter-racial university in Central Africa. It will take some years before graduates can come from that university. In the meantime, will Her Majesty's Government make grants to enable Africans from the Central African Territories to go to other universities in Africa, such as the University College of East Africa at Makele, or other universities in the Empire? Will they take measures to provide for the subsidising of higher education of Africans during the next few years before the university college can produce graduates?

May I suggest respectfully that the next time there is a big problem in Africa it would be wise to consult Africans before we make up our minds? We should try to educate ourselves and our people in an understanding of the psychology of the African; in understanding the ready response he makes to patience and to generosity; and, above all, in understanding that he is not primarily moved by economic propositions, but by respect shown to his dignity as a human being. It is that desire for the respect which is his due that has been severely hurt during the last two years. It is that hurt which it is now our task, and the task of our fellows in Central Africa, to try to heal.

7.21 p.m.


My Lords, I was more familiar with the features of the illustrious father of the noble Lord who has just spoken; indeed, in another place I should not have been allowed to speak at all unless he had called me. The whole House has been glad to listen to the wise words the noble Lord has said. We know that he speaks from a great experience. I speak with little experience, except that about twenty-odd years ago I visited this House from the other place, and Archbishop Cosmo Gordon Lang was then drawing the attention of this House to Northern Rhodesia, and especially to the iniquities which were going on in the copper belt. I hope the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, when he replies to-morrow, will be able to reassure us that great progress has been made in Northern Rhodesia. Much of the debate this afternoon has been on Nyasaland, and I wish to speak about that, too, for a few minutes, as I have about 23,000 constituents in Nyasaland, confirmed members and adherents of my own community, and many more thousands of their dependants. I have no doubt that many of them will not agree with what I have to say, but I hope that they will be able to accept federation, which to my mind is inevitable, and will resolve to try to make it work.

It was during my lifetime that Mr. H. M. Stanley wrote his book, In Darkest Africa. My own community has been in Nyasaland for sixty years—I agree that they have been 200 years in Kaffraria. We have always made it a practice that if we put up a church we also put up a school, because we believe that education must go alongside religious beliefs. I am delighted that we have (shall I call it?) a Grand Alliance with the Church Missionary Society, working together and pooling our resources, our teachers and our missionaries, in order to educate some of the grown-ups, and especially the children. I was looking at the Year Book of Nyasaland. I knew most of the names, those of the Bishop and his helpers in Nyasaland, but many of the names of the teachers were unfamiliar to me, because they were what we call native teachers, produced by the college which is there for their training.

I would much rather that we tried federation now than left it until it was too late. That is another reason why I take part in this debate. I have a lot of sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, said about this scheme not being a blueprint. I rather hope that there will be a flexible instrument brought into being for Nyasaland. In fact, I am pleading with the Government to deal specially with Nyasaland, owing to its special needs. The Government have introduced safeguards, but it will be a difficult problem to bring home to those people who live in Nyasaland that there are safeguards, and that this House and the House of Commons, regardless of Party, realise that we are trustees—imperfect trustees, maybe—to try to bring a real Federation and a community of interest to these people, in order that there may be no colour bar, but simply the standard of decent behaviour which we practice here—though I agree that noble Lords opposite like the faces of their own people rather more than the features of chaps on this side. But that is by the way.

I am wondering whether the Government could, with regard to Nyasaland, do something special such as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, when he referred to Ulster. I did not agree with his outlook upon Ulster, but I did agree with the experiment carried out in regard to Ulster. I am wondering whether we could not have a Council of State for Nyasaland. I do not propose to weary the House by mentioning what sort of franchise there should be, because I do not know of one. But there is no reason why they should not have a thirty years' old franchise, considering that we had a twenty-nine years' old franchise for our own women in 1918. I think we shall have to do something special in Nyasaland to appeal to the imagination of those folk, and to win their confidence. I know that my own community have the confidence of those people who are under their guidance and tuition, and also that they have confidence that we are doing a good job of work with their children.

I am the only Back Bencher on this side who has spoken to-day, and your Lordships will have to put up with my intervention. What I want to say to this community, some of whom know me—and I hope that my voice may reach them, though I am doubtful—is that they should take this country on trust, and believe that we are trying to give them a square deal. We can do that much better with a united Federation, to promote education, higher education, and especially agricultural colleges. I prefer teaching these fellows agriculture to sending them here with scholarships to become "half-baked" barristers. But that is by the way. I want Nyasaland, in particular, to be given a chance. I am certain that Her Majesty's Government are not proposing a sort of hidebound instrument, but desire that it shall be flexible. If by a process of trial and error it appears that there is necessity for amendment, we shall have no hesitation in amending it.

7.31 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Altrincham, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Earl Fortescue.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.