§ 4.19 p.m.
§ House again in Committee.
THE EARL OF LISTOWEL moved, after subsection. (1) to insert:
( ) Any Order in Council under subsection (1) of this section shall provide that the Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland shall remain responsible to the exclusion of the Federal Government for all matters concerning land and land settlement in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and for the promotion of the political advancement of the African population in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the local and territorial government of those territories.
§ The noble Earl said: The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, when we were discussing the first Amendment to this Bill, said that the Amendments proposed by noble Lords on this side of the House were of two kinds: those which set out to alter the terms of the Federal Scheme agreed to by the four Governments, and those which set out to put, bits of the Federal Scheme into the Bill. This Amendment does not propose to make any alteration in the Federal Scheme. All it sets out to do is to put a piece of the scheme into the terms of the Bill. The object of the Amendment, which goes far beyond the actual alteration it would make in the Bill, is to allay the fears of the Africans in the Northern Territories about two matters which they have most deeply at heart: land, and political advancement in the Territories.
§ In the Preamble to the Federal Scheme, which was agreed to by the Governments concerned just as much as the scheme itself, there is a statement of intention about these two matters. The intention is that they shall not be removed from the control of the Territorial Legislatures without African consent, without the consent of the local inhabitants of the two Territories. But as has already been pointed out, the Preamble has no legal force and presumably it will not be included in the Order in Council; therefore what is contained in the Preamble will not at any time have legal force in Africa. What we are suggesting in this Amendment is that the intention set out in the Preamble to the Federal Scheme should be given legal force by being written into the Bill.
§ The noble Viscount, or the noble Earl, Lord Munster, if he is replying to this 558 Amendment, will no doubt say that this purpose will be secured by the Order in Council which will give legal force to the whole Constitution. Of course, the powers of the Federal Legislature will be set out and, no doubt, neither land nor local political advancement will be included either in the exclusive or in the concurrent list of lowers. These are powers which, by implication, will be left to the Territorial Legislatures. But I venture to think—and I hope the Government will give it serious consideration—that a provision in the terms of this Amendment would be far more reassuring to African opinion than any oblique provision of an Order in Council. It would have this distinct advantage as compared with the forthcoming Order in Council: that the power of the Federal Legislature to amend the Federal. Constitution would be limited, because, if this Amendment were accepted, the Federal Legislature would have no right to alter it in respect of land and political advancement in the two Northern Territories. By the terms of this Amendment: those two matters would be protected by Act of Parliament.
§ Everyone shares the hope that the Federal Legislature will not legislate to the detriment of Africans, and that if they were to try to do so the constitutional safeguards as set out in the scheme would be effective. But we must recognise that African opinion is still exceedingly apprehensive and doubtful. The Africans do not trust the intentions of the Europeans or the constitutional safeguards, and I venture to think that nothing would do more to remove fear and suspicion from the African mind than a guarantee of their land and political rights embodied in an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament. The Africans would regard this Act as a charter in regard to their most essential rights and liberties, having the same binding force as the Treaties they have already made with the Crown. That is why I think that, quite apart from the merits of the Amendment itself, its psyschological effect would be exceedingly valuable in Central Africa and would help to make federation go smoothly, which is what we all hope if this scheme becomes law. I beg to move.
Page 2, line 18, at end insert the said subsection.—(The Earl of Listowel.)
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
It is very difficult to avoid repetition on this subject, but this is another case where we ask: "Why not put it in the Bill?" This is not one of those matters that alter the scheme; it is almost word for word what has been agreed to by all the parties to the scheme at the conference. If it is going to do anything to allay suspicions and to help to launch the Federation under good conditions, then surely it is worth putting it in, even if there is a certain administrative difficulty and untidiness about it. The fact that the Order in Council must contain a statement to the effect that land rights and the promotion of political advancement were reserved to the two Northern Territorial Governments should surely be incorporated. No matter how difficult, if it is going to help this Federation to a successful career, then I would urge Her Majesty's Government to accept the Amendment.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
I imagine that the noble Viscount is going either to repeat his argument in regard to the last Amendment, or, at any rate, to refer to it. I want to say quite frankly that I think that the argument he put forward carries some weight. I still think that, as between having this assurance in a Preamble and having it in an Order in Council, it would carry more weight to have it in the Order in Council. But I see his point, that even if it were in the Order in Council it would not provide quite the safeguard which might be imagined, because an Order in Council by its very terms can be amended, even though it requires the consent of the Secretary of State—which probably would not be given. There is some force in that argument, although, as I say, if we are to have it at all, it is better to have it in the Order in Council than in the Preamble.
We want to have assurances in terms such as will satisfy the African people that they cannot be taken away, at any rate without the consent of the Secretary of State and of Parliament. Therefore the noble Viscount's objection to these Amendments, if he will not mind my saying so, is really purely a technical one. If the Amendments had been in the form of Amendments to the Bill, so that these clauses were enshrined in the Bill itself, 560 then of course these safeguards could not have been taken away without an Act of this Parliament. I should like to ask the noble Viscount whether, perhaps on the next stage of the Bill, he would be prepared to entertain an Amendment incorporating these provisions, not by way of an amendment to the Order in Council but by way of an Amendment to the Bill itself.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
No, I will not. I dealt with that on the last Amendment. That would, in fact, alter the whole structure of the Bill and would be a breach of the Agreement.
§ LORD SILKIN
I thought the noble Viscount might say that. But would it really be a breach of the Agreement? It does nothing more than is already in the Agreement. It does not introduce a new term. I do not know to what extent the Government is committed to the exact form of implementation of the Agreement, but there is nothing new in either the second or the third Amendment. There are no new terms; it is merely the form in which the Agreement is being implemented. That is the point. Although, as I have said, the arguments put forward against the Amendments, at any rate against the second Amendment, carry some weight, I do not think they would carry the same weight if it was done by way of amendment of the Bill itself.
§ LORD CALVERLEY
When we were discussing the last Amendment, the noble Viscount was very precise in stating that, so far as land was concerned, it would in a sense be a reserved subject, and that the natives in these Protectorates, especially Northern Rhodesia, would be amply protected. All we are trying to do, notwithstanding the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, is to try and be quite reasonable in order to allay suspicions—and I should think the Committee are about fed up with the word "suspicions"; it is like a recurring decimal. But even if we are not alarmed there are people in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia who are alarmed about their future. They are anxious as to what is going to happen to them. This Committee have a fundamental task to build up confidence amongst these people, of whom the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, has said that they do not know the meaning of the word "amalgamate." In all probability there is a certain amount of truth in that remark by the noble Earl, 561 and I rather wish he would go out there as a missionary and try to educate them. But that is by the way. What I want to stress is that in doing anything they can do to allay these suspicions—anything they can do to arrest the suspicion and not the subject—the Government will be doing a good job of work.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
Perhaps I may say a few words in reply to this Amendment, though I am bound to admit at once that some—not all, of course—of the arguments which my noble friend, Lord Swinton, used in speaking on the previous Amendment are also applicable to this one. Your Lordships will remember that on the Second Reading I took the trouble to explain at some length that any matters which in the two Northern Territories affected the day-today life of the Africans would, in fact, be Territorial responsibilities—that is to say, they would rest with the Territorial Governments, as they do at the present time. The provisions dealing with the question of African land in these two Northern Territories—as I think noble Lords know well—are completely untouched by this Bill or by the Order in Council. In fact, what is really happening is this. The protection which the Africans in the two Northern Territories have in past years had on matters concerning land is still maintained, and the Federal Government cannot acquire that land in any circumstances whatsoever, except, under certain conditions, for Federal purposes. In particular, if the noble Lord will look at Page 7 of the Federal Scheme, he will see that it is definitely laid down that the Federal Government cannot acquire any of this African land whatsoever for settling immigrants. I think that was brought out by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, on the previous occasion when we were considering this Bill. Your Lordships may recall that he interrupted at once some observations made by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and explained to him that the powers of the Federal Government as concerned land were only to acquire land for Federal purposes, and for no other.
The second portion—if I may so describe it—of this Amendment deals with the political advancement of the African population in Northern Rhodesia 562 and Nyasaland. Under the scheme, that is a matter which still rests in the hands of the two Northern Governments responsible to the Secretary of State. I mentioned during the Second Reading debate that quite recently political advancement has, in fact, occurred, and that the result of federation, or the passing of this Bill into law, would not in any way damage or delay or mar the political advancement of the African people. I wonder what really is at the back of the minds of the two noble Earls who seek to include this Amendment in the Bill. Is it, perhaps, their aim to ensure that any alteration must go before Parliament? If it is, I can only say that the Amendment is unnecessary, because the major matters of land and political advancement still rest, and must rest after federation comes into being, in the hands of the Colonial Secretary, who is, of course, held responsible to Parliament and can be questioned daily on any circumstances in connection with these two matters in the Northern Territories. I understand the reasons which prompted the two noble Earls to put down this Amendment in order to safeguard African land and the political advancement of the people. But we are just as anxious to safeguard both these matters—indeed, it will be found that they are safeguarded in the Order in Council when it is published, by virtue of the fact that the responsibility, as I have said, will remain in the hands of the Colonial Secretary who will be in the future, as in the past, responsible to Parliament for the good government of these two Northern Territories.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
I agree that the terms "land" and "land settlement" do not appear in the exclusive or concurrent lists. But when we look down the exclusive list we see that the Federal Government is responsible for railways, aerodromes and national parks. I think there is ground for some uneasiness with regard to native-owned land. I think there is ground for some uneasiness that native-owned land, as against European-owned land, may be used for certain Federal purposes of that sort.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
May I point out that we dealt with this matter on Second Reading. The only power of the Federal Authority with regard to native land is for public purposes—putting up telegraph lines, roads and so on. It is 563 specifically provided in the clause to which my noble friend has just referred. For those limited purposes, which are the only purposes for which they can touch the native land, they will not take the best native land; and they will have to go to the local Government about it.
THE ARL OF LUCAN
The Federal purposes for which land may be acquired are not so much to put a telegraph pole in a field here and there but rather for national parks, aerodromes, railways, roads and so on. Those requirements may add up to very large areas of ground. It is on that account that I believe there is uneasiness. It is felt that if there is a choice between European-owned land and native-owned land, native-owned land may be taken. That is why we ask for this double assurance.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
May I support the point which has been made by my noble friend Lord Lucan, with regard to the question of the right to acquire land compulsorily for Federal purposes? That is a right which has caused a certain amount of misgiving.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Misgiving among Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I am not for a moment suggesting that the right of compulsory acquisition will be abused. I am saying only that misgiving has been caused with regard to it, and I should like the Government, if they can, to give some further assurances beyond those which they have given up to the present. For example, could they say that African tribal land will not be acquired for these purposes if any other suitable land is available? Furthermore, could they say that this power will be used only if it is absolutely essential and if the purposes of the Federal Government cannot be secured in any other way? I am not asking Her Majesty's Government to give these assurances now. But we shall be dealing with the Order in Council in due course. We shall be taking the Third Reading of the Bill shortly. So I am not asking the Government to say whether they can give those assurances at once. As I say, we shall be dealing with these matters again when the Order in Council comes before your Lordships. I should like to ask the 564 Government whether when consulting the Central African Government they will consider the possibility of some further assurances being given, beyond those already given by the noble Viscount, on the subject of the compulsory acquisition of land for Federal purposes.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I can give assurances here and now. I can give the assurance which I have already given and which I think has completely satisfied everyone. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester said that he was absolutely and completely assured, and that he was grateful for the assurance which I gave him. The real security—the best that can be given—is that to which the noble Lord has referred. The great security for land is that it should be dealt with by the Territorial Governments and not by the Federal Government—though I do not think the Federal Government are going to spend all their time ill-treating natives. I take a better view of them than that. What the noble Earl has asked is that the security shall be that the Territorial Governments shall deal with native land. The noble Earl also agrees that there must be power in the common interest and for common services in some cases to take some native land. What is the great assurance that can be given and, in fact, is given in the scheme? It is that if the Federal authorities do take native land, they have to go to the Territorial Government, who are the trustees for that land, and get their prior agreement. We cannot have better security than that.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am grateful to the noble Viscount for his assurance and for his repetition of it, because I think the more often such assurances are given in Parliament, the more confidence they will inspire in Africa. That is what we all want to do. The noble Viscount was not in the Chamber when I asked for a reinforcement of this assurance. I will not repeat what I said, but perhaps he will be good enough to read my words in Hansard.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
There is an old saying to the effect that "what I say three times is true." I am delighted to say it a third time, if that helps.
§ EARL JOWITT
The noble Viscount said he is perfectly certain that the 565 Federal Government are not going to spend all their time ill-treating Africans. If that was meant to be a representation of the point of view this side is putting forward, it is completely misunderstood. I have said, and say again, that I do not believe they are going to ill-treat the Africans most of the time—or, indeed, at all. We all want to see whether we can get rid of the African's suspicions. They may be unreasonable, if you like, but we are trying to see whether we can devise some form of Amendment which will give assurance to the Africans and make them feel perfectly happy about this scheme, because at the present time they are not happy. Do not let it be thought that I or anybody who sits on this side has any foolish idea that the leaders among the white settlers (and I use that word in no sort of offensive sense—indeed, very much the reverse) mean to mistreat or cheat, ill-treat or swindle Africans, or anything of the sort or kind. I believe nothing whatever of the kind. And I believe that nothing is further from the intentions of Sir Godfrey Huggins and the great men who, with him, are going to work this Federation. In view of the remarks of the noble Viscount, I think that should be said quite definitely. The reason for our moving this Amendment is not because we have any suspicions of this sort at all.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I am grateful to the noble and learned Earl, and I unreservedly withdraw. I know that he and I mean the same thing.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Munster, for giving, on the subject of native and tribal land, and of Territorial political advancement, assurances which are similar to those given by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, on the previous Amendment. I am sure that both these assurances will do good, and that they will reach quarters where they will give some degree of comfort. At the same time, if any further assurance can given later on about the use of native land for Federal purposes, we shall be grateful to hear anything the Government can say. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.566
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD PAKENHAM moved, after Clause 1, to insert the following new clause:
§ No incapacity to hold office on grounds of colour, creed or race
§ ".No British subject or British-protected person ordinarily residing in the Territories shall by any Order in. Council under subsection (1) of section one of this Act or by any law or other enactment of the Federal Legislature or by any instruction given or direction issued by any person in the service of or acting on behalf of the Federal Government be rendered incapable of or be debarred from holding any office, place or employment a any kind whatsoever, whether in or under the Federal Government or in or under any public or private body or person, on the ground solely of his colour or race."
§ The noble Lord said: This proposed new clause represents an attempt to attack the colour bar along a limited front in a way which I hope will appeal to the whole House and, of course, to the noble Viscount who is acting as the Leader of the House. I should like to refer to a debate which took place on May 1 in another place, which I think was of great historic significance by reason of the wide degree of unanimity that was reached. On that occasion, Mr. Fenner Brockway moved a Motion declaring his opposition to what, for short, we call the colour bar, and asking the Government to adopt legislative measures get rid of it. Mr. Alport, a Conservative Back Bencher, moved an Amendment which did not go so far as Mr. Brockway's Motion, and argued that: legislation was not necessarily the right way to tackle the problem. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Lyttelton, made it plain in that debate that he shared the sentiments of Mr.Brockway—indeed, he used that expression, and said he was concerned only about the most effective way of abolishing the colour bar in British territory. I think the noble Viscount is at least as humane as Mr. Lyttelton—that is saying a gooddeal—and I am sure he is just as eager and just as anxious to abolish the colour bar from British territory.
In the course of his remarks, the Secretary of State gave this undertaking—I quote from a speech delivered on May 1 in another place (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 514. col. 2586):
So far as employment in the public service is concerned, I can say that wherever opportunities arise—and they keep on arising—we
shall try to promote legislation which will give equal opportunities to everybody, irrespective of race or creed.
The Secretary of State was not able to accept the Motion and accepted the Amendment; but, so far as opportunities arose in relation to the public service, he pledged himself, and I presume the Government, to introduce legislation to get rid of any discrimination arising from colour. One such opportunity clearly confronts us this afternoon, and I hope that, if we press this upon the noble Viscount, he will not feel we are doing it in any partisan spirit or insisting that he must come into line with our ideas. I hope he will regard a concession on his part as a victory for common sense and general prudence.
I may be told, not perhaps by the noble Viscount, because he studies these matters very closely, but it may occur to some noble Lord reading our Amendment rather quickly, that a proposal of this kind is actually contained in Paragraph 112 of the Federal Scheme. Perhaps I shall be reminded that in another place the House were informed that something to the same effect as Paragraph 112 will be contained in the Constitution. At the risk of wearying your Lordships—after all, this is the last Amendment to-day—I would remind you of what the first sentence of Paragraph 112 tells us. It runs as follows:
No person domiciled within the Federation who is a subject of Her Majesty or a person under Her Majesty's protection will on grounds of race only be ineligible for employment in the service of the Federal Government.
As to the terms of that statement, I would make this comment: of course, it is excellent, so far as it goes. But it does not go so far as our Amendment. We ask the Government to make sure that no step taken by the Federal Legislature or anybody acting under its instructions shall debar anybody from holding office under the Federal Government or under any public or private body or person on grounds purely of colour or race. The scheme simply promises to make sure, so far as possible, that nobody shall be debarred from employment under the Federal Government by reason of colour or race.
The first point I would put to the noble Viscount is this: can he undertake that the intention raised in our Amendment will be carried out in the Constitution?
There is another point, to which I do not attach so much importance, but it should, at least, be noticed. The sentence I have quoted from Paragraph 112 is followed by another, which runs as follows:
In appointing or recommending persons for such employment regard will be had only to their competence, experience and suitability and in determining suitability regard may be had to the circumstances of the locality in which a person would be employed.
I feel entitled from this side to ask the noble Viscount to say a few words about that rather awkward-looking phrase, this suitability which must be conditioned by the circumstances of a locality. I think I am right in saying that in another place that phrase was defended by the Government spokesman on the ground that it might be necessary to protect black Africans from white competition. It could work out in that way. But I can imagine it working out in a different way—and that without imputing bad faith to anybody. I can imagine white men in a certain area deciding that, where everyone else was white, it would be injudicious to bring in a black professor, who might not "hit it off" with the students. I have not known quite that case at Oxford; but I have known of people being rejected on social grounds—not in the best colleges, but in others—simply because it was thought that they might not be so attractive to their colleagues as others less academically gifted. We must be careful in Africa to make sure that a promising black African will not be disqualified or handicapped because he is thought to be less suitable in a certain milieu. I feel that we can at least expect a few words of defence from the noble Viscount in respect of those words.
§ Let me assume—what I hope is true, although we have not yet had an assurance on it—that the intention of our clause will be respected by the noble Viscount, and that he will tell us that he intends to put a clause to that effect in the Constitution. Even so, we come back to the question of why it should not go into the Bill. At the beginning of the proceedings to-day the noble Viscount was subjected to a rather severe but, as he said himself, very fair interrogatory by the noble and learned Earl who leads noble Lords on this side. After a reasonable amount of investigation, and after help of various kinds had 569 been called in, the noble Viscount provided an answer which I believe carried the matter a long way. But can the noble Viscount answer a specific question, arising from that interrogatory, in regard to this particular clause? Supposing this clause is going to be contained in the Constitution, can we take it that a clause of this kind would necessarily have to come back to the Imperial Parliament for legislative action before it could be altered? As we understand it, the Constitution might be altered by the procedure of the Federal law, that procedure which begins with Federal legislation and is referred to in paragraph 144 of the Federal Scheme. An amendment might take place in some circumstances in that way. Could a provision of this kind, in the Constitution, be amended by the Federal legislation described in paragraph 144?
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I think I can answer that at once. The first thing is: Will this go into the Order in Council? The answer to that is, emphatically yes.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
What I thought the noble Lord asked was, not whether I would accept his Amendment—I will leave it to my noble friend to deal with that—but whether paragraph 112 of the Federal Scheme is going into the Order in Council and the Constitution. The answer to that is, Yes, Then he asked: could paragraph 112 be changed by the Federal Parliament? That, I think, is a rather hypothetical question, because when a provision of this kind has been agreed, it is not likely that the first thing the Federal Parliament will do will be to Change it. In theory, it would be competent for the Federal Parliament to pass, by the necessary majority, a Bill which amended the Constitution. But that would be a constitutional amendment, 570 which would certainly be reserved, and would undoubtedly be a differentiating measure against the Africans. Therefore, it would come within about three condemnations, if I may so put it, for reservation here, and would most certainly come back to the Secretary of State and to Parliament.
I am obliged to the noble Viscount. I gather that it would come back to the Secretary of State, and that then Parliament would no doubt argue about it. But it would not require, in that connection, Parliamentary legislation.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I think it would. It. is always difficult to answer hypothetical questions: if such-and-such a Bill were to be passed by a Parliament, what would be the position? One needs to see exactly what the Bill is. First of all, there is no doubt that to alter the Constitution would be a constitutional amendment. Such a Bill would have to be reserved, I agree, for the Secretary of State, who is subject to Parliament. But I think it would almost certainly go further than that, because, if the Bill were passed in the Federal Parliament to remove this, then I should say it would certainly be objected to by one of the Territories; and it would also be objected to by the African Affairs Board as something which, in effect, if not in terms, differentiated; and if it were so objected to, then it would not only have to be reserved as a constitutional amendment but, under sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 144, the assent, if assent was to be given, would have to be given by Order in Council; and that both Houses of Parliament would have the chance of praying against, and rejecting.
I am obliged to the noble Viscount. I understand, as he says, that it would almost certainly give Parliament a chance of discussing it. That is perhaps summarising what he has told us. But it appears that it would not require Parliamentary legislation to bring about such a change. I will explain why I make that point.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
It would require action in Parliament, but not an Act of Parliament, in the sense of a Bill which becomes an Act.
I should like to put the further point, whether, in fact, such a change could be effected by an Order in Council in this country—that is to say, without legislation: whether, if the Government here suddenly acquired a desire to make this change, it could do so by Order in Council, without Parliamentary legislation. To put it briefly—and to try to be fair to what the noble Viscount has told us—there would almost certainly be the opportunity for Parliamentary discussion. But it would not necessarily be the case that Parliament would be given an opportunity of pronouncing on this in a legislative way. I say, quite frankly, that we should be much happier, and feel more secure, if a fundamental human right of this kind were taken out of this machinery, which the noble Viscount has explained to us, and retained firmly within the control of the Imperial Parliament. It would then require an Act of Parliament, or an amendment to an Act of Parliament, before such a fundamental change could be made. If I may say so to the noble Viscount, I do not think any of us supposes that this could be the first thing—he used that expression just now—a Federal Parliament would do. It is possible that it might be one of the later things they would do, and clearly they would do it only if they had gone a good way off the rails. I am not assuming that they will go off the rails, but we should be happier and feel safer if something as fundamental as this were contained in the Bill itself, so that an Act would be required before it could be done away with. That is a somewhat refined point, and when we press this on the noble Viscount we have not perhaps got that point primarily in our minds, although it is undoubtedly within our minds.
The real trouble is that these suspicions in Africa are something which, in our opinion, the noble Viscount tends to 572 underestimate, as do all his colleagues. I must put that to him quite plainly. I am not going to assess the merits of those suspicions this afternoon. They may be exaggerated, but I think that there are sound reasons in the minds of the Africans for supposing that the future will not be as rosy as most of us in this House are hoping that it will be. I am not attacking anybody. I am simply saying that our white kith and kin in Africa are subject to temptations to which we in this country are not, and we on this side are profoundly disturbed at the thought that in this Bill so much is being handed over to them and taken away from United Kingdom control.
Whether the African suspicions are justified or not, whether they are exaggerated, or whether they should be taken at their true value, I beg the noble Viscount—and here his interest is the same as ours—to consider whether, even at this stage, something more cannot be done than has been done to remove those suspicions. I would put it to him, in the interests of his own Bill and in the interests of his own crusading idea, that where there is an aim—this aim to which we refer in this particular Amendment—which everyone in this country holds in common, surely we ought to put that in the Bill in the most impressive, authoritative, most inspiring and convincing manner. Whether we agree or not about federation—and perhaps most of us do agree about the principle of federation itself—there is this deep division of principle between us as to whether it is wise to proceed to impose this on the vast mass of population in Central Africa. Where there is a common aim—and I am sure that the aim of the noble Viscount in respect of this clause is the same as ours—I beg him to think this last time as to whether he cannot put this in the Bill and give his scheme the best chance it can have. I beg to move.
After Clause 1, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Pakenham.)
§ 5.3 p.m.
My noble friend Lord Silkin referred to the present stage of this Bill as being either a farce or another chance of putting a point of view. I intend to speak closely to the Amendment which I share with my noble friend Lord Pakenham, and as this 573 Amendment concerns the colour bar I hope I may be allowed to expand for a short while on that ground. I think the best way to start is to refer to what the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, said. He asked the question: "Why do not Africans in Southern Rhodesia use their chance of being on the Common Roll? Why do only 400 of them use it when there are 4,000 who qualify?" I asked myself that question a good deal in Salisbury and in the Rhodesias generally a month or two ago, and it seems to me that one part of the answer to that is: because they could not in any case go to the same political meetings as the Europeans. Therefore, it is easy for them to lose heart and faith, and to take the line that. "this is not our politics at all." I believe that is the sort of ground we are considering in this Amendment.
I think it is understandable that they do not use their rights on the common voters' roll when they cannot sit in the same hall to hear what any speaker has to say, either during an election campaign or at any time during any political meeting. We are agreed that no words can alter the central problem. Interpretations will always defy the printed word, and especially in a matter like the colour bar. To move an Amendment such as this is symbolic of our intention on this side of the House, and gives more authority to our opposition to aspects of the colour bar. Let us face facts. There is no proper racial harmony between the races in these Territories. Federation is supposed to involve a new situation and a true partnership, but in fact one witnesses a certain hardening of attitude on the spot at the present time. Hence, there is real need for such a clause as this, even if it is of limited value.
I agree, too, that initiative in this Commonwealth of ours is continually passing to the fringes, and I can see that it is irritating for people on the spot to find that we are taking the sort of line that we do on this side of the House ever the need, for instance, for this Amendment. While realising that initiative is passing to people on the spot, we cannot feel happy about the Europeans' attitude to their own colour problem. If one imagines the streets of Salisbury or small centres like Sinoia or Rusape, one well knows the powerlessness of the Mother Country if attitudes go wrong or continue 574 wrong. The trader wakes up on the dusty main road; the tobacco farmer walks out on to his stoep—his verandah—at dawn. They are there. Let us not "kid" ourselves about safeguards. These matters will be decided—and I know the noble Viscount, Lord Swintonis in sympathy with this—much more on the spot.
May I conclude by telling your Lordships about something which happened to me concerning the colour bar? I took the 'plane from Salisbury to Blantyre in Nyasaland, and I had intended, before getting on the 'plane, to send rather a long cable home to England. When I arrived on the 'plane somebody said, "You will now have to send it from Blantyre, and the post offices up there are all manned by Africans." I confess to your Lordships that my first reaction was one of fear that my cable would not get to London intact. But my experience of that post office—where there was an Australian head postmaster but nearly all the rest of the staff were Africans—was of incredible courtesy and efficiency. These people, who have the chance to drive engines and work in post offices in Nyasaland, are superior only in opportunity to the Southern Rhodesian Africans; and it is because the Southern Rhodesian Africans have not these privileges, and because Southern Rhodesia will be the head State in this Federation, that we cannot support the bringing into this of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia as well. We therefore seek the greatest possible assurances over this question. Finally, our undying objective on this side of the House must be to support the Africans in every possible legitimate advancement, in every possible way, whenever they are educated—and to support a genuine equality of all civilised men irrespective of colour or race.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
May I ask the noble Viscount a question on a rather limited point arising out of my noble friend's Amendment? The noble Viscount: said that paragraph 112 of the Federal Scheme will be incorporated in the Order in Council. This paragraph deals only with employees of the Federal Government, with officers in the Federal public service. They will be given the protection provided in this paragraph which would prevent any discrimination against any African on the ground of race. The Federal Parliament will no doubt set up public authorities of one kind or 575 another similar to our public boards—electricity authorities, authorities for managing railways, docks and harbours, civil air services, and so on. What I should like to ask the noble Viscount is whether he can give an assurance that the protection provided for employees in the Federal public services will also be provided for employees working for public authorities set up by the Federal Government. If he cannot give the assurance at this stage perhaps he will see, after he has had an opportunity of consulting with the Central African Governments, whether he can or cannot give an assurance at some later stage when we still have another opportunity to consider this extremely important matter raised by my noble friend, the question of the colour bar.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
The Amendment which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and supported by two other noble Lords opposite is one which, I am happy to think, has been moved without any prejudice. Whenever this question of the colour bar is discussed in either House of Parliament, almost invariably passions are aroused and considerable feeling is prevalent on all sides. To-day, fortunately, we have no such signs as that. Indeed, the noble Lord who moved the Amendment and those who followed him spoke with care and deliberation. We all know that a colour bar exists, not only in Africa but, to a lesser extent, in certain other parts of the world as well. But I am absolutely certain that it is futile to try to abolish the colour bar by certain words in an Act of Parliament. The noble Lord read out paragraph 112 which will be inserted in the Order in Council—and here let me tell Lord Listowel at once that that, of course, will apply to all civil servants who are employed, and all servants who are employed, by the Federation.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am much obliged to the noble Earl, but that does not quite answer my question. I accept the fact that this applies to all civil servants, but will it apply to employees of authorities set up by the Federal Government? I think this is something we are entitled to know.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
It will apply only to people in the employ of the 576 Federation, and not to anybody else. It will not apply to people who may be employed in the various businesses and undertakings which have been set up by the Federal Government.
If we get back to this Federal Government, which we hope will be set up very shortly, there are already a number of signs which point to the impetus that it will give towards abolishing the colour bar. For example, we know from Sir Godfrey Huggins that the Federal Party he is setting up will be open to both Europeans and Africans; and that will produce one solid party, composed not only of Europeans but of Africans also. Then there is the new University, which we now know is to be multi-racial. That will be an immense step forward towards creating a multi-racial society. Then there is in the Bill this African Affairs Board which, through the powers we have given to it, can go a long way to reducing, and perhaps finally eliminating altogether, practices of discrimination where they exist. But I believe that the whole question of the colour bar can ultimately be abolished as years go by only by educating a healthy public opinion which will finally discountenance prejudices of this kind. But I do not, and shall not, believe that we can, by inserting a few words in an Act of Parliament, however important the words may be, finally bring to an end the whole of the colour bar question.
Now let me turn to the final part of the Amendment, in which the noble Lord seeks to apply this to any public or private body or business. This would in my judgment be utterly useless. From the beginning such a provision would be quite unenforceable. There would be no method that I can see of enforcing legislation such as is suggested on a private person. It almost implies that this person must go to this shop or not go to that shop. I think that if the noble Lord will ponder carefully he will see that the insertion of anything of this kind in an Act of Parliament is really not possible.
I may not be very good at pondering, but I can read. I hope the noble Earl will accompany me for a moment. If he reads this clause he will see that there is no suggestion that the Government have got to go round putting this person into a shop or putting 577 that person out. Its reference is simply to any instruction or direction given by anyone under this clause or acting on behalf of the Federal Government. If the noble Lord reads my Amendment he will see that he is dealing with a clause that is not there.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
The noble Lord has not read his own Amendment. It is clear that the last part of the Amendment, with its reference to employmentin or under any public or private body or personrefers to any employees of any kind. Whether "in or under the Federal Government" or whether they are under a public or private body, they are not to be debarred on the grounds solely of race or colour.
§ EARL JOWITT
It says that a man must not be rendered incapableby any law or other enactment of the Federal Legislature or by any instruction given or direction issued by any person in tie service of or acting on behalf of the Federal Government.…
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I will not argue against the noble and learned Earl. Frankly, I would not say any more on the subject, except to remark that it seems to me that the noble Lord's Amendment definitely includes private individuals, as well as the Federal Government; and that, I think, is not a satisfactory way of dealing with the question of the colour bar.
The noble Lord, and indeed all noble Lords in this House, are aware that the subject of the colour bar, whatever one may call it, could be debated at considerable length. I have no intention of saying a great deal more, except this: that I have definitely seen certain signs of discrimination being gradually overcome. It cannot be overcome at once, without further delay, and its complete overthrow may not be achieved within a few years. Nevertheless, there has been a considerable advance during the last ten years towards the final abolition of the colour bar. It is, however, still in existence—for example, in the white trade unions in Northern Rhodesia, about which the noble Viscount, Lord Hall has spoken on many occasions. But I believe that through such actions as the setting up of an inter-racial University, and a Federal 578 Party composed of Europeans and Africans, we shall be well on the way to getting rid of a practice which none appreciates, likes or sympathises with.
The noble Earl was very kind about me in his opening remarks. We on this side always regard him as a courteous opponent, and I do not want to bully him. But he has completely failed to understand the Amendment; and as we propose to take this Amendment rather seriously, because we feel that it is very important, I should like to say a few words more. Before saying—as I am authorised to do—that we shall divide the House, I should like to ask the noble Earl whether, now that he realises this Amendment is completely different from the Amendment which he came down to defeat this afternoon, he will reconsider his reply.
The noble Earl says, "No." Presumably he has not been equipped with a reply to the Amendment as it actually stands. Perhaps he is wise in his generation. We take this Amendment very seriously. We have put a case to which the Government, with all their resources, have been unable to reply at all. In those circumstances, we feel bound to divide the House.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
I really must say a few words on the point that we could not reply at all. It is not that I: do not think the reply given was entirely adequate, although possibly the noble and learned Earl's legal construction of a rather odd-looking Amendment was better than that of my noble friend, who is a layman in these matters. If the noble Lord opposite likes to go to a Division on this—the noble Earl twitted me and reproved me a little for having attributed some motive somewhere to the Back Benches—I hope that he will not attribute any motive to us. I think I have a pretty good record myself in liberal administration in Africa and in the promotion of officers there, both civil and military, and in helping to build an army of forty thousand trained tradesmen. Obviously, for the reasons which we have given earlier, we cannot go altering this scheme and putting in additions, even if we thought they were good enough. Paragraph 112 goes a very long way. It 579 goes, I think, to the right people—namely, the people who will be in the direct employ of the Federal Government.
I should like sincerely to say this. I am perfectly certain that the colour bar (used in the sense of opposition to giving the Africans an opportunity) is not going to be found in the Government service. It is going to be found in the ranks of industry, and anybody who knows Rhodesia, both Northern and Southern, will know that that is true. You certainly will not abolish that by legislation. You could not here make the miners take Italians into the pits by legislation. You cannot make the white unions of Northern Rhodesia give a growing opportunity to African labour, very likely skilled labour, by legislation. As a matter of fact, the opportunities for Africans in industry are a good deal greater in Southern Rhodesia than in Northern Rhodesia. I will tell the House why I think that is so. In Northern Rhodesia you have this one great industry of mining and you have a white union—we may as well be frank about this—in a deeply entrenched position. So far, they have resisted the advancement of Africans. I have been there. I was shocked, in comparison with what was my experience in West Africa, and with what was my experience over the border in the Congo, to see restrictions which not the Rhodesian Government but the white union placed upon Africans in Northern Rhodesia.
That situation is being challenged now. By whom is it being challenged? It is being challenged by the managers, the directorate of those mines; and they are doing a very plucky thing in doing that. I am glad that they are taking it up. That shows that you cannot deal with this matter by legislation. In Southern Rhodesia, you find more opportunities for the Africans, because industry is much more diversified, and new industries have been growing up. You find Africans employed in skilled industries like electrical welding and all sorts of skilled processes, in plastics, in textiles and in metallurgy there. They are new industries which have been growing up there lately, and there is no vested interest of a white trade union. I think you do get difficulties when you come to the railways where the white trade union position is a good deal more entrenched.
580 We all want to see this situation get better. I should like to see the noble Lords opposite address the observations which they have addressed to me to the labour leaders in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia (the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, has done it) because that is where the conversion in this matter must take place. I am sure that it is going on; and I am sure that it will be a gradual process. As I say, in Government service I am not anxious about it at all. It is outside where we all want to see the progress. It is easy for a white man to keep a black man out of a job, but that does not ensure white men getting more jobs. As a matter of fact, as a country expands, and as its industries expand, there will be more and better jobs for white men if the black men are allowed their chance of getting jobs as well. I am sure that is industrially right. I apologise for having addressed this sort of homily to the Committee at the close of the debate on this Amendment, but I do not want this clause to go without saying to the House that I feel very deeply and sincerely about this problem in which we all have a common interest and common intention. I cannot accept this Amendment. If noble Lords opposite wish to divide upon it—well, let them divide. But let us go into our respective Lobbies in the knowledge that, though we may find ourselves in different Lobbies on a clause that I am bound to say I do not think is particularly relevant, we all have at heart a common purpose.
§ EARL JOWITT
I do not think the noble Viscount need apologise for his intervention. I thought it was most valuable. I thought it showed that all noble Lords, on both sides of the House, have the same broad ideal about this scheme. I entirely agree with the noble Viscount that we cannot get rid of the colour bar merely by passing an Act of Parliament. Secondly, I entirely agree with him that it is quite wrong in this clause to assume that it is the fault of the Government. It may have been the fault of all sorts of other people, far more than it is the fault of the Government. As I entirely agree, the point which divides us is actually quite a narrow one. Paragraph 112, which is foreshadowed in the White Paper, and no doubt will go into the Order in 581 Council, is simply confined to persons in the employment of the Federal Government.
If I may take an analogy in this country, where there are all sorts of public corporations—for instance, the Coal Board, the Electricity Authority, the Gas Board, the local authorities and a hundred and one other bodies like that—all we want to secure is that, with any similar bodies set up by the Federal Government, no order or regulation or advice given by or on behalf of the Government shall prevent any individual from employing black labour if he is so minded, and that black labour and white labour shall be on an equal footing. That widens the provision of Paragraph 112 which extends merely to employees of
§ Remaining clause agreed to.582
§ the Federal Government. We think we ought to register our desire to have this Amendment inserted, and though we appreciate the difficulty of the noble Viscount in not meeting us (if only he had more room in which to manœuvre perhaps he would have met us), I think we ought to show that we attach importance to this matter, and that we desire that the Government shall, so far as it can be done, be plainly at the side of equality as between the two races, not only in regard to its own employees, but in regard to all the regulations it may make. Consequently, we shall divide.
§ On Question, Whether the proposed new clause shall be there inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 21; Not-Contents, 65.581
|Jowitt, E.||Bingham, L. (E. Lucan) [Teller.]||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Noel-Buxton, L.|
|Hall, V.||Faringdon, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Stansgate, V.||Haden-Guest, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)||Silkin, L.|
|Blackburn, L. Bp.||Henderson, L.||Sinha, L.|
|Kershaw, L.||Winster, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Lawson, L.||Wise, L.|
|Simonds, L. (L. Chancellor.)||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Glyn, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.,||Long, V.||Hatherton, L.|
|Reading, M.||Swinton, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Willingdon, M.||Trenchard, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Woolton, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E||Leathers, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Ailwyn, L.||Leconfield, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Aldenham, L.||Lloyd, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Baden-Powell, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensbury.)||Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Brassey of Apethorpe, L.||Rea, L.|
|Grey, E.||Carrington, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Cherwell, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Morley, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Munster, E.||Derwent, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Dorchester, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Douglas, L. (E. Home.)||Turnour, L. (E. Winterton.)|
|Selkirk, E.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Fraser of North Cape, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Allenby, V.||Freyberg, L.||Webb-Johnson, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Gifford, L.||Wolverton, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ House resumed: Bill reported without amendment.