HL Deb 28 July 1953 vol 183 cc953-94

2.51 p.m.

THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF MUNSTER) rose to move, That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Constitution) Order in Council, 1953, reported from the Special Orders Committee on Thursday last, he made in the terms of the draft laid before Parliament. The noble Earl said: To-day we reach the final stage in the long legislative story of Central African federation, and although I have no desire to detain the House unduly, I think that I should make some observations before your Lordships agree to pass this Resolution.

All noble Lords who have shown interest in this subject will have compared the draft Order in Council before the House to-day with the Federal Scheme in the original Command Paper 8754, and I think they will agree with me when I say that it fully implements the promises which Ministers have given on earlier occasions that this statutory instrument would, in fact, faithfully and truthfully reproduce the scheme. Noble Lords will, I am sure, have noticed that the comparative table on pages 55 and 56 of the draft Order shows where the provisions of the Scheme appear in the Order in Council and vice versa. These tables were inserted for the convenience of noble Lords generally, and are not, of course, in any way part of the draft Order in Council. This Order is divided into two parts, the first of which contains all the necessary provisions for the setting up of a Federal Government, while the second part—that is to say, that which is described in the Order in Council as the Annex—contains the provisions of the Constitution which will come fully into operation after the interim period has passed.

I have been informed that a number of noble Lords wish to draw attention to certain Articles in the Annex about which they seek further clarification. I shall, of course, do my best to reply to their specific questions, and I am glad to say that the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack will be close at hand to answer those points of a legal nature which may arise in the course of the discussion. Perhaps I should now emphasise that the powers of the Federal Government are only those which are expressly given to them in the Order in Council. Not only is anything not in this Order in Council excluded from the powers of the Federal Government—which may seem pretty obvious—but anything which is so excluded will remain where it is at present that is to say it will remain the responsibility of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Throughout all the lengthy discussions which have taken place in your Lordships' House, four matters have emerged which at one time or another have caused concern to noble Lords. They are, if I may remind the House of them, the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories, the question of amalgamation, the question of political advance in the Northern Territories and, lastly, land questions—that is to say, questions affecting African land. I would maintain that they are all properly and adequately safeguarded within the Order in Council. Nevertheless, I should like to make some observations on each of these points. First, Protectorate status, as such, as your Lordships now know, is not specifically mentioned in the draft Order in Council, although it finds a place in the Preamble. But that Protectorate status is maintained by so constructing the Federal Constitution that the two Northern Territories remain separate and distinct political entities within the Federation. Matters concerning them will continue in the future, as in the past, to be the responsibility of the Secretary of State.

I turn, secondly, to the question of amalgamation. This matter is also dealt with in the Preamble to the Order in Council, but the real and, I think, most effective safeguard is clearly the fact that Parliament will at all times have the final say on constitutional amendments, and that Her Majesty's Government would have to be satisfied, in the first place, that the majority of the inhabitants really desired amalgamation to take place.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl for one moment? He has twice referred to the Preamble to the Order in Council—does he really mean the Order in Council or does he mean the White Paper?


I refer to the Preamble to the Order in Council which will be found on page 15 of the draft Order in Council, and, indeed, begins with the Annex to the Order in Council.

Thirdly, I come to the question of Political advance in the Northern Territories. That, in the future as in the past, will remain the responsibility of my right honourable friend, and any constitutional changes that he thinks fit to make in the future can be made without the agreement of the Federal Government, but I think it is only natural that he—and indeed any Secretary of State in the future—would also inform the Federal Government and seek their views on any changes which he may intend to make. Fourthly, I deal with the question of land. This question has been raised so frequently in debates in this House that I feel I need refer to it only briefly. Although African land is, in fact, mentioned in the Articles of the Order in Council, the Federal Government will have the power to acquire land only for Federal or public purposes. That is applicable to all three Territories, and in none of them can African land be acquired for European settlement. I believe that these are the four principal matters which have caused concern in the past, but, as I stated earlier, I also believe that the promises we have given on previous occasions have now been fulfilled and will be found within this draft Order.

Finally, I should like to draw the attention of the House to Section 13 of this raft Order which deals with adaptation of various Acts of Parliament. I draw the attention of the House to that section for this reason: that I think it would be well to say, if it is not already known, that the Federation and the Northern Territories will be eligible for Colonial development and welfare grants after the Federal Government has come into being and that the Colonial Development Corporation can also continue to operate. In general, the aim will be to assist a Federal project roughly in proportion to the interests of the Northern Territories. We do not wish in any way to be pedantic. At this stage, and in view of the fact that there are a large number of your Lordships who wish to take part in our discussion, I need say no more. Accordingly, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Constitution) Order in Council, 1953, reported from the Special Orders Committee on Thursday last, be made in the terms of the draft laid before Parliament—(The Earl of Munster.)

3.1 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to preface my few remarks with two observations. The first is this. Your Lordships will remember that we on this side of the House did not challenge to a Division the Enabling Bill under which this Order has been made, because we take the view that it is not proper for this House to reject a decision that has been passed in another place. Therefore, having accepted the Enabling Bill, obviously it would be inconsistent to oppose the Order which is made with the authority given the Secretary of State by that Act. The second observation is this. What we shall seek to do in our remarks from this side of the House is in the main to elicit information and elucidation about the precise interpretation of the provisions in this Order and, so far as we can, about the intentions and purposes which inform the provisions. I hope that some of this information may help to reassure the African population in Central Africa. I was glad that in his remarks the noble Earl, Lord Munster, followed the footsteps of the Secretary of State in another place yesterday and laid special emphasis on matters of concern to the African population—land, political advance, Protectorate status and so on, because we all realise that federation in Central Africa will not work without the support of the African inhabitants of the three Territories. I hope that if our questions serve any useful purpose at all, it may be to elicit information which will help to assure the Africans that the new Constitution will not work to their disadvantage.

I wish to ask for information about three of the provisions in the Order—I have given the noble Earl notice of these questions. The first question relates to Section 9 (1) (c). Your Lordships will note that this provides that three Europeans will sit in the Federal Legislature to represent African interests. One of these will come from each of the three Territories in the Federation. The two Europeans from the Northern Territories will be appointed by the Governors—that is to say, the European from Northern Rhodesia will be appointed by the Governor of Northern Rhodesia and the European from Nyasaland will be appointed by the Governor of Nyasaland. The question I should like to ask the noble Earl, or the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, if he is replying, is whether in making these appointments the Governors will act in their discretion or on advice. Your Lordships will note that subsection (c) says merely that the Europeans will be appointed by the Governors and does not say how the Governors are to act in making these appointments.

It is interesting to observe that when the Governor-General is to decide something in his discretion, it is specified in the Order. In Section 75 (4) the Governor-General may "in his discretion"(those words are actually in the Order) turn down a request from the African Affairs Board that a Bill be referred to the Secretary of State as a differentiating measure, and therefore give his consent, as he would to Bills which in the view of the Board are not differentiating measures I wonder whether the absence of any reference to the discretion of the Governors in the passage to which I have referred, dealing with their duty to choose suitable Europeans to represent African interests, means that they will be acting on the advice of their Executive Councils. I hope this is not what is intended, because the Africans in these Territories have more confidence in the Governors than they have in the unofficial members of their Executive Councils. I think this makes it particularly important that people should know how the Governors will act when they are called upon to make these appointments.

My second question relates to Section 12 (1), which provides that the franchise for the election of four elected members from Nyasaland to the Federal Legislature shall be decided by the Governor-General with the approval of the Governor of Nyasaland. As your Lordships will remember, there is no franchise in Nyasaland at the moment, because the Legislative Council is appointed by the Governor and none of its members are elected. Subsection (2) of this section goes on to provide that whatever regulations the Governor-General may make will be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. This means that the Minister here will be able to turn down anything he regards as being unsuitable from the point of view of the franchise in Nyasaland.

I put my question rather badly to the noble Earl and perhaps he will be good enough to follow what I say now, rather than stick to the precise terms of the question. What I want to ask is this: In deciding whether proposals for the franchise in Nyasaland are suitable or unsuitable, will the Secretary of State have regard to their fairness to the Asian population of the Territory? Your Lordships will remember that there are between 4,000 and 5.000 Asian inhabitants of Nyasaland, as compared with about 4,000 Europeans. Therefore, there are more Asians, mainly Indians, in Nyasaland than Europeans. These people will have no representation in the Federal Legislature at all, apart from the four elected members who have been allotted to Nyasaland. The Africans will have the three persons specially appointed to represent African interests, but it is important that the Asians—the Indians, as they are mainly—should feel that they have some representation in the Federal Legislature. In fact, as the noble Earl is no doubt aware, the Indians have expressed the view that they should be represented not only in the Federal Legislature but in the Territorial Legislature as well.

Of course, I am not suggesting for a moment—and I hope I shall not be misunderstood about this—that there should be communal electorates, which, of course, would separate the races on a political basis. Having had some experience of India, the noble Earl will share with me the unfavourable view those familiar with this system take of the communal franchise. If there is to be a mixed common roll, which one would hope for, in Nyasaland, such as Northern and Southern Rhodesia have already, I hope the qualifications for the franchise, which have to be decided, will be such as to admit a substantial number of Asians and therefore give them a reasonable chance to elect a candidate of their own race. I hope, for example, that the Secretary of State would not accept any income or property qualifications for the franchise which would exclude a large number of the middle-class Indian population.

A further point I should like to make has regard to Section 12 (1) of the Order. This, again, relates to decisions which will have to be made about the franchise in Nyasaland. I hope that the franchise will not be limited, as it is in Northern Rhodesia, to British subjects. Most of the subjects in Nyasaland are British-protected persons. I should have thought that they should be eligible for the franchise, if they have the right qualifications. In Northern Rhodesia I believe it cost £4 or £5 to become a British subject and in this way to acquire the right to vote. This surely discriminates unfairly against the poorer Africans. After all, what is essential to citizenship, surely—and this applies not only in Central Africa but to other countries anywhere in the world—is not whether a person is technically a British subject, or a British-protected person, but whether he lives and works permanently in a particular country, in this case one of the Federal Territories, and will therefore give his first allegiance and loyalty to the Federation. That, I should have thought, was the essential thing about anyone who wished to have citizenship, and that that should suffice, whether or not the person in question happens to be technically a British subject or a British-protected person.

The third question I should like to ask the noble Earl arises from Section 13 (1) of the Order. This subsection provides that the three representatives of African interests in Southern Rhodesia, one of whom will be a European and two will be Africans, are to be elected in a way which will be prescribed later in regulations by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia. I should like to ask whether it is intended that the two Africans shall be elected by their fellow Africans. The alternative method, presumably, would be for the two Africans to be elected by the common roll, which is the franchise now used in Southern Rhodesia for election to the Territorial Legislature. But if that were so, they would be chosen by Europeans and not by their fellow Africans, because the great majority of the persons on the common roll in Southern Rhodesia are Europeans. In the case of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Order lays down specifically that the specially elected Africans will be elected by representative African bodies; that is to say, they will be elected by their fellow Africans from bodies chosen by the Governors as being representative of the African population.

I hope that in Southern Rhodesia whatever electoral system may be decided on will be such as to enable the rural Africans, such as the Matabeles and the Mashonas, as well as the town-dwelling Africans, to have a choice of their representatives for the Federal Legislature. If they are chosen by means of the predominantly European common roll, however admirable the candidates may be, they will never have the confidence of the African population, because they will be chosen by a European electorate. Surely, it is essential that the Africans who speak in the Federal Legislature for Africans should have the confidence of their fellow Africans. I therefore hope it is the intention—and I very much hope the noble Earl will be able to say something about the intention that will inform this regulation when it is made—to give the Africans in Southern Rhodesia the same voice in the election of their representatives in the Federal Parliament as the Africans will have in the other two Territories, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I would endorse what my noble friend Lord Listowel has said as to our attitude to this measure. We have never liked it; we have resisted it where we could; and on the Committee stage we endeavoured to remove what we thought were some of the disadvantages of the scheme. Now that we come to the Order in Council and the Constitution in its final form, we feel bound to ask for clarification of certain aspects, and to point out certain things that we still consider harmful and likely to prejudice the future success of this scheme. I would, however, put in a caveat: that this is a long and complicated exercise in Constitution-making in which we, as the critics, have had to rely on our own resources, and have had none of the professional resources that are at the disposal of the Government. I would emphasise the fact that we are criticising this as amateurs. I should probably be out of order if I suggested that this was a contest rather like the Gentlemen v. Players but certainly we have none of the professional resources at our disposal and, therefore, we may have misinterpreted some of the clauses, and we may also have overlooked other things which on a closer inspection we should consider to be harmful to the scheme. We have given Her Majesty's Government notice of a number of points on which we hope to get clarification.

The first point has reference to Article 13 of the Annex. That Article deals with the methods of election of the specially elected members, the one European member and the six African members from the three Territories. One of my noble friends will deal with this point in rather more detail, but I submit to your Lordships that this is the very foundation of the safeguards which Her Majesty's Government have put in the scheme, because it is from these specially appointed and specially elected members that the African Affairs Board is going to be chosen. From that it follows that there is no part of this scheme in which it is more necessary to have men of independence and integrity, and men who have security of tenure. For that reason, we desire to draw attention to the remarkable lack of safeguards in the methods of electing these members at the outset, and the changes in the methods of election subsequently. On the same subject, the security of tenure of the specially elected members, a question was asked in another place yesterday to which the Government spokesman gave an assurance which I hope we can take as entirely satisfactory. The Question was whether the deletion of the words in the scheme "appointed for the duration of a Parliament" had any effect in weakening the security of tenure of those members. I hope that such is not the case. It is a matter of interpretation, upon which we are amateurs, and we look for the authoritative view of the Government.

I should like to go on to Article 14 of the Annex. In this there has been a change in wording and in meaning from the original Federal Scheme. In Article 14 (2) (d) there has been added to the disqualifications for membership a suspended sentence. The Minister who replied in another place said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 518 (No. 149), Col. 956): The reason"— that is, the reason for the insertion of this new phrase— is that there would have been a contradiction between the qualifications for being elected and the reasons for vacating. I have looked carefully at both the Federal Scheme and at the Constitution and I cannot see the force of that reply, because the reason for vacating the seat is the same as the qualifications for election. The one paragraph refers to the other, and I cannot see how the inclusion of a suspended sentence was necessary to reconcile the two. The references are, in the Constitution, to Article 14 (2) (d), for the election of a member, and to Article 15 (f) for the vacation of an appointment. In the Federal Scheme the corresponding paragraphs are exactly the same, except that they are without this new suspension of sentence. One can only suppose, therefore, that the change has been made in order to bring the Federal law into line with one of the Territorial laws. No reason has been given why this should have been done. A suspension of sentence may or may not be a good system, and I believe that opinion among those most qualified to judge is by no means unanimous that the suspended sentence is a good method of dealing with crime. But supposing it is. If you have it at all, the object of it surely is to mitigate the punishment and to relieve an offender from the stigma of prison. In this case they are retaining suspended sentence but continuing the stigma of imprisonment, which carries the rather heavy penalty of disqualification from being specially elected to the Federal Parliament.

I want now to say something about Article 33 (1). As the noble Earl told us in introducing this Motion, this land question is one to which we all attach great importance—Her Majesty's Government equally—and the terms of this paragraph seem to be absolutely categorical: to give a cast-iron prohibition against alienation of African land except, as it says, in accordance with the existing African land laws in the three Territories. Reading to the end of the paragraph, the word "immigrants" comes in, and a doubt arises in this way. In the legislative lists at the end, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to item No. 4 in Part I of the Second Schedule: Immigration into and emigration from the Federation. and Item 47 in Part II: Control of the voluntary movement of persons between Territories. The wording has been varied from that in the Federal Scheme. The Federal Scheme said that migration between the Territories was to be a concurrent matter. The word "migration" has been removed. That, I am bound to say, leaves a doubt as to the exact meaning of the word "immigrants" in Section 33.

What I wish to ask Her Majesty's Government is: Does the term "immigrants" include migrants from one of the Territories of the Federation to another, or does it mean only immigrants into the Federation from outside? Your Lordships will appreciate the extreme importance of this, because if in fact it does not include migrants within the Federation, then there is nothing in Article 33 to prevent the Federal Government from acquiring compulsorily African land in order to settle Europeans from one Territory of the Federation. I think that is one of the most important matters, and if the safeguards on land questions are to be worth anything at all, Her Majesty's Government must make it clear that migrants from anywhere outside a particular Territory are to be barred from being settled on African land.

To go on to Article 40. What is the definition of "Federal public service"? Your Lordships will remember that on the Committee stage some of my noble friends moved an Amendment to insert in the Bill a declaration that no one should be barred from office by reason of his race or colour. We drafted an Amendment a good deal wider than Article 40. Because we had in mind that the colour bar should be fought and its extent reduced over as wide a field as possible, we moved to include in the prohibitive clause as to persons employed: …any office, place or employment of any kind whatsoever, whether in or under the Federal Government or in or under any public or private body or person. Article 40 retains the original wording: of the Federal public service. I resolved to try to find out what this wording really means, and I consulted the Report of the Civil Service Commission, which was published before the last Federal Scheme was brought out. The definition of "public service" is given in the Order in Council proper, in Section 12 (1), where it is defined as service of the Crown in a civil capacity in respect of the government of the Federation, Territory or area… That definition, I am sure, my Lords, is susceptible of different interpretations. We find, for instance, that the Post Office in each of the Territories in the Federation will come under the public service, while the railways will not. The broadcasting service, if I understand the matter aright, is at present under a Government Department, and therefore will remain part of the public service. But if, as might happen, it were decided to set up a Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation, what would be the status of the employees in that Corporation? Would they be in the public service, or would they not?

What about the electric supply corporations, which will play an important part in the Federation? What about civil aviation? It appears, if I read the recommendations aright, that a considerable number of the personnel in civil aviation in the Federation will be public servants: the air traffic control staff, the radio staff, accident investigation, and so on. All these come under Government Departments; but the air lines, the Central African Airways, with its air crews and ground staff and installations, presumably will not. Moreover, at present, banks are presumably not under the Government in any of the Territories. But if the Central Bank or land banks were nationalised, what would be the effect of that on the personnel? I hope your Lordships will agree that the Amendment which we moved was fully justified, for there is such a wide field and so much uncertainty about all of these forms of employment, that there is a serious problem. And it seems that if the prohibition against the colour bar is to be effective, it ought to be applied over as wide a field as possible.

I do not want to weary your Lordships with other points, but there is one curious little addition that has been made in the Second Schedule, Part I, Item No. 10. Why have "animals and poultry" been included in the items over which the Federal Government has "control of the distribution, disposal, purchase and sale"? I cannot understand why these have been added to the "unmanufactured commodities" which were in the original scheme. There may be a perfectly good reason—control of disease, movement of stock and so forth; but one wonders why the provision was not in the original scheme, and at whose instance it has now been inserted. I admit there may be an advantage in this, because, if it is a matter in which Africans might suffer more disadvantage than Europeans, it will now, having been brought into the Federal list, come within the scope of the African Affairs Board to object; and that will he to the general advantage of the scheme. But it is a curious addition, and we should like to hear from Her Majesty's Government how it arises.

There is one other question which I wish to raise, on Article 71, paragraph (2). This is the old question of differentiating. Many words have been spoken and much has been written on the question of differentiating. We should regret it very much if the African Affairs Board were precluded from taking up cases where the Federal measure, whilst disadvantageous to both Europeans and Africans, was more disadvantageous in its effect on Africans than on Europeans. That is a weakness of the scheme that has been commented on and criticised exhaustively; but it is a very real weakness. Your Lordships know that the money and property qualification is insisted on in the franchise, certainly in some of the Territories. Then there is the wide difference between African wages and European wages which, in itself, differentiates, and, therefore, causes more disadvantage to the African. Obviously, it is much more difficult for an African to acquire property to the value of £250, or to earn an income of £200 a year, or whatever the qualification may be, when his wages are only one-tenth, one-twentieth, or perhaps one-fiftieth, of the European's wages.

There are other measures which one could mention. A measure which on paper applies equally to Europeans and Africans, and is, in fact, much more harmful to African interests, is the case of the fixed prices for maize. These, I am told, are fixed at different levels in different areas. I believe that in an ex- clusively African agricultural territory, the price of maize is fixed at 11s. 6d., whereas in a neighbouring area, which is largely farmed by Europeans, the price is fixed at 30s. That is definitely disadvantageous to the Africans. It is not within the scope of the African Affairs Board. Within those geographical areas, both Africans and Europeans are subject to the same price, but, owing to the difference in the manner of farming of the different races, that is definitely harmful to Africans.

I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to reassure us on some of these points, and I hope that they will not say, as has been sad in another place, "What a pity it is that the Opposition showed such distrust of the African Federation!" The whole foundation of any Constitution, of any society, must be based on trust. If the trust is absent, then there is need for safeguards, and the more that mutual trust is lacking, the more necessary it is to have adequate safeguards. That is why we have felt it our duty to go very carefully into these measures and to ask Her Majesty's Government to reassure us on these points.

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologise to the noble Earl who spoke for the Front Opposition Bench for having missed the latter part of his speech, and also to the noble Earl who has just sat down for having caused him to rise unexpectedly, out of his turn. I was anxious to have a short consultation and, although my absence was really brief, I suddenly found that one noble Earl had finished his speech and another noble Earl had begun. I apologise.

I will not keep the House many minutes, but there is an aspect of this immense constitutional change, this great experiment, this act of faith which is passing through its final stages in this Parliament to-day, to which I should like to call your Lordships' attention. The point, I think, is emphasised by the extraordinary amount of detail to which the noble Earl who has just sat down thought it important to call attention in this House, detail which is not often given to that extent before a branch of the Legislature of this kind. This, I believe, is the first Federation, the first Federal Constitution in the history of the Commonwealth, and, I believe, the first Federal Constitution in the history of the world which is starting life subject to the jurisdiction of two separate and absolutely sovereign Governments. Hitherto, Federations have had a central or federal authority and provinces or states, and power has been divided between them, but the sovereignty, at any rate, whether it were exercised by the federal authority or by the provinces, was seated and based in the country itself. Now, for the first time, I believe, in political history, we are inaugurating a Federation which is responsible to two absolutely different sovereignties, divided by thousands of miles and by vast possibilities of misunderstanding.

I think that this particular aspect of this Federation deserves your Lordships' attention. In one respect, it is simple. Federal affairs as defined in the Constitution will be the business of the Federal Government in Rhodesia and Nyasaland. They will be the business, that is to say, of the Queen in Parliament in that part of Africa. In the two Northern Territories, the matters which are reserved to the Territories will be the responsibility ultimately of the Queen in Parliament in the United Kingdom; but, between those two, there is a great borderland. There are, in the first place, the matters reserved to the Governor-General which may be referred to Her Majesty's advisers in the United Kingdom. Presumably, if they can be referred for the advice of Her Majesty's advisers in the United Kingdom, they can be the subject of question and debate in this Parliament. There is again the whole range of matters lying between the Federal list and the Territorial list, the Common list. Nobody is going to tell me that there will be any ease of definition about many of these matters. Everybody knows that when these things come down to practice there is always a great deal of argument one way or the other about what was intended by the Constitution.

I must also point out, in regard to this Federal Constitution, that it has taken a character which almost invariably leads to a further range of uncertainty and, therefore, of argument. Those Federal Constitutions work most easily in which the matters which are not defined in the Constitution itself are reserved to the Federal Government—that is the principle in the Federation of Canada. The other system is that those matters which are not actually defined as belonging to the Federal Government belong to the states. That is the system in the Commonwealth of Australia—and everybody knows what troubles there have been in Australia, in consequence. In this Constitution, so far as I understand, matters not mentioned are not reserved to the Federal Government. They are reserved to the Territories, and ultimately therefore to the control of the United Kingdom Government. There, as a consequence, is another field for controversy which has certainly been fruitful of controversy in other Federal Constitutions.

This aspect of the Federal Constitution was referred to indirectly in a debate in another place yesterday. A Member there raised the question of who was to decide about Parliamentary questions on matters so near this borderline that it was not clear whether or not a given question would be in order. The answer very properly given by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies was that in another place the matter would be decided by Mr. Speaker. In this House we have not got a Mr. Speaker. Every noble Lord is a law unto himself; and it is quite possible that matters may be raised inadvertently, without intention, which may cause great strife between two of Her Majesty's Parliaments. I know that noble Lords opposite are absolutely sincere in their desire to make this Federation work, and I think they will appreciate the fact that the success or failure of this Federation will depend largely on the relations between the two sovereign Parliaments, who both have jurisdiction in regard to it. It is a form of Constitution that has never been attempted before, and we cannot tell how it will work out. What we can do on our side is to strive our utmost to make it work by tact and statesmanship.

I know that in all parts of this House the intention is sincere to try to make it work in that manner. What I am dealing with is the kind of Question, whether starred or unstarred, which might be put down quite unintentionally, and which would rouse feeling in a way which might not be anticipated by the member of your Lordships' House who had put it down. I say that feelingly, because nobody who has held responsibility in Africa or anywhere else in the Commonwealth will underrate the effect oversea of Questions and speeches in this Parliament. Sometimes they pass unnoticed here, but they often have a tremendous repercussion overseas. It is very desirable to avoid, if we can, unnecessary friction between the Parliaments.

I would therefore make a very humble suggestion—sincerely humble, because I am a recent and unimportant Member of your Lordships' House and I would not presume to advise your Lordships in any way about procedure; nor would I suggest for a moment that your Lordships' privileges in regard to putting down starred or unstirred Questions should be curtailed in any manner—that would be inconceivable. I wonder, however, whether it would not be possible for the leaders of the three Parties in this House to discuss together the setting up of a committee representing all three Parties, which would deal with this extremely experimental, uncharted, delicate ground, and to which Members of your Lordships' House who had points to raise might at their own discretion refer. I believe it might prevent matters from being brought on to the floor of your Lordships' House which it would be much better not to bring there, at any rate not before there was an opportunity of discussing them with other noble Lords who can look at them from all points of view. I make that suggestion most humbly, and I hope it may prove worthy of consideration by the leaders of the three Parties. Let me emphasise again that I am not suggesting any restriction of the discretion of noble Lords, but simply that there should be in existence a body to which they can go for advice or consultation before they bring on to the floor of this House matters which may be very delicate and controversial.


May I ask the noble Lord, simply for the purpose of enlightenment, whether he is suggesting a committee to deal solely with Questions relating to Africa, or to this Federation, or to some limited field of that kind?


I had thought of it only in regard to this Federation, because of this absolutely novel and unprecedented relation of the two Parliaments; but if it were desirable, it might be a wider committee. I had in mind simply an ad hoc committee to deal with this particular problem in Central Africa.

May I conclude by saying once again that for my part I have faith in the success of this great experiment. I have faith in it because I believe our own people in Africa are going to work it. I think they have undertaken a great responsibility, and I think they will work it. But, my Lords, do remember one thing—I say this in conclusion in order to emphasise the point of the suggestion which I have made. If there is going to be controversy in the Federal Parliament, if Parties are going to be divided there, they will be divided on the Constitutional issue; they will be divided on the very points which we shall be tempted to raise in this Parliament here, and we had better be careful how, without in the least meaning to, we incite, provoke and intensify Party controversy in Central Africa.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to re-echo the remarks made in the very sincere and impressive speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham. Now that this Bill has been passed, noble Lords in all parts of the House are genuinely anxious to see that it turns out to he a success. I personally think it will be, provided that the African people get a square deal and have a fair share of the Government and Legislature in the new Federation. But before this Order in Council leaves the House, there is one point to which I should like briefly to draw your Lordships' attention and that of Her Majesty's Government—that is to the name of the Federation. Clause 1 of the Constitution reads as follows: The Federation shall consist of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland (in this Constitution referred to as "the Territories") and, unless and until the Federal Legislature by law otherwise provides, shall be known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I think "the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland" is an awful mouthful. It is too long, too cumbersome and, I suggest, unsuitable for its purpose, and unless something is done about it I have a fear that the unfortunate people in those Territories, struggling with their long name, will have resort to the popular vogue for initials or short titles, and it will become known as the F.O.R.A.N. We do not want that to happen, but I think the "Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland" is a very unsuitable name: there has been nothing like it since the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics"—and who wants to follow them?

I am glad that the noble Lord who has just spoken made reference to other Federations. Other parts of the Commonwealth have started under better auspices so far as their name is concerned. When Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia became a Federation, the country was known as "Australia" and the people as "Australians." A similar thing happened in Canada. Can you imagine what is going to happen in the future if someone wishes to fill in a hotel register and under the heading of "Country or nationality" has to say that he comes from the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland? The space in the hotel register will not be big enough to take such a name. That will be one of the problems. Perhaps one of these days this new Dominion, as we all hope it will be, will send a cricket team or a football team over here. Can you imagine one of their supporters on the touchline shouting, "Come on, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland"? The thing is just impossible.

Of course, to find a name is not easy, but I am going to make one suggestion, and that is that a good name for this new Territory might be "Rhodasaland." Perhaps noble Lords can think of something better or more appropriate, but at any rate that is one suggestion. I hope that our friends in this new Federation will not mind our mentioning this matter of their name. It is not inappropriate that, as godfather to this scheme, the British Parliament should take an interest in its name, as godfathers often do. I should like to conclude by expressing the hope that this Federation, like other Federations to which the noble Lord has referred, will be a success, and that under a suitable name its people will acquire new loyalties, under which suspicion and the misgivings and fears of the present day will pass away and this great new Dominion will go on to add lustre to itself and to the British Empire.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, I do not think it is necessary to detain you for more than two or three minutes, because the noble Earl who opened this debate stated the main and basic difficulties which had been in the minds of critics from the beginning, and dealt, I think, very adequately with them, so that it is not necessary for anyone to add anything. I wish to make only one comment, and that is with regard to the feeling which seemed to run through the remarks both of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Earl, Lord Lucan. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that he was only asking for elucidation, and he expressed great anxiety about African interests. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, admitted what he called his amateur status and lack of professional resources. I suggest that at the back of that is just the difficulty which has run through our numerous debates on this subject.

No one, as Lord Altrincham has said, doubts the sincerity of those who have opposed various aspects of these federal provisions. They have no doubt been anxious, and they have put forward suggestions for amendment with a view to trying to help to make the Scheme work. But I suggest that it is precisely those proposals which would, however unintentionally, have been likely to wreck the whole scheme in the public eye in Africa. To overload a scheme like this with safeguards, is just to allow an amateur person lacking experience to deal with questions which he has already admitted he has not the qualifications to deal with on that level. I do not wish to adopt an arrogant attitude in these matters, but I suggest that in any other walk of life some knowledge of administration, some knowledge of the actual circumstances and atmosphere of the schemes which are being discussed is considered a sine qua non for making authoritative statements. If the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will forgive me, I noted what I would, had it come from any other source, have described as a most reckless statement. In the course of it he said—and he said it with the greatest sincerity, I know—something to the effect that Africans would have more confidence in the Governor himself than in the Governor's Executive Council.


May I point out to the noble Lord that he must have misunderstood part of what I said. I said that Africans would have more confidence in the Governor (the noble Lord may disagree with the statement, but this is what I said) than they would have in some of the unofficial members of the Governor's Executive Council. The noble Lord may, or may not, agree with me, but that is the statement which I made—not the statement which he attributed to me.


I accept the noble Lord's further elucidation, and I am sorry if I have misunderstood him. But it does not in any way alter the validity of the criticism which I am endeavouring to make. I suggest that no one who knows Africa would make such a statement. It depends purely upon the Governor and upon the individuals on the Executive Council as to what relative value their decisions will have with the African population. We have been told throughout these debates how deeply personal influence matters with Africans. Noble Lords on the opposite side of the House have emphasised it. I suggest that you cannot dogmatise in these matters in that way. Another of the noble Earl's statements was that if representatives were elected by the common roll, with its majority of European voters, the Africans would not have confidence in men so elected. I can only say that that is not what my experience leads me to think would happen with Africans. Africans, generally speaking—and I have met many of them in many parts of Africa, and have worked with them—have the deepest respect for Europeans and their judgment. I know that there are exceptions in every way. But I do plead with noble Lords not to make such dogmatic and general statements as that in issues of this importance.

I do not wish to press that matter further, and I do not propose to be led by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, into details. I will leave those to the constitutional experts, as he said he wished to do. I will conclude by saying that I look forward with the greatest confidence to the success of this Federation. I look forward with equal confidence to the day, not many years hence, when noble Lords opposite who have been so critical of many of its provisions, with that self-induced amnesia which comes in so con- veniently at times, will claim the entire credit for the success of this thing as their own, and I shall be glad if I may humbly be allowed to ask to share in the general satisfaction.

4.7 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, I must make an apology for having been absent from the Chamber when my turn to speak came, but the blame is not wholly mine. Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Hudson, will be prepared to share it with me. Of course, to speak after the last speaker is a little embarrassing, since he clearly considers that those of us who do not, unfortunately, have his immensely wide and impressive experience of Colonial administration, should really have taken no part at all in these debates. That is a view which, as I am one of those lacking that experience, he can hardly expect me to share. Incidentally, it cannot be shared by many noble Lords in your Lordships' House.

I should like to preface what will be a very few short remarks, mainly in the form of questions, of which I have given notice to the noble Earl, by reiterating what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said about our attitude to this legislation. The fact that we are not opposing the Order to-day is not an indication that we are converted. We still consider that Her Majesty's Government are mistaken in forcing this measure at the present time. None the less, I will certainly support what was said by one of my noble friends, and what I am certain is felt by all of them: now that federation is being imposed, we desire that it should be successful. And in anything that I say, my aim and object will be—as I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, also said—to elicit from the Government replies which will comfort those in Central Africa who are anxious and to obtain, let us hope, at once, their acquiescence, and, in the future, their support.

I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government a number of questions, and I will put them as briefly as I can. As I have said, the noble Earl already has notice of them. First, I take it that we are right in supposing that the franchise at the first general elections to be held for the Federal Legislature will, in fact, in the Territories of Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia, be exactly the same as it is at the present time; that it will not, for example, be affected in Northern Rhodesia (after all, there is to be a Conference on the Northern Rhodesian Constitution in September) by any changes which might be made in Northern Rhodesia before the Federal elections take place. Then, again, supposing that during the life of the first Federal Parliament no franchise law has been passed, am I right in supposing that the system under which the elections take place at the first elections will then be petrified, at any rate to the extent of operating for the next elections?

I wonder if the noble Earl can tell me what are the modifications of the franchise which it is anticipated will be made by the Governor-General, apart from the Territorial modifications, which will be essential, since the number of representatives going to the Federal Parliament will be different from the number elected to the Territorial Parliament. What regulations is it expected that the Governor-General, with the agreement of the Governor of Nyasaland and with the approval of the Secretary of State, will make with regard to the election to the Federal Legislature? I know that this is to some extent a hypothetical question, and I know that, very reasonably, Ministers will always run away from hypothetical questions; but this is a matter which, as a last resort, will come up to the Secretary of State. It seems to me that the Secretary of State must by now have made up his mind pretty completely, at any rate in general principle, about what regulations for elections in Nyasaland he would approve. I should like to support what my noble friend Lord Listowel has said about the provision for the enfranchisement of British protected persons.

In regard to Article 13, is it correct that regulations governing the elections of the specially elected European member and the two African specially elected members will be made by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia; that the regulations governing the election of the two African specially elected members from Northern Rhodesia will he made by the Governor of Northern Rhodesia; and that the regulations governing the election of the two specially elected African members from Nyasaland will be made by the Governor of Nyasaland, without the concurrence of the Secretary of State, and may be varied by the Governors at any time without such concurrence and without the need, as in the case of ordinary elected members, for reservation, pending the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure? I should like to add my support to what my noble friend Lord Lucan said about this introduction of disfranchisement as the result of suspended sentences. I think my noble friend was a little less emphatic than he might have been about the views of penologists as to the practice of suspended sentences. In Southern Rhodesia, this practice has been introduced, I imagine, and certainly has been used, as an alternative to probation. People under a suspended sentence, therefore, are people who would not have been sentenced at all if there had been an efficient system of probation.

Returning to Article 12, in the event of no Franchise Bill being passed by the Federal Legislature and receiving the Royal Assent before the holding of the second elections, will the regulations governing the election of elected members in Nyasaland be frozen, as will be the arrangements in the other two Territories, or may they be varied by the Governor who originally is to make them? Under Article 75 (4), can Her Majesty's Government give any indication of the kind of circumstances in which, in their opinion, it would be reasonable for the Governor-General to exercise his powers to override the views of African Affairs Board? Some of us have been made anxious by these powers, and it would be helpful if the Government could give some indication of the sort of circumstances in which they consider the exercise of these powers would be reasonable. It is clear that the African Affairs Board could object to a Franchise Bill, although such a Bill is reserved for the Royal Assent. If the African Affairs Board objected to a Franchise Bill, on the ground that it conferred franchise on Europeans only, or that it included a property qualification so high as to exclude practically all Africans, would Her Majesty's Government be prepared to support the Board in their opposition to such a franchise? This seems to me to be an extremely important point.

There are two axiomatic propositions which may be put forward in connection with the making of Constitutions. No Constitution can be realistic unless it gives representation to a power where-ever it resides. In the Colonial field it is clear that where there is a preponderance of power in the hands of a minority, it is unrealistic not to give to that minority an adequate representation under the Constitution. Along with that, I would add the other proposition. It is vital that the Constitution should bear within itself the seeds of change, the machinery which makes alteration peaceful and easy, as power may shift from one area to another. This is the source of our greatest anxiety about this new Constitution. We are afraid that it does not give sufficient flexibility for change in the future, when African development will be such that the Africans are ready and able, and demand what will then be their proper place in the conduct of their own affairs. I believe that perhaps the most useful kind of machine to make possible an easy change is the common roll. We have already a common roll in Southern and Northern Rhodesia. Its functioning is certainly open to criticism at the present time, but I hope that Her Majesty's Government will say that for electors voting for representatives to the Federal Legislature they consider that a common roll should be the basis of the franchise. I believe that such an assurance would go a long way to reconcile African opinion to this measure, so that the Africans can feel assured that in this Constitution there is the room for change, the prospect of change and the certainty that when they are able to exercise power, they may obtain it.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, all your Lordships will agree that the success of federation now depends chiefly on the good faith of people on the spot. The power is rapidly shifting from England to Rhodesia. I think it is vitally important now, knowing that federation must come, that we should not encourage Africans too much to look over their shoulders to their friends in England, to the Colonial Office or to the people of Britain. We should encourage them more to look to the increasing number of ladders put up for them by the local people. The key hope now is that the settlers in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland will rise vividly and brilliantly to this occasion. We must be realistic about this question of numbers. In the Territories concerned, there are thirty times as many Africans as Europeans, and that fact bears relation to the Africans' chances of advance. It is easy when you have 200,000 Maoris in New Zealand, to take a different attitude. I suggest that at the present time the word "partnership," in relation to federation, is meaningless. It can come about; but let us face the fact that it has not yet arrived. "Partnership" is probably an unfortunate word to coin at the moment, and the Africans are aware of it.

There is one thing that strikes me: we should not assume that the pace of industrialisation which suits Europeans necessarily suits Africans. We tend to take the line that what is best for us is automatically best for them. It seems to me that, as industrialisation and further development is one of the aims of federation, and is inherent in it, we should be careful about this point, and not encourage Africans beyond their own idiom and faster than God intended. Finally, there is this fact which we must also face. Federation is a terrific chance, but it is only the beginning of this great opportunity, and there has been a tremendous collapse of confidence among the educated and articulate Africans, due partly to the prolonged negotiations over federation. I do net think either side of your Lordships' House is completely free from blame in that respect. It is an extremey difficult situation.

I should like to recall something that happened in Kitwe, when I happened to be there last autumn, in relation to the question of imposition. I was talking in the evening around a fire with some Africans in a European's house in the bush near Kitwe. We were rather taking the line with these people, who were leaders of the African Mineworkers' Union: "This is a good bargaining moment for you. You ought not to discard the idea of federation and say you will have nothing to do with it, because it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with it, whatever you feel about it." When my friend said that to them there was a long silence in the African night. They frankly could not believe that we intended to go ahead after they had said, "No." Believing in this scheme, but not being too gleeful about it, I think that we should remember the fact of the loss of confidence of the Africans in us, confidence which it is so important to restore. It is particularly up to the local settlers to do this, and I am sure we can rely on them.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, the more I think about this plan for federation in Africa, the more am I impressed with its potential immense value, especially on the economic side, and the more I feel inclined to congratulate those who have been putting it forward. It seems to me that here we have a new move to what may be one of the landmarks in African development. There are difficulties, to which attention has been called this afternoon, to which attention was called yesterday in the other place during the debate there, and on which Mr. Lyttelton made a long statement. Difficulties naturally exist in all these matters, and there are in my mind some slight obscurities. First, I am not sure what the noble Earl, Lord Munster, said when he opened the debate: whether he meant that the Territories would remain separate under the Federal Constitution, or whether he thought they were going to be amalgamated in some way. It is the fact that they are separate units; they are not amalgamated in any way, and they do not lose individuality—that is to say, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland remain distinct, although they are federated. I have probably misunderstood what the noble Earl said.

Then there is the important provision, which has been emphasised strongly in this House and in another place, of the effective safeguard, that Her Majesty's Government and Parliament have the last word in dealing with constitutional amendments. I regard that as of the greatest possible value to all concerned: to the European community and to the African communities. It is most important that it is not to be left as a matter, as it were, of Party politics in a Parliament, without reference to the Imperial Parliament in this country. With regard to political advancement, the question of voting and political organisation, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, it is of the utmost importance that the people there should have the opportunity of developing, as I am sure they will when they understand it. I do not attach too much importance to the fact that a good many of the African people themselves have not understood it. After all, they have sometimes been inclined to regard the white man as not exactly their friend; they sometimes think that the white man has been taking advantage of them and not doing what he might do to improve their conditions. But in the case of this Federation, I feel that we who belong to the white race here and who are speaking in this Parliament as members of that white race, are really attempting and, I believe, doing, something which will be of benefit to the coloured man, to the white man and to the whole development of Africa.

Then there is the question of land—and that I consider to be a key question in the whole matter. That has always been a vital question in African social organisation, and particularly with regard to the position of the African native peoples, of whom, of course, there are many. Under native organisation in the past the land was cultivated in rotation, and was held on a tenure quite unlike our own—I will not go into the details—which left the cultivation of the land in the hands of the African people themselves. In some parts of Africa at the present moment—I do not want to particularise—the African has the greatest difficulty in getting into touch with the land, and does not, in fact, have enough land to keep himself on. I believe that the right of appeal to the House, the right of appeal for decisions to be made on constitutional questions in this country, the right of appeal to the Privy Council in this country—or, as it was put in another place, the right of asking for appeal to the Privy Council—is of the greatest possible value, and will help to smooth over a great many difficulties which might otherwise arise. This Order in Council is shortly to come into operation. It will result in a great change in African conditions, and one which will be in line with the changes going on in other parts of Africa—West Africa, North Africa and Eastern Africa—and I believe it will enable this portion of Africa to take its place, a leading place, in the reorganisation and reconstitution of Africa from the political and economic point of view.

I believe it will be possible for Africans to be worthily represented by members of their own race, and, as was emphasised in the debate in another place yesterday, this must be done largely by education. Education will certainly have to go ahead now. How is this education to be carried out? That is a question on which we might at some time ask questions in this House, because it is an important matter. It is not an easy thing to educate millions of people, but it is a thing we have to do and it will be extremely important. I noticed with great interest—and I think the African people as well as the Europeans will have noticed with interest—that in another place yesterday a speech was made by Mr. Lyttelton in which he emphasised two points. He said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 518 (No. 149) Col. 909): …it is impossible to build up a healthy economy on any modern lines without a strong trade union movement. He went on to say: Equally, I take the same stand on the subject of co-operative societies. The trade union movement and the co-operative societies never have been a special affair of members on that side, but it is excellent that Mr. Lyttelton should have referred specially to those matters in another place.

I confess that I am looking at the question as one who has lived in Africa and at one time knew Africans very intimately indeed. I believe that this is the kind of thing which will give the Africans confidence in the intentions of the Government of this country. They will think: "Now you really do mean business. You are talking to us in a way which we understand." I venture to think that this Federation is going to start very well because of the way in which it has been put forward. It is quite true that one cannot legislate against racial discrimination, racial prejudice and racial hatreds, but then in the part of Africa which I know very well, South Africa, although the Africans were not well treated, there was no racial hatred by the Africans themselves for the white people, and there was no hatred by the white people for the Africans; they merely kept them in a subordinate position, taking it as a matter of course that they should do so. I hope that that day has passed for ever, and that in the future, while recognising, as Mr. Griffiths said yesterday in another place, the economic advantages that this will bring, we shall also recognise the great political and moral advantages that it will bring. It will enable that part of Africa which we are discussing this afternoon to take its place in the great movement in Africa, which has now been going on for the last fifteen years, towards a higher kind of civilisation.

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, before coming to my own remarks, which will be brief, I should like to pass a few comments on one or two of the earlier speeches. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, has had to leave, because we all listened to him with great attention, knowing his wide experience of these matters. I felt that some remark was due to him about his proposal for a special kind of advisory committee. I have not had an opportunity of consulting my noble Leader or my noble Deputy-Leader, and so I cannot speak with authority, but I am bound to tell him that I should be surprised if that particular proposal, in the form in which he put it forward, was entirely acceptable to us. I should doubt whether it would be widely acceptable on these Benches, and, for all I know, it might not be acceptable elsewhere. But we have nothing but respect for the way in which the noble Lord put it forward, and anything coming from him would be carefully considered.

The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, spoke with such delightful humour that he will forgive me for replying along a slightly personal line, because his own remarks were not entirely free from personalities. He clearly misunderstood what the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, had said. Lord Lucan was indicating—and I thought, clearly—that we on this side lacked the services of Parliamentary Counsel, the well-known fate of the Opposition. He assures me that it was only in that sense—and that was how I understood him myself—that he suggested that we were devoid of the necessary experience for drafting all the precise amendments required. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, understood him to say that we lacked experience of Africaor administration. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, went on to read us a little lecture, which amounted to saying that in the circumstances he was rather surprised that we had the temerity to take part in Parliamentary debates on this subject at all.

The noble Lord is not only a very experienced administrator, but, as I have been informed by noble Lords, a most successful African administrator. But he will forgive us for saying to him that he is a political novice. It was only a few years ago that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, then quite mature in years, returned to this country and at once joined the Labour Party. We hoped for great things from him, because we thought it was obvious that he was a man who knew all about our programme. That did not prove to be the case. In this House some of us have first hand experience of Africa and others are experienced in politics. We are not in any way ashamed to cross swords with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, neither seeking to rule him out of court, nor allowing him to rule us out of court. He said at the end that no doubt we should eventually claim much of the credit for this Scheme, when we had forgotten that we had opposed it. That may, or may not, be the case—I do not think it will—but I assure the noble Lord that we will share any credit with him, and would have shared it all the more fervently if he had chosen to remain on this side of the House. I am sure the noble Lord will take that remark in the spirit in which it is offered.

I come to the close of this great discussion, at any rate from our point of view. I wish to say a very few words, and I do not think they are easy words to say. We have tried to be temperate. We have, if I may put it in this way, spoken much more mildly about this whole proposal of federation, in particular about the way it is being imposed on the Africans, than we should have done if we had been meeting—as I do not suggest we should have met—in Secret Session. We have been conscious that our words may carry far, as the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, suggested, and we have sought to say nothing which could make the task of the Government more difficult. But in adopting that course, which I am sure was the right one, and from which I certainly shall not depart to-day, we have been in some danger of misunderstanding from the other side.

I actually came across a passage in yesterday's Hansard in which a very able and much respected Member of another place—the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Foster—appears to have gone a little further in associating the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who leads this side of the House, with the Scheme than was warranted by anything the noble and learned Earl said. The Under-Secretary in another place said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 518 (No. 149), Col. 962): It is satisfactory to see that, as the Leader of the Socialist Party in the House of Lords said, it does go forth with the approval of the Party opposite in the sense of their approval to make it a working success. It is not the happiest of sentences, and noble Lords may feel that it does not mean much as it stands. But in one sense, at any rate, the Under-Secretary, speaking for the Government in another place, and using words which will carry far and wide, has said that our noble and learned Leader here has announced that this Scheme goes forth with the approval of the Labour Party. I am certainly authorised by the noble and learned Earl, who has now returned to the House, to say that that statement of the Under-Secretary goes far beyond the meaning which he wished to place on his words, and I am sure that noble Lords opposite will accept that statement.

I feel that it is important to recall exactly what the noble and learned Earl said on the Third Reading, because there may be misunderstanding in other quarters. He said quite plainly (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 183 (No. 90), Col. 598): In an hour or so's time this Bill will become the law of the land…and it will become the duty of every one of us to operate it, as far as we can, to the best advantage. He made more than one other statement to the same effect. He also said this (Col. 598): In another place my Party opposed the Second Reading of this Bill, and also voted against it on the Third Reading. He then went on to say that our tactics and our relationships in this House are different, but that that did not mean that we here had not: exactly the same misgiving as Members in another place. It should be understood, lest there be any idea that there is any difference in policy or even emphasis, that, in other words, we here have the same apprehensions as have our colleagues of the Labour Party in another place. I think it is essential to make that abundantly plain.

There is little more that I need say now. But we on this side regard the imposition of federation as a profound mistake. I say that for my Party; and, speaking for myself—one cannot collect voices on a judgment of this kind—I regard this decision to impose federation as the most unfortunate single step that has been taken by the present Government. That is my personal view; but noble Lords should realise that we all regard this as a profound and grievous mistake.

Having said that, I will add that we of course, hope that it will succeed; and if one can draw encouragement from any development I would draw it from two facts that have emerged. We are all very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, should be the first Governor-General. We know him well in this House and regard him as a calm, sane, good-hearted man; and, if I may add a personal word, I would say that he will prove to be a very good listener—and he will certainly have a great deal to listen to, from both sides, white and black and men of all sorts, when he is in Africa. I believe he will listen carefully and he will give sound advice. When a decision comes to him, from the personal standpoint he will take it well. Therefore we are all glad that that particular appointment has been made. I have also this thought. These discussions—these controversial discussions, if you like—may have had a greater effect for good than is generally realised. Let us try to draw some consolation from that. I should think that in Britain generally, and certainly throughout the two Houses of Parliament, there is a much wider recognition of the essential facts of African life and of the relationships between the peoples than there was before these discussions took place. I think we can draw some encouragement from that also.

But we in this House all know that what we really want in the end is the right spirit in which the scheme can work. That is common ground. We all talk of partnership. Some may mean one thing and some another, but nobody would assert that partnership exists today in Africa. We on this side must reserve our judgment on the events of the immediate future as to whether part- nership does or does not emerge. We can only wish the scheme good luck and work to make it a success. We entertain fears and anxieties, and I personally feel that those who are most anxious should pray hardest, not only for some constitutional development that may appeal to this one or that one among us, but for the emergence of a new spirit in Africa and a growing confidence between the peoples there.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, I do not think I can complain in any way of the course which this debate has followed this afternoon. Moreover, I am grateful to noble Lords in all parts of the House for their kindness in giving me early notification of some of the points they were going to raise on this very complicated Constitution. If, as the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, has said, members of the Opposition have relied on their own resources, he will forgive me if I say that it seems to me that those resources are completely adequate, for the task that he has given me is extremely formidable. I have no doubt whatever that we all have now a sincere intention to make this Federal Scheme work. We should all wish to see it function smoothly and successfully. I am indeed grateful to-day, as I was on a previous occasion, for the observations which fell from noble Lords who have felt in the past that they were in opposition to this scheme. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, in passing, that if it is necessary to restore confidence in Africa I hope he will himself, on his next visit to that country, assist by playing his full and ample part.

The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, raised a question which was touched upon by Lord Pakenham also, a question which it seems to me is of interest and which requires careful consideration. I am not myself, and nor is the noble Lord opposite, in a position to state categorically that this proposal would be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government; but I would not at this stage sweep it away as unacceptable without having a further opportunity to examine the detailed points which the noble Lord has made. Before I come to reply to this question, I would say one thing to the noble Lord, Lord Macpherson, dealing with the name of the Federation. I have had suggestions my- self, many of them; but none of them has been selected. The name which is set out in the first paragraph of the Order in Council is one which, I understand, has been approved by all those who were concerned in these discussions. May I suggest we leave it as it is?

I hope that now I may be able to reply to some of the many questions which have been addressed to me. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me about Article 9 of the Constitution, and whether the two Governors, the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, would be acting in their own discretion or on advice. As I understand it, it is the responsibility of the Governors of these two Northern Territories to appoint these two European members to represent African interests. In exercising these powers, they can consult, if they wish, their Executive Council. They are not obliged to accept their advice; but they will, in exercising this power, be responsible to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I myself have no doubt that when they do nominate these two individuals, they will, in fact, seek my right honourable friend's approval. The noble Earl asked me—and this point was raised also by the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon—about the method of election in Nyasaland. The scheme, as at present drafted, does not, of course, provide that one of the four members who are elected to serve in the Central Legislature shall be an Asian. I can assure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend will have regard to the Asians in the regulations which the Governor-General is to prepare and which the Secretary of State has got to approve. I agree with the noble Earl opposite that it is an important matter, and one which I think I can readily assure him has not been lost sight of.

The noble Earl also raised a further question: how will the two specially elected members from Southern Rhodesia be elected? He suggested that the two Africans might well like to be elected by their own fellow Africans; and, as I understood him, he wanted to be assured at the same time that the rural Africans would have a choice in their representatives. I think the suggestion referred to by the noble Earl also appeared in the Press in this country: that the election of these representatives should be by the combined vote of all those on the common roll. Immediately, there arose the obvious charge, which I think the noble Earl mentioned, that this might well mean that the African representatives were, in point of fact, to be elected by the European community. I have always understood that, even if this system were adopted, it was intended that the African candidates for these appointments should be selected by an African organisation before they actually submitted themselves for election. In view of the observations which the noble Earl has made, however, and which I frankly admit are of some importance, I shall be happy to draw the attention of the Governor of Southern Rhodesia to what the noble Earl, and I think the noble Lord also, said.

May I turn from that matter to deal with another point which was made by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, dealing with Article 13 of the draft Order in Council. The noble Earl drew your Lordships' attention to the fact that there is no safeguard in this Article parallel to that to be found in Article 10, paragraph (2) which covers the methods of electing the specially elected African and European members. If I may weary your Lordships for a few minutes and ask you to turn to Article 10 (2), you will see that this paragraph deals with three matters concerning elected members: their qualifications and their disqualifications: the circumstances in which an elected member shall vacate his seat, and the qualifications or disqualifications of voters.

The first two matters to which I have just referred are covered in the case of specially elected members by Articles 14 and 15 of the draft Order, which could be amended only by the process of constitutional amendment. As regards the third point, the qualification or disqualification of voters, this will be dealt with, in the case of the Northern Territories, by Governor's regulations, in the framing of which, again, the Governor will be responsible to the Secretary of State. That, I think, will be found in Article 13 (1). In the case of Southern Rhodesia, they will be made by the Governor on the advice of his Ministers. No change in this procedure can, so I am informed, be made except by a process of constitutional amendment, but changes can be made within the regulations themselves without resorting to such a process. This is in accordance with the general policy which has underlined the drafting of the whole Federal Scheme, which was to leave with the Territories primary responsibility for those matters most closely affecting Africans, including their special representation in the Federal Assembly. I hope the noble Earl will have followed what, so far as I am concerned, is a very complicated matter. I have given him the best answer that I can find, after discussion with some individuals most intimately concerned who have dealt with the legal side of this subject.

The noble Earl also raised the question of a suspended sentence. This provision has been included for this reason, and for no other. It has been included to take into account the fact that Southern Rhodesian law makes provision for the suspension of sentences. There is operating in the Territory a system which I think we have not seen operating in this country, whereby a person who is convicted of an offence has his sentence suspended, provided that he behaves himself for a given period. All we are laying down here is that a man cannot stand for the Federal Legislature while he is serving, if may so describe it, a suspended sentence, because at any moment, if he does not behave himself, or if he does not enter into the recognisances to be of good behaviour, he can be called upon to serve the sentence.


If the noble Earl will excuse me, I think he has rot got the point quite correctly. As I understand Article 14 (2) (d), surely anybody who has had a suspended sentence, although in fact that sentence may never have been put into operation—in other words, he has served out his period of probation—will then be disfranchised for five years. It is not, surely, only during the period of the suspended sentence that he is disfranchised.


I think the noble Earl is quite correct: his disfranchisement will operate for a period of five years. That is as I read it. If I have made a mistake, I will naturally let the noble Lord know as soon as possible.

May I turn now to deal with the question of immigrants into the Territories. Let me say at once that the word "immigrant," which is to be found in the Federal list, does, in point of fact, include all immigrants, whether European or African, who are coming into the country, The simple answer to the whole of the question which the noble Earl has raised is this: that the term would not include residents of one Territory who may wish to become residents of another. Even though that is so, however, there is no opportunity for persons moving between any of the Territories to occupy African land. This is definitely excluded, because "land settlement" is not a Federal subject. If under one of the items that is a Federal subject the Federal Government wanted to settle persons from another Territory, they would have to go all through the procedure laid down in the Orders in Council, including the approval, in the Northern Territories, not only of the Governor but of the Secretary of State as well. I think the noble Lord will see, therefore, that his point is amply covered. Again, I would remind him that, quite apart from the immigrants coining into the country, the Federal Government are barred from purchasing African land for the purpose of settling immigrants thereon.

We reach the question of what is the definition of the Federal "public service." There again, I was goingto ask the noble Lord to look at Section 12 (1) of the Arrangement of Order—that is, the first part of the Order in Council. He will see that the term is defined there. In point of fact, it covers only those who are in the service of the Crown. If the Post Office is included in the service of the Crown, then an employee of it is a Federal public servant; but if broadcasting, electric supply and public corporations of all sorts are not, and the individual is not serving in the service of the Crown in those public corporations, then he is not included in this definition. Lastly, my Lords, the noble Earl asked why animals and poultry had been in eluded in the second Schedule. I am told that the answer to that question is that when the draftsmen came to examine the legislative list, for the purpose of incorporating it in the Order in Council, they discovered that there was uncertainty about the meaning of "manufactured and unmanufactured commodities," and it was decided that the phrase did not include animals, whereas it has always been intended by those drafting the Federal Scheme that it should. In order to make sure that legislation affecting African native cattle in the Northern Territories is not passed without the Territorial Governor's consent, a special provision to this effect has been added.

Now, my Lords, I turn to deal with one or two of the many points which were raised, I think, by Lord Faringdon, who asked first, whether the franchise and method of election in Southern and Northern Rhodiesia will be frozen as at present, or whether in point of fact it might be altered in view of the conversations which are likely to take place in London before the first general election takes place. If the noble Lord will refer to Article 11 of the Constitution, he will see that in Southern Rhodesia, and again in Northern Rhodesia, the election will take place under the law which immediately before the date of the making of the Order in Council was in operation; and if the Order in Council receives Her Majesty's approval on Saturday, the first election will take place under the existing law, and not under any new law.

Then the noble Lord asked what adaptations would be made. I think he knows that the adapted electoral law which will be brought into force for the first general election will obviously remain in force until it has been replaced at a later date by another law which has been passed by the Federal Legislature in accordance with Article 10 of the Constitution. The sort of adaptations (and they are no more than that) which will have to be made will be the substitution of the words "Federal Assembly" for the words "Legislative Council," and "Governor-General" for "Governor." There are many more such examples which I could quote at some length, but I think those are the most important.

The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, also raised a question on Article 75 (4). He asked whether I could give him any indication of the kind of circumstances in which, in the Government's opinion, it would be reasonable for the Governor-General to exercise his powers under that clause. My Lords, with the best will in the world I do not think I can answer a hypothetical question such as that at the present time. I will tell the noble Lord why. It might embarrass the Secretary of State in the present Government, but it might cause far graver embarrassment to Secretaries of State in future Governments if I were to lay down now our views upon what was the kind of circumstances in which the Governor-General should use his special powers. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press me to give him a further answer to that question now. But I must, in passing, point out to him that, even if the Governor-General does exercise his powers under paragraph (4) of Article 75, the Secretary of State can ultimately disallow them within a period of twelve months. So that, even if the Governor-General does use his powers, there is here a reserve power in the hands of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.


It is very difficult to operate.


My Lords, I think I have answered almost all the questions which were addressed to me, other than those dealing with legal matters which, as I told your Lordships at the beginning of my remarks, will be dealt with by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack.

In conclusion, I would say only this. I hope and trust that, now that we have reached the end of this long Parliamentary discussion on a subject of vital importance to the whole of this country, and indeed to the whole of Central Africa, your Lordships will pass this Order in Council to-day. And I hope that all of us, to whichever Party we may belong, will go forward in the spirit that we are determined to make this scheme work for the benefit of every member of these three Central African Territories.

5.6 p.m.


My Lords, I am not going to make a speech—indeed, it is only because the noble Earl, Lord Munster, said that I was at his side (he spoke metaphorically) to answer legal questions that I rise at all. I have listened to the speeches that have been made in the House, and I have listened to his admirable speech in reply, and it appeared to me that he had dealt adequately with every question, legal or other, that has been raised in the House. So I think there is nothing left for me to say, except this. I do not thing that in another place or perhaps in this House, enough importance has been attached to the enormous powers that are vested in the African Affairs Board by Article 71. Some question has been raised as to the use of the phrase "differentiating measure," and that has been contrasted with "detrimental." It is not the word "differentiating" that has to he contrasted with "detrimental," but "disadvantageous"; for a differentiating measure is defined as a measure which, in certain respects, is disadvantageous. Why I speak of the enormous powers in the hands of the African Affairs Board is that it is their opinion which is made decisive, whether or not the measure is a differentiating measure.

Many of your Lordships—the noble and learned Earl who leads the Opposition in particular—will remember the conflict that there has been about this sort of provision where you have a provision such as we saw in the famous Regulation 18B—namely: If the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe.… Then the controversy centres round this question: do those words mean, "If in the opinion of the Secretary of State he has reasonable cause to believe," or is there an objective test which can he scrutinised by a court of law? The problem is whether you can read into such words as those—"If the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe…"—the words "in his opinion"; because if you can, then his opinion is made decisive, always assuming that he exercises his opinion in good faith. Of course, fraud unravels all, as it is said; but you assume good faith, and then the opinion is made decisive. It seems to me to be in this Constitution a matter of overwhelming importance for the protection of the Africans that the African is given this assurance that if, in the opinion of the African Affairs Board, a measure is a differentiating measure, then the consequences follow. I think that is a matter of paramount importance which has not been fully appreciated. Indeed, if I may venture to comment upon the speeches of Members of another place, for whose legal judgment I have the greatest respect, I think that that point of view has not been fully appreciated.

My Lords, I rise to say that; but so far as any other point of law is concerned, I think that the noble Earl, Lord Munster, spoke as if he had been born to wear the toga. I will end, since I have the last word, by wishing, on behalf of your Lordships, God-speed to this Federation and to the Governor-General, who goes out with all our good wishes.

On Question, Motion agreed to: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.