HL Deb 01 April 1954 vol 186 cc945-72

4.48 p.m.

LORD RENNELL rose to call attention to the situation in the Gold Coast; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, my reason for bringing up the subject of the Gold Coast to-day, rather than waiting a little longer, is the imminence, as I believe, of the publication, probably in the month of May, of a new Constitution for the Gold Coast. As, when that Constitution is published, it will be difficult to have any changes made in it, there are certain aspects of the present situation there to which I think it may be useful to draw the attention of your Lordships, in the hope that they may receive some consideration before the draft is finalised. The position in the Gold Coast is that we have had a Constitution which, on the whole, has been working most successfully. It has probably worked better than a great many people, including myself, thought it was going to work. That Constitution has now come to the end of its life and is to be replaced with one which carries yet a stage further—as some people might think, perhaps rather too rapidly—both the responsibilities of the Gold Coast Government and the degree of self-government of the Gold Coast. Nevertheless, to judge by what has happened, the change appears to be justified.

The happy state of the last two or three years on the Gold Coast is due to a variety of causes. Primarily, of course, it is due to the wisdom, efficiency and competence of the Prime Minister out there, and his conduct of Gold Coast affairs. Secondly it is due to the attitude of the advisers and officials and persons connected with the Gold Coast, who in a great many cases, in spite of a change of status, a change of attitude of mind, have nevertheless persisted in their efforts to help the Gold Coast along that path of development which has always been in our minds in this country. Finally, of course, and perhaps in a sense principally — because economic and political questions are always inevitably tied up in such a way that it is difficult to distinguish which is the more important— it is due to the fact that the prosperity of the Gold Coast has continued and is now greater than probably it has been at any other time.

The main industry of the Gold Coast still remains, as your Lordships will know, cocoa. The price of cocoa in recent months has been phenomenally high: it is now running at a level of about sixteen times its pre-war price. But cocoa is a volatile commodity, with very high prices when there is a scarcity or good demand, and a drug on the market when economic circumstances in the world change at all. The great danger to the Gold Coast: is undoubtedly its dependence on this one commodity. The commodity is vulnerable, however, tot only by reason of world prices and demand, but for two other reasons. It is vulnerable through the possibility of cocoa being grown in other parts of the world, and substantial competitors arising to the Gold Coast hereafter, and it is vulnerable also on account of the spread of the disease which has formed the subject of a large number of debates in your Lordships' House. In view of the importance that it has with the Gold Coast, I should therefore like to put my first question to the noble Earl who is to reply (of which I have given notice), namely, what he has to tell us about the success or otherwise of the measures taken to stop the spread of "swollen shoot," and to replant areas that have been cleared of infestation.

Assuming that the position there can be held, the next stage seems fairly clear. It has been brought out abundantly clearly in the interesting report which was prepared by Professor Lewis, of Manchester University, at the instance of the Gold Coast Government. That report emphasises throughout, first that the Gold Coast must depend for many years to come substantially on agricultural production and that it ought not to depend to so large an extent on cocoa alone. Professor Lewis would like to see, as I am sure all who have been to the Gold Coast would equally like to see a much greater production of foodstuffs. There is, however, a difficulty there: that the production of foodstuffs for local consumption can never produce the revenue which cocoa is producing. Therefore, by itself to create a self-sufficiency in foodstuffs in the Gold Coast would not necessarily increase the wealth of the Gold Coast, but might diminish it. It therefore follows that some other alternative source of revenue has to be created if the standard of well-being is to be maintained and if the revenue is to continue to come in, even on a lower but still sufficient scale to carry the Gold Coast forward in its path of development.

Professor Lewis states clearly in his report that industrialisation and the creation of secondary industries can come only very slowly. It must inevitably be a slow development in a country of that sort. On the other hand, there are two or three major industries which could contribute enormously to prosperity and well-being. There are the proposed schemes for the manufacture of aluminium and various other mineral productions—I am not talking about gold at this point—in the form of manganese and in other forms. That brings me to the second point that I wish to present to your Lordships this afternoon. In order to develop the Gold Coast industrially and in the way of public works, money will be required. At the present time the Gold Coast is in the amazingly lucky position of having, through the prosperity of the cocoa industry, accumulated very large reserves. I do not know whether your Lordships are aware of how big those reserves are, or, indeed, how great their growth has been during recent years. Your Lordships may have seen, and I may be permitted to quote what has been published in the Press lately —the figures of the Minister of Finance issued in the middle of February. If the report is correct, he said that by the end of 1955 the reserve development fund will reach over £20 million and the country will have raised no less than £75 million in five instead of ten years as originally planned; that borrowing will then be only £13 million instead of £23 million, and that surplus balances will have increased from £5 million to nearly £16 million.

That is a phenomenal development for a relatively small country with a relatively small population, infinitely smaller than that of the neighbouring Colony of Nigeria. That is undoubtedly a fund out of which the beginning of development can be made. But the figures involved in the development of the Volta scheme are so stupendous that, however great the prosperity is for the next few years, it is inconceivable that that development can be financed by the Gold Coast alone. Now that involves the production of capital moneys from outside, and the availability of such funds for investment in the Gold Coast depends, as I think everybody will be agreed, almost entirely on the attitude which the world outside takes to the Gold Coast itself. Confidence is the only factor which will enable the Gold Coast to find these funds.

At this point, may I refer again to Professor Lewis's report, and with your Lordships' permission read two short extracts from it, because they have a considerable bearing on what I shall have to say later on. In discussing this question of the provision of foreign capital, Professor Lewis points out the minimum factor of political stability and policy of the Government which wilt attract foreign capital. He deals at con- siderable length—and I shall come back to the point in a moment—;with the fears of nationalisation which may be experienced abroad. I am not raising this in any way from a controversial point of view, because at the moment we are talking about the Gold Coast and not the policy in this country. Professor Lewis says: Every capitalist would like to have a guarantee that his firm will not be nationalised. In these days no Government can usefully give a pledge that subsequent Governments will not nationalise an industry. What the Government can do. however, is to give an undertaking that if a firm is nationalised, it will be paid fair compensation. Presumably such a guarantee is at present implicit in the reserve powers of the Government. It would be better enshrined in the Constitution "—

that is, of the Gold Coast— as it is in the Constitutions of the United States of America, and of India.

That is a very flat-footed statement and particularly interesting in terms of to-day.

What is even more interesting is the reaction which that statement in that report had in the Gold Coast. The Prime Minister, Nkrumah, is reported at the beginning of March to have taken up that point in the Legislative Assembly of the Gold Coast, at the close of the present session of the Assembly, the last session under the existing Constitution. He is reported as having said that The present Government had no plans for nationalising industry beyond the extent to which the public utilities were already nationalised, and it did not envisage any such proposals arising. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that, if the nationalisation of a particular industry were to be considered essential by a successor Government in the national interest, there should be suitable means, for guaranteeing fair compensation, the Government intended to ask the British Government to incorporate in the Constitution"—

which is about to be published, as I understand— appropriate provision for this purpose following the precedents set in the Constitutions of the United States and of India. No doubt should be left in the minds of foreign enterprises that the Gold Coast was prepared not only to encourage the entry and investment of foreign capital but also to ensure that the interests of investors would he adequately safeguarded.

That is one of the most important statements of its sort, I think that has been made. It is both remarkable and satisfactory that the conception of incorporating this clause into the forthcoming Constitution should have come, so far as we know, from Dr. Nkrumah himself to the Secretary of State in this country, and not as a suggestion from the Secretary of State to Dr. Nkrumah. One of the questions which I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply is whether he is in a position to comment on this request which has been made by Dr. Nkrumah.

But, of course, the security of foreign capital goes further than that. There are more ways of killing a cat than by drowning it; and our experience in certain other countries. in another continent than Africa has been that you can freeze out foreign capital to such an extent that, though you do not have to pay them very much compensation, you can, in fact, "get away with murder "by so preventing them from earning any money, and by blocking their accounts, as to make the companies concerned ready to take anything after years of negotiations, rather than suffer total loss. I need not enumerate the cases in which that has happened they are familiar to your Lordships.

That point is also taken up in Professor Lewis's report, where he speaks of the restrictions which might be more than in certain circumstances and which might frighten away foreign capital. The first, of course, is a shortage of foreign exchange, where he comments, quite rightly, that that is not likely to happen in the present state of the Gold Coast balance of trade and cannot be anticipated in the foreseeable future. The second case is whore the Government, as he puts it, proceed to persecute foreigners, to levy heavy taxes or to threaten them with expropriation. He points out, quite rightly, that it would be foolish for the Gold Coast Government to do that. However, I think that, in this request which has been proffered to the Secretary of State by Dr. Nkrumah, to incorporate in the Constitution the question of the subject of fair compensation in the event of nationalisation, which, of course, carries with it the undoubted implication that one does not try to "kill the cat" by some other method of persecution, high taxes and discrimination, we have sufficient guarantee, almost, that that is unlikely to happen. One of the interesting points that emerges is that the Constitution is not vet, apparently, completely settled: it is still open to amendment or discussion. Since it seems to me inconceivable that a request of this sort addressed to the Secretary of State by the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast should be met with the reply: "It is too late to do anything." I hope to hear from the noble Earl that that is not the case. Confidence is created not only by legislation— indeed, confidence is created probably more by behaviour than by legislation.

That brings me to the second point: what has been happening in the Gold Coast in connection with the bribery and corruption inquiry that has been taking place there. Your Lordships will remember that, as a result of certain revelations made in November by Mr. Braimah, the then Minister of Communications, a Commission of Inquiry was set up under Judge Korsar to examine the allegations of bribery and corruption in official circles which had been bandied about in the Gold Coast, and some of which are contained in some of the statements which Mr. Braimah made to the Government. I, for one, have found it very difficult to follow the course of that Inquiry. Inevitably, a great deal of evidence was given, and the Press in this country, again inevitably—it is no criticism—can only pick out the more sensational or interesting bits and report them from time to time at irregular intervals. The result is that although I have large quantities of Press cuttings about what has been reported here, I have found it practically impossible to obtain a coherent and continuous story about what actually happened at the Inquiry.

The Inquiry has now come to an end, and as a result of information which was and evidence which was taken, two ministerial secretaries were convicted of corruption and imprisoned, and a third one was implicated. But the Inquiry, though it has come to an end, has not yet published its findings. Therefore, I should like to ask the noble Earl when those findings may be expected to be made public, and to urge that the findings be recorded in as great detail as possible and at sufficient length. It is probably asking too much that all the evidence of an Inquiry which went on for the best part of four months should be printed. Perhaps it is even too much to ask that it should be made available in the Library of your Lordships' House or in another place. But even if the whole of the evidence is not made avail- able, I hope that we shall learn that at any rate an extensive summary will be made available, so as to dispel the impression, which has got abroad in a great many quarters, that the scale and spread of corruption in the Gold Coast has been very considerable.

A large number of names have been mentioned. The evidence, so far as it has been reported in the Press, is, in certain respects, if true, extremely discreditable, both to individuals in the Gold Coast and to those who in the Gold Coast are known as expatriate or European persons and advisers, and to expatriate or European firms. It is in the interests not only of the Gold Coast but also of ourselves that the findings should be made available in as full a form as possible and as soon as possible. If there has been corruption—and there certainly has been some corruption, because two ministerial secretaries have been convicted and are now in prison—I should not like anyone in your Lordships' House to think that I want to make a case out of it. The practice of giving presents and rewards in West Africa has been widespread since the beginning of history there— and not only on the West Coast of Africa, but all over Africa. What was called "drink money," commissions, and rewards for bringing off a deal, have been very much a custom of the country, and that they should continue is inevitable and may be condoned. What is important is that it should not spread —above all, that it should not spread at this stage into administrative and political circles in the Gold Coast, when the Gold Coast has got to make its name and inspire the confidence without which no money will ever be invested there.

Her Majesty's Government and their predecessors have been criticised in many parts of the world for going too fast on the Gold Coast. I have read criticisms in the Dutch Press and the French Press, and even articles in the German Press, about the speed at which the liberalisation of the government of the Gold Coast has gone, and expressing wonder as to whether it would turn out all right. All 1 can say is that it has been all right up to date. But in order to keep it all right, it must be kept clean, and it is for the Gold Coast and for those who advise the Gold Coast, here and in other places, to see that if something dirty has happened it is washed and made clean, and that it shall not happen again.

The third point which I think arises, in a sense, out of the proposal of the Prime Minister to insert in the Constitution a safeguard for foreign capital arises in another context. In the proposals for the new Constitution of the Gold Coast, published last year, there was a good deal of difference of opinion about the form of government, and on balance (and if my information is right) it appears that the new Constitution, when it is made public in May, will be a Constitution providing for a single Chamber.' There will be other fairly important changes, such as the disappearance of the ex officio representatives of the mining industry and other ex officio members of that sort. But the most important point, really, is that it will be a single Chamber Government, with extended powers for local legislation; and that appeared (I use the word "appeared" advisedly) to be the view of the present Government of the Gold Coast, headed by Dr. Nkrumah and the Party that he represents in power.

As your Lordships are well aware, there is considerable doubt in people's minds as to whether at this stage it is wise to have a single-Chamber Government, in the context of the history of the Gold Coast and of the tradition of the government of the Gold Coast—I refer of course to the position of the Chieftains. They have made it abundantly clear, no less lately than a few weeks ago, that they would prefer to see a two—Chamber Government. I should like to come back to the question of the Chieftains in a minute. The important thing that has happened, however, is that apparently the Prime Minister himself has taken his own view on the subject. In the closing Session of the Legislative Assembly the question of the form of Constitution which will in due course take the form of an Order in Council here, was referred to, and the proposal by the Chiefs to have a Second Chamber was dealt with in two extracts which I should like to read to your Lordships. Dr. Nkrumah said: The Government is not able to accede to this request"—

that is, for a second Chamber— for the inclusion of these points in the constitutional instruments, and I wish to inform this House of the reasons which led to this decision. First, these proposals have been raised too late. It must be appreciated that the negotiations with the United Kingdom Government on the final form of the Order in Council are already far advanced. The inclusion now of the provisions desired by the Joint Provincial Council"—

that is, by the Chiefs— would cause major drafting difficulties, the ramifications of which it is difficult to foresee.

He goes on to say: Turning now to the question of a Second Chamber or Senate, I wish to re-assert my determination not to interrupt the present constitutional negotiations in order to introduce this matter.

This is important because this is where he appears to have changed from the view which he held a few months ago. He continues: The Government"—

that is, his Government— can, however, assure honourable Members that as far as the final Constitution of the self-governing Gold Coast is concerned, the question is still open. Moreover, I would give this House, my personal assurance that if I am returned and become Prime Minister I shall ask his Excellency the Governor to consider the appointment of a fully representative Committee or Commission of Inquiry to examine the question of a Second Chamber. The Report of such a Committee or Commission would be considered by the Government.

There are one or two points there which it is worth commenting upon. In the first place, when the Prime Minister said that these proposals for a Second Chamber have been made too late because the drafting has already gone so far, he was, no doubt unwittingly, implying that this is a good idea that has come up quite lately, and if it had come up before there might have been a different answer. But, of course, that is not the case. The case for a Second Chamber was made very strongly months and months ago, and has only been repeated lately by the Joint Provincial Council to which he refers in his speech. In the second place, when he says that it is too late now to make any changes in the Constitution, that remark was made within a few days of his having announced to the House that he was proposing to move the Secretary of State to insert into the draft Constitution, which was riot yet, ready, a provision to safeguard foreign capital in the country by providing for fair compensation in the event of nationalisation. If, therefore, it is not too late to do that, I submit that it is not too late to consider the inclusion of a Second Chamber in the Constitution which is now in draft.

Going back to what I started to say when I commenced to address your Lordships on this Motion. I would point out that it is much more important to get the question decided now than to have another change in the Constitution hereafter as a result of a favourable report on the question of a Second Chamber being received from the Commission. I hope the noble Earl, Lord Munster will be able to say that the draft will not be published until this matter has received further consideration, with a view to the inclusion in the Constitution of provision for a Second Chamber. That is evidently at the back of the Prime Minister's mind, but it would be better to do it now, rather than to have another period of working under a temporary Constitution which will be changed again in, say, another couple of years' time. It does no good to the Gold Coast, nor indeed to any other country. We see examples of what happens with such changes in Constitutions, even in Europe. It leads to unsettlement and uncertainty and particularly to a lack of that confidence which is at the present moment essential to the development of the Gold Coast. It was with that end mainly in view that I placed this Motion on the Order Paper. I now beg to move for Papers.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and I have on many occasions in the last few years addressed your Lordships on the subject of the Gold Coast. I am glad to note that his speech to-day was very different in mood and tone from many of the speeches with which he has favoured us. It is most heartening to those of us who believe in the present Constitution of the Gold Coast, the granting of the amount of self- government that has been granted and the amount of self-government that will in time be achieved, to hear from Lord Rennell, who in the past has been a critic, that, on the whole, he is well satisfied with the progress that has been made.

One of the matters with which the noble Lord dealt was the position of the cocoa industry. He rightly stressed the influence that the cocoa industry has on the fortunes of the Gold Coast. One of the points that arises—and it is one of the results of the new Constitution of the Gold Coast—is that the cocoa industry has benefited from the existence in the country of an African Government. This is because the Government have been able to persuade farmers to cut out diseased trees, and to accept compensation which was small in comparison with the value of the trees cut out, or, shall we say, with the value of the trees not cut out — the healthy trees. That is something which we were not able to do; and it is the sort of benefit that we hope will follow the granting of self-government to all Colonial territories—namely that solutions to various difficult problems which an expatriate Government finds difficult to persuade the people to adopt are more readily accepted under persuasion from their own countrymen.

I was glad to note that Lord Rennell mentioned the Marketing Board, or, rather, the fund which the Marketing Board has set up. This, of course, has been of great value to the Gold Coast. It is not only a fund to be disbursed primarily for the benefit of the industry and those who work in it, but it is, I suppose, a fund from which very large sums can be loaned for desirable projects in the Gold Coast, if those who control the fund think fit. The organisation was intended not merely as a marketing board but also to act as a cushion to the producer, which would enable him, in some way, to withstand the ups and downs affecting a product like cocoa, which, like many other products, in the inter-war years was very much at the mercy of overseas finance and overseas demands.

Lord Rennell has also mentioned Professor Lewis's report. I am very glad that he did so. In my view, it is one of the most interesting reports that has been produced in the Colonial field for many years, and all who are interested in Colonial affairs should read it. In many ways it opens up quite a new vista in Colonial economics. As Lord Rennell rightly said, one of the prime underlying conclusions of Professor Lewis's investigation is that it is possible to develop a country like the Gold Coast only by developing and increasing its agricultural production. This, of course, is not very palatable advice to many of those countries. They have always wanted to develop secondary and even basic industries, because, looking at this and other Western nations, they have formed the idea that it was only by copying us, and providing places like Lancashire, Yorkshire, South Wales, the Clyde and so on, that they could become really productive and nourishing countries. Professor Lewis has exploded that notion. Another thing which he explodes is the idea as to the demand for some consumer goods. I remember that some years ago there was a project to develop a cigarette factory in Nigeria—in fact, it was developed. It was found, however, that the actual consumption of cigarettes in Nigeria was very much smaller than had been contemplated, and that one factory situated locally could, in all probability, satisfy a very great deal of the demand that existed for cigarettes, other than for brands which were imported from overseas. So we find that in many of these countries the amount of local demand for consumer goods is much smaller than has been contemplated in the past. This fact I think the report brings out very clearly.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, that it is important to encourage steps calculated to attract capital, both international capital from the World Bank and capital from such concerns as the Colonial Development Corporation, and from private investors. I think:the noble Lord will agree—in fact he said as much—that the Prime Minister and the Government of the Gold Coast are doing all they can to give every security and every assurance possible to those who have capital to lend to the Gold Coast. This is particularly important, in view of the great Volta river scheme with which the Government are particularly concerned at the moment. If capital is treated in the way which Lord Rennell has stated, quite rightly, that it has been treated in other parts of the world, would say that that course carries its own penalty, so far as the Government are concerned, and the people of the country are concerned. In other words, the particular investors who have already lent money may lose a good deal of their money, but it is highly unlikely that anyone else is going to provide the country with the capital that is needed.

We welcome Lord Rennell's view on the financial situation in the Gold Coast. The fact that the noble Lord, occupying the position in the City which he does. has made this very important statement in your Lordships' House to-day, we regard as being a very great feather in the cap of the Gold Coast. We are very happy that he has made that statement and so also, I am sure, will the Government of the Gold Coast be. It is particularly important because in the past Lord Rennell has often shown himself a somewhat critical friend of the Gold Coast and of the proposals that are now bearing fruit in that country.

The noble Lord also mentioned the question of bribery. The noble Earl, Lord Munster, promised me that he would put the report on this matter in the Library of your Lordships' House. He was not able to promise that he would be able to put there the verbatim record, because it is likely to be very voluminous; but if it proves to be not so voluminous as to strain the resources of the Gold Coast, and also the resources of our Library, I presume that he will put it there for our perusal. Bribery is always a subject of difficulty in countries in Africa and the East. There are too many countries in Africa and in the East generally, I believe, where bribery, if not rife, is at least far too common. I remember once speaking to an African on this question of bribery. He knew well that some of the money which he and others had subscribed to a political fund had been grossly misused. But he said: "Oh well, you must not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.' I think that is an attitude of mind which has been too prevalent in Africa arid elsewhere. It is a very bad attitude and I think it is the duty of every citizen of the Gold Coast at the present stage of the history of that country—and this is an important stage in its history—to realise that it:is imperative to stamp out bribery whatever the cost may be to those who give and those who receive bribes.

Lord Rennell raised the constitutional issue, and suggested that the Governments here and in the Gold Coast might consider carefully the provision of a Second Chamber. On general grounds I must admit that I am in favour of Second Chambers, both in this country and elsewhere. I think they are good things. How long a Second Chamber will be able to last here under present conditions, I do not know—but that is a point which does not arise in a Colonial debate, and if I discuss it I shall he rebuked severely by the noble Earl, Lord Munster, for being inconsequent. So far as the Gold Coast is concerned, and other countries like it, the difficulty is one of providing suitable people. That is not the difficulty here I am glad to say: our difficulty is quite another one. The number of people who can make up the Legislative Council, a Second Chamber and the local authorities which are now springing up, is not large; and unless we were going to make such a Second Chamber hereditary for the Chiefs, it might be difficult at this stage to people it in the way it should be peopled. However, that is a matter for local consideration. I support the suggestion which the noble Lord has made, that both Governments should consider this question most carefully.




Yes, now; and if practicable, they should do something about it and proceed to bring a Second Chamber into being. But I think the noble Lord will find that the answer he will get is that they will have difficulty in peopling and staffing a Second Chamber, unless it is purely with Chiefs. No doubt the noble Earl. Lord Munster, will correct me if I am wrong. In conclusion, I would express my thanks, and the thanks of noble Lords on this side, to the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, for his continuing interest in the Gold Coast and for raising this subject to-day.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, in time long past I remember replying to debates on the Gold Coast initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, when he sat on this side of the House. In those days, as my noble friend has just pointed out, there was a certain division of opinion. Now, for the first time in my recollection, there is complete unanimity in the support that has been expressed for the policy of the Government towards the Gold Coast and for the policy of the Gold Coast Government. I feel this is an extremely good sign and it will be very encouraging to the Gold Coast to know that all Parties feel that the policy there is moving in the right direction. We are all grateful to the noble Lord for giving us this opportunity to wish the Gold Coast well shortly before it launches out on a system of full Parliamentary government, and I am certain that that is the most valuable message that could go out from this House to the Gold Coast.

We all know that political developments in the Gold Coast are anxiously watched not only in this country but also in the many territories of British Africa, and there principally by the African population. Everyone, both in Africa and here, wishes that the transition of the Gold Coast to self-government within the Commonwealth will be smooth. But, of course, at a time of rapid constitutional change there are many pitfalls. At such a time as this a serious mistake can do a great deal of harm and take a long time to put right. It is extremely encouraging, I think, that the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast seems to be fully aware of these pitfalls and to be formulating his policy so as to avoid them. One problem which has been touched upon by the noble Lord opposite and by my noble friend Lord Ogmore, about which the mind of the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast seems to be open, is that of the most suitable Legislature for the country. After the forthcoming elections the new Legislative Assembly will be quite different in composition from the present body. The disappearance of the traditional members representing the Chiefs and the special members representing mining and commerce will raise acutely the question of finding a voice for these important elements in the life of the country. Therefore, I was particularly glad to observe that if he wins the forthcoming elections Mr. Nkrumah has decided to appoint a Commission to look into the desirability of having a Second Chamber. I think the only difficulty that has been expressed about the Prime Minister's proposal is one of timing, a point to which I should like to return in a moment.

Your Lordships will remember that the Coussey Committee, which gave long and careful consideration to the new Constitution of the Gold Coast, were equally divided about the Second Chamber. I happened to be at the Colonial Office when the Coussey Committee reported and I remember how difficult we found it at that time to decide whether or not to use our casting vote in favour of a bicameral Legislature. In view of the division of opinion about it in the Gold Coast, however, I think we were right at that time to leave the matter over for decision later on by the representative leaders of the peoples of the Gold Coast. The mere fact that the Coussey Committee, reflecting opinion in the Gold Coast, was so evenly divided is, I think, a very good reason for the further consideration of this question of a Second Chamber. It may be that the Gold Coast will be able to get along satisfactorily with a single Chamber. I hope it does. It is cheaper and quicker than our system but, of course, if it is successful, it will be the first democratic country I know of in the world of its size and population that has been able to make its Legislature truly representative of the life of the whole nation without resort to a Second Chamber.

May I revert to this question of timing, which I think is the only question that may give rise to a difference of opinion between the two sides of the House? I am not at all sure that Mr. Nkrumah may not be right to wait for a mandate from the electorate for the re- consideration of this question, in view of the division of opinion that that has 'already been expressed, and for that reason I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, is right to ask for the change to be made now. Moreover, I feel that if a change were made now, it would mean a postponement of the forthcoming elections, and that would have a disastrous effect on the Gold Coast because, naturally, as this is the greatest step in their history towards full self- government, people are looking forward to the establishment of a fully representative Legislature based on direct election. While I agree in principle with the noble Lord about the desirability of a Second Chamber, I am not altogether at one with him on the question of timing.

I was also glad to know that the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast seems fully to realise that the economic development of the country will depend largely on its success in attracting foreign capital. Of course, we must not forget here that American capital is needed just as urgently as British capital. I remember that when I was in the United States 'last year, there was a good deal of reluctance on the part of Americans to invest in British 'Colonial territories on account of the risks which they felt were likely to follow from self- government. But the assurance given by Dr. Nkrumah in the speech to Mitch reference has already been made should, I think, relieve the minds of foreign investors of such fears in the case of the Gold Coast. Indeed, it was very satisfactory to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, whom we all recognise to be an authority in the financial world, seemed to take the view that the assurances given by Dr. Nkrumah were such as to meet the legitimate fears of foreign investors about the fate of their capital.


If the appropriate clauses are put into the Constitution.


I agree that that has not beer done, but the proposal is that guarantees about fair compensation should be put into the new Constitution and I have no doubt that the proposal will be very seriously, and I hope favourably, considered by Her Majesty's Government. Incidentally, it is rather interesting to note that the notable maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Baillieu, to which we listened yesterday evening, emphasised the fact that capital investment in the Commonwealth depended on the borrower as well as the lender, and it is curious to observe that Dr. Nkrumah appears to have agreed, by anticipation, with the advice given by the noble Lord, Lord Baillieu.

I should like in conclusion to touch upon only one point which has not been mentioned so far in the course of this debate. Now that the Gold Coast is taking another, and the most important, step that it has so far taken towards self-government, I hope that Her Majesty's Government is considering the future of British Togoland. While the Gold Coast remains under British control we shall be able to carry out our obligations as the administering Power; but, as we administer British Togoland,as part of the Gold Coast, we shall no longer be able to fulfil these obligations when we give up all control of the Gold Coast administration. It is obvious we cannot withhold self-government because we have responsibilities in Togoland. In fact, I am sure the last thing we want to do is even to give the impression that we are holding back for such a reason. On the other hand, we have obligations both to the peoples of Togoland and also to the United Nations for their good government. The only alternative to the transfer of our trusteeship of Togoland to another country, if we were no longer in a position to discharge it, would be to make this area a self-governing country. But British Togoland on its own, without even the French area of Togoland thrown in, would surely be a political and economic monstrosity. This alternative I do not think bears close examination.

The Gold Coast leaders already, in fact, decide the internal policy of their country. They have already a Cabinet system of government. If they continue to treat the Togolanders with fairness and consideration as they have done up to now, and not to discriminate against them administratively or by legislation, it surely would not be unreasonable for us to express our willingness to ask the United Nations, if we were ever in a position to do so, to transfer our trusteeship to the Gold Coast. Whether we could do so would depend upon a number of factors beyond our control. I cannot help thinking that our willingness, expressed to the Gold Coast Government, would at least convince them that we are not, and have no intention of, using Togo-land as a pretext to interfere in the smallest degree in their internal affairs. There has been a complete change of atmosphere and tone in our debates on the Gold Coast. I am sure it can do nothing but good for this unanimity of support for what is happening in the Gold Coast to go out from this House.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, for raising the subject of the Gold Coast to-day, and for affording me the opportunity of giving the House, as best I can, a review of the present situation which is operating in that country, and also to tell the House something about the future Constitution which it is hoped will shortly be operating. Before I come to reply to the many questions addressed to me by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, behind me, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in front, perhaps I may at once reply to the noble Earl's question about the future of Togoland. It is perfectly true that Togoland to-day, and for some years now, has been administered as an integral part of the Gold Coast. The whole subject of the future administration under the Trusteeship Agreement is coming before the Trusteeship Council at its next Session in June, and Her Majesty's Government will naturally make their contribution to the discussions which take place at that time.


I do not wish the noble Earl to disclose anything now; that would be unfair. But have Her Majesty's Government proposals of policy which they are going to submit to the Trusteeship Council? Will there be a change in the existing policy?


I think it is clear that as internal self-government in the Gold Coast increases and expands, some alteration must be made in the Trusteeship Agreement.

My noble friend behind me reminded your Lordships that it is some three years since the Gold Coast first went to the polls. As the House may recall, the Convention People's Party—the C.P.P., as it is called—under Dr. Nkrumah, won the great majority of the popular seats, and since that time has held almost all the eight portfolios given to Representative Ministers in the Government. I think it is true to say, as has been said in all quarters of the House, that this Government of Dr. Nkrumah has made very good progress in the difficult task of governing by a democratic method; and I think, as my noble friend said, that it has justified by its conduct alone the decision of Her Majesty's Government to make further constitutional advancements.

Before I deal with this new situation I want to remind the House how the present Government has handled some of its problems, in addition to that of dealing with the cocoa industry which was mentioned by noble Lords. My noble friend behind me on a previous occasion drew attention to the trade and industry of the Gold Coast, with particular reference to the disease that afflicts the cocoa tree. There is unfortunately no known remedy to-day for this disease, but the Gold Coast Government introduced a voluntary cutting-out campaign, in place of the compulsory campaign which has now been suspended. Your Lordships will remember that the voluntary campaign started off very slowly indeed, but the cutting-out is now being done on a substantial basis, with the result that in Ashanti and Southern Togoland the disease appears to be under control. All told, the cutting-out is now proceeding at the rate of over 700,000 trees a month.

Lord Rennell was perfectly correct when he said that the prosperity of the Colony rests almost entirely on cocoa. The Gold Coast to-day is still producing about one-third of the world's supply. It is not surprising, therefore, that the revenue which mainly comes from cocoa duty, which is available for social and economic development, is now exceeding all expectations. It seems probable that by the end of the present financial year in the Gold Coast well over half the development plan which has been mentioned this afternoon, and which is costing some £81 million, will have been spent. It may interest the House to know, also, that to help in opening up the eastern half of the country a new deep-water port and township have been begun at Tema, at a cost of some £20 million, all of which is being met from local revenue. Tema is intended to be the port for the Volta River project, if the decision is ultimately made to proceed with that vast scheme; and it is, of course, quite obvious that if that scheme should come into operation, then the economy of the Gold Coast will be considerably assisted.

My noble friend Lord Rennell will possibly recall that in July of last year, in this House, I welcomed the statement which had been made by Dr. Nkrumah, who said that for some years to come, at any rate, the need for the services of the overseas officers in the Public Service would continue. Meanwhile, the employment of Africans in the service has steadily proceeded, and of the 2,560 senior posts which are available, 916 are now held by Africans. I think I should make it clear to the House, in passing, that these numbers will increase as more and more African graduates leave the schools and universities in this country and the institutions of higher education which are now being built in Accra and Kumasi.

Dr. Nkrumah recently made an important statement which I should like to summarise to your Lordships. It concerned his Government's attitude to Communism in the Public Service, and the threat which he considered that it might well have on the economy of the Colony. The Prime Minister referred to the warning given in March, 1948, by the right honourable gentleman who now leads the Opposition in another place, in which he said that membership of the Communist Party might involve acceptance of a loyalty inimical to the State. The Gold Coast Prime Minister rightly pointed out that this warning could apply with greater force to a young and rising nation, and that therefore his Government would in future refuse to employ persons in certain branches of the service if they were proved to be active Communists. The Prime Minister also stated that the Government intended to control the quantities of tendentious literature entering the Colony, and also to prevent certain Gold Coasters leaving the country to attend conferences or to take up scholarships behind the Iron Curtain. I welcome most sincerely the wisdom of these measures, and I am glad to think that in the early stages of political development in that country the Prime Minister is doing so much to nip this evil in the bud.

Before I deal with the constitutional issue, I should like to reply to the question addressed to me by the mover of the Motion, and by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the all-African Committee of inquiry which was appointed sonic time ago to inquire into the reasons which led to the resignation of Mr. Braimah, who was then the Northern Minister of Communications and Works. The hearings of that Commission ended in March, and I understand that the Report is likely to be made available within the next few weeks. Clearly, on this occasion I could not anticipate the findings of the Commission, but I will certainly see whether it is possible to place a copy of the findings in the Library of the House. As I. think I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I cannot say for certain that it will be possible to lay a verbatim report of the lengthy proceedings, but that also I will inquire into, and I will in due course let the noble Lord know about it.

I now turn to what is really the principal matter—namely, the question of this constitutional development. The House will recall that my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary visited the Gold Coast in June, 1952, and he informed Dr. Nkrumah that when proposals had been formulated by the Gold Coast Government they would be closely examined by Her Majesty's Government in this country. It will be remembered that the Government of the Colony published a White Paper containing proposals far these constitutional reforms, which, after they had been discussed in the Legislative Assembly, were, in fact, accepted without a Division. I would impress upon your Lordships the fact that they were accepted without a Division, and I shall be returning to that point a little later. The proposals which were accepted provided for a Cabinet, normally presided over by the Prime Minister, and consisting wholly of African Representative Ministers drawn from a single Chamber Legislature. The members of that Legislative Assembly would be chosen entirely by direct elections. The Cabinet would be the principal instrument of policy, and broadly responsible for the internal government of the country, but the Governor would retain his existing reserve powers and be responsible, in his discretion, for external affairs (including Togoland) and for defence, with a special responsibility for the police. He would have an Advisory Committee containing three African Ministers to help him in the discharge of these duties. Arrangements would be made to safeguard the independence and the integrity of the Judiciary and the Public Service.

Since that White Paper was issued, the Commission of Inquiry into electoral reform has met and reported. The Gold Coast Government also proposed that the Department responsible in this country should cease to be the Colonial Office, and that the work should be transferred to the Commonwealth Relations Office. It was towards the end of last October that the Colonial Secretary, in reply to a speech in another place, said that, except for this particular suggestion, the Gold Coast proposals, taken as a whole, were in broad principle acceptable to Her Majesty's Government, although there might be a few points which were not yet acceptable, or which might require clarification. Exchanges between the Colonial Government and my right honourable friend have since been proceeding, and unless there is some unforeseen situation which occurs, it will, we hope, be possible to bring into effect the new constitutional instrument in time for a general election to be held about the middle of June.

I felt certain that your Lordships would wish to have some explanation of the attitude which I understand the Gold Coast have adopted towards two of the proposals contained in their White Paper, which have been raised by noble Lords to-day—the special membership of the Legislative Council, and the formation of a Second Chamber. The Gold Coast Government have always been aware of their dependence on continuing investment from overseas if the economy of the country is to be maintained. I think it is general knowledge in this House—it is general knowledge in the Gold Coast as well—that the mining and commercial interests are mainly overseas interests and they have had special representation in the existing Assembly. The Chambers of Mines and Commerce, who have selected these representatives, have always set great store on the opportunity which was given them to advise the Assembly direct of the views of the business community. I suppose it was only natural that they were disappointed that the White Paper proposed an all- African Assembly in which the two Chambers would no longer be represented.

Those bodies have impressed upon my right honourable friend, and upon the Gold Coast Government, that the removal of their special Members might, in their judgment, be a blow to the confidence of oversea investors. The local Government have given careful consideration to the representations which have been made, and in company with the Opposition groups in the Assembly have examined various means of meeting the wishes which have been expressed, including the possibility of giving two seats in the new Legislative Assembly without voting rights to the Chambers of Mines and Commerce. Unfortunately, it was not found possible to reach an agreement and, in the circumstances, the Gold Coast Government held to its original view that the direct representation of these interests in the Legislative Assembly would he contrary to normal democratic practice and would be out of place in a wholly elected Assembly.

In that connection, the House would, I think, be wise to remember that after the next election the Assembly will not only be wholly elected, as I have just stated, but also wholly African. It would certainly be out of keeping with the spirit of the new Constitution to have in the Assembly members who were nominated by the Chambers of Trade and Commerce. I shall refer in a few moments to the question of a Second Chamber, which has not yet been altogether ruled out. But I would say, in passing, on this particular point about the two nominated members, that if the Second Chamber does come into existence, then it seems to me that it would be more appropriate that the representatives of the Chambers of Mines and Commerce should find a place in that Assembly, and not in the Legislative Assembly itself. Speaking in the Assembly in November last, Dr. Nkrumah used these words: The question of ensuring the good will and confidence of foreign investors does not end here. The Government proposes to give this its earnest consideration and to make a definite statement about outside capital investment at the Budget meeting next year. Such a statement was, in fact, made on March 1 of this year, and was summarised in the Press. In it, it will he remembered that Dr. Nkrumah stated that, in formulating its policy, his Government had accepted the fact that it would be many years before the Gold Coast would be able to find, from its own resources, the people with the capital and the experience to develop and manage new industries. It was therefore clear, in his opinion. that the Gold Coast must rely largely on foreign enterprise, which the Government was anxious to encourage. He further said that they realised that in industry the criterion must be efficiency, but that they wished both public and private enterprise to put into practice a policy of training Africans for eventual employment in senior technical, professional and managerial 'appointments. He stated further that the Government would be willing itself to participate in sound enterprises, but that it would not regard such participation as mandatory, although there might be cases in the national interest when it would have to insist upon some form of partnership.

He emphasised that the present Government had no plans for nationalising industry apart from the public utilities already nationalised, and it did not envisage the arising of any such proposals. However, he did say that if any future Government thought some measure of nationalisation was necessary in the Gold Coast, there should be suitable means for guaranteeing fair compensation to the industries, and in order to secure this the Gold Coast Government themselves would accordingly ask the United Kingdom Government to incorporate some appropriate provision for this purpose in the new Constitution. That, indeed, is what we intend to do, and I might add that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State was happy to know that these proposals emanated in the first place from Dr. Nkrumah himself, and he and Her Majesty's Government are perfectly prepared to include some such provision in the new Constitution.

As I was saying, after full discussion the Gold Coast Government did not feel able to recommend the retention of special Members in the new Legislative Assembly, and my right honourable friend does not feel that any advantage would be gained by pressing for their retention. It may be that this question will be raised later in another context. The Gold Coast Government have proposed that, just as special Members would disappear under the new Constitution, there should also be no special representation given to the Chiefs, but they could, of course, stand for election in the normal way if they wished to do so. However, I understand that the Chiefs themselves have accepted the view of the Gold Coast Government that their position as the traditional representatives of their people might, and probably would, be seriously hurt if they took part in the rough and tumble of political life. Nevertheless, the Chiefs themselves have asked that their wishes for some form of representation should be met by the establishment of a Second Chamber, and, as I have already mentioned, it has also been suggested that a place might be found in that Chamber for the commercial and mining representatives as well.

The Gold Coast Government carefully considered this matter, and they did riot reject it out of hand. I think in discussing this question it should be remembered that the territorial Representatives in the Assembly were amongst those who last July accepted, without a division, the proposals for a single-Chamber Government, and that this and all the other proposals which appear in the Constitution haw been worked out in considerable detail in the long and difficult negotiations during recent months. The Gold Coast Government have no wish now to interrupt these negotiations by raising the whole of this matter afresh, abut they assured the Assembly that, so far as the final Constitution of a self-governing Gold Coast is concerned, the question remains open. As my noble friend Lord Rennell stated, the Prime Minister has said that if he were returned to power he would ask the Governor to consider the appointment of a fully representative Committee or Commission of Inquiry to re-examine the whole question of a Second Chamber. I do not think it would be right, nor, indeed, would my right honourable friend agree, to delay the introduction of the Constitution until the question of a Second Chamber and the appointment of these two representatives from the Chambers of Mines and Commerce had been considered.

Indeed, let me add this, in passing. This, of course, is not the final Constitution. If at any future stage in the history of the Gold Coast the Colony should ask for full self-government within the Empire and Commonwealth, then there would have to be a different Constitution from the one which will operate, we hope, in the future. We hope, and it seems likely, that a new Constitution will soon be in force, and, as I have said, we hope that the elections for the Assembly may take place in June of this year. The next election under the terms of this new Constitution will provide for an all-African Government which, I believe, will prove to be as friendly and co-operative as the present one. We sincerely hope that, whatever Government may be returned at this election, that new Government will be faced by a wise and competent Opposition, and that all the members of the Legislative Assembly will act in the best traditions of Parliamentary democracy. It is true, as was said by the two noble Lords opposite and by my noble friend behind me, and as I think has been displayed to-day, that there is an abundance of good will towards the Gold Coast. There has also been a warning of the pitfalls into which this new Government might fall. I associate myself with both those expressions and look to the future in a spirit of hopeful anticipation.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Earl for his extremely full reply, and for the specific answers given to one or two of the points which I have raised, I should like to say only one thing about the question of a Second Chamber. It is regrettable that there should not be a Second Chamber, because I think it would be easier to achieve that now than to bring it up hereafter. My particular reasons for saying that arise out of something which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said about staffing. I have no doubt in my own mind that the principle and tradition of chieftaincy in Africa is too ingrained for anybody to abolish it in a short time without very great risk—it is traditional to the whole of the African people. The danger of the removal of chieftainship, and the substitution solely of an elected Legislature, without any checks by the tradition of chieftainship, involve a risk which fills me with a certain amount of misgiving. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for what they have said. I make no apology for changing my mind, and I reserve the right to be critical again hereafter. With that, I would ask your Lordships' permission to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.