§ 3.39 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, I should like to say a few words particularly in support of the first part of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in which he refers to the need for a new policy for Colonial Territories in relation to their constitutional future, and to support the plea he made for the consideration of new ideas on this subject. As we know, and have heard today, it has been the policy of successive British Governments to hold out to Colonial Territories the prospect of responsibility for their own affairs as independent members of tie Commonwealth. As in so many other British institutions, there are no formal rules relating to this matter of membership of the Commonwealth. I imagine that it is this fact of which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was thinking. And it is this fact, coupled particularly with the vagueness about the time when independence is likely to be achieved, that constitutes a disturbing factor in the 923 minds of the more progressive leaders and the more ambitious representatives of Colonial Territories.
I think that a further doubt has recently crept into some minds—namely, whether, within the constitutional position as we now find it, it is within the power of the British Government, even if they so desire, to admit new Commonwealth members. The question is asked to-day: Is admission to Commonwealth status now a matter for agreement by all existing members of the Commonwealth; or is it to be a majority decision, or can Britain proclaim a decision to treat a Territory as of Commonwealth status? I gather that at the Commonwealth Conference which is now being held this matter may not be formally raised, but I hope there will be informal discussions which will help to clarify the constitutional position. It is clearly undesirable for this country to hold out to Colonial Territories a prospect which it cannot fully implement by its own decision.
Then may I say that I think, with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that even if Commonwealth status is open to all existing Colonial Territories, ultimately this is not necessarily the final and most satisfactory form of association for many of the Colonial Territories remaining under British influence. I believe that some different form of association might well prove more beneficial. In spite of the fact that federal solutions have not found great favour in this country, I venture to suggest that some form of federal association "made to measure" (if I may use the phrase of one of my noble friends on these Benches in relation to a modern federal scheme in which he took part), to suit the particular circumstances might well be explored. What I think it is important to recognise and acknowledge is that Colonial status in any form has become outmoded and, whether justifiably or not, is felt unacceptable, even in backward Territories.
I want to illustrate this feeling by mentioning a conversation I had a few days ago with some distinguished citizens of Cyprus. When I asked them what they expected to achieve from Enosis that they had not already got their reply was that they would no longer be a Colonial Dependency; they would be part of Greece, with a representative in 924 the Greek Parliament. This appealed to them, even if it meant the sacrifice of some economic advantages. I think that illustrates how important it is for us to be thinking about the type of constitutional future which we can offer to Colonial Territories. As I have referred to Cyprus, I would say that I feel that the constitutional future may be prejudiced if we go ahead too quickly with bases and expenditure there, before agreement is reached with the inhabitants, both Cypriot and Turkish, on the constitutional future. A commitment of such magnitude may raise difficulties which would not have arisen if there had been discussion before such expenditure and such military and naval commitments had been incurred. It is urgent that some agreement should be reached on the constitutional question before we have gone too far in that matter.
If I may pass from purely constitutional issues to a wider issue, is it not true that our Western civilisation, which we value so highly, is being tested in its impact upon the thought of peoples in Colonial Territories? In these Territories we have to meet ideas, some of them indigenous and some of them already permeated with Communist conceptions. In the struggle for men's minds over ideas, I think that what we are trying to bring to those Territories is the product of the best European thought, which I believe rests upon two great pillars—namely, respect for human life and the value of the individual personality. These two conceptions are, I think we should all agree, the greatest product of Western civilization; they stand out clearly in the struggle for men's minds in Colonial Territories. I know that it is only to a few people in some Territories that we can talk, and we have little idea yet of how the great number who are so far not getting any education really think; but at the moment we must deal with the more advanced representatives who are quite able, even in the backward areas of Africa, to discuss these problems intelligently. It is for this reason, and because of these two conceptions on which I think the future of European influence rests, respect for human life and the value of the individual personality, that the state of affairs in Kenya is so greatly to be deplored. In my view, the memory of the criticism which we in this country levelled against Italy for her conduct in North 925 Africa should stir our conscience. We can only hope that the steps that have recently been taken to bring this unhappy state of affairs to an end may succeed; but even if this result is achieved, it will only mark the beginning of a painful process of readjustment.
I have already referred to the fact that the idea of dependent Colonial Territories is outmoded. We are trying to replace Colonial administration, as we have known it for the past hundred years, by the gradual transfer of powers to local Governments. I should like to see this method of development extended and speeded up. It might even be a first step along the road that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, would have us tread, but I think it is a more cautious step than he has suggested; and it is certainly a step further along a new line than the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, suggests when he argues that all is well with our present ideas, a suggestion with which I am afraid I do not agree.
I should like to see the setting up of a consultative assembly, meeting in various centres, not always in London, at intervals, say, of two years, when the representative delegates from Colonial Territories can come together and discuss their problems, not only in relation to their own Territories but in a wider setting of responsibility in a general assembly. I should like to see this assembly meeting under an independent chairman and, with no disrespect to the Colonial Office, not as a body sponsored by the Colonial Office. I believe that such meetings would go a long way to foster a greater sense of responsibility in representative delegates from those Territories, and I believe, as I have said, that they would consider their problems in the wider setting which such an assembly would make possible.
Would the noble Lord forgive me a moment? I should like to get clear exactly what this idea is. What problems, exactly, are they going to discuss? The noble Lord refers to a consultative assembly which is going to be very wide-flung. As a start, who would be included in the consultative assembly? Their problems are largely different.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
I should like to thank the noble Lord for giving me the opportunity of being a little more specific. I think that these delegates 926 would come and discuss their own problems. Although some of the problems would be different, the problem of communications, of roads, of information services, of education and health services are common to all these Territories. They would start discussing these problems with a sense of responsibility under an independent chairman, and they would feel that there they had a chance of "letting themselves go" on their own problems. I think the independent chairman's function would be to prepare an agenda and to keep the discussion within reasonable limits—that is necessary in the process of growing up and of gaining more experience and responsibility. What further steps would come out of it, I do not know, but I should like to see it tried, to discover how these people behaved in trying to make a general review among themselves of their own problems.
Further, I should like to see the formulation of a Constitution—if you like, a model Constitution—under which greater powers devolve in stages upon a local Government, upon evidence of the responsible performance of their duties. It is difficult, if not impossible, for Her Majesty's Government to set a date for the transfer of additional powers to any Territory. We can sympathise with that difficulty, because one cannot say in advance how powers already vested in a local Government will be exercised, whether responsibly or irresponsibly. On the other hand it is difficult for a developing and progressive Territory to accept a state of affairs which is so vague that it may feel that it may never achieve further transfers of power.
Here, I should like to make a suggestion which may be a little revolutionary in its constitutional implications, but the Minister is anxious to have suggestions. I should like to ask whether, if there were any question of whether a Government had exercised its powers in a responsible manner, the matter could come before an independent tribunal—I have in mind a Committee of the Privy Council. The Privy Council is in a unique position; it is a unique authority; its membership is extended to the Commonwealth; and the right of appeal to a Committee of the Privy Council might remove from the minds of Colonial peoples a suspicion that considerations other than the test of whether they had exercised their powers responsibly would 927 be brought in. I do not think it would be necessary to have many such appeals. I think the constitutional issue—that is to say, the possibility of the removal of the decision from Her Majesty's Government—would be dealt with by providing that, on a report from the Committee of the Privy Council, the Government would by Order in Council implement a further stage in the devolution of powers. At any rate, I should like the constitutional authorities as well as Her Majesty's Government to consider the possibility of inserting some such plan into Constitutions that are granted to developing Territories, to allay any suspicion that we are not desirous of transferring powers as soon as we have evidence that they are being responsibly exercised.
Finally, my Lords, I should like to return to the plea I made at the beginning, for the consideration of some form of closer and more formal association than Commonwealth membership with these developing Territories, on a basis of independence and equality. Having regard to their geographical position and their economic conditions, I believe they could be more satisfactorily accommodated, with greater advantage to the Territories concerned, within some form of federation.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I feel in a responsible position and most privileged to be able to take part in a debate in your Lordships' House which I believe will prove to have come at an historic period of time. When the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, made his speech he referred to the different kinds of independence and the status of different areas in the Colonies, and he mentioned that there were twenty-five Territories which were not all able to sustain independence. He then went on to discuss the general question in a broadminded way—something which I do not remember having happened, either here or elsewhere, or on a public platform for a considerable time.
All Parties have advanced their views with regard to this question of British Colonial Territories. We all now take â much wider sweep in our views, because of our greater knowledge of the different areas over which the British flag 928 flies, and probably because we have had much personal experience in visiting these countries. The old-fashioned ideas of all Parties now look rather battered and worn in comparison with the new prospect which opens before us; we all feel that we need new ideas. During the course of this debate my mind went back to the old days in the Labour Party, when Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and Mr. Philip Snowden were the outstanding Leaders of the Party. At that time, when I was a Member of the other House, I founded an organisation called the Labour Commonwealth Group to study Commonwealth relations and problems. Mr. Philip Snowden at that time denounced this as "Tory imperialism." Mr. MacDonald was very negative about it, and a number of Conservatives regarded it as an impertinence that Labour M.P.s should meddle in such high matters.
I believe then, as I believe now, that it is our responsibility to our Colonies to see not only that the national wealth of these Territories is properly used but that the people of these Territories are given a fair share. Up to the period immediately before the last war, however, change and progress were very slow. I can show how incredibly slow was the speed of change no more clearly than by recounting my experience as one of a party of Members of Parliament who in 1939, just two months before the outbreak of the war, went all over Nigeria and other Territories of the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia, to make a survey of political and economic conditions in those Territories and to write a report. Other members of the party were Mr. Sandeman Allen, a Conservative, Mr. Clement Davies, a Liberal, still a Member of another place, and Mr. Ammon (now the noble Lord, Lord Ammon), who I am sorry is not in his place in this House to-day. The interesting point I wish to emphasise is that although we travelled over a large part of Nigeria in 1939. We met the people who are now, as a result of all these changes of Government, in office, and although we were asking for their views on the future in regard to the government of, and methods of administration in, the Territories, we did not hear from any single person any suggestion that they wanted to be independent or wanted a status 929 different from that which they then possessed. Those people were certainly in no way repressed. Noble Lords will agree that in a matter of this kind I should be unlikely to repress anybody, and I assure the House that other members of the Commission were exactly of my opinion in this regard and were anxious to find out what those people had in mind. Yet at that time there was no suggestion of any need for a change of status; and although I personally was strongly in favour of such change, I did not suggest it to them.
I believe that the rapid development of opinion, as shown in this debate, particularly in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is common in all our Colonies, as well as in India and in many other countries in the East. These changes of opinion were going on in India when I visited all the important military centres there while Field-Marshal Auchinleck was still in command and when the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Wavell, was the Governor. I went by air round the whole of the Indian stations within a month, leaving from and returning to Delhi, and making a report for military and medical purposes. At that time there was no immediate suggestion of any change on the big scale that subsequently look place.
I wonder, however, whether such vast changes as those to which I have referred have taken place, peacefully and in good order, in other parts of the world outside the British Commonwealth. We have encouraged changes of this kind, but outside the Commonwealth they have, I believe, been discouraged. The problems facing us are still vast. Take the health services alone. Looking at the Report of the Colonial Territories for the period 1953–54 I find a reference to the fact that the National Medical Manpower Committee were able to sanction the recruitment of two doctors for medical service in Malaya, although previously they had recommended the recruitment of ten others. The recruitment of doctors was, however, stopped. I was Chairman of the Committee, and I can say how grateful these people were for this paltry number of doctors, for they were, and still are, unable to supply their needs in this respect. There are not enough doctors for the needs of the population in many 930 tropical areas; and not only in those countries I have mentioned. A similar position arises in many respects in the majority of Colonial areas. There must be many noble Lords who, like myself, well know the need for help of many kinds in different parts of the Colonial Territories.
Can we continue to carry this tremendous burden? The development of self-government in many Colonial Territories, as in Nigeria and the Gold Coast, will lessen the strain upon our services and resources which are being demanded in many Colonial areas. One of the greatest difficulties in the Colonial areas is to find staff to man the necessary instruments of government. Is the responsibility one which we can carry alone? I believe that we may need to ask the help of the United Nations, and that it will be necessary for the United Nations Organisation to establish a world-embracing organisation for the purpose of dealing with the vast problem of raising the living standards of all backward peoples, including those in our Colonial areas.
To illustrate how quickly we have evolved in this matter, it was only in 1839 that Lord Durham first suggested that Canada should stand on her own feet, but, as a result, Canada has attained the position which she now holds; so that this question began just about 100 years ago. The pace of change is now increasing rapidly and will continue to do so. The pressure of the demand for the treatment of disease, which has already been very successful, has also been very embarrassing. When I was in Malta in October of last year to conduct a general medical inspection of forces, I found that the infantile death rate, which in 1947, when I was previously there, was extremely high, had fallen to a very low level; and the resulting large increase in population was causing great embarrassment to the Government. As noble Lords will know, a large number of people are now emigrating from Malta to Australia, where I understand they are regarded as extremely good colonists.
That kind of thing is happening all over the tropical world and over the area of our tropical Dependencies, yet many people are still at a low level of development, although most are capable of a reasonably highly organised way of living. 931 The rapidity of the change which has taken place puts an immense task on the shoulders of the leading nations of the world. If the standards of civilisation of all backward peoples are to be raised, it will take a tremendous world effort. The Labour Party have just published a pamphlet called Facing Facts in the Colonies. I advise all noble Lords, including those who sit on the other side of the House, and who, I am sure, take an interest in these matters, to get a copy. The price is reasonable; the pamphlet is full of information, and, so far as my experience goes—and it is fairly extensive—I believe that the facts are fundamentally correct. I also believe that its conclusions are such as might be accepted by noble Lords opposite, because they are not very revolutionary; they really amount to common-sense adjustment of the facts of the situation at the present time.
We cannot go on with the British Colonial system as it is at present. We must give to the peoples of the Colonial areas a much greater measure of freedom and power of control over their own actions. I believe that, if we are to have world peace and also world wellbeing for all peoples, we must follow the path of world development. And we must ask the United Nations to help in creating a true modern world in which the great knowledge of the sciences, in medicine and public health, in industry and in agriculture, and in all the other basic sciences, will enable the people of the world to liberate themselves and create a real living world civilisation in which there will be not only peace but also wellbeing. I believe that it is something we can do. I do not think we shall have a hundred years in which to do it, as they had in the days of Lord Durham. I do not think we shall have fifty years in which to do it—in fact I think we may be lucky if we have ten years in which to do it. We must therefore make our changes in Colonial policy, and in our conception of Colonial policy for the individual Colonies, quickly and thoroughly. They must be based on a sound and full examination of all the circumstances and on a common-sense outlook on the new world, which is quite different from the old.
§ 4.12 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to make a rather brief point, which I am sure will be welcome news to your Lordships at this time. I think it would be only fitting in a Colonial debate in your Lordships' House, after an announcement such as that which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, to say one word of congratulation, both to Her Majesty's Government and to the Governments of the West Indies concerned, on the news which we have received this afternoon. I am sure we all feel that this is a great opportunity for the West Indies, and I hope that I shall not be considered pessimistic if I point out that federation in itself is not a panacea; it is only an instrument which can be used to obtain the ends of economic reorganisation and development which the West Indies so urgently need.
I confess that I do not always find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, but to-day, to a very large extent, I did. I confess also that I thought my noble friend Lord Ogmore was really not so much building castles in Spain or in the air as reverting to a point of view, or to a proposition, with which those of us who were interested in Colonial matters more than twenty years ago, are acquainted. There was at that time considerable discussion on what used to be referred to as an "Imperial Parliament." It was, and still is, in many ways an attractive and rather alluring idea. But it became clear at that time to most of us who were interested that, in fact, such a proposition would present considerable difficulties, and would encounter considerable opposition from our own people in this country, owing to the alterations which would be necessary in our own Constitution. Perhaps, graver still, it would receive little support from other members of the Commonwealth. I thought that perhaps Lord Milverton was a little unfair to Lord Ogmore when he compared his proposals to the French system, because he surely also, by implication, suggested that the failures of the French system have been largely due to the fact that it was a system imposed on territories which had little or no voice in its adoption. I am sure that Lord Ogmore implied, if he did not actually say—I cannot remember his words—exactly what Lord Milverton said, which was that any arrangements that may be made in the 933 Colonial constitutional sphere must be made with the agreement and support of the Colonial peoples. That, surely, is fundamental.
I suggest that it is unlikely that any of the Colonies that are on the way to Dominion status, independence—indeed, let us say, to complete management of their own affairs—will be particularly interested in this proposal for a Grand Council. With regard to the smaller Colonies, I thought it was of them that we were going to speak particularly this afternoon. And may I say, in passing, that I entirely agree with Lord Milverton in his criticisms of Lord Ogmore's remarks about Kenya. I felt, when I saw the terms of the Motion, that it was indeed curious to put into the Motion as one of the reasons why certain Colonies could never be viable that they were in fact multiracial Colonies. That—and no one would deny it—is a most difficult problem; but it is clearly one that has to be solved in the Colonies themselves, if those Colonies are ever to progress and to be viable in a psychological sense. I do not think that the problem of the smaller Colonies would be helped by this Imperial Parliament, this Grand Council. I believe, as I say, that most of the larger Territories and the more viable Territories which are advancing to independence would be very little interested in that proposition, and frankly, I do not think that proposition would deal with the problems of the small non-viable Territories. Their non-viability must arise essentially from economic causes rather than remoteness or multi-racialism which are probably only an element and do not in themselves necessarily make them non-viable, though they may make the problem of making them viable very much more difficult, if not impossible, of solution.
What I wanted to do was to draw your Lordships' attention to the proposition—a proposition which incidentally should be of considerable interest to Lord Ogmore, though he seemed to me to dismiss it in a few words—at present being put forward in Malta. It is a suggestion, which I think we in your Lordships' House must at least find flattering, that the Maltese people and the island of Malta should become literally a part of the United Kingdom. Now it is clear that there are immense difficulties in the way of carrying out this proposal. To 934 start with, one has only to think of the constitutional difficulties, of the possible opposition here to the introduction of an alien, though European, element into our own Parliament. The Maltese would, no doubt, reply that we have Ulster. But, of course, we all have some Irish blood, while comparatively few of us have any Maltese blood. Therefore it is a somewhat different problem, but I think it is a problem which is immensely worthy of study by Her Majesty's Government—indeed, I have no doubt that they are studying it—and of consideration by your Lordships' House, because, although I do not think it is a solution which is possible in many, if in any, other cases than that of Malta, it is one which, were it studied, would considerably elucidate the proposals of my noble friend Lord Ogmore. Incidentally, if studied by the noble Lord, I think they would give him a clear notion of some of the tremendous difficulties which his proposals would inevitably raise, and raise in a far more difficult form.
The difficulty in the case of Malta is that the island is appallingly overpopulated, as my noble friend Lord Haden-Guest said. Though thousands of Maltese are going to Australia at the present time, on economic grounds about one-third of the population needs to emigrate, and that is an enormous proposition. Throughout all history, except in its most forgotten periods, in the periods of its degradation when its population had fallen right away and it had disappeared from the world stage, Malta has never been able to support its own population. It has nothing but agriculture, a magnificent harbour and its geographical position. It is that geographical position which is its only "export," if I may put it in that way. How Malta sells its geographical position at the best possible price must inevitably be the basic economic question for the Maltese. Under the Knights, they sold it pretty profitably. Under the British, they have also sold their geography fairly satisfactorily. This statement may be contested, but I think that the enormous increase in population is some evidence of the advantages that Malta has enjoyed. If we look at the colossal churches which have been built all over the island in the last hundred years, we cannot but see evidence of the considerable prosperity which has come to the island. Since it has no source of 935 prosperity except its geography, I think we, the British, may without shame—indeed, with pride—take some credit therefor.
But the trouble about this one asset of the Maltese is that any arrangement they may make to-day may be upset to-morrow. The price they may get for their geography to-day may be upset, either by an alteration in the channels of trade or in the modes of transport, or by changes in the value of money. The Maltese position, therefore, always is that though the island may have come to a settlement satisfactory at a given moment, there is no guarantee that in a very short time that arrangement may not cease to be satisfactory. That really is the problem of all these non-viable territories. So long as in the last resort they rely on grants in aid from the metropolitan Government, inevitably they are not independent. Unless we can find some method by which they will automatically enjoy some form of support which will make them viable, then I suggest that these Colonies can never be truly independent and their people can never have that feeling of pride and self-esteem to which the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referred. They can never have this so long as they are not economically independent, no matter how that independence comes.
If this proposal comes to be considered by the Government—and I think that depends on the results of the elections being held in Malta this month—under the proposed arrangements the Maltese people would share our standards of social service and (I am given to understand by people in Malta with whom I have talked that they are prepared even for this) our standards of taxation. Some of us may doubt their wisdom in that, but clearly they think it is worth it. Intensive study of the possibilities and difficulties of this particular island may give us a considerable number of ideas about what can be done for this type of territory. I do not include the multi-racial Territories and I do not necessarily include Territories which are remote, because many of those might be self-sustaining. As undoubtedly certain Territories can never be viable and have their self-respect, and as it is also a part of our duty towards them as the administering power, I believe this proposition is well worthy of consideration by Her 936 Majesty's Government as a contribution to an equitable solution of a very difficult problem.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is useful that my noble friend Lord Ogmore should give us this opportunity of discussing one of the important broad issues of Commonwealth and Colonial policy. This practice is perhaps all the more desirable because we have so much more time for this sort of thing than another place, which is under constant pressure from day-to-day legislation and topical debate. My interpretation of this discussion is that there is a good deal of agreement about the nature of the problem but very little agreement, if any at all, about its solution. I think we are all of the opinion that there is a real problem presented by the small communities scattered all over the globe, dependencies of the United Kingdom, which can never conceivably achieve full self-government and which, therefore, will never have a say in their foreign relations or matters of defence, although ultimately they may be involved in war.
The answer to this question has been differently given by all the speakers who have addressed their minds to it. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, seemed to suggest that we should leave things as they are; that existing policy, with all its drawbacks, is really all right. My noble friend Lord Ogmore suggested this Grand Council of the United Kingdom and the Colonies which, in the first stage at any rate, should be a purely consultative, deliberative body. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, was more ambitious and talked about an Imperial Federation of the United Kingdom and the Colonies. My noble friend Lord Faringdon, whose speech was of special interest, because he has just returned from Malta, where he had the opportunity of discussing the problems of the Island with those directly concerned with them, suggested, as a solution for Malta, that she should be incorporated in the United Kingdom, like Northern Ireland, with representation in the United Kingdom Parliament; but I think even he was doubtful about the application of that constitutional change to other small communities in other parts of the Commonwealth.
937 There has been a great deal of thinking aloud, and I hope that that in itself may be a contribution towards a solution. Encouraged by the example of other noble Lords, I should like to suggest yet another possible answer. I think we should look forward to the day when the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will become the Association of Commonwealth Parliaments, or possibly a Council of Commonwealth Parliaments—although I do not see any particular need for a change in the name. Those of your Lordships who have been connected with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association have seen many changes during and since the war. When I first became a member it was the Empire Parliamentary Association, and it represented only the Legislatures of the self-governing countries. I believe that now over fifty Legislatures are connected with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and that all of them were represented at the Association's last conference at Nairobi.
At the moment this is a voluntary Association of Members of Parliament, like the Inter-Parliamentary Union; but surely we may look forward to the day—though possibly the time has not come yet—when this Association grows into an Association of Commonwealth Parliaments, who will send their own delegates to Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences. This would give all the small Territories, whose Legislative Councils will ultimately be elected partners, an opportunity of personal contact with their senior partners in the Commonwealth, and also an opportunity of discussing those problems of defence and external relations on which their own welfare so much depends, but which, clearly, they cannot deal with in their capacity as Legislatures.
This is a wide-ranging debate, and I should like to deal with one or two topics, of which I have given the noble Lord opposite notice, which are of importance at the moment in connection with different parts of the Colonies. First of all, I should like to say something about the West Indies. Like every other noble Lord who has spoken, I welcome the statement of the noble Lord opposite about federation, because it is clearly an indication that a further step is being taken towards the goal of federation. I am sure that all noble Lords in this House share the satisfaction that must be felt in the West Indies that a member of the Royal Family 938 is paying them a visit. Anyone who has been out there knows the loyalty and attachment of these ancient British Territories to the Mother Country, and their strong feeling of loyalty to the Crown as a symbol of their relationship with the Commonwealth. But there is a feeling, which is not surprising, in view of their poverty and economic backwardness, that, in comparison with the more prosperous countries in the Commonwealth, they have been neglected. I am sure that the visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret will help to remove this sense of neglect and to strengthen the ties between us.
I am glad, also, that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, is himself about to tour the Caribbean. I know that he will find many political problems requiring his attention, and even more numerous and difficult unsolved economic problems. I hope that he will come back with many fresh ideas, which he may be willing to communicate to us, about economic development and about how to meet the pressure of population on resources in these West Indian Territories. I do not know whether it will be possible to convene the Conference referred to in his statement about inter-island migration to coincide with his visit, but if it is possible to do so he may be able to take the chair and help in a solution of this difficult problem.
I do not think there can be any doubt about federation as the only possible path for self-government within the Commonwealth for these West Indian Territories. Many of us hoped that the new British Caribbean Federation would include the mainland, as well as the island Territories, but at the moment they do not desire it, and so it cannot be. However, I am hopeful about the future. For if the islands which have accepted federation get this federal system of government working successfully and satisfactorily, surely it will then be far easier than it is now for the mainland Territories to come into the federal scheme. They will find, I am sure, that some of their fears—and they are genuine fears—about federation are without foundation. It is always true that the abstract advantages of a constitutional proposition are far less attractive than the practical advantages that flow from a constitutional change which has, in fact, proved its worth.
939 Another West Indian problem with which I hope the noble Lord may be willing to deal (though I confess that it is a little outside the strict terms of reference of this Motion) is one that has been causing many of us, on both sides of the House, in another place and generally in the country, a great deal of concern—I refer to the increasing influx of migrants from these Territories, who come here to find work and a home. I will not comment on that problem, because we all know its nature and gravity. All I should like to say is this. No doubt the long-term answer is to improve social and economic conditions in the West Indies so as to reduce the incentive to migrate. But, clearly, long-term policies will not stem the flow this year or next year, or prevent this problem from becoming more acute in the near future.
I understand, from replies Ministers have given in this House and in another place, that the Government have for some time past been considering measures to cope with this problem. I would point out, however, that if they are considering statutory restrictions on migrants from any part of the Commonwealth, we could not possibly accept any restrictions of that kind, except on certain definite and specific conditions. The most important of these conditions is that the restrictions should not be imposed on Commonwealth countries or Colonial Territories but should be adopted only after consultation and discussion with the Territories and countries concerned, and after their agreement to whatever measures the Government felt obliged to take. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he has any further measures in view to meet this problem, and also, if he is considering legislation which would have the effect of imposing restrictions, whether this matter has been, or is likely to be, raised at the Conference of Commonwealth Ministers. I am sure that this is the right occasion to discuss a matter of this kind, and it provides an opportunity of getting agreement which may be less easy to come by later on.
Following my noble friend Lord Ogmore, I propose to ask one or two questions about the position of the Gold Coast. I am anxious to do this partly on account of the present situation in the Gold Coast, and also on account of the fact that the Commonwealth is being 940 discussed at this important Conference at the present time. I would ask the noble Lord whether the relationship of the Gold Coast to the rest of the Commonwealth, when it has reached self-government, is a matter that is receiving, or will receive, the attention of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I think it is generally recognised that there is an important difference between a self-governing Colony and a full member of the Commonwealth: the former depends on the policy of Her Majesty's Government, whereas the latter involves the consent and agreement of all the member nations of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of the Gold Coast has said that he will claim independence—that is to say, self-government—for the Gold Coast during the lifetime of the present Legislative Assembly. It is fairly certain that he will claim full membership of the Commonwealth, like Ceylon, or India or Pakistan, at the same time. I have no doubt that we, and most of our fellow-members, will welcome the Gold Coast into the Commonwealth at the appropriate moment, but some doubt has been expressed about the attitude of the Union of South Africa. The Union have sent their representative, the Minister of Justice, to the present Conference of Prime Ministers. This may be an admirable opportunity for an exchange of views round a table at this topmost level.
One of the most noticeable things about this Conference is the genuine desire for agreement. I myself remember one particular occasion in the past when one Commonwealth representative came to one of these conferences with a point of view which he held very strongly indeed, but he went away from it with quite a different point of view because he had listened to the arguments that were put forward and had made an honest change of mind. That happens again and again; and I think one of the great secrets of the success of our Commonwealth consultations is that people go into these discussions with a willingness to change their point of view if they hear powerful arguments and with a strong desire to reach unanimity and agreement.
If this is a controversial matter, as some people appear to think, then surely this is an opportunity which should not be lost. I am quite certain that, even if agreement may not be reached about this 941 difficult problem, it would be of advantage for everyone concerned to have a clearer insight into the minds of other Governments. I am sure that by ignoring this problem, if we do try to ignore it—it is always difficult to consider a thorny problem; it is always tempting to say, "Let us deal with it later on"—we shall increase the risk of a hurried decision when the time comes, taken under the pressure of events. And nothing is more dangerous than that.
When we, in your Lordships' House, last discussed the Gold Coast, that country was moving smoothly towards its first wholly elected Assembly, and good wishes were expressed on all sides. No one foresaw at that time the somewhat alarming trend of events that have since taken place, and particularly the tension between Ashanti and the Gold Coast Government. Not only is it a serious matter in itself but it creates a situation which, if it is allowed to continue, may well prejudice the political future of the Gold Coast. I trust that Her Majesty's Government (and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, will be able to say this) will appeal to both sides to settle their differences by agreement, and will also point out to the Gold Coast that failure to reach agreement may postpone the achievement of self-government. We cannot abdicate our responsibility in this matter. So long as we have responsibility for law and order in the Gold Coast, we are responsible for the safety of the Gold Coast people; and clearly we cannot transfer power if there is serious danger of violence and bloodshed. But surely, with good will on both sides, and a real desire for a settlement, there is no reason at all why something should not be done to improve the lot of the Ashanti cocoa farmer—which seems to be one of the principal sources of grievance—and also to give the Protectorate constitutional safeguards short of breaking up the country into a Federal State. On the face of it, if both sides are reasonable, there should be no real difficulty about reaching an agreement which will enable the Gold Coast to go forward, as we all hope, to self-government in the near future. That, I am sure, is what all the friends of the Gold Coast will sincerely wish.
I should like, in conclusion, to say a word or two about Cyprus, although I do so with some hesitation, because the 942 noble Lord, Lord Winster, knows so much more about the problem of Cyprus than I do. Again, I am mainly asking for information. Her Majesty's Government are laudably trying to restore representative government in the Island of Cyprus. But the new Legislative Council—I am sure we shall all agree about this—will not represent Cypriot opinion unless the Government can secure the co-operation of the leaders of opinion in that country. I believe that the Archbishop of Cyprus—who we all know is not an easy person to deal with—has already told his supporters not to vote or to stand for election; that is to say, the election will be boycotted by the organisation which represents the great majority of the Cypriot voters. Unless the attitude of the Archbishop and his colleagues alters, the new Legislature, whatever its value may be, will be regarded in Cyprus as no more than a meeting of British officials and their Cypriot or Turkish "stooges."
I want to ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Governor has been instructed to try to discuss this matter with the Archbishop and with the other leaders of Cypriot opinion, in the hope that it may be possible still, at this last moment, to secure their assent to the working of this new Constitution and their assistance and co-operation in the political future of Cyprus. I must say, if I may make one personal observation, that I was rather impressed by the moderation of the Archbishop, whose utterances I had not up to then regarded as being of a conciliatory nature, when I heard him speaking recently in London. My impression—I may be wrong—was that he would be willing to negotiate and to discuss these matters with Her Majesty's Government, provided that self-determination is not ruled out for all time. If, of course, the Government take the view—which I think is an untenable view, though it has been expressed, I believe, by a Minister in another place—that Cyprus alone is never to be allowed to decide about her political future, then I think there is little hope of getting the co-operation of any responsible body in Cyprus. I should like to know, therefore, whether the Government are in fact taking any steps to try tosecure discussions on this matter and whether their view about the right of Cyprus to decide her own future is the 943 same, in the long run, as their view about other Dependencies of the United Kingdom.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I had not intended to take part in this debate when I came into the House, but one or two things which have been said make me feel that perhaps I might make a few brief remarks. I listened with the deepest interest to the speech of my noble friend Lord Ogmore, a most thoughtful and careful speech dealing with matters which, as he rightly said, are becoming increasingly pressing and must be faced up to. I must not put words into the noble Lord's mouth, but I cannot help feeling that he may be surprised and a little disappointed that only one supporter of the Government has taken part in this debate. The noble Lord is more fortunate than I was on the occasion of a debate on Cyprus last year, however, for not one supporter of the Government took part in the debate. I should like to make it clear that I am not for one moment suggesting that there is a lack of interest on the part of Conservative supporters in Colonial questions. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, in his own person, and in the office which he holds, most happily speaks for the traditional interest which the Conservative Party take in these questions. But I do suggest that our debates are followed with great interest in the Colonies themselves, and I am sure that the peoples of the Colonies would take it as a great compliment if they did hear Conservative Lords giving the assistance of their views on these occasions.
I was greatly interested in what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said about the Gold Coast. I try to follow events there not only with interest but with sympathy. I am quite sure that no wiser advice could be given to Mr. Nkrumah than the advice to do what he can to assist the formation of an effective Opposition in politics. I myself, in my small way, have endeavoured to bring the same point to Mr. Nkrumah's notice, pointing out that democratic government cannot be said to exist in the absence of an Opposition; but I fear that many of his supporters, and most certainly the papers which support Mr. Nkrumah, talk on this matter as if it were high treason to suggest that there should be any opposition 944 to Mr. Nkrumah and his Party. If we are to go by what they say, they envisage a form of totalitarian government for the Gold Coast. That is what they would like. Mr. Nkrumah is a man of courage. That has been shown by the fact that there used to be a great agitation against the British, when they had authority in these matters, for advocating the policy of cutting out as the remedy for swollen shoot. In spite of that, Mr. Nkrumah has had the courage to come back to that policy and make it the Government policy. That, as I say, shows that he is a man of courage, and his friends can only hope that he will show similar courage in impressing upon his supporters the mistake they are making in resisting the creation of an effective political Opposition.
I was interested and delighted to hear what my noble friends Lord Haden-Guest and Lord Faringdon, said about the sterling qualities of the people of Malta. Remembering what very good friends they have always been to the Fleet, I was delighted to agree to the admission of a body of Maltese into the island of Cyprus. I have never heard anything but very good accounts of them. I am quite sure that any country which accepts an immigration of Maltese into its territory will find them a valuable addition to their people. On the subject of the West Indies, I would say just a few words. I am happy that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, was able to make that announcement during the progress of this debate, and happier still that it should have been made at a time when Princess Margaret is beginning her tour of the islands. The statement comes at a most fortunate moment, and one hopes that it augurs well for the success of the proposals. At any rate, one can but wish the Government the greatest good fortune in pressing forward with these proposals. We hope that they may lead to the solution of many of these most difficult and intractable problems which have militated against the prosperity of the islands up to date.
To come to the question of Cyprus—and it is the many remarks made about Cyprus which have brought me to my feet—the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, quite rightly spoke about the apparently strange alliance between the Church and the Communists in the Enosis propaganda. I have noticed with great interest in the 945 course of the last two or three days that the Archbishop has said that he does not propose to accept the support of the Communists in pressing forward with his campaign in favour of Enosis. That, at any rate, is all to the good; that is good news.
I myself have never denied for one moment, and never will, that if a plebiscite on this subject is taken in Cyprus, there will be a practically unanimous vote in favour of Enosis. What I do point out is this: that the plebiscite will be taken under the influence of the Church and of the Communists, and two things are quite certain. One is that the Greek Orthodox Church can exercise upon any who dare to go against her wishes, her rulings, sanctions of a nature which are most painful to the feelings of a deeply religious people, as the Cypriots are. The Church wields that influence. As for the Communists—well, we know; we have heard The Mikado. They also "keep a little list," and those who oppose their views get on to that little list. If opportunity arises and circumstances permit, the Communists see that something very short and snappy on a cheap block happens to them. That fact must be borne in mind. When we are told that a plebiscite will have this result, we must remember under what auspices it will take place.
The other point I would make is that there is no national movement in Cyprus in favour of Enosis which in any way compares with the feeling that existed in Ireland on the subject of Home Rule. At the height of the Irish troubles no person in authority could have toured Ireland without hearing on every hand the Irish complaints, hearing from high and low, wherever he went, what the Irish wanted. I have toured the whole of Cyprus, and visited literally every village in the island, and never once did anybody come to me and say: "My heart is wrung on the question of Enosis. I am a slave, a victim of Anglo-American capitalist oil interests. I groan, I suffer under the yoke of the appalling burden I have to bear." I never heard one word of that; nobody ever came to me. If the question had not been raised in Cyprus by such organisations as the Communists and the Church, with the influence and the sanctions which they can bring to bear, I very much doubt whether we should hear anything about Enosis from the great mass of the people.
946 I noticed with great attention what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said about "Never can this question be entertained." I do not know what may have been said in another place (I will not deal with that), but, British Colonial policy being what it is, and what it is reputed to be by Government after Government—namely, the leading on, the guidance, of the people to self-government and ultimately to determine their own fate—since that is the official policy of every political Party on this question, I do not think it can possibly be thought that we say "Never." The point is covered by the policy of all Parties in this country. I believe that at the present moment one or two young men or boys are in trouble for riotous and disorderly behaviour, but, broadly speaking, nobody suffers for his opinions in Cyprus. I do not remember hearing that anybody was imprisoned for the expression of his opinions. I think the Government have always been most liberal in their permission for the expression of opinion; and that again is something which it is important to bear in mind when we are considering Cyprus.
I am not quite sure if I heard a remark by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, exactly right, but I had an impression that the noble Lord said we should not continue with certain development schemes, which, of course, are expensive and represent the expenditure of a great deal of money, until we have arrived at an agreement with Cyprus over these disputed matters. With great respect to the noble Lord, I should feel very shy indeed of adopting a policy of that sort. We should immediately expose ourselves to the criticism that we were seeking to coerce the people of Cyprus to fall in with our opinions on these matters by withholding from them money and benefits which they would otherwise receive. I can express only a personal opinion, but I should think that might be a very dangerous policy to pursue.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said—I noted the words—that at the present moment we are not getting anywhere in Cyprus. I am not sure whether I have got his next words correctly, but I think he went on to say that the time has come when we must strike out on a new line.
§ LORD OGMORE
So far as I remember, I said that I thought the time had 947 come for a fresh examination and, as a result, possibly a new plan, or something of that sort.
§ LORD WINSTER
Yes; that seems to me quite right and legitimate. But just lately, since the question of Cyprus has been very much to the fore, I have noticed that while practically everybody who writes or speaks on the subject says that something ought to be done, they never get down to saying what it should be. I remember that Lord Morley used to say that when you heard a man running around saying that something ought to be done, you were listening to a man who was in danger of doing something very foolish. I believe that a considerable amount of harm is done in Cyprus by speeches and writings of the sort that I have described, which indicate that there is something which could be done, but that nobody has the good will or the good sense to do it.
I noticed that not long ago Mr. Vernon Bartlett visited Cyprus. He wrote an article in the News Chronicle, quite a readable article, recapitulating the facts that many of us know so well about the island. But he ended the article by deploring the state of affairs and saying—these are his words—Some imaginative step is needed to end it.That is an illustration of that which I have in mind. What is the good of writing a thing like that unless you are prepared to go on and say what it is you think should be done? Why this intimation that nobody has any imagination in this matter? I should have thought it was a pretty good feat of imagination to say "Cyprus has suffered from the scourge of malaria for many centuries; why not wipe it out?" and then go on and do it. I should have thought there was some imagination in saying "The economy of Cyprus has suffered bitter loss through the destruction of the forests of Cyprus. Let us restore those forests and, in so doing, restore great wealth to the economy of the island." I could go on giving many instances of the same sort. I should have thought that some imagination was shown when the authorities said of a small village, whose people, because of its existing location, would always be poverty-stricken and their condition always poor and depressed, "We will move that village, lock, 948 stock and barrel; we will move it bodily to another location where the people of the village will have an opportunity to find a market for their products," and so on. Surely there is plenty of imagination in such acts as those which are the common work of the Administration of the island. But Mr. Vernon Bartlett says that "Some imaginative step is needed to end it." Why could not Mr. Bartlett go on and assist us very greatly by telling us what this "imaginative step" is to be?
Then again, I saw an article in the Spectator by a Mrs. Jeger, who represents Holborn and St. Pancras South, where there is a large resident Cypriot element. I note that, besides writing articles in the Spectator, Mrs. Jeger has frequent meetings with her constituents. I hope that she makes very clear to them what would be their position in this country were they to become Greek subjects. I hope that she explains to them that if they do they will be in the same boat as the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands and the Dodecanese Islands. It does not seem to them to be worth while to come here in pursuit of wealth and money.
I take strong exception to this article. Mrs. Jeger spoke, for instance, aboutYoung soldiers from Egypt who have been living amid a hostile population.Then she went on to sayIt is unfair to do this to them againMy Lords, it is very unfair to the Cypriots to represent them as "a hostile population," and very unfair to our soldiers to let them go to Cyprus under the impression that they are going to encounter "a hostile population." However they may vote on a plebiscite in regard to Enosis, to speak of the Cypriots as "a hostile population" is a monstrous injustice to them. Always they show their good will, their friendliness and their courtesy to the British.
Then again this writer spoke abouta land-starved peasantry which sees hundreds of acres taken for camps.I know something about that aspect. The available area of land in Cyprus is sufficient to support a far larger population than exists there at the present moment. The trouble is that the land has been so badly cultivated; such a great deal of it has been allowed to go out of cultivation, owing to soil erosion, due to faulty methods of cultivation. The goat has put 949 hundreds of acres of land in Cyprus out of cultivation, and some of the worst cases of soil erosion that were brought to my notice while I was there occurred on lands belonging to some of the monastries. This land has gone out of cultivation, but we have now introduced new methods. We are teaching the proper methods of soil cultivation, terracing, contour ploughing and so on. With all that in hand, and with the irrigation work which goes on constantly—a tiny irrigation work costing three or four hundred pounds may bring into cultivation another one or two hundred acres—more and more land is being brought into cultivation year by year. I know that I am right in saying that, if proper use is made of it there is enough land on the island to support a far larger population than is there at the present moment.
Mrs. Jeger also says:Clearly there must be a new approach.I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will not think that I am bracketing him with Mrs. Jeger in saying that. I read on with great interest and I found that the new methods of approach are twofold. The first is that we should encourage "the pride of Cyprus in their Hellenism." That is all right; I do not think anybody discourages that at the present time, although I do not think the problems of Cyprus will be solved in that way. But the second leg of the new approach is this; thatWe are mean about money for archæology. We encourage people to think that we do not want them to find Greek inscriptions of long ago.So we must encourage Hellenism and get on with archæology. The inference is that we discourage archæology. That, again, is really a travesty of the truth. I do not know what the Cypriots, or any former rulers of Cyprus, have done on behalf of archæology, but at the present moment we have there the Director of Antiquities, Mr. Megaw, assisted by Mr. Dikaios and Mr. Mogabgab. They have done wonderful work in regard to archæology, and are doing it to this day. They are the people who set it on foot and, considering the total revenue of the island, I think that a very fair proportion of it is devoted to the interests of antiquity.
Not only have the Government of Cyprus done things for antiquaries in 950 Cyprus, but they have stimulated interest abroad; and there have been visitors from Sweden and the United States of America who have carried out extensive and remarkable diggings in the island. That is what has been done. Yet Mrs. Jeger says:We encourage people to think we do not want them to find Greek inscriptions of long ago.I repeat, great damage is done by speeches and writings of this type. They accentuate a problem which the writers pretend they are anxious to solve, but the solution of which they make more difficult by what they say. Again, it is "a waste of time" (these are Mrs. Jeger's words) to talk "about the benefits the island enjoys." The argument "is not concerned with forestry or malaria." Oh, no! We have something else to consider. We must realise "that St. Paul preached Christianity in Cyprus when we were a wild lot here." As a contribution towards the solution of the Cypriot problem that statement, I think, does not rank very high.
The new offer is before the Cypriots at this moment. Nobody could wish Her Majesty's Government greater success with it than I do, in spite of the apparent difficulties—and, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has said, in view of the attitude of the Archbishop the difficulties are very great. However, one can only wish the greatest possible success to Her Majesty's Government and to the Government of the island in pushing on with that offer. I have only one word of caution to utter. The mentality of the Greek politician being what it is, I feel that it is best, so far as possible, for us to make an offer and stick to it, because the Cypriot is by nature a man who will always decline an offer if he thinks there is any chance of a better one coming along. I feel, therefore, that there is a great deal to be said for making an offer and standing firm on it, rather than periodically to come out with new offers.
§ 5.12 p.m.
My Lords, in his speech introducing this Motion, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, made one observation touched on also by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, with which I most sincerely agree. He said that Colonial affairs tended to be debated in Parliament only on occasions of some major crisis in some 951 particular Colony, and that there was too little discussion of the fundamental principles of Colonial policy. There is a great deal of truth in that, although, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, it is only fair to remember that with the timetable in another place always overcrowded, the opportunities for discussion of any particular subject are almost invariably limited. The result is that such time as is available tends to be devoted to those issues which appear most immediately pressing. That is just one more argument in favour of the continued existence of this House, because we are not handicapped in that way. We have time, not merely to consider some particular situation, as we shall be doing next week on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, but also, as we have been doing this afternoon, to consider the wider principles of policy. I personally believe this is exactly what this House ought to be doing.
This debate has produced a great number of ideas, and I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for giving us this opportunity. I believe it is the common objective of all political parties in this country to lead Colonial Territories to self-government within the Commonwealth and to promote not merely gradual constitutional advance, which is necessary before self-government can be achieved, but also—and I should like particularly to stress this point—the economic advance and efficient administrative organisation without which self-government manifestly is impossible. I would draw the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, to that point. When one talks of having some kind of timetable for constitutional advance, there are so many factors one has to take into consideration. One cannot consider merely whether the constitutional situation over the last five years has worked reasonably satisfactorily; one has to consider also whether the economic advance is such that the country could stand on its own feet. The economic side is one which is all too often neglected, yet it is the fundamental element of any independence.
The task which the noble Lord was putting upon the Privy Council, or whatever other body was chosen to do the job, would, therefore, be a most invidious and difficult one, quite apart from the 952 fact that, on that particular point, we happen at the present time to stand in a position of trusteeship for the Colonies. I do not see how we can be trustees if at the same time we abandon part of our trusteeship to some outside body who can take action without any reference to us. Either one is a trustee or one is not; there is no halfway house. But that is a platitude. From the constitutional aspect, one has only to look at what has been happening in Sierra Leone, Gambia, British Honduras, the Windward and Leeward Islands and Singapore to see the continued progress made during the period of office of the present Administration, and there is little, if any, evidence that constitutional progress is not keeping step with the reasonable wishes of Colonial political leaders and with the essential parallel development of economic resources, social services and general machinery of government without which constitutional advance cannot be effected.
Having said that, I believe most noble Lords will agree that self-government does not necessarily mean complete independence in each and every case. As noble Lords on all sides of the House have stressed this afternoon, there are a number of Colonial Territories which, in present world conditions, fall short in size, population and resources of the minimum required to sustain the position and obligations of an independent sovereign State. Equally, in a few cases, the strategic importance of a Colonial Territory is such—not merely for the security of ourselves or of the Commonwealth but also of the whole Western world—that complete independence, in present conditions at any rate, would be impossible. Gibraltar is an obvious example of such a Colony, and not merely from the economic point of view. I do not know how many noble Lords realise this fact, but I am told that the area available for the rest of the population of Gibraltar, if one takes away military establishments, is about half the size of Hyde Park. On economic grounds, as well as on merely strategic considerations, Gibraltar is therefore the kind of Colony that falls into that category. I should like to take this opportunity of paying my tribute to the people of Gibraltar. In the difficult conditions they have had to face their loyalty and patience have been beyond praise, and I wish to assure them not only of our 953 gratitude but of our determination to support them in every way.
In his speech the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, went rather further than I intended to go. I do not hold that particularly against the noble Lord, for many others were equally guilty of saying that these Territories could never expect to achieve full independence. I was a little chary of using the word "never" in connection with the ultimate independence of any Colony.
§ LORD OGMORE
I believe the words I used were "the foreseeable future" which sounds better although the difference does not amount to very much.
I always knew the noble Lord was very wily, but other noble Lords did use the word "never." I was rather nervous of that word, partly because my right honourable friend the Minister of State, when he expressed doubts about the ultimate future of a certain Colony—using much less definite terms than have been used this afternoon—was severely taken to task by the Opposition. I suppose it is fair to say that no single one of us can see far enough into the future to employ so definite or so final a word with any real certainly about anything, or to say what conceptions of sovereignty and independence may exist in a hundred years' time. After all, when the Romans came to this little island, they must have thought that, with its few obvious natural resources and with inhabitants whose only protection against the elements was woad, it was unlikely ever to achieve complete independence. And how very wrong they would have been!
§ LORD OGMORE
I must enter a caveat. I am surprised that the noble Lord, who is like myself a descendant of the Ancient Britons, should make such a statement. Woad was a sort of antiseptic for those who went into battle; it was not normal dress. People in those times dressed in a perfectly reasonable way, and I do not think that the noble Lord should so denigrate his and my ancestors.
I am sorry; I had forgotten that the noble Lord and I both come from the Western part of this island. It was certainly wise to put on your own iodine before you went into battle, and to put it on all over.
954 To take up again the thread of my discourse, my point is that, even if one avoids the use of the word "never," it is, all the same, difficult to avoid feeling considerable doubt in some cases about how complete independence is ever to be achieved. If, however, I agree with the noble Lord as regards the types of territory to which I have just referred, on strategic or economic grounds, I cannot necessarily agree in the case of Colonial Territories where the potential resources and population for ultimate economic independence exist, but where the progress towards complete independence is be-devilled by internal problems created by the existence of multi-racial communities. That does not mean to say that I underestimate the complexity or the difficulty of such multi-racial problems, or that I feel that the solution of such problems is likely to be either simple or quick. Obviously, if the problem had been a simple one, a quick solution to it would have been found a long time ago, and the fact that in so many Territories it has not as yet been solved is an indication of its intractable nature.
But I do feel that this obstacle is not necessarily insuperable in the way that some economic obstacles are insuperable. You cannot, for example, develop economic resources that do not exist, any more than you can double the size of a small island. It may, however, be possible to produce workable democratic constitutions which give fair representation and adequate safeguards for all the various racial and cultural elements involved, and a number of constructive proposals have been put forward at various times. Some people, for example, favour a communal roll; others a common roll on a means and, if necessary, an educational franchise; others, again, a common roll with reserved seats; others a common roll and communal franchise side by side. Yet others favour a system of proportional representation.
All these systems have their advantages and their disadvantages. For example, the system of a communal roll has the advantage of securing the rights of minorities, and the disadvantage that it tends to perpetuate racial differences. The common roll, on the other hand, on a basis of a means and educational franchise, whilst it has the advantage that 955 it overrides racial differences by providing a qualitative rather than a quantitative conception of democratic government, has the drawback that the franchise may be pitched too high, to the detriment of the mass of the population. Again, proportional representation, by means of a common roll and the single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies, is perhaps in theory the best way of safeguarding minority rights. Yet here again there are very great snags. The system is a complicated one for unsophisticated communities, and its tendency to create splinter Parties undoubtedly constitutes a threat to political stability.
I mention all these schemes only because most of them have practical possibilities. Equally, I agree, none of them is perfect. Yet the fact that all these suggestions have been made shows the continuous thought that has been given and continues to be given to this question, not only by outside experts like Sir Olaf Caroe or Professor Mackenzie, but also by that much maligned institution the Colonial Office. Wherever a Territory, therefore, has the necessary resources for ultimate independence, I still feel that it should be our aim to help it towards that goal.
I must emphasise, however, that this is not by any means a matter for Her Majesty's Government alone. It is at least as much a matter for the people of the Territories concerned. Where there is a multi-racial problem the first essential is for the leaders of the various local groups to get together and work out a basis of corporate action for the good of the country as a whole. We can certainly help by bringing them together and giving them the benefit of our advice and experience, but, in the last resort, co-operation must be a thing which grows up among the people themselves; it cannot be imposed from outside. And unless and until Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that if their control were withdrawn co-operation would continue under its own steam, and that all sections of the population would be secure against oppression from other sections—until then Her Majesty's Government must clearly retain responsibility. I earnestly hope that in those Territories where these multi-racial 956 problems exist this co-operation will come about. It would be a melancholy thing if a Territory which in resources and population was potentially capable of independence and full self-government should be unable to achieve its aim solely through its own inability to solve its internal problems and dissensions.
In this connection, I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned Kenya. Kenya is certainly not one of those territories which lack the potential resources necessary for ultimate independence. Whether or not she can make progress towards that goal depends both on bringing to an end the fratricidal strife with which she is at present rent and on an enduring solution of her multi-racial problem. That is clear to all. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I thought was perhaps a little pessimistic as to the likelihood of such a solution—that is, a multiracial solution—being forthcoming. Personally I cannot accept that. The present experiment of multi-racial government seems to me on the whole to be working, and working fairly well. I still cannot help hoping that, when the distorting mirror of suspicion, fear and strife has been removed, we shall see that there is a latent fund of mutual tolerance, understanding and good will; that given this fund a way can be found whereby people of all races who look on Kenya as their home will combine the individual contributions each community can make to the common good of all; and that as means of co-operation grow sources of conflict will fade. I think that at this stage to take as pessimistic a view as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, appears to take is really a policy of despair. I cannot accept that view. I am certain that we must continue to strive in every way to solve these multi-racial problems in Kenya.
I am glad that the noble Lord referred to Malaya, for I think that, so far as multi-racial problems are concerned, here, in the Federation, is an example where encouraging progress has been made by the formation of the alliance between the two largest communal organisations, the Malayan Chinese Association and the United Malays National Organisation. These two bodies have formed a joint political party to fight elections to local government bodies, and are making arrangements to contest together the first elections to the new Federal Legislative Council, which will take place, as the 957 noble Lord knows, in about July of this year. The leaders of the Alliance have announced that they would welcome association with other Parties of whatever race who wished to work with them. The Malayan Indian Congress have taken advantage of this offer and will co-operate with the Alliance in contesting the elections. I agree that that is only a beginning. It is easy to combine in order to win an election, but less easy to stay together when you have won it. Nevertheless, I say that here is an example of something which is cutting right across communal strife. I think that when we have people of different races combining politically, that is an encouraging sign.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me to say a word about the action taken in dealing with the situation on the border between the Federation of Malaya and Siam, a question of which he kindly gave me notice. As possibly the noble Lord knows, for some years there has been an agreement with Siam that both the Malayan and the Siamese police may operate across the frontier for a distance varying between ten and thirty miles. During 1954, the Malayan Police Field Force has carried out a number of small operations of this kind. A joint Malayan Siamese intelligence centre has been set up at Songkhla, in Southern Siam, and a frontier planning staff has been established. We hope that this, combined with police operations, will lead to a steady improvement in our knowledge of terrorist organisation in that area. As the noble Lord will appreciate, this being in Siam makes it a great deal more difficult for us to keep in touch with what is going on.
Another feature of importance about this situation is that towards the end of last year there was an exchange of visits between Lieutenant-General Sir Geoffrey Bourne, the Director of Operations, and General Phao, the head of the Siamese Police. General Phao agreed that our helicopters and our supply-dropping and reconnaissance aircraft might operate across the frontier in support of these operations. Therefore, we are in a position to mount an operation across the frontier jointly with the Siamese, if need arises. General Phao has just paid a visit to the Federation of Malaya to discuss further measures for co-operation. The Government of the Federation are being asked by us now for a report on 958 the position as it stands following this visit, and no doubt this report will deal with the allegations in the Daily Telegraph of January 24, to which the noble Lord referred, and in particular with the rather alarming point that the Siamese Police had reached a tacit understanding with the Communists. I have not received that report yet, but I hope we shall have some more information about it soon.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I put a Question down on that matter—obviously it is a very important point—so that when the noble Lord has information the House may have it in its turn?
Certainly the noble Lord can put down a Question, and all the information I am in a position to give him I will, of course, give hint. I think he knows that.
The next question the noble Lord asked me (and I am paraphrasing slightly what he said) is: Will the United States and the United Kingdom take steps, after the elections in Malaya, to stabilise the economy in rubber and tin? The position of tin is that an international tin buffer stock agreement is in the last stages of being approved, and if that comes off we hope it will have the effect of stabilising the tin market at a reasonable level of prices. That will be something all to the good. So far as rubber is concerned, both in our view and in the view of the Government of the Federation, the only answer at the present time is to improve the competitive strength of natural rubber vis-à-vis synthetic rubber by replanting with higher yielding stock. That is the policy which is now going to be pursued. I do not think there is anything more I can say on that point at the present time.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, has the noble Lord any evidence that American subsidies to artificial rubber are still continuing?
I am not absolutely certain on that point and, if I may, I will write to the noble Lord.
May I turn now to the question of Cyprus, which was raised by a number of noble Lords? At this stage in the world situation, Cyprus is a territory to which, in our view, it is not possible to give full control of its own defence and 959 external relations. Here I should like to commend to the House some of the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, as regards the influence of the Church and the state of opinion in Cyprus. The picture which is presented by Cypriot propaganda of opinion in Cyprus and which is popularly believed in this country is a picture of opinions which I am not at all sure are held by the mass of the people in Cyprus. I do not believe there is any demand by the Cypriots themselves for independence, even as a Colony, carrying such rights and responsibilities. After all, what the people who wish to belong to Greece are asking for is not independence, and I very much doubt whether it is true that the mass of people wish to belong to Greece.
Here again, the noble Lords, Lord Listowel and Lord Ogmore, will note that I do not use the word "never"—that very dangerous word about which there has been so much trouble in the past. What I say is that until circumstances change, Cyprus must be considered as falling within the category of those Territories to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has drawn our special attention this afternoon. Until the situation changes, I think that in Cyprus we have to concern ourselves with the immediate situation rather than with the ultimate goal. We have made it known that we are ready to introduce constitutional changes which will be a first step towards self-government, and we hope still that responsible Cypriots will co-operate with us in this step. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked whether the Governor of Cyprus has been authorised to negotiate with the Archbishop on this matter. There is no necessity to ask the Governor to negotiate with the Archbishop. The Governor has made it clear in Cyprus that he is prepared to discuss constitutional matters with any men of good will who are prepared to come along to discuss them, and that offer is still open. I should tell the noble Earl that in point of fact the Governor did make an approach in order to make it clear to the Archbishop that if he were willing to discuss the affairs of Cyprus in a constructive way, he (the Governor) would be willing to meet him. I am sorry to say that no such meeting has taken place.
960 May I now turn to a Colony which is in much the same situation as Cyprus—that is, Malta? The position of Malta as a fortress, which has given her a famous place in history and which is also the source of her livelihood, must also inevitably, as we see it, entail some constitutional restriction on full self-government in the fields of defence and external affairs; and to these considerations must be added her relative size and the disabilities imposed upon her by her lack of natural resources. Here again, I find it difficult to foresee a time in the future when the situation in this respect will be much other than it is to-day. The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, referred to the offer which has recently been made of the transfer of Malta from the Colonial Office to the Home Office; but that, in itself, does not affect the circumstances which lead us to say that Malta has not and cannot have independence in the fullest sense. But I suggest that our offer is an earnest of our recognition of her unique position as a fortress in Europe with a long history of civilisation, longer indeed than our own, and of service in peace and war. It is our hope that this offer and its implications will be discussed with the Maltese political leaders as soon as possible after the general election which is shortly to take place in the Colony. In view of the fact that these discussions are pending, I would rather not say any more about Malta this afternoon.
I turn from Malta to the Gold Coast, about which I was asked various questions. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me about the situation in Ashanti, and what were the views of Her Majesty's Government and of the Gold Coast Government about this. The recent events in Ashanti, and the claims of the Ashantis for consideration of a federal system of government, are an expression of that people's dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the Gold Coast Government's administration—that agrees with the information of the noble Earl. But I think that, on the whole, it is a healthy sign of the vigour of democracy in the Gold Coast, and I am not at all sorry to see it. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, said he hoped Dr. Nkrumah would take note of the feelings in Ashanti, and I consider it is important that he should do so. The peoples of the Gold Coast can express their views on the form of government which they would like to see 961 established in the Gold Coast, and there are now means open to them to do so in a peaceful and constitutional manner—namely, through their Legislative Assembly.
The only thing we have noted with concern is that there has been lately a tendency to resort to violence. I should like to re-echo the observations of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, to say that it is our view that failure to resolve differences of opinion harmoniously might well retard the progress of the Gold Coast towards self-government. I think it is important that they should settle these matters peacefully and in a democratic manner. It is understood that the Government of the Gold Coast consider that a federal form of government is inappropriate for the Gold Coast, but, in the words of their Prime Minister, they must express the will of the people as ultimately ascertained by the Legislative Assembly. The Prime Minister has stated, however, that his Government are quite prepared to examine the views of other bodies on major features of the constitution, and they have, in fact, offered to do so. In the meanwhile, they are taking steps to ensure a greater measure of consultation with the Regions, and participation by the Regions in the planning of regional development.
Finally, the noble Earl asked me whether the future of the Gold Coast will be discussed at the present Prime Ministers' Meeting. I presume he has in mind the statement, made on more than one occasion on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that, while the grant of responsible self-government within the Commonwealth is a matter for the United Kingdom and the Territory concerned, the admission of a new member of the Commonwealth would be a matter for consultation between the existing members when the time comes. I am afraid I cannot help the noble Earl on that point. I am sure he knows that it is not the practice to give detailed information of the subjects which are or are not being discussed at Prime Ministers' meetings, which are of an informal and private nature, and, therefore, he will not expect me to say more on that point today.
The question of the West Indies was raised by various noble Lords, and the statement which I was able to make earlier on the subject of federation has 962 been received with satisfaction in all parts of the House. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that it is particularly appropriate that this announcement should be made at the time when Her Royal Highness has just started on her visit. We all wish her well; and we all hope that this new development in federation will go forward in the way that we all desire that it should. Of course, there are difficulties to be overcome, notably on the question of movement between the various Territories; but I feel sure that, with good will, these things can be ironed out and that federation can ultimately be achieved. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked me also about the vexed question of West Indian immigration into this country. I am afraid that here again I cannot help the noble Earl very much. As he will realise, it is a matter which concerns a number of Departments of Government, and so I cannot tell him whether or not it is one that is being discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. All I can say—and this usually excites the derision of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt—is that we have it under active consideration.
I would now turn for a moment to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest. I am not at all certain that the shortage of doctors a matter on which we could receive assistance from the United Nations, and I feel certain it is one that we should try to cure ourselves by training more doctors in the Colonial Territories. I was interested in the suggestion of the noble Lord, and I should like to consider it further.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
May I say that it is quite impossible, with the present number of doctors in this country, for us to send doctors from here to the Colonial Territories. We simply have not got enough.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
I know, but I thought that it might come up in the course of discussion, and that is why I emphasise that it is literally impossible to do it.
I realise that. Surely that emphasises again what I said earlier about the importance of training people, 963 not merely from the political side but also from the economic and other sides. We must certainly press forward with that.
I now turn to the problem which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised, that of satisfying the aspirations of those Territories which are not likely to be able to achieve self-government in the foreseeable future. It is always dangerous to generalise upon any subject, and it is particularly imprudent to generalise about Colonial affairs. After all, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has emphasised to your Lordships this afternoon, we are dealing not with a number of similar places which stand in an equal and similar relationship to the United Kingdom but with a number of extremely individual Territories, no one of which is similar to any other, either in its local conditions or in the precise form of its constitutional status in relation to the United Kingdom. The powers of the Sovereign's representatives, the position and functions of Executive Councils and of the Legislative Assemblies, all vary, not only in detail but often also in matters of important principle, from place to place. This is due to historical causes, and to the British preference for allowing normal growth rather than imposing a pattern. I personally think that in future the tendency will continue to be away from, rather than towards, uniformity. For that reason, I feel that, however we look at this matter, we have to consider a series of individual problems, rather than one problem.
Each territory is certainly concerned about its relationship to the United Kingdom and to the Commonwealth. But I think it is fair to say that it is not, as a rule, so much concerned about its relationship to other Territories—and, if one comes to think of it, there is no particular reason why it should be. Nor am I at all certain that any Territory is particularly interested in being placed in a category. I should have thought that what each Territory seeks is a status and a relationship which satisfies its own particular conditions and aspirations. Certainly it is my belief that there are some Territories which at the present time feel that their status is perfectly satisfactory; they are proud of it, and they do not wish to see it altered.
But I am not going to "ride off" on that. I am quite prepared to agree with 964 the noble Lord that there are almost certainly other Territories which do not feel that their target has been achieved, and which want to know, as the noble Lord put it, when they get to the top of the ladder, what they are going to do. Are they going to fall off; are they going to stand on their heads, or what are they going to do? I think that is a reasonable point. So far as they are concerned, I agree that a problem exists, and that it is important that we should try to create a firm relationship which, whilst on the one hand it must differ from that of fully independent members of the Commonwealth, on the other hand does create satisfaction where it is at present absent. Then, once again, to find a single formula to cover a number of Territories so divided from one another, geographically, politically, culturally and economically, is not easy.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, said that some imaginative solution must be produced. I agree. But when it comes down to finding an imaginative solution, although the noble Lord said that we all agree, there is a problem. I have not noticed a single speech this afternoon which has really finally solved it. All the same, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and I am not seeking this afternoon to denigrate any ideas that have been put forward: we in Her Majesty's Government welcome them, from whatever quarter they come.
I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, ventilated once again his theory of a Grand Council. We have had several versions of the Grand Council. There was Lord Ogmore's Grand Council, and there was Lord Grantchester's Grand Council, which it seemed to me was rather grander than Lord Ogmore's; and then we had various noble Lords who thought that the Grand Council would be a disaster. The only impression I had at the end of it all was, first, that none of us could agree and, secondly, that the disagreements cut across all Party lines: we found noble Lords opposite agreeing with us and some of us agreeing with noble Lords opposite. The trouble with all these schemes, as I have said, is that it is difficult to find one plan that fits these very different pieces. Moreover, whichever plan is adopted nobody this afternoon has pointed out in precise detail exactly how it would work. Until we 965 have these plans in rather more precise detail it is extremely difficult to give any final opinion upon them.
If I may make an observation about the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, it is this. When it was last discussed, my noble friend Lord Munster pointed out some of the possible difficulties, and I can sum them up briefly as follows. He said that this Council has either to be consultative or executive, and I gather the noble Lord's suggestion is that in the first instance it should be consultative and advisory. If the Council is to be purely advisory, I do not think we can possibly put Parliament in a position where it is compelled to accept the advice given by the Council. On the other hand, we must face the fact that every body I can think of—I have had experience of only one—who gives advice and finds that it is infrequently taken tends to suffer, after a short time, from a sense of frustration. I think there is a grave danger that if we had a Council that was purely advisory it would suffer from a sense of frustration.
On the other hand, if the Council had executive power there would obviously be a danger of clashing with the authority of the Secretary of State and of Parliament, and also with the cherished pride which Colonial peoples are taking in their own political institutions. Therefore, I feel that there are grave difficulties in this idea of the Grand Council. I had rather hoped that, because those points were made by my noble friend on the last occasion, the noble Lord could have given us the answer to those difficulties. Although I agree with him that it is not reasonable to turn down other people's ideas unless you have better ideas yourself, at the same time, if you have ideas which have manifest faults in them they have to be removed before one can accept them. It cuts both ways.
I feel bound to point out the difficulties. I do not suggest that they need be insuperable if in point of fact this Council proves to be what the Territories themselves would like. I do not recollect at the moment that the brief discussion on this subject in your Lordships' House provoked any reaction from political leaders in the Colonial Territories it favour of such a scheme. Possibly they felt at that time that the proposal was too vague to allow them to form any definite view at 966 all. Perhaps—and I hope it may be so—the present discussion will stimulate some new expression of view. If it does, it will have been valuable, whether the views are for or against.
I want to emphasise one point—my noble friend Lord Milverton emphasised it, but I do not think it can be emphasised too much. It is not difficult to work out a paper scheme of what we should regard as a nice tidy arrangement. The important thing, as I see it, in any new arrangement is that it should at least be acceptable to, and, if possible, should be positively desired by, the peoples of the Territories overseas; otherwise I feel that we should only be creating an artificial organisation which at the best would be ineffective and at the worst positively a disruptive, rather than a unifying, influence. I am sure that the right and productive course is to stimulate discussion and the ventilation of new ideas, in the hope that, as a result, thought may be stimulated, opinions formed and a climate created in which new growth may flourish.
From that point of view, I think the debate this afternoon will have been most valuable. Certainly at this stage it would be quite wrong for us finally to reject any idea until a better solution is available. All this will take time, but I should like to say, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that we have a receptive mind and we are very ready to experiment. But so far as the Colonial peoples are concerned, we must lead and not drive. On the other hand—I say this to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, because he has chidden me on this on a number of occasions—I recognise the danger that, in dealing with complicated problems of this kind, there are great difficulties. There is a temptation to successive Governments to put aside problems which are not immediately critical whilst immediate and more critical matters are dealt with. None of us is proof against temptation, but I assure the noble Earl that, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, we are wrestling with this particular one, and we fully recognise the importance of the issues which have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord both for the careful and considered reply he gave and 967 for assuring us—which I think is all we can expect in a debate of this kind—that the Government have a receptive mind and are ready to experiment. I do not think any of us was optimistic enough to expect anything more than that to-day. I think the noble Lord was a little unfair to me regarding the noble Earl, Lord Munster, because I thought I had answered him when I pointed out that in fact both the Assembly of the United Nations and the Council of Europe are merely advisory; they have no executive power and are purely consultative. They have not any executive power; neither in the first place would the Grand Council have. I made it quite clear that that is only because of natural conservativeness—not in the political sense, but in the sense that most human beings are conservative. I do not think the Council could go into legislative or executive functions straight away, although I personally should like them to do so. That is why in the first place they should be advisory. I do not intend to go into the details of the matter, because, so long as we are assured, as we have been, that the Government will consider it and, indeed, are considering it, then the plan that I put up, and the plans of everybody else, will come before them and presumably they and the Colonial peoples will consider them and eventually choose the best one. Good luck to it, whatever it may be! I do not mind as long as they get the best plan.
I do not think the debates we have had in this House have by any means revealed the lack of interest which the noble Lord has suggested. For one thing, I presume that partly because of them—and I put it no higher than that—the Labour Party itself has come forward with a definite recognition of this problem.
I did not want to give that impression at all. I did not say that there has been a lack of interest. All I said or all I meant to convey—and if I did not convey it, I should like to do so now—was that our previous debates on this subject have not provoked, so far as we know, any positive reaction. I do not 968 know of anybody who has come along and said, "This is a good idea." That is the point I wanted to make.
§ LORD OGMORE
That may be so, although I myself have had quite positive reactions. As I say, to my mind, one of the most important reactions of all is the recognition by the Labour Party of this problem and their putting out in the form of a pamphlet various suggestions for meeting the problem. I should say that that is a very considerable reaction. I am grateful to the various noble Lords who have taken part in this debate and who obviously have prepared their speeches with great care. I hope that in any future debates on this subject, or on any subject allied to it, we may also have their support. I have only one thing to say about the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, the solitary swallow from the other side of the House, and that is this. He criticised me as if the suggestion that we should follow the French model were mine. That is one of the suggestions which I specifically repudiated. I felt he was harsh on me there, caning me for something with which I particularly did not want to have anything at all to do.
I want to support the noble Lord, Lord Winster, if I may, in one matter—I was going to mention it in any case. He drew attention to the fact that, apart from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton (who, in any case, I understand, is a National Liberal), not one Member on the Government Benches, other than the Front Bench, has spoken in this debate. It is no business of ours on this side to decide who shall speak in debates, but I support the noble Lord, Lord Winster, in saying that I think it is a pity. These debates are widely read in the Colonies. In the past, the Conservative Party has usually taken a great interest in Empire and Colonial affairs, and I feel that when we have a debate here it would be a very welcome feature if more speakers from the Back Benches on the Conservative side could feel it possible to take part. I have nothing further to say. We have had a useful debate, and I trust that it may have the result that we hope of it. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.