HL Deb 06 July 1955 vol 193 cc480-505

4.3 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, the limelight having just been focused on one small spot in the Colonial sphere, it can now be diffused again over the whole of the Colonial area. As is natural in a debate of this sort, especially as we are discussing an Annual Report of enormous width, scope and detail, our speeches are ranging very wide. So I ask no apology for not following noble Lords who have spoken already, and I will touch on two or three subjects which are not in the realm of constitutional or economic matters but which concern the social welfare and advance of the colonial territories, and particularly those in Africa.

I should like first, however, to take up what the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, said about information services. The noble Lord mentioned the need for making fully known in this country and elsewhere the good work that is being done by colonial officials all over the world. The Report, in paragraph 534, mentions steps taken by the information services to present the true picture of the Colonies, not only in other Commonwealth countries but in foreign countries as well. I hope that there will be no tendency on the part of Her Majesty's Government to economise in those services. We had a debate some time ago on the subject, and last year it was borne in on me that there is a great need for the maximum possible publicity on behalf of the Colonial Service, not only in foreign countries but even in other Commonwealth countries. I took part in a Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation to East and Central Africa, and it was quite obviously new to many of my colleagues from other Commonwealth countries on that trip to see what was being done by the Colonial Office and its servants in those areas. Obviously, information services can only provide the information; they cannot ensure that it is published. Unfortunately, the things that tend to get published in the Press are generally the sensational ones or reports of disasters—in other words, when things go wrong it is news; and when they do not, it is not. For that reason alone, there must be no stinting the amount of good publicity material put out on this subject.

I want now to say a few words about primary education. I think most people will agree that one of the biggest obstacles to rapid political advance in the colonial territories is the very large gap that exists between the more highly educated Africans aid the mass of their fellow-countrymen. One of the most intractable problems of governing the African Colonies is how to close that gap with as little delay as possible. We cannot wait for the generations to grow up and go to school, and for their children to receive higher education. The process must be telescoped, and it is encouraging to see from the section of the Report dealing with primary education, that some spectacular advances are being made towards the aim of universal primary education. There is a long way to go, but in certain territories the figures show really remarkable advances in the last few years.

One need mention only the West Coast countries—some of the States of the Federation of Nigeria and the Gold Coast—where they have primary education for all who wish to take advantage of it. The enrolments in primary schools are going up, and they are also proposing to divide the cost between Government funds and local authority funds—in other words, they are decentralising education in much the same way as we do here. Moreover, in Uganda the drive to expand the output of primary school teachers has had tremendous success. There has been an increase in the output of primary school teachers from 360, five years ago, to 843 last year. The aim is 1,150 at the end of next year. Obviously, that is the critical element in expanding an education system—how fast it is possible to expand the number of trained teachers. It is encouraging to know that that matter is going forward so well.

I have mentioned two territories—the West Coast and Uganda—that have outstanding records, but there is a great variation, it seems to me, between the more successful territories and the others. There is mention of some of the other territories, and the Report says that in Kenya particularly conditions for education arc rapidly returning to normal in the Kikuyu country. The effect of the emergency is being overcome. I hope that that process is going on, because I noticed in the East Africa Royal Commission Report—the document to which the noble Lord referred and which no doubt we shall be debating later—one of the conclusions they came to was: Better and more widespread education is a necessary element, indeed a prerequisite, of a higher standard of living. So I hope that the Kenya Government will spare no efforts and no money to expand the educational facilities.

There is no mention in the Report this year of educational progress in Tanganyika. It is a curious omission. I think we should have been told something about conditions in that large and important territory. With regard to Northern Rhodesia, we are told that Government expenditure has increased by 50 per cent. during 1954. That is all to the good. There is no mention of education in Nyasaland. In passing, I might mention that there seems to be less reference in this year's Report to those two territories, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, than there has been in previous years. We know that by the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia certain matters in those territories, among which is African education other than higher education, remain under the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I hope that there is no tendency in Her Majesty's Government's mind to think that they can in any way relinquish their responsibility for, or their control over, these matters that so closely affect the Africans in those territories. Nyasaland, in particular, I happen to know has in hand a five-year educational plan, due to be completed in 1959. By this they are going to expand the enrolment into primary schools from about 36 per cent. of the child population to 47 per cent. The system is to be decentralised to some extent and local education committees are to be formed to control it. Your Lordships will notice that, even in 1959, the aim is for only less than half the children to attend a school. I think that is a figure that should bring home to your Lordships the seriousness of the situation in many African territories.

I have mentioned that in some territories local authorities are being brought into the education picture, and local government in all its forms is one of the more important spheres in which a community can advance towards full political responsibility. The promotion of local government institutions has, I know, been in the forefront of Colonial Office policy for a number of years. It is linked with adult education and other forms of development. It goes by the name of community development. To go back for a moment, your Lordships will realise that primary education is all very well for the children who are growing up now, but the population who have grown up in past years have not had the advantage of education, and the importance of community development is in relation to adults. The term "community development" may be unfamiliar to your Lordships but I notice that it has been defined, authoritatively, I think last year, as a movement designed to promote better living for the whole community, with the active participation, and on the initiative, of the community. What that means in fact is that it embraces all forms of betterment, not only for rural communities but also for urban ones. However, there is a more urgent need in the rural communities for improving the lot and the lives of the inhabitants. So it works towards, in the agricultural sphere, proper soil conservation, better farming methods and better care of livestock; in the health sphere, better sanitation and proper measures of hygiene and infant welfare; in the education sphere, adult education as well as the improvement and extension of schools; and also, co-operative societies and the development of local government. The essence of it all is the stimulation of initiative.

I do not want to give the impression that this is a substitute for straight academic schooling. It is not. It is a means of improving the conditions of those who have not been at school and those who are living the necessarily poor, primitive lives of peasant communities in Africa. The Governor of Northern Rhodesia some years ago wrote Much of the backwardness of the rural population is attributable to lack of knowledge of even the most elementary rules of good living. Until a man learns how to plough properly, to use farmyard manure, to conserve the natural fertility of his soil, to use good methods of husbandry, to keep himself, his family, his house, and his water supplies clean, and to observe basic rules of health and hygiene, he cannot move far along the path of human progress. With that as the background, I find it somewhat disappointing to discover how little is mentioned on the subject of community development in the Report. I notice that there is no mention, in this section of the Report, of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the two countries which are in the Federation of Rhodesia. I was privileged to see several remarkable places in Africa: the Jeanes School at Kabete, near Nairobi, the Local Government Training School at Entebbe, the District Development Centre in Barotseland and the Local Government School in Nyasaland. There is one feature common to them all: that the scale and the resources available are wholly inadequate. The people turned out from courses in health and hygiene, agriculture, and so on, could be numbered in dozens or hundreds when they are needed to serve a population of millions. The only way in which you can cover a wide area of teaching with small resources is by training demonstration teams and sending them round the country. Incidentally, that is probably the best way of striking the imagination of the African. Those teams, composed exclusively of Africans, go round demonstrating the use of insecticides, fertilisers, agricultural methods and so on, and are of immense benefit; but the teams and teachers should be multiplied many times. I should like Her Majesty's Government to tell us that they regard this community development movement as of first-class importance in the development of the territories, and that they will spare no effort, and encourage the Colonial Governments to spare no money and no effort, in extending them as much as possible.

4.21 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to make only a brief intervention as I know that other noble Lords want to speak. I am going to put two questions to my noble friend, but first I want to say one or two words. The size and scope of colonial affairs is such that in colonial debates we sometimes lose ourselves in the very immensity of the subject. I believe that in the old days in China candidates for examinations used to be told: "Write all you know; time allowed, three months." When the Minister comes to reply he must feel that he is coping with something like that, but without quite so much time at his disposal.

I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I found myself in agreement with a good deal of it. I should like to take him up on two points, and the first is in regard to what he said about the Gold Coast. He feels, perhaps, that there has been a breakdown in proper Parliamentary relationships there. We all regret the tension that we know exists in the Gold Coast at this moment. If we were able to get the problems of the Gold Coast resolved it would be an excellent thing; but we must not expect things to move too quickly. Round about 200 years ago in this country a Minister faced impeachment; now he is made Leader of the Opposition, and his salary is a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. We did not get our form of responsible government exactly overnight. At this moment the Gold Coast is in a most fascinating phase, the final stage before complete independence. Of course the set-up is not perfect; indeed, it is very far from perfect. But that is not to say that the all-African Cabinet are not making a good job of things.

There are, of course, two sources of dispute, which the noble Lord mentioned. There is the federal movement and the call for an inquiry into the marketing boards. I think both of these have been handled in a proper Parliamentary manner, inside the House, and if Mr. Nkrumah has, in fact, enraged a sufficient number of his people, he will find that he is not returned at the next Election. I consider it a most happy thing that in the Gold Coast at this moment there should be two men of such stature as Sir Charles Arden-Clark and Mr. Nkrumah. I pay a very warm tribute to a previous Colonial Secretary for appointing Sir Charles Arden-Clark to that particular post. It means that Mr. Nkrumah has access to the advice of a man of great gifts, wide experience and extremely sound judgment. One thing about which I think we must be careful is advice. We always have it available to give. Help we always promise, but we must be careful not to confuse advice with interference.

The second point I wish to take up with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is what I thought was a rather severe charge about the use of bombing in the recent disorders in the Aden Protectorate. He mentioned indiscriminate bombing. In a sense, all bombing is not entirely discriminate, just as all use of artillery fire is not entirely discriminate. If the noble Lord has read the relevant section of the Report lie will see that those who broke the peace had the active support of the Yemeni from across the border. Where that condition exists it is difficult to bring bandits co book with ground forces. They have asylum on the other side of the border; their sinews of war will be replenished. I agree that it is drastic to have to use bombers, but in this case I do not think we had any other choice. In our own part of the world we have people in personal responsibility, but in the Arab world the position is very different. If one member of a tribe does something against another, the whole tribe takes on the corporate responsibility for that act. Therefore, after due warning, the use of bombs as an effective measure against a tribe, some of whose members had broken the peace, was, I believe, justified.


May I ask the noble Lord whether his attention has been drawn to the paragraph in the Daily Telegraph, which I quoted? That paragraph said that this attack had broken down, and that ground troops had had to be sent. So that even if, as he may say, this method of using bombers is moral, how does he justify it as being efficacious?


I thought that the noble Lord's attack was against the use of bombers.




They are not being used now; but I am talking about the fact that they ever were used. And however much we regret the need to use them, there is no ground for remorse that we did use them.

I turn now to my two questions—first to East Africa. We all believe that we have broken the back of the Mau Mau "snake," but this once happy country has had a terrible setback in its advance. It is always the same with Mau Mau or Malayan terrorism. There is such a distraction of effort, measurable in men, money and materials. We hear now that Mau Mau have withdrawn from larger and larger tracts of country, which are returning to the care of the administration and of the police. I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Lloyd (I apologise to him for rather short notice) what steps have been taken by the Kenya Government to implement the statement of policy which was issued by the Council of Ministers when they took office in April, 1954.

Then I turn to the other side of the world, to the West Indies. We all hope that we shall soon be welcoming the coming into being of the West Indian Federation. It is a concept long dreamed of and many times discussed. Of the different West Indian territories, we have latterly tended to hear more of British Guiana than usual. I have made something of a study of British Honduras. They have peculiar problems, both political and economic, and my second question to the noble Lord is whether he can tell us something—and we should like to hear as much as he can tell us—of the recent political and economic developments in the territory of British Honduras.

Last of all, there is a phrase which we hear quite often and which I was rather surprised to notice that Mr. Creech Jones used in a speech the other day in another place—that "Colonialism is dead." I wonder what that phrase can possibly mean. It is often used by the Russians, so I thought I could not do better than get a Russian dictionary and look it up. I am informed by my Russian translator that a colony is "an area or country seized by an imperialist State with the object of making super profits by using it as a source of raw materials and by the merciless economic, political and national oppression of the population." Well, they should know! It is they who fettered that system on a tract of the earth which runs from East Berlin to the Bering Strait, and South to the China Seas. Is colonialism dead in the British sphere of influence? In the sense of the definition given by the Russian dictionary it was never born. We acquired these territories by different means, none of them discreditable in the light of the times in which we acquired them. We acquired with them responsibilities; and, so far from those responsibilities being dead, they are very much alive. We go on shouldering them in this day and age, and it is only too likely that we shall be shouldering them for many generations hence, however tempting may be the voices which say that we have shouldered them long enough; for on our shoulders rests the hope for a better life for many millions of people.

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I intend to say only a few words on the need, as I see it, for the foundation of an Anglo-Hellenic University in Cyprus. I do not speak as one with personal knowledge of the island; but sometimes those with limited knowledge of the trees get a clear view of the wood; and in years gone by I have travelled a certain amount in Greece and have been aware of the quite unusual sense of historical continuity of culture with the Eastern Roman Empire, and so with classical Greece, that prevails from the Monastery of Athos to the coffee-houses of Athens. It seems to me (and it is always easy to be wise after the event) that our policy in Cyprus has been correct but unimaginative. We have given the island good government and economic prosperity, as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has pointed out; we have not interfered with its cultural links with Greece; and through such organisations as the British Council we have endeavoured to make something of our own art and literature available to the Cypriots. But the pudding has not entirely proved itself in the eating; the soufflé has been a little flat. Yet we owe so much to the Greeks and the Greeks owe so much to us.

I would propose the foundation in Cyprus of a university, not designed to make Englishmen of the Greeks who live there, but one affiliated, say, to Oxford and Cambridge, on the one hand, and to Athens, on the other, so that, possibly on a post-graduate basis, or otherwise, those reading Greats could amplify their scholarship in the light of living Greek thought and the modern Greek language, and those in Greece anxious to study on an advanced level our literature, language and learning could find them, so to speak, at their door. Such a university obviously would need to include a faculty for Turkish studies. It would bring together the understanding of our political institutions and the ancient wisdom of the Eastern Mediterranean. Cypriots, if they wished, could themselves take degrees without the expense of leaving their island, which must, after all, at present grievously limit the number of those seeking a full education. It seems to me that a university designed to bring together British and Greek scholarship, in conjunction with that of our neighbours and allies in Turkey, is just what is needed to give unity within a European framework, and to turn Cyprus from a stumbling-block of misunderstanding into a cornerstone of friendship.

4.35 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord who opened this debate for not having been in the House to hear his opening remarks, and also for intervening at the last moment on a rather narrow subject, though it is one with which I have personally been very much concerned. In the Report on the Colonial Territories which is the thesis of this debate there is a very brief paragraph on Somaliland which says only that on November 29 an agreement was completed between the United Kingdom Government and the 'Ethiopian Government providing for the withdrawal of the British military administration from certain parts of Ethiopia bordering on the Protectorate, with effect from February 28. That decision which admittedly implemented an engagement made with the Ethiopian Government as long ago as 1897, in an agreement which was negotiated by my father with the Emperor Menelik, has caused much trouble and perturbation in the minds of the Somali people.

May I refresh your Lordships' memory, very briefly, with a most interesting fact about Africa? What is commonly called the Horn of Africa, from the Straits at the entrance to the Red Sea down to the Juba River, is the only large area in the whole of Africa that appears to have an entirely homogeneous population. Apart from a few hundreds of an earlier race, there is no mixture of races; and the people who live there are entirely of one religion—Moslems. Unfortunately, since the European intervention in Africa, Somaliland, like Caesar's Gaul, has been divided into three parts. through no fault of the Somalis; it is divided between ourselves, in the British Somaliland Protectorates, the Italian Somali coast and the portion, virtually unadministered before the institution of the British military administration usually called Ethiopian Somaliland. But the establishment of the British Protectorate happened not only with the consent, hut with the acclamation, of the Somali people, and in spite of all the difficulties we had had in the past with the Mad Mullah and his fanatical adherents, over a long period of time. The Somali people have apparently been sufficiently happy under our Protectorate and rather loose administration to have welcomed with open arms the re-occupation of British Somaliland, when it was reconquered from the Italian forces, in 1941.

Since that time, all the three Somali territories, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland and Ethiopian Somaliland, were for many years administered under a British military administration over which I had the privilege of presiding. It was the first time in modern history that the whole of the Somali area in Africa, and the whole of the Somali people, had found themselves under one single administration. The British military administration of British Somaliland continued unit the territory, after the end of the war, was handed back to the Colonial Office, at which time a repartition was once more made of the Somali areas and the Somali people. In circumstances too detailed to go into in the course of this debate, the Italian Somali coast was handed back to the tutelage of Italy for a period of time which, I believe, terminates in 1960. Ethiopian Somaliland remained under British military administration until, as is announced in this Report, it was handed over to Ethiopia this year, and, so far as I know, much against the wishes of the Somali people in that area and of the Somali people generally.

I should like to point out that foreign intervention in Somali affairs is comparatively recent in history. The only town of any size on the edge of the Somali area, Harrar, was occupied by the Emperor Menelik's troops only in, I believe, 1887. Before that Harrar was essentially a Somali centre and one of the few such centres in a nomadic area. The circumstances of the expansion of the Ethiopian Empire under the Emperor Menelik are probably well known to your Lordships and not germane to this particular discussion. It was in the same generation that the British, French and Italian interventions took place. The handing over of Ethiopian Somaliland implemented this year, as the outcome of what was known as the Rennell Rodd Agreement with the Emperor Menelik of 1897, was legally correct, although it took nearly sixty years to be implemented.

At the time that Agreement was made there were circumstances of which most of us are to-day totally unaware. There was, notably, the French penetration from Djibouti westwards into Africa, of which the Marchand Expedition from the West Coast to the Nile Valley was a relevant element. The Rennell Rodd Agreement, negotiated as a treaty of amity and commerce between the Ethiopian Empire and Her Majesty's Government in this country, was, however, designed to stop the French penetration through Ethiopia to the Nile, and in fact to stop a junction with an expedition, fitted out ostensibly for botanical purposes, by two Frenchmen, who left Djibouti in order to meet Marchand at Fashoda with arms and food. As the result of the failure of this French expedition to reach the Nile, the surrender of Marchand at Fashoda took place, as your Lordships are aware. There was, therefore, behind the Agreement of 1897 a great deal more of importance to the Somali people than the settlement of a grazing dispute as appeared in the treaty of amity and commerce. Since 1897, when the Rennell Rodd treaty was signed, a great deal has taken place, not only in Africa generally but to the Somali people in particular, and including the relegation of the French to the Djibouti area.

The Somali people are an expanding race, and they have been an expanding race for some generations. They have been expanding north, west and south. Various efforts have been made by various people to contain them within their boundaries—but not very successfully. They are, moreover, strangely enough, for a nomadic people, extremely adaptable. The Somali camel trader of the past is now a Somali motor driver, pedlar and merchant throughout the area of Eastern Africa, which runs approximately from Port Sudan and Mombasa into the interior as far as the Ethiopian lakes. He has also taken to the sea, and many Somalis are serving in Her Majesty's Merchant Navy and the merchant navies of many other nations. It shows remarkable adaptability on the part of a land nomadic people that they should thus take to maritime life.

The handing over of what is an intrinsic part of Somaliland. as the Somalis know it and as those of us who have been out there know it, is not only a tragic redivision of Somaliland, but one which looks more likely to be perpetuated than anything involved in the handing over at the end of the war of the Italian Somali coast under tutelage of the United Nations, for a period with a terminating date in 1960. It is therefore not unnatural that the Somalis have taken very great exception to the decision of Her Majesty's Government to implement the 1897 Agreement and to withdraw the surviving British Administration and troops in Ethiopian Somaliland, thereby perpetuating, so far as they can see for ever, the cutting off of Ethiopian Somaliland, with its important grazing areas, from the rest of their lands. Moreover, the Ethiopians and the Somalis have little in common. They have different religions, different ways of life, differences of outlook. There are other differences which will occur to your Lordships, and I need not elaborate them. The protests made by the Somali people against this decision were made to Her Majesty's Government in this country without any effect, as the result of which lack of effect the Somali people in British Somaliland have now decided to send a delegation to the United Nations to make their case. I should like to think that their plea to the United Nations will receive the support of Her Majesty's Government, so that we shall see, in measurable time—say by 1960—the prospect of a reunited Somaliland and the unification of an area of homogeneous population in the only large part of Africa where such conditions exist.

I regret very much that when the settlement was reached at the end of the war it was decided to allow the Italians to return to the Italian Somali coast, and I say this in all friendliness to my Italian friends, with whom I have been associated, as your Lordships may know, for the whole of my life. It is not in any way that I object to the Italians, What I object to is that this has created a redivision of the one homogeneous area in Africa. That was done, admittedly, without any enthusiasm in this country. Indeed, the then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, did his best to oppose the decision, which was, in fact, taken out of his hands by people who knew a great deal less about Somaliland and the Somali people than we in this country do. Had it been necessary, for political or any other reasons, for the Italians to receive back under tutelage any part of their Colonial Empire, Eritrea was a much more obvious choice, being a country of mixed races, mixed religions and mixed ways of life. But that was not done. I regret very much that when that decision was reached at the end of the war it was reached without consultation with the people who knew Somaliland, and in completed disregard of the views of all those people who had ever been associated with British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland or Ethiopian Somaliland. Nevertheless, it was done. But that harm done is remediable. The Italian tutelage can be brought to an end. The prospects of a return to the Somali people of the area which has now been handed over to Ethiopia are, however, negligible, and consequently are a legitimate source of complaint by the Somali people.

In conclusion, I should like to add only one other thing. The behaviour of the Somali people in proffering their requests to Her Majesty's Government and making their case has been marked by dignity and sobriety. There have been no threats, no rioting and no shedding of blood; and, above all, there has been no antagonism to ourselves. They rightly say, having placed themselves under our protection voluntarily in the latter part of the last century, having through us had the benefit of contact with their Somali brothers in what is known as Ethiopian Somaliland, having had the rights of grazing flocks in the area from which they are now cut off, that they feel they ought to have had greater support from the people who have been looking after them and whom they would be happy to see continuing to look after them in the future until they are able to look after themselves. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will do their best to support the moral claim of the Somali people for reunification of the Somali-lands in the Horn of Africa and will do nothing to oppose it. I hope they will seek to carry out what has been our consistent policy elsewhere—to bring people to unity and peace and self-government. I sincerely hope that the Somali people will achieve this with the assistance of ourselves and, perhaps, of other nations, instead of being condemned to live under three separate régimes, which need never have happened had a sensible and statesmanlike view been adopted at the end of the war when they were administered by one authority, the breaking up of which we should have stopped.

4.49 p.m.


My Lords, as has been said already, the terms of this Motion have been so widely drafted that any attempt to deal with it comprehensively would require not merely a speech but a book, and no small one at that. I shall make no attempt to go to that length, nor is there any need for me to traverse some of the interesting speeches which have already been made, because I find myself to a considerable extent in agreement with them. But they have touched, as your Lordships have heard, on specific cases, and I want to adopt a slightly different approach to this Motion. Over the past twelve months we have had debates on various colonial territories where there has been trouble of some kind or another—Malaya, Kenya, British Guiana, Cyprus, Uganda and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In some of these cases there are special reasons why it is undesirable in a debate like this to go into any detail and I shall not attempt to do so. I do not wish to embarrass the Government, either, by specific mention which must necessarily be incomplete. As I view it, this debate affords an opportunity of dealing with colonial policy in a general way, and that is the only way in which I can avoid the feeling of being somewhat disjointed.

The Command Paper which is the subject of this Motion is a remarkable document. I think that the Secretary of State and the Colonial Office, as well as the Colonial Service in all its branches, are to be congratulated on the real progress and solid achievements depicted so clearly and so quietly in the unemotional English affected by Whitehall. Perhaps this is an appropriate moment for me, as a Back Bencher and as an old member of the Colonial Service, to record the appreciation and admiration which we all feel for the work done by the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, during the years when his firm guidance and determined sagacity won the respect of all Parties in this country and the esteem of all colonial people. I join, too, in welcoming Mr. Lennox-Boyd back home to the job where his heart and interests lie. If the noble Earl, Lord Munster, whose courtesy and ease in answering debates are so appealing and so appeasing, had to move to higher responsibilities, I am glad that his mantle has fallen upon the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, under whose distinguished father I had the honour to serve when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies.

The Report starts with an impressive list of constitutional and political developments, followed by fifty pages on economic and financial developments, then by another thirty-five pages on social services. I must confess that the order rather intrigues me. Although without the economic development, political progress is just a name and social services a dream, none the less I think that the order is right. An able writer on colonial affairs recently said: The essence of the colonial grievance is not economic. It is political … for the biggest fact of all in the colonial world to-day is not poverty but passion—passion about the colonial relationship. In this connection, it does not matter whether the Government is good or bad: it is alien, and that in the modern context is what hurts. No doubt the mass of the people are better off under British guidance and no doubt they are likely to be better off for some time to come, but that is not the point. We are dealing with the pathology of wounded self-esteem, a resentment of inferior status by a small, educated minority.

That attitude is a direct result of our own teaching of our own doctrines of liberty and self-government. The nationalist movement in most Colonies is a direct creation of alien rule, and its cohesive force is really a craving to be rid of such rule, rather than internal patriotism. The trouble is that agitation in these circumstances becomes a career for ability, and that is a bad nursery for would-be self-governing statesmen. A minority, ambitious for power, working on the economic discontents of the majority, can paralyse the machinery of government. We have seen it in many places. If not given sufficient outlet, it will end by sabotaging all government.

It is true that self-government means initially the handing over of authority by the administering Power from one minority to another minority. How representative is this minority? That is a difficult question to answer. Generally speaking, the minority is the ablest and best educated, who can and do influence the ignorant masses. When India and Ceylon became independent they possessed a trained indigenous Civil Service, able to take over the strain of independent government, whereas in our Colonies that stage has clearly not been reached. None the less, as we know, it is not possible to slow down the progress towards self-government in order to give it a better chance when it comes. On the side lines the United Nations continue to provide a world forum for public opinion hostile to the colonial relationship, an opinion which is often ignorant and malicious as well.

In the early days the economic credentials of superior achievement, the disparity of technical skills and moral values between the European and, say, the African, encouraged this idea of racial superiority; so what were at least partially environmental advantages in the first place become associated in the general mind with colour. Disturbing forces were released by the two World Wars. The Western European himself destroyed in native eyes much of his own prestige during that process. But much of the unrest with which we are faced to-day was inevitable in any case, as a result of the clash between two different ways of life. In African customary life, for instance, the individual was subordinated to the family and the tribal group. His loyalties were group loyalties. We are witnessing the full consequences of de-tribalisation, industrialisation, the cinema, the break-up of family life which conies from so many able-bodied men leaving their villages and working in mines and on plantations and farms, inflation and the fluctuating value of money, and, generally speaking, the imposition of a money economy upon people bred in a subsistence economy relying largely on barter.

The Command Paper which we are considering has for its background this battle for the minds of men. If we can convince the colonial peoples of the sincerity of our motives and the genuineness of our determination to help them to self-government at the earliest possible moment, then the battle will be won. But to achieve that, a world of suspicion and mistrust has to be dispelled. Whatever criticism may be offered to-day, nobody can say that the Colonies are standing still. They undoubtedly are moving, but in many cases there is an impatience that the pace is not greater. It has been said, too, not without reason, that the pendulum of opinion has swung so far in the direction of economic values and materialistic aims that things of the Spirit have escaped adequate attention, leaving a vacuum dangerously available to evil influences. After all, my Lords, Man does not live by bread alone. And what if the price of the machine age is, after all, too high? There may be a stronger case for sitting idle in the sun than our restless generation is willing to admit. In any case, miracles of economic transformation cannot be performed overnight.

Our accepted policy seems to rest on the right of people to misgovern themselves, if they wish, our minor responsibility being to mitigate as far as possible perhaps an initial slowing down or slackening of efficiency and of principle in government. Democracy is founded on a belief in the ability, integrity and patriotism of the common citizen. It is a large assumption to make; and it is urgently necessary, therefore, to press on with education in all its aspects. But if we are to contemplate, as indeed we do, an ever increasing participation of the ordinary man in his own government, then the same forces that swept away the administering power will also inevitably liquidate the native chiefs. If that process is not reasonably gradual, then the result is not likely to be happy. It is accepted policy that all the Colonies which are big enough, either alone or grouped with others, and able to stand alone politically and economically, should be assisted to achieve that status as quickly as possible. Obviously, there is no one answer to the question when or by what stages power should be transferred. It will vary, but the end is now assured. It is hoped, as a corollary, that all Colonies which achieve independence will elect, from motives of self-interest and good will, to remain members of the Commonwealth. For the many other Colonies which are too small to look after themselves entirely complete local self-government under British protection is assured, but as yet no closer association with this country has been envisaged. It is not easy to devise a closer relationship for these small auxiliaries of the Commonwealth. It would seem, apart from other objections, a step in the wrong direction to add representation in an already overloaded House of Commons, whilst representation in this House would be an anomaly unless it were fitted into some reformed structure.

Time does not permit me to deal with the vital importance in these connections of what is behind this Report—namely, the importance of private life and happy personal relations. Much of the passion which is apt to creep into claims for independence is based on social slights and the imputation of social inferiority. Wherever there is no cultural basis for this imputation of inferiority it should certainly slowly disappear before an enlightened public opinion. I would say a word or two about the Colonial Office before I conclude. The Colonial Office system is rapidly becoming outmoded. For all the bigger Colonies direction from London seems to me to give the worst of two worlds. There is no final authority on the spot and no strong consistent policy from London. The Whitehall system applied to the Colonies seems to me to mean bureaucratic government stimulated and obsessed by fear of Parliamentary criticism.

I have deliberately said nothing about multi-racial States, because the subject is complex and would merit a separate debate in itself. Apart altogether from the East and Central African problems of creating multi-racial Governments where there is a local resident European population as one of the constituents, in the ultimate hope there of unity in diversity, there are many analogous problems throughout the Colonial Empire where Europeans are not included at all. In Malaya there is, as yet, no Malayan nation, only three major races, the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian; in Nigeria, there is not yet a Nigerian nation, and beneath the surface of British control exist multi-racial tensions of some magnitude; in Fiji, there is still the unsolved problem of the evenly balanced numbers of Fijians and Indians; and so on through Mauritius, Trinidad, British Guiana and other Colonies.

One last word about the Colonial Civil Service, which has recently suffered a change and is now to be known as the Overseas Civil Service. Beneath this change of name is hidden the fact that the days of the administrative service in the old sense are numbered. It will pass away, functus officio, as indeed the Secretary of State himself in the present importance of his office will also cease upon the midnight—we hope of course, with no pain. The need and demand for professional help will continue, and may even grow, but obviously the administrative officer's place will be taken by local government officials, men and women, if self-government is to mean anything at all. There will be, perhaps for a long time, undiminished demand for the help of doctors, engineers and scientists of every kind, agricultural, veterinary and forestry experts, and even lawyers, but there is no more reason why the administrative service should survive than the Indian Civil Service. Its enduring monument will be a number of thriving young States, growing in importance as the years pass by and, we hope, proud of a friendly association with the Commonwealth.

I have deliberately avoided individual and detailed references to particular Colonies. May I conclude with the expression of a hope that we shall continue to have faith in ourselves; that we shall not be affected by the criticisms which are so frequently levelled at us. Let us continue to have faith in what we have done and what we are doing in the cause of human betterment, and once more may I congratulate the colonial authorities, both here and abroad, on the record contained in this Report.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by The LORD CHANCELLOR.

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, before I embark on my few remarks, may I say, as the first speaker to have this opportunity, how delighted we are to see the noble and learned Viscount back on the Woolsack. I hope that he did not have too breathless a journey from the Airport to your Lordships' House, but it is a great pleasure to all of us to see him here again.

I think your Lordships will agree that when we are discussing the Colonies we all have our eye on the same target, and for that reason there is a wide measure of agreement between speakers on both sides of the House. I believe that noble Lords opposite found a good deal of common ground with us, and I am certain that we find a great deal of common ground with them. I will pick out only one or two points at this stage of the debate, but I should like to say how much I agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, when he said that the Government should do all they can to support the agrarian economy of the West Indies. Unfortunately, the West Indian territories still depend for their standard of living, low as it is, and for their standard of employment, low as that is, on the United Kingdom as a market for their main products. We have a real obligation to protect them from the violent fluctuations which take place in the market price of these commodities.

The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, referred to Jamaica. I share his hope that we shall soon hear from the Government that a trading agreement has been concluded with the Jamaican Government which is satisfactory to both parties. As the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, is back in his place, I must take up one point in his remarks. He referred to the use by my right honourable friend Mr. Creech Jones of the expression "death of colonialism." He then indicated colonialism in the Russian sense, and said that colonialism in that sense had never existed in the British Colonies. Of course, we should all agree with that. But I do not think for a moment that my right honourable friend was using the term "colonialism" in that sense. What I think he meant—I have had no chance of consulting him—was that the British colonial policy aims at ending the subordinate political status of all our dependencies. We are, therefore, the one Power in the world, and the only colonial Power, which is working for its own extinction as a colonial Power. In that sense, I think it is true that colonialism is dying, if it is not already dead so far as we are concerned.


It is anybody's guess what the right honourable gentleman meant. I am, however, obliged to the noble Earl for his explanation of it. I certainly did not charge Mr. Creech Jones with meaning colonialism in the sense of the Russian definition.


I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Lord opposite.

May I pass on to the few remarks on the Colonies which I should like to offer to the House. There is one subject on which my noble friend Lord Ogmore did not touch in the course of his compendious survey of this field, and which no other noble Lord in the course of the debate has touched upon, though it is a matter of great and topical importance. That is the situation in Uganda. I am fully aware that discussions are going on at this moment with two delegations from Uganda, and naturally I shall not expect the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, to say anything about these negotiations. But I should like to offer views which I am sure he will consider before final decisions are reached.

We are all delighted to note in the Report the relaxation of tension that has steadily taken place in the past year in Uganda. We owe this to a series of wise decisions, both on our side and on the part of the African leaders. There was the decision to send out Sir Keith Hancock, an ideal negotiator, and the. success of his committee in obtaining agreement about constitutional reforms in Buganda. Then there is the decision of the Government here to allow the Kabaka. to return, on the condition that the constitutional reforms to which I have referred were accepted and carried out by the Lukiko of Buganda. Finally, there was the extremely statesmanlike acceptance by the Lukiko of the recommendations made at the Namirembe Conference. This series of events has created the right atmosphere for the present negotiations, of which the outcome, I think the noble Lord opposite will agree, will be a turning point in our relations with the Protectorate.

There is one thing that has come out quite clearly from what has been happening in the last two years in Uganda. I do riot think anyone can doubt that the desire of the Baganda for the return of Mutesa II has not lessened since his exile in November, 1953. It is therefore most important that the Government are no longer opposed to his return. The only difference, now no logger a difference of principle, between the Government and the Lukiko, is about the timing of his return. I hope that the Government will do everything possible to secure agreement on this one absolutely vital point. It would be a mistake, I am sure—and I have no reason to suppoes that the Government have made this mistake—to link the return of the Kabaka with the acceptance of an Indian Minister in the Uganda Government: the two matters are quite distinct. One affects the Central Government and the other the Baganda, and there is nothing in the Namirembe proposals about changes in the composition of the Executive Council.

One concession the Government would. be wise to make—and I should like to commend this view—is a willingness to bring forward the date of the Kabaka's return. This could be done—and the possibility is already stated in the official view ex pressed by the Secretary of State —by shortening the period of nine months which the Government at that time considered should elapse after the agreement comes into force. Provided that Mutesa II is willing to endorse the constitutional settlement—and I do not think there is any reason to doubt that he will do so—it is far more likely to be worked satisfactorily if his people see that he freely consents to it and are absolutely sure that he has not agreed to it under duress while in exile. I think that is an extremely important psychological point, if I may put it that way. The dignity and restraint of this young man during his period of exile show, I think, that he has the makings of a good constitutional monarch. And the really extraordinarily sweet reasonableness, and the respect for law, of the members of the Lukiko during this time of acute strain indicate that they are well fitted to carry out their new responsibilities as members of a Ministry in a fully developed Parliamentary system. But this reform in the Constitution of Buganda, and many other reforms and improvements which Uganda owes to the enlightened leadership of the present Governor, Sir Andrew Cohen, will be prejudiced unless agreement is reached.

I am sure no one will forget that a necessary condition for the success of all these changes is goodwill. I should like to underline that word "goodwill" a hundred times, because I believe that it is the key to everything else. If goodwill is essential for further progress now, it will be even more important in the future. When Uganda becomes an independent African country, which I presume will certainly happen in the present century, we hope that it will stay within the Commonwealth, as other dependencies have done on reaching independence. But this decision, remote as it may be from to-day, will depend largely on the goodwill which we shall gain or lose by British policy at the present time. I believe that we have a unique opportunity now of restoring the traditional friendship and goodwill between English people and Africans in Uganda, between our Administration and their Administration, and of getting the close co-operation between the races needed for progress in every direction. I profoundly hope that this opportunity will not be lost.

5.21 p.m.


My Lords, the Motion which we have been debating this afternoon draws attention to the Report of my right honourable friend upon colonial territories. Before I attempt to deal with the innumerable specific questions which have been raised, I ought perhaps to make one or two general observations upon the Report itself. As regards the form of the Report, I think on the whole it has received a meed of approbation from all sides of the House. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said he thought it was all right. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said he thought it was a very good Report. Generally speaking, it has been well received.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said he was in favour of the comprehensive type of Report, although I gather that there are others who think that a something more concise might better. From the Colonial Office point of view, our only desire is to produce the kind of Report which will provide, as briefly and as clearly as possible, the information which the majority of its habitual readers in Parliament desire. Certainly, we are very open to suggestions. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, made one or two minor suggestions about how the Report might be improved. I will keep those in mind. On the question of the comprehensive Report as opposed to the more concise one, I would say that of course brevity is a virtue in many ways—in wit, in speeches and not least in Reports. But when you are dealing with the varied interests and activities, both political and economic, of no fewer than thirty-seven separate territories, there is a limit to the amount of streamlining that can be done, if anything like a fair picture is to be given; just as, if one is trying to answer this debate dealing with practically every one of those thirty-seven territories, it is hard to be brief if one is to answer every question. Moreover, those who read the Report are probably interested in different aspects of colonial affairs, and if all are to be satisfied it is essential that all those various facets of the colonial picture should be adequately covered. Therefore, on the whole, I, for one, side with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the form of the Report.

But, whatever its form, the Report does attempt to give a balanced picture of what is taking place in the Colonies at the present time. I am quite certain that it is of the first importance that a balanced picture should be given. Public interest in the colonial territories to-day is, I believe, greater than it has ever been before. That is a very satisfactory development. Several noble Lords pointed this out: the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, did, and the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, talked about the importance of the information services for this reason—namely, that the increased publicity which the Colonies get, perhaps inevitably, always is focused upon the difficulties, the setbacks and the dissensions which inevitably arise in any developing organisation, and ignores the less spectacular but steady progress that is being made in so many fields. Thus, the ordinary man in the street sees a good deal about the troubles in Kenya, in Malaya and in Cyprus, but he hears little of the constitutional Advances which are steadily being made, even in some of the troubled territories themselves, of the continuing annual expenditure of Colonial Development and Welfare funds on projects throughout the colonial territories—over £15½ million was spent in 1954–55 in this way—and of the progress that goes on all the time in the medical and educational fields.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but, as your Lordships know, there is a Royal Commission at 5.30 o'clock. I suggest to the House that we adjourn during pleasure until 5.30, for the Royal Commission.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.

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