HL Deb 26 July 1955 vol 193 cc1044-68

6.17 p.m.

THE EARL OF LUCAN rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make on their policy for the High Commission Territories. The noble Earl said: My Lords, only a week or so ago we debated the annual report on the Colonial Territories. We have had a number of colonial debates but the subject this afternoon—the High Commission Territories—is one that has rarely appeared on the Order Paper in this House. I think it would be true to say that there has been no debate on the general conditions in these territories and no Government statement for a considerable number of years. That is the reason why I put down the Question that stands in my name on the Order Paper. The territories have come into the limelight once or twice, on occasions when there have been internal crises which have focused attention upon them for a short time, but in general there is a feeling in the country that these territories are in a state of what might almost be called stagnation. They are in a backwater off the main stream of colonial progress and development.

It is common knowledge that the future status of these territories is a matter in dispute between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and Her Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa. What I want to put to the noble Earl is that that state of affairs does not relieve Her Majesty's Government of the responsibility for governing these territories and for pursuing policies that will ensure the progress and wellbeing of their inhabitants, which number well over 1 million in the three territories. Nearly all of them are Africans, and they suffer from problems which are not dissimilar from those of any other African territory. There is the same set-up of the traditional society; tribal forms of government, sometimes highly developed and organised; the ancient beliefs; and the impact on those of Western civilisation and industrialisation. If the stresses are the same as in the colonial territories, then I submit that the reactions must be the same. Therefore, the first question I want to ask Her Majesty's Government is what is their aim in the political field. Is the political advance in these territories adequate; and are they aiming at the same goal that the Colonial Office aim at in respect of the territories under their control?

Recently there has been published the Report of the Administrative Reforms Committee in Basutoland—the Moore Committee. It appears that the reception of that Report in Basutoland was not at all favourable. Of the three territories, Basutoland is probably the most advanced politically, and the most articulate, and I think it is true to say t net practically every organisation that gave evidence before the Moore Committee put forward the demand for further political advance—that is, to the stage of a Legislative Council: in other words, they asked to be put on the first rung of the ladder leading towards self-government. I wonder what the views of Her Majesty's Government are on the Report of that Committee. A similar demand is now being heard in both the other territories. I do not think anybody could say that the inhabitants of these territories are any less advanced than the inhabitants of many other colonial territories were at the time when they were given their first step towards responsible Government. Moreover, we owe it to the inhabitants of these Territories to give them every assistance in achieving their aims. We must not forget their remarkable war record: some 35,000 men from the three territories served id Her Majesty's Forces, most of them in a combatant role in the Mediterranean and in Italy. I think their attitude in the war was expressed by the words of the Paramount Chief of the Basuto, who in September, 1939, in a proclamation to the Basutos, said that "as our King is at war, we are at war, too." I feel that we owe them something for their line record in the war.

There are social as well as political problems, and many of them derive from the fact that a large percentage of the population is absent working in the Union of South Africa at any one time. In one year, 1953, some 90,000 young men from the three territories went officially, by licence, to work in the Union, the great majority of them in the mines. And allowing for numerous others who stay on for more than a year, arid those who may have gone by other routes, something like 20 per cent. of the population must have been working away tram their homes. Naturally, that has produced many social problems, and I should like to hear what Her Majesty's Government have to say about that. On the education side, there seems to be a good deal of unevenness between the three territories. Basutoland—owing to the missions, I think—has always had an outstanding educational record; I believe they still have, and from the reports I have read their facilities seem to be considerably in advance of those of the other territories. We hope that Her Majesty's Government will be doing what they can to raise the level in the other territories. As to higher education we have heard that the new University of the Federation of Rhodesia, which is opening shortly, will take students from these High Commission Territories.

I should like to say a word about cooperatives because, from the reports I have read, it seems that, while in Basutoland there are the beginnings of a cooperative movement which shows some promise, there is nothing of the kind in the other two territories. It has been found in almost all the other colonial territories that co-operation is a potent influence in improving the agricultural basis of the country and in assisting agriculture and marketing. I hope that Her Majesty's Government are doing all they can to plant the seed of a co-operative movement in the other two territories. On the economic side, I do not think it is generally known how much money is being spent in these territories. Their Annual Reports are not easy to come by, and those of the Colonial Development Corporation do not give much detail. Having read the reports, I admit that I was impressed by the amount of money being spent and the number of schemes being carried out in these territories, and I think it should be more widely known that some £3 million has been spent in the three territories up to the end of last year. It seems that they are in no way being neglected on the economic side.

The Colonial Development Corporation have big interests in two of the territories: in Swaziland with forestry and irrigation, and in Bechuanaland with ranching; but there is no Colonial Development Corporation interest, so far as I can see, in Basutoland. I wonder whether there is not scope for some assistance of that kind to assist the wool and mohair industries, to try to get secondary industries, or in other ways. While on the subject of Basutoland, what has happened, I wonder, to the Orange River Hydro-Electric Scheme? It is a bold scheme which, when carried out, will bring enormous advantage not only to Basutoland but to the Union of South Africa. There is talk in certainly two out of the three territories of mineral development, and there are promising signs in Bechuanaland and in Swaziland. We should like to know what Her Majesty's Government envisage as the system of development of the mineral rights, and how the rights of the tribes owning that territory are to be safeguarded. I have tried to sketch out the subjects on which I think we should hear something from Her Majesty's Government but above all I hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us that Her Majesty's Government's policy is directed to steady progress and advancement of the people in those territories. I beg to ask the Question standing in my name.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend in what he has said. I do that for a personal reason, because for three years of my life in the middle part of this century I lived within an easy ride on horseback of the borders of Basutoland, and actually rode into Basutoland. I was practising as a doctor, and I employed in my house Basuto servants. I formed the highest opinion of their intelligence. I was not engaged in sociological research into what was going on in Basutoland, but I did inquire as to what was happening there and why all the Basutos I came across (who were intelligent people. and well developed physically as well as mentally) had not developed their country more than they had. There was rather a simple answer. As my noble friend has said. Basutoland was one of the recruiting grounds for the Rand Mines, and at the age of about twenty the young men were offered terms which then seemed luxurious in the way of money. They went up to the Rand and got money there, and then they came back but did not develop their own country. Perhaps the Minister who is to reply can say what is being done to develop the natural resources of Basutoland in the way of agriculture and the production of foodstuffs. That is a most important thing, and I hope something is being done about it.

I give my opinion for what it is worth and I hope it is worth something—that the Basutos are a very intelligent people who would be able to do not only good agricultural work (they certainly have done good work in the mines) but also good industrial work if small units of production could he set up. I gather from what I have recently been looking up that there has been little development indeed in Basutoland. I am afraid the answer is a simple one—that the young men have been taken away from Basutoland and when they come back their energy is exhausted and they go back to the primitive, tribal life and carry on their tribal customs as in the past. But I believe there is a great opportunity in Basutoland for development of the other Basutos, and for the making of a State as far advanced as, for instance, Nigeria. In 1940, when I visited Nigeria with other Members of the House of Commons, of which I was then a Member, we went all over the country and found that the people were not very highly developed and never mentioned any possibility of self-government. Now, after the lapse of a short time, they have got self-government. I believe that the Basutos are, if anything, superior to the Africans in West Africa, and I think we ought to make it the duty of this country to see that they are given the chance which their natural abilities and their peace-loving qualities—there has not been any trouble for a long time—give them a right to ask for.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, in dealing with this question, it seems to me that it is quite impossible to discuss the policy in relation to the High Commission Territories without considering, first of all, its relation to the Union of South Africa. Any question of minor policy must inevitably hinge upon the reply to the question: what future do Her Majesty's Government envisage for these territories? If I may say so, I think the noble Lord who spoke last, in referring to the future which he hoped would be guaranteed to these people, overlooked the fact that none of them are viable units, and it is not possible for any of them in any foreseeable future to be self-governing and independent in the sense that Nigeria or the Gold Coast—


May I intervene to say that I thought nothing of the sort? I think they are quite capable of self-government, probably at the present time, and I see no reason at all why they should not be given early self-government in their own interests, just as well as other countries.


Personal capacity is not the only thing necessary to make a country a viable unit; but perhaps I may develop that point as I go on. It is, it seems to me, easy to talk of this subject because of its superficial simplicity, but it is really an extremely complex one, as I see it. It is so easy to say that the reason why the High Commission Territories were not handed over to the Union in 1910 was doubt about the native policy of the Union. Time has not removed that doubt. Furthermore, the British Government are pledged not to consent to the transfer of these territories until Parliament here has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion, and until the people have been consulted. It is, I think, generally admitted that there was an understanding, rightly or wrongly, that the two Governments of the United Kingdom and the Union would collaborate in extending to the people of the territories the reasons why absorption in the Union would be of benefit to them. It is also understood that no promise was given that the lack of agreement by the majority of the people concerned would necessarily bar such a transfer if it was considered by the British Government to be in the best interests of the people.

I appreciate fully that the temper of world opinion, and so forth, has changed since 1910, and it would make such a transfer perhaps more difficult. But in 1933—I think it is worth looking hack at these points—the noble Lord, Lord Hailey, who is of unquestioned authority in this matter, stressed that, though formal consent of the inhabitants was not necessary, a greater measure of good will was needed; and machinery for creating good will had not been established. The same authority also said, significantly enough: It may perhaps he added that the task of those who oppose the transfer might have been easier if it could have been shown that the British Government had made more active attempts in the past to improve the material condition of the territories. The facts given elsewhere show, however, that it is only since the question of transfer has come to the fore that they have made any serious attempt to do so. That is why I could not entirely agree with the noble Earl who asked this Question, unless his references were meant to be to very recent years. A good deal of money has been devoted to these territories in recent years, both from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and from the Colonial Development Corporation itself, but before that I think it would be true to say that they were neglected. On several occasions during the past forty-five years, the transfer of these territories has almost been arranged, and then events have caused delay.

I suggest, with respect, that it is not enough to sit back and say that the onus is on the Union of South Africa to produce conditions which will make the inhabitants ask for incorporation and so honourably warrant the transfer by the British Government. Personally, I do not call that a policy: I call it drifting—unless drifting can be called a policy. It is very dangerous, in this case particularly, to allow the matter to drift. If the British Government do not intend actively to facilitate the transfer, I should like to ask what is their policy. None of the territories, as I see it, is economically viable as a separate State. They are not, and never will be, so far as I can see, eligible candidates for independent self-government. Meanwhile, their economic and political progress is held up by uncertainty about their destiny. In regard to consulting the people, Tschekedi Khama pointed out some years ago that in Bechuanaland there were no reliable means of ascertaining the views and wishes of the people. Their own chief said that if the British Government wished to consult them he did not know of any suitable way of really ascertaining their views. He said that consultation with chiefs and tribal assemblies would not be satisfactory as they were too easily misled. Advisory councils and joint advisory councils, he said, had no constitutional status and they were not accepted by Africans as qualified to represent them.

Let us look, for a moment, at the map. Basutoland, a country about the size of Belgium and with a population of 560,000 Africans, is completely surrounded by Union territory. Swaziland, a country about the size of Wales and with a population of 181,000 Africans, is bounded on three sides by Union territory and on the fourth by Portuguese East Africa. Bechuanaland, the third of them, a country about the size of France, England and Wales put together, and with a population of only 292,000 Africans, is bounded on three sides by Union territory and on the fourth by Southern Rhodesia. It seems to me that they are obviously inseparable parts of the same economic system. They cannot survive as separate, independent economic units. The Union to-day is the natural market for their cattle and agricultural produce, as well as for their labour. By incorporation in the Union, the inhabitants would enjoy all the benefits which accrue to comparatively undeveloped countries as a result of closer association with an advanced and progressive State. The financial and technical resources of the Union would be extended to them, as well as transport facilities to tap their resources and hasten their development.

Noble Lords who spoke earlier perhaps overlooked the fact that to develop these territories it would be necessary to spend immense sums on transport, roads, rail- ways and air services. Moreover, agricultural schools would be open to them in the Union, and also help in combating erosion, in the provision of water supplies, roads, bridges and all those things. If you ask a South African why they should want the High Commission Territories, which are at the moment a liability and not an asset, he may reply, as Lionel Curtis said when he was advocating their transfer some years ago: "Suppose that the Hudson Bay Territories in Canada, the North of Australia and the Maori Reserves in New Zealand were to-day protectorates, controlled and administered from Whitehall, would not those Governments regard it as an intolerable infringement of their natural sovereignty and a mark of distrust of their ability to administer them justly?"

It is not possible to discuss this subject without some reference to the stumbling block, which is the racial policy of the Union of South Africa. Its aims and objects are so imperfectly understood in this country and so frequently misrepresented that perhaps a brief reference may be justified. In any case, the only factor that will change native policy in the Union is public opinion in the Union itself. The South Africans feel that this is their problem. It is one of life and death importance to them. They cannot leave it to be settled on abstract principles by people sitting in impartial and Imperial security 6,000 miles away, who perhaps do not understand the atmosphere. They hold, rightly or wrongly, that the future relations of black and white must be worked out on the spot, just as Cecil Rhodes believed that South African problems could be solved only by eliminating the Imperial factor. The policy of apartheid, as practised by the Union Government, may not command acceptance here, and it certainly differs widely and fundamentally from our Colonial policy; but it is based on principles sincerely held there as to what is best for the African and for the European. It bears little resemblance to the popular misconception of it here. This is not the place or the time to discuss the native policy, or its aims, objects and goal generally in that part of Africa, but it is necessary just to refer to it.

Apart from the economic reasons to which I have referred, claims for the transfer of these territories are strongly based on history and geography, on military security and internal security, and on the general welfare of the inhabitants. Let us take the figures, which I know are apt to be misleading at times: in 1954–55 the Union Government were spending £3 7s. per head annually on Union native education, health and social services, while in the protectorates we were spending only 19s. per head on the same services. Migrant labour from the protectorates sends back annually from South Africa about £1 million sterling to their families. Wages are higher and taxes are lower in the Union.

The real bar then, to transfer, remains in the field of racial policy, the loss of human dignity by the denial of full equality in political rights. To some extent we are here sealing with a distorted sense of values. The bulk of the Bantu people are still largely unfitted for the exercise of such political rights. The absence of a sense of personal freedom is, of course, a very real obstacle. I am not attempting to minimise it; I am merely contending that time alone can alter it.


Why are they unfitted for the rights of citizenship?


Because they are not yet educated to a standard where they would appreciate it.


Excuse my saying "Rubbish!"


To compare the two policies, the policy of putting a growing measure of Bantu political and administrative power into the hands of the Bantu is in accordance with apartheid policy. The difference between that and our colonial policy, and one that we must try to understand, is that the development of local self-government with us is a preliminary to wider political rights; in the Union it is a substitute for them. Mr. Leo Marquand, a well-known writer on these subjects, has pointed out that a better understanding of the South African racial problem might occur if it were more generally realised that the Union is herself a great Colonial Power. She is at once a motherland and a colony at the same time. South Africans who administer Africa and who bring Western civilisation to Africa do not go home on periodic leave or retire to a distant country. South Africa is, by every known right, their own home. British Colonial policy, accepted by all Parties here, aims at training Africans for self-government as soon as practicable.

The demand for fully responsible government is increasingly clamant throughout Africa. But there is a vast difference between the position of the United Kingdom and that of the Union. Britain's colonial subjects demand self-government, not a share in the Government at Westminster. But South Africa's subjects demand a share in the Government at Cape Town. The consequence of failure for Britain would be, at worst, that she would lose her Colonies; and for the Africans concerned it would be either anarchy or, for a shorter or longer period, mis-government. But the consequences of such a policy for South Africa, if it failed to create a society with a common purpose, where political divisions were not also at the same time racial divisions, would be that the white South African would not merely forfeit a colony; he would lose a home and ruin a civilisation so hardly and so ably built. We here believe with Mr. Marquand that Western civilisation is not a matter of colour, and that it is not ultimately preserved by protecting it by hot-house methods. But our situation is, as I say, a different one. I am not saying that our views are not right, but I sometimes feel that a little less self-righteousness on our part, a little more care to understand the difficulties and to avoid misrepresenting the aims and the goal of South African policy, would considerably help those statesmen who are there responsible for solving one of the most intractable problems of our age. We think we know that tribalism cannot survive contact with Western civilisation and industrialisation, and that the policy of native reserves carries with it the seeds of inevitable decay. But for the time being it is, I suggest, a protection both to African and to European, and on a very short-term view it may be right.

My Lords, in conclusion, should we not remember that the High Commission Territories could not continue to exist without the benevolent help of the Union Government which has been freely given to them in the past? Their currency is South African; they Share a customs agreement with the Union; their trade and markets all go that way; and in time of drought and trouble they have turned to the Union Government and have not been denied assistance. I suggest that what is needed is more mutual trust and understanding between the Union and the United Kingdom. Expressions of friendship and co-operation are meaningless unless each side assumes the good will and bona fides of the other and genuinely seeks a compromise on opposing views. Such a foundation can hardly be established if South Africa is to be suspect and if her ability to administer and accord justice to a Bantu territory continues to be judged on the distorted picture so often presented to the United Nations and to the world. The maintenance of friendship with the Union is of vital importance to us, and it is surely not incompatible with the fulfilment of our trust for the welfare of the people of the High Commission Territories and the protection of their property rights. That is why I venture to plead for an active and not a passive policy in connection with the High Commission Territories, in the conviction that mutual trust and understanding might build a strong and lasting accord between Britain and South Africa and. incidentally, a happier future for the Bantu race.

6.58 p.m.


My Lords, I think the noble Earl. Lord Lucan, is to be congratulated on bringing this matter to the notice of your Lordships—indeed, as he has said, the High Commission Territories have tended to be overlooked in our debates, and they are perhaps worthy of an even fuller debate than is possible to-night. In the course of his remarks the noble Earl used such expressions as "stagnation" and "back-water." Those terms may well have been justified in the past, but of recent years the necessity for progress and development in the High Commission Territories has been recognised and certain plans and programmes have been put on foot

My real object in rising is because of the speech to which we have just listened from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who, as I understood him, with great thoroughness and a wealth of argument was making the case for the transfer of these territories to the Government of the Union of South Africa. I cannot agree with him: in fact, I was distressed to hear what the noble Lord said. I con- fess at once that my objection to the transfer of the territories is due to the racial policies being pursued by the Government of South Africa. Were it not for that, were the racial policies of the Union of South Africa as we should desire to see them and as, with our responsibilities in other parts of Africa, we must desire to see them, I should be the first to agree that the three High Commission Territories and South-West Africa, with the Union of South Africa, would form a very natural and desirable South African Dominion. It is because of those racial policies that I do not feel able to agree to anything of the kind.

We have responsibilities to the African people in these territories and to Africans in other African territories. I am sure that all those African people would regard it as a grave breach of trust and a negation of the many declarations concerning racial policy that we have made if, things being as they are, we were to agree to the transfer of the territories. In London only last week, before a conference of jurists, a South African Q.C. said that the jury system was inapplicable in South Africa because juries could not be trusted to act without bias against Africans. I, myself, while in South Africa recently, was shocked and horrified at several cases in which European juries pronounced sentences which were a travesty of justice and were due simply to European prejudice against the African. While those things are so I cannot believe that any Government in this country, of whatever political shade it might be, could hope to obtain from Parliament consent to the transfer of the High Commission Territories to the Government of South Africa. But that is a long argument to enter upon and we are very late to-night. I have only one other brief remark to make after uttering that protest against the remarks of the noble lord, Lord Milverton—


May I interrupt the noble Lord? I think he has rather misunderstood what I was trying to say. I was not arguing for an immediate transfer of the territories as things are at present; I was suggesting that it is difficult to see what future they can have except in partnership with the Union; therefore it would be advisable for this Government to enter into friendly talks with Union officials to try to discover a basis on which the territories could be handed over with satisfaction to both sides.


The noble Earl who is to reply may have something to say on the question of entering into discussions with the South African Government. I imagine that there would be no great reluctance but I do not believe that much result could conic from such discussions so long as the racial policies of the South African Government are what they are at present. I believe that those policies are a bar to such talks as the noble Lord proposes.

The short question I venture to put to the noble Earl is this: in any consideration of the future of the High Commission Territories, and of the proposals and wishes of the Union Government for the transfer of those Territories, are the strategic implications of such a transfer being studied? When I was in South Africa I became aware of influences at work about which we have heard something tonight, influences which might conceivably make the strategic position of those territories of great importance. Not only economic questions and questions of racial policy are involved here. My main object in rising was to ask the noble Earl whether the House may be assured that those considerations, of which I am sure he is fully aware, are not being overlooked in considering the problems of the High Commission Territories.

7.5 p.m.


My Lords, at this late hour, for your Lordships' House, I will not delay you long. I have been interested in this subject for a number of years. It is one which appears annually in the Report to the Church of Scotland of its Church and Nation Committee. Having been a member of that Committee for some years, I know the earnestness with which that body seeks to be impartial, objective and fair in looking at this subject. There is a reiterated call upon those who have the decision on these matters that the people of these territories shall not be brought under the rule of the Union Government without full consultation and without their consent. Quite clearly, the policy of the Union Government with regard to its coloured populations is at the bottom of this attitude.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, that there would be advantages to the people of the High Commission Territories if they were to be incorporated in the Union. At present they have to leave the individual territories to work in the Union so as to maintain their families. It is perfectly true that many economic advantages could be held out to them for allowing themselves to be incorporated in the Union. But some things are of even greater value than economic considerations. While it is true, as the noble Lord says, that benefits could be obtained by the absorption of the territories into the Union, there are also disabilities which they would suffer were they brought under the rule of the Union Government, especially in the light of its present attitude.

Many educated Africans are doing good work in their own countries. I am thinking of a doctor with whom I have come in contact, a great specialist in child disease, who covers a wide field in his own territory as a highly qualified doctor with many degrees. That man, of real education and great culture, would through the policy now being pursued by the Union Government be looked upon as of less consequence and with less entitlement to the dignity of his human personality than someone who was sent out from this country in disgrace because he would not behave himself at home and who is living there on an. allowance. Under the system which prevails there at the present time, the latter, because lie has a white skin, will be looked upon as of more consequence than that highly qualified doctor.

This is a very difficult and complicated subject, and it is unwise, I believe, to be too sweeping in one's assertions with regard to it. I had the opportunity a month or two ago now of listening to a speech by the present High Commissioner for South Africa. It was a speech made in public, so there is no reason why I should not refer to it. As a matter of fact, it was published in the Journal of the Royal Empire Society, for it was in the Society's hall that the speech was matte. The High Commissioner showed how much the Union Government were doing for their Bantu population. I cannot remember all the details, but I remember particularly these actual figures. He said that of £30 million that the Union had provided for raising the standards of the Bantu population, £8 million was for education. Well, the kind of question I feel like putting to the noble Earl who is going to reply on behalf of the Government to this debate is: How do we stand so far as the High Commission Territorities are concerned with respect to providing in that way for the populations who come directly within our jurisdiction and who are subject to our rule?

I am afraid that up till very recently we have not paid a great deal of attention to the economic needs of those territories. I believe that in Swaziland and Bechuanaland there is the possibility of considerable industrial development. I do not think the same considerations apply to Basutoland, which, perhaps, is less blessed with exploitable economic resources. And there is the question of what are we doing to help maintain these peoples within our own Empire, within British jurisdiction, apart from the Union, so that they will not readily become, because of economic pressure upon them, willing to secede and leave our own Commonwealth in order to come within the jurisdiction of the Union Government. There is something valuable, surely, in our being able to maintain the loyalty and affection—if I may put it that way—of the peoples in those territories, and it seems to me that it would be a sorry day if we caused these peoples, by reason of economic circumstances which we could relieve, to take the choice of leaving the Commonwealth to which we belong and which we should seek to make attractive to those who are within its bounds.

7.14 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will welcome this opportunity of a discussion of the problems of the High Commission Territories, and I am grateful to the noble Earl who asked his Question. One question he asked me was whether Her Majesty's Government accept responsibility for the well-being and progress of the peoples in these territories. I can answer at once that we do. The population of these territories is, of course, predominantly African, and this afternoon I shall be concentrating on the African aspects. But I think we should do well to remind ourselves at the start that there are 4,000 Europeans in Swaziland and 2,000 in Bechuanaland who are making an essential and constructive contribution to the social and economic life of these Territories.

If it is suitable to your Lordsips, I will cover this subject as shortly as I can, under three headings—administration, social services and economic expansion. Native administration in all three territories has been built on the chieftainship. That is the system to which the people are accustomed and to which they are loyal. Therefore, I would suggest it is right that any new institutions which are built up should be built upon that foundation. If this is accepted, I think the next step is to broaden the basis of government by seeking to achieve a devolution of responsibility and the development of more representative institutions. Although the basis of the native administration, as I have said, has been the chieftainship, one cannot even in these three territories generalise, because they have different characteristics. Therefore I will take each of the territories in turn.

As the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, has said, Basutoland has had the advantage of the recommendations of what is known as the Moore Committee. The Moore Committee made three recommendations: that there should be popularly elected district councils, with a fair degree of responsibility for local affairs; that the Basutoland National Council should have an elected majority, and that it should be able to make by-laws. The word "bylaw" is, I think, a little misleading as understood in this country; I have had a look at the list of the by-laws which the Committee proposed the Basutoland National Council could make, and they cover some very important aspects of Basuto affairs. The third proposal was one designed to strengthen the chieftainship. The Moore Report has, I think, been misunderstood; it was never really discussed on its merits, and, so far as I have been able to discover, the chief cause of misunderstanding was that the Basuto people interpreted it as an attack upon the chieftainship. That is really not so, because the Report expressly recognised that the chieftainship is an essential part of the political structure of Basutoland. Also it made proposals to improve cooperation between the Paramount Chief and the Resident Commissioner.

I am glad to say that there are now indications that the Basuto people are willing to give further consideration to the Report; they have been asked to consider it at the district council level and to indicate which parts of the Report they favour and which parts they would like to see amended. There are a number of recommendations in the Moore Report which are, as a matter of fact, very close to proposals which the Basuto themselves have made over the past few years. Therefore I hope that when the National Council assembles in September we shall get some constructive suggestions from them. I can say here and now that the High Commissioner's recommendations and the final decision which is taken will take full account of the Basuto views. So it seems to me that we have the probability of progress in and advantage to Basutoland.

I turn for a moment to Bechuanaland, where steps are being taken to develop a more representative system of government. With the agreement of the chiefs and the people, a start has been made in encouraging the establishment of councils to assist the chiefs and the subordinate native authorities. It is proposed that these councils should be one-third nominated by the chiefs and subordinate native authorities and two-thirds popularly elected. As these councils gain in experience, it is contemplated that all major aspects of local government and tribal administration will come within their scope and that they should have their own funds to control and spend. Already there is an African Advisory Council and it is hoped that very soon a large percentage of that council will be elected by the tribal councils. Then there will be a pyramid of elected representatives and a body at the summit able to speak for all Africans. So again in Bechuanaland we have a system which is developing to the advantage of the natives of the territory.

Swaziland is rather different. The traditional system of government, as your Lordships know, is that of a Paramount Chief acting with a Council which is fully representative of the people. That system has worked well and I think it would be a mistake to try and force the people of Swaziland into a mould for which they are not fitted. With the full co-operation of the Paramount Chief and his advisers, committees are being set up to deal with local problems. Here again are the germs of the devolution of authority.

On the subject of constitutions perhaps I may say something rather more general. I think we all have a tendency when constitution-making to think in terms which are familiar and in terms of a fixed pattern. The British Constitution is not a sort of ready-made suit which we can put on any social body with the hope that it will fit. The same thing applies to the legislative council; because a legislative council is appropriate for one set of social conditions, we are apt to argue that it is necessarily right for all. Legislative councils would require an official majority and an elected European element, and in some ways they would be less representative than the kind of representative institutions we are seeking to build up in the territories. I think that these proposals are probably the most appropriate and most hopeful line of administrative progress, which we can pursue, at any rate for the present.

I turn from the constitutional side to the social services. Here, if it is agreeable to your Lordships. I should like to make a proposal —that is, that I should publish a White Paper containing the details of the social services and economic development in the three territories, for it is quite impossible to cover them adequately this evening. However, I want to extract the main features of two social services which perhaps will interest your Lordships—namely, health and education. In all three territories expenditure from revenue on health has increased, as has expenditure by grant from Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. In Basutoland new hospitals, new health centres and mountain dispensaries in outlying districts, are being built. In Bechuanaland, hospital facilities have been improved. There is now one doctor to every 17,000 persons and one bed to every 555 persons. The World Health Organisation is active in Bechuanaland in trying to counter prevalent diseases. In Swaziland, hospitals have been enlarged and a public health laboratory has been built.

By reason of the skilful campaigns which have been pursued and with the aid of modern drugs, malaria has been nearly eradicated and the elimination of leprosy is within sight. Under all these headings there are plans for development with which we are ready to press on. In regard to bilharzia, which is becoming more prevalent and dangerous, it is planned to create a team to try to bring this under control and eradicate it. I have no wish to convey in the least that the path has been completely cleared by the progress that has been made. There is much to be done. Tuberculosis, for instance, is a scourge. There are no specialist facilities in the territories, and there is much to be done in the field of nutrition and hygiene. Nevertheless, I think we can claim that in the last ten years there has been very real progress in the field of public health services.

If I may, I will also briefly sketch the development of education. In all three territories, school buildings have been improved; the percentage of qualified teachers has increased and the size of classes has been reduced—it sounds almost like a debate on education in this country. But in the territories it is a very large problem, and we are certainly not satisfied. In Swaziland the number of schools offering higher primary education has been increased from ten to twenty-nine in the last few years. A trade school has been built. In Basutoland the Administration plan to build in the next five years an agricultural training school, six new secondary schools and two new teacher-training institutions. In Bechuanaland new junior secondary schools, a new teacher-training college and a trade school are being built, as well as extensions to the Bamangwato College, which is designed to serve the whole Protectorate.

At present as the noble Lord, Lord Mathers, has said, the territories cannot afford to pay the cost of these services out of their own revenues, and a great deal therefore falls on the United Kingdom. I think it would be short-sighted to follow a policy of indefinitey subsidising the social services whereby they are fixed at a level at which the territories could never hope to keep them out of their own resources. While some direct assistance is certainly necessary, the bulk of the money which comes from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund is being spent on economic development for increasing the wealth of the territories, because, as in every other country in the world, unless their wealth is increased, their welfare cannot be increased.

I turn from the social services to the economic development of the territories. There is the possibility that diamonds may be found in Basutoland. A private prospector is prospecting at the moment, but I have not heard the result. The Orange River power station is a practical proposition, we are advised, but of course the market for its power is in the Union, and the Union have to consider whether or not they wish to take it. The noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, asked about agriculture in Basutoland. The development of Basutoland is largely a question of soil conservation, first of all; secondly of the productivity of the soil and then of making successful marketing arrangements. Therefore a large part of the Colonial Development Fund is being spent on remedying the damage to the soil which has arisen from a mixture of over-population and bad farming in the past. The result—the noble Lord will see more details in the White Paper—is that the whole territory of Basutoland can be protected against soil erosion within the next few years.

The next problem is the improvement of agricultural methods, so that the Basuto can grow enough for themselves and possibly a surplus for export. The White Paper will give details but I may mention that an experimental agricultural station has been established, and a complete catchment area has been taken over and is being developed to demonstrate the problems of land conservation and more effective production—that is to say, better farming. The programme includes the introduction of tractors operated on a co-operative basis and there is more marketing of wool, also on a co-operative basis. So in Basutoland, so far as the development of the soil is concerned—and that, as I say, must be the foundation of the economy of the territory—I think the White Paper will show a tale which your Lordships will feel is at any rate a move very much in the right direction.

In the past, the economy of Bechuanaland has been based largely on cattle. The problem is really one of water. Therefore, the money from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund here is being spent to bring more water, particularly to the sparsely populated areas where it is estimated that there are 10.000 square miles which could produce 150.000 head of cattle. Much thought is being put into the siting of dams and of boreholes in order to bring water to this Territory. In the preparation of a water plan (if I may so call it) the chiefs and the elders in Bechuanaland are, I am glad to say, co-operating to the full. That aims at an inevitably long-term expansion of agricultural production. The best hope for more immediate prosperity lies undoubtedly in the discovery of easily worked minerals. A geological survey has been made which has revealed the presence of a variety of minerals. Copper, coal, asbestos and kyanite have all been found, and they have attracted commercial interests. There is one proposal for a reconnaissance survey which will take three years and on which something like £50,000 will be spent—the details will appear in the White Paper. The proposal is under consideration by the chiefs of tribes, since the ownership of the minerals lies in the tribe. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, who asked what protection a tribe has against an unscrupulous exploiter. The answer is that they cannot make any move without the assent of our High Commissioner; and his advice, and that of the resident Commissioner, will always be at the disposal of the tribal chief. There is, therefore, some protection there.

Lastly, I turn from Bechuanaland to Swaziland. The economy of Swaziland is already largely based on minerals, mainly asbestos. A geological survey has again disclosed that there are other minerals there which it is possible to exploit, and there are possibilities, too, of hydro-electric power. But perhaps your Lordships will be interested more than anything else in this fact: since Swaziland has the benefit of a good climate, good soil and plenty of water, forestry on a large scale is an economic proposition. Fairly recently. 160,000 acres have been planted with pines, and if prices and costs maintain roughly their present proportions, then from timber the Government will get as much revenue in a few years' time as they get from all sources put together now. So timber is going to be a considerable asset to the territory. Irrigated farming is another new development. An area of 30,000 acres is already producing bananas, rice, citrus fruit and vegetables and the extent of the development is perhaps illustrated by the fact that in four years the revenue of the territory has been doubled.

All this rather intensive economic development in Swaziland obviously raises acutely the question of communications between these different areas of development, and they can be tackled successfully only by the building of roads or railways, or both, financed by loan or grant. I am glad to say that the revenue of the territory is so buoyant that it can service such loans as may be necessary for these developments. Your Lordships may he interested in the attempts being made to ensure sufficient land for the natives' needs—and again, I will give details of this in the White Paper. About 345,000 acres have been bought with Colonial Development and Welfare Funds and developed into model settlements and the Paramount Chief, who is co-operating fully, has set up a Central Rural Development Board which is making rules for the use of land.

I had no thought, and certainly no wish, that this debate would take a turn in which the domestic policies of South Africa and the question of the possible transfer of the territories to the Union should be debated, and I do not wish to spend much time on that particular aspect of the question. But since my noble friend Lord Milverton has mentioned it, 1 will just refer him to the statement made by my predecessor on April 13, 1954, and, in particular, to these words: I think it is right to state that, in the conditions which exist at the present time, the Government would not be prepared to recommend such a transfer to Parliament. But short of this question of the transfer of the territories to the Union Government, of course we want the fullest cooperation with the Union Government; and, indeed, I think I can safely say that it already exists over a wide range of practical matters, such as trade, transport, agriculture, health and development generally. It is the firm wish of Her Majesty's Government that these contacts should be maintained and developed, and I shall do all I can to promote good feeling and understanding in these matters of administration.

So, over all, in answer to the Question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan—for which, I repeat, I am most grateful—I think I can say this: the administrative system in the territories is being developed on more representative lines; social services are being expanded, so far as the money will allow; and the economic resources of the various territories are being rapidly developed to the great advantage of the native inhabitants. Economic development is the crux, and we intend to push on with it as fast as we possibly can. Though conditions may vary in the territories, it is our firm intention to see to it that the general wellbeing of the people of these territories is promoted in every way in which Her Majesty's Government can assist.

7.39 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, perhaps I may be allowed to thank the Secretary of State for his important statement, which I think will give a good deal of satisfaction, both here and in the three territories, and will certainly remove a great many misconceptions. I am sure he will appreciate that we should not wish to express a final judgment about this statement until we have had an opportunity of reading it in Hansard and also of studying the White Paper which the noble Earl has promised to publish. I should like to make only two brief comments. It is evident from what the noble Earl has said that the basic principle of British policy towards our dependencies—the principle of mutual expansion of self-government by representative persons, both locally and at the centre—is, in fact, being carried out in these territories and will continue to be carried out in time to come. I cannot help feeling that a great deal of the controversy on this subject is verbal and is due to the fact that people do not see the realities behind words. In this regard, I was particularly glad to hear the Secretary of State say that the Basuto are having second thoughts about the Moore Committee's Report. I am quite sure that many of its recommendations will take them a long step forward, and I am glad that the Government are not trying to impose any of its proposals but are rather waiting for the good will and approval of the Basuto.

The other matter which I think will give satisfaction is the obvious evidence of improved social services and new economic development in recent years. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his promise of a White Paper which will set out these improvements in full detail. As my noble friend Lord Lucan said, the affairs of these territories are seldom discussed in Parliament, and it would be an appropriate conclusion—and I believe I speak for everyone—to pay a warm tribute this evening to the executive and administrative technical officers of these territories, whose devotion to duty has made this remarkable measure of progress possible, and also to express our cordial good will towards the peoples of the territories, who, although they are very far away, are not forgotten, and to their traditional and represenative leaders.