HL Deb 30 November 1955 vol 194 cc946-1001

2.48 p.m.

LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the present position of, and possible future developments in, the British Commonwealth of Nations; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, my objects in putting this Motion on the Order Paper for discussion to-day have been threefold: first, to discuss the present position of the Commonwealth, since it is a living, changing, organism and it is most desirable that at times we should look at it objectively and as a whole; secondly, to discuss certain probable developments in the future; and, thirdly, to hear from the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the impressions made upon him by his recent tour. We followed with interest the brief newspaper accounts of the tour, especially the presentation to the noble Earl near the Khyber Pass of four sheep which were afterwards eaten. I hope that they proved as tender as his own Scottish mutton.

The present position of the Commonwealth is well known to your Lordships. Before the war, however, the Governments of the Dominions were elected by people of European descent, although in Canada and South Africa there were important sections of European stock other than British. But since the war, with the admission of India, Pakistan and Ceylon as independent members of the Commonwealth, the membership has become overwhelmingly Asian, both in its structure and in its outlook. This has, of course, meant an enormous change in the whole attitude of the Commonwealth to the outside world, of the outside world to the Commonwealth and among the Commonwealth members themselves. Soon, it may be that the independent membership will number almost as many Africans as Europeans.

In international affairs the Commonwealth is recognised as a group, although it has always impressed on everybody, it may be with success, that it is not a bloc. In the United Nations, a nonpermanent seat is allocated to the Commonwealth members other than the United Kingdom, and these members occupy the seat in turn. We know that the Commonwealth has its domestic disputes. There are those between India and Pakistan over Kashmir; between India and Ceylon over Tamils in Ceylon; between India, Pakistan and South Africa over Indians and Pakistanis in Natal; and there is always the possibility of friction between the United Kingdom and South Africa over the High Commission Territories. A year or two ago an American newspaper man, well known in his own country, Mr. Sulzberger, wrote in the New York Times as follows: It is pretty obvious that the Commonwealth in its present form is not much stronger than a moderately friendly debating society. It remains friendly only so long as it limits arguments to an Agenda on which there is basic agreement—united by common economic philosophy and interest. We should say that that was a limited view, but even within those narrow boundaries Mr. Sulzberger added: But that, in this exceptionally disrupted era, is something worth preserving.

Are the disputes within the Commonwealth disheartening? Are they any reason for us to fear that it will disintegrate? In my own view, the answer is, "No," because the causes of these disputes would have been there anyway, and without the membership of the Commonwealth they would be much more acute. In fact, I think it is not in any way exaggerating the point to say that there might even have been war between two members of the Commonwealth since the Second World War if they had not been members of the Commonwealth and, on other matters, in common agreement on many different problems. In fact, the prime need to-day is for nations to learn to live peaceably together, and in this the Commonwealth is undoubtedly showing the rest of the world how to do it. My impression is that the United Kingdom's great sacrifices in the Second World War, and the consequent decrease in material resources, led many nations, even in the Commonwealth, to believe that her day was done and that she would decline into a second-class Power, warming her aged limbs with the shreds and tatters of her former greatness. That belief continued up to the autumn of 1950. The nations followed the new masters—most of them the United States, a few Soviet Russia. Then came the Yalu River and President Truman's speech. And I believe that from then on there came a turn in the international view of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth: people began to feel that there was virtue in the "old firm." Since then, the moral position of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth has steadily increased.

Now may we turn to one or two of the important members. One of them is, of course, India. India has been at once a member of the Commonwealth and leader of those nations formerly colonial in the free world. With the second largest population of any country in the world—375 million, expected to reach 510 million in twenty-five years time—she is trying to solve the terrible and ever-increasing problems of poverty, of ignorance and of disease, all on a gigantic scale, by democratic means. Between now and 1961 India aims to spend £4,725 million on development and £2,400 million on current needs. To do this she hopes to raise a considerable amount by taxation, by internal loans and by profits from nationalised undertakings. But she will still need about £700 million to be obtained from foreign loan and from outside aid. My first question to the noble Earl who is to reply is, therefore, whether the other Commonwealth countries, including our own, propose to provide some of this £700 million.

It is often a question in my mind whether India can continue to be the link between East and West, the catalyst between two ways of thought. Already Indian friends of nine in universities in India tell me that they are becoming increasingly out of touch with Western thought, and no doubt the gradual super-session of the English language by Hindi will accelerate this process. Pakistan, on the other hand, with its immense problems, with provinces divided by thousands of miles of Indian territory, is becoming more and more of a theocracy. South Africa, apart from its doctrine of apartheid, is undoubtedly unhappy in its white race relations, and I, for one, was very sorry when recently she walked out of the United Nations, first on the question of apartheid and secondly on that of South West Africa. We should like to know what is the Government view on this problem, which caused one of our sister nations to walk out of the international forum. When the Party to which noble Lords on this side belong were in office the question of apartheid did not come before the United Nations, so far as I remember; but on the South West Africa dispute we said that we held to the decision of the International Court of Justice at The Hague and that we were not prepared to go beyond that decision. Is that still the view of the present Government or have they a different view?

Of the other countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon are all, in their various ways, affected by other pulls, most of them from the United States, although in the case of Ceylon from other Asian countries. I myself feel that, while this night at first seem an alarmist picture, it is not really alarmist, though it is one that calls for serious thought and some action. We must have a policy to meet the situation, and it should be a dynamic policy. If we are not prepared to take the trouble to foster the Commonwealth, then others will. They will not want to foster the Commonwealth but they will take trouble, as we all know only tee well, to try to become the close friends of some Commonwealth countries with whom vie should be on the very closest terms. Although it may seem that India, Pakistan and perhaps Canada need our attention more than the others, I am not at all sure that that is so, because I believe that even in Australia and New Zealand there is great call for an active policy. The love of their people for this country is most affecting; but even love withers away if there is no reciprocation, and the finest plants die unless attention is constantly given to them. We must remember that in these countries there are now the third and fourth generations, many of whom, and whose parents, have never been to this country. One cannot go on indefinitely believing that, without any assistance on our part, their warm feeling towards us will subsist.

What should be done? For example, what is our emigration policy? We are now spending less money on emigration from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand than we did before the war. This policy, or lack of policy, may have far-reaching and, from our point of view, devastating effects in years to come. If these countries, and particularly Australia and New Zealand, cannot get people from us they will get them from elsewhere. In a time of full employment I know that it is difficult to persuade people to go from this country many thousands of miles away, and in my view it is not enough to provide cheap transport or passages out. I think we should examine the possibility of cheap, subsidised air passages for emigrants and their families, allowing them to take a trip home to this country from time to time. I am sure that when a person is thinking of going abroad, it may be for life, the fact that he or she is to be cut off from friends and families at home, and the thought that they may never see them again, is a great barrier to what might otherwise be the desire to emigrate to one of these countries.

It is sometimes said by foreigners that other countries, including, I suppose, ourselves, use the poverty and backwardness of under-developed nations for their own benefit. We know that this is not so, at least so far as we are concerned; bat when these statements are being made by important people it is necessary for Her Majesty's Government to have a detailed and factual answer to them. What have the Government done, and what do they plan to do, in the economic field for the under-developed countries of the Commonwealth? Then there is the economic relationship with the Commonwealth. The Board of Trade and the Treasury are exerting great pressure to increase trade with North America and Western Europe at the expense of the Commonwealth. Is this, in the long run, a wise policy on any count?

Even on a purely commercial basis, can we obtain success in any United States market without the Administration, as soon as we reach that pinnacle, jettisoning their exhortations to the rest of the world to adopt free trade and clamping on a killing import duty? We have seen that happen time after time. We have also seen cases in which our own manufacturers, industrialists and contractors have secured important contracts in the United States only to find, very shortly afterwards, that these contracts are annulled by the Administration because they have undercut certain firms in the United States. If this is always to be the policy of the United States despite what they may tell everybody else, is it worth while, even on this commercial basis, prejudicing, our trade with the Commonwealth for this uncertain and chancey trade with the United States? I suppose that something of the same kind, though not to the same extent, applies to trade with the rest of Europe.

I should like also to ask what visits by Royal personages and other distinguished people are in prospect in the future, because I feel that this is a very important link with the Commonwealth. The Nigerians, for example, were delighted to learn of the forthcoming visit to their country of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. I am sure that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will have a tremendous welcome there and that their visit will do enormous good. In any case, it will be of great interest to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness for, having travelled fairly widely in Nigeria, I can say that it is one of the most fascinating countries in the world, offering a wide range of scenery, products and human beings. I believe we should make it possible, not only for Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh but for other Members of the Royal Family also to make visits within the Commonwealth; and not only Royalty but other distinguished people who have responsible positions in this country. I believe that nothing but good can come of such visits. Some people may come back refreshed and invigorated by what they have seen and prepared to work for some of the causes which I have been mentioning.

Turning to the second pillar of my speech—that is, the new members—let us look at those countries which soon will be knocking at the door for admission as members of the Commonwealth—Malaya, the Gold Coast, Nigeria, the Federation of Central Africa and the Federation of the West Indies. What plans are being made for their admission? I have been doing a great deal of thinking upon this subject in the last two or three years and so far I have been unable to find that any such plans have been made. Of course, they may be locked away in the recesses and pigeonholes of Whitehall and not yet have come to light. From those statements which have been made we have not been enlightened, either by Her Majesty's Government or by anyone else, about what is to happen when these various countries come along and say, "We want to join the Commonwealth as members, please." They are already in the Commonwealth, of course, but they may want to become members able to attend Prime Ministers' conferences, and so on. All have some similarities and some differences and it is difficult to say that one is exactly like another, for it is not. Yet all have this in common: sooner or later they will be coming along and wanting "adult status," if I may use such an expression.

Let us take the case of Nigeria, because that is probably one of the most urgent examples. Nigeria is seven and a half times the size of England with the fourth largest population in the Commonwealth, including ourselves, so it is a country of some importance. Nigeria, the Gold Coast and Malaya have very largely supported our standard of living since the end of the war, and without that support I do not know what we should have done. As your Lordships will know, Malaya alone has usually provided, from rubber, more dollars than the whole of the British export trade. When the tremendous exports of Nigeria and the Gold Coast are added to those of Malaya and other Colonial countries, it will be seen how much we owe to these countries and how grateful we should be for the tremendous help they have given us since the war. That is quite apart from the fact that we owe them about £1,300 million, I understand, which we should find it very difficult to repay, at any rate if called upon to do so at short notice.

In 1953, the Government decided that in 1956—that is, next year—they would grant to those regions which desired it full self-government in all matters within the competence of the Regional Governments. It is obvious that even if two of the three Regions opt in 1956 for self-government, as is likely, it would not be long before the Centre, that is, the Federal Government, demands the same. I should have thought it would be very difficult, in practice, to carry on a subordinate Centre answerable to the Colonial Office with two or more of its Regions fully self-governing and presumably answerable to the Commonwealth Relations Office. That is the picture that we have before us at the moment. Yet with the vast domestic problems of Nigeria and her, as yet, comparatively scanty resources in trained men and women, many influential Nigerians are wondering whether it is either necessary or desirable to acquire full independence in 1956 and whether it would not be better, for the time being, to be content with a slightly different position in which, whilst having full self-government in internal affairs, subject to certain reserved powers in the Governor General, Nigeria would not yet have independence in external affairs, relying upon the United Kingdom to assist her for the time being in foreign affairs aid defence.

If we can solve problems of this kind in relation to Nigeria, we may help in one or two other cases. In other words, is there not some other kind of association that we can propose between countries like Nigeria and ourselves and the rest of the Commonwealth, slightly different from that which has always stood in the past? Is it immediately and absolutely necessary to have everything before one becomes a full member of the Commonwealth? Is it possible for countries like Nigeria and the Gold Coast to become members of the Commonwealth, attend the Prime Ministers' Conferences and the like, yet not necessarily have to carry the very great burdens of external affairs, defence and so on? The Covenant is so elastic that I cannot see why we cannot evolve some scheme to help them in the years immediately following.

There are, of course, other countries, apart from the five I have mentioned, which are also aspiring to independence or self-government but which are not yet—if they ever will be—in a position to carry self-government, or, certainly, full independence, in other than local domestic matters. Mr. Marshall, for example, is coming here in a week's time to discuss constitutional development in Singapore. There is also the case of Malta, which is at the moment sub judice, and upon which I do not propose to say anything. Equally, there are a number of other countries also interested in any solution that may be found for this problem in respect of the five countries which I have mentioned. I was interested to read recently of the proposal made by Doctor Nkrumah, the Chief Minister of the Gold Coast, to Mr. Marshall—who is Chief Minister of Singapore—that all territories in the Commonwealth not independent politically should meet—that is to say, that the Chief Ministers should meet. This might be the germ of the proposal for a supranational council, which I have so often matte to your Lordships and which the Ministers in these various territories may yet take out of the hands of the Colonial Office and make a reality.

Turning to another aspect of our duty in the Commonwealth, I should like to refer to a statement made recently by Dr. Birkeli, Director of World Missions of the Lutheran World Federation, speaking in Tanganyika. I must say that his speech shocked me. I suppose it was right that I should be shocked—I should have known more about it. It certainly shocked me, coming from a man in his position. He said that indolence and materialism among Christians and the static thinking of their Churches were the most dangerous factors impeding the spread of Christianity in Africa. He added that the mass revival of paganism and the rebirth of primitive religions in many parts of the continent ought to be taken seriously, especially when they were linked with burning political issues. We may just as well realise, Dr. Birkeli said, that for many Africans political freedom means that Christianity has also to be destroyed before they can become really free citizens of a free African country. If that is true—and we must accept Dr. Birkeli as a very powerful witness—it is certainly a very great indictment of us who are Christians. I wonder whether it is now too late, or is there anything that we can do to remedy the situation in Commonwealth countries in Africa, not forgetting the High Commission Territories for which the Secretary of State and we have a direct and great responsibility. The world is now preoccupied with the Asian problem. In a few years' time it may be equally preoccupied with the African problem.

In conclusion, I should like again to quote Mr. Sulzberger, this time on a happier note. He said: If British patience and skill can hold together the loose framework"— that is, of the British Commonwealth— a new and viable form of ideological community, more enduring than rigid empires, may in the long run result, one which, united, could have a great voice in world affairs. The Commonwealth is a world community which is trying to solve its problems in a peaceful, democratic way and is, thereby, an example to nations outside it; but we must adopt an active, dynamic policy and play a leading part in its counsels and affairs. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has put this Motion on the Order Paper, because I think there is no more important subject to which we could address ourselves. I also welcome the Motion warmly because it will give us the opportunity of hearing from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the story of his travels in the Dominions. I think it will be an interesting story. I have heard a good deal about his travels in my own country, Australia, and I say to him that he has created a very favourable impression there. He has gained the confidence of the people. I think that is the right background for a new Secretary of State to start on his rather exciting adventure of really seeing whether he cannot do something about the Commonwealth, which we have failed signally to do over recent years.

I do not propose to follow the noble Lord who has just spoken into the problem of how we are to handle the various countries of the Commonwealth as, in the process of evolution, they come to the point of self-government. It is a great problem, but I would remind the noble Lord that it is not one for the United Kingdom Government alone; it is one for all the Governments of the Commonwealth. I think it would be admirable if they would address their minds to that problem. But I am not so much concerned with that aspect of this matter. I am much more concerned with the future of the Commonwealth as a whole and that we should ensure that it is going to continue as a Commonwealth, to membership of which these various countries in their process of evolution will be desirous of being admitted. I think that that is a question which should preoccupy the minds of all of us.

I propose to start by taking certain hypotheses. The first is that this British Commonwealth of Nations is a good thing in the world. The second is that we want it to go on as a comparable Power with the United States and Russia, so that the Commonwealth can use its influence in the world for the maintenance of peace and the well-being of all nations. The third hypothesis is that it is not these Islands which constitute the greatness of the Commonwealth, but the fact that these Islands are pivotal to the great association of British nations. My final hypothesis is that Britain is vital to the overseas countries and, equally, that the overseas countries are vital to Britain. If one accepts these hypotheses, it is surely obvious that we should have the maximum consultation and co-operation between these groups of nations, and our task to-day is to examine whether, in fact, we are getting that co-operation and consultation which is so vitally necessary.

It seems to me that the three outstanding questions are: international relations, migration, and development and finance. On the first two, I propose to say very little. With regard to international relations and the consultation and cooperation that should take place, I have on so many occasions expressed my views on that subject, going back as far as thirty years, that I do not propose to weary your Lordships' House by repeating them to-day. On migration, I entirely agree that we should be giving consideration to the problem of a better distribution of the white population of the Empire. We should not be deterred from doing that by the particular situation of full employment that exists in the United Kingdom at the present time.

Because I hold those views, I entirely endorse the proposal that has been put up by the Migration Council, which urges that there should be bilateral arrangements for consultation and cooperative action between Britain and the different parts of the Empire. They have to be bilateral because the circumstances in every country vary so greatly. That is something that should be done, and I am quite sure it would be welcomed, certainly so far as my own country is concerned. I would urge the Secretary of State not to be too hesitant in making proposals to the Dominions. We have suffered severely in the past from inhibitions on the part of the United Kingdom Government that they must never make any proposals to the Dominions because the Dominions would resent it. They will not resent it. On the contrary, they would like a little more leadership and more courage from the United Kingdom Government. I hope very much that the Secretary of State will carry out a policy of that sort. In this connection, I want to pay a tribute to the work that has been done by Sir Clifford Heathcote Smith. In spite of every discouragement and every form of futile opposition, he has persisted with untiring energy. I sincerely hope that he will "pull something off" in this matter, and I believe that if we do begin to move in this whole sphere of relations within the Commonwealth, we shall ewe him a great debt of gratitude.

My third subject is that of development and finance, and on this I propose to weary your Lordships at some length. I said earlier that Britain depends on the overseas territories. I am going to use the word "Empire" because Commonwealth and Empire is such a mouthful to use every time, and what I mean by "Empire" is the whole of the peoples and nations in the Commonwealth and Empire throughout the world. Britain is dependent on the outside Empire and the outside Empire is dependent on Britain. That is clearly shown by the fact that Britain is to-day taking about 30 per cent. of the exports of the Empire and, on the other hand, is looking to the Empire to take about half of her exports. That is a trading relationship invaluable to both sides. But we have to remember that, with the ever-expanding production of the Dominions, that relationship can continue only if Britain herself maintains her own financial strength. We have to examine whether that is going to continue and whether it will be sufficient to maintain the present reciprocal relations. There appears to be an easy optimism in high quarters that Britain's future is quite certain. I have even seen it stated that over the next twenty-five years Britain will double her standard of living. On the facts as they are to-day, I just cannot see it. I want to examine those facts, because I believe that anyone who examines them must come to the conclusion that that is an over-optimistic point of view and that, unless we do something with more statesmanlike vision than we have done up to date, it is much more likely that over the next twenty-five years we shall see our standard of living decline.

These are the grounds on which I say that. We are all agreed that we have to build up a favourable balance of trade and that we have to strengthen our dollar and gold reserves if we are ever going to get back to the all-to-be-desired point of having convertible sterling currency. If we examine the last ten years, we find that the hopes of doing anything of the sort do not seem to be too encouraging. Since 1946, Britain has had on an average an unfavourable balance of payments of £50 million a year, notwithstanding the fact that from the beginning of 1946 to the present time Britain has received, mainly from America and Canada, no less than £3,200 million by way of aid. Yet with that help, we manage, on the average, to be £50 million a year "down the drain."


My Lords, is not the noble Viscount speaking of the balance of trade and not the balance of payments? Surely if we take the balance of payments, to which, of course, aid from America is more relative, I think the figures would be rather different. I say that as a minor qualification of a thesis with which I generally would agree.


Taking the broad position, that is so. What I am trying to point out is that we want to see a balance in our payments and that over the last period since 1946 we have had, on the average, a deficit of £50 million a year, while during the same period we have received aid to the tune of £3,200 million. In regard to my second point, our dollar and gold reserves at the beginning of 1946 were 2,476 million dollars. At the end of October, 1955, they had shrunk to 2,297 million dollars. In other words, over the last ten years, our gold and dollar reserves, far from building up, have gone backwards. The facts are as I have stated them, and it strikes me that they are not really encouraging. We have here only an island, of limited extent, of not vast natural resources and with a very large population, and we have to sustain our position in the world and maintain our people by our export trade. Before the war, we had considerable assistance in maintaining ourselves from overseas investments. Our efforts in two wars depleted those investments, and they are being built up again. On a long-term view possibly we shall regain the great help we used to have from that source; but it is the next few years about which we have to think.

We have also been handicapped over these years by the price of gold. Before the war our economic position was greatly helped by selling our gold. Today the selling of gold is one of the main contributors to our balance of trade and our reserves, but the dollar price we are getting for our gold is only the same as we were getting before the war, notwithstanding the enormously increased cost of producing it and the fact that everything else has gone up in price three or four times. If gold had pursued the same path, then possibly American aid would not have been necessary—I would ask the economists what the other factors might have been if gold had been at three or four times its present price. It is essential for the future well-being of the Commonwealth that Britain should be financially strong and should maintain her position. Yet it seems doubtful if she will. If she does not maintain that position, it is inevitable that progressively our expanding Dominions—places like Australia and New Zealand—will gradually be drawn into the orbit of other economic and financial systems, and that would mean that Britain would go backwards. Yet Britain is the keystone of the whole of the Commonwealth, and the essential factor, if we are to play that part in the world that we have played in the past.

All that appears to be very gloomy, but, in my view, if we do a little deeper thinking and pursue somewhat braver and more statesmanlike policies, we have one of the greatest opportunities that any nation has ever had in the history of the world, because of the astronomical increase of industrial production which went on during the war and which has gone on ever since. This is leading to a position which every industrial nation is recognising more and more clearly: that unless something is done there will inevitably be a grave shortage of raw materials. I propose to weary your Lordships, I fear, by reading some extracts from the Report of the United States President's Materials Policy Commission, commonly known as the Paley Report. That was presented to the President, and it brings out in the clearest possible form the picture of the world's raw materials supplies.

That Report says: There is a materials problem of considerable severity affecting the United States and the industrial nations of Western Europe. Unless the problem is effectively met, the long range security and economic growth of this and other free nations will be seriously impaired. The Report then goes on to show the astronomical growth of the United States consumption of raw materials over the past half century and particularly during recent years; that this growth must go on, whether peace or war is to be the world's portion, if the standard of living of her people and the financial and economic position of the United States is to be maintained: that the United States has outgrown her domestic resources, has ceased to be a raw materials nation and has become a raw materials deficit nation; that the demand of other free nations will be even larger in its percentage increase than the United States demand; that, in the interest of industrial countries, production of raw materials in the undeveloped countries must be stimulated; and finally, that from their resources the rich but relatively undeveloped nations of South America, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East will also profit, for by exporting they can obtain the dollar exchange with which to acquire more of the capital goods they need to assist their economic growth.

I think that is evidence which we should all be prepared to accept that there is a raw materials problem looming ahead. The British group of nations, the British Empire, is in an incomparable position to meet this need. I will not weary your Lordships with statistics, but the other day I saw some set out in a simple form as an Appendix to the Report of the Migration Council, which showed our supplies and what the possibilities are. If we are to take advantage of that opportunity, it means that we must immediately undertake a great and imaginative campaign for the production of those raw materials.

A not unnatural question to ask is: how is it proposed that it should be done? I would make a specific suggestion. The first thing to be done is to ascertain the exact facts. My suggestion is that a competent group should be formed—and there should be no difficulty in obtaining suitable personnel—and should be given the task of examining what is the raw materials position in relation to the industrial requirements (a) of the world, (b) of the sterling area, and (c) of the British Empire; and, having ascertained that, to survey what are the Empire's resources and the possibilities of developing them. All this should be done with an eye to deciding where the development would be really economic, and whether the development would save us dollars by supplying our needs or would earn us dollars by meeting the unquestioned needs of the United States. That task ought not to be an impossible one, nor should it take too long. I think it is lamentable that we have not had a real survey of that character, although there are bits and pieces that could easily be brought together by a group of the character have suggested.

As time is a factor, I would suggest that action should be taken immediately by the United Kingdom Government, but that they should at the same time communicate with all the Governments of the different parts of the Empire, with a view to there being added to that group a representative from each part of the Empire. The various Governments could respond or they could leave it in the hands of the central authority. This would get over Britain's anxiety that she might be accused of dictating to the Empire, and it would also give an opportunity to any of those countries who are prepared to co-operate to send somebody who might give valuable assistance. I suggest that that should be done at once, and one would hope that the group would have a real Empire flavour about it. When the Report is ready, it should embody recommendations as to the particular points where action should be taken; and it should then be submitted to a meeting of Government representatives from all parts of the Empire with the object of trying to get co-operative action in whatever fields are recommended as being the most suitable and the most likely to yield the best results.

For a continuance of anything of this sort machinery would be needed. I do not propose to go at length into how that machinery could be provided, but it might well be a subject on which the group could make recommendations. It will have to contemplate in some cases bilateral discussions for certain developments between Her Majesty's Government and another Government overseas, or possibly multilateral discussions where several Governments are concerned, either as producers or consumers. I do not anticipate any great difficulty in working out how the machinery could be provided if the willingness and desire to have something of this sort is there.

The other point which will immediately be raised is: if anything of this kind is to be carried out, how many tens of millions of pounds will be involved? I have no hesitation in saying that I think it will mean an astronomical sum of money. But that does not give me the slightest alarm, because we shall not have to do it ourselves it is not going to be done by the British Empire. If we have a sound and imaginative scheme for the expansion of raw material production which is vital to the world to-day, we shall get co-operation to the maximum extent from the United States. The United States recognises that there is a shortage of raw material. The United States has no greater desire than that there should be a strong and stable British Empire, and if it is to be strong and stable it has to be economically and financially sound.

The United States further recognises, in increasing measure, the fact that she is the great creditor nation of the world and that in her own interests she has to get her dollars out into the world and has to give financial support to the world. A great scheme for the development in the British Empire of the resources in vital raw materials that the world needs would, I am certain, receive a most enthusiastic welcome in the United States, and practically unlimited financial support. I would urge that this question is vital to the future, not only of this country but of all British countries. We have an opportunity now to act boldly and with great statesmanship. I hope we shall take it. Certainly, if the new Secretary of State goes forward on those lines I believe he will receive most enthusiastic support from every quarter of the Empire.

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened to a most interesting speech from my noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne. I suppose that I ought to preface my rather few remarks by declaring an interest. I am connected with a firm which has been trading in wool in Australia for nearly 120 years, and I am also concerned with a hydro-electric project in Canada. I should like to say a word of welcome to the Secretary of State on his return from his world tour. I had the opportunity of spending two and a half months in Canada this summer, all the way from the centre of Labrador to the mountains of British Columbia—and saw a very different form of pioneering to-day from the one I used to know before the war.

A little later on I shall make one or two small comments upon what my noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne has said, but I will preface my remarks by saying a word about the relationship within the Commonwealth as I see it. It is a relationship which completely defies the analysis of the world outside, and even for those within it is far from easy to define. We have, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, pointed out, quarrels and frictions within the Commonwealth, but that fact does not, to my mind, detract from the central principle that we are nations that might be described as being "un-foreign" to each other. We have developed over the years a technique of co-operation such as no group of nations has ever possessed before, by which, if it is possible to help another one of those nations, that help is accorded; and if it is necessary to take a step by which another one will suffer hurt, steps are taken to see that that hurt is mitigated as far as possible. To many of the world outside, I suppose that it appears to be not much more than a co-operative marketing board and a defensive alliance. But to us it means something far deeper, something that goes far further; and as long as the Commonwealth and the British Empire remain together peace will cover a quarter of the world's people.

I am not going deeply into the subject of emigration, but I would just say this in passing. To many people, emigration appears to be a flow from a reservoir of human beings in Britain to the countries of the Commonwealth. It is not; it is much more an interplay of tides. In the 'thirties, when the depression hit some of the Commonwealth countries earlier and harder than it hit Britain, there were more people emigrating from the Commonwealth countries to Britain than were going the other way, which explains why at the beginning of the war a substantial part of the Royal Air Force was Canadian. There are in this country 20,000 citizens who are Canadian ex-Service men. That ebb and flow is always taking place. I do not go quite so far as the great protagonists of emigration, but one thing I think is vital to our survival: that the free movement of peoples is allowed to be a free movement and can take place when the impulse is upon it.

I thought I would say a word on the subject of development. I am well aware that my experience and knowledge is far less than that of my noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne. I am not for a moment suggesting that he was guilty of this, but when development has been discussed in the Press it has been tremendously over-simplified. I always remember a cautionary tale that my father once told me when he had just returned from South Africa, at the beginning of the century. He went to hear a lecturer talking about South Africa, and the lecturer ended his very dull speech by saying that all South Africa needed was a better water supply and a better class of settler, at which an old Scottish farmer rose at the back of the hall and pointed out, in his own inimitable way, that of course that was all that was wrong with the Infernal Regions.

In talking about the Commonwealth (my noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne has gone fully into it) the question is where the money is to come from. That square mile, whose physical boundaries are little changed since the Norman Conquest, which we call the City—a square mile of integrity whose influence has wrapped the whole globe and is responsible for building not only the Commonwealth but much of the rest of the world as well—started all the Commonwealth development that we know; and then, in later years, there came in Governments and associations of Governments. But the importance of private capital in this development is every bit as great as it always was, and I am delighted, returning from my visit to Canada, to find that tremendous sums of money are being put into Canadian pioneer development from that quarter.

But there are certain conditions which private enterprise must operate. First, the project must be well within the area of possibility, for a board of directors has to account for its stewardship once a year to the people who own the money. These enterprises will therefore always tend to be attracted to the most equable political climates, because no one is going to put his shareholders' money into any country where it is likely to be expropriated, whether in the name of liberty, equality or fraternity or in the name of nationalism; and they have therefore to operate between very defined limits. But there are forms of development where huge sums, many millions, are put up not only by Governments but by associations of Governments, in order to get to grips with the problems of the most under-developed parts of the world.

I often find that people seem to regard things like the Colombo Plan and the like as a race—capital goods being one runner and Communism the other. It is not a race. If it were, we should have lost it already, because Communism is on the move and has been for many years past, and development is always a slow business. It takes a defined period of time for crops to grow and beasts to have increase, or to imprison the waters of the rivers, and Communism is marching at a fast jog-trot. No: Communism is a faith —though a hideous, twisted, distorted faith; and it can only ever be overthrown by being confronted with a stronger faith. We have learnt in the free world, where people have belief and faith, that to hope that you can bribe people not to take part in revolution and destruction is a creed as hollow and miserable almost as Communism itself. My noble friend, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, said that the Commonwealth now found itself in an incomparable position to supply the rest of the world. I quite agree. It is becoming clear that the United States is going to become an increasingly heavy importer of the raw materials that the Commonwealth countries have.

During my recent visit to Canada, I was most impressed by the two pillars upon which all development rests, and which are the most expensive and most difficult forms of development. One of those two pillars is transport; the other is power. We, in this country, rose to our position in the world on those two things. We are a gifted seafaring race and a country where communications were easy to construct. We had power from coal. We had much else as well; but without those two pillars you cannot build; you cannot develop. There is a great deal said nowadays about the terms of trade. It is really the pattern of trade that is changing so much. We were once the workshop of the whole Commonwealth. They had not the access to the markets; they had not our skill. We took their raw materials; we processed them; we exported them. It has always been out practice never to seek to stifle identity but rather to encourage it. Bit by bit we have helped those countries, and they have helped themselves, to build up their own workshops. Now we find that we are all manufacturers. This will call for a considerable exercise of that technique of co-operation of which I spoke earlier.

There was a time, right up till the end of the last century, when this country shouldered the entire responsibility for the whole defence of the Commonwealth. Now the Commonwealth countries take a large share in their own defences. My noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne said that we held a pivotal position. It is switching the metaphor, I am afraid, but it rather strikes me that we are no longer the head of a Commonwealth; we are the heart, which has a different function, to be sure, but one that is no less vital for the maintenance of life. There are economists who say that transport is the prime necessity. They would be considerably heartened in their views if they saw Vancouver. Two lines of steel were driven through the Rocky Mountains to a very unimportant sandbank upon which lived a small number of human souls. There is now a city of half a million people there. The first person born in the city is still alive. No one in the city has yet reached the stage of drawing an old age pension—all that in so short a time. I suppose it is our experience in Africa that that part of a country which is accessible to transport becomes more and more highly developed, and that that part which is inaccessible continues to remain undeveloped. So transport is one of the great pillars, the one which calls for the heaviest investment, along with power.

It is a favourite trick of the banquet orator to talk about "unlimited natural resources." No material thing can be unlimited. Even the expression "unlimited good will" only has any meaning in that good will is not an accurately measurable thing. The Almightly has bestowed his wealth on different nations with a very unequal hand. Those countries that are called "backward" countries are nearly always backward for one reason, lack of sources of power, whether oil, coal or hydro-electricity. I wonder how many of your Lordships realise how relatively few undeveloped hydro-electric power resources there are in the world to-day. Man is a very demanding animal and the human wants are capable of indefinite expansion. Pots and pans have been rather in the news recently. To make pots and pans out of aluminium means taking a metal which is practically concentrated hydro-electric power. To make one ton of aluminium requires as much hydro-electricity as would run a highly electrified house for twelve years. The natural resources in the world have not only limits, but limits that are not far off.

As I see it, we are passing now into three new ages of man. The first is the air age, in which I think the Commonwealth is right in the lead. The second is the atomic age where, for the first time in history, it will be possible to take power to countries which have not power bestowed on them by nature. The raw material for this age is to be found in Australia, Canada and South Africa. Lastly, there is the synthetic age. Eighty per cent., or rather more, of known synthetics are derived from oil and wood pulp, in which the Commonwealth is rich. Here is the chance, here is the opportunity, as I see it, about which the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, was talking.

I should like to make just two further points before I finish. In childhood, we all read a number of fables about somebody who suddenly had a magic power to get exactly what he wanted but who, when he had got it, found all kinds of unsuspected difficulties attaching to its possession. One thing we have always wanted in this country is the high-level prosperity that we now have; but it is attended, as was always the case in the fables, by certain difficulties. If you are in Canada and looking at Britain from there, you cannot help feeling that the impact of the difficulties, some of which have been mentioned to-day, is strong. It has a restraining effect on emigration, rather particularly on the type of immigrants that the Canadians want. It has a bad effect on the keenness of British exporters who have their hands full at home. I must say that there was deep concern in many parts of Canadian commercial life about the danger of our losing markets because our competitors were rather keener and their hands were not so full. I wonder how many of your Lordships realise the tragic effect that our dollar difficulty is having? I attach the most immense importance to the free movement of peoples within the Commonwealth. It is now easier for an emigrant to Canada to take a substantial sum of money with him. That difficulty, of course, had a drastic effect on emigration a few years ago, but what is not possible is for any of those thousands of people whose daughters have married Canadian Servicemen or the like to visit them. Canadian officials or businessmen never have a chance to see people going over there just on a visit. It may not be an economist's argument, but I came back from Canada feeling that the priority for dollars for people who wish to travel purely to visit Canada was somewhere of the same order of priority as is required for an investment in that country.

My Lords, last of all, the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, spoke several times about Britain's position. I think he called for leadership. Surely leadership from Britain is the leadership of ideas, and surely we are exercising that at this moment. If we ever cease to exercise it we shall on that same day lose our place in the world. We in this country have never been a great land Power; we have always been geniuses in alliance. We have never had a quantity of anything, even population. Ours is small compared with that of India, and of other countries. What we have turned out is of immensely high quality, particularly in the realm of ideas. As I see it, that is the basis of our position in the Commonwealth and, indeed, in the world itself.

4.1 p.m.


My Lords, I did not know the field over which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, might travel in to-day's debate, but he has raised the question of the rapidly developing territories which, in recent years, have made so much progress. Far be it from me to detract in any sense or in arty respect from the great achievements which have been made in the partnership within the Commonwealth. But I should like to stress the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, briefly referred—namely, that we should not assume that what to-day we loosely call "Commonwealth status" is the final and only goal for the territories which are now developing, or the only ultimate form of association with this country. In these days of economic difficulties the deficiencies in that form of association are often apparent. I need only refer to import restrictions between the members of the Commonwealth and to currency difficulties which have already been mentioned.

The Report of the Royal Commission on East Africa stresses a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has referred: that progress could rapidly follow the operation of a free market in a territory such as East Africa—a free market with all that that implies in the division of labour, in specialisation, in the exchange of goods, in efficient communications, in free movement, and in the private ownership of property, all exercised within a framework of the rule of law. It is on this freedom from communal and other restrictions that the territory is dependent for its social progress and for the development of political democracy as we know it. Does not this reminder from the Commission point the way to new possibilities? Can we build an economic association between this country and these developing territories, more particularly with the developing territories in Africa? For example, can we start with bilateral economic associations with some of these developing territories? I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, that you have to start with a bilateral arrangement. It must be flexible, because in these days changes come so rapidly. Even in the demand for raw materials we see changes almost from day to day; a material which was comparatively unimportant even a few months ago suddenly becomes most important by reason of new discoveries.

Starting from such a bilateral arrangement between, say, this country and the Federation of Central Africa or the Federation of Nigeria and the Gold Coast, Which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned, can we proceed to build a multilateral association of African territories in a joint economic council? Of course, it is important to deal with these territories as responsible entities. I think the method of approach and the way in which we go about it is going to make a great difference to the possibility of success, in achieving something useful in discussions with them. What I am aiming at is a co-operative achievement to avoid the clashes which from time to time occur in the economic field between members of the Commonwealth. I suggest that this possibility is worth exploring and, if found useful, might lead the way to sonic form of federal association with certain territories, which might be found mutually more beneficial than just "Commonwealth status."

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, we each perhaps tend to interpret Commonwealth development according to our own experience and our own background. We have listened to two brilliant expositions of the economic development of the Commonwealth. I propose to confine my remarks to that which is perhaps my only qualification—an interest in the machinery of development, in so far as administration is concerned. We so often agree in discussions on the Commonwealth that, even if we travel by different roads, we appear to be all aiming for the same goal. That seems to me to lend our Common-wealth discussions a sense of purpose which is perhaps absent or not so evident when we talk about domestic affairs, however important they may be.

I confess that I approach all Commonwealth development in terms of a single episode—I relate it to what happened on August 15, 1947. I sometimes feel that the British public have never quite grasped the significance of what happened then, when suddenly overnight a partnership which had been based on some 75 million Anglo-Saxons and an extension of the Anglo-Saxon race from off these shores was transformed into one of 475 million, of whom 400 million were Asians. It is against that event that I suggest we can, so far as administration and the machinery is concerned, weigh all our judgment and all our speculation as to the future.

It is true that over 130 years ago Macaulay predicted that one day India would take charge of her own destiny. Few Englishmen ever worried to work out what Macaulay's wisdom meant in terms of future Commonwealth evolution. I would base what I have to say on at least one possible interpretation of what I think must be involved. The example is there, of course: the choice which was the choice of India and Pakistan will be before many another territory. If we work the matter out to its conclusion, it is perfectly legitimate to suppose that at some period, I would say not sooner than twenty years but certainly not later than forty years ahead, this family of the Commonwealth will have found its journey's end as a partnership of some sixteen units of equal status, sharing a common interest, a common interpretation of democracy and a common method of approach in regard to Parliamentary institutions, and expressing everything that they share, perhaps, by regarding that last transcendant symbol, the Crown, only as a symbol.

In the words of the Motion which the noble Lord has tabled, "possible future developments," that process surely can mean only one thing: it must mean that the responsibilities of the Colonial Office must continue to shrink while, correspondingly, the duties and responsibilities of the Commonwealth Relations Office must expand. I can see no other interpretation. The conclusion would be that the Colonial Office would one day be left with its cares reduced to watching the interests of the smaller, scattered territories on which I shall have a word or two to say later. With the family of sovereign independent States being ever enlarged, I hope that we shall resist the temptation to set up anything in the nature of what has been referred to as a "two-tier" Commonwealth. I am not sure whether the noble Lord had that kind of development in mind, but I believe that anything in the nature of a classification between the bright boys and the boys who are not quite so bright should be resisted. Certainly those who were regarded as not so bright would tend to resist it.

This apparently derives from the belief that certain territories, such as the Central African Federation, may anticipate that self-government is just about to arrive, but that the final step may not be possible because of the difficulty of obtaining the approval of the full-member States of the Commonwealth. I would stress that the difficulties in that kind of twilight, in the time between governing and getting out, are already so formidable that to add to the burden by a classification in regard to Commonwealth status does not make sense. Provided that the "D-Day" of transition is anticipated sufficiently far ahead, should it not be possible to consult all other member States in time? I would remind your Lordships that there is some analogy here in the fact that the Indian Constitution recognised two separate classifications: Part A States, which were the old Government Provinces, and Part B States, which were, in effect, the regrouped territories of the Princes. The Boundary Reorganisation Commission, which has just finished making its conclusions, has had to recommend the abolition of the separate classification between Part A and Part B States.

Turning to that other aspect of Commonwealth evolution to which I know the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has so frequently given his attention, I would point out that when the last full member State has been launched into its nationhood there will remain on the map some twenty-five scattered pieces for whom it is not possible to predict economic independence, or whose size cannot justify their ever obtaining that independence. These colourful pieces in the puzzle must remain, and it is, therefore, logical to suppose that a separate Colonial Office must remain to look after them, though whether the term "Colonial" will then still apply is perhaps a matter for doubt. Then the old question arises whether there should be set up in this country some forum in addition to the Colonial Office, which could usefully fulfil some purpose in relation to those territories. Might those territories not tend to regard themselves as rather forgotten? That would be a natural development, in view of the greater prestige and importance given to larger members of the family.

This is nothing new. I find that as long ago as April, 1951. Mr. Gammans wrote a letter to The Times newspaper. The term he then used was a "Council of Empire." According to his view, it was to be consultative, and he listed certain subjects such as foreign affairs, defence, trade and broadcasting which might be usefully discussed, with recommendations put up to Her Majesty's Government. He compared this with the Council of Europe. My view is that if such a forum is desirable—and that is by no means certain—its value would he psychological rather than practical. I suggest that any measure which would tend to help these small scattered territories into a belief that they were not forgotten should be looked at again.

I believe that the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, first referred to this kind of development in July, 1952, when he spoke of a "Grand Council," and he referred to it on at least two separate occasions. On those occasions Her Majesty's Government drew attention to the difficulties. Would the Council be purely consultative? Would it seek executive powers? The noble Earl, Lord Munster, referred to it as possibly a device for retaining in this country authority that we were nominally relinquishing. I find the key to this matter in a contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, in February of this year, when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 190, col. 966]: The important thing, as I see it, in any new arrangement is that it should at least be acceptable to, and, if possible, should be positively desired by, the peoples of the Territories overseas: otherwise I feel that we should only he creating an artificial organisation which at the best would be ineffective and at the worst positively a disruptive, rather than a unifying, influence. At the moment the distinction between the more formidable colonial territories about to pass over to full independent status and the smaller dependencies is too vague to justify action. Within a few years' time, as more and more territories pass from dependence to independence and the position of the smaller, weaker territories becomes more prominent, we might remember the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, which was to probe into the desires of the people.

Why not, therefore, hold a conference at the appropriate time, to find out, without prejudicing the future, what those desires are? It would be a very varied and colourful gathering, representing different stages of education and political advancement, representing also many tribal areas, with even, perhaps, for example, a representative from the one hundred loyal citizens on the Island of Tristan da Cunha. With representative leaders front every territory such a conference should be able to give us a clear idea whether such a permanent conference could serve a useful purpose, or even whether it was at all desirable; and if, as I suspect, the whole project proved to be a kind of mental fantasy of our own creation, no harm would have been done. We should have staged a gathering of the kind that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association likes to stage from time to time in the interests of Commonwealth friendship and unity.

I find myself approaching these Commonwealth problems in rather the same way as the noble Lord, Lord Tedder, recently so eloquently approached defence problems, when he said that all systems are finally subject to the men who have to work them. Any system in the world can be made to work if you have the right men in the right job; and in no sphere is that truer than in the sphere of considering future Commonwealth machinery. It is, therefore, the men who have to work the future machine to whom I should like to refer. We have heard a proposal that perhaps a fully fledged Commonwealth Service might serve a purpose. I confess I find some confusion in our minds as to exactly what is meant by a Commonwealth Service. If it is accepted that the Colonial Office must continue in the interests of the smaller dependent components, then it follows that Her Majesty's present Overseas Civil Service must also continue. Is, then, a new Commonwealth Service to be imposed over what already exists; is it to run parallel with it, or is the existing Service to merge into the new one, so that the whole Service then loses its identity? My own view is that perhaps, naturally and very gradually, the existing Overseas Civil Service should be enlarged; and it is on that principle that make any comment.

As I understand it, a redirection was given to the Colonial Civil Service in October, 1954, and the Overseas Civil Service was then created out of the Colonial Service. It arose from the circumstances by which many territories regarded as on the threshold of political independence just have not the trained personnel to be able to see that their administration and their technical responsibilities are carried out efficiently. That position was fully recognised, as I understand, in most of the territories, and those territories wished to retain the best men we could let them have. On July 8, 1953, we find Dr. Nkrumah saying that political advance had outstripped the Africanisation of the public service, and that, while this had made great strides in recent times, the fact must be faced that for some years the Gold Coast would have to continue to rely on the services of overseas officers. Those concerned want to know about their security—security in regard to their appointments and pensions and terms of service. Some of them might be inclined to say, "We accept service in the Gold Coast of Nigeria," but a man of thirty might say to himself. "In another ten years' time there may be a different kind of Gold Coast, with a different political complexion. Is it not therefore in my interest that I should clear out now and get another job? In another ten years time I shall be forty and it will then be too late for me to do so." I do not know whether the noble Earl who is going to reply on behalf of the Government can give us any information as to whether the arrangements envisaged in this Colonial Paper No. 306 of last year, have proved satisfactory.

In judging that, it seems to me that we have to bear in mind two factors. The first is that the demand for personnel, whether administrative or, more particularly, technical, is vastly increasing. Are the new arrangements yet producing the greater numbers required? The second factor concerns the extra pay for these expatriate officers who are asked to stay on as compared with the local pay they would receive. I have heard it said that certain Governments, particularly in Africa, resent the fact that they are asked to foot the bill for the extra pay which is to act as an inducement to officers to stay and that, consequently, British-African relations suffer. If this is true, I ask Her Majesty's Government: would it not be possible to regard the total extra pay involved throughout the Commonwealth as perhaps a legitimate charge on the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund? In the last nine years—that is between 1946 and 1955—Her Majesty's Government have voted some £123 million under the various Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. I do not know what would be the sum required to meet the bill for expatriate pay in colonial territories, but supposing, for example, that it was £1 million, that would be but one-tenth of the funds made available under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. I think that something of this drastic nature must be done in the interests of keeping this vital link.

My opinion is that there is a great deal of unrest amongst these officers—I am thinking particularly of Eastern Nigeria. I suggest that there is already a mild precedent for the use of these funds in this way. If your Lordships take a glance at the detailed explanation under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts between April 1, 1954, and March 31 this year you will come across items which, I suppose, represent pay and salaries of specialists. Here is one: Windward Islands. Appointing financial economic adviser and staff, £4,329. So it seems to me that perhaps there are precedents for this kind of development. It also seems to me that there is one way in which men such as Dr. Nkrumah and others can offer us valuable assistance; that is, if they could do a little to discourage the attacks sometimes made on our officers in these territories, particularly in the Press. They are savage attacks sometimes amounting almost to insults. There is one feature of the new Service which ties all our present arrangements to tradition. In the last Paper published setting out the conditions of service for overseas officers, it was stated that arrangements were to be made bilaterally between the colonial countries concerned and the United Kingdom. It is true that the last section, Section 13, does not exclude some form of Commonwealth service.

I would submit that the bonds of Commonwealth are gradually loosening: the association of members of different race, colour, creed and religion becomes more tenuous. Burke's conception of silken cords which bind closer than iron chains has fired our imagination, but, at the same time, a silken cord, if stretched sufficiently, will snap just as will a brittle link on an iron chain. Would not a truly Commonwealth Service, with recruitment from talent in any country of the Commonwealth accepting the terms of Commonwealth membership, serve as a loose yet fairly effective frame, sufficient at least to remind us of the essential background of unity? I know the difficulties, difficulties of working and of conditions of service, and of consultation between the various Commonwealth countries concerned. But if the principle were recognised I cannot but believe that these difficulties, if hammered out round the conference table, could be made to disappear. The noble Earl, Lord Home, will recall that recently on a public occasion a Pakistani, in all sincerity and enthusiasm, asked him whether a Pakistani would be regarded as available for service in Commonwealth territories outside Pakistan. I, too, should like to know the answer to that question.

I suggest that there is a two-way traffic in ideas. We have to consider not only the effect on the country that receives a member of a Commonwealth service but the effect upon the country to which that member belongs when he returns after having, perhaps, had a wider view of the Commonwealth and its meaning, and when he translates his experience into his local environment. Again there is a precedent—it may be regarded as heresy to quote the case of the Sudan, but I think it is relevant. I would remind your Lordships that both an Indian and a Pakistani served us very well in the course of the deliberations over the constitutional position in the Sudan. They were able to bring to their deliberations just that independent judgment and integrity which we should expect of Commonwealth servants.

I would remind your Lordships that in India they have set up—whether we like it or not—an Indian Administrative Service which insists on trainees being trained, not at Oxford and Cambridge but, in the nature of things, in the College at Delhi. Some of us might regard that as a rather parochial development. I suggest that a Service of a Commonwealth nature in which Indian talent would be available, might tend to counter a rather parochial growth in regard to the Indian Service, in so far as. Commonwealth interests are concerned. I do not suggest that this matter is urgent. I suggest that the change should come unhurriedly, with care being taken in each case with every appointment. Indeed, particular appointments to meet particular cases might be the manner of actual growth. On long-term premises, I cannot help feeling that such a flexible service, with personnel carefully selected and submitted to fair but quite exacting tests, would act as a broad unifying agency in the Commonwealth, which finds the stresses and strains of domestic loyalty becoming increasingly difficult.

In conclusion, I would refer to the frame of mind in which we should approach all Commonwealth problems. Three years after the great event of 1947, we find a great Commonwealth servant, Mr. Menzies, musing rather doubtfully of the future. On Jane 26, 1950, at Adelaide, Mr. Menzies said: The old structure of unity of the Empire has gone. It has been succeeded by structural variety. If the process goes on, unity may give place to a purely functional association, based upon friendship and common interest but necessarily lacking the old high instincts and instantaneous cohesion which sprang from the fact that we were, all over the British world, as indeed we remain in the old Dominions, the King's subjects and the King's men. I am not sure whether Mr. Menzies would not be less emphatic to-day. We cannot possibly expect the same passionate loyalty to the Crown from a Malayan, art Asian or an African that we find in a Canadian and an Australian. But that does not mean in the least that we should cheapen the Commonwealth relationship. In passing, I would say that any arrangement by which it is made easy for a member to contract in or out, according to immediate political dictates, should be resisted. I think that the path of countries which have received their nationhood within the fold and halve contracted out should be made easy for them if, after second thoughts, they express a desire to come back. Beyond that, let this partnership continue as something of mind, method and thought, which has passed on from this island and which perhaps will receive many different forms in that process. Within that context, I suggest that if we do our part, if we cling to that "leadership of ideas," as my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir put it, we can expect something far more than the mere functional association which is sometimes depicted as the rather unimaginative and likeliest pattern of the Commonwealth of the future.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, this is an important debate. It is essential that we should emphasise our position in the Commonwealth and the views of Members of your Lordships' House on the Commonwealth. My noble friend Lord Ogmore, who introduced the debate, gave us a vivid picture of the Commonwealth as a whole, and we should endeavour to hold that in our minds. I believe that we are faced with the need to integrate the whole Commonwealth over a period of years in terms which will mean equality for all its peoples. I say that, not as a general affirmation of belief, but as a conviction forced upon me by my own experiences.

Shortly before the war, I visited the West African Colonies—Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Gambia, the latter two being of lesser importance at that time because of their backward economic development. I visited Ibandan University and all institutions of any importance and we talked with a large number of Africans. I endeavoured to elicit from the Africans whom we met their ideas with regard to the future. I hope your Lordships will agree that I am not a particularly intimidating person; but I never received any suggestion at all that they were looking forward to self-government of any kind. They had no idea of that in their minds. Many of those to whom I then talked are now holding government positions in Governments of their own in Nigeria and the Gold Coast. I think that that is a remarkable change in so short a time, but it is a measure of the rapidity of change which has taken place everywhere in the world. It may be dangerous to go at that pace; but the world is going at that pace, and that is the pace at which events have moved in West Africa. And I have seen the same thing in other lands.

I always listen to the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, with special attention, particularly to what he says about Australia, because he has played such a distinguished part in the development of that great land. I admire particularly the breadth of his outlook. It seems to me that we have to play our part in a great world movement, which embraces all those who inhabit India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (the only Dominion I have not visited, I regret to say), and all other areas over which the British flag flies. I believe we are bound to integrate all these areas in one vast multiracial whole, in which there will be recognition of all races as in this country, dependent on their standards of education and civilisation. We should look on the Empire as the centre of a vast world movement of integration.

What are the possibilities of such a development in the Commonwealth? I believe they are great. I am thinking principally of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, where there are immense possibilities of development. In these countries there is a vast population clamouring for development, and great resources, most of which are still unexploited; and we ought to help those people in planning to bring their countries up to date and make the riches of those countries available for the service of the people. If I may reminisce for a moment, I remember attending a meeting in Delhi at which the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Mountbatten, was in the chair, with all around me Princes from the different parts of India. They discussed various questions and I got a strong impression of the immense wealth there was in the different parts of the country. Unfortunately, that wealth has not yet been applied—perhaps there has not been time for it to be applied—to the improvement of the standard of living and education and the general standards of civilisation from a Western point of view—I mean mechanical improvements and the like.

We want to make a plan to extend over the next fifty years, and a further plan for the next 200 years, to make the Commonwealth into one of the quadrant parts of the world. We must face the problems of the world on a multiracial basis. As those of us who have had the privilege of visiting the different parts of the Commonwealth know, there are in the Commonwealth people of different stages of development. But we are a Commonwealth with a strong place in the world, and we in this country can help to lead the people of the Commonwealth towards a great, integrated community, which may have the courage to take up the great task of world civilisation on new lines, leading towards an integration of more and more of the world's population into one great world civilisation.

4.41 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who moved this Motion covered a wide ground and a great number of subjects, and among them he referred to migration. I think it will be generally agreed that, whatever may be said on any one angle of aim for strengthening the Commonwealth, adequate population to maintain expansion with other kinds of expansion in the world is essential. If your Lordships will bear with me, I propose during the few remarks I make to confine myself to the subject of migration. That subject has often been discussed in your Lordships' House. We have had the advantage of the guidance of the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, on this matter before, and fortunately, he made a point of coming here to speak to-day. Among the many points he raised, I am sure your Lordships will approve the emphasis which he laid on the need for foresight on the part of the Commonwealth with regard to raw materials.

The question of migration has been dealt with recently in another place in an imaginative manner by Sir Victor Raikes and other speakers, and I find no need to cover any of the ground dealt with by them. To mention it now is particularly timely, because of the return of the Secretary of State from his tour of Australia and New Zealand, a tour which will have brought home to him clearly what opportunities are there. So we shall all benefit from the decision of the Secretary of State to go and see for himself. An additional emphasis has been given to the matter by a visit to Australia and New Zealand of Sir Clifford Heathcote Smith, an associate of the Migration Council, to which tribute has already been paid by the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne. Many contacts were made there, and much interesting and valuable information was brought back about the attitude of mind of leaders in those two Dominions.

There is great confusion about the question of migration. There are those who say that we must have wholesale movement of bodies, and others who say, much more sagaciously, that it is merely an increase of the current stream. I would take this opportunity of emphasising that there seems a delight among those who seek to ridicule the Possibility of increased movement from this country by indulging in exaggerated misrepresentation. I think that is due only to their taking the short-term view of individual self-interest, motivated by irritation at the current shortage of workers in this country. Surely it is logical that we should have a steady flow of migration to the Dominions so that their population expands.

The second point is that there should be a minimum admixture of British origin. My own business interests, mainly in wool, take me regularly to the four leading Dominions, and I have no hesitation in saying that this problem is one of self-interest, because of future exports of manufactured goods from this country. We all know that of the total volume of exports from this country the proportion which goes to the Dominions represents a very large weight. So this question of exports and self-interest is of the greatest importance in all these considerations.

The whole subject is inextricably tied up with finance. One of the things into which the Secretary of State will doubtless have to inquire is whether finance for development, including migration (apart from the World Bank and the Commonwealth Finance Company and other sources like that), will be available, provided that it falls within the overriding limit set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We remember that the Overseas Migration Board exist to advise and sift matters for the benefit of the Secretary of State, and I do not doubt that they are working on many angles of this matter. The Secretary of State has been most gracious in receiving representations from the Migration Council, and he has listened sympathetically to such recommendations as have been made.

The first is that migration should be given the tribute of being considered sufficiently important to have a separate section in his Department. The second is that means should be found to make more use of the £1½ million which is put aside for migration—and I hope that he will take a more forward-looking view than has been taken by recent Governments over what can be allowed. The third thing, which the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, recommended and emphasised, is bilateral relationships of some representative body between the Dominions and the home country. I am glad that the noble Viscount took the opportunity of emphasising that there should be a change of attitude at home about what we should be inclined to discuss with the Dominions. That really is the kernel of the whole thing. The hopes are that Her Majesty's Government will take a more active, rather than a passive, attitude in this whole question of movement of bodies from this country to the Dominions.

I cannot pass from this question without mentioning (the Secretary of State will have recognised this on his visit) the importance of the transfer of accumulated contributions to the social services, and the benefits which those contributors are entitled to hope to receive. That is an administrative matter of great importance and one on which his Department have consistently been working.

It seems that there is an apathy towards this general question of the steady flow of people to the Dominions. To take the attitude that we cannot spare any people now is just as illogical as to say that, because we are short of this or that commodity in this country, therefore we must clamp down on exports. The movement of people from this country to the Dominions has always been among those of adventurous spirit. That has meant good quality migrants. In their absence there surely would have been no Commonwealth to-day, and my plea, therefore, is that in taking a bolder view (which I feel sure the Secretary of State is going to take), we shall be actuated by the conviction that as the noble Lord the mover of this Motion said, the increased status of the Commonwealth must come from strength. Strength depends on population, and accordingly I put that plea for migration to the Secretary of State to consider, together with the many other matters that have been mentioned.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, I am particularly glad that the noble Earl's first Commonwealth tour included the three Asian members, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and I look forward keenly, I know in common with everyone else in the House this afternoon, to hearing the noble Earl's impressions of these countries and of the other countries he visited, which, indeed, is the main purpose and excuse for this debate. I am certain that his visit was most useful in helping to cement their relationship with us and with the rest of the Commonwealth. These visits always are, and I know we are extremely grateful to him for undertaking this arduous tour at the beginning of his new term of office.

The Commonwealth is a wide canvas, and I think each of us has tried to paint in a small corner. I shall deal mainly with the Commonwealth in Asia. It is generally recognised that Commonwealth ties in Asia are somewhat less solid than elsewhere. This is not only because these countries are comparative newcomers, with a different culture and historical background from the old countries of British origin, but also, I think, because they happen to be sandwiched by geography between the two power blocs, a situation of some delicacy which prompts them to seek to be on good terms with both sides. An even more important difference from the old countries is that their recent history has made them far more afraid of Imperialism or Colonialism, as it is in these days more often called, than they are of Communism. The divergencies of policy and outlook resulting from all these peculiar circumstances have even cast some doubt on the value of Commonwealth membership. I am sure we ought not to be complacent about the solidity of our Commonwealth. In all three Asian countries there are by no means negligible sections of public opinion, represented by Parties in Parliament, that wish to sever Commonwealth connection. The continuity of the membership of these countries, and the willingness of people in high places to tell the public that the Commonwealth is a sound and worthwhile institution, will decide whether or not they stay with us permanently or go the way that other countries, such as Eire and Burma, have gone since the war.

I should like to talk mainly about one of these countries, namely, India. This is partly because of India's intrinsic importance, as the second Asian power and numerically the largest member of the Commonwealth, to the future of the Commonwealth and to the future of the whole Asian continent. It is also partly because, ever since my own connection with India, I feel a special affection and regard for Indians and a deep concern about anything that affects their future. The fragility of the Commonwealth relationship makes it essential that Communist propaganda against the Commonwealth should not pass without an answer. The most intensive propaganda campaign of this kind ever undertaken, and the only one conducted under official auspices, has been the recent tour of the Russian leaders, Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev. They have lost no opportunity at the many public gatherings they have addressed to discredit the present motives and past record of the Commonwealth and to describe themselves as the only disinterested friends of India. Educated Indians will, I have no doubt, draw their own conclusions about the mistakes and misrepresentations of their guests. It is already clear that most of the Indian Press resents the abuse of Indian hospitality which has been used as a platform for attacking their Commonwealth friends. But an offence against hospitality and good taste may, none the less, be a most successful publicity stunt.

The utterances of the Russian leaders have echoed all over the Indian sub-continent. The vast majority of the Indian population, like most people in every country of the world, have spent only a short time at school and have no criterion to judge the veracity of statements such as the charge made by their Russian visitors that we want war and that we started the last war. There are several noble Lords who sit on both sides of the House who were members of the war-time Coalition Government under the leadership of Sir Winston Churchill. I know that those noble Lords can say with absolute conviction and an absolutely clear conscience that the really shocking charge that that Government was responsible for the launching of Hitler's Panzer divisions against Russia is completely without foundation. But the fact that these visitors are vouched for by Pandit Nehru will, I fear, tend to stifle doubts that might otherwise arise in the minds of many simple people. It would be folly, therefore, to underestimate the immediate effect of this campaign of denigration of the West. Every friend of India must hope that after the garlands have faded and there has been time for reflection, it will be no more than transient. But the impact of all this will not be counteracted merely by doing what we can, and as I am sure others will try to do—namely, to ensure so far as possible that truth prevails. We must show above all by our deeds and by our actions that the Commonwealth democracies are better and more disinterested friends of India than the Communist States.

I should like to give your Lordships what I admit is no more than a personal opinion about what should be done. I think most of the speeches this afternoon have taken that constructive line of offering suggestions about what noble Lords think may be helpful. I am not a believer in the effectiveness of military pacts to contain Communism in Asia. S.E.A.T.O., as it is usually called, using the initials of the organisation, has, I am convinced, clone far more harm than good in India. Instead of giving reassurance, it is regarded as a constant threat of interference in Indian affairs and a possible source of involvement in other people's quarrels. The real danger of Communism in southern Asia is from internal erosion and not from aggression outside the area. A military alliance, such as S.E.A.T.O., which is unsupported by several countries in the danger zone, can do nothing at all to stop Communist erosion in those countries. I fear that in these days, taking into account the strong feelings of nationalism in Asia, any alliance which is predominantly non-Asian in character will antagonise the very people whose freedom we want to preserve.

It should be noted that the Russian leaders have not made the mistake of trying to bring India into their system of alliances. The have taken a much more understanding line. They have been offering to assist India with new factories, power stations and atomic equipment. We will share our last crust of bread with you, Mr. Kruschev is reported as having said. It would be most unwise to treat such talk as fairy tales. The satellite countries are already planning to expand their trade with under-developed areas in Asia and the Middle East. In the Soviet Union industrial output is increasing at a rapid pace from year to year. The political system makes it quite easy to produce more capital goods and to keep the Russian people waiting for the consumer goods they need for a better life. The Russians are, indeed, bidding for the hearts and minds of the uncommitted quarter of mankind, and they will bid high.

This is a race with time (I do not, I fear, agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, on this point) which the West will lose unless it can show by contrast, and without delay, its genuine disinterestedness of purpose. We must quicken the pace of our economic aid, aid freely given without political or other strings attached to it. The Commonwealth is already making a handsome contribution to the economic development of India under the Colombo Plan. The willingness of Her Majesty's Government to extend the life of the Plan and to increase the United Kingdom's share in it is a welcome advance. But the very fact that India is looking to Russia shows that the Colombo Powers are not supplying capital goods and technical advice as speedily as they are required. Of course, an even weightier responsibility rests upon the United States of America, with its much larger resources. Perhaps the Russian bid for India will convince American opinion of the inestimable value of the Administration's foreign aid programme and its participation in the Colombo Plan. A fresh and even greater effort is now required by all the Colombo Powers if India is not to grow, as China has indeed already grown, more and more economically dependent on the Soviet Union.

The Commonwealth and its fellow democracies are facing a challenge to the future of Africa, as well as of India. The economic penetration of Egypt by Russia has already begun and will no doubt be extended to other African countries. African backwardness demands the use of modern skills and development techniques. These skills and techniques will have to come, for the most part, from outside Africa. If the African peoples are to succeed in achieving freedom through democratic self-government, it is essential that this help should come from the right quarter. Mr. Garfield Todd, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, has asked quite recently for a Colombo Plan for Central Africa. Mr. Todd's imaginative proposal could not have been better timed. I should like to ask the noble Earl opposite whether the Government have had time to consider this proposal and, if so, what the Government's view is about it. After all, the Colombo principle is just as applicable to other needy areas, such as East and Central Africa, as it is to Southern Asia. The Commonwealth should keep the initiative it took in launching the Colombo Plan by starting a similar campaign against poverty and backwardness in Africa. These humanitarian and political arguments which I have ventured to put to your Lordships have been powerfully supported this afternoon by the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, who put the economic argument. It is essential for the industrial nations to have the primary products which these countries can supply, and, although I daresay we have approached the goal from different avenues or angles, the goal is just the same.

I should like to say a few words in reply to a statement made last week in Delhi by my old friend, Mr. Rajagopalacharia, the veteran elder statesman of Indian politics. I hope they may help to resolve a misunderstanding between us and India. Mr. Rajagopalacharia expressed in this statement a sharp criticism of the Western Powers, whom he held solely responsible for the failure to prohibit nuclear weapons. One of the great advantages of the Commonwealth relationship is that we expect to criticise others, and to be criticised equally in our turn, with complete and utter frankness; and, if the criticism happens to be adverse, it makes not the slightest difference to our friendship. This is undoubtedly a serious charge for, if it were true and we were unable to rebut it, we should be regarded as an enemy of mankind. But I doubt whether anyone who examines the negotiations that have taken place since the prohibition of nuclear weapons was proposed will find this charge of unilateral responsibility substantiated by the facts.

Let me mention the two points in the charge which were made. First of all, Mr. Rajagopalacharia said that we ought to have taken unilateral action. So far as a unilateral prohibition of these weapons is concerned, if our failure to give such an undertaking is at fault, then, of course, it is shared by Russia. It is true that there is still no agreement about a multilateral prohibition by both the East and the West. But is it unreasonable for either side to refuse to scrap its nuclear weapons until it is satisfied that no one can get away with a breach of the agreement? The root cause of this deadlock about atomic disarmament is surely fear. We have no monopoly of this emotion. I know from recent personal experience of the Soviet Union that fear is one thing we all have in common. We deplore the deadlock as much as any of our friends in India do and we shall go on trying to break it, but I must say—I do not want to be pessimistic—that I feel doubtful whether we shall get a great deal further until mutual fear and distrust have been lessened. We cannot, in any event, agree that the blame for not removing the atomic peril is ours alone. I do not think either side is beyond reproach, and I rather suspect that that will be the verdict of history. It would be a great pity if this issue, which can so easily be decided by a dispassionate consideration of the facts, should become a matter of controversy and misunderstanding between us and our friends in India.

In conclusion, I should like to express my agreement with what the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Birdwood, said about the goal of the political development of the Commonwealth. We, as he does, want to see a large number of equal self-governing States associated together in the Commonwealth—I will not go into the number because I am not sure whether I would agree with the noble and gallant Lord that it is safe or even possible to specify a definite number; but I would agree that the number would be larger than it is at present. After all, our free Commonwealth is a growing concern. There were the five nations of British origin before the war; there are now eight nations, with the three newcomers from Asia, and the number will continue to grow. I also agree with the noble and gallant Lord that the two main characteristics of all these countries will be equality of status and complete independence or self-government, in both internal and external relations. We hope, as the next stage, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, to see the Gold Coast, Nigeria and the British Central African Federation, the three African countries, joining the existing members of the Commonwealth; and also the British West Indian Federation and the Federation of Malaya. So in the next stage we shall have, we hope, five new countries joining the existing members of the Commonwealth.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for making the occasion for this debate, and I should like to express my gratitude at the beginning to noble Lords who have taken part in it and have given us the benefit of their long experience, their wisdom and their conclusions about the existing Commonwealth and the forms which it might assume in the future. It is right that from time to time we in your Lordships' House should discuss both the spirit of our association and the forms which it may take.

As to the spirit, no visitor who travels, as I have lately done, can be in any doubt at all as to the foundations upon which this Commonwealth association rests. Everywhere I found allegiance to the principles of living which we understand in the United Kingdom and in the free world. Everywhere there was a belief in the rights of the individual; everywhere a respect for the common law, and everywhere an insistence upon impartial justice. One might expect to find those things in the old Commonwealth countries, where they are naturally inherited and where they wear what I may call the "British way of life" like an old and comfortable suit of clothes. But if in the new Commonwealth countries this way of life and this brand of democracy which the United Kingdom has played so large a part in building is going to be simply a veneer, then this great experiment in the art of living together in society between European and Asian will fail. I confess that I saw no sign of that. I visited Ceylon, India and Pakistan. There is in these countries not only a belief in the principles which I have mentioned, but a determination to build up institutions which underpin the free life. With regard to Parliament and the courts of justice—I saw something of them in each of the countries I visited—the only difference I could find between, for instance, Parliament in Ceylon and your Lordships' House was that they consult Erskine May rather more often than we do.

When lawyers get close together it is time for the ordinary man to look after his affairs! Nevertheless, one of the things which created most impression on the countries I visited was the Commonwealth Law Conference, presided over by the Lord Chancellor here in London. It was of immense value to those who attended it. I also saw universities being established on lines which are so familiar to us in this country. I thought that they were being exceedingly well run, and training an excellent type of young person. The only thing I noticed was that many young people were reading economics—but they will soon recover from that, as we have done. The Press was undeniably, irrepressibly free. The emphasis everywhere, as I found it, was on the preservation of the essential freedoms. The leaders in these countries are undoubtedly convinced that this road of self-disciplined, ordered freedom is the only road along which their countries can travel and along which humanity can find progress and co-existence.

If that is true, and if I am right in my assessment, then that is part of the answer to the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, about the Indian reaction to the Russian visit. But it is only a part, because we have known for long enough that the nations of the free world will always be exposed to others who want to woo them away from their beliefs and want to impose their own political doctrines upon them. Your Lordships will remember the perambulating lady in the Beggar's Opera who was Out to ruin others' wooing, Never happy in her own. There will be these Powers seeking to win us away from our true beliefs, and the Indians, as we in this country have had to do, will have to make up their minds where the true values lie and where their allegiance lies; and, again as we in this country have had to do, they will find that independence is not just a name; they will find that to retain it demands vigilance, and that unless it is nourished it will be lost.

I am glad that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, spoke as he did, because it seems to me that there is an obligation on the leaders of the different democratic countries within the Commonwealth, not only to tell the people of their own countries the truth about the Commonwealth and what it stands for, but also to prove to their people that the way of life of the Commonwealth and of the free peoples is infinitely more rewarding than that offered to them by the Communists. The Russian visit is really irrelevant to this matter, but as I visited Ceylon, India and Pakistan, and saw these countries who have gained their independence without a struggle, who are exultantly proud of their new independence and are undertaking vigorous development, with all the advantages of Commonwealth membership, I could not but feel that, after all, they are not a bad advertisement for what is known as "British Imperialism." So much for the spirit of our association.

May I now turn for a moment to the forms of association within the Commonwealth? As your Lordships know, broad policy stems from the Prime Ministers' meetings. They are called at fairly regular intervals nowadays—whenever it is necessary to review policy, to give impetus to policy or to promote new policy. They are supplemented at almost annual intervals now by meetings of the Finance Ministers, who review the financial and economic aspects of our association and agree upon policies. These policies are carried out by the appropriate Ministers in the different countries concerned. Added to that machinery there is, of course, the most constant exchange of views of a most intimate kind between the Commonwealth Secretary in London and his opposite numbers in the Commonwealth countries, clarifying issues which affect the relationship of the United Kingdom with each of the other Commonwealth countries, and seeking to combine and co-ordinate the views of all. It seems to me that the essential thing about our Commonwealth machinery is to keep it flexible and adaptable.

I have benefited from the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, in which I am sure all your Lordships were as interested as I was and which you enjoyed as much as I did. I accept his invitation that the United Kingdom should lead Commonwealth opinion in many of these matters. I have only one reservation: I have never been fascinated by Committees. I think that the establishment of a Committee, instead of accelerating events more often than not puts only one more official cog in the processes of decision. So before I recommend to my opposite numbers any alteration in machinery, or seek to get agreement on it, I must be certain that the alteration will in fact accelerate business. But I shall return later to the proposal on the development side which Lord Bruce of Melbourne made.

My Lords, on the official level, Lord Birdwood and, I think, Lord Tweedsmuir, in the most interesting speech which he made, talked about the possibilities of a Commonwealth Service and about other possibilities of development there. I would remind your Lordships that there is to-day a difference between the organisation of the Colonial Office and that of the Commonwealth Relations Office. The Colonial Service is, by and large, administrative and executive, while the Commonwealth Relations Office is, by and large, diplomatic. Here again, I want to assure my noble friends that I will look with the greatest care at what they have said. We must keep our administrative machinery flexible, and already we are exchanging officers between the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. These Commonwealth Relations Office officers are getting a knowledge, in particular, of those colonial territories which may, in the nearish future, become a part of the Commonwealth. That is one practical step that we have taken. I hope it is a sensible one. We shall take other steps as and when they become necessary.

We shall on future occasions have an opportunity to debate foreign affairs and to assess the influence of the Commonwealth in world affairs. As I went round the Commonwealth countries I found an absolute identity of purpose in foreign policy. We are all peace-makers. Except for India, which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, mentioned, there is universal agreement on a foreign policy which I can best describe as one of conciliation and strength. I found that these countries realised that in modern war they must meet the threat of aggression far from their own shores. Canada already takes the most active part in N.A.T.O., Australia and New Zealand in A.N.Z.A.M. The people of Pakistan are anxious to get down to planning in the field through the Baghdad Pact. Ceylon has a military treaty with us. All are anxious to get on with the job of planning on the ground.

Although it has been suggested that the preponderance of United States power in the world to-day has in some way inclined other members of the Commonwealth to discount the usefulness of their association with the United Kingdom, that suggestion was most vigorously repudiated in all the countries that I visited. We know perfectly well that to a large extent the free world rests on the assurance of American power being placed behind it, and we are grateful that that power has been placed so unstintingly and generously behind the free world. The people of Australia and New Zealand realise that the United Kingdom relies upon that power in the Atlantic. They, too, rely upon it in the Pacific. Everywhere I found the desire to come closer to Britain in this military field and to be absolutely with us; and except in the case of India, where, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, says, they have no belief in regional pacts, I found that to be the universal feeling in all the countries that I visited. And let us at once acknowledge with gratitude that India throws all her influence into the scales on the side of conciliation.

I should now like to turn to Commonwealth development, and to the criticism which has been made from time to time that we do not make the most of our Commonwealth resources. I am in full agreement with the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne—we all are—when he says that, in effect, the expansion of our living standards here depends in the future, to some extent, on the amount of investment that we can place now in the Colonies: and in the Commonwealth and on expanding developments in all these countries. I should like to analyse the part which the United Kingdom can play in this Commonwealth development. The principles of Commonwealth development were laid down at the Economic Conference of 1952, when the general objective was then stated to be the exploitation of basic essentials and, in particular, that projects directly or indirectly contributing to the improvement of the sterling area balance of payments with the rest of the world should be pursued.

If adequate support comes from the country of origin for any particular project the United Kingdom can help in the following ways. There is the availability of the London money market—and loans from that market have been running at the rate of some £40 million a year. There is the £60 million which the United Kingdom makes available by her 18 per cent. contribution to the International Bank of Development and Reconstruction. There is the Commonwealth Development and Finance Corporation, with an authorised capital of £15 million, about which the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, asked earlier in the afternoon. Then there is the Colonial Development Corporation which operates in the Federation of Central Africa and in Colonies some of which may shortly qualify for Commonwealth membership. In fact three-quarters of the overseas investment of the United Kingdom at present goes into the Commonwealth.

It is suggested that there is scope for more public investment, and that is true. I am told that the United Kingdom should make a bold example, and I am all for it. But we know of only two ways in which we can find money in this country for extra development in the Commonwealth. The first is to divert investment from the home front; the second is to earn a larger surplus of trade out of which we can spare more for the Commonwealth. Sometimes enthusiastic exhorters rather leave these facts out of account, but the plain truth is that the pace of Commonwealth development depends upon the amount of wealth which we earn at home.


My Lords, is there not another way—to give those countries a greater proportion of the amount they earn themselves?


I am coming to that. In this public sector these long-term loans and grants are given usually to types of development of which your Lordships might like examples: large irrigation schemes in India and Pakistan; electricity supply; Sui gas in Pakistan; paper and pulp in New Zealand; sugar development in the Federation, and, of course, development of Commonwealth uranium supplies and co-operative methods of buying existing uranium. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that, so far as India is concerned, the Russians are likely to make a great drive to help that country with capital invested there, and to do what they can for the Indians. The noble Earl believes that the right answer to the Russian tactics is that the United Kingdom, too, should help India in this way. I am certainly all in favour of that, but again it is well to remind ourselves of the facts. The total British investment in India to-day is something like £260 million. From June, 1948, to the end of 1953, the latest figures I have, the United Kingdom has a good lead in the new investment which has been brought into India.

So much for the field of public investment in which a good deal is being done. May I now turn to private investment? The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, was not quite so vigorous to-day as he was the other day at a meeting outside when he told me that Australia was being mopped up by the United States of America to a point at which the United States was likely to control the Australian economy. Let me make two points on that remark. The first is that we want American capital in the Commonwealth. There is plenty of scope for it, plenty for it to do. The facts really disprove the assertion which the noble Viscount made on that occasion. I happen to have with me to-day some figures issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in Australia, which have been brought up to date to the end of 1954. The total face value of paid-up capital and issued debentures in Australian companies held by overseas companies or individuals was as follows. In 1954, of a total of £A227 million, the United Kingdom's share was £A154 million and the United States' share was £A37 million. In 1952, the United Kingdom's share was £A134 million and the American share was £A34 million. So that from 1952 to 1954 the United Kingdom's share was maintained at 68 per cent. and the American share at 18 per cent.

I wanted to know something about new investment between 1951 and 1954, and I found from the same source that the United Kingdom's share of investment in Australia in those years rose from 55 per cent. to 61 per cent., while the United States' share remained at 18 per cent. Those figures hardly bear out the assertion that Australia is being mopped up by the United States of America and that the United States is going to control her economy. I give these facts but I feel certain that the enthusiasm of Lord Bruce of Melbourne will not in any way be damped by them. I therefore assure him that I will give most careful consideration to the proposal he made to-day that we should examine the mineral supplies of the Commonwealth and find some machinery for examining the raw material resources of the Commonwealth in relation to world demand.


Would the noble Earl, in considering the proposal of Lord Bruce of Melbourne, make a very clear distinction between industrial demand on the one hand and available or potentially available supply on the other, because the first is essentially a world matter which has been very exhaustively covered by the Paley Commission. I think it would be a mistake merely to attempt to compete with that Commission's Report. On the other hand, it is probable that further study of such questions as: what is potentially available, but not at present; and what are the obstacles and how they may be overcome, would be of great value.


Yes, I will certainly take note of that. I wanted to have time to examine the proposal of Lord Bruce of Melbourne, because I thought that some of the ground had been covered. If he finds me a little noncommittal he will, I hope, forgive me. It is probably a hangover from trying to balance on a pinpoint of impartiality between Melbourne and Sydney.

Let there be no doubt that there are great opportunities in the Commonwealth for investment. Let there be no doubt also that these countries want British capital. They want British goods and they want British people. I had the opportunity, however, of seeing for myself how disappointed, and more than disappointed, Australians and New Zealanders are, for instance, that the uneven quality, uncompetitive prices and, most of all, bad delivery dates of goods from this country, have forced them to look elsewhere. We must also recognise the apprehension which they have when they see industrial disputes in this country which interrupt, and are a threat to, the continuity of their supplies. I am certain that these two things, bad delivery dates and industrial disputes, do more harm to British prestige and influence in those countries than anything else to-day.

I thought—and it is sometimes useful to see these things from the other end—that the eyes of our industrialists had perhaps been fixed a little too much on the home market, which has been buoyant and easy. But I did see evidence of change: evidence of a desire, for instance, to establish factories in Australia and to explore possibilities; evidence of better salesmanship. Nevertheless, in my opinion we have still a long way to go in these matters. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, was right in calling attention to the urgency. There is no time to lose. These markets are getting more and more competitive. Other countries are going into them and competing with us. I am not a commercial traveller—it would doubtless be much more profitable to me if I were—but I am certain that British business ought to be where there is so much opportunity.

As I have said, if these countries want British capital and British goods they also want British people. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has taken this occasion to speak to us once more about migration. There is no doubt that these countries want a high percentage of British people. But I did not encounter in Australia or New Zealand any suggestion that there was——as has been suggested here—a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Our present Prime Minister has made it clear, and I repeated it time and again in those two countries—and I hope it is understood—that we want to see a steady flow of the right type of British migrant going to the Commonwealth countries, because we believe, I hope without arrogance, that British stock strengthens any community. As I have said, we will put all the facilities we can at the disposal of the recruiting agents who are here so that the right type of person may be attracted from this country. But we are not going to achieve any spectacular increase in migration from this country in present circumstances, when there is full employment here and economic and financial difficulties in Australia. But there will be a chance to legislate—in fact, we shall have to legislate in 1957—and I should welcome any practical proposals on this subject which anyone would like to bring I to my notice before we legislate.

There are only two further observations which I wish to make. I do not believe that money is necessarily the answer to this problem of increasing migration. I do not believe that an extra contribution from Her Majesty's Government to the individual migrant would make much difference to the numbers which are attracted. The best recruiting agents that I found were people who have gone out from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand, people who are now on the spot there and who have made a success of their lives. These people were able to testify how profitable it was to them to go there. Lastly, wherever I went I found agreement that this Commonwealth must be a dynamic and growing organisation. In Australia and New Zealand they welcome the strength and added authority which the addition of Ceylon. India and Pakistan to our ranks has brought. Everywhere I found a willingness to welcome other colonial territories as they might qualify for membership. Lord Ogmore, with his long interest in this question, has given us some thoughts on future developments in the Commonwealth. If he will forgive me, I am not going to speculate on that. There is coming in 1956 a conference with Nigeria, and there are to be consultations in the future with Malaya and Singapore.

But one warning I should like to give: I have never felt that we could think in terms of blue-prints which would cover all sorts of territories and so many diverse circumstances. The essence of the difference is that in individual cases we are able to find appropriate constitutional machinery for peoples with widely different circumstances and to weld them into a whole. I think we can claim that we are extraordinarily good at it. Therefore, at the end of a debate which has been most useful to me—I shall answer any questions by post I have not been able to answer to-day—I would say to your Lordships that this Commonwealth, so far as I have seen it, is a going concern. There are many reasons which hold us together. There are reasons of security, which I have mentioned. There are certain advantages in economic association. But I think that the greatest bond of all is loyalty to those principles of living—the rights of the individual, common law and impartial justice—with which I began the remarks I have made this afternoon. The cynic may dismiss them as sentiment, but I hope we shall never undervalue sentiment, because it is the qualities of heart which, in the ultimate test, are the qualities which endure.

5.41 p.m.


My Lords, in the few moments that I propose to keep your Lordships I wish to thank all those who have taken part in this debate. I hope your Lordships feel that it has been useful. I would thank especially the noble Earl, Lord Home, who has taken great trouble to tell us of his interesting tour. What he has told us has been not only interesting but valuable. I realise that Ministers obtain from our debates information and thoughts on which they are not prepared to express an opinion immediately but which they are prepared to consider. Although, for various reasons, these debates in your Lordships' House on colonial affairs are not widely reported in this country, that is by no means the case in the Colonies. It has been my experience that these debates are widely reported in the colonial Press and your Lordships will find that tomorrow or next day a large number of colonial newspapers will carry reports of this debate. That is very useful, because it enables people in the Colonies and other Commonwealth countries to crystallise their opinions on these problems.

I should like to say a word about Lord Birdwood's speech. I was glad to hear him tackling some of the problems I have been placing before your Lordships for the past four years. I do not say that he and I would altogether agree on a solution, but the noble Lord put up one interesting cockshy to-day which I think should be considered by Her Majesty's Government—that is, the possibility of a conference to discuss the development of a supra-national organisation. In dealing with prominent people in the Colonies during the last few years I have found that the difficulty facing them is that they are emerging into a new stage of development and there is very little upon which they can draw for help. Time after time people have come to me—people well known to your Lordships by name, and perhaps in person—and said, "We are now starting Parliamentary democracy; can you suggest what books we can read? Where can we go to find the sort of rules we should have?" Of course, there are very few books of this sort, because democracy in this country has just grown. I feel that this is a field in which much useful work could be done. I do not know whether this would be the work of the Colonial Office or of the Commonwealth Relations Office, but it is a field in which an institution like Chatham House could help a great deal. At the moment, one can give little help in a concrete way.

I did not expect the noble Earl to say much about the future. I do not mind that, so long as he and his colleagues think about the future. I realise that we do not want a blue print; I never asked for one. But I am not sure whether the old English idea that we can "muddle through" somehow is going to be the best policy. I am not sure that we should not do some more advanced thinking about the great problems we have to face and upon which, whether we like it or not, these territories approaching statehood are demanding some sort of guidance. If I can feel that the noble Earl and his colleagues are giving thought to that sort of problem, then I shall feel that this debate has been worth while. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.