§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill I have it in command from Her Majesty to acquaint the House that Her Majesty places her prerogative and interest, so far as concerns the matter dealt with in the Ghana Independence Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.
It is a very great privilege that falls to me—to move the Second Reading of the Ghana Independence Bill in your Lordships' House. The Bill, to give it its full Title, isAn Act to make provision for, and in connection with, the attainment by the Gold Coast of fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations.What splendid words these are: "the attainment of fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations."
Before I come to the details of the Bill I am sure your Lordships will not think it out of place for me to touch on the significance of the Bill. One more colonial territory is to attain independent nationhood, and we, as a colonial Power, are glad; for not only has Ghana attained this status but she elects to stay within the Commonwealth of which we are a, perhaps the, founder member. Far from being ashamed of or apologetic for the words "a colonial Power." I think that we should be proud of them—proud in the knowledge that our so-called colonialism or imperialism, for which our enemies and even some of our friends have attacked us, has led many hundreds of millions throughout the world to true democratic self-government. In the last years Burma, Ceylon, India and Pakistan have won this boon and attained fully responsible status. Now Ghana joins the last three in the Commonwealth and Malaya will soon follow. This is no break up of Empire; rather is it its greatest achievement. Our colonial policy of creating democratic self-governing institutions with sound social and economic foundations is, of course, no new thing of Labour, Liberal or Conservative Party policy but a national policy backed by one and all steadily 108 and with high purpose for a hundred years.
Before turning to the main provisions of this Bill, I think it is appropriate to review briefly some of the historical events that have led up to it. In 1901 Orders in Council were made bringing the Gold Coast Colony, Ashanti and Northern Territories into one unit. Twenty-five years later this unit was given a new Constitution which provided for elected members in the Legislative Council. Since that time, step by step the process of education in government has proceeded until in 1954 there came universal adult suffrage and virtually full internal self-government. By this time the original unit had grown, as it included the Trust Territory of British Togoland. On September 18, 1956, the Secretary of State for the Colonies announced, in response to a motion passed by the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly, that a Bill would be introduced giving independence to the Gold Coast, or more properly I should say, Ghana, the name its people have chosen for it.
Now as to the main provisions of the Bill, Clause 1 lays down that from the appointed day Her Majesty's Government shall have no responsibility for the government of Ghana nor will her laws extend to Ghana. The clause confers what are known as Statute of Westminster powers on the Parliament of Ghana. Clause 2 states what happens after the Parliament of Ghana enacts a citizenship law and also covers the period before such law reaches the Statute Book. Furthermore, once the inhabitants of Ghana have become citizens thereof, by virtue of that citizenship they shall also enjoy the status of British subjects.
Clause 3 deals with certain financial matters consequent upon Ghana's independence. On that country's attaining nationhood, the United Kingdom can no longer assist its economic development from funds which have been specifically voted by Parliament for the Colonies only. This means that Ghana cannot look to Colonial Development and Welfare funds or to assistance from the Colonial Development Corporation except for projects already in being. As already announced in another place, however, £350,000 of Colonial Development and Welfare money which is earmarked for, but not yet spent on, the 109 Kumasi College of Technology will be replaced, subject to the assent of Parliament, by a similar amount from the Commonwealth Services Vote. Thus the development of the College, which is of vital importance for the nation's educational progress, will go forward unhindered.
This clause has been much debated in another place and has been the subject of correspondence in The Times. As a banker until recently, perhaps it is appropriate for me to dwell for a moment on how it strikes me from that angle. Broadly, the question raised is why cannot the Colonial Development Corporation not only seek fresh projects in Ghana but also extend its sphere to other Commonwealth countries, particularly those which have lately become or will shortly become members. The insistence with which this is urged is a great and very well-deserved tribute to Lord Reith, and it is the more remarkable when one remembers how at the start he was attacked by many for applying "profit motive" and "partnership with private enterprise" as guiding principles for the Corporation's activities.
What are the facts relating to the Gold Coast? So far as the past is concerned, the Colonial Development Corporation has but one joint operation there—namely, Coast Construction, Limited, which does building work. Lately, it has been considering one or two new projects, but if Ghana wishes to go on with these there is nothing to stop her asking the help of that company, with which the Colonial Development Corporation was contemplating partnership. This company could either handle it alone, seek other partners in the City, or go to the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, which was formed over three years ago to assist financially and technically in Commonwealth development. Its capital was subscribed by most of the great banking, trading, mining and industrial companies of the country.
Expert advice can still be obtained from this country. As was reported by the Secretary of State in another place, the Commonwealth Development Finance Company are in touch with the Gold Coast Government on this very matter. I am sure that this organisation will be able to help in this field. They have 110 already taken steps to recruit additional staff and, through their shareholders, who are representative of very many of the principal organisations of the United Kingdom, they can draw on a vast experience of all the factors involved in overseas development in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. Once one is on one's own, it is right that one should establish one's own credit. Ghana should be able to do this from her own resources, and the City, either individually or collectively through such a body as the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, is very ready to provide services in the sense of expert knowledge as well as financial help. I think, therefore, that a lot of the criticism which has been levelled at this clause is unwarranted.
Clause 4 of the Bill and the Second Schedule deal with various modifications of other enactments which are consequential on the provisions of the rest of the Bill, and I do not think it is necessary for me to go into these adjustments in any detail. Finally, Clause 5 deals with the appointed day. That is to be March 6—an anniversary of special significance for Ghana.
My Lords, I hope that I have covered sufficiently the various clauses of the Bill. It remains for me to explain what happens it this Bill, which has been passed by another place, is approved by your Lordships and receives the Royal Assent. Then, and before it comes into force, an Order will be submitted to Her Majesty in Council designed to come into force on Independence Day and to bring the existing Constitution into conformity with the new status of Ghana. The final responsibility for the terms of this Order in Council rests with the United Kingdom Ministers, but naturally the fullest account will be taken of the Gold Coast Government's views regarding the Constitution.
Your Lordships will all know that there has been considerable opposition to the proposed Constitution, particularly from the Ashanti and their traditional leaders, and from parts of the Northern Territories. It is fervently to be hoped that, now that independence is nigh, those who demanded a Federal Constitution, sought to secede, and generally did all in their power to oppose the proposed form of Constitution, will co-operate with the Prime Minister, Dr. Nkrumah, in 111 working out something which will take into account local susceptibilities within the framework of one State.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies is this very day arriving in the Gold Coast for a personal exchange of views with the Gold Coast Prime Minister and his colleagues, and with others. As he has made clear in his published message to Dr. Nkrumah, he does not intend to preside at a round-table conference or to reopen any general discussion of the whole Constitution, which has been fully debated in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly. But the talks which he is to have in the Gold Coast will help him to finalise the White Paper on the Constitution which he has promised to lay before Parliament, and which it is hoped can be published soon after his return to England, which will be within about a week. He is taking this last chance open to him personally to do what he can to help Ghana begin its new life with the maximum good will on all sides. In the meanwhile, and knowing his skill and devotion to such ends, I feel sure that your Lordships will not expect me to say more this afternoon on the question of the Constitution, although naturally I shall bring to the Secretary of State's attention any remarks which noble Lords may make in the course of the debate.
It occurs to me that there may be some analogy between the position on the Gold Coast now and that of the United Kingdom at the time of the Act of Union. The Scots and their Clans of the North were rugged and war-like; those of England far advanced in the ways of life. But in their coming together both prospered, and in the end a peaceful invasion, if not a conquest from the North, has resulted. History may be repeated in Ghana.
My Lords, I draw to an end. This is a great day for all who have helped the Gold Coast to its present position. Tribute is due to successive Governors, especially the present one, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke; to past Governments, whether Liberal, Labour or Conservative, who have steadfastly led the Gold Coast to democratic self-government; and, last but not least, to the inhabitants of the Gold Coast, whose progress and development is for all to see and admire. A Colony, after long tutelage, is soon to 112 become the independent nation of Ghana within the Commonwealth, and we rejoice and wish it well.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Perth.)
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, in the first place, I should like to welcome the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on his first baptism in a colonial debate. I congratulate him on his appointment and wish him every success in the office which he now holds: we hope that he will be very happy in it. We cannot say to him, in common with his colleagues, that we wish him a long life in it, but I am sure that he will find it, as all of us who have served in it have done, a fascinating Department, one with which he will keep in contact long after he ceases to be a Minister. I cannot pass from this stage, I think, without saying a word about the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. We shall miss him. He was most helpful, both in the House and outside, and we constantly had reference to him and to his private secretary, Mr. Robertson, who also was always most helpful. We thank the noble Lord for what he has done, both in the House and outside, and trust that it will not be long before he is recalled once more to the service of Her Majesty.
I welcome this Bill, as we all do on this side of the House. We wish Ghana every possible prosperity and every imaginable success: It is a great moment for her. But it is also a great moment for us and for the British Commonwealth as a whole. March 6 will be a momentous day for Africa, and, I trust, as the noble Earl himself has intimated, that the significance of the first African State within the British Colonial Empire to become independent within the Commonwealth will not be lost upon the world at large, and in particular upon the United Nations. I had the honour of being associated with the presentation in another place of the Ceylon Independence Act, and it is a privilege Ito speak for the Opposition on the Ghana Independence Bill.
As the Minister said, talks are to-day being commenced in Ghana between the Secretary of State, Mr. Lennox-Boyd, and the Premier, Dr. Nkrumah. We feel that Dr. Nkrumah showed his statesmanship in inviting the Secretary of State to Accra at this moment to discuss outstanding matters, and we wish to join 113 with the Minister in wishing the discussions every possible success. We hope that they will be fruitful. We were glad, too, to read in the Press, the announcement that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent is to visit Ghana in connection with the celebration of Independence Day. We are certain that this will give enormous satisfaction to the people of Ghana.
One person I must mention is the Governor, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke. He deserves our thanks for the way in which, through the years, he has pursued unfalteringly his purpose and the purpose of successive Governments, which was to bring Ghana to independence within the Commonwealth. This will be a great day for Sir Charles. We understand, however, that, once he has seen Ghana become independent, he does not wish to remain as Governor-General. If it is his wish not to remain any longer, we should like to know whether the Government at this moment have anyone in mind to succeed him. We hope that soon after Sir Charles intimates his desire to retire an announcement will be made, so that there may be no delay or hiatus.
The choice of a successor will be a difficult one for those who have to advise on the appointment. We hope that the choice will be an imaginative one, and whether the new Governor-General be an African, a United Kingdom citizen or a citizen of the Commonwealth, we hope that he will be the right man for the job, because he will have a vital task. If possible, I feel that the man selected should have had ministerial experience. Only to-day we are mourning the death of Lord Llewellin, who was the first Governor-General of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It will be agreed on all sides that he has been an outstanding success, and that he gave to the Federation something which no man without his ministerial experience could have given. I venture to suggest that someone of the calibre of Lord Llewellin is the sort of man that Ghana, and other territories in a similar position, need at this moment.
Then I would say a word about the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom. I am glad that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations "got off the mark" quickly and appointed Mr. Maclennan to that important post.
114 He is an experienced man, who we feel has the right qualifications for the job, and we wish him every success. It will be an important appointment, because it is the first of the kind, and he has to create the position for himself. He will be in a position that no other diplomatic representative to Ghana will be, since he will be the representative of this country, with whom the ties with Ghana will continue to remain particularly close throughout the years.
I should like to turn now to some of the problems underlying the policy in this Bill which is before your Lordships' to-day. One of them is the question of the expatriate civil servants. On March 6, the date upon which Ghana becomes independent, there are expected to be about 1,100 expatriate civil servants. In my view—and I think it is the view of most people who have had anything to do with Ghana—it is likely that for some time Ghana will need most of them, if not all. We should like to know from the Secretary of State how many are likely to remain. I had the opportunity of studying the proposals with reference to Ghana when the proposals relating to Malaya were under discussion, and I think there is no doubt that the terms are generous to the expatriate civil servants—indeed, perhaps in some ways they are so generous that some of the people might be tempted to go and not to remain. It is a vital point for Ghana, for without a large number of these 1,100 they would find difficulty in maintaining the administration.
Then we should like to know something about cocoa, because, however good the new Constitution may be when it appears in an Order in Council, in fact it will be built on a foundation of cocoa. Ghana depends to a large extent on this product, and the cocoa study group has been set up to see whether production can be stepped up, and if so how far, and to what extent, production is meeting demand, or whether demand is now outstripping production. There are a number of important questions which have been veiled in some sort of mystery in the past, and we look forward to hearing the result of the deliberations of this study group. Perhaps the Secretary of State could inform us what the position now is, and whether they are expected to report at an early date.
115 Then there is the Federal Constitution proposal, to which the Minister referred, made by the Opposition in Ghana—that is to say, the proposal that Ghana should be a Federal State and not a unitary State. The United Kingdom and Ghana Governments (it is probably convenient that I should refer now to the "Ghana" Government, rather than to the Gold Coast Government) have opposed it. In my view, whether a federal or a unitary system is the better for any particular country depends on circumstances. I do not think anyone can produce a general rule applicable to all countries. Probably for Ghana, with its comparatively small population, of something in the nature of 6 million, and a limited number of people on whom to draw for various public offices, legislatures and so on, the unitary system is the right one, at the moment, at any rate; and it would be putting too severe a burden on the country to impose upon it at this stage a federal system. That is my view, but, as I say, it is a matter of opinion.
However, in saying that, and in supporting the Government of Ghana in this, I would point out that the Ghana Government have a great responsibility to see that regional aspirations are met in other ways, and also to refrain from wild and foolish talk. By their works they shall be known; and may their works be the result of wisdom. Certainly some of their words have not been the result of wisdom, and some of the speeches of one or two of the Ministers have been foolish in the extreme. I hope they will realise that some of the difficulties referred to by the Minister of State have been largely caused by themselves and by their own stupid speeches. If a Minister says that when his Party comes into power it will exile the Opposition, or imprison them, he cannot expect the Opposition to look with any satisfaction upon his Party's advent to power. If the noble Earl said here that he was going to exile us, we should take a poor view of it; and that the Opposition have done in the Gold Coast. As I say, it is only a few people who have made these speeches, and probably they are sorry now that they did make them. Such views are by no means the views of Dr. Nkrumah or the majority of his Ministers. But there it is: the 116 Ghana Government have to satisfy the Opposition in Ghana that they mean to act in a democratic way and to have due regard to the rights of the minorities.
The Opposition there have also suggested a Council of State, in view of the fact that there is to be a unitary system in Ghana, with a single-Chamber Parliament. The Council of State, they suggest, should consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Attorney-General and the heads of the four Regions. The function of the Council would be to advise the Governor-General on the execution of his prerogative powers, and on public service and judicial appointments and to act as a final court of appeal in constitutional matters. Again speaking for myself, I do not think this is a sound suggestion. I cannot believe that such a Council of State, composed as suggested by the Opposition in Ghana, will help. The Governor-General could not be answerable to such a body; the public service and judicial appointments should be made by nonpolitical public service and judicial commissions; and appeals on constitutional matters should go to a court of appeal and not to a body set up and comprised as this one would be.
The Opposition have suggested, also, a Second Chamber. Here I think they have a suggestion which merits our attention and consideration, and we, as a Second Chamber, are particularly fitted to give it our consideration and to express an opinion on it. In Ghana, as there is to be a unitary State, and as there are strong regional loyalties with long traditions, while the State of Ghana is a new conception the proposal for a Second Chamber has much to commend it. The Chamber would allow for regional representation and the position of the chiefs. As I say, I prefer it to the proposal of the Opposition in Ghana for a Council of State, and I prefer it, also, to the Ghana Government's plan of regional assemblies and regional houses of chiefs, the powers of both of which bodies are at present unknown. In my view, such bodies cannot possibly replace a Second Chamber. I think that we all feel—perhaps we are biased, but I do not think so—that we in this House perform a useful task, and that the country, and the Commonwealth, would be much poorer without us. So I feel that in Ghana a Second Chamber would also do a useful job of work. I 117 hope that the members will be paid, and will not be expected, as we are here, to finance a Legislative Chamber out of our own pockets, after income tax has been deducted. I have no doubt that they will be more sensible in Ghana and will not expect people to run Parliament at their own expense.
The amendment of the Constitution is a vital matter. Whatever is agreed today between the Secretary of State in Ghana and Dr. Nkrumah will come before Parliament in the shape of an Order in Council; and, for the present, that will be that. But there is nothing to prevent amendments from being made in years to come, if the people of Ghana desire them—and of course it will be found that certain amendments are necessary and desirable. The only question is, how they should be made. The original view of the Government of Ghana was that the amendments should take effect on a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. This was bitterly contested by the Opposition, and an amendment to this proposal was agreed by the Government providing that the required majority should be two-thirds of all members, whether present or not.
As I say, this is an absolutely vital point, because, obviously, if a Government can amend the Constitution they can amend it to suit themselves. It is a fact that at the present moment the Government of Ghana, because they have a two-thirds majority, can alter the Constitution at any time, and can jettison any safeguards that may be in it. The Opposition have suggested that the change must, in addition, have the consent of the regional bodies individually. But, of course, that would hold things up unnecessarily—one regional body could hold up any amendment, however desirable. And that would be ridiculous.
I would say that the answer lies in the creation of a Second Chamber where a two-thirds majority would be necessary to pass the amendment, as well as in the Lower House. If no Second Chamber is possible yet, or if there is no time to establish one before the new Order in Council comes into operation, then, as a second best, perhaps it would be possible to agree to provide that any amendment to the Constitution would require a two-thirds majority of all the regional bodies, 118 the regional associations, meeting together as a sort of Second Chamber for this purpose.
I wish to say a word about public security, because we are, of course, handing over not only the country but the security of the country and of the citizens, some of whom are not in favour of this change in this way at this time. There are about 5,500 police in Ghana. The Opposition want regional control of the police, and the Government want central control. The Opposition fear that central control of the police will give the Government far too much power. Obviously, from a police point of view, centralisation is more efficient. In fact, it is difficult to organise the police in many of these countries on a purely regional basis. Whichever basis is decided upon, whether regional or central, I sincerely hope that the police will cease to be the cinderella of colonial administration, which they have been for far too long, and that their needs, their pay and their prospects will receive the same attention that other branches of Colonial administration have had in the past.
As to the military forces, there are about the same number, 5,500 soldiers, available for both the external defence of Ghana—together, of course, with the rest of the Commonwealth—and the internal security of Ghana. This is not a very large number. No one can say that masses of troops have held down the people of Ghana in the past or, indeed, are holding them down in the present. Fairly recently, the military have come under the orders of the Governor and not of the War Office. Previously, they were under the orders of the War Office. On independence, the troops will come under the orders and control of the Government of Ghana. There are about 184 British officers and 220 non-commissioned officers, all seconded to the Forces and Army of Ghana, and twenty-eight locally recruited officers. Obviously, for some time to come Ghana's Army will depend to a large extent upon British officers and British N.C.Os., and no doubt a great deal of friendly co-operation will be needed on both sides, and will be readily forthcoming on both sides. If not, the position will rapidly become impossible and no one of us wishes that.
119 May I turn now to a different aspect of the Bill which has been touched upon by the Minister of State—namely, the policy in Clause 3 (4) relating to the Colonial Development Corporation. The effect of the clause to exclude the Colonial Development Corporation from operations in Ghana from March 6, except for any operations commenced by the Colonial Development Corporation before this date, is in our view both unnecessary and harmful. We do not know why it is in the Bill at all, at any rate in these terms. If it was necessary to have any reference to the Colonial Development Corporation, we should have thought it better to have a Bill to amend the Overseas Resources Development Act. But, however that may be, from the point of view of form, we are certain that this will be a bad precedent. It is true that the Colonial Development Corporation have not done a great deal in Ghana up to the present time, as the Minister of State said. But the point is that just lately there were indications that they were going to do a great deal more. Ever since Dr. Nkrumah became Prime Minister friendly relations have been maintained with him and his Government, and discussions have recently taken place with Ministers on other ways by which the Corporation could contribute to the economic development of the country. Recently, for example, the Ghana Ministry of Trade asked the Colonial Development Corporation to assist with the establishment of a cement clinker factory in association with a well known British cement company, and the possibility was opening up of fruitful development in various other ways.
However unfortunate this may be for Ghana, it is still more unfortunate as a precedent with other countries, because quite soon we may have similar Bills introduced here with reference to the Federation of Malaya, the Federation of Nigeria, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Federation of the Caribbean Territories, Singapore and others. In some of these countries the Colonial Development Corporation does considerable work and is highly esteemed. The last thing that these emerging countries would want is to be cut off from the opportunity of utilising the services of the Colonial Development Corporation. The 120 Minister of State has paid a well deserved tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Reith. I am sure that the only tribute that Lord Reith would really like would be for this clause to be knocked out of the Bill. In some ways, of course, it is a fact that the very success of Lord Reith and his directors and staff has been the cause of this clause, because if they had not been so successful I doubt whether it would be in this Bill.
Now what is the object of it? Why should the Colonial Development Corporation be excluded? So far as I can see, there is no real reason at all. It is not a philanthropic institution, as anyone who has dealt with the noble Lord knows —quite the reverse. Schemes are considered on a commercial basis, and you have to put up a very good scheme indeed before it gets past him and his vigilant managing director, Mr. Rendell. Various suggestions have been made as to why this clause is in the Bill. There have been letters in The Times, an excellent one from Mr. Leathers, a Conservative Member of Parliament, and from Mr. Hilary Marquand, a Labour Member of Parliament. In another place they divided on this clause, and there was a considerable degree of support from all sides of the House for the suggestion that the Colonial Development Corporation should be allowed to carry on in Ghana. It comes by no means only from the Labour side. Conservative Members of another place have expressed themselves as strongly as Labour Members of Parliament in this matter.
Rather an odd sentence appeared in relation to this matter in the Press notice and B.B.C. broadcast issued as a result of, or after the talks, held a fortnight or three weeks ago, between Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Colonel Lee, the Minister for Finance in the Federation, and the Secretary of State. This is what it says:There was also a detailed examination of the manner in which Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to the continuance of the Colonial Development Corporation's activities in the Federation after independence would be applied.That is a very odd sentence indeed. It does not say there that there will be no continuation; it simply says, in fact, that there was a detailed examination with 121 regard to the continuance of their activities after independence and how the policy would be applied. It seems to me that we have a position where, when Malaya becomes independent, it may well be that the Government are committed to retaining the Colonial Development Corporation there. I hope it is a fact; but, if so, why has not Ghana the same opportunity?
The reasons given by the Minister to-day seem to me to be frivolous ones. He mentioned the Commonwealth Development Finance Company. But the Commonwealth Development Finance Company is no comparable organisation at all. Furthermore, it has spent little or nothing in the Colonies. It seems to me that we are in danger of grasping at the shadow and thereby losing the substance. We are also told that the Government do not allow the Colonial Development Corporation to finance schemes in the Colonies if the projects can obtain money elsewhere. In my view, this spells the death knell of the Colonial Development Corporation, because without some profitable schemes they cannot possibly finance schemes which are not profitable in the early stages although they are of great benefit to the Colonies in which they take place. So it looks as if the Colonial Development Corporation will be left with all the skimmed milk, whilst other agencies in the City or elsewhere will take all the cream.
Going in more detail into this clause, I should like to ask the Secretary of State two questions. First, what operations are covered by the words "any operations commenced"? In other words, how far, or to what extent, does this phrase govern the continuance of the Corporation in Ghana? Secondly, is fresh money to be available for any operations commenced before the appointed day? I suggest that the Colonial Development Corporation should, by legislation, change its title straight away to the Commonwealth Development Corporation, if the Government do not satisfy us to-day with reference to this clause, we on this side will move in Committee either to amend it or to strike it out altogether, to enable the Corporation to operate in Ghana if the Government of Ghana desires it so to do. We will press it, and if we go into the Lobby we shall expect to obtain 122 a good deal of support from noble Lords on all sides of the House.
Before I conclude, I would call attention to one brighter note. I saw in the Report of the Air League of the British Empire, this paragraph:Air League for Ghana: A request has been received from quarters associated with the new Dominion of Ghana for assistance in the formation of a Ghana Air League, and affiliation has been requested with the Air League of the British Empire. A reply has been sent offering all possible help and assistance as was the case in the recently formed Air League of New Zealand.I am sure we are all glad to hear of any sign of co-operation between the new State of Ghana and the United Kingdom. No doubt in this sort of way we shall forge many new links between associations and organisations in the United Kingdom and the new organisations and associations in Ghana. This would seem to be a fruitful method of approach to what we all desire: that is continued association with our friends and fellow citizens in Ghana. To this new independent member of the Commonwealth, Ghana, we en this side of the House extend our congratulations, our best wishes and cur prayers for her happiness, her prosperity and her success.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in congratulating the Minister of State on his accession to his office and the way in which he has commenced his tasks in the introduction of this Bill. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I am able to wish him not only well in his office but a long life in his office. I should also like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said in very generous terms about the work of my noble friend Lord Lloyd, who is not at this moment in the Chamber. I feel that in his colonial tasks, traditionally because of his distinguished father and actually because of his own personality, he has left bath upon those in this House and those outside the House an impression which will long last when we consider colonial affairs.
What a contrast it is to-day in our debate, when we think of the world of Eastern Europe as compared with the world of West Africa!—the contrast of 123 the willing and free grant to Ghana of complete self-government and, behind the Iron Curtain, of countries struggling for, and being denied, freedom. I hope that this contrast between the free world this side of the Iron Curtain and suppression on the other side will not go unnoticed by our friends across the Atlantic. As the Minister who introduced this Bill said, we have a proud record, and on this day, when we give a unanimous Second Reading to this Bill, we have nothing to be ashamed of in our record in years past in the Gold Coast, now to be known as Ghana. But this welcome must not blind us to the difficulties and dangers of the situation which were touched on by the Minister and enlarged upon rather more fully by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. We can record the facts of the difference, but the solutions in the future are going to be not for us but, after March 6, for the Government of Ghana. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, there is a separatist movement in Ashanti and a large part of the Northern Territories. I agree with him: I do not believe there is any future in either secession or federalism for the difficulties which the Ghana Government have to face.
Ghana is a small country of some 5 million people, and any idea of secession is economically impossible. There would be no outlets to the sea; there would be a barren territory trying to be proud politically but failing dismally economically. I believe that the solution lies in justice and in concession by the Government and those who have political power in Ghana, and in an understanding, of the feelings of their opponents. The dissenters feel their case passionately, and that there are dangers in the situation. We must not blind ourselves to that fact. I can only hope that the Constitution, when it is defined in the Order in Council which your Lordships will in due course see, will be framed so that the good and the right things in it cannot be altered without thought, reflection and agreement.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, deployed one possibility, that of a Second Chamber, as a safeguard against the violent alteration of the Constitution by an impetuous and emotionally-stirred elected democratic Assembly. The Second Chamber is a possibility, but I think one 124 of the troubles is to get persons of sufficient weight, breadth of view, understanding and experience to man such a Second Chamber. It may be a development of future years. Meanwhile, we must think, Ghana must think, of what other alternatives there are. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, suggested that the two-thirds majority should not operate unless there were also a two-thirds majority on the regional bodies. I suggest that a solution might be temporarily possibly, until a Second Chamber is evolved—that the two-thirds majority should not be allowed to alter the Constitution unless there had been a positive vote twice in favour of the alteration and a General Election between the two votes. These are thoughts which I put out only in the same way as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, put out his thoughts, all of which I hope Her Majesty's Government will take into account when they consider these matters. I feel that I have said sufficient on this subject, because the Secretary of State for the Colonies is, as we have heard to-day, arriving in Ghana, and we hope that, with the successful record of diplomatic settlement of differences which the Secretary of State carries with him in his great office, he will be able to reconcile the acute differences in a manner that has not hitherto been accomplished.
My Lords, I should like to turn, for a few moments only, to the economic aspect of this new territory. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, Ghana has a rather dangerous economy, in that it depends so much upon one particular product, cocoa. I think tribute must be paid to the courage of the Prime Minister of Ghana for the way that he has faced great opposition during past years from somewhat ignorant farmers in the necessary policy of what is known as "cutting out," to get rid of the disease of swollen shoot. I think it augurs well for the technical development of the cocoa industry. Nevertheless, it is dangerous for a country to have so much of a mono-economy as Ghana has at the present time; and it is dangerous not only for Ghana but for this country, because hitherto Ghana has been a great dollar earner. I have not the figures for 1956, but in 1955 Ghana contributed some £13 million worth of valuable dollars to the sterling area pool, all of which came to 125 this country, and Ghana drew in dollars only what London would allow. Now, the economy of Ghana will be in Ghana's own hands, and there is no reason, I hope, to think that as a member of the sterling area she will not continue to allow her dollars to be at our disposal. But I cannot help thinking that if we had not tied ourselves up so tightly, because of our European and international trade requirements, to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, we might be able to offer financial inducements in the form of commercial agreements between ourselves and Ghana which would secure, to a much greater degree than is possible now, that we should obtain these essential dollars in this country for the aid of the sterling area. It seems to me rather anomalous that apparently we are willing to alter the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade for our interests in Europe, but we are not willing to do so for our interests in the Commonwealth.
The other economic question I should like to touch on for a moment is that spoken about by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, concerning Clause 3 (4), which says that the Colonial Development Corporation's work in Ghana shall cease except in so far as works have already started. We can ignore neither our duties nor our opportunities in the development of Ghana, and the only part of the Minister's speech which somewhat confused me was when he referred to the Commonwealth Development Finance Corporation as being the possible chosen instrument through which Ghana could obtain the necessary capital aid for essential development. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, put the most vital point on that particular question and exposed the weakness of that suggestion. The Commonwealth Development Finance Corporation is subscribed to by large industrial enterprises, by the mining houses and by the banks, but it is no good your having subscriptions of money if you have not the executive organisation, and the executive organisation is in the hands of the Colonial Development Corporation, which has built up, through many years of hard experience and at times severe criticism, something which it would take years for any other organisation to build up in a comparable style of efficiency.
I hope the Government between now and the further stages of this Bill will 126 think again on this problem, because there are certain misgivings expressed, both inside and outside your Lordships' House and in another place, on this issue. I wonder whether either the Colonial Development Corporation's Charter could be so amended that it could take on work in new territories, or there could be formed a new Corporation, in the same offices as the Colonial Development Corporation, with the same chairman, the same board of directors and the same executives but with different, as it were, articles of association and a different purpose, so that the executive management and experience of the Colonial Development Corporation could be swung over and advantage taken of them in these new territories.
I have spoken for a few moments—I hope not too long—on some of the political dangers and the economic problems. Nevertheless, I believe that, in introducing this Bill, Her Majesty's Government are following the only possible course they can in present circumstances. On the Ghana leaders, both in the Government and in the Opposition, rests a great responsibility for Ghana; and, far beyond Ghana, all Africa is aware and awake and grumbling with new forces, new ambitions and new determination. We have done well in the past in our task, but now the responsibility will lie with those in Ghana. We will help them all we can, and we will wish them well in their task.
§ 4.19 p.m.
My Lords, little remains for me to say after the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inch-rye, if for no other reason than that I find myself in full agreement, notably with what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, in every particular, and beginning with his cordial congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the pleasant recollection we all have of his predecessor on that Bench.
It is most refreshing to those of us who have taken part over a long period of years in some quite controversial debates, both on colonial affairs generally and on the Gold Coast in particular, to find complete agreement on all sides of the House about what is the only outcome, as Lord Balfour of Inchrye has said— 127 and I will go further and say the rightful outcome—of our colonial policy in West Africa. This is the beginning, in Africa and elsewhere, of a new era in colonial development; and in the context of some of the economic factors involved in this Bill which have been touched on, it is a sequence of events which will mark development in Malaya, Singapore, the Caribbean and elsewhere. We are now seeing the ultimate outcome of what is called British colonial development. There is therefore no controversy about what we do here. There remains, however, the controversy, to which various noble Lords have referred, about what is to happen in Ghana.
In the course of the principal debates on the Gold Coast which have taken place in your Lordships' House, the subject of the constitutional set-up, and notably the creation of a Second Chamber, has been a major issue. I was particularly glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, on the other side of the House, that he is, shall I say, a wholehearted supporter of the principle of a Second Chamber, and that he also believes that adequate emoluments should be made to those who take part in the Second Chamber in this, and, I hope, other Governments. It is refreshing to find members of the Labour Party giving their full support to a Second Chamber, whether in Ghana or elsewhere, and I believe, with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that the right answer in the Gold Coast must be the creation of a Second Chamber.
A federal set-up, in which there are too few units to form into a federation, is notoriously difficult, as we have seen in many other parts of the world. A federal set-up where there are forty-eight of fifty States, and where constitutional change can be effected by a two-thirds or a three-quarters majority of the States voting, provides a workable Constitution; but when there are only four, five or six pieces in a federation, it becomes impossible to work a constitutional change, either by a majority of two-thirds or even of three-quarters, in voting. Attractive as the federal system is—and it is especially attractive to an area like Ashanti, with its great tradition of self-government over centuries, since before the impact of Europe on the West Coast, with the Ashanti's great tradition of kingship and 128 continuity, and a highly evolved Constitution which must earn our sympathy—it is clearly impracticable in so small an area and in a country of only between five and six million people. The only alternative seems to me to be that of a Second Chamber in the Government, which has been urged on Dr. Nkrumah from more than one quarter, and from quarters in this country as well. I hope that, before it is too late, and before spirits get too moved in the Gold Coast, both in the Opposition and in the Government, a lasting and final effort will be made to ensure the creation of some kind of Second Chamber which will provide constitutional safeguards for changes and will also give the time which people require to think over problems about which they feel strongly.
There is, therefore, in this Bill, so far as I am concerned, nothing against which I wish to speak. Indeed, the Bill and everything in it have my wholehearted support—except on one point, the point already made by the noble Lords, Lord Ogmore and Lord Balfour of Inchrye—that is, Clause 3. Without pretending to be in any way legally qualified, I suggest that the whole of Clause 3, and especially subsection (4), to which particular reference has been made in connection with the Colonial Development Corporation, is unnecessary, if not out of place. First, it refers to the provision by Parliament of monies to areas other than Ghana. It refers in subsection (3) to such monies as may have been used in the past and distributed to other West African areas, notably Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia. It seems to me curious that, in a Bill which deals with constitutional development in Ghana, reference should be made to the provision of monies, in any form whatsoever, to countries other than Ghana.
In the second place, the clause provides for the termination of the grant of monies and work under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts and by the Colonial Development Corporation. The mere wording of Clause 3 (1):No scheme shall be made on or after the appointed dayin respect of Ghana, and the phrase used by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in referring to that, are rather out of place in this context. The clause suggests that we are not only giving Ghana the opportunity 129 to have independent government, but are taking this opportunity of cutting off all assistance. It may be that, under a self-governing Constitution, Ghana would not want either to draw on the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund or to use the Colonial Development Corporation. That is for Ghana to say hereafter, not for us; but I think it is a little brusque, and perhaps even a little churlish, to say, after some appointed day: "Goodbye, you can do anything you like. We are not concerned any more and you do not get any more money." In the form in which it is drafted the clause is more than brusque. I also suggest that it is not necessary.
Grants of money under the Colonial Welfare and Development Acts, and the use of monies at the disposal of the Colonial Development Corporation, are matters that ultimately require the sanction and agreement of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which may be given or withheld. If it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government no longer to use these funds for any purposes in Ghana, it is quite sufficient to instruct those concerned that funds shall not be made available for any new purposes but that, in the discretion of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, monies may continue to be used for such other purposes as may be specified. I see no reason why the Secretary of State, or these Funds, should be bound by a clause in an Act which says that something shall not be done when there is a perfectly good administrative machine which will enable those concerned, of their own accord, to stop that being done if they do not consider it right and proper.
In Ghana, in particular, the Colonial Development Corporation have not expended a great deal of money. I believe they have in force only two projects, which are related to each other; and it may well be that they will not wish to continue with some of the other projects that have been suggested, notably the cement proposal. On the other hand, maybe they will wish to do so. In either event, I do not see why they should be told here that they must not do so. For, clearly, if they are told they must not use any new funds for expenditure on any new project in Ghana, it surely follows that they should equally be told that they may not use any new funds in 130 Malaya, Singapore and, when the time comes, in the Caribbean Federation. If, however, they were to be allowed—as was implicit in the statement to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has made reference regarding Malaya—to go on spending money there then it would create an intolerable discriminatory position vis-à-vis Ghana.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
It may be useful to your Lordships if I point out that, as a matter of fact, there is no inconsistency between the Malaya and the Ghana positions. The sentence which Lord Ogmore quoted was, I think, out of a discussion which took place with the Malayan Ministers, whereby they were apprised of the position which would govern not only Ghana but Malaya as well.
I take it from what the noble Earl has just said, that the import of the sentence quoted by Lord Ogmore was not that they discussed the continuance of the Colonial Development Corporation's activities but the termination of them.
THE EARL OF HOME
Continuance in respect of work already undertaken, but no new work—it is the same principle.
I see the point. I think the word "continuance" in the statement might have been qualified and made a little more precise. It follows that, when self-government and independence are granted to these various territories, the Colonial Development Corporation will be excluded from any new activities—I will come to continuing activities in a minute. That means, of course, that so far as the territories involved are concerned, this puts the Colonial Development Corporation, for the present, on a care-and-maintenance basis and, for the future, on a basis of liquidation. It can mean nothing else. I see no reason why that should be so. I can see no reason why (perhaps I misquote the noble Earl, Lord Perth) we in this country should adopt a policy of saying: "After the appointed day Her Majesty's Government can no longer assist with these funds". Does this mean that when a country achieves constitutional independence we are to disinterest ourselves qua Government in this country with the future of 131 that part of the Commonwealth? That is what is implied.
Let us examine for a moment exactly what that means. It means that there is no source of official money here but only sources of commercial money, which may be more reluctant to go into the territory of an emerging independent State than they would have been to go into a colonial territory. In other words, this is creating a greater difficulty for the territory to raise funds in this country than they would have experienced if they had remained a colonial territory. Surely that cannot be the policy of Her Majesty's Government, nor can it be a policy which any of us would desire. But it goes much further than that. It means that a vacuum has been created enabling other parties to go in and take our place—and those parties may have political motives in going in which we should not have.
It seems to me of the utmost importance at the present time, when certain countries are offering assistance—obviously for purely political reasons, and not for commercial reasons—that we should not put ourselves in the position of being unable to assist a new colonial Government. To do so means to allow these other countries a completely free field in which to conduct their intrigues, and to provide their funds, possibly, for entirely political motives. I do not want to quote any one particular country or any one particular territory in which this has happened. The names of both recipient and giving countries must be in your Lordships' minds, and that point requires no further elaboration.
I suggest that if I am right—I may be wrong, of course—Clause 3 is trying to tidy up something that does not need tidying up in this area. I would advise that Clause 3 should be dropped, and, if it is the desire of the Government that hereafter the Colonial Development Corporation and the funds provided under the Colonial Welfare and Development Act should be directed along other channels and used in different ways, that that should be done by Amendments to the appropriate Acts of these Corporations and these Welfare Development Funds, and should not be included in the Ghana Independence Bill. No doubt a debate on this matter will take place at 132 the Committee stage in your Lordships' House. I regard this clause not only as mischievous, from the point of view of our relations with Ghana, but as fraught with a great deal of potential danger, because of the creation of a vacuum which would attract a large number of countries, some very hostile, though others, perhaps, friendly and wishing toy assist, into Ghana because we are deliberately getting out financially. I need hardly say that I do not wish to imply any criticism of the policy followed in this Bill which will give Ghana independence, but I do suggest that the form of the Bill, notably Clause 3, requires a little revision or a little more thought before it receives the approval of your Lordships.
§ 4.37 p.m.
My Lords, it is thirty years since I went to the Gold Coast as a teacher. If I had my time over again I should do the same, for I spent there the happiest and most rewarding years of my life. Before I left the Gold Coast I had the honour of serving under a Minister of Education and a Prime Minister, both of whom I was proud to number among my own old pupils. My last post was at Ashanti, in the Kumasi College of Technology, which was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in his opening speech. In Achimota there was created, under the inspiration of its remarkable first principal, Mr. Fraser, an atmosphere of interracial harmony in which I formed a great affection and a deep respect for the people of the Gold Coast. And may I say, by the way, that I know how delighted they will be that Mr. Fraser, who is now over the age of eighty, has—and the action is typical of him—gone out to the Gold Coast with his wife to join in the celebration of Independence Day.
I feel that I should be ungrateful to my friends in Ghana if I did not say a few words to-day in support of this Bill. I have sometimes ventured from these Benches to criticise actions taken by the Government in the colonial sphere, and to-day I want to offer to the Government my warm congratulations on the policy of which this Bill is the coping stone. May I express the hope that no one in this country will find undue difficulty in giving currency to the new name, Ghana. Many of us have very happy associations with the name "The Gold 133 Coast", but a proud people naturally does not wish its nation to be known by, the name of a product, however valuable that product be; and the new name "Ghana" will have a more familiar ring in English ears if it is recognised as the original and correct form of the more familiar word "Guinea". It was from the Empire of Ghana, in West Africa, that our forbears misnamed the Coast, the Guinea Coast. I have been sorry to read in the Oxford English Dictionary that the origin of the word "guinea" is unknown, but I hope that in the next edition that entry will be corrected. The sovereigns that were minted in the reign of King Charles II of gold from Guinea were found to be more valuable than other sovereigns, so that their value had to be fixed at 21s. instead of 20s. May we hope that that is an augury of the future and that the world will give sovereign Ghana twenty-one marks out of twenty.
This Bill is to give fully responsible status to the Gold Coast. We know that it will pass your Lordships' House, as it did another place, with the consent of all Parties. Why is that? It is partly because, under the leadership of Dr. Nkrumah, the people of the Gold Coast have shown themselves, in the opinion of those best able to judge, fit for this supreme responsibility. In this regard I should like to associate myself with the tributes that have been paid to the statesmanlike work of the Governor, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, and to the British and African civil servants who have assisted him. Yet there have been misgivings, and we greatly admire Her Majesty's Government, and especially the Secretary of State, for not letting these deter them from their policy once they had found that that policy had the support of the great majority of the Gold Coast people. These misgivings have come not only from British people but also from people in tine Gold Coast itself, and the Government might easily have given them undue weight. I do not mean for a moment that they should be underrated, still less that they should be lightly dismissed, and I am very glad that Mr. Lennox-Boyd is now in Accra and able to discuss them with people there.
In my opinion, there is a deep and mutual attraction between the Africans of 134 the Gold Coast and the people of this country who have met them. We have the same delight in simple, human joys and, what is perhaps more surprising, we seem to have the same sense of humour. That was often made manifest in the classrooms and boarding houses where I had the pleasure of working. The natural concomitant of a sense of humour is a sense of proportion, and that also is something which is shared by the British and African peoples. But there is a difference in our styles of expression, and sometimes this does lead to misunderstanding. We, living in a temperate clime and under grey skies, have a natural reserve and a liking for understatement which to Africans sometimes seems dull and drab. They live in the fierce sunlight of their land and express themselves in highly coloured terms, some of which were quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in his speech. Sometimes these seem Ito us extreme and make us wonder in this country whether there is that sense of Proportion to which I have referred. But it is my experience and my conviction that that sense of proportion is there, and I have no doubt that those in Ashanti and in the Northern Territories who now have misgivings will keep them in due proportion and that they will be completely outweighed by the pride of race which is strong among all the peoples of Ghana.
Politics in the Gold Coast are conducted with tropical exuberance. Yet in the Legislative Assembly, set up, I think, only five years ago, no single member has had to be suspended by the Speaker. The Governor has not felt himself obliged to veto any Bill that has been passed by that Assembly, nor has he thought it necessary to use any of his reserve powers; and outside in the country at large there has been a minimum of disturbance. So that, if that fine record is continued up until March 6, the friends of Ghana will be able to say, with great pride, that no Dominion has been born in recent years with less bloodshed than Ghana, with the single exception of Ceylon. I believe that: the peoples of Ghana will rise to the opportunity that is now presented to them and that they will act in the spirit of the motto which was adopted by Achimota School— Ut omnes unum sint. May I add that the peoples of Ghana bring to the practice of democracy two 135 great assets from their own ancient traditions. One is a great love of discussion, well known to any of your Lordships who have attended any palavers in the Gold Coast. The second is a great hatred of tyranny, manifested again and again by the destoolment of chiefs.
For these reasons, and for others with which I will not weary your Lordships, I most warmly support this Bill. But, like other noble Lords who have preceded me, I wish to associate myself with Lord Ogmore's regret at subsection (4) of Clause 3 of the Bill. I sincerely hope that the Government will modify that clause. We all realise that there must be no entrenchment on the sovereign independence of Ghana, but we believe that some arrangements could be made, and that it would be the wish of Ghana that they should be made, whereby the expert services of the Colonial Development Corporation could still operate in the country without there being any sense of derogation of Ghanan independence.
We are told that there are other agencies able to supply the new Dominion with capital. But that Dominion will require much more than capital. Its need will be greatly for expert technicians in the widest sense of that term; teams of people able to understand from personal experience the problems that are involved and able to work with the people of the country around. It is a commonplace to say of Africans—and it is true of others —that nothing can be done among them except through trust. We know that they have given their trust to the Colonial Development Corporation, a body which has earned their trust, and, in my view, the breaking of that trust would be most unfortunate. I hope that nothing will be done either to weaken, or still less to terminate, the services of the Colonial Development Corporation to Ghana, or its services to other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
Lastly, I think we should remember that the granting of independence to Ghana is going to have far-reaching effects in Africa outside Ghana. It will inevitably intensify that African nationalism, which I believe is a force that should not be resisted and still less resented but should be recognised as natural and as gratifying—gratifying because imitation is the sincerest form of 136 flattery. I hope that other countries in Africa, and as the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said, other peoples elsewhere, will notice that Ghana has achieved this new status by peaceful means. There are those who think that there is something very peculiar about the peoples of Ghana which sets them apart from other members of their race. I my Lords, teaching in West and East Africa, have had pupils from every British Colony in Africa except one. I make bold to suggest that there is, in fact, in all those territories, an equal ability and an equally strong aspiration for the future, and that the difference between the Gold Coast and other African countries is that it is in the Gold Coast that Africans have received the greatest opportunities.
I hope we shall learn from what this Bill is about to do the importance of seeing that every one of our African territories is an opportunity State for the Africans belonging to it. I hope that on March 6 there will not only be sympathy here with the celebrations conducted in Ghana, but that in this country we shall have great celebrations—I hope that Her Majesty's Government may give some lead in this matter—to show to the people of Ghana, to the rest of Africa and to the world, our delight at the coming of age of the people of the Gold Coast, and our conviction that Ghana will be great and a most welcome addition to the British Commonwealth of nations.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising at this hour to take part in this debate, it may seem that there is little left that can usefully be said; but my excuse must be that, just as I listened with great enlightenment to the view of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, who preceded me in this debate, who spoke as an educationist and largely, as I understood him, referred to the racial capacity of the African, so I may perhaps aspire to throw a slightly different light on some of these questions from the point of view of one who has had a rather intimate knowledge of administration and of the difficulties which a State like Ghana has to face. I may say at the beginning that there is a big difference between a feeling of racial pride as an African and an ability to generate patriotism which has a territorial reference to a particular part and country.
137 This is, indeed, an historic occasion, and the very uncertainty of the fabric which is being woven by the loom of fate in this country commands at once our anxious attention and, indeed, our earnest hope. We want this adventure to succeed, because success means so much to us, as well as to Ghana. If good wishes and good will could ensure success, then indeed the State of Ghana could view the future without any apprehension; but, in fact, the future lies in the hands of the people of Ghana and, ultimately, in their hands alone. It is said that the pathos of friendship is that no mar may deliver his brother. We have all of us to carry our own burdens. I should like to take up a few minutes of your Lordships' time in speaking with the candour that a friend may perhaps claim the privilege of using.
Our own national progress has been an instance of the ways of freedom broadening down from precedent to precede it. The pace of modern progress is too hot for anything of that sort. From any standard of perfection, or anything approaching perfection, self-government must always seem premature. But, realistically, we have accepted the general principle which has been enunciated by Dr. Nkrumah himself on many occasions: that the only way to learn how to use responsibility is to have it, and to have the power to make one's own mistakes. Lest we expect too much, let us hear in mind that we are handing over the Gold Coast to a few able men at the top, a corps d'élite with little effective challenge from a responsible public opinion The economy is fragile, with a dangerous dependence on cocoa there are desperate shortages in technical skill and managerial experience; and the basis of democracy is not, from our standards, broad enough, while illiteracy is very high.
I know that immense efforts are being made to remedy these deficiencies, but inevitably the two vital necessities are time and money. For some time, as I see it, the only real safeguard will be the integrity and capacity of the members of the Ghana Government themselves. They will have to face real and difficult problems, bath political and economic. The ignorant populace expects, as usual, a new heaven and a new earth, and they are bound to be disappointed. I am not 138 one of those who would have the African become a carbon copy of the European, but one hopes that it will become possible for a composite character to emerge from the best of Western teaching grafted on to the best of their own traditions.
Power is being placed in the eager, inexperienced hands of an anxious and ambitious group after only six years apprenticeship in the art of self-government. Failure would be a tragedy, not only for the five million Ghana citizens, but also as a setback to the hopes of other African territories now advancing along the same road. Never was a united country more desirable than in facing such tasks as these. That there are grave differences of opinion amongst the four regions is a sad fact. One can only hope that the apprehensions felt in Ashanti and the Northern Territories may be allayed by a statesmanlike compromise, so as to enable Government and Opposition to set about their respective rôles without which a democratic system cannot be evolved and cannot work.
We all have our own personal views and preferences over constitutional matters, and I do not propose to intrude my own, ether than to say that, when apprehensions are genuinely felt about the independence, shall we say, of the Judicial Commission and the Civil Service Commission, the rights of minorities and the power and stability of regional bodies, it is surely prudent to secure unity by reasonable compromise in order to allay those apprehensions. Let us not forget, too, that Protectorates are being transferred to the care of a Government which is inexperienced in the administration of backward peoples. I say this in no derogatory spirit. Literacy is only 25 per cent. over the whole of Ghana, and only 10 per cent. in the Northern Territories, where, indeed, a virile and potentially turbulent population has its residence.
In these matters I believe in keeping at least one foot on the ground, mindful of the example of the classical hero who proved to be quite invincible so long as he kept that touch with Mother Earth and did net allow his views and aspirations to soar too high. I understand that the percentage of Africans who could have registered and voted in the last elections and who actually registered was very disappointing. I know that that is 139 not an unusual feature in countries other than Ghana. But when I look at the tremendous commitments of the Ghana Government, I realise that it is no time for reckless sentimentality. One can admire the courage of Dr. Nkrumah and his colleagues, while one realises how deeply and for how long they will need support and help in personnel, in finance and in experience. Can the economy of Ghana face its commitments in the early future in education, communications, irrigation, soil improvement and conservation, social services and the development of the Northern Territories and Togoland? We hope, and believe, that it can be done if, and only if, we supplement faith with a businesslike appreciation of what is needed in the way of assistance.
In this connection, I should like to join in what has up to date been the universal chorus about the Colonial Development Corporation. I cannot, for the life of me, appreciate why Clause 3 (4) of this Bill is needed, or what good purpose it serves. Why specifically exclude the C.D.C.? That which we call the C.D.C. by any other name would serve as well, if it is the name which is objected to, and it should be free to assist Ghana if that Government so desired. In the C.D.C.—and I speak with some experience, as I have been a member of the board before it became as efficient as it now is—we have an organisation which has now won general approval for streamlined efficiency, if I may call it that. It has established confidence and good will, and is eminently qualified to provide sober management experience and to be a medium for the use of export capital as well as co-operation with international bodies and with private enterprise. Its exclusion seems to me to be a wanton waste of a trained organisation. As has been pointed out repeatedly this afternoon, it also sets a thoroughly bad precedent. Within four or five years, Malaya, Singapore, Nigeria, the Central African Federation and the Caribbean Federation will have joined the Gold Coast in this group of new members of the Commonwealth. Under this precedent, the C.D.C. would then be virtually extinct, dying of pernicious anæmia, its diminishing staff discouraged and its function finished. I can only implore the Government to reconsider this matter.
140 Organisations like the Colonial Development Finance Company, the Export Credits Guarantee Department, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development are not geared to take over the work required. They have not the staff experience or anything else, as we who have had intimate connection with this work know. Recent letters to The Times from Mr. Leather and Mr. Marquand have been mentioned, and I hope that your Lordships have read them, because they take an eminently sane business view of this clause. We cannot shelve our moral responsibility by saying that Ghana will be independent and able to make its own approaches to financial bodies. It may be that a joint Commonwealth approach to the question of assistance will be needed, but such processes, as we know, unfortunately are inevitably slow; and meanwhile, and immediately, we have the moral responsibility for the welfare of Ghana and also what has not been mentioned: for all those who were encouraged by our stabilising presence and have sunk capital, skill and enterprise there, and so helped to make possible that progress the credit for which eager politicians are apt to claim so extravagantly. The C.D.C. operations do not represent, as has sometimes been said, grant-in-aid money. It is a good investment, and is in direct fulfilment of the accepted policy of development, to the mutual interest of this country and of the recipient country. It is not, let me say again, the United Kingdom taxpayer subsidising an independent country, but it is, or would be, an intelligent expansion of mutual trade and industry.
The one really unsatisfactory and rather ominous feature of the present situation is the inability of the Gold Coast Government and the Opposition to agree on some constitutional formula which would enable them to work together as a Government and Opposition. It is more than regrettable that, as Independence Day approaches, no celebrations have apparently been arranged for Ashanti and the Northern Territories. The noble Lord who preceded me suggested that we ought to have celebrations here. I should not deny that at all, but I should have thought it far more appropriate that there should be celebrations in Ashanti and the Northern Territories. I understand that 141 the Secretary of State is now in Accra discussing these questions. I, too, should like to acknowledge the statesman-like vision of Dr. Nkrumah in extending that invitation, probably in the hope that, even at this last hour, some compromise might be agreed upon which would enable the emergent State of Ghana to appear on its first birthday as a country united in its determination to work for the national interest and divided only by differing methods of approach to the problems of government.
The C.P.P. (if I may so shorten it) won the last election, and in its moment of triumph can afford to be fair; but I myself do not think it reasonable to expect that all the concessions should come from Dr. Nkrumah and his Government. It is also necessary, surely, for the Opposition to be a little reasonable and to accept a compromise. After all, the essence of a compromise is that both sides should give way a little for the sake of the common national interest. As we know, it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose, presumably with the idea of winning the next election and becoming the Government themselves; but it is certainly not part of their duty to try to paralyse the process of government and to sacrifice the best interests of the country to factious opposition.
Having said so much, I feel it appropriate, especially in this House, just to mention the question of the desirability of a Second Chamber. The absence of a Second Chamber, or at least some device for affording a means of delaying any improper haste in changing the Constitution, seems to me to be unreasonable. I understand that Dr. Nkrumah offered the Opposition a Second Chamber in place of the Houses of Chiefs in the Regions; but the Opposition demanded both Houses of Chiefs in the Regions and a Second Chamber at headquarters. I cannot help feeling that, if the Gold Coast had got all of the constitutional bodies that were demanded by the Opposition parties, it would have been heavily overloaded with Government bodies. However, I do not think this is any time for going into detail. I merely express the hope that some means will be found of introducing some constitutional device which will enable a little delay to take place when important changes in the Constitution are contemplated.
142 Economic facts are far more important than political histrionics, and if the State of Ghana presents a picture of internal discord at the start, all the good wishes in the world will not attract the investors or inspire their confidence. It is a great pity, I think, in passing, that so many valuable members of the Colonial Civil Service (as I always think of it) or Her Majesty's Oversea Service (if your Lordships prefer that term) should have been allowed to go when there is no question that their help will be urgently needed before the State of Ghana can produce an adequate number of its own properly trained officers. I think that this is a suitable moment to record a tribute to the magnificent work of the Colonial Service in Ghana, as elsewhere, and to leave no doubt about our appreciation of what has been done by all of them, from the Governor downwards, in helping in this extremely difficult task of eliminating the necessity for one's own presence.
An important aspect of Ghana's future will be its foreign relations, and I think it is worth having one look at the map. Geographically, it is surrounded on all sides by French territory. There is a great deal of inter-trading and movement of labour from French territory to the Gold Coast and back again, and if the Volta project comes into being there will no doubt be in French territory valuable markets which the State of Ghana will wish to exploit. Therefore, friendly relations between the French Government and the State of Ghana will have almost a priority importance in its future.
Ghana will be spared the expense of nuclear weapons and jet aircraft. She now spends on defence £3 million a year out of a recurrent expenditure of £47 million. This has relation chiefly, as has been mentioned before this afternoon, to internal security. As has been mentioned, the police number about 5,500, and the military forces comprise a similar number. Ninety per cent. of the commissioned officers and N.C.Os. are seconded British officers. It is no doubt of great value to the State of Ghana and its force to have those experienced officers helping them in the initial stage, but in the event of internal disturbances in the future, while they are still engaged in this task, I can foresee an extremely embarrassing situation arising for those British officers. I am aware of the Answer given in another place, that under their agreements 143 they are all voluntarily seconded, and can be withdrawn at any moment; but I can easily visualise a situation in which it would be extremely difficult to withdraw suddenly all the officers of the forces which are there to keep law and order in an emergency.
To turn now to the internal position, for the future investors will require confidence in the stability and security of their capital, which Ghana has yet to win. There must also be investment opportunities and an atmosphere of good will. At present internal differences prevent that atmosphere of confidence and good will. The British Government, and this Bill expressing its purpose, start from the premise that the four Regions constitute one territory, and that the separate Regions would not be economically viable by themselves. That is a view which seems to me to be reasonable—I agree with it myself; but Ashanti and the Northern Territories contend that there should be adequate safeguards for them and for their way of life and that such safeguards are not provided by the requirement of a two-thirds majority before constitutional revision can take place, since the Convention People's Party has a two-thirds majority at the moment and could, theoretically at any rate, make any change it liked after March 6.
Whether or not there should be Regional Councils, and what should be their powers, entrenched or otherwise, is, of course, a matter for the people of Ghana themselves to decide. But on general grounds I think one ought to consider that self-government does imply a self to which power can be handed over. And if the self is seriously divided, are independence and self-government and self-determination to spell the imposition of the alien will of localised majorities upon the will of localised minorities themselves enjoying a traditional communal sentiment of their own? This is a difficult question to answer. One can only hope now that in the interests of internal peace and the future of Ghana a spirit of reason and compromise will prevail.
The centre of political interest now is not self-government, but those internal problems which self-government by itself can do nothing to solve—indeed, it rather emphasises them. It is a factor to be 144 considered that between certain of the regions there is little common culture or historical experience. It has been well said that you can shorten processes to-day, most of them economic processes; you can create economic ties; but a national loyalty can be evolved only slowly, and only West Africans can hope to solve their mutual antagonisms. To me, the real question is: will the areas into which, for historical and largely arbitrary reasons, Western Europe has divided Western Africa, survive at all as viable independent States? Only time can tell us the answer.
We are told that Dr. Nkrumah and his colleagues have the responsibility of proving that Africans can successfully manage the affairs of a modern State, and that much of the future of Africa awaits that West African proof. I prefer to look at the matter from a rather different angle. Surely what is at stake mostly here, is British colonial policy. Is it right or is it wrong? Can one make viable modern States out of an assemblage of tribes united by lines drawn on a map by an alien authority? In how short a time can one work this miracle? To my mind, that is the question which has to be answered. One can bind them economically, but what of the spiritual bonds that unite to form patriotism? Without that spiritual bond it is impossible to make a nation. If I may be permitted to intrude verses on to this Assembly of your Lordships, there must be the spirit which is described in the old lines:So to the land our hearts we giveTill the sure magic strike;And memory, use and love make liveUs and our fields alike—That deeper than our speech and thought,Beyond our reason's sway,Clay of the pit whence we were wroughtYearns to its fellow-clay.My Lords, if there is not that feeling among the different Regions and Territories which are expected to comprise a modern State there is little hope of that State becoming a nation, in the modern sense of the word.
I know that there have been difficulties in the history of the United Kingdom. Going back to the tales of old, unhappy, far-off days and battles long ago, I know that the Welsh, the Scottish and the English tribes fought each other. That is true. But we had time to get over all that. I suggest that we cannot afford 145 meditæval strife in the context of a modern setting. So, my Lords, when the influence of the paternal authority of Great Britain is withdrawn, will the unity survive? I do not know—I do not profess to know—the answer to that question. I can only say that I hope that the answer is, "Yes"; and I wish Ghana every success. The stakes are immense, because success means that Ghana may well become the torch-bearer of an emergent African civilisation. I support the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords. I hope that I may express the pleasure that I felt in listening to the graceful tribute paid by my noble friend Lord Ogmore to the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. It sometimes happens that, when welcoming a successor, one feels compelled to shed a tear over his predecessor. I must say that I hid looked forward the future to continuing to fight my battles over Cyprus with the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd. He is the fairest of debaters but also a vigorous debater—and, to my mind, vigour is a great asset in debate.
The Bill that we are discussing is a happy illustration of British colonial policy, and l must say I find it most regrettable that such almost complete ignorance concerning British colonial policy should be found amongst members of the Administration of the United States. Ignorance is always regrettable on the personal side, but it becomes really deplorable when actions and policies are based upon ignorance. I sometimes wonder whether all members of the American Administration have noticed the fact that while, since the war, the Dutch and ourselves have abandoned our government over no fewer than 500 million people, Russia has imposed slavery upon far more than that great number. I hope that the lesson of this Bill may be learned in quarters where we are so misrepresented.
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said something about the economic side of this Bill. The Gold Coast will certainly require considerable capital to carry out such great schemes as the Volta River project—a scheme which would go far to remove the undoubted drawbacks of Ghana's reliance upon a single commodity economy. But to encourage foreign investors to supply part, at any rate, of the 146 capital which that great project will require, it will be necessary for the Prime Minister, Dr. Nkruinah, to establish a Government with such a high reputation for integrity that foreign investors will feel disposed to be forthcoming. It is very necessary that he should do so, for if he does not succeed in establishing a Government with such a reputation, it will be a grave setback for Africans generally in Africa; and Dr. Nkrumah certainly has, to the north, a neighbour who can hardly be used as an argument by those who believe that Africans can be advanced to the stage of self-government and who are prepared to act on their belief.
At the time when Dr. Nkrumah assumed power (he was not then known as "Prime Minister" but by some other title), I visited the Gold Coast and travelled for a month throughout the country, and I had the advantage of meeting him. He certainly will not fail in his task for lack of courage. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, has referred to the courage he showed in persisting with the cutting-out policy for swollen shoot. That required great courage. I was also very impressed by his intelligence. I have kept in close touch with Gold Coast affairs since, and I think that in many of his acts since he assumed power he has shown both courage and intelligence.
One thing which I very much hope is that he will lead a democratic Government; that he will foster and encourage the idea of an Opposition and its formation; and that he will repress those of his followers whose only idea about an Opposition seems to be to repress it by any and every means. The question of a Second Chamber has been raised this afternoon. I think the pros and cons of that matter will be more appropriately argued out on the Committee stage of this Bill; but if a Second Chamber will, in any way, reassure the Ashanti and the Northern Territories that their interests and rights will be secured and defended, there are very strong arguments in favour of a Second Chamber. I hope with all my heart that reconciliation may be effected with Ashanti and the Northern Territories. When I travelled through the country I conceived warm feelings for the people of the Northern Territories —a fine, manly lot. But the country is 147 really so small that there is no room for fission. It must be the State of Ghana. To my mind no other solution would work.
I hope that the visit which the Colonial Secretary is paying to Ghana at this time may assist towards the realisation of that view in Ashanti and the Northern Territories. The Colonial Secretary has a happy knack of combining firmness with conciliation, and I hope that those gifts of his may be exercised successfully in this connection. I am quite sure that the visit of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, which was referred to by my noble friend, Lord Ogmore, will have the happiest effect upon the people of Ghana. Her Royal Highness will be fascinated by the smiling faces and the bright colours of the women of the Territory, and will be delighted by the spectacle of the children going to school, carrying their exercise-books and even their ink-pots on the tops of their heads.
As regards what has been said about the Colonial Development Corporation, I think that that, again, is a matter which should be argued out in detail on the Committee stage of the Bill. Those details are not appropriate to a Second Reading debate. I will only say, therefore, that, for myself, I do not wish to deprive Ghana of anything which might help its economy and finance, and I do not wish to deprive the Colonial Development Corporation of any useful sphere of work which at present it enjoys. Something has been said about the expatriate civil servants. I should like to pay my humble tribute to those men. My journey was made just at the time when Dr. Nkrumah had assumed power and the shadow of things to come was clearly to be discerned. I met many of these expatriate civil servants, and it is one of my strongest recollections that, with one exception, I heard from them no complaints about what they foresaw in the future. The only one who did express a regret and a doubt was one who was troubled, not about his own personal position, but over whether the work which he had developed and seen grow up in his part of the territory should in any way suffer a setback. Otherwise, from the Governor downwards, everyone I met was determined to do everything in his power to make the great experiment 148 a success. The Governor most certainly was a wise and good friend to Dr. Nkrumah as he took his first steps along a new and difficult road. I am rejoiced to hear this afternoon that the terms to be offered to these expatriate officers are generous. I think they have fully merited generous terms.
My noble friend, Lord Ogmore, pressed for as little delay as possible in appointing a Governor-General in succession to the present Governor. How wise the noble Lord was! I have myself seen the evils which follow from delays in making such an appointment. The right man will certainly not be easy to find. The Lord Llewellins of this world are unfortunately scarce, but it is a man of the characteristics of the late Lord Llewellin who is required in Ghana. May I say one final word about another matter which fell from my noble friend—his reference to the establishment of a branch or an affiliate of the Air League. That brought to my mind how very important it is that air surveys of such territories as Ghana should be carried out for until such surveys are completed it cannot really be known what are all the natural resources of an African territory. I join wholeheartedly in the tributes which have been paid to Ghana and the good wishes which have been expressed for the future welfare, security and happiness of that territory: and I hope that this debate, which will, I am sure, be fully considered in Ghana, will convince the people of that country of the abundant good will which exists for them in this country as they take this great step in their history.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like to start by joining other noble Lords on this side of the House in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, for his really exceptional helpfulness to us while he was at the Colonial Office. I very much hope that he will soon reappear on the Government Front Bench in an even more exalted capacity. I should also like to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on his post and to wish him every success. I can tell him, from personal experience (because I had the good fortune to hold the same post myself), that he will find it immensely interesting and enjoyable. I think he comes to this post with advantages that are not shared by all new Ministers going 149 to their first Departments. I served with the noble Earl on the Malta Round Table Conference, and I know what tremendously useful work he did then. So he comes to the Colonial Office with considerable knowledge of the affairs with which he will be dealing. His knowledge of the business world will also be a special asset in the Colonial Office, because in recent years the economic side of the Office has been increasingly important. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, rendered special service in that connection, and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Perth, will also do so during his term of office.
I should next like to join with all the noble Lords who have spoken in wishing every success to what will soon be the ninth independent member of the Commonwealth, in welcoming this new member of our Commonwealth family, I know that the good wishes of this House go out to all the peoples of Ghana, and to their elected represenatives and traditional leaders, whether supporters of the Government or of the Opposition Parties. In this country, as the noble Earl pointed out, all the political Parties have helped the Gold Coast along the successive stages to self-government.
Now that the end of the journey is so near, it is particularly pleasant to recollect that in my time at the Colonial Office we had the Report of the Coussey Committee. The recommendations of this all-African Committee marked a very important stage in the constitutional advance of the Gold Coast. Outstanding among its members was the Chairman, Mr. Justice Coussey. Perhaps I may be allowed to say, in passing, that if it is decided to invite a Gold Coast judge to sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, there could be no one better fitted for this post than Mr. Justice Coussey. As the Gold Coast, I understand, unlike other post-war Commonwealth countries, intends to continue to allow appeals to the Privy Council after independence, I very much hope that a Gold Coast judge will be invited to sit with fellow judges from other parts of the Commonwealth. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said in another place that he would inform the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor of the strong feeling on this subject that was expressed in the debate there. I should like to ask the Government (I did not 150 give notice of my question, so I do not expect an answer now: perhaps one of the noble Earls may be prepared to give me an answer at the Committee stage) whether this approach to the Lord Chancellor has been made; and, if so, whether we can expect an early official statement on this matter.
I think it is fitting—and it has certainly seemed fitting to many Members of your Lordships' House—that before the Gold Coast ceases to be a responsibility of our Parliament, we should pay a grateful tribute to the work of the Governor, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, and the members of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service who have served that country under him and his predecessors. They have bequeathed a legacy of efficient and honest administration of which both we and the Gold Coast can be justly proud. I first met Sir Charles Arden-Clarke (I hope I do not weary your Lordships with this personal experience) when he was Governor of Sarawak and I stayed with him for a few days at Kuching. It was then that I realised how much his tact and skill had done 10 smooth the rather difficult transition from the rule of the Brooke family to that of the British Crown. The same qualities have made him possibly the greatest of the many distinguished Governors of the Gold Coast, and certainly the Governor who has found his way nearest to the hearts of its inhabitants.
Speaking of the British officers in the Gold Coast, I hope that a large number of them will stay to carry on the magnificent work they have been doing up to the present time. Ghana will need their services more than ever in the early years of its national life, until there has been time to train a sufficient number of local recruits and for these men to qualify by experience for the senior technical and administrative posts. But expatriate officers are obviously entitled to think of their own security and prospects. I cannot help thinking that the Gold Coast Government would reassure them if it would say that their conditions of service will be decided by the Public Service Commission which already exists, and that there will be no political interference whatever with the authority of the Commission after the country has become independent.
There is one matter that I regard as of very considerable importance, and 151 about which I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Home, who of course deals primarily with Commonwealth matters, may be able to say something at the end of the debate. It is, of course, the accepted constitutional practice that self-government within the Commonwealth is a matter for Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, and for that Government alone, whereas full membership of the Commonwealth is a matter for all the present members of the Commonwealth. We all hope that the Gold Coast will become a full member simultaneously with the achievement of self-government on March 6. The Minister who introduced the Bill in another place said that the Gold Coast Government had asked Her Majesty's Government to approach the other members of the Commonwealth, and that this approach would be made "in the very near future" with a view to ascertaining their opinion about full membership of the Commonwealth for Ghana. That statement was made on December 11. Six weeks have passed since then, and I am now asking the noble Earl (again I shall be content if I receive a reply at the Committee stage) what action has, in fact, been taken, and when we can expect to hear the result of Her Majesty's Government's approach to the Governments of the other Commonwealth countries.
There are just two points that I should like to make on the clauses of the Bill. Clause 2, among other things, very properly amends the British Nationality Act, so that we in this country recognise the citizens of Ghana—as we do citizens of other Commonwealth countries—as Commonwealth citizens. I regard (and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Home, will agree with me) a common citizenship throughout the Commonwealth as among the most important of our Commonwealth ties. Even if it confers no rights—as very often happens—and no privileges, it is, as it were, a family badge not shared with foreigners. This family badge emphasises the unity of the Commonwealth and its democratic basis in the political consciousness of ordinary men and women. I venture to hope that other Commonwealth countries will legislate as soon as possible in the same sense, and that the Government of Ghana will reciprocate when dealing with its own nationality laws.
152 My other point is one which has been made by every speaker who has addressed your Lordships this afternoon. It relates to the provision in Clause 3 (4) about the Colonial Development Corporation. I think the unanimity of opinion expressed by all noble Lords, on both sides of the House, qualified to express an opinion on this subject, is something I to which the Government ought to pay very careful attention. Every noble Lord who has taken part in the debate has emphasised the undesirability of excluding the Colonial Development Corporation from Ghana and setting a precedent which, clearly, will mean that it will be excluded from other dependencies when they become self-governing members of the Commonwealth. I think there is no doubt about the need of capital investment in these countries. In the first few years after independence, of course, countries like Ghana will find it particularly difficult to attract private investors from overseas. The private investor will be watching to see whether the Government are going to be stable, whether they can give security to foreign capital. Therefore, at a time such as this there is a special need for funds from other sources, such as the Colonial Development Corporation.
I will not go into this matter now, because it is the end of the debate and nobody wants to speak at great length, but I do not believe that the Colonial Development Finance Company is anything like a substitute for the Colonial Development Corporation. The exclusion of the C.D.C. from self-governing countries will not only retard their economic development but, in the long run, will mean financial disaster to the Corporation. As more and more dependencies reach self-government, the field in which it can operate will contract; and the smaller this field becomes, the harder it will be for the C.D.C. to pay its way. I understand, again from studying the remarks from Ministers in another place, that the Government have been consulting with other members of the Commonwealth about new machinery for mutual aid in relation to capital investment. We should like to know how these consultations have gone, and whether the Government can give us any information about the views of the other Commonwealth countries. However that may be, unless something really epoch-making has 153 emerged from these consultations, I think that we should all like the Government to consult the other Commonwealth countries about an extension of the field of operations of the Colonial Development Corporation.
Some noble Lords—surprisingly few, compared to the number of speakers in another place—have pointed out the risks inherent in early independence in the Gold Coast. Indeed, history shows that the birth of a new nation is seldom painless. So far as we are concerned, it is our responsibility to ensure a peaceful transition to independent status. But, whatever we may do in the meantime—and the meantime is very short—the issue will be decided after March 6 by the Gold Coast. The whole world will be watching this test case for democracy and self-government in Africa. I suppose that the essence of democracy is that it represents government by reason and not by force. Majorities must not use their power to trample on the rights of minorities, and minorities must not oppose the will of the majority by violent methods. To put the same thing in another way, perhaps a way that is more familiar to us, an Opposition must have a reasonable chance of turning out a Government by constitutional means. If the political leaders in the Gold Coast really believe in democracy, as I am sure that they do, their differences will be settled in a democratic way, without violence and bloodshed; but we must certainly do everything we can to make as easy as possible a reasonable settlement of these very serious differences.
I have no doubt that the Secretary of State will discuss these matters with the Gold Coast Government, who have shown the great wisdom to invite him to Accra for that purpose. There is one matter which has already been mentioned which I think should be borne in mind. I feel that there is a great deal to be said for the inclusion of a list of fundamental rights, enforceable in the courts, in the Constitution we have bequeathed to Ghana, coupled with some sort of arrangement that will prevent the alteration of the Constitution by a single party majority. I think that that would do a great deal to reassure the minorities in Ashanti and the Northern Territories. Clearly, this is a matter for agreement between us and the Gold Coast, and the 154 considered views of the Gold Coast Government must weigh very heavily in reaching a decision.
It is encouraging to know that Dr. Nkrumah has expressed the view that he is not at all opposed to guaranteeing fundamental rights, and the Secretary of State has already said that this is a matter which will be looked at again. I agree with the concluding sentence of the noble Lord. Lord Milverton, that this young nation will have an exceptional opportunity, not only of making a fresh contribution to the future of Africa and of the Commonwealth but also of increasing mutual understanding and good will between the races and nations of the world. I wish it every success in this great undertaking.
§ 5.56 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, it is one of the melancholy parts of politics that sometimes we have to part from our political friends. I should like to say how glad I was to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and other noble Lords said about the service which my noble friend Lord Lloyd gave to this House in the field of colonial affairs while he was the responsible Minister. He gave of his best, which is very good indeed, and I am sure that we all hope that this is only an interval in his political career. At the same time, I join with noble Lords in welcoming my noble friend and colleague Lord Perth. He will find great interest, I know, in this field of activity. My noble friend said that there might be a parallel between the position of Ashanti and the Northern Territories and the rest of Ghana and that of Scotland and England in certain periods of history. I recall that the Drummonds and the Homes were a considerable nuisance to England at one time. I suppose that we have learned better ways, though I sometimes wish that Ministers of the Crown had the powers of dealing with their opponents that they had in those days.
In moving the Second Reading my noble friend suggested that this Bill makes provision for yet another colonial territory to join the company of free and independent Commonwealth countries. I think that this is the most effective answer that can be given to the rather cheap gibes, so often directed against us by those who ought to know better, about 155 British colonialism. My noble friend outlined the historical steps which have led up to this Bill. Neither he nor the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who wound up the debate for the Opposition, nor other noble Lords, have glossed over the fact that there is not yet unanimity in the Gold Coast, either on the character of independence which will follow this Bill or on the form of the Constitution. The National Liberation Movement, the Asanteman Council and the Northern People's Party have asked for a Commission to partition the country, as your Lordships know, but the Colonial Secretary has sent a very definite reply saying that we will not abandon our stated policy, which is to grant independence to the Gold Coast as a whole. I think that that policy has received universal support from your Lordships to-day. It is true that different regions of the Gold Coast are different in character, but, as my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye has said, they are essentially interdependent, and partition would weaken the country socially, politically and economically.
The general outlines of the Constitution have been indicated in statements made by the Gold Coast Government, and after the Colonial Secretary returns to this country at the end of this month the main lines of the Constitution as it will emerge will be presented in a White Paper, which will be available to Parliament, so that all the implications may be fully understood. I am not anxious to say any more to-day of what may or may not go into the Constitution, or in any way to develop the ideas which have been put forward by noble Lords about how it may be improved or amended. As your Lordships know, the Colonial Secretary is at this moment in Ghana, and I think you will be content if I convey to him the suggestions that have been made, rather than myself comment on them from a distance.
Another matter which has properly attracted a good deal of your Lordships' attention in the debate to-day is Clause 3 of the Bill as it affects development in the future, not only in Ghana but in other emerging Commonwealth countries. The question has been asked: Should not the Colonial Development Corporation operate in Ghana after independence?
156 Of course, it will do so, to this extent: that it will continue with those projects which have already been started. But your Lordships were much more concerned with the question whether or not it should be allowed to initiate new projects. We shall return to this matter on the Committee stage, and I think the best thing I can do at this stage is to explain why, as I understand it, the clause has been put into the Bill in this form.
The existing legislation regarding the Colonial Development Corporation and the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund was passed by Parliament as assistance to dependent territories only. Therefore the monies which have been voted by Parliament for that purpose cannot be diverted to another purpose. In a Bill which gives Ghana independence, and puts it, for instance, in the same position, as Pakistan or Ceylon, it is necessary to take Ghana as a country out of those two Acts, otherwise two things would follow: the intention of Parliament would be frustrated, and Ghana would be put in a different position from that of all the independent Commonwealth countries who have preceded her and who are going to be her equal partners. So I think there is a reason for putting this clause into the Bill. If we wanted to help independent Commonwealth countries with money for development which was voted by the British taxpayer—and let us suppose for the moment that we might want to extend the scope of the Colonial Development Corporation—then the way to do it, I think, would not be to take this clause out of the Bill, but to have legislation which would amend the Overseas Resources Development Mt. I place this view before your Lordships because I think it will be useful for you to have it in mind between now and the Committee stage.
The Government have a flexible mind on the future of capital development for the Commonwealth. But when a country attains full self-government, two principles, we think, must be kept intact: first, independence must be absolute and recognised by all to be absolute, and there must be no dependence on this country; and secondly, the Commonwealth country concerned, by its own efforts, must establish that it is credit worthy. That has happened in the case of all the Commonwealth countries which have up to 157 now gained their independence. Those, I think, are important considerations. But let me say, in answer to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that I am consulting the Commonwealth Governments on whether or not, in their opinion, any additional machinery is necessary to cover the development required in independent Commonwealth countries in the future. It might be, as I think, the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, suggested—I can give no assurance or pledge on it—that there could be a combination which would include some of the instruments and machinery which are at present used, and that better machinery for directing capital investment in the Commonwealth and finding the opportunities might be devised. It is on that matter that we are consulting the Governments at present.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I should like to ask the noble Earl one question. His remark applied only to machinery. Does that exclude the question of raising fresh capital from the Commonwealth for this purpose?
THE EARL OF HOME
No. I am consulting them on whether any additional machinery is necessary and whether Commonwealth countries might contribute capital in some way, so that all Commonwealth countries should have a hand in Commonwealth development. However, I think I must issue this warning—I do not think it is out place and I think it is good sense—that, so far as I have been able to study the position, I am not at all sure that what we really want is more capital rather than more machinery. The question is: is the capital available? At the moment we have various instruments which can be used for development in the Commonwealth. There is the International Bank—and I think I am right in saying that there 18 per cent. of our contribution is earmarked for investment within the sterling area, which is largely within the Commonwealth—there is the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, there is the Bank of England and also there is the raising of money on the London Money Market. All sorts of instruments exist, and the question is whether there can be a more effective combination or adaptation of them to meet the needs of Commonwealth development in the future.
§ LORD OGMORE
I would suggest to the noble Earl that one of the main ways in which the Colonial Development Corporation differ from the other bodies he has mentioned is that they not only lend money but provide skill and management. We have nothing else to take their place for this purpose.
THE EARL OF HOME
I have understood that point and taken note of all the points made during the debate. I think that that is perfectly true. However, what I am suggesting is that at present we should leave this clause in the Bill, and the way to deal with the question of the development of the Commonwealth is by legislation on different lines, if a case can be made that extra machinery is necessary. As I have said, we shall return to this matter on Committee stage and we can have a fuller discussion at that time.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHYRE
Would the noble Earl consent to keeping in touch with noble Lords on all sides of the House who are particularly interested in this matter? We do not want to come to the Committee stage and have a conflict which possibly could be avoided if we had previous discussion.
THE EARL OF HOME
I am in some difficulty here, because this is the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary, who is not at present in the country. I will bear it in mind, and we will try to arrange the Committee stage, if possible, after the Colonial Secretary returns. I am not sure of the timing, but I do not think it will affect our views as to the inclusion of this clause in the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Does that mean it is possible that the Committee stage will not be taken next Thursday? That would be a great inconvenience to those who hold strong views as to Clause 3 of the Bill. If we could get some assurance of the kind mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and if there could be some assurance now that the Government will take effective steps to amend the other Act, to permit proper assistance, including capital assistance, to be given to this new independent State, then we could go forward with a greater measure of general agreement in the House.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
Before the noble Earl answers that point, I should like to make myself quite clear. I cannot quite align myself with the Leader of the Opposition. All I was asking was that there should be consultations before the Committee stage with those noble Lords on all sides who are interested, so that we do not have, as it were, a "head-on" conflict which could be avoided by conversations and negotiations.
THE EARL OF HOME
I do not want to mislead the House in any way. I do not think we shall be able to alter this clause in this Bill, and I am perfectly certain that this is such a large question that, if there is any need to alter it in the Commonwealth as a whole, it will take a great deal longer than the next few days, because the Commonwealth countries concerned will take a considerable time to give us their views on this extremely complicated question. Perhaps we had better keep the Committee stage date as it is. I am perfectly willing, as I am sure my noble friend is, to have discussions with any noble Lord on this subject before the Committee stage.
The reason for including this clause in the Bill was to provide for what should be done if we were convinced that action was necessary for further development in the Commonwealth. The emergence of the Gold Coast into independence, as has been said by many noble Lords, is a matter of great significance to the whole of mankind. It is the first of the African Colonies to assume this position. At the 160 present moment, as I ask your Lordships to give this Bill a Second Reading, there is no unanimity on the form of the Constitution or on the character of independence. This transfer of power is an act of faith by the United Kingdom and the British people. The eyes not only of Africa but of the Commonwealth and of the free world will be on the Gold Coast at this time, and on their readiness to assume their full responsibilities, their responsibilities to democracy for the maintenance of law and justice and tolerance, and their responsibilities to their neighbours in the free world to maintain harmony and peace.
Your Lordships will remember that on Christmas Day Her Majesty the Queen described the Commonwealth association as:One of the most hopeful and imaginative experiments in international affairs that the world has ever seen.With the Royal Assent to this Bill, the stage will be set for yet another country to be added to the number of our free Commonwealth, and, to the intimate association which it is. Your Lordships will wish to send good wishes to a country which we look forward to seeing as our newest partner, and in whom the hopes of our people and of the world are set so high.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at fourteen minutes past six o'clock.