§ 3.11 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Perth.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF DROGHEDA in the Chair]
§ Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.344
§ Clause 3:
§ Consequential modifications with respect to development schemes, etc.
§ 3.—(1) No scheme shall be made on or after the appointed day under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts, 1940 to 1955, wholly or partly for the benefit of Ghana.
§ (2) Any scheme in force under the said Acts immediately before the appointed day which was made solely for the benefit of Ghana or any part thereof shall cease to have effect on that day without prejudice to the making of payments in pursuance of that scheme on or after that day in respect of any period falling before that day; and, so far as practicable, no part of any sums paid out of moneys provided by Parliament for the purposes of any other scheme made under those Acts before that day shall be employed in respect of any period falling on or after that day for the benefit of Ghana.
§ (3) Nothing in the two foregoing subsections shall restrict the making of, or the employment of sums paid out of moneys provided by Parliament for the purposes of, any scheme under the said Acts with respect to a body established for the joint benefit of Ghana and one or more of the following territories, that is to say, the Federation or any Region of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, in a case where Ghana has undertaken to bear a reasonable share of the cost of the scheme.
§ (4) Without prejudice to the continuance of any operations commenced by the Colonial Development Corporation in any part of Ghana before the appointed day, as from that day the expression "colonial territories" in the Overseas Resources Development Acts, 1948 to 1956, shall not include Ghana or any part thereof.
LORD OGMORE moved to leave out subsection (4). The noble Lord said: I beg to move the first Amendment standing in my name in connection with this clause. I think that your Lordships will have realised from the Second Reading debate that there is no real need for this subsection, or for this clause at all. The Overseas Resources Development Act, 1948, Section 1, as amended by the Overseas Resources Development Act, 1956, set up the Colonial Development Corporation for the purpose of assisting colonial territories in the development of their economies. Section 9 of the 1948 Act stated:
The expression 'colonial territory' means a territory to which section one of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940, applies at the commencement of this Act.
It follows, therefore, that as the Gold Coast was a territory to which the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940, applied at the commencement of the Overseas Resources Development
Act, 1948, the Colonial Development Corporation is statutorily enabled to operate in Ghana unless and until legislation to the contrary is passed.
§ From what I gather from the speech of the Secretary of State, that view is accepted by the Government and unless and until amending legislation is passed, the Colonial Development Corporation can operate in Ghana, or in any other of what are now called the "emergent territories." The Government, however, have stated that they propose to insert similar amending legislation to this in the instruments providing for independence of all Colonies achieving independent Commonwealth status in the future. Noble Lords on this side—and, we are glad to say, a number of noble Lords on the other side and at least one on the Cross Benches—feel that this is a fatal policy to pursue. The Colonial Development Corporation were established to provide finance for economically self-supporting development which might or might not be attractive to private enterprise capital, and also to provide economic advice and management techniques often not available from official or private enterprise sources. These functions the Colonial Development Corporation are fulfilling, although not to the extent that some of us on this side of the House would like. That is not entirely, or even mainly, their own fault.
§ The Colonial Development Corporation now have sixty-six development projects in hand in twenty-one colonial territories. For these, approximately £70 million has been committed, of which about £40 million has so far been employed. En 1955, there was a surplus of £409,000, after paying Colonial Office interest of £307,000, and an equally satisfactory result is expected for 1956. The Corporation are continuing their policy of working in association with private enterprise. Most projects now have commercial partners, and there is also close co-operation with the Colonial Governments and every effort is made by the noble Lord, Lord Reith, and his subordinates and associates to bring local people into participation.
§ The Colonial Development Corporation in the Gold Coast (in what is now called Ghana) have not done a great deal in the past, but they have done something, and before this Government policy 346 was announced there was every indication that they would do a great deal more. As I said on Second Reading, ever since Dr. Nkrumah became Prime Minister, friendly relations with him have been maintained, and discussions have taken place between his Ministers on ways in which the Corporation can contribute to the development of the country. Among other things, the Gold Coast Minister of Trade has recently asked the Colonial Development Corporation to assist with the establishment of a cement clinker factory, in association with a well-known British cement company. In addition, the regional controller was having tentative conversations with the Ghana Government covering a flour mill, a rubber plantation, a building society—on which the Ghana Government were particularly keen—a quarry for building materials required for roads and housing and par ticipation with the local industrial development corporation.
The decision arrived at by the United Kingdom Government came as a great blow to these interests in the Gold Coast, which were looking forward to association with the Colonial Development Corporation, and the Corporation received from one of the interests concerned, which is, in fact, a British company with interests in the Gold Coast, a most irate letter. It says this:
We are amazed at your news that you have been instructed not to proceed with any new Gold Coast scheme during the period of six months preceding independence. The most obvious comment is that this news comes about four months before independence date. More than two months of the Gold Coast Government's time and our own have been wasted. During that time other arrangements for the finance of the scheme might well have been made. It is galling that the Gold Coast authorities and the others concerned in this scheme can justly feel that they have been let down because of the close association of the British Government with your Company. How can we negotiate with a financial institution whose policy can be so suddenly And arbitrarily changed? Please return all papers we have sent you in connection with the scheme.
One can see that the name of the Colonial Development Corporation has not been enhanced in any way by this decision of the Government, a decision for which the Corporation were in no way responsible and which, in fact, they bitterly opposed.
§ Of course, independence to the Gold Coast and other territories concerned 347 will not mean less need for association and technical and managerial assistance from this country, and possibly, also, the loan of finance; it will mean more, because of the lack of experience in Ghana, and possibly because, in certain quarters, rightly or wrongly, there appears to be a feeling that for the time being there will be less political security than formerly. Some organisation will be needed. Merely passing this clause in the Bill will not do anything to meet the need, which will still be there. There will be a need to handle United Kingdom development money—someone will have to do that. There will be a need to enable co-operation to take place with the Colombo Plan, and other projects. There will be a need for someone to deal with matters relating to control of one product or another, and there is the need to retain good will in Ghana towards this country.
The alternatives that have been proposed by the Government here are, in our view, not true alternatives at all. The first organisation that they have suggested should take the place of the Colonial Development Corporation is the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, Limited. Some time ago this Company were good enough to send me a copy of their Annual Report and Accounts, together with an explanatory memorandum upon them. In reading it through I find this statement of the objects of this company the company which the Government think will do away with, and render unnecessary, the Colonial Development Corporation:
The main objects of the C.D.F.C."—
that is, the Commonwealth Development Finance Company Limited—
are to provide or procure financial facilities of all kinds for the development of the natural and other resources of any part of the Commonwealth. The rô le of the C.D.F.C. is primarily to help the financing of development undertaken by private enterprise; C.D.F.C. does not, therefore, propose to take itself a direct part in such development and special emphasis is laid on the provision of expert management by those already engaged in the enterprise concerned.
Then the memorandum goes on to general policy, and states:
The general policy of C.D.F.C. is that financial assistance should only be considered in the case of applicants:
It goes on to discuss types of projects and enterprises:
Since its rô le is primarily to help the financing of development undertaken by private enterprise, and in view of the limitation of its present resources, C.D.F.C. will naturally tend not to invest too big a block of its funds in extremely large scale projects, such as are unlikely to yield a return for several years and are probably better suited to Government finance.
I do not think there is any need to comment upon that statement; it shows that, whilst no doubt this particular body may have a useful part to play, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as something which is going to take the place of the Colonial Development Corporation because, of course, one of the great ways in which the C.D.C. can help the Colonies is by the supply of management skill, organisational skill and, if necessary, the supply of technicians.
§ What we on this side of the House want to know is why the Government are pushing this Company ahead at the expense of the Colonial Development Corporation, and why they are, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said on Second Reading, killing the Corporation. Because there is no doubt about it: this clause means the death of the Corporation. We cannot in any way bluff ourselves that it means any other. It has only a few years of life to live, and it will linger on on an ever-decreasing, scale. We on this side of the House, do not see why the two bodies cannot continue side by side. We feel that possibly both have a place to fill.
§ Then there are the international organisations like the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. These are in no way a substitute for the Colonial Development Corporation; they are merely methods of obtaining funds. They do not provide skill, and they do not provide the help the Colonies need. The same criticism may be levelled against the substitution of the Colombo Plan authorities. We were also told that 349 it is all right, and that we do not need the Colonial Development Corporation, because we have the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. This Fund is not a development organisation, nor are its monies intended to be laid out on commercial projects. As its name denotes, it is for development and welfare, the sort of projects in which no commercial organisation would invest—primarily, projects for things such as hospitals, schools, roads and things of that sort. Not in any shape or form can it be regarded as a rival to the C.D.C., although in our view it is a most important partner of the C.D.C., and in many ways the efforts of the two are complementary.
§ Then there is the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Why the Minister brought this in I cannot understand, because it seems to have nothing whatever to do with this particular field. Yet that was brought in as being a means by which the Corporation could be substituted. Then we have the London money market. That is not a substitute either. The colonial territories have always been able to go to the London money market if they wished. Presumably they will still be able to do so if they so wish. But when they have the money they must be able to carry out the projects.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
May I ask the noble Lord one question, to clear my mind? If he cannot answer, possibly the Government spokesman can. The Colonial Development Fund is really money voted by Parliament here as grants-in-aid. Am I right in supposing that in no case can any grant out of that Fund be made to any non-colonial territory—that is to say, any territory which is completely independent in its Government? Is that the position?
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I meant under the law as it is to-day. I think it is rather important to get this point clear in our minds. If no provision were put into this Bill (and I do not say that this clause applies to it), if the law is left as it stands to-day, could or could not any money from the Colonial Development Fund he applied to a full self-governing territory?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, if I may intervene, the answer is that it could not.
§ LORD OGMORE
We have had the answer. This is not the point with which I am dealing. I am discussing the substitutes which the Minister has suggested, and he mentioned the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The fact that the Fund could not be applied anyway is not my fault. It was the Minister's own suggestion as one of the things which could be a substitute for the C.D.C. Now we hear that in any case it cannot be, and under subsections (1), (2) and (3), if they are passed to-day, obviously it cannot.
We feel that the trouble has arisen because the Government have taken far too parochial a view of this question. When a territory attains independence in fall, the Government tend to take the 19th century or the early 20th century view, and say, as the Victorian father said to the younger son, "Well, my boy, you are twenty-one. Here is £50 and a gold watch. Just take yourself off and make your own way in the world." That, we think, is rather the attitude of the Government, the Colonial Office and the Treasury to these territories. Of course, that has no bearing at all in the conditions of the world as it is to-day and in the circumstances in which many of these emergent territories find themselves. There is a leading article in The Times to-day which bears out the point I am now making: that is to say, that there is a great need for the Government to look at the whole question of the emergent territories and the future of the Commonwealth Relations Office and of the Colonial Office, to see what sort of assistance and what sort, of mechanism is needed to help these emergent territories in the circumstances in which they find themselves.
We need, I feel, to establish as many new associations with them as we can and to reinforce as many of the old as can possibly be retained, on, of course, a basis of equality and free will. The present proposals, we feel, can lead only to disaster. Certainly, if there were a member for Russia here, I should have thought that he would strongly support and vote for this clause. Of course, 351 there is not one, but, if there had been anyone who was anxious to support the Soviet Union, he would also be a strong supporter of this clause. This will mean the death knell of the Colonial Development Corporation. It is most discouraging to their staff. They cannot feel in any way enthused to develop the activities of the Corporation, feeling that at any time when these emergent territories come towards independence, any activities that they may be undertaking will be jeopardised and any arrangements that they are hoping to make will have to come to an end, often in circumstances of intense bitterness on the part of the people with whom they have been engaged.
At this stage, I would just ask for a clarification of the wording of this clause. Does the clause mean that after the appointed day no fresh money will be available for operations which have been commenced prior to the appointed day? I understand the Colonial Development Corporation are anxious to have that point cleared up. Certainly we on this side should like it cleared up, because it is an important point. There are one or two projects which have been started. Are they to be denuded of funds or can they obtain fresh funds? I want to obtain the Government's answer to that point. May I also ask this? On the Second Reading, the Secretary of State said that there was a possibility of consultation with Commonwealth Governments. How far has this consultation gone? Has the possibility of using the Colonial Development Corporation in emergent territories after independence been put to them? Has it been recommended to them? Has anything concrete taken place or has it just been a vague, nebulous and unsatisfactory exchange of ideas?
I would suggest that to-day we agree to this Amendment and that we send the Bill back to another place amended in at least this respect. I have had strong requests from people outside as well as people inside this House that this should be done. I feel it is now realised that a mistake was made in another place in not accepting an Amendment to this particular subsection. We can then, in an amendment to the Overseas Resources Act deal with the general principle 352 which is enunciated in The Times article to-day and which I have also tried to place before your Lordships, and which affects not only Ghana and the Colonial Development Corporation but all emergent territories and many other services and associations as well. I suggest that that is the proper vehicle, so to speak, to carry any clause which we may wish to be carried in this respect. It is in a debate on an Overseas Resources Bill that we could really explore the much wider field that I think should be explored before either the House or the Government takes a decision of this kind which will have momentous consequences. I therefore beg to move the first Amendment standing in my name.
Page 3, line 1, leave out subsection (4).—(Lord Ogmore.)
§ 3.36 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
I think it might be for the convenience of the Committee if I intervened at this stage and then my noble friend will be able to conclude the debate on this Amendment. On the Second Reading of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, gave the House notice that he would return to this question of the availability of capital for investment in emergent Commonwealth countries and, in particular, the use of the Colonial Development Corporation in promoting and producing new schemes of development in Ghana under this Bill. I should like the House to be in no doubt about our general desire that as large a share as possible should be taken by the United Kingdom in providing capital for Commonwealth development. Indeed, I do not know that I need give your Lordships any further proof of that than to say that, even after two world wars and the depletion of the resources at our command, the percentage of overseas investment provided by the United Kingdom in Commonwealth countries is still two-thirds of the whole. That is a formidable percentage.
This Amendment contemplates extending the rôle of the Colonial Development Corporation, which is financed, of course, entirely by the taxpayers' money, and the funds for which have been voted by Parliament for purely colonial territories. The Amendment contemplates that the Colonial Development Corporation 353 should be allowed to promote new schemes in emergent Commonwealth countries. I am not questioning the value of the Colonial Development Corporation. I think it has done a splendid work, and in the colonial territories there is a great deal of good, constructive development ahead which the Colonial Development Corporation can tackle. I hope that we shall not fall into the error of saying that this Colonial Development Corporation is going to be killed, because not only in colonial territories but in the High Commission territories in Africa, too, there is great development work to be done.
I have a lot of sympathy with the general desire to associate the United Kingdom as closely as possible with the fortunes of these emergent Commonwealth countries, but, as Commonwealth Secretary, I am bound to say that I have to look at this question from a slightly different angle from that which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, took. I must insist, and I think your Lordship; will think that I am right, that, when we have passed through Parliament an Independence Bill of this kind, the two principles must not be compromised. Political independence must be recognised as absolute, and the United Kingdom must not, and must not be thought to, maintain any right to intervene in the internal affairs of a Commonwealth country after independence has been granted to it.
The second principle which I think must be understood is this: that the independent Commonwealth country must be able to establish that it is creditworthy in its own right, and anything which postpones that day would be a disservice to the independent country concerned. If a Commonwealth country cannot, in fact, establish that it is creditworthy in its own right, then the whole of the independent Commonwealth is a sham.
Let me take the Administrations in the existing Commonwealth. The Governments of the existing Commonwealth have convinced their own people of their own ability in administration and of their own stability as societies; and, having convinced their own people, they have been able to do two things: they have been able to raise substantial sums in their own country for 354 development because the people have confidence in their Government, and they have been able to raise substantial sums from overseas. The first ambition of any independent Commonwealth country is that it should establish its credit-worthiness so that it may benefit, for instance, from being Able to raise money on the London Money Market and from great international organisations like the International Bank. I am happy to say—the noble Lord asked a Question about this the other day—that the economy of Ghana is in good shape and is likely to remain so as long as cocoa prices do not fall. Therefore, I think it is right to recognise that in an independent country of this kind we must do nothing whatever to suggest that the independence of the Commonwealth country concerned is not absolute.
Against that background, I do not think it is right to authorise the Colonial Development Corporation, as it were by a side wind in an independence Bill, to go into investment in the independent Commonwealth field. If it is necessary to reorganise the machinery for channelling investments into the Commonwealth, let us do it in a different way—I think it ought to be done in a different way, I should like to illustrate to the Committee, if I may, the complications of this question of investment in the independent Commonwealth and list the number of sources upon which independent Commonwealth countries may draw. There are, of course, the private companies in this country who extend their enterprises here and very often establish branches in independent Commonwealth countries. There is the International Bank; there is the International Finance Corporation, and in some substantial cases (although I think there have been only two of them), the Export Credits Guarantee Department has helped to finance one or two big projects.
§ LORD SALTER
The noble Earl will realise that under the American legislation that Bank can put only American money in. It does not help with the provision of United Kingdom money.
THE EARL OF HOME
I think we in this country contribute 18 per cent. of the money to the International Monetary Fund and the Bank.
§ LORD SALTER
Yes, to the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank; but not to the Export Import Bank, which is a purely American matter.
THE EARL OF HOME
No, I was talking about the Export Credits Guarantee Department here. Perhaps there was a confusion. On occasion that has helped to finance—I think twice—some considerable projects in the independent Commonwealth. Then there is the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, and, of course, covering the Asian members of the Commonwealth, there is the Colombo Plan. In the total amount of money involved for investment in the independent Commonwealth the amount contributed directly by the British taxpayer is inevitably only a part, and perhaps not a very big part.
Now new Commonwealth countries are coming into the picture, and I think it is probable that their needs will vary to some extent from the needs of independent Commonwealth countries who have come before. But I suggest to the Committee that the way to deal with the development problems is to review the rô le of all the parties concerned in Commonwealth development and to see whether any change is necessary. There are then two things we must do if we are going to invest effectively in the Commonwealth. The first is—I must emphasise this, although I said it the other day—to earn a genuine surplus. The problem is much less one of machinery than of a shortage of capital. The second thing that we should do is to review the machinery for channelling capital into Commonwealth development so that it may be done in the most effective way.
I listened with great care and with a good deal of sympathy to the speeches made on Second Reading by noble Lords opposite and on this side of the House. As the Committee knows, we are consulting the Commonwealth countries on the problems which are involved in the finance of development in the Commonwealth. In the light of the replies which we receive from them a review will be made of the United Kingdom's rô le in the development of new independent Commonwealth countries. This review will cover the form which any service or other facilities might take, and it will 356 include any possibility there may be of adapting those facilities which now exist for this purpose. So we intend to make a comprehensive review of this problem. I hope the Committee will agree that, rather than an effort to introduce the Colonial Development Corporation and to allow them to take on new projects in Ghana, a review of all the possibilities is really the way to deal with this matter; and, if it is found necessary, and if the review proves a case, then the Overseas Resources Development Act could be amended accordingly. I can make no promises. I do not know what the review will show. But we intend to undertake the review, and if the case is proved then the adaptations can be made. I hope that the Committee will feel that that is the sensible and the right way to deal with this great section of our Commonwealth responsibilities, which is to associate ourselves closely with Commonwealth development
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
I support the Amendment which has been moved by my noble friend Lord Ogmore, but at the same time I fully appreciate the point of principle on which the Government are taking their stand in this matter, and which has just been repeated to us by the noble Earl, Lord Home. I appreciate also the anxiety that the Government must always feel about creating a precedent in such a matter as this. At the same time, the principle bears a certain resemblance to the old, homely saying, that a door must always be either open or closed, and I feel that what the noble Earl, Lord Home said to us, in effect, was that countries which achieve independence cannot expect to continue receiving the benefits which they enjoyed as dependants.
I cannot feel that the Government really want to deprive the new Dominion of Ghana of anything which might help her economy. Ghana will need all the economic aid which she can get. It is all very well to talk about foreign investors, and so on, perhaps making capital investments in Ghana. But foreign investors have had a series of shocks of recent years, beginning with Abadan and going on to the confiscation of the Suez Canal Company. Then there have been these incidents with the pipelines and pumping stations; and, moving away for 357 the moment from our own country and interest, there have been events in Indonesia, which no doubt have made a great impression upon the minds of foreign investors. On that account, I feel that this is no time for this country to cut off anything in the shape of friendly aid which we can give to the new Dominion of Ghana.
If Her Majesty's Government feel that they cannot accept this Amendment, although I very much hope that they may do so, I wonder whether they will consider something in the nature of an alternative in respect both of Ghana and of other countries which, in the near or far future, may also achieve independence and Dominion status. Would it be possible, in the case of Ghana and such other countries, for Her Majesty's Government to say that the Colonial Development Corporation may continue to operate in that territory for a period of ten years after the country has achieved independence—with one proviso: that the Government of the new Dominion must request the Colonial Development Corporation to do so? I mention that point to meet what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Home, on the necessity for respecting the independence of a new Dominion, a remark with which, with respect. I completely agree. But if the Corporation could continue to operate for ten years, provided that the Government of the new Dominion requested it to do so, full respect for the independence of that Dominion would be assured.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, as we feel unable to support this Amendment, perhaps we might give a few reasons for that attitude. In opposing the Amendment, I should like to make a few comments which may be useful when this matter of development in Commonwealth countries is considered—as it must be, and as the noble Earl, Lord Home, has promised it shall be. We appreciate that the motive of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in moving this Amendment is to prevent the territory from being deprived, of any assistance which has been available to it during the period of colonial status; but we submit that this is not the way to achieve the end he has in mind. Here may I say that I hope the Colonial Office will make the time to record sonic of the benefits that have 358 accrued to territories under colonial administration in terms of technical assistance and capital. This is a field into which countless international organisations have stepped in recent years with a lot of "talk" and no so much "do." There is a story of British effort and British achievement to be told to those who besmirch "colonialism." It is a story of responsibility, and responsibility responsibly discharged, for the most part unilaterally, over a wide area of the world.
Clause 3 takes into account the unilateral character of the arrangements under colonial status; but with the new status, arrangements can no longer be one-sided, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, has pointed out. The new relationship after independence calls for partnership, and I believe that this conception is quite properly assumed in subsection (3) of Clause 3. It is not to the point that the noble Lord should say we are dealing in theoretical rather than human considerations. I do not believe that any Dominion would so think. At all Dominion Conferences their representatives have stood firmly and have never been willing to depart from the strict letter of the Statute of Westminster.
There is however, a practical objection even if there were not this objection in principle. The capital of the Colonial Development Corporation is quite inadequate for the tasks which it can undertake in the remaining colonial territories. The raising of additional capital, at any rate if it is to be Government-sponsored, for operations within the Commonwealth is a matter for joint decision, in consultation and discussion with Commonwealth countries. Quite apart from the considerations which I have mentioned, I believe it is most important that the whole question of development in the Commonwealth, and how it should be done, should be given the most careful consideration. It is not only a question of Ghana. It is too important a matter to be dealt with as an Amendment to this Bill, and I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will put it on the agenda at a Commonwealth Conference in the very near future.
If I may make a few observations which I consider relevant, I believe that it is profits, or what the Minister has called "surpluses accruing", that must provide 359 the main source from which growth can take place, whether it is in the promotion of agricultural or industrial production. If this is true, and if a profit record is achieved, Government-provided capital is much less necessary. In such circumstances, the Colonial Development Corporation can go into the market to raise capital anywhere, and in my view should be free to do so. If a profit record cannot be achieved, at any rate within a comparatively short time after a period of initial waiting, there is no case for Government-provided capital. Expenditure would be found to have been squandered, and no lasting benefit would accrue to anyone. It would, in fact, be positively damaging to the economy of the territory. In these days, when the greatest creditor nation is showing little understanding of the basic principles of credit provision, it is of the utmost importance that this matter should be studied in this country. Well-meant but ill-conceived aid programmes can only tend to maintain prices at artificially high levels; they are inflationary and tend to undermine the currency of countries which accept aid. They undermine also the enterprise and initiative of the individual citizens and promote Government extravagance and bureaucracy.
I hope that I have said nothing which will be interpreted as a desire to exclude the organisation built up by the Colonial Development Corporation from being used in wider fields. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that it is not only the provision of funds that is important, but management also. And for success, management must be in capable and honest hands. It is not easy to build a team with the experience necessary to judge the factors which make for success in any operation. After a number of unfortunate experiences and considerable loss of capital, the Colonial Development Corporation appear now to be organised and operating on sound business lines. I feel sure that, when this matter is considered in the wide implications which are necessary, the advice of the Colonial Development Corporation will be sought and will be most useful.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, I greatly welcome, as I am sure we all welcome, the statement made by the noble Earl 360 the Secretary of State in the latter part of his speech, that there will be a full inquiry as to the mechanism through which to establish the financial and economic relations of this country with territories that have been colonial territories. I hope that that review will be a wide one, and that it will not confine itself entirely to the subjects that have been raised during this discussion. I hope, for example, that it will cover such questions as the provision of experts or officials who have been in the Colonial Service, either to countries that have been Colonies or other countries that have been in more or less a dependent position. If we get nothing more, I think the speeches which have been made on this and the other side of the House, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, both during the Second Reading debate and in moving his Amendment to-day, will have been more than justified.
Having said that, I must say frankly that nothing has been said, either to-day or during the Second Reading, debate, which convinces me that the insertion of this clause—and in particular subsection (4) of the clause, though I would say the clause as a whole—is really wise or necessary. I quite agree that it should be a corollary of the attainment of its new status that the credit-worthiness of Ghana should be established and that the ordinary means of obtaining capital that are available to independent countries should be employed. But surely it is going too far to say that this new status will be a sham if Ghana, or any other country like that, is not in a position to establish sufficient credit-worthiness immediately on the attainment of that status. And surely it is unnecessary for the Government now to deprive themselves or their successors of the existing mechanism, which might or might not be used at their discretion in circumstances which neither they nor we can exactly foresee. We do not know just what will be the credit position, the creditworthiness position, in a particular territory in a few years time. I suggest it is unwise, unless there is a compelling reason, to exclude by statutory provision the possibility of operating through an organisation that has developed itself into an efficient working institution. If it is not desirable that that institution should be used, there is nothing to make the 361 Colonial Development Corporation act; there is nothing to stop the Government of the time from preventing the Corporation from acting by warning it before hand—
THE EARL OF HOME
I really do not think that that would be very honest, or that Parliament would think it right to put a clause in the Bill allowing the Corporation to act and then, by administrative action, to stop it from acting. I do not think that that would be proper.
§ LORD SALTER
With great respect, this is not a case of putting a clause into the Bill to give facilities. It is a question of whether or not a clause should be put in the Bill which would destroy existing facilities. It would be completely honest, I suggest, to say, either in this debate or at any other time, that it is not anticipated that it, will be the policy of the Government in ordinary circumstances to agree that capital should be available through the Colonial Development Corporation to a country which has attained the status which Ghana will attain. As I say, this is certainly riot a question of introducing a provision to establish machinery and then saying it shall not be used. It is quite the opposite to that. The new Government of the time when a problem arises can, if they wish, warn the Colonial Development Corporation that they will not give consent. The Colonial Development Corporation can themselves say, "We will not go on with the project."
It is also unreal, I consider, to suggest that the Colonial Development Corporation should not intervene in the territory of an independent country. Of course it would riot do so unless Ghana or any subsequent territory in the same position desired it. I would ask your Lordships to look forward to the possible situation which may confront Ghana or another country, such as Malaya, to which the same provisions might be applied perhaps in some years time It may be that the country will be unable to obtain adequate capital from other sources for projects which both their Government of the time and our Government of the time may think of great importance. Even though we may find difficulty in a capital export of pounds from this country, we might be even more anxious to see that the continued adherence to the sterling area of countries like Ghana, like the 362 West Coast and like Malaya should not be imperilled. I will not develop this point, but I would recommend it seriously to the consideration of the Government. I am not suggesting what they should do at that time, only that they should not deprive themselves beforehand, by statutory provision, of the power of exercising discretion at that time.
I think that this is just the kind of question in which this House might exercise one of the three valuable functions that are still left to us after the reductions in our powers and duties that have been made in recent years. We can still be a forum of debate. We can sometimes give the Government, the other place and the country time to think twice about a general Bill. And, thirdly, as a special instance of that, there is the one which is now relevant to-day. Having, as we undoubtedly have, many people with some expert knowledge and special experience, vie can sometimes, without the inhibitions which may operate in another place, where Party discipline is stricter than it is, or I hope ever will be, here, really improve by amending a particular clause or give the Government and the House of Commons the opportunity of considering again whether they will not adopt a modification that would be an improvement.
But if that is to happen, it can be, I suggest, only under three conditions. One is, of course, that the particular Amendment should not be such as to go to the heart of the Bill, and possibly to endanger the tenure of the Government of the day. Clearly, that condition is satisfied in this instance. What we now suggest does not in any way destroy or impair the essence of the Bill; still less does it affect the general status of the Government of the day. Secondly, that being so, the attitude of the Members of this House should be that they should vote freely as to what they think is right on the particular and limited matter, and that, if they have no particular view about that, they should not Note just on the general ground of supporting the Government, when ex hypothesi, in the particular case I have mentioned, this really does not touch the Government's general position. I suggest that this is a case where, if we think that this Amendment would be a real improvement, we should express our views freely.
363 There is, however, one further consideration which I say, frankly, makes me hesitate as to what I should do if we come to a Division later. I recognise that we are extremely near the crucial date, March 6: it is only a few weeks hence. I can imagine—though I do not know—that there may be, in the process of passing an Amendment here, and its going back to the other place and so on, a serious timetable embarrassment. Of course, that is not our fault; but, at the same time, it is a fact. And if I knew that it would seriously endanger this Bill I should not myself go further with the expression of the views I am now attempting to put before your Lordships.
May I make this general remark, which, although it is directly relevant to the Constitution of Ghana, with which we are now dealing, may have a bearing upon future constitutional proposals affecting us even more directly? I sincerely trust that, in order to enable this House to fill the important function of making detailed Amendments—I am not referring to the merely mechanical convenience of putting down Amendments that have occurred to the Government itself, but to Amendments that come out of the experience and special knowledge of some noble Lords on a particular matter—we should not be brought up against the timetable difficulty, the fact that there is a specified schedule which might be upset by the process of amending and sending back to another place if a date is stipulated, such as, in this instance, March 6.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I feel that this is a matter on which no Party question arises at all. Frankly, I do not feel happy about it. Although, in a sense, one might say that it is a small point, it raises an n issue of some difficulty and of great importance, both on the ground of appearance and on the ground of reality—and appearance is important when we are dealing with Commonwealth matters. I hope that the Government can regard this as a pooling of ideas and will try to see what is the best thing to do in the circumstances. I appreciate that we have to work to the timetable, and that this Constitution has to come into force on March 6; but if we 364 are all agreed that a certain procedure or certain words were better than the words in the Bill, I am perfectly certain that in this House, and, equally, in another place, the Leaders of all Parties could give an undertaking and an agreed solution could go through in a matter almost of hours, certainly in not more than a day or two.
The first thing I do not feel happy about is a question of appearance; yet it seems to me a bit more than appearance. In a Bill which gives political status to this new State, I do not like to find a clause inserted that must have the appearance of taking something, away; of a bit of, I was almost going to say, local government finance legislation, which should hardly find a place in such a Bill. It would not have a place in the Statute of Westminster. Is it really necessary? I entirely agree with my noble friend the Secretary of State that independence is financial independence, as well as legislative, constitutional and executive independence; it is, in fact, sovereignty. I think it would be inappropriate, except in a special Act, like the Act authorising the Colombo Plan, to give out what I might call direct grants-in-aid to a self-governing Dominion. I do not think that would be right. That is really the function of the Colonial Development Fund—which of course, does not appear here that is why I asked about it. Grants-in-aid of this sort are not the function of the Colonial Development Corporation. At one time there was a bit of muddle between the two, because (I am not criticising the past) quite a number of things were done by the Colonial Development Corporation which looked a bit too much like giving grants-in-aid. But that is not what we are really concerned with to-day.
Of course, a state has to be creditworthy. I do not think that money ought to be lent to it unless it is. But it is not quite the case of the State becoming credit-worthy. It was my experience, when I was in office, to sec the Corporation develop, and later the working of the Corporation was greatly improved by a proposal I made when in Opposition, which was adopted afterwards not only by the Minister but by the Corporation itself—that was, that the Corporation ought to look for effective commercial partners in undertakings. I understand that the Corporation has increasingly done that, and that is why, instead of 365 finding a lot of liabilities and large sums being written off, the figures, which were given by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, show the healthy state of the Corporation's operations.
It may well be that what Ghana herself will find necessary and desirable is not grants to the Ghana Government, which I think would be quite out of place, but the establishing of businesses, with a good deal of independent capital—it may well be United Kingdom capital, but I hope it will be Ghanan capital as well—arid which will require something more in the way of capital. That is not the kind of business for which the World Bank or the Export and Import Bank or the International Monetary Fund exist, Even in our own country we found that we needed two kinds of Corporation to provide Government credit for private enterprise when the State was intervening. There is one Corporation over which my noble friend Lord Bruce of Melbourne presides, which deals with the issue of millions of funds. The other is a smaller Corporation for the little undertakings which seek to get about £50,000, for which a public issue could not be made. It may be just that kind of business which would be best for everybody concerned here. That is the kind of business which I believe will be found useful in this emergent State, and it may be necessary to have a Corporation with those facilities.
It will also be necessary to provide management knowledge. That is very important. It is as important to help to supply management and technical knowledge as it is to supply the money. It may well happen that as a result of the inquiries being made—and I was delighted to hear the Secretary of State tell us to-day about these—that he has consulted with other Commonwealth countries on the possibility that some suggestions on these lines might emerge. There might well be a partnership between the Commonwealth Finance Corporation, which is Lord Godber's organisation and arranges bigger loans, and this Corporation, which arranges the smaller loans; or one might act as the agent, by consent of the other. I can see any number of permutations and combinations of things that might usefully happen. I should not like to close the door on any of the possibilities.
366 I would add this, as one with long experience of Commonwealth affairs. I know the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, will agree, for I remember a paper he once wrote saying that we should not always follow scaled pattern models in the Commonwealth. I do not know whether I ought to refer to it, as it may have been a Cabinet paper. It was certainly a good paper and a heartening one, and I would say in the same spirit: do not let us be "sealed pattern" about this. One thing I nave found is that, as the Commonwealth develops, the last thing that is wanted is complete logic and complete uniformity. Therefore I would ask: could we not hold the door open? I do not think you have to decide simply "Yes" or "No" now. I do not think the noble Earl would be doing anything in the least dishonest if, as a result of public debate in both Houses, with which the Gold Coast will be as familiar as we are, he or the Colonial Secretary, whichever of them runs the Corporation, exercised what is undoubtedly an administrative power to say: "For the time being, until we have had this review, the Colonial Development Corporation will not engage in new operations"—by which I gather is meant some completely new undertaking; they can follow up what they are doing—" in one of these new territories." I am sure that nobody here or in the Gold Coast would regard that as underhand. In fact, in our illogical way, it may be the most sensible way of tackling this.
I feel that this is most important and that there is little difference between us. The Government themselves say that the one thing we want to do as these people get their full status politically is to give them as much help as possible, commercially and financially; and they agree that they are important members of the sterling area. We are all trying to get at the same thing. Would it not be possible for us to come to an agreement to-day as to the means, and do it by simply saying, quite illogically, if you like, that we will preserve the status quo and, so to speak, hold this particular clause in suspense; and the Corporation shall not, until the result of this inquiry, do any more business once a State becomes independent, until we introduce new legislation. We may then find that the new legislation will give it a useful function—or, of course, it may not. But it is in that kind of financial legislation, 367 governing the whole of the financial organisation under which the Commonwealth co-operates and Commonwealth countries benefit, that a clause of this kind should find itself, and not in this constitutional Bill.
THE EARL OF HOME
I should like to understand this. Is the noble Earl suggesting that we should leave the clause in?
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
No; I do not want to leave this clause in. I am obliged to the noble Earl. I mean to leave things as they are. It would mean cutting out this clause, but on the clear understanding that effect was given to it by administrative action: that the Corporation can take no action until the noble Earl and his colleagues in another place come to Parliament to say, either: "Having considered this, we do not want it," or "We have a new plan."
THE EARL OF HOME
It would mean cutting out this clause and then, at a later stage, if we wanted to do what we are now trying to do, we should have to re-amend the Ghana Act.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
No; with respect, I think not. Once the Ghana Constitution is there you cannot legislate in this House for Ghana. But this would not be legislating for Ghana; this would be legislating on how we, in the United Kingdom, spend our money. Therefore, it would be open for us to pass the Ghana Bill as it stands, without Clause 3, and at a later stage to come to Parliament with a simple Bill, with this one clause, which would be our domestic legislation.
Amending the Colonial Development Corporation Act
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
Yes, amending the Colonial Development Corporation Act, which is our legislation, for which we should require no assent from Ghana. All that would be done in the open forum of Commonwealth knowledge and discussion.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
I should like to say a word or two on this Amendment. I agree entirely with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has just said, and I think that all his points were sound. First of all, one has to look at the appearance of 368 this matter. One looks at this Bill and finds it does have a very chilly look. You have given the child the latchkey, but you say he cannot have any more money. It is starting the thing off on the right foot, with a negative. It seems to me quite unnecessary, because you have certain power, although you need not use it. There is a fear here that you have given complete independence and therefore you have got to assert their complete financial independence. That is all right. But why cut out a power by doing something here?
I thought the last point made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, was perfectly sound. It is not a question of the Ghana Constitution, but a question of the Colonial Development Corporation Act and what powers you give there. Looking ahead, we do not know what the position will be of a number of other territories that are on the way to full status. Some help of this kind is needed. It is not in the least taking anything away from their independence, but is giving us power to help a sister community, not by donations or by subventions from here, but by what is, after all, a kind of commercial association enabling businesses to do business there. I suggest that the cutting out of this clause will make the whole atmosphere better. It will make it more logical. It will not tie the hands of the Government one way or the other, but will leave us free to do just what we want, and that is to help industrial and other development in a sister nation in the Commonwealth without in the least infringeing on their independence.
I agree entirely with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, have said—in fact, I would go even further. Appearances matter a great deal in these cases, and the opening sentence of Clause 3 of the Bill produces to my mind an entirely deplorable impression. It says:No scheme shall be made after the appointed day under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts, 1940 to 1955, wholly or partly for the benefit of Ghana.We know what it means, but nothing could be couched in more unfortunate terms than the opening of that clause. Of the two Amendments down in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, 369 I would prefer the second one, which is the dropping of the whole of Clause 3, including, of course, subsection (4). The noble Lord, Lord Winster, raised the question of an Amendment, but owing to the timetable, to which the noble Lord, Lord Salter, has referred, an Amendment of the terms of a clause must inevitably give rise to much longer debates, both here and in another place, than the alternative which I suggested on Second Reading and to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, agreed, which is to drop the whole of Clause 3, lock, stock and barrel, and not try to amend it.
Moreover, I am advised that, in fact, subsection (1), which I quoted just now, is unnecessary. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act refers to colonial territories. From the appointed day, by the definitions in Clause 4 of this Bill, this ceases to be a colonial territory, and, therefore, it is unnecessary, I submit—and I have had advice about it—to have subsection (1) in Clause 3 at all, because on the appointed day there is no longer any question of using the Colonial Development Corporation in Ghana. So far as the second main issue is concerned, I agree with what has been said by practically every speaker this afternoon. Why should the Government choose to tie their own hands and stop themselves from doing something which it might be useful to do hereafter, when they could act administratively and it is unnecessary to tie their own hands? If we want to preclude the Colonial Development Corporation either now or hereafter, from operating in any territory, we can preclude them by a direction to the Colonial Development Corporation or an amendment of its Acts. It is out of place to do it in any Act which grants independent status to any territory, whether Ghana or anywhere else.
So far as concerns intervention by the United Kingdom, by consent, in the affairs of independent self-governing Dominions—a point raised by two noble Lords who have spoken—perhaps noble Lords have forgotten the intervention of the United Kingdom in guaranteeing the loans of the Newfoundland Government. The United Kingdom intervened there by consent. There is no reason to suppose that, in future cases, by consent of the independent, self-governing Dominion, this country could not again intervene, 370 whether by providing funds or by using funds which have been provided for investment in certain territories. That includes the organisations that have been mentioned, such as Lord Godber's Company, and others. There is no reason why the existing machinery, by consent, should not be used.
It is surely unnecessary, as my noble friend Lord Swinton has said, to tie our hands unnecessarily, and in a form which cannot but be somewhat offensive to the territory in question. It is a clause of a sort which is really wholly out of place in what otherwise is a magnificent Bill, which is granting, for the first time in history, independent self-governing status to an African territory. Why mess up the picture by putting little scrawls of bureaucratic legislative necessity, or alleged bureaucratic legislative necessity, on to what otherwise is a beautiful picture, and one with which we are all in agreement? I would beg the Government to consider whether it would not be possible, and in the lime available—which I accept is very short—to drop the whole of Clause 3, lock, stock and barrel, and hereafter, if necessary, to introduce amending legislation to amend those Acts where the lawyers consider an amendment is necessary.
I have brought in the Second Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, though he has spoken himself only to the first. But I think the second is the easier course, because I consider it is easier to drop out the whole of the clause than to pick out one particular bit, or amend that particular bit. I therefore find myself in favour of the second of the noble Lord's Amendments and, a fortiori, in favour of the first.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD BARNBY
This discussion has become rather more complicated than some of us anticipated when we came into the House, contemplating that it dealt more particularly with the financial clauses, and particularly with subsection (4) of Clause 3 which it his been moved to leave oat. On that particular clause, we realise that the whole timetable, as the noble Lord, Lord Salter, has explained, is involved, and that this discussion will be regarded as of great importance to the territory under review. Indeed, there must be anxieties as to what 371 effect a discussion can have. I should have had some doubt whether subsection (1) of Clause 3 is as offensive to the territory as has been suggested. For myself, I am quite satisfied with the assurance that has been given to the House by the Secretary of State. He has assured us that the territory concerned will receive the assurance of adequate financial assistance.
§ LORD BARNBY
The noble Earl. Lord Swinton, was probably right in disagreeing with me as to who was the chairman of the Company, and I spoke about that in error. He is entitled to put what interpretation he pleases on the assurance we have received from the Secretary of State.
§ LORD SALTER
This is very relevant to the point some of us were making. I do not think we had an assurance of that kind at all. We did have an assurance that there would be a general inquiry, as a result of which we could doubtless have propositions at a later date of which we do not know the character. That is all, as I understood it.
§ LORD BARNBY
I should not like to find myself in the centre of a difference of opinion between the noble Lord, Lord Salter, and the Secretary of State; but doubtless the Minister will clear up that matter in his concluding remarks. If it was not an assurance that adequate funds would be there, it was an assurance that machinery would be provided which would make it possible. Incidentally, at this stage, without any suggestion of offence to the noble Lord, Lord Reith, there are some who think that, in referring to the Colonial Development Corporation, if there is going to be any Amendment it would be timely to change the character and to eliminate the word "Colonial", substituting, in view of the feelings which that term seems to raise, some other term.
The subject to which I particularly address myself is that the Secretary of State has repeated to-day what he said in the debate on the Second Reading. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 201 (NO. 24), Col. 157]:… I am consulting the Commonwealth Governments on whether or not, in their 372 opinion, any additional machinery is necessary to cover the development required in independent Commonwealth countries in the future.It is particularly with regard to that that I venture to intervene in this Committee discussion, because that statement suggests that this is going to be a prelude to some revised machinery. The effect it may have on the Bill we are discussing is something which only those who are familiar with that territory can say. For myself, I think it is only right that we should take the chance of reading further the implications of this proposal, because there is in the air to-day, in both Houses of Parliament and in the Press, great concern as to the insufficiency of the machinery whereby funds will be available to the appropriate development of the Commonwealth.
It is for that reason that I would refer to the debate which took place in another place on November 30, which was answered on behalf of the Government by Lord John Hope. Throughout that debate, there were repeated expressions of concern about the adequacy of the machinery. In the debate which took place on the Commonwealth Settlement Bill, of which your Lordships have seen fit to approve the First Reading this afternoon, there were several speeches in which this whole question was raised. I would refer particularly to a speech made by the former Minister of Defence, Mr. Shinwell, in which he wanted (I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 563 (No. 38), Col. 575):a permanent organisation, established in a part of the Commonwealth where all matters relating to Commonwealth affairs of mutual interest are under reviewand that there should bea body charged with responsibility for injecting economic and manpower realism into our Commonwealth relations.There is clear evidence of the concern which some of us feel about this matter Whatever may come of the inquiry which the Secretary of State has promised us, organisations like the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, Limited cannot do all that is needed. They have already made advances of £8 million; they have roughly a capital of £3 million and current bank advances of £9 million. Those sums are quite inadequate to deal with anything like the problem which is 373 envisaged in the whole question of Commonwealth finance.
There is one last reference that I would make, and I commend this to the Secretary of State when he is reviewing all the suggestions. The view of the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, was that there might well be some machinery for collaboration—as I understood it, a tripartite arrangement—between the Commonwealth country concerned, the United Kingdom Government and the United States, where reposes the real volume of resources which would give encouragement to the countries contemplating it. And I take it that that includes Ghana. It is really the availability of resources in that connection which, as the Secretary of State has made clear in his remarks, is of more importance than the machinery. Now we can return entirely and specifically to the Amendment which we are discussing. For myself, I am satisfied with the assurances of the Secretary of State.
§ 4.43 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I hope very much that we shall be able to keep to the level of debate that we had in previous speeches, rather than in that to which we have just listened. I do not want to be unduly critical of the noble Lord, but at least I thought he was rather defending some other view of how it should be dealt with, and perhaps including a particular defence corporation. I may have misunderstood him, but that is how I understood him. Could not we really deal with this matter—
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I would rather leave discussions of that type of thing out of account altogether at this stage. I should like to discuss the position of this country in pursuing what I think has not been a separate Party direction but a common course of seeking first to build up colonial territories and then to lead them to independence within a free Commonwealth, that being the general Parliamentary objective of all Parties.
We welcome the fact that the Government have decided to grant independence 374 to Ghana, and have produced the necessary draft legislation to Parliament. But I feel that no one could have put more succinctly than did the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, the kind of effect that this clause will have upon the matter. I do not want just to paint the lily over again in that respect but, especially now that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has returned, I ask him to believe that in this matter we on this side have at heart only, first, the best interests of Ghana and, subsequently, the keeping of the road free for continuing the progressive development of Dominion status for the emergent territories. Moreover, it should be done on the basis not only of retaining ties of fellowship, respect and admiration, but also on the very practical development of means that will be both for their welfare and commercial interest and ours. That is what it I think we really need to do.
On that basis, my noble friend Lord Ogmore moved his Amendment to subsection (4), and he also has an Amendment to leave out the whole of Clause 3, Having listened to the exceedingly powerful arguments of noble Lords on the other side, not only the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, but also the noble Lords, Lord Salter and Lord Rennell. I feel that we have a very reasonable request to make to the Government. If the Opposition take up the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton—that we should agree with the Government's proposal, provided that it is understood that, while no new immediate negotiations will be entered into between the Colonial Development Corporation and Ghana, there will be an understanding that the kind of conference which the Secretary of State has indicated will be held—there seems to be good reason for asking that the Secretary of State should at this stage withdraw Clause 3 from the Bill altogether, so that the matter may receive further consideration in another place. We assume that at least great note will be taken of the views which have been expressed by noble Lords from all parts of the House in this matter to try to secure that progressive attitude which we want to see adopted, and which will also be to the great interest not only of this particular territory and its inhabitants but also of the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial Office in the coining negotiations with the other emergent territories, such as Malaya, 375 Singapore, and the new Federation for the West Indies. All these are of very great importance and urgency if they can be assisted in the right direction. If the Secretary of State will do as I suggest, we shall be highly delighted, and I am sure the noble Earl will please a much larger part of the House than is represented by ourselves on these Benches.
§ LORD MILVERTON
As one of those who took part in the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, and who made certain comments on this clause, I feel that I ought now to say, very briefly, that I had hoped that in Committee the Government would be able to meet the objections which were voiced then and have been voiced even more cogently this afternoon. I do not propose to weary your Lordships by stating arguments which have already been much better stated than I could state them, but let it suffice to say that I agree with every word which has been spoken by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and by the noble Lords, Lord Ogmore, Lord Salter and Lord Rennell. I would implore the Government to listen to what has been urged upon them, from all sides of this House, by people who have given a great part of their lives to the consideration of matters of this kind. With reference to Lord Salter's comment about time and embarrassment, I would point out that it is only the Government that can consider that question, because by accepting the Amendment to delete Clause 3 it can be made quite certain that there will be no unnecessary delay in the passage of this Bill when it goes back to another place.
I should like, in passing, to say how glad I was to hear the assurance of the Secretary of State that there was going to be a general inquiry, but I must admit it left me feeling very dissatisfied as to how exactly it would meet our present objections. I thought that the reference to the use of the money of the taxpayer by the Colonial Development Corporation, although perhaps technically correct, left a wrong impression, because the funds used by the Colonial Development Corporation are not grants in aid to Colonies; they are in pursuance of our policy of investment in colonial development, and in their modern management certainly they are prudent investments for the benefit of this country and of the 376 country concerned. I suggest that that is the right way to look at it.
It is quite true that when a country becomes independent it should be able to prove that it is financially credit-worthy and should stand on its own feet. But in the initial stages, when this recent protégé of ours is struggling to prove that, is it not suitable that we should avoid rigid rules which shut us out from giving her such friendly aid as we can? Are we going to wait until she herself has proved that she does not need assistance before we do anything to assist her? Is that not the way to drive an emergent territory into seeking assistance from far less desirable sources than would be found in this country?
There is one final comment I should like to make on this proposal that the Colonial Development Corporation should be allowed to go on, which merely means that matters should stand as they legally stand at present but on the understanding that no new projects should be entered into for the time being. It is not easy to define when a new project begins. The injection of new capital into existing enterprises and expansions which normal business enterprise would dictate would mean that there would have to be a very flexible interpretation of that idea of no new projects; but presumably one could rely upon the Government to take that attitude. As we all know, new schemes of the Colonial Development Corporation are not just entered into at the sovereign will of the chairman and his board. The Government have ample opportunity at several stages—the Treasury and others have to be consulted—and they can, in fact, control the way in which those funds are used. So I earnestly implore the Government to accept this Amendment and to meet the wishes of a large number of noble Lords on both sides of the House.
I would add a few words of appeal to those of other speakers, but on slightly different grounds. I welcomed the statement of the noble Earl, Lord Home, that there was to be a Commonwealth inquiry, but, like the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, I was not immensely comforted thereby. It seemed to me to put the chances of that all-so essential aid to backward territories into the rather remote future. As Lord Rennell pointed out, we have here an 377 instrument which ear: be used for the channelling of funds into territories that need them. It seems to me that to destroy that channel before you have organised any other source of help and support is really a counsel of foolishness, if I may put it so. Surely all of us who from time to time speak on foreign or colonial affairs have always said what I am sure the majority of the Committee believe to be true: that if our ideas of democratic, Parliamentary government are to prevail in the world, if the dictatorship countries are not to gain the day, then we must see that help and aid, guidance and support go out to the backward territories. I beg Her Majesty's Government not to press Clause 3 upon us, for this is a clause which will cut off one of the, at present, all too small and all too few ways in which funds are reaching the backward territories. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will have second thoughts and will see fit to withdraw this clause.
THE EARL OF HOME
We have had a full and very useful and frank discussion, and there are really two proposals before the Committee. The first is that we should keep the clause in the Bill—that we should hold the review which I indicated at an earlier stage in this debate, and, if the need for additional machinery is proved, then we should legislate by amendment of the Overseas Resources Development Act or whatever other Act is necessary. The second proposal is that we should drop the clause, or at least subsection (4) of the clause—
THE EARL OF HOME
Drop the clause, and that we should, pending the review, stop action by administrative action. There are certain implications in that which I should like to consider; I do not think it is as straightforward as the proposers suggest. We may incur the odium—most undesirable in the case of an emergent Commonwealth country—that, in wile of a general agreement, the Commonwealth Relations Office has to step certain proposals which are put forward. I did not use the argument of the timetable before because I thought it really was not fair to introduce lit at an early stage, and I did not want the debate 378 to be complicated by that consideration. But it is real. We must get this Bill through by, I think, February 11, if the whole of our sincerity is not to be questioned in Ghana. If an Amendment were made in this House it would have to go to another place and it would have to come back here. Therefore, I cannot commit the Government.
I may have to come back here on Tuesday and, having considered these alternatives, may quite likely—I do not want to deceive the Committee—say that we still find that the Government's proposal is the right one. But between now and then, with my noble friend's permission, I and the Government are willing to have another look at these two alternatives. Therefore, without any commitment whatever, and with the feeling on my side that we shall probably have to stick to our proposals, I suggest that your Lordships should adjourn the Committee stage until Tuesday while we have further discussions, on the understanding, I hope, that noble Lords will feel, quite reasonably, that, for the sake of Ghana, we must get this Bill through by February 11.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
That is not quite as favourable an answer as I should have liked, but it is at least satisfactory that the Secretary of State is willing to reconsider the position as the result of the collection of views in your Lordships' House to-day. He is not very forthcoming as to what his estimate of the result may be. When he speaks about the time required by this legislation, which we all know is urgent and must be passed quickly, may I assure him that, from my point of view, everything will be done through the usual channels to secure that there can be no hold-up in the timing of any measure which your Lordships' House has sent back to another place because of an Amendment here. If the noble Earl would take that 100 per cent, from me, it may help him in dealing with the matter in discussions with his colleagues.
THE EARL OF HOME
I beg to move that the Committee stage on the Ghana Independence Bill be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the Committee stage be now adjourned. (The Earl OF Home.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and Committee stage adjourned accordingly.