§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we on this side welcome the Bill and are grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for the care and detail with which he expounded it to us. The history of Singapore, at any rate in its recent development, goes back some 139 years, and almost overnight it grew from a sparse fishing settlement, first to a trading port and then to a political and economic centre wielding decisive influence over a vast area.
The noble Earl did not mention in terms the long association between Singapore and Penang and Malacca, but this association was a happy one and a very close one. In the old days, Singapore used to refer to Malacca as "the sleepy hollow", and to Penang as "Palau Nanti Sekit", which means "The Isle of wait a little bit". They used to say that civil servants who went there became so fond of it that when promotion came up they said: "Wait a little bit: I will stay where I am." I cannot say here exactly what Penang and Malacca used to call Singapore, but perhaps the most polite terms were "brash" and "youthful". I think, however, that Sir Stamford Raffles' description of it was probably the most accurate when, in his prophetic way, he said that it would be 186a great commercial emporium and the fulcrum whence we may extend our influence politically, as circumstances may hereafter require.That was not a bad shot in the dark, in 1819, as to the future development of Singapore. It is also interesting to note that Raffles founded Singapore in the teeth not only of the East India. Company but also of the British Government at home; so it was, in fact, very much a personal decision on his part, and one from which not only we in this country but the world as a whole, have benefited very greatly as the years have gone by.
The decision to cut off Singapore from its fellows, Penang and Malacca—and also, of course, from the mainland—was taken about 1943; at least, I first heard of it then: it may have been a little before that. At the same time, the Malayan Union was proposed of the rest of the peninsula of Malaya and Penang and Malacca, and a loose Federation of Malayan and Borneo territories, with a Governor General at the head of it. As the noble Earl has said, a great deal of water has flowed under the bridge at Johore Bahru since then; the Federation of Malaya is now an independent member of the Commonwealth, and the Governor General is no more. I feel that, in the long term, the destiny of Singapore must lie with the Federation and, possibly, in some loose connection between the Federation and the Borneo territories as well. I believe that the proposals in this Bill are wise. Some of them are not only wise but original, which is unusual. The Bill is one more example of the flexibility of the constitutional arrangements which it is possible to make in the British Commonwealth.
The plan, as the noble Earl has described it, is in three parts. First of all, the self-government by the State in internal affairs; secondly, the exclusive responsibility of the United Kingdom for defence and foreign affairs; and, thirdly, internal security, which will be the responsibility of the Singapore Government but, because of its defence relationship, will involve the setting up of an Internal Security Council, consisting of three United Kingdom representatives, three Ministers from Singapore and (this is something very original) one Minister from the Federation of Malaya. The first and second of these, the internal 187 self-government and the responsibility of the United Kingdom for defence and foreign affairs, are common form. But the third part—that is to say, the Internal Security Council, on which not only Singapore and ourselves but also the Federation of Malaya are represented—is unorthodox and original, and I think has much to commend it. In the case of disagreement, presumably the Minister for the Federation will be in a decisive position. The Chairman has no casting vote, I understand, under the new order.
The idea of the Head of State is also new and original, I think, and I commend it. He is to be called the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, which, roughly, means the "Head of State", and will be appointed by the Queen and will be Malayan-born—presumably of any race, provided that he has been born in the Federation or in Singapore. The representative of the United Kingdom will be a Commissioner appointed by the United Kingdom Government, who will have special concern with defence and foreign affairs.
I think that our congratulations are due to the three Governments concerned. I would especially pick out, because they have had so much to do with it, Mr. Lennox-Boyd, Mr. Lim Yew Hock and my old friend Tunku Abdul Rahman. Tunku Abdul Rahman has only recently recovered from a serious illness and I hope that his health is improving. I should like to commiserate with him on the death of his brother, His Highness The Sultan of Kedah. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Mr. Lennox-Boyd, because in regard to other parts of the Colonial Empire I have been, and still am, a somewhat sharp critic of his. But here in South East Asia he seems to have been able to flow with the prevailing tide: he has been able to fit himself into the mood of the moment in an extraordinarily happy way, and his touch has been just right all along during the last few years, as I have had every opportunity to observe. I suppose that no Secretary of State could have the temperament to fit in with all parts of the Colonial Empire, so varied are they; but so far as South East Asia is concerned Mr. Lennox-Boyd has certainly been very happy.
The development of our relations with the peoples of India and Pakistan, South East Asia, the Far East, the Pacific and 188 Indian Oceans, West Africa, the West Indies and the Caribbean has on the whole been successful during the last few years, and we have had developments which have been a pattern to people everywhere. There is one problem that exercises me, however, to which I find it difficult to find an answer. Why is it that we have been able so successfully to come to terms with nationalism in all these parts of the world and yet have so signally failed to do so in the Middle East? This is not the time to investigate that problem, but I think that it deserves examination at some time.
The background to this Bill is of armed conflict diminishing, but still not completely ended, on the mainland, much Communist influence in Singapore, a small island which, as the noble Earl has said, is the size of the Isle of Wight, with a population of 1½million, a volatile and inexperienced electorate and a standard of living which, for the East, is comparatively high. So there is a risk in what we are doing. But we live in a dangerous world and I, for my part, and my noble friends think that this risk is worthwhile.
The only controversial question, as the noble Earl has said fairly, is the ban imposed by the United Kingdom Government, against the wishes of the Singapore Government, on the people known to have been engaged in subversive activities from standing for election to the first Assembly. I see the arguments for and against, but I think that it is a mistake to have this ban. If the people who have been engaged in subversive activities are so popular, then they will be elected at the second Election. If we are going to have trouble, we might as well have it now as defer it for a year or two. If they are not so popular, they will still have a powerful stick with which to beat the elected members, because they will say to the public, "If only we had been allowed to stand, these fellows would never have got in." So they will put the elected members in a difficult position. Here again there is a risk. But the whole thing is a risk; I think this is a risk worth taking, and that the Government would be wise to accede to Mr. Lim Yew Hock's request and allow those with qualifications to stand to do so.
There are a few questions that I should like to ask the noble Earl—I have given 189 him notice of all but one, which occurred to me while he was speaking. First, what is to be the exact status of the State of Singapore within the Commonwealth? Is it to be in the same position as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland? It will not be a fully independent member of the Commonwealth. Will the Head of State have the same access to the Sovereign as Governor-Generals elsewhere have? Will the United Kingdom representative be answerable to the Commonwealth Relations Office or to the Colonial Office? Who will look after the interests of United Kingdom citizens? Elsewhere I have found that when self-government is granted there is no one to look after the commercial and other interests of citizens from this country. When a State becomes fully independent, of course, this question does not arise, because the Commonwealth Relations Office appoints a High Commissioner and Commissioners, who are in fact Ambassador and Consuls; but where there is self-government without full independence there is no one in those positions and I think that that is a need which has to be filled.
Then I would ask: When shall we see the two Orders in Council, the one constitutional and the other relating to the ban; and will they be laid before Parliament before we rise for the Summer Recess? From what the noble Lord has said—and this is the question of which I have not given him notice—I understand that the citizens of Singapore are to be British subjects and Commonwealth and Singapore citizens, and I assume that they will no longer be citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Finally, will the Government strongly advise the Government of Singapore, from experience in other parts of the world where this sort of development has occurred, not to be too hasty in getting rid of their expatriate advisers, technical and otherwise? Because until their own people are trained to take their place it is very expensive, and often unsatisfactory, to have to find substitutes for these expatriate officers. In conclusion, may I say that we on this side of the House wish the State of Singapore—the Lion City, as it is named—every success in 'her journey into time. May her future be one of peace, prosperity and happiness under God!
§ 4.10 p.m.
My Lords, I cannot speak with anything like the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who has made such peculiarly interesting remarks to-day on this Bill, for which we are greatly indebted to him; nor, indeed, can I know anything like as much about it as the noble Earl who introduced the Bill. However, like some Members of your Lordship's House I have had the pleasure and privilege of visiting this very pleasant island, and I wish, shortly, to add support to what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said, and to join in congratulating the Minister. I hope that this new State of Singapore will enjoy prosperity and be an example to that difficult area in South-East Asia where indeed a new State can make or mar the future of many other of its neighbours.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to support the Second Reading of this Bill, I should like to add my congratulations to the general chorus of approval which has been given to the imaginative optimism which lies behind these proposals. The Secretary of State for the Colonies and Mr. Lim Yew Hock, deserve, I suggest, the warmest congratulation on these results of their negotiations. The State of Singapore will of course come into being with the warmest good will of everyone in this country. I do not propose to weary your Lordships with a detailed examination of the proposals for which this is the enabling Bill, but they will give the State of Singapore as great a measure of internal self-government as its international importance in the realm of trade, commerce and defence will reasonably permit. As has been said, the constitutional arrangements are unique; but so are the circumstances in which this little island of 217 square miles has grown to its present population and importance. If I may say so, in passing, I am glad of the assurances that have been given about protection of minorities, and especially the assurances given as to the protection of the interests of members of Her Majesty's Overseas Service.
I also welcome the arrangement whereby a representative of the Government of the Federation of Malaya will be given a seat on the internal security Council. The interests of the Federation 191 of Malaya and the new State of Singapore are so interlocked that this evidence of willing co-operation between the two Governments is a good augury for the future. But perhaps your Lordships will pardon me if I take one look into the future. I do not propose to make any prophecies, because, as we all know, prophesy is the most gratuitous form of human error. But in looking at this new State of Singapore, I naturally see it in its Malayan background. From a background of anarchy, chaos and bankruptcy in 1874 there arose in Malaya the richest country in the world for its size, and Singapore, as its chief port, became in an incredibly short time the seventh seaport in the world. It was my good fortune to work in this area from 1908 to 1933, and to serve in all the eight Malay States, as well as for five years in Singapore and for four years as Governor of North Borneo. Naturally, I see Singapore in that setting. Many of the problems of today, political, social and economic, arise from the breathless pace of the development which has taken place. As the Director of the International Labour Office once said:Having an adequate revenue at its disposal, the Government of Malaya has been able to develop health and education to a point attained nowhere else in the East.It is true that that development was temporarily suspended and harmed by two world wars, but, none the less, that is the background which the people of the Malayan Peninsula have known.
The mainland Malay States grew rich in tin and rubber and a whole range of agricultural products, while Singapore achieved immense prosperity on the trade not only of Malaya but also of the rich islands to the south and east. Its chief tradition has been that of a free port. Its population, as has been said, was and still is 85 per cent. Chinese, and it had none of the dynastic Malay attachment to a feudal past. The Federation of Malaya is now busy in trying to forge a nation out of the main racial ingredients of Malays, Chinese and Indians, and it has still many vital problems to settle. Singapore, on the other hand, is a great international centre—oil, air traffic, industries, rubber milling, tin smelting, engineering and wood-working, foundries, vehicle and ship repairing, saw mills, furnishing, breweries, biscuit factories 192 and factories for other food products, tailoring, shoemaking, soap, rubber goods and rattan products, and a mass of modern industry.
One of the questions which a not too remote future must answer is that of the artificial separation of the Federation of Malaya and this State of Singapore. To look at one aspect of it, the Federation will need in the future all the business ability and the wisdom and knowledge of the technique of administration, as well as of business, which the Chinese citizens of Singapore might well help to supply. The statesmanship of Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues, Malay, Chinese and India, inspires hope of success in welding together a new nation, while the courage and sense of responsibility of Mr. Lim Yew Hock, the Chief Minister of Singapore, cannot but excite admiration and hope for the future.
But think, my Lords, of one of the main problems ahead of both of these countries. The population rate of increase in the Federation of Malaya is 3 per cent. per annum, and that in Singapore is 3½per cent. per annum, probably the biggest increase anywhere in the world. Think what a major problem that involves in education alone, when one half of the population is under twenty-one years of age. The problem set for the future is immense, and once more the key to it is the way in which education is going to be handled in this new State of Singapore, as well as in the Federation.
There will be two Malayan Governments sharing a single economy closely and inevitably unified by the interlocking of trade and finance. It needs an effective focus of thinking, I suggest, for the Malayan economy as a whole, a centre in which the Federation and Singapore can be brought together in relation to many issues of economic policy which go far beyond mere monetary questions. Incidentally, that is why the International Bank Mission advocated the early formation of a Central Bank in Malaya. I am looking at this matter from a slightly different angle from previous speakers, because the economic background of this country is going to affect so much of its future. A restricted national income and a fast 193 growing population constitute a challenge to the future Governments of Malaya, and many of their questions will have to be looked at jointly if they wish to be successful in facing them.
As I have said, there are two Malay Governments sharing a single economy which is closely and inevitably unified by the interlocking of trade and finance. In a common central bank may be found the only effective focus of thinking for the Malayan economy as a whole, a centre in which the Federation and Singapore can be brought together in relation to the many issues of economic policy which, although they involve monetary questions, go far beyond them. A central bank could make a great contribution as a centre for economic study and thinking about the course of development and the problems of this economy as a whole, and as a source of advice and guidance to both Governments. It has also been recommended by the International Mission that a specialised credit institution to serve both the Federation and Singapore in providing medium and long-term capital for private industrial enterprise should be instituted.
The Mission pungently pointed out—and I think we should remember this background—that in its pre-war days Malaya in many respects was rather a geographical region, where capital and labour belonging to other economies found it convenient to carry on certain specialised operations within the British monetary as well as political framework. That situation to-day is quite different. Although many of the pre-war economic fixtures remain, Malaya—taking the Federation and Singapore together, as is inevitable in this context—is now a distinct national economy, with its own settled labour force, a wide and growing area of monetary transactions and of local capital and enterprise and indigenous banking system, and its own evolving political organs which must cope with Malayan economic problems from a Malayan viewpoint, which often has not been the case in the past. Above all, Malaya will have to think of its future development, not in terms of outside merchant mining and plantation capital arriving on a large scale to develop the economic opportunities in Malaya, but primarily in the terms of making the best use of domestic savings for the development of natural resources 194 of a modern domestic industry. This task requires a new emphasis on domestic financial facilities and monetary conditions to help channel savings into effective investment and to promote a favourable internal climate for steady economic development.
In conclusion, I should like to mention what has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and that is the suggestion that there might be a closer union between the territories of North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore, or the Federation of Malaya. I suggest that it is premature to consider any such movement to-day, and, in any case, it will be a matter for the people of those territories to decide in the future.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I say that I entirely agree with the noble Lord? I did not suggest for one moment that anybody should advocate such a course now, or perhaps for some years to come. What I said was that I thought inevitably the destiny of Singapore would lie with the mainland, and possibly in a wider federation with the Borneo territories. I was not advocating that anything should be done about it at the moment, but in fifty years' time that may well be the case.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I have no wish to misrepresent the noble Lord. In that case we think alike. I was merely suggesting that that must be in the remote future, because those territories have so many problems of their own to settle before they could reach a condition in which closer union would be a desirable thing.
It has not been mentioned in this debate, but I have seen it suggested that perhaps Port Swettenham may be developed as a rival to Singapore. I think anybody who knows port Swetenham would hesitate to place any faith in that likelihood, because the natural advantages of Singapore are so immeasurably superior. The future prosperity of Singapore would seem to be quite secure unless the old German dream of a canal through that narrow neck of Southern Siam, the Isthmus of Kra, which would join the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Siam, were in the future to be revived, in which case Singapore would be short-circuited as the route for sea traffic to the Far East. But that, of course, is part of what is at the moment 195 old history and an abandoned scheme. If one wants to look into the future one can always consider that sort of possibility. It was at one time, many years ago, a very live issue. That is all I wish to say, except to conclude by adding my own congratulations to those who have been responsible for the proposal for which this is the enabling Bill, and to wish it all success.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, it could not have been any part of a wild dream of mine ten years ago practically to this day when I flew out to Singapore to start a business career, that I should have the honour of rising in your Lordships' House to support a Bill granting self-government to the Colony of Singapore. I went to Singapore without a friend. I can say truthfully that during that period I made more friends than I possibly could have made if I had remained in this country, for the people of Singapore and Malaya have big hearts; they are generous; they are hospitable, and in fact they are all that one could wish as a friend.
It is a mere twelve months ago since your Lordships' House gave a warm welcome to a Bill granting independence to the Federation of Malaya. I think we can honestly say that our hopes for the Federation of Malaya have been realised, and that in spite of many difficulties that country has come through with flying colours. I should be less than honest if I declared that I could view the future State of Singapore with the same confidence as I expressed in support of the Bill granting independence to the Federation of Malaya. However, the people of Singapore have clearly declared their wish for greater responsibility in their government, and I think it would be wrong for this country to deny them that opportunity.
This Bill provides a Constitution considerably in advance of the existing Constitution. As the noble Earl who introduced this Bill said, it is customary to review the period of our control over our colonial territories. Sir Stamford Raffles, in an inspired moment, foresaw Singapore as a great trading port. Singapore developed, as we know, considerably, and to-day well over one hundred ships a day pass through the 196 port going to various parts of the world. Great credit must be given to the British officials. I do not believe one can allocate any particular credit since men of all nations have played their part, but I think we should appreciate that it was under the British flag—the British naval flag—that this Colony has prospered.
Quite rightly, we pay tribute to Sir Stamford Raffles and to Dr. Ridley, the founder of the rubber industry, but I should like to pay a personal tribute to one man who I believe typifies the service of Europeans to the people of Singapore, a man who, unhonoured by his country, recently died, and who spent practically his entire life in Singapore and Malaya. I refer to Dr. Garlick, who, on his retirement from Government service in Malaya, decided to remain among the people he loved, and devoted the last years of his life to an attempt to stamp out tuberculosis, which is the dreaded disease in Asia. It was through his initiative and determination that to-day stands in Singapore the Royal Chest Clinic, equipped with the finest equipment available and staffed by devoted doctors and nurses. Through that clinic, which is supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions, over 16,000 patients pass a month. I believe that here is a great example of dedicated service, and the people who criticise European activities in our colonial territories should remember this example.
This Bill will give self-government to the elected Government and Assembly in Singapore. It does not go as far as some political leaders in Singapore would wish, but it is recognised, I believe, both in London and among the responsible leaders in Singapore, that complete independence is not possible for this island standing alone. Independence can come only when the island federates with Malaya, and when this will come about it is not possible to say. It is not only the Causeway and Straits of Johore that divide those two territories. The divisions which exist only the people of Singapore and Malaya themselves can clear away. However, I hope there will be a great effort to bring unification, for I believe that if the divisions which now exist remain they will grow to the detriment of both those countries.
For Singapore the problems of self-government would frighten even the bravest man, but in Mr. Lim Yew Hock 197 we have a man of sterling qualities, in which courage dominates. We should realise and appreciate that the tools in Mr. Lim Yew Hock's possession for dealing with the many problems are relatively few. The economic problem which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, spoke about is very serious, although to outward appearances Singapore is prosperous and enjoys great development. The island, to those who know it, has few natural resources, it is pathetically weak industrially. Its major livelihood, as we know, is that of a great trading port or a great warehouse. Already the economy of Singapore has been gravely affected by the fall in world trading and the fall in prices of commodities which pass through Singapore from the neighbouring countries. Already there are reports of cut-back in expenditure of Government finance. Even if the entrepôt trade were to increase, this would have little effect upon providing employments for the rapidly growing population of Singapore.
We have heard that over 50 per cent of the population is under twenty-one. The population in Singapore increases by 50,000 a year. Flowing from all the schools come young men and women seeking employment, and unless work is available a terrible and dangerous situation will certainly arise. Development of industry may well provide the answer, but if that is to occur considerable overseas capital will be required. It must be obvious to any responsible person in Singapore, however, that, with the unstable political situation, overseas capital will not flow in the quantities required. Industrial development is already handicapped, in that the cost of production is a good deal higher than it is in other manufacturing countries in the Far East, such as Japan, China and Hong Kong.
I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government what is the position of the Colonial Development Corporation in relation to the State of Singapore. No mention has been made of this matter so far, but, as your Lordships will be aware, on other occasions when Colonies have obtained independence the Corporation has been precluded from continued investment. I presume that, as no mention has been made of this here, the fact that Singapore is not becoming completely independent means that the Corporation will be allowed to continue to invest. For 198 economic reasons alone, I do not believe that Singapore can attain complete independence. I would therefore urge the Government of the Federation of Malaya to take an active lead in bringing about unification. I recognise that there are many great difficulties to be overcome, but I believe that it is as much in the interests of the people of Malaya as in the interests of the people of Singapore that this unification should be brought about.
Of all the problems and dangers that will beset Singapore, perhaps the question of internal security has dominated our thoughts more than any. External attack is relatively remote compared with the insidious threat of Communism. The Communist Party was banned in 1948, following the armed insurrection in Malaya, but this cancer has grown in various disguises. It has appeared as a musical society; it has appeared as a cultural society. It has infiltrated into all the middle Chinese schools; it has infiltrated into the trade unions; it has infiltrated into the political Parties. It has infiltrated, one might say, into nearly all spheres of public life. Malaya received the full brunt of a military attack, while Singapore experienced the killer Communist gangs and intimidation on a very wide scale.
To some degree, these forces were held in check by a loyal and efficient police force. In spite of many difficulties, of which perhaps the greatest was the non-co-operation of the public, the police have behaved magnificently, and I feel that, this House should pay tribute to those services. I personally should like to pay a special tribute to the volunteer special constabulary, in which I had the honour to serve for a number of years. This force has set a great example to the multiracial population of Singapore. All races formed this special constabulary. Singapore is particularly in debt to the volunteers, not only for what they did during the riots of 1950 and the subsequent Communist riots, but through their constant patrols and duties.
To provide internal security a rather ingenious plan has been adopted, and my noble friend Lord Ogmore, has congratulated the Government in this matter. In the Internal Security Council the key appointment will be that of the representative of the Federation of Malaya. 199 I am perfectly sure that careful consideration will be given in regard to this appointment. I personally hope that the man appointed will be of Cabinet rank. He must be a man of courage and incorruptibility, for I can well visualise circumstances when his position may be delicate, and possibly fraught with danger.
My Lords, I have deliberately refrained from commenting on the political instability in Singapore, for this is now the responsibility of their people. But the seeds of Communism are well sown. I should like to raise one point on the question of freedom of speech and the freedom of the Press. Under existing regulations, the Government of Singapore can suppress, and have suppressed, various newspapers and periodicals. It is therefore possible, under the regulations, for a Government disliking the views expressed by responsible newspapers to close those newspapers. I should like to ask the Government whether there is clearly written into the Constitution power to protect the freedom of speech and the freedom of the Press.
In addressing my final remarks to your Lordships' House, I should like equally to address them to the people of Singapore. The United Kingdom could hold Singapore in colonial bondage, if necessary by military force. I believe that we could hold it indefinitely. But that is not our way: our action in granting independence to India, Pakistan, Ceylon. Burma, Ghana, the Federation of Malaya, and the continued advancement towards independence in all our colonial territories, proves that point. It should be obvious to all that our actions are quite contrary to those of the Communist Powers. We in this country believe in democracy; we believe in the rights of man: and these principles we have tried to establish in all areas under our influence. We hope that the seeds of democracy are well sown in Singapore. We hope that they will be cultivated and protected, and that Singapore may flourish in peace and happiness.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, this Second Reading has been a happy occasion, in that all noble Lords who have spoken have welcomed the Bill and recognised the great service that has been done by the Sinapore delegation itself 200 and by the Federation of Malaya in (if I may put it this way) coming to our rescue in relation to the Internal Security Council. Further, it has been a happy occasion because the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has spoken in such generous terms of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, Mr. Lennox-Boyd. I know that he will greatly appreciate it, and I know that the Colonial Office as a whole will appreciate what the noble Lord has said. Running through the speeches that we have heard on this subject, again and again there has arisen the question of the destiny of the State of Singapore, in the sense of whether it will find its way in with the Federation or possibly with the Borneo territories. As various noble Lords have pointed out, in the final analysis that will be a matter for the people of those territories to decide; but I am quite sure that what has been said on the economic side, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, will be looked at and considered by those who have this problem to tackle.
The only issue on which any difference of opinion has been expressed is in regard to what we know as the "subversive ban". I recognise that this is a matter of opinion. It is our firm opinion that the right thing is to maintain this ban at the start of the new State of Singapore; but I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that it is probable that the new Administration or Government, when it is elected, will last, or should last, not for a year but for its full term; and that will give considerable time for people to gain experience, to weigh up and to learn something of governing themselves in the way that is proposed.
I think I should now try to deal with several questions which were raised by noble Lords. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who gave me notice, asked several questions which I can deal with relatively shortly. He asked about the status of the State of Singapore in relation to the Commonwealth. As with so many matters in the Commonwealth, I think it would be a mistake to try to give too precise an answer as to exactly where somebody may stand or exactly what may be its relationship; but I would say that generally Singapore will remain a dependency of the United Kingdom. That answers, too, the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on 201 economic assistance: it will still be open to the Colonial Development Corporation to invest, and the State will still be eligible, for the Colonial Development and Welfare grants.
I was asked to whom the United Kingdom Commissioner might report. The answer is, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, what about the Head of State—though probably the noble Earl is coming to that subject.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I shall be coming to that. So far as the interests of United Kingdom citizens are concerned, it will be the responsibility of the United Kingdom Commissioner to look after these, in so far as they are distinct from interests which are particularly those of Singapore. The Yang di-Pertuan Negara, as the Head of State will be called, will have access to the Sovereign, if he so wishes, through the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Constitution Order in Council will be laid before Parliament when it is made, though just when I cannot tell. It will certainly not be before the Recess, and it is likely that it will not be laid before Parliament reassembles. Your Lordships will understand that there is a great deal of drafting and so forth to be undertaken. The Electoral Provisions Order under which the subversive ban will be retained will be dealt with and laid separately.
On the question of expatriates, as I said earlier a plan has been worked out with Singapore. The plan aims at Malayanisation over a period; it has been worked out in considerable detail to ensure that those of the expatriates who are so important to the good government of the State will, if possible, remain for a period of years appropriate to the particular job they are doing, having regard to the grades of Malays or Singapore citizens who may come up to fill those posts. It is certainly our hope and wish that expatriates will stay. As I have already mentioned, a plan of compensation, with assurances, has been worked out and will be enshrined in the Constitution; and I have myself little doubt that the expatriates will carry on and will continue to meet the needs of the State of Singapore.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, if the noble Earl will allow me to interrupt, are the Government officers of the City Council protected under this Constitution?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I believe the answer is: No, they are not protected. Under the Constitution those who are protected are those for whom the Secretary of State for the Colonies was directly responsible—that is to say, those expatriates in the Singapore Government.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked what was the citizenship position. Here I would say that, with all questions of citizenship, the more one delves into them, the more difficult and dangerous they become. If I may, will just give the noble Lord a short answer, which is as follows: Singapore citizens who were also citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies will retain that citizenship, but the acquisition of Singapore citizenship now does not, or will not, carry with it in future, citizenship of the United Kingdom and the Colonies.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, the noble Earl spoke earlier of something called "Commonwealth citizenship," which seems to be something new. I thought that there was to be, as it were, a Commonwealth nationality, and that they were to be subjects of the Commonwealth but citizens of various parts of it. Is that not the case, or am I mistaken?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I knew that I was likely to get into trouble on this question, for on certain matters it is always difficult to give precisely the right answer. When I was analysing subsection (1) of the Bill I said that it provided that Singapore citizens shall be recognised as British subjects and Commonwealth citizens. I believe that that is the usual form of citizenship in these circumstances, and so far as I am aware it is not a new device or invention for the occasion.
The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked whether freedom of speech and freedom of the Press were specifically written into the new Constitution. The answer is, No, they are not written in specifically, any more than they are written into the Constitution in this country. But there are the safeguards, such the existence of an independent Judiciary and a Government which is responsible to the electorate, which of course are safeguards which 203 one hopes and expects will be sufficient for the purpose. One last question raised was whether in the Internal Security Council the Chairman would have any casting vote. The answer to that question is: No, there will just be the three members from the State of Singapore, three members from the United Kingdom and the representative from the Federation who will be able to vote. It is quite true, therefore, that in agreeing to take on this job the Federation has been of very great help and assistance, as so many noble Lords have said.
It was a great pleasure to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, with all his experience from 1908 onwards, of which we have heard, that he believes that, on the whole, this Bill does the right thing. It was also a particular pleasure to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who went out there some years ago, of the many personal friendships he made. I am not sure he is right in saying that he made more friendships there than he would have made here; but it is a great thing to know from him something of which I have had some small personal experience—that is, how friendly and welcoming are the people. I was glad to hear his tribute to the police, bath regular and voluntary. We also have to thank the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for what he said in relation to the Bill.
It is quite true, as noble Lords have said, that there is a risk, and a conscious risk, which we and the delegation and the Government of Singapore have taken in this Bill. Something might go wrong. But we do not believe that it will. We remain convinced that the best defence against the threat of Communism is freedom of expression and for the people of Singapore to rule themselves. Last autumn I had the good fortune to travel in the area, in Malaya, Singapore, and the Borneo Territories, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo, and I was struck by what I saw in Singapore, above all, in relation to housing, dealing with the immense problem of 50,000 added population every year. I was greatly impressed by the educational system and the schools that were going up; by the cleanness of the city, its efficiency and the good health which, on the whole, it was enjoying. Of course, there are problems; of course there are slums; but 204 because of the way the problems are being tackled, anyone who has seen it can do nothing but admire.
My Lords, as I said, this Bill and all that goes with it are based on a trust—trust in the people of Singapore. It was good to hear that echoed by those who spoke, and good to know that what I felt at the beginning is true: namely, that this Bill is welcomed by all, and that with it go the good wishes of all the House to the State of Singapore in its new adventure.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.
§ Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution of July 21), Bill read 3a, and passed.