§ 2,46 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords, I count myself fortunate to be home in time to move the Second Reading of this Bill which seeks sanction for further financial help for colonial development. As your Lordships will know, this development is development in the widest sense of the word. It is defined in the 1940 Act as:Any purpose likely to promote the development and the resources of any Colony or the welfare of its people.The White Paper, Command 762, issued in February goes into some detail on the use of the funds to date, and I will not go over all the ground again. I consider it sufficient to say that the money has been spent roughly under five headings, or parts, more or less equally: education agriculture, which includes irrigation; health and housing; communications, mainly roads; and "miscellaneous"— which includes such things as research.
Any of your Lordships who has recently visited the Colonies cannot fail to have seen examples of the use of Colonial Development and Welfare funds and their immense value as a spur and help to local initiative, and, in the case of the poorer territories, virtually their only means of making useful progress. For myself, I have just returned from Kenya and Uganda, and naturally I have in mind some of the examples from those territories. As is the case in nearly all the Colonies, agricultural development is basic to their progress. There is the tremendous work of land consolidation going on in Kenya by which minute holdings scattered over a wide area are brought together into one plot—a process somewhat similar to what happened in this country many hundreds of years ago. But this process really becomes worth while only when the people have, in addition, the great benefit of guidance on what crops can most advantageously be grown, and the provision of better strains of seed or cattle, or better methods of cultivation. All of this Colonial Development and Welfare funds can provide. Everywhere in Kenya, and most notably in the Kikuyu area, one sees an agri- 802 cultural revolution in process and a new class of relatively well-to-do yeoman farmers coming into being.
Or again in Uganda I saw the splendid and, I thought, architecturally very fine buildings of Makerere, the University College that serves the East African Territories; and it is one of a series of universities throughout the Colonial Territories of which we may all be justly proud and which, in large part, have been made possible by the Colonial Development and Welfare grants. Also, I flew over quite a bit of territory in my journeyings, and one of the things I noticed was that in relatively empty areas wherever there was a road there was a kind of ribbon development of African settlements, bringing the land into use and opening up the country. I am quite sure that many of those roads were in part due to the Colonial Development and Welfare funds. I say "in part" because it is, of course, the policy of Her Majesty's Government, wherever possible, to have the Colony itself make a contribution and for them to rely on the Colonial Development and Welfare funds for the rest.
I believe that the greatest credit is due to the local Governments and their staffs and to all who are concerned with the wise planning and the use that is being made of these development funds, so that often they yield benefits far greater than the actual amount of money that has been spent. Perhaps I have said enough to show some of the purposes for which Colonial Development and Welfare funds have been used; but the funds are running out, or anyhow are fully committed. Hence we have this Bill which will make available a further amount of £95 million up to 1964 for similar purposes. In this time of falling commodity prices and increasing costs new grants are especially needed and will be particularly welcomed. I was frequently asked, "When might we be getting these new colonial welfare grants?" If this Bill passes the answer will be, "'Very soon".
The record is indeed one of which believe we can all be proud. Between 1945 and 1964 the total of money that may be spent for the betterment of colonial peoples will under this Bill reach a total of £315 million. It may be asked whether the present increase of £95 million is enough, and to answer this question I am afraid that I must quote 803 a few figures. Last year over £19 million was spent, and there is now a residue of the earlier amounts which have been voted, committed but not actually spent, totalling £44 million. To this must be added the £95 million provided for under this Bill, which will make a total of nearly £140 million for the coming five years. If all this were spent in that quinqunnium it would be not far short of £30 million a year. In practice we shall not quite get up to those figures, because inevitably a largish sum will have been committed, but will not have been spent, just as is the case at the present time. As an off-set to this, however, one must expect that, just as now, a new Bill may come in a year early, to ensure that there is an overlap and to avoid any break in development and in the planning of expenditure. This would mean that the present amount could be considered in some degree as covering a four-year rather than a five-year period.
Whatever the mathematical calculations, it is clear that the Colonial Development and Welfare part of this Bill represents a considerable increase in the rate of spending on that which at present prevails. Ghana and Malaya no longer receive these grants and so are outside the scope of the Bill; and next year Nigeria, when she achieves her independence will also fall outside its scope. So will Cyprus. On the other hand—and in a sense as a balancing factor—there is the special large amount earmarked for Malta.
I ought to say a further word about Malta, because I found that several of the Colonies were inclined to feel that perhaps Malta was getting more than her fair share at their expense. In fact, the figure for the Colonies was broadly calculated exclusive of the requirements of Malta, and then, as an administrative convenience, most of the amount of Government help which had been promised to Malta—up to £29 million in the next five years —was added to the sum which was otherwise available to the Colonies. So it will be seen that this was not a case of Malta getting more than her fair share but rather that Malta's share came in, as an administrative convenience, over and above something which had already been voted by Her Majesty's Government.
As I have tried to show your Lordships, the Bill will result in an important 804 increase in present spending for colonial I development; and it does more than that, for in Clause 3 a new feature in introduced—Exchequer loans up to a total of £100 million. Before going into some more detail on these Exchequer loans I should like to take this opportunity of touching on the help that some other Governments have provided for the Colonies, somewhat along the lines of our Colonial Development and Welfare grants. I have particularly in mind the existing Canadian help to the West Indies and the promised help to African territories. I have also in mind American help under I.C.A.—initials which stand, as your Lordships will know, for International Co-operation Administration. I think I prefer the initials to the full title.
Such help, be it in money or technical aid, is exceedingly welcome. I myself, when I was travelling, happened to see two striking examples of American aid. At Nairobi, when I visited the Royal Technical College I saw a fine new building going up. When I asked where the money for it came from I was told that it was coming under this American assistance. Then in Kampala I visited the Technical Institute, where I saw an American team instructing pupils in engineering, teacher-training and other such things; and they did not stop at that. In their spare time one of their number had taught boxing, and the result was a silver medal gained at the Cardiff Games last year. I take this opportunity to say "Thank you" for such aid, which is a valuable adjunct to what we are providing. Perhaps I might add: the more the merrier!
Now to turn back to Exchequer loans. Clause 3 of the Bill provides for an amount of up to £100 million in the next five years, with an annual ceiling of £25 million. It is our hope and belief that this sum, together with help that may come from outside— be it from the City or foreign sources—will be sufficient for Colonial needs. The idea of Exchequer loans was announced at Montreal. In a sense I am not very happy at the reason for them, for this is due to the fact that recently the Colonies have not been able to raise in the London market the money they require. Their economic development must go on, notably in such basic things as railways and big power stations, which have to be planned far ahead and 805 orders for which must be placed far ahead. To enable them to do this the Colonial Governments must have the certainty that when the time comes for them to pay they will have money available. Hence we have this provision of Exchequer loans which are, as it were, a kind of underwriting of these plans. These loans can be obtained in the last resort, if the markets in London or elsewhere cannot provide the money.
I say "or elsewhere", my Lords, because I have in mind funds which might come from national institutions, such as the World Bank, or even from foreign markets such as New York. There was a case only the other day of a Jamaica loan of 12½ million dollars which was successfully launched in New York. This success was largely due to the efforts of the then Finance Minister, the late Mr. Nethersole. I would wish to pay a special tribute to him and to the work he did.
There has been raised, particularly in another place, a question about the rate of interest to be charged for the Exchequer loans. Clearly, one could not have this charge, or the annual charge, more favourable than that which is available to borrowing territories in the London market, for that, in a sense, would have penalised the good and encouraged the bad. Hence, as a matter of policy, the annual charge under the Exchequer loans will be somewhat greater than is the case in the open market. This having been said, in fact the interest rate may be somewhat lower, but as a balancing factor, as it were, the repayment of ca pit: will have to be at a somewhat quicker pace.
I do not think I need go over all the various clauses in the Bill in any detail. They are well covered in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum which is the prelude (if that is the right word) to the Bill. I would draw attention to only one point, which is, in a sense, due to the pressures exerted in your Lordships' House at the time of the Ghana Independence Bill. It will be recalled that that Bill had in it clauses stating that Ghana could no longer be eligible for Colonial Development Corporation and Colonial Development and Welfare assistance, and there was objection at the inclusion of these negative and ungracious parts which rather upset the whole tone of the Bill the purpose of which was to give indepen- 806 dence to the territory. In the Overseas Resources and Development Act of last year we managed to arrange things so that it would no longer be necessary to mention the Colonial Development Corporation in any such Act; and this Bill, by Clause 2 (7), will achieve the same purpose as regards Colonial Development and Welfare funds. Thus, in any subsequent Bill which may be giving independence to a colonial territory, there will be nothing objectionable of this kind.
I hope that I have said enough to gain your Lordships' support for the Bill, whose purpose, I know, is backed by one and all. Colonial Development and Welfare is well proven as a means for furthering colonial development. and the Colonial Governments have built up a technique for planning the use of funds which enables them to take the fullest advantage of what they may be offered. The Exchequer loans provision is a novel one, but it falls naturally into the same category. Together they will help development; and that, in its turn should produce new revenues which are of such importance to the Colonies if they are to meet the ever-growing needs and costs of social and other Government services. I need not stress how invaluable it is to the Colonies to be able to increase their revenues and, with them, their general standard of living and the prosperity and happiness of their people. This Bill should do much to help in achieving this purpose. My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(The Earl of Perth.)
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we welcome the noble Earl, Lord Perth, back from his recent visit to East Africa, and we are glad that he has arrived safely. We also welcome the Bill, which of course is supported by all Parties in this country. I think that before considering the future we might for a moment look at the background to the Bill and consider some of the matters which have gone before and which are the basis of the present situation.
Prior to 1940 the Colonies, as many of us remember only too well, had to make do with what they could afford from their own resources. The Colonial Development Act of 1929 provided £1 million only for schemes "to promote commerce with or 807 industry in the United Kingdom." So not only was the amount limited, but the scope of the Bill was equally limited. The first real start was made in 1940, when the Act of that year set aside £5 million a year for ten years, with a further £500,000 a year for research. Remembering the situation in this country in 1940, I feel that this was a sublime act of faith and, indeed, was not without its humorous side, all things considered. It must have sorely puzzled the Germans and no doubt exasperated that practical nation, the French.
The 1945 Act augmented the financial provisions, and my noble friend Lord Hall, in a despatch of November 12, 1945, laid down the principles to be followed by Colonies in framing their development plans. For a short time I was the Chairman of the Committee that considered these plans as they arrived from the colonial territories, and I well remember the arguments that arose in the Committee and elsewhere as to how the butter should he spread. There was not a great deal of butter, and there was a very great deal of bread. The question, of course, was whether we were to spread the butter evenly across the surface or whether it should be applied in lumps here and there. in other words, should we attempt to meet the vast number of requirements in the colonial territories (over forty in number and with nearly 80 million people to be considered), or should we concentrate on those particular projects that might have the greatest effect? Was the main need to deal with projects such as roads, agricultural development and animal health, projects of an economic nature, under the development side of the Act, or should we concentrate on the welfare projects, such as hospitals, domestic water supplies and the like, all of which, of course, were in extremely short supply?
Then there were the crying needs of education. New universities, new secondary schools, new primary schools, were all desired in the Colonial territories. I may say, on this point of universities, that since the war we have either restored or created no fewer than seven universities or university colleges, six of which, I believe, were restored or created in the first six or seven years following the war. That is a phenomenal achievement in itself, when one considers what a "to-do" 808 there is in this country if one university college is created, or even if one college in a university is created. To create or restore seven is a remarkable achievement, and one for which we have never had the credit either from our friends or from our foes.
On top of this there were the paramount needs of research. This is not a popular subject with Colonial Legislatures; it is not, or was not, a particularly popular subject with Colonial Governments, because, of course, it is much more satisfactory to see a badly needed hospital or school or university springing up than to plough the money into something that may show a return only in twenty years' time, or, indeed, may never show a return at all. But it is absolutely essential. This research was absolutely essential, and still is. There were disappointments; I remember when we spent a good deal of time and money on experiment with oil palm research in West Africa, only to find, after some years and after many thousand of pounds had been spent, that the African farmer was doing the right thing all the time and that nothing we could suggest was going to improve his crop. It might be said that that was money wasted. But it was not wasted: it was something we had to find out—and, at all events, we had the satisfaction of knowing that he was the best judge in the end in this particular case.
I remember going to Kumassi and meeting a group of farmers there, and trying to persuade them that it was necessary to cut down their trees in order to stop the "swollen shoot" disease. I said —and I thought it was a fairly good analogy—"If you have a man in your midst who has smallpox, you have to remove him or all the rest of you will get it". But one old farmer got up and said: "Yes, but when one of us gets smallpox you do not cut off his head"— and there was not much of an answer to that. When one went to farmers and tried to persuade them either to grow new crops or to grow old crops in a different way, in most cases their answer was: "You try it first, and if it succeeds we will try it. It is better for your money to be spent on it than ours". That is a very sensible attitude, and it shows the need for research. In a moment or two I shall quote something to show the present 809 attitude to research, which is so different from that at the time of which I am speaking., which was about the late'forties. I believe that, on the whole, the ten-year plans which were prepared after the war were on the right lines. Certainly, they were on the only possible lines having regard to the circumstances. In fact, "fair shares for all" was the guiding motive, and riot concentration on a few.
Some indication may be given of the spread of schemes for the monies allocated by Parliament, and I shall quote figures in a moment; and I may say that the monies provided under the 1945 Act were augmented by the £80 million additional money given under the 1955 Act—a generous gift from Her Majesty's Government and from the taxpayers of this country. In view of what I have said—that is to say, our attempt to spread the butter fairly evenly—it is rather interesting, perhaps, to see how the butter has in fact been spread. I take these figures from the Government's own White Paper on the Colonial Development and Welfare Act (Command 672), and I am giving the figures to the nearest million. These are actual expenditures, by the way. and not monies that have been allocated. Communications and transport, £30 million— mainly for roads; agriculture, fishery, and forestry, £22.3 million; soil conservation and irrigation, £7.5 million; education. £29 million; health, £15.5 million; housing and water supplies, £18.2 million; administration and surveys, £10.6 million; research, £15.2 million; electricity, power, and industry, £260,000; and other schemes, £8.8 million. I think noble Lords will see from these figures that a pretty fair balance has been struck.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, has quoted other countries which have also contributed to the development of the colonial territories, and has mentioned, in particular, the Americans. My experience of the American contribution is that it is, as always, full of idealism but is sometimes handicapped by a political sense which is misplaced. On some of the projects which I visited I found that the Americans had imposed strings to their generous gifts; and these strings, while of no practical importance at all, have gone a long way to destroy the good will towards the United States and towards 810 Western democracy which it was so desirable the gifts should achieve.
My Lords, in our Colonial territories until recently the pace of development was set, to a large extent, by the availability of materials and the availability of trained men and women. But from now on, I understand from the speech of the Secretary of State in another place, the pace will be set by the availability of finance, and, I suppose, to a lesser extent, but still to some extent, by the availability of trained men and women. I also presume that we can also concentrate rather more than we have been able to do in the past.
I must admit that I had hoped, when I read the Bill, that more money would be available per territory than had been the case in the past; because, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has rightly said, Ceylon, Ghana, and the Federation of Malaya are no longer colonial territories, and soon Nigeria, Cyprus, and also, it may be (although he did not mention it) the Federation of the West Indies, will cease to be members of the colonial territories. I thought, in my innocence, that this meant that those territories which remained would have more than they had been entitled to in the past; but we now gather from the Minister of State that, by a book-keeping transaction, this is not to be the case. They will, in fact, receive no more than they would have received if these territories had still been in the Colonial Empire, because the payments to Malta are included in the payments which the Government are entitled to make under this Bill. I must say that I am a little disappointed about that. I should have thought that it would have been better to make the payments to Malta a separate transaction altogether—if necessary, the subject of a separate Bill⁁so that we could deal with the Colonial Development and Welfare Act on its own for the purposes for which it was intended, and not for this very special relief for the Island of Malta.
My Lords, this Bill is intended to extend the period of the existing Acts and to make more money available, as the noble Earl has said, in grants and in loans. These are essential and welcome steps. As to the future, we can all think of desirable projects upon which the money could be spent; but I presume that, by and large, there will be followed 811 the practice that has been followed in the past—that is to say, the Colonial Governments will put up the schemes which they think essential, and those schemes will be considered in the Colonial Office. However, may I make a few suggestions, both to the noble Earl and to the Government?
First, is it possible to remove bottlenecks? In my experience during journeys over the roads of many of the territories, particularly of West and East Africa, a whole stretch of perhaps 100 or 200 miles of road can be put out of action, generally in the rainy season, either because at some particular point in the road there is either a steep piece of track, a hill over which the road has to go, or a part of the road is constantly being washed away by a river. One would suppose that the sensible way of dealing with this question would be to put tarmac on the hill or to put a hump-back bridge where the road crosses the river. But, no; from my experience, that is not the way the mind of the Public Works Department acts. They have a plan to tarmac the whole road from beginning to end during the next seven years, and it is very difficult to persuade them to tarmac a bit in the middle, or to put up a hump-back bridge two-thirds of the way along. As a result, in many cases one has to make a long detour just because a small portion of the road is out of use. We must remember, of course, that most of the roads are earth roads, and if there is tarmac, it is only a small strip in the middle of the road. Your Lordships will realise what a great impediment even a small bit of bad road is to the whole track.
The second suggestion I would make is that instead of sending out men to do technical and professional work in the colonial territories, we should help to train the colonial peoples to do this for themselves. I am certain that one way in which this money could be well spent would be to bring more and more professional people and technicians to do postgraduate work in this country. On April 7 there was an interesting letter in The Times from The David Davies Professor of Tuberculosis, University of Wales. He said:Professor Milnes Walker in his letter on April 1 refers primarily to the staffing of universities and university colleges oversea. At the same time he rightly states that the 812 scheme of secondment of registrars to oversea territories 'only touches the fringe of the problem'.Those acquainted with the problem will agree that the most urgent need of the less privileged countries is good standard general duty medical officers, if possible with some training in one or more branches of medicine or surgery.He says later:But however desirable it may be at present to send staff from this country to work in over-sea hospitals, the real solution of the problem lies in training the young medical practitioners in oversea countries to do the work themselves…. The Welsh Regional Hospital Board has made arrangements by which such experience may be obtained in its hospitals by oversea doctors.If grants could be made to enable young medical men and other professionals (because the same thing applies to professional men and technicians in other fields) to come over here for post-graduate courses, I am sure that a great deal of good would be done. In many cases they are now getting their training in universities and medical schools over there, but from my personal experience I know that they would appreciate tremendously the opportunity of enhancing their experience in our hospitals and training schools.
I would also make this suggestion, which I believe has never been put forward before: I do not think people have really become alive to it. As your Lordships know, we in this country have two legal professions. Whether this is the most convenient system or not is not the point. There are those of us who think not, but I should be out of order on this Bill to enlarge on whether the two legal professions really are organised to satisfy the calls made upon them. Obviously, however, they bear little relation to conditions in the colonial territories. The lawyer students who come over for training become members of the English Bar in practically all cases, and go back to practise in their home towns. But as the tribal system breaks down, and an economic system based on our own develops, with industries springing up and commercial firms expanding, men who have been trained as solicitors, as well as barristers, are needed. There is now a great deal of work in conveyancing, probate, commercial work, framing contracts and the like.
In my view, it is time that the General Council of the Bar, the Law Society and the Colonial Office got together and 813 framed a post-graduate course to enable these young barristers to get a year or two of training in solicitors' work. They cannot pay for these courses themselves, and there are no scholarships for lawyers, with the result that a man has to be supported by his family, or by his tribe, when he comes over here; and as soon as he is called to the Bar he wants to get back to be able to repay the money he has borrowed. It is hopeless to expect him to find, out of his own pocket, the money required for this important part of his training. Although it is the custom to jeer at lawyers, may I say that they are an essential part of the administration of any country? Without them commerce and industry, local government and national government, cannot operate efficiently or satisfactorily. When these professional men are brought over, it is also essential to bring over their families. In the past, much unhappiness has been caused because a man has been separated from his wife and family for two or three years while engaged in studies in this country.
Finally, my Lords, I would suggest to the Government that they do everything possible to encourage research. This is not always a popular suggestion, because little is to be seen for it. It is difficult to show the electorate in these countries the result of research. If there is no piped water or electricity in a village, and perhaps no road to it, it is not much satisfaction to tell the villagers that the grant was spent this year on a project which is going to investigate soil acidity in the area, or something like that. It takes a lot of understanding for them to believe that, in the end, that is the better way of spending the money. We must also remember that two of the great colonial industries—rubber in Malaya and cocoa in what was then the Gold Coast—were not developed by private enterprise: they were developed by Government servants. In fact, the old gentleman who developed rubber in Malaya died recently in Richmond. Surrey, having passed his hundredth birthday. Colonial servants had the greatest difficulty in persuading commercial firms to take up the growing of these products on a commercial basis, and one cannot blame them: they were chancy crops at That time and had not been grown in these areas, and naturally the commercial people wondered whether they would be a success. So that it was 814 research by Government servants which started these industries, which have added so much to the standard of living of the colonial peoples and of our own.
Before I finish what I have to say, I should like to quote from the Colonial Research Report 1957-58, a most interesting Report which I hope your Lordships have read. It reports on the work of the Colonial Research Council and of the various research committees. Remembering the reaction to research of the farmers, in Africa and elsewhere, only ten years ago, it is interesting to find the Agricultural Research Committee saying this in paragraphs 6 and 7:Inevitably the effort which has been put into research in the last ten years is producing results, and there is good and growing evidence that much of practical use is being taken un by farmers in many parts of the colonial territories, Indeed, the clamour to adopt new ideas not fully tested has on occasion been an embarrassment.Then the Committee go on to say:A most fruitful character of the organisation of research in colonial territories is the close link which has developed with research institutes and organisations in the United Kingdom.I am glad to read that comment, because at Rothamsted and elsewhere a great deal of liaison work was done at the beginning, and this is now obviously showing fruit.
I think this is a suitable opportunity to express our appreciation and to extend our thanks to all who have been concerned in the preparing and administering of this tremendous scheme, whether they are members of the Colonial Office or members of the Colonial Service. I should like to include in this expression of thanks a tribute to the many distinguished ladies and gentlemen who since 1945 have acted in a voluntary capacity as members of the various advisory and research committees connected with this work. Their advice has been invaluable. Finally, since they get more kicks than ha'pence, may I also express our appreciation of the foresight and enthusiasm of the various Secretaries of State who since 1940 up to the present day have projected and been responsible for this unique adventure in colonial development?
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in a colonial debate because of his great sympathy to. 815 and, if I may put it in this way, the increasing knowledge which he always displays of, the problems and difficulties that beset Colonial government. Perhaps I may take this opportunity in beginning what I have to say to congratulate the noble Lord on his appointment recently to the Colonial Development Corporation, where I am sure his assistance will be of the greatest value.
One would have thought that this is such a good Bill that, normally speaking, there would be little to say except to get up and just say that. But it is interesting to cast one look at the progress we have made since the beginning of the idea of Colonial Development and Welfare Acts and Overseas Resources Acts. The change has been immense, and, as I have in the past been one of the critics of the structure, shall I say, of the Colonial Development Corporation and the restrictions put upon Colonial Development and Welfare funds, it is perhaps only appropriate that I should take this opportunity of saying that at the present moment it seems that all these objections have now been met and that the possibility of assistance is not in any way unduly restricted, because between them the Colonial Development Corporation. the Overseas Resources Act and the Bill that is at present before us, together with the export Guarantees Act, the chances of assistance from the International Bank and so forth, have opened a wide field of help for the colonial administrations. To me, looking back on the very' exiguous help that we were apt to obtain in my time of active service, I think the change and the progress is immense; and perhaps to-day we are apt to take it too much for granted.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned the various kinds of objective to which these funds are normally put; and of course they must vary. In the poorer Colonies, for instance, generally speaking, funds for development under Development and Welfare are about all that they have to expend, and so the money probably goes on roads and communications of various kinds—expenditure which otherwise, however essential, they could not afford. But in the bigger and better of Colonies, again quite naturally, these funds are diverted more to health and education; and as we all know, and as there is no need to emphasise unduly, 816 the basis of every problem to-day eventually comes down to education. In looking at these matters of colonial development and welfare I think one should never forget that, although it is not now almost the only source, the Colonies are still deeply indebted to private enterprise for the amount of development which has been done by private enterprise and the amount of profits which are being ploughed back into industry and so on in the Colonies, thereby benefiting the people of those Colonies.
In a debate of this kind, as was instanced in the debate in another place, it is possible to talk relevantly on almost any subject to which one's fancy may turn, and it is only with the greatest difficulty that I restrain myself from having another attack on that old enemy of ours the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. However, I do restrain myself, and I merely note, in passing. that there are many aspects to this question of colonial help and that the restrictions imposed by that General Agreement do limit our chances of assistance.
I think one should always remember, too, in dealing with this point, that the main difficulty besetting Colonies to-day is the problem of recurrent costs and how they are to meet them; how to get the capital to start these things and carry them through. I feel, for instance, that the Prime Minister of the Western Region of Nigeria has shown great statesmanship in that he will not to-day look at any development scheme until it has been made clear to him how they are going to pay for its maintenance after it has been put through. I suggest that that is one of the major principles which ought never to be overlooked.
We do not, of course, want Colonial Development and Welfare grants to develop into a system of Imperial poor relief. One should always take the greatest care to see that grants are given to productive schemes. I know that productive schemes "is a vague phrase, and it is perhaps sometimes difficult to define exactly the possible value of a grant given, say, towards health or educational enterprises. But it is only a matter of a little analysis to show how great the benefit derived from such a grant must be. It obviously takes a considerable time to develop these social 817 services, educational and health facilities and the teaching skills which are necessary.
I know that it has been said, too, that most help seems to be given to places where unrest has broken out, perhaps even to the extent of open riot. I suppose that to some extent the American saying that "it is the noisiest axle that gets the most grease" applies. Undoubtedly, if there is unrest breaking out, leading to riot in Colonies or in Protectorates, it probably indicates that there is wide room for attention to development of some kind which would have mitigated those conditions. I appreciate the immense value of education, particularly of the right sort and quality, and it is not only necessary at the university level, but necessary that the man who tills the soil, or the man who works in the office, should have enough education of the right kind to make him understand the intimate relation of knowledge, scientific and professional, to efficiency in whatever work he undertakes.
In relation to self-government, we hear a great deal about the way money should be spent, and the system under which it is going to be spent. I suggest that we cannot in one breath say that the Colonies have the right at an early date to run their own country in their own way and he surprised if the result is a dictatorship. I would suggest that it may well be that in many Colonies—I will not name any of them, for obvious reasons—probably the best thing for them at an early stage is a dictatorship; because it you give self-government to a country where the bulk of the people are as yet totally unfit to exercise the privileges of democracy and universal voting, then something in the nature of a dictatorship is probably highly beneficial and in no wise,I suggest, contrary to our ideas of maintaining the various rights of man which we so frequently emphasise.
It is interesting to reflect, as was stated in another place, that every year a considerable amount of the Votes for Colonial Development and Welfare has been unspent. I am not suggesting this in any critical sense; I am quoting it merely to remind ourselves that there is a limit to the amount of help which any country of this kind can properly digest, 818 and that there is a severe limit to the way in which money can be spent usefully and without prodigal waste. I suggest further that in considering these Development and Welfare Acts, and in perhaps hoping that we can spend much more, we must remember that our own circumstances in this country severely limit our capacity to be generous without that very act of prodigal generosity undermining our own position, which is of far greater importance to the welfare of the Colonies. Probably the greatest assistance which the Colonial Empire has had from this country is in the stabilisation of our own currency, in maintaining the value of sterling. Because if, in our desire to be generous, we overlook the need for a stable basis in this country, we are indeed cutting off the assistance which they would most greatly value; and that would be the greatest disaster to them, and would far outweigh any advantage to be gained from the gift of these sums of money.
There is little more that I should like to add, except to congratulate the Government upon this Bill, and to say that I think it is putting the coping stone upon this reconstruction of our attitude towards colonial aid. I am glad to see, in that connection, that there is a Committee now sitting to reconsider or examine the functions and the financial structure of the Colonial Development Corporation. We have all learnt a great deal since these schemes for assistance were started, and now that some of the idealism which coloured them at the beginning and lifted them out of the realms of practical possibilities has gone, we can see what are the practical limits and what is the best way to use the sums which are at our disposal to give.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, when a Bill of this nature comes before Parliament—a I do not say before merely this House, but Parliament—a Bill of a financial nature, based on a lot of facts and figures and dealing with matters outside the United Kingdom, I cannot help feeling that the vast majority of people in the country, and possibly many people in Parliament itself, do not regard the Bill as anything very special. My own feeling is that the whole series of Colonial Development and Welfare Acts is not only one of the most important series 819 but one of the most inspiring and exciting pieces of legislation on the Statute Book I think the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will have helped a good many people to share that view. I thought it most interesting and absorbing, and I am deeply appreciative of the eminent study he has made of the subject and his appreciation of the results of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts on the ground, which is so important.
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, mentioned that there are some Colonies which cannot develop at all without these Acts. It is true that over the whole field of Colonial development the Colonial Development and Welfare grants amount to something like 15 per cent. only of the total. But these Colonies receiving grants in aid—smaller places like the Islands in the West Indies, some of which I was fortunate enough to visit last year—depend entirely on the grants they receive from the United Kingdom for hospitals, schools, slum clearance, new buildings, new factories, and so on. Without those the people's lives would be not only miserable but below anything that you and I in our own experience can conceive; and their standard is not too good even now. But without that help, as the noble Lord said, it would not be surprising if we had far more rebellions and revolutions on our hands than we have at present.
With that little introduction, which I felt I wanted to get off my chest because this subject is of such tremendous interest and importance in the Colonies. I will turn my attention to the Bill under discussion to-day. First of all, we see that instead of spending about £19 million per annum, which is the maximum which has so far been attained, the Colonies are now to be able to spend an average of something over £25 million a year; that is to say, that is what will be available over the next five years. On the other hand, there is no limit of expenditure. They can spend more—more even than the £30 million which was the previous limit. They can spend £50 million in a year if they can get through it; but of course they will not. I think that this is a sign of encouragement for everybody to go ahead as fast as possible and in as large a manner as possible.
In connection with the removal of limits, I would draw your Lordships' 820 attention to the fact that the limit of £3 million a year for research allowed so far has been removed; but that does not mean much either, because the amount spent on research hitherto has varied from £1⅓ million to £1½ million. Here again I bring great support to what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said. because research, although it represents only 9 per cent. of the total expenditure by Colonial Development and Welfare funds, I think gives value far in excess of that 9 per cent. There is no question but that the work carried out, not only in this country but in the regional institutes and establishments of research in various parts of the Colonies, is really beginning to produce results in a quite remarkable manner, and I would ask the noble Earl whether there is any possibility of increasing the expenditure in this field, at least up to the formerly permitted maximum of £3 million which has never yet been reached.
Coming to the question of loans, I would say that Her Majesty's Government is carrying out its promise given at the Economic and Trade Conference at Montreal last September, and is making loan money available to the Colonies up to the maximum of £25 million a year, which will undoubtedly bring up the percentage of total colonial development attributable to funds from this country. If we are going to spend £25 million from loans and £25 million from grants, obviously the percentage will go up in the first place. That is definitely an extra sum of money which has been furnished, even though on repayment, from the United Kingdom taxpayer.
There are several points in connection with one part of the noble Earl's speech which I want to take up. He mentioned the fact that the definition of "Colony" in the original Act has been amended, and he referred to Clause 2(7) of the new Bill, which now defines the countries eligible to receive grants and loans in the following manner, not any longer as a Colony not possessing responsible government but as…any colony or other territory outside the United Kingdom for the international relations of which Her Maiesty's Government in the United Kingdom are responsible".The noble Earl rather limited his remarks about this new definition to its effect upon independent territories, and he mentioned Ghana and Malaya as 821 examples and said that it would no longer be necessary to incorporate some special clause in a new Independence Bill to make it clear that they would not receive Colonial Development and Welfare grants. But it seems to me that this new definition has greater interest than that and goes a good deal further, because the new subsection of the present Bill goes on to say:…where there is one government constituted for two or more such territories as aforesaid, or one authority established for two or more such territories for the purpose of providing or administering services which are common to, or relate to matters of common interest to, the territories, references in this section to the government of a territory to which this section applies shall include references to the government or authority constituted or established as aforesaid, and the territories may be treated for the purposes of this section either as separate territories or as a single territory to which this section applies.Surely the whole point of that subsection is its effect upon federation, existing federations and possible new federations. I would ask the noble Earl to say, when he replies, how he visualises that this subsection would operate in, first, the West Indies, and secondly, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
In the West Indies before federation there used to be an organisation under the chairmanship of Sir Stephen Luke which I think was called the Caribbean Development and Welfare Organisation. It was really through that organisation that the Colonial Development and Welfare grants were made to the individual territories whose plans were passed through this central organisation and finally, I think, approved, and the territories received great aid and expert assistance in that manner. As a result of federation that organisation has fallen by the way and the territories are to receive their grants direct. Under this new subsection I wonder whether it is in the mind of the noble Earl and the Colonial Office that in future grants should be channelled much more through the Federal Government, and certainly in respect of every subject which forms part of the Federal Government's exclusive list. I rather hope that that may be the case, because the Federal Government of the West Indies at the moment perhaps has not quite so much to do as it would like and as it should have.
With regard to the second case, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 822 your Lordships will remember that Southern Rhodesia was previously excluded from the Colonial Development Corporation funds and the Colonial Development and Welfare grants because it had responsible government before the original Act of 1940 came into force. It seems to me that under this new definition Southern Rhodesia will become eligible for grants from both sources, the Colonial Development Corporation and the Colonial Development and Welfare funds, and certainly that the Federal Government, which hitherto has had its grants limited to use in the Northern Territories, will now surely be able to use those grants in all three territories without any further control by Her Majesty's Government. Those are points which I hope the noble Earl will be able to clear up, because that is the way I read the Bill and I hope I may be right. If I am, it would be interesting to know whether there are in fact any other territories in which a situation of that sort applies now.
I pass to Clause 4 (3) of this Act, which adds new subsections to the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940. The first part of that addition, which is to be subsection (4A), is to make it clear that funds will be cut off when a country attains independence, except for funds for work due or carried out. I take it that the second part of that subsection means that funds already in the possession of such a Government for some other scheme cannot be switched to complete a different scheme for which funds are cut off before that scheme is finished. I hope I have made myself clear. I think that must be the meaning of that new subsection.
In that connection I want to ask the noble Earl one question which seems to be rather important—namely, will the second scheme incorporated in the Bill, the Exchequer loans, be affected? Although under the grants it is fairly logical—it has been done in the past—that a slowly developing scheme can be stopped mid-way, the loan is surely approved for a definite scheme—for instance, a hydroelectric scheme. You cannot stop that halfway through because the country becomes independent. If a country asks for a loan of, say, £10 million for a certain scheme, and only half that money has been paid for work done because 823 they are going to take the money only as they need it, and only half of the work has been done when the country becomes independent, surely then they must have the other half of the loan—this is not a grant—in order to complete that scheme, which would be useless unless it is completed. Therefore I rather hope that this new subsection (4A) will not apply to loans, but only to grants.
In subsection (4n) there seems to be a slight let-out in this matter, because that says that schemesmay be made under this section after that time —namely, the time of independence—with respect to a body established for the joint benefit of the territoryand that other territory which has become independent. Therefore, we are back again with federation. It is quite conceivable that Southern Rhodesia could become independent within the Federation and the other two territories will not be. I take it that under this subsection new schemes could still be entered into with the Federal Government, though not with the Southern Rhodesian Government. Therefore, an independent territory which is partly under federation could continue to benefit under this new Bill. Indeed, I hope that that is the case.
Apart from mentioning those points, I have nothing more to say to your Lordships except, like all others who have spoken, to welcome the Bill, to thank the Government for carrying out their promises under both headings—that of Exchequer grants and introducing the loans—and to say what a pleasure it is to be able to speak in a debate on colonial affairs where all Parties are 100 per cent. in agreement.
§ 4.5 p.m.
My Lords, I, too, am in 100 per cent. agreement with this Bill. I was greatly interested in the speech of my noble friend Lord Perth, and I think I can offer the almost unique tribute from this Back Bench, of suggesting that we should very much have liked to hear a little longer from him, particularly on the things he saw in his travels. He will realise that that is a very rare tribute to come from the Back Bench to the Front Bench.
824 It struck him as almost surprising to see the development that occurred when roads had been built in Africa. In the continent of South America, where enormous empty spaces have had to be opened up, it has been the building of roads and railways which has produced civilisation. I cannot help feeling that we could in the past have taken, and perhaps could even to-day take, with profit, a leaf out of the book of those peoples who have developed their land by first of all building the communications and then going to live along the communications.
I particularly welcome Clause 2. I welcome it perhaps with a slight tinge of regret and nostalgia, because it recognises the end of an era—the era of borrowing at fixed interest on the London market on trustee terms and with the proceeds slowly but surely developing the colonial dependencies. I think the Bill recognises first of all the eclipse, temporary or permanent—who can say?—of the fixed interest idea of borrowing; and secondly, it realistically recognises that the market risks of the future must be considered great when the status of these territories is considerably in doubt. Nevertheless, I welcome the clause because it recognises the facts of life. The provision of money in this way will of course be fairer than under the old system, because it was very difficult for a colonial territory that was not very viable to get on to the London market at all. Now the criterion will be the need rather than the certain ability to repay. There is also the point made by Lord Ogmore, that it is important, when you draw up a development plan, to make certain that the money will really be there when you want it; whereas if you are subject to the vagaries of the market, you must always be in some doubt on the subject.
I hope that these borrowings will be allowed to help our own economy as well as that of the colonial territories. I hope that there will be no "Free Trade" nonsense of borrowing here and spending on the Continent. The United States has a most realistic idea on this subject. If you borrow from the Export-Import Bank you buy in America. I hope that the same provisions will apply in practice here. I hope, too, that an attempt will be made to try to fit the timing of the borrowing and spending into that of our economy and the 825 economy of the industrial world. That requires a good deal of thought, because it has not been done in the past. When things are brightening up, naturally you draw up plans for this, that and everything; and then, when life is full of roseate dreams, you hope to borrow and spend; and by the time you are spending you are buying at the top of the market, and you may have borrowed at the top of the market, too. Or else, if the dreams are too fleeting, you have to withdraw and wait for your next chance.
We want to get things so arranged that the borrowing and spending take place when there is money to spare in our market to borrow, and when there is manufacturing capacity in our factories to manufacture the goods. That will require a certain amount of change of mentality in the colonial territories, the Colonial Office and the Treasury; because it will mean facing up to new commitments when things look dark, rather than doing so only when they look at their brightest. If it can be managed —I know that it is difficult—this should be of great help to our economy. Orders for heavy equipment for railways and so on would obviously have been most welcome at any time during this last winter.
Another point that emerges is that one cannot lend a deficit. In the past we have sometimes borrowed from Colonial Peter to repay Commonwealth Paul, but that is not a healthy position. To invest overseas, requires a payments surplus. Even then, if people have no confidence in the pound and our reserves are running down, in spite of having a payments surplus we might be unable to afford overseas investment because we should have to use that payments surplus to bolster up our reserves. So that, ultimately, the volume of money available for the development of these colonial territories depends not only on the balance of payments but also on world confidence in the pound.
The production of this Bill, with its five-year programme, by Her Majesty's Government is a sign of the confidence they feel that our affairs are in a less precarious position and that we should be able to invest regularly overseas. I might add a further point here: that until the last nine months, at any rate, it has been by no means clear where the Government in this country were to 826 borrow the money. Fortunately the National Savings Movement has come to the rescue by staging a quite startling growth; and long may that continue! But if the position relapsed to what it was a year or Iwo ago, it would be very difficult for Her Majesty's Government, if they had to rely on borrowing, to keep up a programme of overseas investment.
The pace of the achievement of self-government grows hotter and hotter, and we can only try to ensure that there is fitness when the time conies. The real criterion, I suggest, is not the extent of major engineering projects but the quality of the Administration; and that depends on the quality and outlook of the people. We must, by now, be resigned to the likelihood of countries newly independent setting up a form of government very different from that which we had contemplated for them. That may be all right, but at least we can ensure that, so far as we can arrange matters, the Administration to whom the country k handed over is of reasonable competence and integrity. If that could be achieved by the spending of money for training of secondment of overseas public servants in or to this country, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I should be a hearty supporter of the idea. I suggest one further move in the opposite direction: that technical experts and administrators from this country could well be seconded to the civil services of these emergent Colonies, to be paid at the existing rate of pay for the Colony, any difference for expatriation being made up out of the funds provided under this Bill.
We cannot blind our eyes to the fact that the Communist world is waiting to pick up any straggler offering itself from among the new emerging territories; and they can offer a lot, for they can offer honesty of government and hard work—but at a price. And there is a temptation to think that one can hold the Communist world at bay with a cheque book. I suggest that that is a delusion. The only shield is really efficient, honest government, with progressive plans for development; and that means an honest leadership from the middle classes and an energetic people. With a corruptible middle class or a lazy people there will be stagnation, and the country will be ripe for Communism or any form of 827 dictatorship that rears its head. We must remember, of course, that dictators can be benevolent as well as malevolent. In the history of the freed Spanish Colonies, there are examples of some who have been quite remarkable men. Let us hope that any Colonies which, as my noble friend Lord Milverton suggested, may have to set up dictatorships will fall into the hands of benevolent rather than malevolent leaders. Ultimately, we have to try to see that there is a middle class steeped in traditions of British justice and culture; and if we can encourage that in any way, by exchange of visits by private persons, Government officials, students and others, I believe that it will be money well spent under this Bill.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I should like just to add a word or two of praise and thanksgiving for this admirable measure. I believe it to be thoroughly sound. It follows a long line of measures in which we have all shared, and it must be soundly administered—I believe that we should all agree with that. It is no good passing a Bill to give some money and then, as someone has said, going, with biscuit in hand, trying to find the dog to give it to. On the other hand, the Bill must be administered with,imagination and faith; and I hope, following on something that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in (if I may say so) a very sound speech, that we shall not skimp money on research. I believe that that is of enormous importance. We have had a great deal of experience of it, and I agree that it is fascinating.
I remember in my own time as Colonial Secretary sharing in the development of sisal, which was at that time something very small. Had we not had the sisal industry fully developed when we lost manilla hemp I do not know how we should have fared during the war. In the research on sisal, as in certain other elements of research, we carried out research not only on the spot but at home, too; and we got the users, as well as the producers. to co-operate. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, will remember (for he followed me in this) that we induced not only the Admiralty but all the rope-makers in the country, and those in Belfast, to co-operate. Not only did they co-operate in doing the research but they 828 were ready to put money into it; and the result was that we did two things. We raised by many hundreds per cent. the use of sisal in British industry, and we also found new uses for it. If I remember aright, it had been found that the core of the sisal had no use. However, ingenious people found that we could use this hitherto useless product in order to make something which was not a detergent (I forget what was the correct technical expression) but which had some curiously purifying effect in beer and also, I believe, in other liquids.
There are other fascinating examples of what can be done. At one time we thought that the coffee crop in Kenya and Uganda would be destroyed by a particularly tiresome type of aphis. Then wise naturalists said that if the ladybird were introduced into the area that would have a most beneficent effect; and it has done. Indeed, several ladybirds were introduced. The ladybird is a most incontinent little insect, and in a short time there was an enormous quantity of ladybirds: they liked the African climate very much, and they destroyed the aphis. Then an interesting question was: what were they going to do next? They might pass on from this beneficent destructive activity to something more atomic. However, they did not do so, and I do not know what happened to them: I believe that they are still there. But at any rate they found some other suitable provender they could use.
Also, there has been an improvement of even the lazy man's crop, such as manioc (the stuff with which tapioca is made) or cassava. That is a lazy man's crop, because one simply puts something in the ground and then gets about a month's meals out of it. Yet science was able both to make it grow more abundantly and to give it a more nutritive content. There is really no end to this. When one begins one does not know what the result will be. It is in these kinds of research in the tropics that one finds what one finds in this country in research in industry. The persons concerned start on one thing, and it leads to another; and the result may be some by-product which is of an extraordinary value. So I hope that research will have its full place.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, paid tribute to the great wisdom of the 829 African, who proved that the things that it was suggested should be done to the cocoa tree would not, in fact, improve it I am afraid I must disillusion him; he is not right in his facts.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, that is true. I thought he was referring to cocoa. However, we all thought at one time that we must clear the ground around cocoa. The African said "No"; and in fact he was right. There were two pests which infected cocoa, and when the ground was cleared they actually ate more of the cocoa tree and less of the surrounding weeds; so the weeds are now left in place. It was not that the African was a better scientist. He showed a natural laziness that is common to most of us, in a greater or less degree; and laziness, for once (and this would be an encouragement to schoolboys), proved in that case to be quite right.
I was interested in the point raised by my noble friend Lord Hastings about how we were to help a Federation and its constiwert elements. I should have thought (perhaps my noble friend Lord Perth, the Minister of State, will confirm or correct what I say) that if the subject was a Federal subject, then that was a suitable matter for a grant or loan to the Federation, whereas if it were a territorial subject it would be appropriate to give a loan or grant to the territory; and there may be a concurrent subject in which, no doubt, it could be done for either or for both.
I was a little alarmed or disquieted at the construction of subsection (4 A) referred to by my noble friend Lord Hastings, for this reason. I entirely agree, and always have done, that if a country obtains complete sovereign independence, with an absolute control of the whole of its finances, then it must rely on its own credit. Independent finance is just as much a fundamental trait of sovereign independence as is control of foreign policy or defence. I thought that the Minister of State was quite right in saying that the terms of loans must be conditioned SO that the least creditworthy borrower did not get better terms than a more creditworthy borrower. That seems to me to be entirely common sense.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, may I interrupt? On this point of claims, it seems to me that if a territory which has become newly independent—
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
As I understood it, if a new proposal is made by a sovereign independent State, it must be made on its own initiative, and on its own responsibility and its own credit. On the other hand, if a plan which would take several years to carry out had been approved while the territory was still a dependent territory, then I thought the idea was that we should not cut off the loan the moment the territory became independent, but that the loan for that particular purpose would be continued to enable the scheme to be completed.
No doubt an arrangement would have to be made at the time independence was granted about those conditions which had formed part of the original scheme. When schemes are made we may say, "All right, you have to repay, over such-and-such a period, such-and-such a proportion of the grant"; and I should have thought it would be quite simple, when independence was granted, for an agreement to be made between the sovereign States, the United Kingdom and the new State, that those conditions of repayment and security should be con-tinued. What I think would he most unfortunate—almost a penalty of independence—would be if something which had been promised, and was half or three-quarters completed, could not go on. I think of the Kariba Dam. am not going to argue the independence of a Federation, but a project such as the Kariba Darn is a very good example, and I hope that that example does not meet the situation about which I gather my noble friend Lord Hastings was anxious.
I have one other point to raise, although I had not intended to speak at all. I must say that I was a little surprised by my old friend Lord Milverton, who made in one part of his speech what I thought was a very strange contribution. It seeemed to be echoing a speech I read a day or two ago, as re-ported in the Press, by Mr. Bandaranaike, the Communist Prime Minister—I think 831 he is Communist; at any rate, the semi-Communist Prime Minister—of Ceylon. He said that he did not think a democratic Government, or a democratic system, was much use in some of the new territories: and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, apparently found himself in complete agreement. it was rather like the occasion on which the noble Lord, Lord Melbourne, and the Bishops found themselves in the same Lobby on a Divorce Bill—a very odd association, I thought. It is quite a new idea of our movement towards self-government.
Perhaps there are certain elements in the old loyalties of chiefs, and so on, which could be preserved in the Parliaments of new, emerging States. But the idea that, as soon as a State achieved independence it must inevitably set up a tyranny was I must say, surprising and somewhat repugnant to me. I had always thought, in my simple way, that the old watchword, imperium et libertas, Empire and liberty, meant that when you got self-government you had to have law and order, but that you had also freedom and opportunity. I refer to it only because I should not like it to go out that a very great proconsul spoke for all of us when, for imperium et libertas, he substituted as the new watchword for the Commonwealth, imperium et tyrannus—and some better scholar than myself, such as the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, can correct my Latin.
§ LORD MILVERTON
Before the noble Earl closes, may I say that he has not accurately represented me. What I was saying was that, if we make such a fuss about the right of people to run the country in their own way, and if they do choose themselves to set up a dictatorship, we should not complain, because that is exactly what we have said they have a right to do. It is not a question of whether a dictatorship is repugnant to the noble Earl, but whether a dictatorship would be repugnant to the people of that country; and if it is not, then surely they are merely setting up the sort of Government that appeals to them.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
If I have misrepresented the noble Lord, I apologise. I understand that there is universal suffrage in these countries, although it is not always universally exercised. If, of course, all the people voted to have a 832 tyrant, instead of a democratically elected Cabinet, then no doubt that would be all right. It would be a dangerous thing to vote for, of course, because, however beneficent a tyrant or dictator may be, when he comes to an end what fills the vacuum? Generally, it is found to be anarchy. But that it not what is happening: what is happening is that somebody gets power, and then puts all the Opposition in prison. I do not want to see the Opposition taking the place of the admirable gentlemen on the Front Bench in this House, but I certainly would not go so far as to put them all in gaol and to say that the Opposition have no rights. I am all for people being able to vote for the kind of Government that they want, provided that they are allowed to vote and understand what they are voting about. But do not let us give them any encouragement to go into that kind of thing.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I had not intended to take part in this debate, but in view of some of my experience in backward areas I should like to emphasise the points made by noble Lords when they spoke about the importance of roads. As the noble Earl the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs said, from the impression one gets from the air when flying over some of these countries one realises how agriculture, enterprise, education, and everything, seems to flow outwards through roads. My point is that in some of these backward areas, particularly where the modern motor vehicle is now available, it is often one simple barrier —it may be a rocky ravine, or it may be a wide, sandy river bed—which lies between civilisation and some backward group of hovels. It is extraordinary, in my experience, the effect that the simplest possible bridge, even if it may be submerged in times of high flood, can have upon the availability of all that the outside world means, from trade to the occasional visit of the agricultural inspector looking for some plant disease.
My point is that it should be impressed upon the administrators of the backward areas that a little money spent in terms of the crossing of obstacles such as ravines and sandy river beds is well spent, and that by roads, certainly roads in these areas, one does not visualise stretches of flawless tarmac. The occaI sional bridge means that the wandering 833 vehicle of to-clay can get where it has never got before, and a ravine may be crossed by a simple culvert. In saying this, I would repeatedly emphasise that roads are of great importance in backward areas.
The other point I should like to make is that administrators are sometimes hesitant to encourage the building of a road where that road is going to compete with a railway track and affect the revenue return from the railway. My own opinion——again based on experience—is that that is a very short-sighted view, and that even the superimposing of a road track on a railway bridge will pay the countryside and pay the railway in the end, although at first sight it looks like inviting competition.
My Lords, I should like to emphasise that point which the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, made about the inflexibility of the outlook of the public works departments and administrators in some cases. He gave the example of tarmac-ing a hill which was in the middle of the road rather than going into a long scheme of tarmac-ing the whole road. I should like to put in a plea for more flexibility and a rather more enlightened outlook, and I should like to quote the case of a twenty-five-mile long road which private enterprise offered to tarmac on the bargain that, if the private enterprise put up the money to tarmac the road and maintain it, when that industry which was served by that road was in a taxpaying position the Administration would excuse them tax to the extent of the money that had been spent on that road. The authorities turned it down flatter than a fried egg. They would not have anything to do with it. I think that that is the sort of short-sighted administration that puts everybody's back up. It is inflexibility of that sort in administration, especially as regards farms, which I think is so important, as other noble Lords have emphasised.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill has been not only very encouraging but also, in some of its parts, if I may say so, rather fun, particularly when it strayed to such questions as the rights and wrongs of dictatorship. In spite of the words of the noble Lord, Lord 834 Hawke, without taking too long I will try to deal with one or two of the points raised by various noble Lords.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, expressed disappointment in that he thought that this present Bill would not provide more money for the remaining colonial territories. I myself think that, in fact, the butter will be spread a little thicker. I do not want to get too much into statistics, because it is always said that statistics can prove anything, but I would point out that in 1955, when a similar Bill was passed for £80 million, there were included as territories Malaya, Nigeria, and Cyprus. The amount that was allocated to them was approximately the same as is to be allocated to Malta in the present Bill. But the amount in the present Bill is some £15 million greater than that in the last Bill, so that this also will be available to go round the remaining colonial territories. Furthermore, as I endeavoured to show, there is every chance of a quicker rate of spending. Having said that, I should not like it to be thought, as one might gather from remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, that we are now going to spend as fast as possible and need not worry about anything. This is an encouragement to spend, but it must always be spending within reason; otherwise, if people feel that all the brakes are off, we shall he apt to get waste.
I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and also my noble friends Lord Ferrier and Lord Stonehaven, for their various practical suggestions for the use of the funds. As their Lordships know, the responsibility for drawing up plans for the use of the funds lies with the Colonial Governments themselves. As a matter of deliberate practice, we have left it to them to work out what is most needed in their territories. At the same time I am quite sure that they will read what has been put forward in your Lordships' House to-day and will give it all their attention when they are drawing up their plans.
There is one point which was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, by my noble friend Lord Swinton and others, and rightly: that was the vital importance of research. I can only say that wherever I went, I found that the Governments were fully aware of the importance of this. For example, the 835 agricultural station at Kawanda in Uganda was going "all out", and a great deal of money was being spent. I have no doubt that research, particularly in the agricultural field, is something on which full use will be made of the funds granted under this Bill.
I find myself generally in agreement with the tenor of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, with, I think, two exceptions: one, when he was saying some things about G.A.T.T., and the other, when he was talking about dictatorship. I must opt out from his remarks there, but I would support him in what he said about the continuing importance of private enterprise in colonial development. It is true that this Bill, which covers Colonial Development and Welfare Fund grants and Exchequer loans, is important, but it is not of equal importance to what conies from private enterprise capital. We must never forget that; and we must make sure that the conditions are suitable and that confidence continues to be maintained in the Colonies so that private money can continue to go in.
My noble friend Lord Hastings asked certain specific questions about the Bill, and I will try to deal with them. If I make any mistakes. I will correct them when we come to Committee stage. The noble Lord asked whether Clause 2 (7) applied to Federations. The clause was drawn deliberately rather widely so as not to put down too much detail or particularisation of the various territories. In practice. I think that it will be applied as follows. It will certainly be available for the Federation of the West Indies, and I suspect that often it will be used in the way that my noble friend Lord Swinton outlined. When it comes to the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, the answer is that it will not be available for the Federation or for Southern Rhodesia, any more than funds are available to-day, but it will be available for Northern Rhodesia and for Nyasaland.
The noble Lord also raised the question of whether the subsection (4A) covered Exchequer loans. Clearly, in one sense, it does, but the noble Lord particularly feared that if a plan was being carried out by a territory which became independent during the course of the plan, the knife would fall while the project was 836 halfway through, and that the loan which had been only partly spent would be cut off. As my noble friend Lord Swinton said, I have no doubt that an arrangement could be made to meet this difficulty. There might be negotiations before the actual declaration of independence. and if it were thought to be desirable that the Exchequer loan should not go on, it would always be possible to have a Colonial Assistance loan, which, as your Lordships know, is a new feature of Government lending. So that, in practice. whether it was carried on under an Exchequer loan or through a Commonwealth Assistance loan, I do not think that we need have any worry about any development being suspended in mid-air. as it were.
Lastly, my noble friend raised the question of the subsection (4B). I have a little difficulty on that point. I think that the provision is designed to cover the case where two or three territories have been contributing to the upkeep of a research body, for instance, and if one of the territories becomes independent and the others remain as Colonies, the grant continues. But if I am wrong, I will let my noble friend know on Committee stage. My noble friend Lord Hawke raised the important point, as I see it, of the timing of spending: he said that it was important that we should make plans to spend not only when times are good but also when times are bad. I think that there is not going to be any conscious planning to take that into account. We are more concerned with colonial development. But I think that we may be sure that colonial development, owing particularly to the system of Exchequer loans, will go on steadily and increasingly, through good times or bad. Plans are being made so that we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that, if necessary, they can be underwritten, whether the markets in London are good or bad.
Every speaker to-day has welcomed this Bill. This is not a Party measure. Rather was it born in the days of the war, when there was a Coalition Government; and its history has been one of steady improvement and steady increase, whatever Party may have been in power. I am sure that that is right. I am sure, too, that the tribute which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, paid to one and all who 837 have been concerned with colonial development, and which was echoed by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and others, is one in which I, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, should join. On that note I would end, and I ask your Lordships now to give a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.