HL Deb 29 July 1959 vol 218 cc803-95

Debate resumed.

5.49 p.m.


My Lords, I was on the point of dealing with the criticism of the Commission that they had referred to Nyasaland as being, at any rate temporarily, a police state. Now there are various types of police states: they are not all alike. It may well be that Nyasaland has not the attributes of all the police states in the world. But the conditions there at the moment, temporarily, have a great many of those attributes, and I should like to mention a few of them. They rely to a large extent on informers. It is the practice to arrest without warrant. People are not brought for trial. People are beaten up. It is difficult to express an opinion hostile or unfavourable to the Government. There is the assumption of guilt. There is the prohibition against being a member of a political Party. I am sure that most Members of your Lordships' House will agree that these things go a long way to establishing the characteristics of a police state.

In another place it was said that if the Government had had anything to hide, they would not have set up this Commission [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 610 (No. 156), col. 434]: Would a Government responsible for a police state have appointed a Commission of this kind, composed of people who could wander freely throughout the country, speak freely to whomsoever they liked, speak to men who are detained, or to their counsel, speak to men whose identity I do not know—and will never know? The answer is, of course, that they would, if they were subjected to a great deal of pressure, as the Government were, to set up a Commission of this kind. They did not set it up voluntarily. Your Lordships will remember that the state of emergency was declared on March 3 and it was not until some weeks later that this Commission was set up, and it was set up only as the result of considerable pressure both in your Lordships' House and in another place. Moreover, it was not set up by the Government of Nyasaland but by this Government. I do not want to take away from the Government such credit as they are entitled to for having set up this Commission, but the fact remains that this Commission has found that Nyasaland has many of the attributes of a police State and I find it difficult to see how that fact can be challenged.

I want to refer for one moment to the White Paper published by this Government. It strikes me as being most impertinent and improper for the Governor of the State concerned, by means of a White Paper, to enter into a debate—which is what he is doing—with the Commission on their findings. If there is to be a debate at all—and I dispute the right of the Governor even to enter into a debate of this kind on a Motion—it should be initiated by the Government themselves. I think that the publication of this White Paper simultaneously with the publication of the Commissioners' Report is highly improper and, so far as I know, absolutely un-precedented. I fear that we are rendering a great disservice to the cause which we all profess to have at heart, the pacification of Nyasaland, when this sort of challenge is made of a Commission which was set up with such high hopes and under such great auspices. This is not only a challenge to this Commission, but a challenge to the authority of any Commission that we may heretofore set up for the purpose of ascertaining facts. If the Government and the Governor concerned can challenge the authenticity of a Commission of this kind, I doubt whether in future there is any value at all in setting up any Commission to ascertain facts.

I have said that there are two aspects to this inquiry—the ascertainment of the facts of the disturbances themselves and of the facts of the events leading up to them. So far as I think necessary, I have dealt with the facts of the disturbances, and my noble friend and the most reverend Primate have dealt with the events leading up to them. I want to say one word, in conclusion, about the future. What is to be the outcome? There is no doubt that not simply the declaration of the state of emergency but the way in which it has been dealt with has created great bitterness and resentment in Nyasaland. Neither I, for one, nor, so far as I know, any one of my noble friends challenged the correctness of the declaration of the state of emergency. We did not challenge it at the time, and we think that the Commission were right in the conclusion to which they have come. But we do challenge the way it has been carried out, and great bitterness has been engendered as the result.

Our first objective must be somehow to restore conditions in Nyasaland which will not only bring peace but also create the climate in which it will be possible to discuss the future. I would submit that the Government might well consider, in spite of what the noble Earl has said, the release of Dr. Banda and a great many, if not all, of those who have been detained. It may be that, if it can be shown that Dr. Banda has committed an offence, he should be put on trial; but if not, I submit that the time has come when he might well be released. After all, a time will come when he will be released, and I wonder how different conditions will be then from what they are to-day. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, said that this was not the time to release those detained. I would ask: What is he waiting for? When does he expect the time will be opportune for the release of those who have been detained? I am sure that it must be a condition preceding any pacification of the country that those who are in the best position to speak for the majority of people in the country, those who are their recognised spokesmen, should be at liberty to talk. You can get no discussions at all if all the authorised, authentic spokesmen are in jail.

Secondly, I would agree very much with the most reverend Primate about the increasing fear of federation, but the most reverend Primate, who I regret is not in his place, said that in 1953 he favoured federation, whereas the late Bishop of Chichester opposed it. He gave us to understand that he had had to think again about it, but he did not say whether or not he favoured federation to-day. I gather that he does not. But I would ask: What is the Government's approach going to be on this question? Are they taking the line, as I inferred the noble Earl does, that, whatever the conditions may be, federation must continue, whether the people of Nyasaland want it or not? I should like to ask whether they really intend to continue Federation against the wishes of the whole population of Nyasaland?

It may well be—and I would not dispute it—in the economic interests of the people of Nyasaland to have federation. It may even be in their economic interests to be entirely submerged by the Federation itself. It is sometimes in the economic interests of a people or an individual to give up freedom; yet people are very reluctant to do so, even with the economic advantages that they may gain. Economic advantage is not the only factor. Unless we can ensure to the people of Nyasaland the opportunity of freedom of the right to govern themselves in their own country; of the right, not necessarily of complete control without recognising the rights of the Asians and the Europeans, but at any rate the right of governing themselves by majority, and give them freedom within the Federation, we shall never get them to accept federation voluntarily.

I would ask the Government: Are they intending to enforce Federation, regardless of the wishes of Nyasaland? Are they assuming that this question of federation is a closed book? I was under the impression that the intention was that the whole question of the continuation of federation, and the conditions under which it would be continued, if it were continued, was to be a matter for discussion in 1960 or within the following two years. But the noble Earl, Lord Perth, gave me the impression that that was not the case; that it was now settled for all time, and there was to be no question of reconsideration of this issue. I should be grateful if the Government spokesman would make that clear.

We have got to think out afresh this question of the free races living in these areas. We have not yet discovered the techniques of Africans, who constitute by far the greatest majority, Asians and Europeans living happily and contentedly together on equal terms, each respecting the qualities of the other, each having the opportunity of the fullest development according to his own rights. We shall never achieve that if we regard ourselves as permanently superior to the African people. The example the most reverend Primate gave of his being rebuked because he had the impudence to shake hands with an African shocked me, as I am sure it shocked a great many Members of your Lordships' House. If that is typical of the attitude we are at present adopting, is it any wonder that we are not gaining the confidence of the people of Nyasaland, and that this great measure for freedom to govern themselves, and being released from the possibility of domination by the Federation of Rhodesia, does not work? Until such time as we can regard these people as being on an equality with the people of Europe and of our particular race, we shall never get peace in Nyasaland.

That, I believe, my Lords, is the lesson to be learned from this Report. And although the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, thinks we ought to confine ourselves to the terms of the Report, the task before this House to-day is to see how we can bring this disastrous state of affairs to an end and create new conditions where all the races can live peacefully together. While, as my noble Leader has said, we may have said hard and bitter things to one another—and I hope that I have not been too bitter—I think it is as well to be perfectly frank about these matters and to say what we think. But at the end of the day let us try to be constructive, and to finish this debate on a really constructive note. I hope it may be possible that that will be the outcome of this debate.


Before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him to clear up one point? I understood from what he said that he considered it highly improper for the Governor to be allowed to reply, and for his replies to be printed, although his own conduct had been indirectly impugned in the Report and he felt that he was in a position, if the public had to see the Report, to give the public the reply which he would make in reference to the description of his administration having used improper methods and so forth. Apparently, according to the noble Lord, that is highly improper; but for the Government to muzzle in any way an organisation like the African National Congress, which they consider to be preaching a seditious policy, is an act of a police state. Is it not introducing the principle of a police state if the Governor is to be muzzled in this manner——


Order, order!


The noble Lord has asked me a question, although he will have the fullest opportunity later on of making his speech. I regard it as improper because I regard the Governor as a civil servant who is answerable to his Department. I see no more reason why the Governor should be allowed to issue a White Paper than that any member of the police force, or anybody whose conduct has been impugned, should be authorised to issue a White Paper for publication with a Report. You might equally argue that every member of the police force whose conduct has been attacked, or every member of the military or anybody else, could issue a White Paper and have it published with a Report.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose on this occasion to follow the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, into a debate upon federation, although I should always be prepared to discuss federation at the appropriate time, and, I hope, in a non-controversial spirit. I think we have quite enough to debate tonight on this Report. However, I should like to answer what I thought (and it is relevant to the Report) the very odd doctrine which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, set forth. First of all, apparently, there is no right in the Government or anybody to criticise, challenge or answer the findings (or sayings, I had better say, because, if I may say so without offence, there is quite a lot of rather woolly stuff in this Report which I cannot treat as findings of fact; I suppose I should treat them according, to the most reverend Primate, as psychological aphorisms) of the Commission.

The noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, answered effectively the suggestion that a judge could never be challenged on a matter of fact. It really is the most unconstitutional doctrine I have ever heard that, when a Commission have reported, neither the Government nor anybody else is to say anything in answer to it except presumably to stand to attention and say. "Sir", like a soldier who is charged in the orderly room in the Brigade of Guards. Equally odd I thought, was the noble Lord's complaint about the publication of this White Paper which was the Governor's despatch. Cet animal est trés méchant; quand on l'attaque, il se défend. But, my Lords, the Governor did not volunteer this defence. Right at the beginning of his despatch to the Secretary of State he says that he has been told to come and discuss the Report with him What he did was done on the instructions of the Secretary of State; and if anybody is to be attacked because there is this White Paper, which I think is a very convenient thing to have, then it is the Secretary of State and not the Governor.


Hear, hear!


I am glad. But the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was saying how shocking the Governor was. All my public life I have said a lot of rude thinks to civil servants, and even Governors, in private, but I have always taken full responsibility in public for everything they do.

So if there is anybody to be blamed about this it is the Secretary of State or the two Secretaries of State. But as a matter of fact I do not think they are in the least to blame. I think it is most convenient that we should have this document. If we had not got it, what would the Opposition have been saying now?—"What is the answer to all this? What did the Governor do?" I am bound to say that it was not only convenient but, indeed, necessary for a proper judgment to be reached by Parliament that we should have this short, straightforward despatch which the Governor has presented to the Secretary of State, and which the Secretary of State has published to Parliament.

This debate has ranged very wide. I am not surprised, because the Report does, too, but I want to come to one or two much narrower issues which are, I think, the core of the Report. As I take it, the object, or at any rate the most useful purpose, of a debate of this kind, is twofold—first of all, to decide the cardinal point: was the Government justified in the action it took; and, secondly, what are the lessons we can learn for the future? It is very important that we should all remember, in reading the Report of the Commission, that they had the advantage of considering all the evidence and all the facts at their leisure, over a long period of time, after the Governor had to take his decision, after all the events and when much that was obscure in the beginning of March, when the decision had to be taken, had become at any rate a good deal clearer. It is important to remember that the Governor, and the Government at home, had to take rapid decisions in the light of the knowledge then available to them, in the beginning of March—a very different situation from that with which the Commission dealt in their thorough but long-term inquiry. Even so, on what after all is the main issue—the declaration of the emergency—both Governments, the Government here and the Government of Nyasaland, are entirely vindicated. It has become a cliché; but, unlike most, it is a very good cliché: as the Commission put it, "Act or abdicate".

Let the House also observe this. I am not going to say anything outside what is a finding of fact by the Commission, or, if I do, I will say so. I do not want to take up too much time by quoting chapter and verse, but the House may take it from me that everything I say is found in the Report—at least, I think so. By the beginning of 1959, the extremists among the Africans had made up their minds that they would get Congress to adopt a policy of violence. Indeed, it goes back much earlier than that, because as far back as 1955 Mr. Chipembere, who was a principal lieutenant of Dr. Banda, was quite clear that violence was what you had got to have. He said that you will not be able to extract Nyasaland from Federation without catastrophic pressure, and any plan must include something akin to Mau-Mau. We all form our opinions, of course, and the Commission had the advantage of seeing Dr. Banda. It is always said that it is important to see a witness in the box, but after all, the Governor had seen Dr. Banda: he had tried to deal with him, and had failed entirely, although in those times he was not treating him in the least in a hostile way. But the Commission themselves say that Dr. Banda had come to regard some degree of violence as inevitable. On another occasion Dr. Banda said, in an address to his African audience, that moderate leaders are of no use.

We are asked by the most reverend Primate; what had gone wrong? I agree that something had gone wrong, but I think it is only fair to the Secretary of State and to the Government in Nyasaland to remember that, way back in 1955, and since there had been on the part of the Congress leaders—and a relatively few people can get great power in a primitive State—a determination to subvert the Government by violence. How successful they were in the policy of getting Congress to adopt violence is clear from the notes of the meeting of January 25, which the Commission themselves say give as good an impression as can be got of what went on at that critical meeting when the leaders were addressing some 200 or 300 of their principal followers.

Let us also observe this. The violence in the Northern Province, Karonga, Fort Hall, Mzimba, and other places, took place before the declaration of the emergency, and before the arrest of the Congress leaders. I think that is very important, because it has been assumed—and a good deal has been heard both in this House and outside—that all this violence arose because of the declaration of the emergency and the arrest of the Congress leaders. That is not true at all. The worst of the violence which took place was before the emergency was declared at all. What happened, particularly at Karonga (noble Lords will find it in paragraphs 106 to 108 of the Report) shows what happens if action is not taken promptly.


I rather think—I am not quarrelling with the general lines the noble Earl is taking—but I think that as a matter of fact, in the period before the declaration of the emergency there was a tightening hold by the Nyasaland Government on administration. They were taking a stronger line about the administration of the law concerning the seeking of permission to hold public meetings. So there were two things: the Congress Party pressing from their side, and the Government from their side.


It was a very shocking situation. The Government in Nyasaland were enforcing the law. Well that is very shocking! I wonder what would have been said if they had not been enforcing the law and had let things slide, and there had been all this violence and rooting up of airfields. The noble Viscount cannot have it both ways, although he is a great artist at it. I remember the criticisms from that side about Kenya. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore was saying in 1952 why was not the emergency declared earlier? He said that we had risked life and limb and people had been killed because we had not declared an emergency in time. Now we are told how shocking it was that law and order was being enforced; and enforced at a time when Congress had determined by their resolution to embark on a course of violence.

It really seems a little odd to me, who have always tried to be an impartial administrator—at any rate, I have got about as good a record in Colonial administration and African administration, whether at the Colonial Office or the Commonwealth Office or as a Minister in West Africa, as colleagues of the noble Lord or of the noble Lord himself. There are lots of things I can be ashamed of in my life but Colonial administration is not one of them. But let us hear the Commission. They say this: If violence had started in some place and was not checked it would certainly have spread and might have gone very far, and that was the real danger of the situation. The Commission need not have been so conditional, because that violence in the Northern Province was before the emergency was declared, and showed the wisdom of their findings.

Now let me come for a moment to this question of the murder plot—I suppose I ought to call it the "so-called" murder plot—which has figured so prominently, and I must say so very disproportionately, to my mind, in all the discussions both in Parliament and out of doors. The Commission come, perhaps rightly, to the conclusion that there was not a formal detailed plot or plan. Well I agree, as I so often have with my noble friend, about rather legalistic distinctions being drawn in this. Even the Commission themselves talk about a plan, so it is rather dangerous when you get into these terms. But I should never have expected a plan in that sense—a plan of the sort that a divisional commander would make, issuing detailed orders to operational troops in the field. What I should expect would be a determination and decision to riot and have violence, to cut throats: exactly what you would expect if you knew anything about Africa; exactly what you would expect excited and emotionally aroused Africans to do.

In fairness, I should like to put two questions to the House. Was there in fact an intention to kill or a prospect of killing? Because I cannot draw these fine distinctions between killing and murder, between cold-blooded assassination and hot-blooded assassination. We have been defining different kinds of murder in an Act of Parliament here and we had enough difficulty about that in the Capital Punishment Bill; but we did not get into these subtle refinements which I find here.

Just as important is to get a fair judgment of whether the Governor at the time was justified in thinking there was such a plan. The Commission think there was a great deal of talk about beating and killing without any dividing line being drawn. Let us consider the meeting of January 25—what I may call, I must not say the minutes of the meeting, but the note of the meeting—which, as I have reminded the House, the Commission say is as good an impression as you can get of what took place. "If Doctor Banda is arrested, start war after two days." I have never known war without killing. I do not know whether it is murder in civil war or in an insurrection which has started, but it does not really matter much to the fellow who is killed, whether black or white, what name you give it. Start war in two days. Destroy everything belonging to Europeans. Hit Europeans, or cut throats. If a Congress member is caught you must fight without fear. Well, if I had been that Governor I would, without hesitation, have come to the conclusion that there was a general plan or incitement to violence and, I will not say to murder, but to killing. At the time he took that decision and made his report, as I think my noble friend Lord Salisbury said, he had other opinions, which may or may not have been accurate, but which he was bound to take into account. Now I venture to speak with some—I will not say authority, but with some experience on this kind of matter. For two years, in the Government of which many of us were members, I was responsible for co-ordinating all security and intelligence, counter-espionage, secret service and the like. It is not an easy job, even with the far-ranging services we had—and I say without hesitation that they were not matched in any other country, enemy or allied. But even with all that, it is not always easy to form your mind as to what are the facts and what is the right conclusion. You must not take too many risks. I think the House has been reminded of it. We were all concerned in Regulation 18B, and at the moment when we thought that this country was going to be faced with invasion, without any hesitation, we proceeded to round up thousands of people whom we had not rounded up before and we put them in the Isle of Man. It took quite a long time to sieve them out and ultimately let some of them—quite a number of them—go. Does anyone say that we were wrong in that?


Yes, I certainly do. A lot of silly things were done by rounding up distinguished scholars and putting them in the Isle of Man when they were great friends of this country.


The noble Lord may say that to his Leader, who was a party to it all and used to sit in on it. The noble Lord is a very delightful controversialist and, fortunately, at that time had no responsibility in Government. I dare say, if he had, he would have had a lot more sense and would not have taken stupid risks. He may say we were wrong and he may be the one person without sin whom he was referring to the other day—I thought rather crudely in the presence of Bishops—who can be the first to cast a stone at us. But, for the rest, it does not become any of us who were concerned with affairs and responsible for affairs at that time to say that in an emergency—and make no mistake of the graveness of the emergency and the risks which there were in Nyasaland at that time—they should not have acted as they did.


My Lords, I want to have this quite clear. We accept the whole Report of the Commission and therefore we accept the Commission's Report as regards the declaration of the state of emergency. That is quite clear. What we are wondering about in regard to the fine distinction which the noble Earl referred to just now, is as to what would be the view of somebody like Sir Percy Wyn-Harris, a man of great experience, Commander-in-Chief of Gambia, and with twenty years' experience in Kenya; yet he signs the unanimous Report of the Commission. I think that should be taken into account.


The noble Viscount has now said that for about the fourteenth time in this debate. I do not challenge it. But even the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who is going to follow me, will perhaps allow even unfortunate people on this side of the House to make their own speeches.


I was applauding.


It is so difficult to distinguish whether the noble Viscount is engendering indignation or affectionate sympathy. I take it in the spirit that it is offered. I really do not think I am differing very much from the Commission in this. What I am saying is that the Governor was bound to decide as he did on the information he had on March 3, and nobody has challenged that he did not come in his mind to an honest decision. Because whatever has been said, by the Commission or anybody else, about the Governor, or indeed the whole Civil Service who were there, whatever can be said, they were deeply sincere people concerned only to come to the right decision and do what they considered their duty.

May I say this in passing—I was diverted on this point. It is said "You ought to release all these people". First of all, it is said, "You should bring them to trial". We never brought people to trial in this country under 18B. The crisis here went on a great deal longer that I hope this one in Nyasaland will. We could not bring them to trial. All of us who have been in this business know it. We had an advisory body which was useful, but everything was done in secret and had to be done in secret, because if you did not do it in secret the whole source of your information had gone. With my noble friend Lord Salisbury—and we have both held these offices; I think both of us have been Colonial Secretary and both Commonwealth Secretary—I say without hesitation that you cannot carry on in these territories, and you would be guilty of the gravest dereliction of duty if you attempted to carry on in the Colonial Service, without the best secret and intelligence services that you could have. How quickly these people can be released and who can be released is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the Government. They can be challenged, if you like to challenge them; they will have to justify it. But I dare wager that if the noble Lords opposite should by any mischance come into office in the next few months, we should find that they were carrying on in exactly the same way; they would get into the most frightful trouble if they did not.

At that crucial moment—the moment we have to consider is the few days in which the Governor had to make up his mind—after there had been this great violence at Fort Hall, he had from seven different sources of information reports that murder was being planned: four of them said of Europeans—they were all independent—three of them said of Africans. His Commissioner of Police told him that he must regard these reports and accept them seriously. Can anybody say that the Governor was wrong in believing the report that there was such a murder plot? Frankly, how far he was right as to the nature and character of the murder plans seems to me a relatively minor matter. The outstanding issue is, was he right in what he did? Do not forget that he had the example of Kenya fresh in his mind. He had the criticism of Her Majesty's Opposition that action was taken far too late. He had in his mind the criticism—and this criticism was not unfounded—that in Kenya the secret service, which I knew in the war was extremely adequate, had been allowed to run down and the Government in Kenya was taken by surprise. He had in his ears, I am sure, that knell which keeps on being sounded when these things happen and action is deferred, "Too little and too late". I think that he is fully vindicated. He could do no other.

I come to one other matter. In carrying out their difficult task I have no doubt that the police did use excessive force. It is true the Commission say, and say wisely I think, that it is much more difficult to control ignorant African police than it is to control the London policeman who, as they colloquially put it, can "use his own loaf." I am sure that the Government will profit by the Commission's Report. I am sure that they will introduce any reforms that are necessary in the regulations and in disciplinary control. But this I must make plain: in doing that, do not forget that you must act to maintain law and order and that you must act with sufficient force. Nothing, as Karonga and those other places show, is worse than to try to act with insufficient force. Perhaps one thing is worse, and that is not to act at all. But you must have sufficient force to do the job, and that force, of course, must be rightly used and properly disciplined. But, broad and large, I feel that both Governments, the local Government and the Government here, are vindicated, and they could not have acted otherwise then they have done.

I would add this: I would regret it profoundly if this is made an occasion of political strife. I would only say, frankly, as an old electioneer, that the Opposition will not get much out of it. I do not think it is at all a good political card to play. Any Government would have to act—it may be an alternative Government; I am not betting on it—but whatever Government it is and whoever is the Government and whoever is the Opposition, the worst service that we could do to Colonial government anywhere, and to Nyasaland in particular, would be to leave any doubt that law and order, the greatest boon that British rule has brought to backward countries in a dark continent, will not be preserved. The problems of Nyasaland and of the Federation will have to be solved. Maybe we cannot avoid having honest differences of opinion about them, but surely it is the duty of all of us to seek the greatest measure of agreement in the discharge of a trust which is a trust of every one of us.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, this is an extremely interesting debate and one has learned a great deal from it. I had always appreciated the merits of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, but, until he had explained them himself. I had never had such a firm grip in my mind on the great public service he had rendered. The noble Earl gave us an extra-ordinarily good description of the benefits of a police state. He said that we must have a police state; we must have a police state everywhere. He said that he knew about these things and he had done it. Then he took us to Regulation 18B and, we understood, a universal Regulation 18B would solve the whole African problem.


The noble Lord is making his own speech, not mine.


I like to listen, and I shall allow—


I am so accustomed to the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, failing to hear and then giving an entirely imaginary description of the speech he is dealing with that I shall not interrupt him again, but I am sure that the House will not take anything the noble Viscount says about my views as being at all akin to them.


If I had heard that, I should, I am sure, have been very much amused.

The point about this Report is that usually, when we are dealing with Government action and M.I.5, we are told, "If you knew what I know, you would agree"; but this Commission did know what was done. The Commission had access to all the documents. It saw the informers. It even knew how much money was given according to the "juicy" nature of their information. The Commission knew all about it. Knowing all about it, the Commission came to one conclusion; and it emerges from the debate that the conclusion reached by this Commission of great eminence, in which, up to a certain point, everybody has expressed entire confidence, is not to be accepted, and action is taken in an opposite sense by the Government.

The effect of this on the world at large will be very bad. I quite agree with what I think the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said, that when the world saw charges being made, that we were acting in a brutal way, and when they heard that we had appointed such an eminent Commission to go into the matter and were putting everything at its disposal, our reputation in the world went up. But when people find that the Government are picking out the little bits which support them and rejecting the bits which do not support them, the loss to our prestige will be correspondingly great.

Almost everything has been touched upon, but there were one or two points which I wished to make. I am very grateful to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, because in his speech he asked me to postpone what I had to say until he came back. It is very courteous of him to come back.


I did not ask the noble Viscount to postpone it until I came back. I asked him to postpone it until he made his speech.


That is right. The noble Marquess said that I should be making a speech later. He said it with a little dramatic gesture of contempt which did not add anything to the force of the argument. I was very anxious to sweeten the memories of the noble Marquess. He said, and everybody has said, that "This is all very sad; we are very sorry that the police went a little too far. These things happen, you know, in our great free land, and you must not make too much of it." I should like to read from the Report and remind the noble Marquess of what happened. I was so surprised at what he has said that I asked him whether he had read the Report. He replied that he had read it. Everybody has read the Report; indeed, almost the whole thing has been read aloud in this House. There will not be the least harm in my reading from it also.

I wish to refer to what happened to a gentleman named Mr. Chikafa, whose arrest took place in the Mlanje district. On page 94 of the Report, it is said: He is a man of about 40 and not strongly built. He is an elder of the Church of Scotland and we have heard nothing to suggest that he is a man of violent habits. I shall now miss something out, but I hope that no one will pick me up about that, because I shall not miss anything which is hurtful to my case. I am trying merely to abbreviate my speech. The inspector did not tell him who he was or what he had come to do but hit him with his baton, aiming for the shoulder… He"— that is to say, the inspector— was a large and powerful man and he next caught hold of Chikafa and threw him towards the door, six or eight feet away, with sufficient force so that he crashed into one of the special constables who says that he was just coming through the door at the time. The constable says that he thought that Chikafa was trying to escape so he hit him on the head with his rifle butt. In his first report of the incident the inspector said that Chikafa was 'strongly resisting arrest'. Chikafa was then carried to the landrover and on his arrival at the police station two hours later he still appeared to be unconscious and was carried into it. We are very sad about that. I am sure that it causes the noble Marquess a great deal of pain to think that, in carrying out a policy for which, until two years ago, he himself also shared the blame, these unfortunate things should happen.

Most of these people were arrested in the middle of the night. This was a thing which people in Nyasaland remembered. Most of us were young men when the slave trade was still being actively carried on in Nyasaland. The general instructions in the Mzimba district permitted arrested persons to be handcuffed, tied at the elbows and at the ankles, and gagged. It must be remembered that these arrested persons had not committed any crime. They were being arrested on suspicion. There may have been a Congress card found in their huts, but the Congress card was not an illegal possession up to 11.59. At 12.1 it was a crime to have a current Congress card. However, I do not want anyone to think that these are criminals about whom I am speaking. They were people being arrested according to the benevolent scheme which saved the British Empire, under the guidance of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton.

On page 98 of the Report we read that a party of four people was taken, still tied up, from the Eutini junction to Mzuzu. One of the four was a Presbyterian minister… I am sorry that the Bishops have all gone, because I should have liked them to hear some of this. I had hoped that one or other of them would have said a word. If we could make Dr. Macleod an honorary Bishop for a week, it would do a great deal of good. The Report goes on to say: One of the four was a Presbyterian minister and the other a village headman. Two of the landrovers were open; the prisoners' condition could therefore be seen. The minister, who was also an active and outspoken member of Congress, was the Reverend Henry Makwakwa who had been arrested at his manse. He had been a chaplain in the K.A.R. for two years and he was described by the camp commandant at Kanjedza, who knew him, as 'a very good front line padre'. These things do not do us any good. They cause sadness to the noble Marquess, but they do not do the reputation of our country any good, if that is the sort of way in which our instructions are interpreted. Does the noble Marquess suggest that it is just a matter for ourselves; that this Report will not be read all over the world, by the coloured people of the world, in every part of the British Empire—in the West Indies, in India, and everywhere where the non-European nations are coming together? This is the sort of thing that will do our reputation harm. It is not an accident. This is the type of thing which naturally follows the Hitler Government model of what is described in the Report as a "police state".

Those four people I have been speaking about were (says the Report): handcuffed, trussed and gagged and loaded into a truck at 5.45 p.m. to go to Mzuzu. The escort consisted of one special constable who was driving.… The journey was a difficult one, as the lorry became stuck in the mud, and lasted until 3.10 a.m. That was nearly twelve hours. The escort said the prisoners became 'restive';"— a bit of subversion, I fear (I wonder what Lord Swinton would say). They got a bit restive after twelve hours drive in the lorry— …they said that because they were tied up they could not sit up properly and were thrown on their faces at the bumps. That is the sort of thing that is going to ruin our reputation in Africa and make any progress impossible—and there is masses of it. I do not want to dwell on the question of the burning of the village. My noble friend was taken up on that when he said that a village had been burned. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, said that it was only thirty-eight houses and that you cannot call that a village. We must leave it at that. But they did burn them, and they burned the possessions of the Africans in them; and they had no legal warrant to do the same. That is as I understand the Report.

Why are the Africans in this state of exasperation? No one seems sufficiently to have pondered on that question. Everyone has talked of maintaining law and order, but no one has asked: why is it that these amiable people—because they were amiable people—are in this state of fury? The answer is quite simple. Over the last five years they have been striving to establish their right to be a free people. In 1939 Lord Bledisloe's Commission reported; they would not have it. In 1949 they would not have it. In 1951 there was a Conference in which I think my own Party were engaged and interested, and the principle of federation was accepted; and in 1953 there was more talk. Dr. Banda right through said that he would not accept it. In 1953–54 there were disturbances. They took to violence. All these causes will be forced to take to violence unless reasonable and constitutional action is permitted. They took to violence and they were defeated. Then they gave it up in 1954. Then there was the election of five people to the Legislative Council. There had been nominees. Every one of the nominees was defeated, and everybody who was elected was a Congressman pledged to resist federation. Then, steadily from here came the word, "You have got to have it; you must have it'". In 1956 the then Colonial Secretary said, "Federation has come to stay". In 1957 people believed, "Dominion status is almost within our reach". In 1958 they were put off and off when they asked for it.

The problem that you have really to consider is: are you going to ram federation down the throats of these people? There are 2¾ million Africans and about 8,000 Europeans in the country. Nobody will deny that the hatred of federation in the minds of the Africans is almost universal. In the Commission's Report they say that they never met a chief—mind you, the chief was not allowed to take part in politics!—who was in favour of federation. The problem that really faces us is: what is going to be done? It is no good having a lot of cloudy talk about "We must reconcile this, and bring together that". These people do not want federation. Dr. Banda, who is a great leader—I am surprised at what the most reverend Primate said about him, because he is a type of Gandhi; I have seen him and have met him—says that they will not agree to it unless they have a majority in their own Nyasaland Parliament that does agree to it. Is that an unreasonable thing to ask? How can you possibly expect to have any result otherwise? It is no good just talking about it. Two things emerge to-day: first, you do not hear the authentic voice of the Nyasalanders; and secondly, you keep under lock and key the one man whom they regard as a messiah—I am speaking in a general political way; he is a Gandhi. Until those things are altered nothing will come of it.

One further point occurs to me. There is no time to do it to-day, but I think one ought to consider the outlook of these people who are governing. The Hola Camp affair has, of course, been a terrible shock. But the outlook of the governing people, who are very pleasantly described in the Commission's Report, is interesting. They say that it is "paternal, dictatorial but benevolent." Here are all these young gentlemen who are doing things about which our parents used to say to us, "My boy, it hurts me more than it hurts you." Are you really hoping to proceed on that basis? There is a terrible danger—it has not been mentioned, but it has come to light—that the African will make fun of them. It is a most dangerous thing when people begin to make fun of the Government. It was done in Ireland. I remember very well, because we were criticising every day in the House of Commons in those days, a regulation by which boys were brought before magistrates for "whistling derisorily at the police." You can imagine what power there is there. But what common sense and statesmanship is there in that? Here, you find Dr. Banda saying about somebody (this is mentioned with tremendous reproof in the evidence of one of the civil servants) "After all, who is the district commissioner?—a boy of twenty-five from Oxford!" I never had the privilege of sharing the inspissated gloom of Oxford. I suppose that most people would regard that as rather a good joke. But it is one of the things you must not say.

Do you notice this about South Africa? I will say just a word about the general picture, and not proceed at length. Do you notice how they laugh when one woman is arrested by the South African police, and fifty women turn up, all with babies tied in shawls over their shoulders, and walk laughing into the police station and demand to be convicted? It is most dangerous when people have so little respect for you and also so much confidence in themselves that they can afford to laugh at your administration. I see the noble Lord, Lord Robins, in his place. He has made several interesting speeches. I wonder whether I could ask him this question: why is it that you want the 2¾ million Nyasalanders? What is the real reason? This is a deficit area. They cost you £3 million a year in subsidies. What is your reason for insisting on that and speaking prematurely (that is over for the moment) about Dominion status? Is it for their labour value? I do not know; I cannot find out. But what Nyasalanders say is that in Southern Rhodesia their condition is so depressed that they fear that if they come into the Federation they will get the same sort of thing. There is a good deal to be said for that point of view.

I think many people have been surprised at the length that federation has gone. Practically before there is a Federation the police come from Salisbury. Salisbury sent in the Royal Rhodesian Regiment, all European, a famous regiment feared by the natives wherever they go. The King's African Rifles are Africans. Then it is the Federal Prime Minister who provides the prisons in which these people are lodged. It is the Federal Prime Minister who forbids Members of the Houses of Parliament, who find the money for this Colony, to go there. He says, "You cannot go without my permission." I notice that the Southern Rhodesian Parliament passed a special Act of Parliament to permit the Commission to sit in Salisbury. Therefore, seeing all this growth of power permeating the Rhodesias, these Africans do not want federation. Until you solve that problem, I am perfectly certain you will get nowhere.

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, was speaking about the old times. Well, I remember his entry into Parliament very well indeed, and he will remember that just before he entered Parliament we had had a struggle with Ireland—the big struggle with Ireland—and all the things that are said here to-day were said then about Collins and Griffiths: "You cannot negotiate with men like that. Look at their conduct." The violence in Ireland was immense compared to these road blocks and other trifling acts. But they will grow into something worse if you leave the matter alone. If we, as a country and a Commonwealth, with a great deal of experience, cannot adjust our experience and knowledge to this current problem, then I think it is a very sad day for our future.

7.1 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just resumed his seat has been this evening, as he always is, utterly irresistible, and, as he always is, utterly unconvincing.


I thought the noble Lord was going to say that.


But he is at any rate very easy to listen to, if I may say so, and it is a great pleasure to listen to him. At any rate, we know where he stands on this unhappy business. We know, for example, what his definition of a "police state" is. The noble Viscount's definition of a police state is Great Britain between 1940 and 1945. That is not my definition, and I do not think it is the definition that these eminent gentlemen who have reported intended when they described Nyasaland as a police state, "no doubt…temporarily."

The noble Viscount asks: Why is it that these amiable people have been driven to such a frenzy? He gives an answer which may be the right answer. I do not think it is. He gives the answer: because of federation. But it is possible—and this Report does not dissuade me of my conviction—that they have been driven to frenzy by acute, skilful, highly politically educated dema- gogues playing upon a politically immature people. But there is one point upon which I agree with the noble Viscount, even if for different reasons. I think this Report is a great disaster and I do not see how anyone who values the good name of this country, or anyone who cares for the people of Nyasaland, can possibly accept it. The most reverend Primate said that he hoped this Report would mean a new start. I hope there may be a new start, but I cannot see what the Report of the Nyasaland Commission of Inquiry is going to contribute towards it.

It is often the fate of Reports of this kind that they are put away in a pigeonhole and their fate is oblivion. This may go into a pigeonhole, but I fear that it will continue to poison relations between the two races, black and white, between these two branches of the human race, long after the occasion of it has been forgotten. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, cannot understand why the Government do not accept the whole Report. Well, I cannot speak for the Government, but I know why I could not possibly vote for the Amendment even if the Government asked me to do so.

It seems to me that the grounds for the rejection of this Report are three-fold. First, it is irresponsible; secondly, it is almost unbelievably naïve and innocent; and, finally, it is remarkably disingenuous. I do not know how it has happened. I do not know how it is that men of the eminence and the capacity of these men have produced a Report of this kind. But what I am sure is that this Report is characterised by that peculiar kind of silliness which you can only find in very clever men and by that peculiar lack of scruple which, in my experience, often distinguishes the very high-minded.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord this, as I seem to be acting temporarily for my noble Leader: surely he does not mean exactly what he says. Surely he is not accusing these four eminent gentlemen selected by his Government—our Government; the country's Government—of being unscrupulous.


My Lords, if the noble. Lord will have patience he will find out exactly what I am accusing them of. I realise that it is the duty of a fact-finding Commission to disclose facts without fear or favour, and certainly the Commission has fulfilled its duty. It has disclosed the facts. Some of them are very disagreeable—I do not deny it any more than my noble friend Lord Salisbury denied it. Some of them are very disagreeable. They are unpleasant to read about; they are unpleasant to think about. It is the duty of a Commission of this kind to disclose the facts, but it is not its duty to draw inferences from the facts, inferences which are not only unjustifiable but which are, in fact, loaded with political dynamite.

It is easy enough to say, "Well, this is a judicial Commission"—which, anyway, it was not—"and it has nothing to do with politics." My Lords, if four supposedly responsible persons are injected into the heart of the most complex, the most dangerous, and potentially the most tragic political problem of our day, surely they have to pay some regard to it. After all, this issue they have been discussing is something rather more important than the case of Mr. Liberace v. The Daily Mirror. It is something that concerns the life, the future, the happiness of millions of people, and concerns the honour, the authority, the power, the reputation of this country.

Much has been made in this debate of the term "police state", and I do not want to labour it further. But I should like to say this. When I first read the Report I asked myself, when I saw this phrase: What on earth do they mean? As I read on, I discovered what they meant. In paragraph 60 they refer back to this statement, and it is quite clear from that paragraph that what they mean by the "police state" is, in fact, the state of emergency, the declaration of which they themselves had approved and held to be justified; and I am sure that if any noble Lord reads through that paragraph, he will find that all they mean by their reference to the "police state" is that there is a state of emergency and that it has some very distasteful factors. If that is what they meant, was it not the height of irresponsibility to launch, on the first page and in the headline, into this damaging, and I think infinitely evil, expression about the police state?

Again, my Lords, in their Introduction the Commissioners show to me almost inexplicable signs of innocence. They explain why their hearings had to be held in private. They give a number of reasons. One of them was that the African, through fear of the Government, would not speak the truth if the hearings were in public. I do not know how it strikes your Lordships, but it is almost incredible to me that it never seems to have occurred to the Commission that the African might be afraid to speak the truth at all for fear of the Congress. They explain the witnesses they have seen, and they number them out; but it never seems to have occurred to them that when they saw 1,500 witnesses in groups ranging from half a dozen to 100, it was scarcely conceivable, in the circumstances, that they could get the truth. Of course they could not get the truth—because any man giving evidence in those groups would feel he was being watched and spied upon and reported by the other five or the other ninety-nine. The Report speaks a great deal about intimidation. It admits the fact of intimidation, but it never seems to face the consequences of intimidation. That seems to me to be an example of the innocence of which I spoke.

The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, asked me just now, as he was perfectly entitled to do, whether I accused the members of the Commission of being unscrupulous men. What I said was that their Report was disingenuous, as it seemed to me, and that the only explanation I could give of that was that they had that lack of scruple which sometimes distinguishes those who are far more high-minded than most of us are.


Is that particularly ambiguous way of speaking meant to imply that they are honest men or dishonest men?


If the noble Lord would like it perfectly straight from me, it is meant to imply what I believe—that is, that they are, in their Report, intellectually dishonest. I will, if the noble Lord will allow me, explain to him what I mean. In fact, earlier in the debate my noble friend Lord Salisbury did give one instance of this kind of intellectual dishonesty when he quoted the paragraph which stated how much the Nyasas feared federation and what an evil thing they thought federation to be, and then pointed out that all the Report did was to say, "Of course, we are not allowed to comment on this." As my noble friend pertinently observed, in that case, why mention it?


Could the noble Lord elaborate that? It is a very interesting point. Does he mean the Commission should not have reported the fact that they found unanimity against federation?


What I mean, if the noble Viscount will allow me, in stating my case about the attitude of the Commission to these matters, is this: the Commission makes it clear time and time again that they are not offering judgments; they are stating facts. Technically, I think that is true. But time and time again in the Report we find cases where, in effect, they make a judgment and then qualify it by saying, "Of course, we cannot comment on this." I will give the noble Viscount another example of that. It is in paragraph 286. That is almost at the end of the Report, when the Commission are dealing with these very painful happenings to which the noble Viscount, and I think every speaker, has referred in his speech. This is what I should like to point out to the noble Viscount: The Government has not at any time, either before us or, so far as we are aware, to anyone else, expressed any regret for or disapproval of what has been done under these heads. We record this as a fact and not as indicating that any expression of regret or disapproval is necessarily appropriate.


There is a point here. You see, you must read the Motion that is before the House. It is praising the security forces, and never saying a word of reproof for these happenings.


I think the noble Viscount—I almost called him my noble friend, and I hope he will forgive me for the possible lapse—has missed the point that I am trying to make. Here I am not criticising the Report for censuring the Nyasaland Government. The basis of my charge against the members of the Commission is that, having said that they are not going to offer judgments, they offer a moral judgment of a very damaging kind, while maintaining the fiction that they are not offering a judgment at all. And in my view that is intellectually dishonest.


I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord again, but, in the absence of my noble Leader, may I say how profoundly shocked all of us on this side of the House are at this talk of intellectual dishonesty on the part of the members of the Commission.


I can only regret that that side of the House is not quite so profoundly shocked by some of the things which are said in this Report.

My Lords, I do not want to detain your Lordships further, but I should just like to make this comment. I have formed a view of this Report. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, feels that I am not entitled to form it. He is shocked by the view that I have formed. That is his problem. But, as almost every speaker has said, we have got to go beyond the Report. I hope that the evil that I am afraid this Report has done will be forgotten, and I also hope, as so many speakers in the debate have already said, that, by understanding, by appreciating the difficulties of the Central African, and by giving him the assurances which the Government have already given him, it will be possible to persuade him that Federation is in his interest. I hope that we shall be able to realise the idea of a racial partnership, and that we shall not be faced with the horrible and tragic alternative courses: on the one side an immature—and probably, because it is immature, tyrannical—black Empire, and, on the other side, apartheid. I hope that, whatever difference we may have about the Report, it may be possible for us all to work to that end of a racial partnership.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, unlike so many debates in your Lordships' House, I am not finding this debate an entirely pleasant experience. As I listened yesterday to the debate in another place, and, indeed, as I have listened here to-day, it seemed to me that we are all the time reminded of the many penalties of this cherished Party system of ours. It would sem that there is something amiss in a situation which links the difficulties which a Government experiences abroad with the political welfare of a Party at home and, therefore, perhaps makes those difficulties even desirable for a certain Party. I refuse to believe that there are two breeds of Englishman, the one an enlightened, progressive Liberal, in sympathy always exclusively with African national aspirations, and the other obstinate and out of date, opposing those aspirations. We are, I believe, all together in facing this problem, and yet, with the diabolical play of Party politics, it is sometimes extremely difficult to recognise it.

One could talk, as many noble Lords have done, by picking out quotations from the Devlin Report. It was, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who accused Members on this side of picking out only those extracts which suited them. So far as I have seen in this debate hitherto, Members on the other side have done exactly the same thing, picking out just those portions of the Report which suited them. It was in anticipation that many of your Lordships would have studied the Report in great detail and would refer to it that I thought it would be more appropriate if I attempted a slightly different approach and gave some ideas of mine related to the Indian analogy, in which I received a lead from the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, when he took part in the debate on Monday last.

Before I do that, I should like to comment on one point on which the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition laid great emphasis: that is, the question of detention without trial. Nobody likes detention without trial, but there is a valid reason for it. The reason is that if those particular people were not under detention, they would be the focus for operations calculated to bring the operation of law and order to cease; and, as such, they have to be put under detention. It is quite unfair to paint an analogy of men lingering in prison, suffering, waiting for their trial. My experience is that men in that position are in comfort. They are allowed to see their relations and to write books and they are given paper and pencil. That is my experience, certainly in the case of India.

If noble Lords opposite would search the annals of what was happening in 1948 and 1949, and even 1950, they would discover that when they were in power, there were many cases in Ghana in which detention without trial was accepted. The Government of India is to-day often held up, quite rightly, as an enlightened and progressive Government, yet it has sanctioned the detention of Sheikh Abdulla for five years without trial. I would merely emphasise that there are many precedents for this kind of approach.

The Devlin Report raised one very important issue. We are all agreed, I think, that the Devlin Commission came to two main conclusions: first, that there was no centralised plan for massacre, and secondly, that there was an emergency and that, therefore, the Governor was justified in taking measures to meet that emergency. I ask your Lordships, on both sides of the House to consider quite calmly which of those two aspects is the more important: the fact that the Governor was wrong in his assessment that there was no central plan, or the fact that the Governor was right in his assessment that there was an emergency.

The absurdity of even questioning the matter is immediately revealed to us in a comment by the Governor on paragraph 168 of the Report, which states: We have found further that there was talk of beating and killing Europeans, but not of cold-blooded assassination or massacre". The Governor's comment on that, in a particularly typical British understatement, is that if it was a matter of distinguishing between beating and killing and cold-blooded assassination or massacre, he and his Government were quite unable to appreciate the distinction. Might I put the situation slightly more bluntly and say that if I were a corpse beneath the ground, I should not worry very much about the particular term that was used to define the process by which I got there.

I have seen emergency situations, not in Africa, but in different parts of the world. I have been at the receiving end. The fact that no death occurs is no criterion whatever as to whether there is need to declare an emergency. I heard yesterday, as if it were a kind of slick debating point, that no white man was killed. Are we to wait hopefully for a death before we decide that the time has come to declare an emergency? Just one moment's reflection will indicate what utter nonsense such an approach is. I suggest that a fair picture of what was happening was that there were a number of incidents, there were riots and there were crowds creating disturbances, and that if there was no centralised plan, at least there was a general effect which came to exactly the same thing, and that the Governor was right. The Commission have said so. In effect, as I see it, the Commission have said that the Governor was right, but for the wrong reason. I submit that all that matters is the fact that the Governor was right.

I come back to the Indian analogy. I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has left his place, because he invoked the Indian analogy, which is appropriate in these situations. I should have liked to do what he himself referred to as "sweeten the memories". The noble Viscount reminded us of his experiences in connection with the Simon Commission and the Round Table Conference. He could have gone a bit further and also reminded us that during his tenure of office, in April, 1930, the civil disobedience movement under the personal direction of Mr. Gandhi was launched. There was refusal to pay taxes, refusal to pay rent, picketing of shops selling British cloth, obstruction of the police, and so on. What exactly did happen? The movement, which under Mr. Gandhi's direction had started as completely non-violent, very quickly got out of hand; and in Bengal in particular, and to a lesser extent in the Punjab, the ugly term "terrorism" was used. British and Indian officials were attacked; bombs and revolvers were used; the armoury in Chittagong was raided; a bomb was dropped in Parliament and I think a bomb was dropped on the Viceroy's train.

On November 7, 1929, in another place the then Secretary of State, the noble-Viscount, in commenting on the general situation, very rightly said: What was alarming was that responsible opinion did not somehow come forward to reprobate crime, and that is a very unhealthy sign. I think some of us might hope that the noble Viscount, whose deep sympathies with the African aspirations we all appreciate, could tender the same advice to Dr. Banda.


When the noble Lord has finished I should like to say a word on this, but only when the noble Lord is willing.


The next point which emerges from the Devlin Report is that it does emphasise Dr. Banda's timorous and not very admirable hesitancy in condemning terrorism and intimidation. Still following up the Indian analogy following the same story, I would remind your Lordships that the Working Committee of the Congress was declared an unlawful association—and Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Nehru were arrested—after the noble Viscount's time—


In my time.


In the noble Viscount's time. There were casualties compared with which the casualties in Nyasaland can be counted on one hand. In the autumn of 1931 those casualties had amounted to thousands and there were by that time about 60,000 people in gaol for creating disturbances. Incidentally, I am not aware that the Government of the day was asked to abdicate or that the Secretary of State was asked to resign or anything of that nature. I certainly think it would have been quite wrong if they had.

There are two points I want to emphasise. First, in a crisis of this kind it is very invidious to single out a party or an individual as having failed or as not having measured up to heavy responsibilities. The difference, as I see it, is in emphasis, and in emphasis only. Secondly, at no time in India was there any overall central plan to murder. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi was bidding his disciples to control their passions. That is the sort of claim made on behalf of Dr. Banda, and yet in both cases action had to be taken which was in fact just the same as would have been required had there been a real centralised murder plot.


When you have finished with India, I would just say a word.


I have not finished with India. I return to the political implications. The noble Viscount regretted that it had been impossible in his time to bring representative Indians into the picture at the Round Table Conference. Of course, Mr. Gandhi was at the second session, as a result of what was known as the Irwin-Gandhi Pact. I would say immediately, without qualification, that if we could anticipate human relationship emerging such as was built up by Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Halifax in 1929, if we could anticipate that kind of relationship in 1959 between the Governor of Nyasaland and Dr. Banda, then the future of Nyasaland might be one of real hope. It is not for me to criticise or compare two Englishmen in public life, but with regard to Dr. Banda, it does seem to be clear from the Devlin Report that he in no way measures up to the standard set by Mahatma Gandhi. If it were otherwise, I think we could by now have expected some kind of formal pledge or declaration to have emerged as between Dr. Banda and the Governor.

The noble Viscount put the case very forcefully that in 1929 and 1930 our great difficulty was our inability to capture the Indian mind. I think that was the way he very expressively put it. For me it raises a very important point, the character and calibre of the men we are dealing with—I am transferring the picture now to Africa: the character of the Africans who, on the one hand, have a blind obsession in their refusal of co-operation—I refer to Mr. Chipembere and Mr. Chisiza—and, on the other hand, those Africans who, if given a chance, might have the wisdom and courage to work in co-operation towards that true partnership in which we all believe. And these are the men who have been described as "stooges".

In the case of India, it is interesting to note that those men to whom the noble Viscount very rightly paid his great tribute, were the Indian "stooges" at the time, Seitei Bahawar, Mr. Sapru, Mr. Sastii, Mr. Jayakar, Dr. Moorije, and men of the calibre of Dr. Ambedkar, who was largely responsible for the present Indian Constitution. On the Muslim side, there were men such as Sir Mond Shapi and Mr. Jinnah himself, the founder of Pakistan. Setting aside the representation of Pakistan, I doubt very much whether the India of to-day, in the full flush of entering so successfully into the international scene, would care to hear her great servants of those days described as "stooges".


Have they been described as "stooges"?


No; but their equivalents in Africa have been described as "stooges", and I think we might find that perhaps at that time—




—there were people who referred to them as "stooges". It is perfectly true that those men were not representative of mass political opinion in India at the time. Does one for that reason overlook them? In the case of Africa, more particularly Nyasaland, does one just ignore the potential African Sapras and Sastiis of the day?

Within the same context I come to the modern Indian stooges, the members of the former Indian Civil Service. Again, they were never typical of mass opinion, but they have been indispensable to Indian welfare and progress—men such as Bengal Rao, Bajpai, Mahari Singh, V. P. Menon, not to mention about 200 or so Indian district commissioners, men who have been described as the firm foundation of the administration. Again I turn to Africa, and I question which type of these men are we to support? If I may put the matter more accurately, in attempting to meet the political demands of one type, are we to neglect the solid value of the other, in their interests? Because there are these two types. They may aim at the same goal but they are following completely different roads. One I would describe as nationalists, the other as patriots. The one seeks his goal through the monopoly of political power; the other is prepared to take off his coat and do a job of work for his country. That second type has not yet received sufficient encouragement, nor has he yet come forward, perhaps through the lack of any encouragement; and one notes that of the seventeen district commissioners in Nyasaland not one is yet an African. Nor are they likely to be, so long as they are described as "stooges" by those who ought to be encouraging them.

If Africans are not going to come forward for training in administration, how can Nyasaland hope to control her own affairs in dignity and in the service of her own people? Dr. Banda's answer to this question is apparent from the Devlin Report. It seems to be the vague hope that the Europeans will stay on. British officials will reply to that, as I interpret it, that men such as Mr. Chipembere and Mr. Chisiza, once in power, will use their power solely to embarrass them and humiliate them. That may be so, or it may not be so; but the fact is that those men believe that, and so they will not stay.

Finally, if I may come again to the Indian analogy, I would say one word about the question of federation. It seems to me that to a Nyasalander there is in federation a political connotation which we ourselves would never see. If Nyasaland is to be relieved of the fear of outside European domination from Salisbury, I would suggest that the Europeans in Zomba, Blantyre and elsewhere are also entitled to be free from the fear of African political pressures from outside Nyasaland.

I do not want to close entirely on a note of a negative character. My more constructive ideas concerning federation and the reactions—very natural ones, as I see them—of Nyasaland African Congressmen, which are aroused by this proposal, are centred round the passage on page 21 of the Devlin Report. Perhaps I may read it, because it seems to me to be very significant. It says: Briefly, the conclusion which was arrived at was that the economies of the three territories had been so inter-dependent that closer association between them in the field of economic planning was essential. This closer association would inevitably lead, it was felt, not only to greater prosperity but to the provision of better facilities for education, health services and social services generally. The immediate result of Federation to Nyasaland in the economic field has been markedly beneficial. We need not go into financial detail but, putting it shortly, Nyasaland enjoys what is in effect a cash subsidy from the two Rhodesias of £3 millions per annum, which is over a third of its annual expenditure. Without the resources of Federation, the Nyasaland Government would not be able to provide the services in health and education which it believes to be essential to the advancement of the African. The Commission assure us that that situation is recognised by the African Congress. The African Congress answer to all that is that nothing matters but political freedom. I would ask noble Lords opposite: do they really agree that all those advantages to be obtained from federation are just to be written off? Would they not perhaps qualify their attitude and support this idea: that in refusing federation Dr. Banda surely should explain how Nyasaland is to forgo this £3 million subsidy? In fact some of us would like, what the most reverend Primate would refuse, not so much a demand for a few more seats in the Legislature and Executive, as an economic and administrative blue print to provide for their country if outside the Federation, a carefully phased plan, which the most reverend Primate apparently regarded as not making sense. Such a plan may not capture the imagination of the African; it may not win applause. But, as I see it, it is a duty and I cannot see that it is wrong to encourage men to do their duty. I would only say that if the day could arrive when, on the basis of Nyasaland being outside the Federation, such a plan was put forward for discussion, then on that day an independent Nyasaland would certainly be much nearer.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, will forgive my intervening for a moment, because I did not want to interrupt a very interesting speech by an expert. I had the privilege of knowing the noble Lord's father, and we realise his great services to India. No doubt the noble Lord as a young man knew them at first hand. What he fails to see is that we had 60,000 people in gaol and we regarded that as a great defeat. Every time somebody had to be locked up, that was one down for us, because we were trying to get a Government of the Indian people. We got it in the end. The noble Lord misunderstands the situation. He thinks that the Indian interlude of a Labour Government of 1929 was merely a continuation of the Conservative view before and perhaps afterwards. That is quite wrong. It was an attempt to put the engine in reverse, and in the end it succeeded. There is this difference between us. If we turn to Ghana and Kashmir we see tensions, but there is a great difference between an act of dictatorship imposed by a native Government of their own people and an attempt to impose the same dictatorial methods by an outside country. That is my point.


My Lords, I would only suggest that the country described as outside was, in fact, a British-Indian Administration, in which, I think, by 1929, and progressively afterwards, most of the members of the Viceroy's Council were Indians.


That is true, but we were aiming at getting an Indian Government; and we got it.

7.47 p.m.


My Lords, those of us who propose to go into one Lobby or another have to make up our minds whether we are able to accept the whole of the Devlin Report or only a part of it. In making up our minds on that question, I would suggest that one factor which should weigh heavily is what will be the effect of our action upon the opinions of Africans in Nyasaland and elsewhere, because this is one of the harsh, perhaps the harshest, of the realities that an administrator has to face.

We have heard a great deal about law and order. I would suggest, from the experience of a teacher in Africa, that there are a good many educated young men and women in Nyasaland who have had lessons about law and order, the same kind of lessons that I had to give in other parts of Africa. I had to keep order in the class or in the school. I taught that the first duty of a Government was to govern. And for those reasons I have never said a single word against the action of the Governor of Nyasaland in declaring a state of emergency and I gladly accept the part of the Report which says that he was right to do so. But I taught not only about order; I taught also about law. I taught about the Habeas Corpus Act and why we had striven for that, and why the struggle had been worth while. And I should be very disappointed in my pupils in Ghana and Uganda if they did not immediately see through the 18B argument which has been put here to-day. Of course, there is all the difference in the world between accepting methods—call them police methods, or what you like—by the wish of your own elected representatives, and, on the other hand, having restrictions forced upon you by a Government composed of different people, people who are set on a policy that you hate.

Such people as I have been trying to describe in Nyasaland will be wondering how long the emergency is going to last. What means of judging have they? From whom can they find out the answer to their question? They do not know. It is not a matter which is in any way within their own decision or the decision of any of their people. There will does not count. I submit, as I have submitted at intervals over the last seven years, that the tragedy of Nyasaland since 1952 has been the neglect of African opinion by the British Government. It is this which has made the people angry and determined; it is this which has caused outbreaks of violence. I, as a Conservative, am continually surprised that other Conservatives do not have something at least of the feeling that the late Mr. Bonar Law had about the people of Ulster. There were no lengths to which they might go which he did not feel that he would support. He spoke of a demonstration of theirs as being an expression of the soul of a people willing to lay down their lives for what they believed was their liberty and freedom. Why does no Conservative think of applying similar words to the attitude of the Nyasaland people in 1952 or since then?

We are told that one reason why we should not accept the Report in full is that there is no kind of obligation upon a Government to accept the Report of a Commission which they have set up. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made this point. He reminded us that there are Reports of Royal Commissions which lie (I am not using his words) collecting dust for years before some of their recommendations are put into force. But I would suggest that there is a distinction between a Royal Commission which is set up to prepare the ground for legislative proposals and a Commission that is set up to find out facts. If you appoint a Commission to consider what reforms should be made in the law of divorce, how suitable it is that their Report should be argued over, considered and sifted over a period of years. But that is quite different from sending four specially selected and highly able people, under the chairmanship of a Judge, to find out facts.

What will the young educated Africans think of a Government which will not accept the Report of a Commission they have set up to find out facts? I think I can tell your Lordships. They will say: "One of the important lessons that we learned at school—from our English schoolmasters, maybe—was that you accept the decision of the referee, even if you think he is wrong." It may be that these able Commissioners have made mistakes—of course they may have done; they are human—but, in my view, the Government would have been more dignified, they would have been more effective in Africa, and it would have helped to create that kind of spirit about which the most reverend Primate spoke so eloquently, if they had accepted the Report in full and if, in accordance with traditions which Conservatives ought to venerate, the Secretary of State had resigned his office. I am speaking in order that such Africans and others may know that there is one Conservative in Parliament who accepts this Report in full; and in saying that I am aware—and I hope that the Government are, too—that there are a good many Conservatives outside this House who think as I do.

7.55 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships may think that there is no part of this Report which has not been dealt with in the speeches in your Lordships' House or in another place, but I have found one paragraph which is of interest. I will not read it, but it is paragraph 83, which is a brief reference to the Accra Conference. The All-African Peoples' Conference, to give it its full name, was attended not only by representatives from all over Africa, but also by strong delegations from the United Arab Republic and from Russia. Although the Africans are said to have been in favour of non-violence, it is known that the Conference was divided on this issue, and pressure to use violence came from non-African delegations. The principal resolution passed at the Conference was in favour of fighting colonialism by positive action, and was, in the words of the Commission's Report, a compromise between those who advocated violence and those who advocate non-violence.

The whole declaration of the Conference is too long to read, but the last sentence is worth quoting. It says: The All-African Peoples' Conference pledges support to those who, in order to meet the violent means by which they are subjected or exploited, are obliged to retaliate. That is not the part quoted in the Report of the Commission but is the end of the declaration passed at the Conference. Dr. Banda attended the Accra Confer- ence, and his conduct on his return was obviously influenced by what had happened there. There have been various other manifestations in other parts of Africa of the positive action demanded at the Conference which have also led to violence, and the responsibility for this must be laid at the Conference's feet.

Those of us who have worked in Africa and have, according to our own lights, tried to help the advancement of the Africans, have an understanding of these people and their problems. They have many endearing qualities and are a good-humoured, friendly and courteous people who have shown great good sense in how to make the best of life in their own environment. They are a proud and dignified people, who normally have a healthy respect for authority and who are sensitive about matters which affect their personal lives and well-being; and should these be threatened, they will react very strongly. Anyone who knows Africa must be aware that, once roused, the Africans are capable of doing things which they would be the first to regret subsequently.

I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I relate a personal experience, which I do only because it is something comparable to the situation which faced the Governor of Nyasaland. In December, 1953, we had intelligence reports which showed that the Mau-Mau in Kenya were infiltrating into the Kikuyu settlement in the Northern Province of Tanganyika, and that they were trying to organise them. Reports which reached me on December 21 of that year indicated that on Christmas Eve there was a plot to murder 500 Europeans and a large number of loyal Africans and Asians, and to burn down offices, garages and other buildings belonging to non-Africans. I consulted my Attorney-General, my Chief Secretary, my Commissioner of Police and the other advisers, and we came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence on which we could take any single person to court and hope to get a conviction. But we all felt that there was a great deal of truth in this intelligence, and we had to act. We went through the same painful, distasteful experience of declaring a state of emergency in this one particular Province, and of arresting before Christmas Eve as many of these people as we could. There are some differences between that action and what happened in Nyasaland, because there was a violent reaction among the Kikuyu whom we had not arrested, as though we had stirred up a hornets' nest. They murdered the informers and the families who had given this information.

The Kikuyu in Tanganyika were aliens, and therefore I had the advantage of having the African people of Tanganyika behind me; and they acted on my side. In Nyasaland the Governor was faced with a much more difficult position, where he might have had the whole of the population roused against the Government. Had the Governor of Nyasaland not acted as he did, I am quite sure we should not be having this debate to-night, and perhaps he would not be alive to tell the tale. It may be that the noble Earl would have paid his visit and might not have returned from Nyasaland. I am myself convinced that there were Congress leaders bent on violence, and violence inevitably would have led to killings, or what some people prefer to call murder. Whether or not there was a detailed plan which would be called a murder plan is a different matter. If there is insufficient evidence to prove it, there is also insufficient evidence to disprove it. Secret conspirators do not leave evidence about, and it is clear that those on the spot, who were in the best position to judge, were convinced that there was a situation of very real danger. Nyasaland was fortunate to have a Governor who acted as he did, and it seems that sound opinion there recognises this fact.

But we now find ourselves in a dilemma. Action has been taken. Law and order has, we hope, been restored. But we are still faced with finding a solution to the main problem, and the fact that repressive measures have had to be taken may not make the task easier. We may discount the assertion that Nyasaland is a police state. If it is, it must be the envy of all the other police states in the world to-day, for the police there are very thin on the ground and have one of the lowest ratios of police to population to be found anywhere—fewer than 1,800 police to 2,800,000 people, living in 48,000 square miles, or four-fifths the size of England and Wales. The people are probably naturally feeling bewildered and subdued, but it is not an African characteristic to be unduly resentful, as they are realists, and there is a great hope that confidence can be restored.

But we must not pursue a policy of drift. We must show ourselves to be masters of the situation and take the initiative. It is our turn to take positive action. The vital question of federation must be left to the Commission whose appointment has recently been announced, and to the Constitutional Conference which is to follow. But the internal Constitution of Nyasaland requires very special consideration. The Times, in a leading article on July 28, mentions that Sir Roy Welensky has advocated that the next task should be to push on the individual territories of the Federation to assume a greater responsibility for their own affairs, and this policy, The Times says, has been endorsed by the Prime Minister. The Times goes on to say that the realisation that Nyasaland must advance as an African State has been generally accepted.

On July 23, the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State indicated in another place that it was intended to have an African majority on the unofficial benches of the Legislative Council, and to appoint two Africans to the Executive Council, while the life of the Legislature would be extended beyond May, 1960—perhaps for a year. This period must not be regarded just as an opportunity to pause and do nothing. The whole position must once again be thoroughly examined, and it may be that it will be found that the evolution of the traditional form of Colonial Government is not the best way to proceed in the circumstances, and that a new approach may be needed, perhaps even making it necessary to go back to square 1 and to start again. But apart from constitutional progress, we must look at the other factors which stand in the way of a rapid advance to self-government.

In my experience, it is very necessary to keep political, economic and social development in step. If they do not keep in step or in balance, the position gets out of hand. I should like to suggest that machinery be set up to examine the problems which must be solved. There are many, but there are two of major importance—the first, to make the economy of the territory sufficiently stable and viable for it to stand on sound foundations when self-government is achieved, so that it will not be faced with the position of having to seek financial assistance from outside; and the second to produce a sufficiency of local personnel, with the education and training to man the posts in all the activities of the life of the territory. It goes without saying that the African people must be fully represented and associated with any such inquiry which should lead to the drawing up of a programme—not a timetable—which would ensure that the road to self-government was well signposted. I believe this to be a way of teaching the Africans of the difficulties that lie ahead when they have to take up the responsibility of governing their own country.

An eminent student of African affairs, who recently visited East and Central Africa and met many African leaders, told me that one of the questions he always asked was: "Do you really believe that you are in a position to run your own country, and that you have the men available with the knowledge and understanding of the problems?" He said he always received the same answer: "We are not interested in that. We want self-government. If we make a mess of it, it will be our own mess." That is an emotional approach, and does not suggest responsibility or leadership, much less statesmanship. I believe that if African leaders could be closely associated in solving the problems they would earn the respect of their people and would gain in reputation beyond their borders.

May I conclude by saying that I believe we are in good faith pursuing a policy of leading our Colonial territories to self-government on a democratic Parliamentary basis. But if we are to succeed in Africa, the political leaders must play the rules of the game, and not for ever conspire to take short cuts by positive action, be it by civil disobedience or by violence. Such a policy shows political bankruptcy. We support democracy and not demagogy. As I have said, it is for us to take positive action and to show our national genius for solving problems which, at times, seem to be intractable.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Twining, said that the Africans must be taught to play the rules of the game. Who settles the rules?


I think they are well-established rules.


Established by whom?


By us, my Lords.

8.10 p.m.


My Lords, at this late hour of the night, with so many speakers to come, I hope I shall be suitably brief. Indeed, I think we have probably heard almost enough about the Devlin Report itself, and certainly we have had an adequate number of quotations from it. But my chief excuse for intervening at all is the fact that in my own personal career in the past I know what it is like to be faced with an emergency like this. Both as a younger officer and during the period when the supreme authority was mine, I had to make decisions of this nature, and the comments I am now proposing to make are based upon the fact that I have a very good personal understanding of what the atmosphere is like when these decisions have to be made in a time of emergency. The pattern is a very familiar one. Take Dr. Banda himself: this leader who has been brought in and has spent most of his life abroad in this country is so much out of touch with the common life of his people that he does not talk the vernacular. So his speeches have to be interpreted, with all the terrible dangers of that interpretation bearing very little resemblance, as indeed is often the case, to what he has actually said. In addition, after arrival he had been built up by his chief assistants as a sort of messiah, and he accepted that position. The Devlin Report itself tells us that he is a man of considerable vanity, in that he thinks that it is almost inconceivable now that any decision or wish that he could express will not ultimately have to be granted.

I find it extremely difficult to believe that he did not know about this programme of violence. The pattern is a very familiar one, and in Africa especially so: of a leader who has perfected the art of "willing to wound and yet afraid to strike"; a leader who will tacitly encourage his more violent followers and when the actual trouble starts is not there. That is a pattern which we who know Africa know quite well, and I suggest that there is every indication that Dr. Banda himself may belong to that category. If I had to suggest a motto for Dr. Banda, if you will excuse my putting it in Latin, I would say "Video meliora proboque, Deteriora sequor". I am sure that that motto might get a good deal of sympathy from the Commission itself. In Africa, especially, loose talk very quickly degenerates into violent action. I know of no country in my experience where that statement is more true than in Africa. The emotional margin is very small between talk and action and it is passed with surprising speed. It is a matter of very nice judgment indeed, on an occasion when trouble is brewing and there is an excited crowd, as to when to take action and what is the nature of the action you take. These are the difficult decisions which have to be reached by the man in charge on the spot.

I do not propose, although I am tempted to, to deal with Lord Stansgate's excursions. After all, he does live rather in the realm of emotional fiction, and there is no time to-night to deal with some of the vague statements that he made, other than that I should like to repudiate his indirect attack on the Colonial Service and his saying that it seemed to be peopled by young officers who are largely to be laughed at. I am sure the noble Viscount, in his travels, has found the Colonial Service extremely tolerant; but it would meet with no support from those who know them to say that they are something to be laughed at, either by the people of the country concerned or by visitors.

May I pass on to what the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, said? I appreciate what he said about law and order, but when he spoke about the Commission and defended it he said they were appointed to find facts. That is exactly what they were appointed for, and the whole objection to much of the Report is that they have strayed from the facts into the realms of extremely dangerous and explosive opinion. The opinions may be right or wrong, but in my view they could scarcely be more wrong: and I do not speak merely academically, I speak with considerable experience of the sort of thing about which they were writing. May I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, that they were not appointed as referees, nor were they asked for a decision: they were asked only for facts.

I felt it was rather a pity that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, who moved the Amendment to this Motion, issued a moving appeal to try to regain the confidence of the African, and then proceeded to make a speech almost every word of which was calculated to destroy any confidence any African might have in the British Government. It seems to me a most deplorable thing to do. I know it was done with great sincerity, but I can assure him that the effect which his words will have in Africa will be the precise reverse of what he said it was our duty on both sides of this House to do—to restore the confidence of the African in this country, which means in the Government of this country. I would also, in passing, deplore this idea of a personal attack on the Colonial Secretary. Noble Lords opposite must know, as well as we all do, that the present Colonial Secretary is known, liked, respected and trusted as few other men have ever been throughout every country of the Colonial world. We are extremely fortunate, and so are all the people of the various Colonies, to have had his guiding hand during these difficult years. No doubt it does exemplify the words: They that dig foundations dig fateful realms to rise upon; little credit shall they reap from their generation"— certainly not from noble Lords on the other side of this House.

I suggest—and I cannot say it often enough—that irresponsible words in this House mean a tremendous amount abroad in the Colonies. Hansard is read and published in sections far more in many of our Colonies than it ever is in this country. What is recorded in Hansard is better known in the Colonies than in this country. Many of those words spoken in this connection are just encouraging disorder and undermining the morale of the Colonial Service, the co-operative African who wishes to work with the British Government, the local government, the police and security forces. The evil effect is immense. And for what? Why is this done? The Colonial Secretary is not likely to be butchered to make a Socialist holiday, even in an Election year, and I suggest that the subject is far too important for that kind of thing. Many other speakers have deplored this and it is a pity that these affairs have any political tinge at all.


My Lords, before the noble Lord goes on, would he say what he considers to be irresponsible talk? Would he consider any criticism of the Government in power to be irresponsible and therefore undermining African confidence? Is that his thesis?


I think it would depend to a great extent on the nature of the criticism and the words in which it was expressed.

One of the principal reasons for the difficult situation confronting the Governor of Nyasaland on March 3 was the inadequacy of the forces at his disposal. It is easy to suggest that earlier drastic action to deal with the activities of Congress might have saved us this trouble. I am rather surprised that nobody has mentioned that fact. It was slightly mentioned by me and by the noble Marquess in an earlier debate this year, though it is not a suggestion I wish to make to-night: it is merely one line of approach to what actually was the situation he had to deal with.

The precept that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance applies not only to the individual citizens but also to the Government of any country, and when intimidation becomes as rife as it has been in Nyasaland. and in many other parts of Africa, during the past five or six years, then it is a question whether that growing tendency to encourage disorder and the practice of intimidation had not better be challenged at an early date, rather than wait until the inevitable result is an emergency which requires the use of unpredictable force in order to deal with it. I am not suggesting that that is what ought to have been done. I am not criticising the action of the Governor at all, because I am convinced that he was handicapped by the lack of necessary forces and resources, and that he probably had no alternative but to try to solve these difficulties by peaceful means; and the measure of his failure to do that was the measure of the hostility of Dr. Banda and his organisation because in the end it broke into this state of disorder.

In administrative life it is always dangerous to wait until the trouble is right for surgical treatment unless you are confident that you have adequate forces to prevent the situation from getting out of control. The inherent difficulties in such a situation are only too well known to me and prevent my making any facile criticism of that nature. I do not criticise the Governor in any way. I think he did the best possible thing that could be done in the circumstances which surrounded him. I should like to say that I heartily support him in all that he did, and that I have the deepest sympathy with the very vigorous reply which he wrote to the Commission's Report. Therefore I supoprt the Motion which is before the House, and I oppose the Amendment thereto.

8.25 p.m.


My Lords, at this time of night a speech is more likely to be judged by its length than by its content, but there are two things I would say, very briefly, about previous speeches which have been made, although unfortunately both noble Lords have now left the House. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, had some very wise and valuable things to say about intelligence, but it must not be thought that intelligence is always either copious or reliable. My experience in Cyprus was that I had barely any intelligence of any sort whatsoever and that the few scraps which I did get were not of a nature which I ever felt I could act upon.

The second thing which I must in conscience refer to is the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. It is not for me to say that it was a shocking speech. I can only say it shocked me, and shocked me profoundly. To use such words as those about the members of the Devlin Commission, that they were innocent, that they were naïve, that they were disingenuous and showed lack of scruple and were intellectually dishonest—those are not words that ought ever to have been used about Mr. Justice Devlin or his colleagues. And on top of this was thrown a stupid and ungenerous sneer about Mr. Justice Devlin because he had tried the Liberace case. It was, I think, an unworthy speech.

Much has been said about the action of the Prime Minister in accepting what he found favourable to his Party in the Devlin Report and rejecting what was unfavourable. The only point about that I want to stress is that I think he has been astute at the price of losing all claim to impartiality, and by so doing has increased African distrust. As things are, I feel that African confidence in the Government and Mr. Lennox-Boyd has been badly shaken, and at a time when, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, emphasised in a recent speech, all depends in Africa upon the creation and restoration of confidence. I say that bearing in mind what the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has said. I would always respect his opinion, but that is how I see the matter.

The Devlin Report whatever else may be said about it, even by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, was a sincere and honest document from which a new start in Nyasaland could have been made. The opportunity of making that new start is being lost. The chance of a fresh start has, in my opinion, been sacrificed to the retention of the Colonial Secretary. Paris may have been on one occasion worth a Mass, but I do not think that what we have lost in Nyasaland is worth the retention of any Minister. Mr. Justice Devlin commands a respect such as the Government, I feel, have lost by their prejudiced treatment of his Report; and as a message read in the debate in the other place yesterday shows, that loss of confidence is not confined to the Africans in Nyasaland. A cable was read from a highly responsible businessman in Nyasaland saying that he profoundly disapproves of the Government treatment of the Report, and I have very little doubt that there are other Europeans there who share his views.

I notice, of course, that the Government have forgotten all about the murder plot. I want to say nothing more about that than this: I am not interested in how many times the word "murder" or "massacre" was used by the Colonial Secretary and his junior Minister in the debate when the so-called plot was reported, but they spoke in terms which enabled the Press—not only what is called the excitable Press, or sometimes "the yellow Press", but papers of very great standing indeed—to come out with lurid banner headlines such as "Massacre Planned", "Massacre Day March 4th, 1959". It is not a question of how many times the words were used in the other place; the point is that the words were used in such a way as to enable the Press to start this matter off on the footing of these headlines, and consequently it has always been discussed in an atmosphere of exaggeration. I am not surprised that the Government are embarrassed, and have been embarrassed, by the Devlin Report. I think it is a most embarrassing document, and one which is, as I have said, likely to destroy African confidence in the white man's government, and so likely to stimulate that very disobedience which, we are told, the state of emergency was proclaimed to nip in the bud. Then again, it is a Report which endorses practically 100 per cent. the opposition amongst Nyasaland Africans to federation at a particular time when the Government are preparing to push on, if they are spared, with federation.

What the Report says about federation and the opposition to federation must be extremely uncomfortable for the Government. Indeed, it says many things that must be highly distasteful to the Government. As regards the statement that Nyasaland is temporarily a police state, I myself attach perhaps more importance to some words which follow the words "a police state"—namely: increasingly intolerant of any opposition on Western and democratic lines. Nyasaland is a British Protectorate—and this is the state the Commission tell us has become a police state.

The Report says that the Governor felt himself confronted by an emergency in face of which the Government had "either to act or to abdicate". I will not quarrel with those words, but such an emergency does not "blow up" overnight—it develops only over a considerable time, stage by stage; and I feel, especially in view of what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said about intelligence, that the Governor ought to have been aware at a much earlier date than he seems to have been of what was "blowing up", so that he could have taken or advised remedial measures in good time. I feel that perhaps he either did not have the authentic information which he should have had, or too readily accepted information which he ought not to have believed. I think it must have been one of the two things. At any rate we know that he based his actions upon reports of the massacre or murder plot which we now know to be discredited; he based his action upon information now known to have been not creditable.

If the Government are disconcerted, as I feel they must be by the Devlin Report, they must reflect that it is a genie which they themselves let out of the bottle. They were asked to appoint a political Commission. The proposal was rejected in favour of a high-powered, independent tribunal under a High Court Judge. The Government may now be feeling a little rueful about their decision. A political Commission would have been composed of Conservative and Labour members; I feel that its Report would hardly have been unanimous, but at any rate the language employed would have been of a softer nature than the language used by the Devlin Commission, which seems tingled with a little asperity, if I may put it mildly. I cannot think, for instance, that a political Commission composed of both Parties would have found itself using such a phrase as a "police state". I feel that, somehow, that would have been softened away. But of course such a Commission would not have carried the judicial authority of the Devlin Commission. The public, reading the Devlin Report, or summaries of it, will say, "Here is what men with no political axes to grind found in Nyasaland. We can believe what they say." That, I think, will be the public comment.

I do not know whether Mr. Lennox-Boyd advocated the judicial Commission—I do not suppose I shall ever know; but if he did, I can only remind him of words from Shakespeare's Hamlet which are as follows: For 'tis sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard. "Hoist" the Colonial Secretary certainly has been; and he must not begrudge the Opposition their sport. The Colonial Secretary got a majority in another place, but he has not a majority in Nyasaland, which is where he wants it. The Conservatives have cheered him to the echo in another place, but if we are to have a General Election he will certainly not have made the task of the Conservative Party any easier. I would not call him or the Government "squalid" which I felt was a most inappropriate word to use in the debate yesterday. But I do say that his personality disinclines him to listen to any advice other than that which he gives himself. I once read that his ambition has been to stay at the Colonial Office longer than Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. Of course that is a most honourable ambition. But the question is not how long a Colonial Secretary stays at the Colonial Office, but what he does during his period of office. Mr. Lennox-Boyd has not been entirely successful.

Finally I ask: When will Nyasaland cease to be a police state? When will the return to normality begin? On exactly what grounds is the continuance of the emergency justified at this time? When will the progressive release of detainees begin? As for the detention of Dr. Banda, if my words were to reach him I would only remind him that not once nor twice in our rough Colonial story has the detention camp proved to be the path to glory. What can happen in Africa may possibly be somewhat disconcerting to the Colonial Secretary, but it is also undoubtedly deeply painful and mortifying to those who are jealous of our good name abroad. I feel sick at heart when I think, for instance, of Hola—but we are not discussing that at the moment—and, of African detainees being dismissed with the term "sub-human," a phrase which ought never to have been used. I hope that, when he thinks of Africa, the Prime Minister may remember how events gradually, but resolutely, threw us out of India, and the appalling loss of life in India by which a too long delayed decision and too hasty arrangements at the end marred our withdrawal. The only policy which will now avail us in Africa is one fully in line with modern ideas, about racial relations and about the rights and dignity of the human being, whatever his race or colour.

In this connection, let me say that I do not at all care for some of the advice that has come out of Southern Rhodesia; and in particular I remember the last speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Malvern, in this House, which I thought a most unfortunate speech—and I know it very considerably disconcerted many of my noble friends. We are supposed to stand for ideas and principles in Africa which represent the opposition to the barbaric and uncivilised racial policy of apartheid. We cannot afford to be associated with some things that have happened lately or with basing actions on trumped-up stories about murder plots. If the General Election is to come, I can only say, in conclusion, that, if for no other reason, I pray that the Labour Party may be successful in order that we may get a modern, enlightened Colonial policy working in the Colonial Office.

8.41 p.m.


My Lords, I intervene in this debate only because last February and March during the emergency I was in Southern Rhodesia on a farm with a large quantity of Nyasa labour; therefore I should like to give just a few points from what we might call "the other end of the stick". In the first place we all thought that the action taken by the Territorial Governments was the most perfect example of locking the stable before the horse had walked out. This is rather unusual in British history. If only it had happened in Kenya, what a lot of horrors would never have taken place, and how many lives, both black and white, would have been saved! There is certainly no fear of massacre among the white population, but there was great uneasiness, even before March, among the Nyasas. They merely said that they were frightened to go back to Nyasaland. They would be forced to join the Congress, and not only would that cost them a shilling if they did, but probably they would get a beating if they did not. On the other hand, if they did not go, some witch would cast an evil eye on their wife and that would be even worse; so they were in a dilemma.

I submit that the result of this, the banning of the Congress and the declaration of the state of emergency, was to the advantage just as much of the black man as it was of the white; in fact, more so. After the emergency the Southern Rhodesian Government organised a broadcast in Chananga for the benefit of the Africans. I recollect being in a shed with all the available Nyasa boys, and we listened. When it was announced that Dr. Banda had been arrested, all the Nyasa boys just shook with laughter. I really could not see the joke myself; but, anyhow, it was better than bursting into tears, which probably many people in this country would have expected. But, of course, the African has a rather peculiar sense of humour. The thing that really amuses him is when one of his friends either gets hurt or makes a fool of himself.

I should like to impress on your Lordships the complete inaccuracy of the viewpoint that the white settler out there is out to exploit the African. As your Lordships know, our race is the most soft-hearted one in the world towards both man and beast. We have only to look at our regulations on cruelty, et cetera, which are so different from those on the Continent, to appreciate that. Those Englishmen, Scotsmen and Irish-men who have gone out there are our kith and kin. In fact, one might almost say they are selected kith and kin, because no criminals or lunatics or mental defectives are allowed in the Federation; they, unfortunately, have to remain in Britain. To go back to the question of these white men, what they have done for the good of that country and its inhabitants is, to my mind, past comprehension. Consider erosion alone: a great deal of the country would have been washed away by now if it had not been carefully conserved. There are now schools for practically every farm; they have been paid for by the farmers. There are clinics and district nurses to every group of inhabitants. Even superstition is being gradually dealt with, though it is very important, should any of the native wives have twins, that the district nurse arrive immediately; otherwise they are smothered, according to their regulations. Certainly I hope that should I have another life I am not born a twin in Nyasaland after all the whites have left.

I have travelled in the French, Belgian and Portuguese Colonies, where perhaps the African is more efficiently and even more equally treated, but certainly not so kindly; there is in witness of that the white scars on the black behinds, result- ing from the most trivial offences, such as not building a road straight. The African has great love and affection for his native commissioner, and rightly so. He asks his advice on all occasions. It was a calamitous mistake—and we should not be having this debate here today—that those native administrators were not allowed to expound the benefits of federation. When the natives who asked a question could not get a straight answer (as all your Lordships know, the native commissioners were not allowed to say one way or the other) they at once "smelt a rat", and that was the commencement of their opposition to federation.

To my mind, Nyasaland must always be a black man's State, run by black men as soon as they are sufficiently capable. But surely that is perfectly possible within the Federation. According to my encyclopædia, "Federation" means a group of states, locally autonomous but bound together under one authority for matters of common interest such as defence, economy, et cetera. Surely this idea of federation could be put across by our native commissioners, were they allowed to do so, especially if there is a gradually-phased introduction of more and more Africans into their Legislature as time goes on.

I heard two noble Lords opposite who were very incensed at the burning down of some thirty-eight huts, and even more as all the native possessions were therein. I do not know whether those noble Lords have ever put ther head in a native hut. I have; in fact I have slept in one. One lies on the floor with just a gourd to rest one's head on and one another way up to have a little water. In any case, those huts are always burned down once a year for hygienic reasons. I love Central Africa and most of the inhabitants, both white and black. It seems to me monstrous that, after all the close co-operation between these races during the past sixty years, some left-wing elements and newspapers in this country should approach the African like a wolf in sheep's clothing and try to exploit him—and it is a real exploitation—and unsettle him for what are purely political reasons.

8.51 p.m.


My Lords, I was not quite clear as to the purpose of the speech of the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat. So far as I could make out, he was harping on a well-known theme: that the African is a poor, ignorant fellow, quite incapable of looking after his own interests or of governing himself without a great deal of assistance from the parental white man—which is, of course, the kind of doctrine which has been preached, not only in Africa but in India and everywhere else, as a reason why native people should not be allowed to govern themselves.

For example, he referred to the fact that the soil of Africa would all have been washed away if it had not been for the precautions taken by the white people to prevent that happening. Well, the soil of America was being washed away in very large quantities by the white settlers in that continent until very recently. So that it is not only Africans who destroy their soil by not taking the proper precautions against erosion. Indeed, of course, the whites in Africa have done a very great deal to bring the African people to that state in which they are capable of self-government—just as, no doubt, the Roman conquerors did in this country 2,000 years ago. It is surely no discredit to the Africans that they can and do learn from the example of Western democracy. What seems to be objectionable to noble Lords opposite is that Africans should want to practise in their own country, on their own initiative, the philosophy and teaching of Western democracy. That, I think, is a sufficient answer to the arguments of the noble Lord.

My Lords, I should like to emphasise what has been said by more than one speaker in this debate—that is, the really quite ridiculous terms of the Motion which we are asked by the Government to accept in this debate to-day. It treats the Report of the Devlin Commission like the famous curate's egg, and welcomes those little bits which the Government find to their taste. I thought the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was a particularly good example of this kind of fishing in the Devlin Report for little bits which could be used to support his own case, while at the same time rejecting all those aspects of it which were not to his liking. Indeed, great as is the respect and admiration which I have for the noble Marquess, I have never heard him, in my view, in such poor form as he was this afternoon.

The whole tone of his speech seemed to me to be most unfortunate. He treated the Devlin Commission as if it were a set of Left-wing revolutionaries which had, so to speak, set out to foster a spirit of revolution in Central Africa. He kept on talking about its "admissions", as if it had been forced from time to time to admit that the Government's case was a good one. That seems to me to be quite absurd. He talked about its judicial atmosphere as opposed to an atmosphere of practical administration, as if a Judge who was accustomed only to sitting in the High Court of Justice and dealing with things more or less in vacuo, had been transferred into a situation where practical politics were involved and had proved himself quite incapable of dealing with that situation.

I would remind noble Lords that this Commission was, in fact, chosen by the Government; and that, while its Chairman is one of the most distinguished members of the Bench at the present time, it was by no means a one-man Commission. The other members, too, are all people of considerable experience in one way or another, and certainly are not violent revolutionaries. One of them is a man with great practical experience in local government; another a man who has risen to a very high position in the Colonial Service itself; and the third one who has had great experience in many ways. It was a group of men on whom one could rely for a balanced and sensible view. Indeed, I should have said that this was a conservative Report; the Report of a number of people with a conservative outlook. It is essentially a conservative document—what I would call a very fair-minded conservative document: not a document taking even a moderately Left-wing attitude towards the essential requirements of the African peoples to be brought into a position to govern themselves, and to be in that position pretty quickly.

I thought it was deplorable that the noble Marquess should have launched such an attack on the Congress Party in Nyasaland—which, after all, is the only vehicle of political expression which the politically advanced minority in Nyasaland, the existence of which is clearly brought out in the Report of the Commission, has. And it really does represent the people. After all, the five representatives who were elected to the Legislative Council were all members of the Congress Party. Therefore I should have thought it was clear to everybody that the Congress Party was doing a useful job of work in bringing the people of Nyasaland into a position of sufficient political maturity for them to govern themselves. The Congress Party in Nyasaland has been playing a rôle which is surely typical of rôles which are being played by similar Parties in all countries where there is a struggle for freedom going on.

One's mind goes back to the struggles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in our own country, when Pym and Hampden were the leaders of the Parliamentary Party, and were attacked in much the same sort of way by the Royalist Executive as Dr. Banda has been attacked by the Government in Nyasaland over the past weeks. One could bring in many analogies, but I will not bring in more than one other. One's mind goes back to the Indian National Party, which has almost exactly the same name and which furnishes a very close parallel, because that Party was proscribed by similar Conservative Governments in this country, and its leaders, Gandhi and Nehru, imprisoned for many years, just as this Congress Party in Nyasaland has been proscribed and its leaders are imprisoned now. The Congress Party in India has now for ten years been providing the Government of India, and, as we all know, Mr. Nehru, after many years in prison, has been the outstandingly great Prime Minister of that great country. It may well be that before very long we shall be welcoming Dr. Banda at Westminster as the Prime Minister of Nyasaland, and fêting him and providing special facilities in order that Members of both Houses of Parliament may have the pleasure and honour of meeting him.

So I was rather disappointed that the noble Marquess kept referring to Dr. Banda as an agitator, as a demagogue. It is a very easy word to use, and it has been used of many men of outstanding political ability, men who have given great service to the cause of Parliamentary Government and democracy in this country. I can remember, when I was a small boy, Mr. Lloyd George, in particular, being denounced from many a platform as being an agitator and a demagogue. Yet he was a great Prime Minister, one who, perhaps more than any one man, brought this country out of one of the greatest wars in which it has ever been involved. Exactly the same was being said about Mr. Gandhi over a very large part of his career; and yet, more than to anybody else, the credit of establishing self-government in India, and liberating India—because I think "liberating" is the right word to use—is due to that great man. I think the noble Marquess was himself a member of the Government which put Mr. Gandhi in gaol, and also put Mr. Nehru in gaol.

While I enjoyed and agreed with a great deal of the speech made by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, I would join issue with him on one point which he made, when he said that in his view the problem which confronted the Government, and which was discussed in the Devlin Report, was not a political problem at all but essentially a psychological problem. Surely, my Lords, that is a very short-sighted view of this matter. If there is anything in the world which is political it is the present situation in Nyasaland. After all, the whole of this business has been brought about by the fact that in 1960 there is to be a review of the constitutional position in the Federation. What was the reason why the Nyasaland National Congress Party was so concerned about the situation, except that it was apprehensive of that review in 1960? Is there anybody in this Chamber who will not agree that if there had been no agitation in Nyasaland over these last years the 1960 review would in due course have taken place, that Dominion status would have been conferred and that the Africans would then have had their last chance of getting any real self-government? What has been going on ever since 1953 has been a situation full of politics, and the problem which the Devlin Commission was asked to investigate and report upon was essentially a political problem.

In the wider sense of the term this is, us the most reverend Primate said, a problem which goes back many centuries in the history of liberty and in the his- tory of the self-government of people all over the world. In this matter, of course, he rightly emphasised that the people in Nyasaland have their eyes on what happens round about them; and particularly, as he said, what happens in Salisbury, where, as my noble Leader pointed out only the other day, African members of the Federal Government itself are not allowed to stay in the city of Salisbury overnight because of the racial segregation which exists in that place. The most reverend Primate might have said it is impossible for the educated and thoughtful people in Nyasaland not to look farther South than Salisbury, not to have their eye indeed on Pretoria itself. Because this is the festering sore which has given rise to the real problems which confront us throughout the continent of Africa. Till that sore is healed the situation will inevitably remain difficult in the Rhodesias and throughout Africa as a whole.

It is difficult to see any immediate solution. My contention is that it can be healed only by the Boer population of the Union of South Africa learning to treat their black fellow citizens as real human beings with rights in the political government of the country. If they cannot eventually find some way of doing this, in the long run the white population in South Africa will be driven into the sea. That is a sweeping statement, but it seems to me that it is as inevitably so as that the tide will flow up the estuary of the Thames tomorrow. It may be a long way away but I think it is certain and that is the difficulty we have to try to surmount in the Rhodesias and in those other parts of Africa where self-government has not yet been conferred. It is because people will always sell their lives for liberty.

It is no good denouncing violence. Violence is a most unpleasant thing, but it is endemic in all those parts of the world where self-government and freedom does not exist. We ourselves are people who have set an example to the world. It is we ourselves who have taught this—to the Americans, in the first instance, because Bunker Hill was a very good example of exactly the same sort of situation. We are ourselves the people who, by our own belief in freedom and our own readiness to fight for freedom, have taught other people in the world, if they needed any teaching, how valuable freedom is and how necessary it is in the long run to be ready to fight for it.

We cannot buy off this demand for self-government and for freedom by the material inducements which are held out to the people of Nyasaland through federation. I have no doubt at all that federation is a very good thing from the point of view of the prosperity of this area of Africa, and if the people of those parts wanted it for themselves surely it would be right that they should have it. But they do not want it. If there is anything clear in the Devlin Report it is that the mass of the people in Nyasaland are resolutely opposed to federation—not only what one may describe as the Left-wing politicians but even the chieftains, the old rulers who are now in effect in the payment of the British Government. It is perfectly clear that they are just as much opposed to federation as the Banda politicians.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt him a moment? Would he advise the Africans, the Congress leaders in Nyasaland, to forgo the educational and the social advantages which flow from the economic advantages of federation? Would he advise them to go ahead without them?


I think it is up to this country to provide them with education and the requirements for bringing themselves abreast. I do not think that we in this country can really insist on the people of Nyasaland getting their education and the other requirements of a modern country by means of forcing them into a Federation. They themselves have said, in the words of the Devlin Report, that they would rather be poor than slaves, and if we had to choose I am sure we should choose the same way. But I do not believe that there is any such dilemma. I believe it is perfectly possible for the people of Nyasaland to have an educational system and to have a farming industry brought up to a high level in the same way that has been done in other parts of the British Commonwealth, without insistence upon this federal solution.


My Lords, that being so, would the noble Lord be against transferring to the British tax- payer the £3 million a year now contributed to Nyasaland by the Rhodesian taxpayer?


No, my Lords, I would not. I think that even this country, through the Commonwealth Development Corporation and in various ways, are now paying back to the Colonial parts of the Empire some of the riches which have been taken from them over hundreds of years.


Will the noble Lord say what riches we have taken from Nyasaland, which is not a viable country?


The noble Lord cannot deny that this country has exploited the resources of many Colonial parts of the world. No doubt we have made returns, and returns of value, but it is ridiculous to suggest that the high standard of living in this country is not partially due to the fact that we have taken a great deal of Colonial produce from the Colonies.


My Lords, we are now talking about Nyasaland, if the noble Lord would confine himself to that subject. We have taken nothing from Nyasaland, which is not a viable country.


The British Commonwealth is a co-operative institution. We have taken a great deal of money out of Northern Rhodesia, which is next door to Nyasaland, over the last twenty years, and surely it would not be too much to ask the British people to give some of that money back to the poor people of Nyasaland in order to build that country up into a rich farming community. If the noble Lord had been able to see the sandy soil of Northern Denmark 150 years ago, when it could not have produced any kind of crops, he would not have made the same sort of remark which he is now making about Nyasaland. I claim that if it is possible for Denmark to build up agriculture in such an area it is possible that Nyasaland could be built up in the same way.


My Lords, the noble Lord says that we have exploited all our Colonial territories for a long time, and that we ought now to be giving back what has been taken. He might advise the leaders of his own Party to suggest to the British electors at the next Election that their standard of living should be reduced in order to do so. That is what the noble Lord is saying. It is an observation which is quite untrue and he should follow it out or not say it.


My Lords, the noble Lord should realise that this country has acquired a great deal of its wealth from exploiting the Colonial territories. I have no hesitation in addressing the electors on these problems. My mind can go back to 1906 when the Conservative Party were thrown out as a result of Chinese cheap labour being brought into the South African mines as slaves. The British people rejected that with no uncertain voice at the polls, and it may well be that before the noble Lord is finished he will see them respond with an equally firm voice at the next General Election.

I do not want to pursue this topic in too much detail. It could be argued about for a long time. My submission is that we cannot buy off the people of Nyasaland by material inducements, by the thirty pieces of silver—the £3 million, if you prefer that—which have been offered to them to enter this system of federation. It is a mere mess of pottage. It is a situation which, as the most reverend Primate said, has been recurring throughout the ages. What we have to try to do, as the most reverend Primate said, is to discover some sort of method by which the harm which has been done by this enforcement of federation in 1953 can be undone, so that the confidence of the people of Nyasaland can be restored. It is no easy thing to do, to unscramble the omelette. It seems to me essential that no further progress should be made towards the establishment of some kind of Dominion in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland until a great deal more progress has been made in creating self-government in each of the three constituent States, and perhaps particularly in Nyasaland, which is the most essentially African of the three.

I was glad to hear from the persuasive speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House the other day that, to some extent, the Government are impressed by what has been happening over the last weeks and are much less enthusiastic about going ahead with the Commonwealth side of this business than they appeared to be very recently. I could have wished that something a little more concrete had come out of that speech in the way of building up a feeling of greater confidence in Nyasaland. The noble Earl kept on repeating how necessary that was, but it seemed to me that his speech was rather barren from the point of view of showing how it was to be done. It seems to me that the only solution is to go ahead much more rapidly with the Africanisation of the Government in Nyasaland. I hope that the Devlin Report will persuade your Lordships that that is the right road to go along, and that as a result of all these uncertain difficulties substantial progress will be made in conferring self-government upon the great mass of people in Nyasaland during the next months and years.

9.18 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has returned, because I feel that I must preface my remarks by saying how strongly I deprecate the personal attack he made on the characters of the members of the Commission. I feel that the great reputation that Mr. Justice Devlin has in the legal profession should have protected him, as well as his colleagues, from the charge of intellectual dishonesty. There is only one member of the Commission whom I know personally, Sir John Ure Primrose; and I know him very well indeed. He is a most remarkable man who enjoys the confidence and respect of all Scotland. He has not merely been the Lord Provost of Perth. He was sent out to Queensland to investigate their groundnuts scheme. During the war he did intellgence work, and for decades he has been a working farmer, getting up literally at four o'clock in the morning to milk his own cows. Anyone less like a starry-eyed, woolly-minded intellectual it would be very hard to find.

I feel some regret that Her Majesty's Government should have been so sensitive to those portions of the Report with which they are not in agreement, because the Government have an excellent case, so good that they need not have been disturbed by these portions which they found unpalatable. In my view—and I have listened to the whole of all but two of the speeches made this after- noon; and, indeed, to parts of those two—a tremendous amount of time has been wasted this afternoon in discussing whether there was or was not a wholesale murder plot. As the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, specifically speaking for his Party, agreed, there was an emergency which required the taking of action suitable for an emergency. Surely it could have been left at that, and we need not have had so much talk as there has been by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and many others about whether there was or was not a formal plot to murder all those who were not in accordance with the views of Congress, at least among the white settlers.

The only other point upon which there was any real difference of opinion seemed to me to be this question of the police state—an unfortunate expression, undoubtedly. But I do not myself see why for a short time there should not have been a police state. We were faced there with an emergency which had to be dealt with drastically, and which involved, most unfortunately, the loss of the lives of over fifty of Her Majesty's African subjects; and in most cases, although possibly not in all, firing seems to have been justified as the sole way of preserving law and order and saving many other lives. At the same time, I could not share the complacency of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in their enthusiasm for their comparison with Defence Regulation 18B, because, however necessary that was during the war. I have always regarded it as a most disagreeable necessity. I do not like at any time to see British subjects imprisoned, possibly for years, without having been brought to trial, whether they be white or black, be they here or in Africa.

The position in which we find ourselves to-day is one in which I think less attention should be paid to what has happened in the past in Nyasaland and more to what may and can happen in the future. It has to be realised that, politically speaking, black Africa is on the march and could not be stopped even with atom bombs. It is my firm belief that within a period of time, varying very much so far as the different countries are concerned, but in few, if any, instances going further than the end of this century, we shall see all countries of Africa governed by their populations as a whole and not just by the white majority—and in that I include the Union of South Africa. We cannot halt this nationalistic trend, even if we want to do so. But we can, if we are wise, direct it into such channels as will be of the greatest advantage to white and black alike.

So far as Nyasaland is concerned, the cause of its opposition to federation has strangely enough been mentioned by only one of your Lordships to-night—namely, the noble Lord, Lord Forester, who said, perfectly correctly, that the real cause of the trouble was that the district commissioners and other officers were forbidden to expound the virtues of federation; they were allowed only to put it before the Africans. And that state of affairs, I would remind the Opposition, occurred in their time. Had federation been, to use the vernacular, "plugged" at that time, we should not have been in the position in which we are to-day. The African is a simple soul and usually uneducated. He has been used to taking from his white commissioners and other officers all sorts of instructions, which he sometimes thought were quite remarkably silly, but which he usually found later to be of the greatest possible advantage to him: things like inoculating himself and his animals, land conservation, et cetera—although it is on record that in Nyasaland we have not yet fully persuaded them of the advantages of various forms of soil conservation which are very necessary there. The result has been that, in the words of one man of great experience in Africa (he told me this personally), at the present time it would take machine guns to put Nyasaland forcibly into a Federation if that Federation attained Dominion status.

It would be completely wrong for me in the short time at my disposal to-night to try to explain, as I see it, why the natives of Nyasaland do not like the idea of federation. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, pointed out that the cause was given by the Commission, and he seemed to think that that was entirely a wrong thing to do. I do not think it was. I think that in the fullness of time, in some future debate, we shall have to investigate closely the position of white and black in Rhodesia; because it is there that arises without doubt, rightly or wrongly, this disinclination, to put it mildly, on the part of the Nyasaland African to federation. In the meantime, what is to be done?

The most helpful suggestion came undoubtedly from the noble Lord, Lord Twining. Here I would say that I think it is most unfortunate that the order of arranging the speeches to-day was such that the House was practically empty when everyone who had any personal knowledge of Africa was speaking. I hope that that will not occur again. The noble Lord, Lord Twining, made various suggestions, most of which seemed to me from my quite small knowledge, to be apt. But I do think we ought to make it clear to the African inhabitants of Nyasaland that we will not put them compulsorily under a Federation if that Federation is given Dominion status. If we do, I am convinced that we shall be asking for the most appalling trouble.

What we wish to bring about in Central Africa is a multi-racial community; and that we can have. The West Indies have shown that you can have black and white and other colours living together in amity. You can have a small white population still owning by far the greatest amount of the wealth and riches of a country and still not have many colour problems; and you can have what many people will not believe, but what the recent Federal elections in Jamaica—not the local elections that took place yesterday, but the Federal elections—showed to be possible; that is, white candidates, if they are the right people, returned by Negro votes against Negro candidates. That will take a lot of building up in Africa, but it has to come if we are to have peace and progress. I hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government will do something, if not to-day in the early future, to assuage the fears of the native population of Nyasaland, so that they will not be frightened that any further development of federation will mean their being put into the state of slavery which they anticipate, however wild and ill-founded their fears may be.

9.28 p.m.


My Lords, we are just coming to the end of a long debate which did not start to-day or yesterday but started about two weeks ago when it was first learned that the Devlin Report had been printed. It was said of the Beveridge Report that there were three schools of thought about it: there were those who were for it, those who were against it, and those who had read it. Well, I think one can take it for granted that we in this House have all read this Report—and if we have not, we have had it read to us. The newspapers, in spite of their immensely diminished space, have given the fullest coverage. I do not think anybody could claim that Britain was not interested in Nyasaland. I am going to take up very little of your Lordships' time to-night, but what I am going to say is speaking as one who was once a District Officer in Africa, not in Nyasaland, it is true, but in Uganda, which is not too incomparable—and, incidentally, as a junior colleague of the noble Lord, Lord Twining, who went on to many greater glories and eventually to become Governor of Tanganyika.

I could not follow the proposition of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, or agree with it for one moment, that because the Devlin Report was judicial we were not able to disagree with it. I follow the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, on this: that the purpose of that Report and others like it is to clarify the issues—and he added: "Legal niceties of the law court sometimes conflict with the harsh realities of administration." We all agree on one thing; that is, the urgent need to restore peace in Africa as soon as possible. Here I must take up a small point with my noble friend Lord Mansfield, who has just sat down. He mentioned the West Indies as an example of what could be done. It is a splendid example of what can be done, as long as it is realised that you cannot take that example too far. In the West Indies every man speaks English and professes the Christian religion, and there is no question of which has a prior claim to the country, because when the white man came he brought the black man with him. Let us hope we can get that harmony in Africa we have in the West Indies, but let us remember it is not too comparable a proposition.

I think all of us, on both sides, will agree that to keep the peace and protect the lives and properties of the citizens of a country is the first duty of a Government. I believe, as the Commission does, that Sir Robert Armitage's action saved probably a great many lives. No one will ever entirely agree as to the precise moment that such action must be taken, but I believe that he could not have put it off another moment. Unlike all those who discuss the matter, he alone had this gigantic responsibility on his shoulders, and he was equal to it.

Let me say just one word as one who lived and served in Africa some years ago. On the whole sphere of politics in Africa you cannot generalise about Africa, except on a certain few lines, but, in the main, it is true to say that in our African territories the best African brains go either into the Civil Service or the professions or, latterly, in some territories, into business. It does not leave the best intellects in the country free for politics. In spite of the economic effects of federation which I think are not disputed, the people of Nyasaland are still very poor, taking the average man on the soil, and one of the greatest hardships of poverty is boredom. People turn in those countries to politics for excitement, light relief and amusement, as much as for anything else. That, of course, militates against the moderate politician. You are not going to walk a long way to listen to a man making a moderate speech if you can have a splendid piece of flamboyant agitation. It is a sign that Kenya is growing to a much greater stage of political maturity that that is ceasing to be true there.

When you come to set up as a politician, what is the easiest creed in the world to preach?—nationalism, the oldest and most reactionary political force we know, and none the worse for being either of those two things. But it is something with which you can inflame almost any people, because you get at a feeling which is only just under the skin of even the oldest and most civilised races, as well as the most backward. Nationalism is not necessarily bad, and it is not necessarily good. It is just as good as the intentions of the people who are flying its flag at that moment. There are some nationalisms with which we do not agree. We do not agree with Hitler, who strewed the world with human wreckage. Most Members of your Lordships' House would not agree with the nationalism of Pretoria. On the other hand, you may agree with a lot of other nationalisms. In my own country of Scotland we have had a great many different kinds of nationalism in the last 500 or 600 years which have contributed in many different ways to our history.

As the Commission pointed out, in Africa violence is an acceptable alternative to persuasion, and the first group that gets formed and gets momentum will naturally try to intimidate its rivals. I have seen it. Eventually, they will take that intimidation so far that only the bravest man will dare to stand in their way. Then, when we in this country read the papers we see that a political movement is sweeping the country and that nobody is standing up to disagree with it. So the citizens of this country, who have never been in Africa, say, "Here is a clear majority. If they are the majority, why are they not the Government?" That is possibly where the clear-sightedness of the ordinary Briton breaks down—the conditions of Africa are so very different. In the Commission's Report the word "arson" is mentioned. They said that arson was a facient weapon of intimidation. They went on to say—which I think was most remarkable—something to the effect that if an African lost his house it was a bad thing to be homeless and to lose everything. They missed the point altogether. Arson is the most devastating weapon among African peoples. A handful of hot embers in an oily rag thrust into the thatch of a native hut will not take fire until the perpetrator is a long way away. If you and your family are asleep, when that happens, you will never get out alive. That is a terrible weapon, and indeed there are others.

Nyasaland's political climate, like much else of Africa, is like a forest full of dry tinder. Much has been said and argued for and against Dr. Banda and his Congress Party, but nothing can change this fact: that if he did not intend by a deliberate act to set this forest on fire, he was himself going round and casually dropping lighted matches, and countenancing his lieutenants in doing the same. The prime duty of a Government is to preserve life and we could not let it go on.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in a very strange speech, which he will forgive me for saying touched reality at very few points, sees Dr. Banda and his Party as having "a useful rôle", and he added a little later that violence is endemic in Africa. During all this stress and strain, the fabric of the government and the administration of Nyasaland has remained intact, and it is a very great credit to those concerned that it has. I am very sorry for the district commissioners there and, as the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, said so entirely truly, their difficulties and the whole suspicion of federation and, indeed, of Britain go back to the point when they were ordered to act entirely out of character. People there have been used to receiving the instructions—


My Lords, how does the noble Lord think that political maturity can possibly be obtained in conditions of that sort?


I will come to that in a moment, if the noble Lord will bide his soul in peace. The district commissioners were told that they must not take sides; they must just throw the subject out for debate. The African was astonished at first, and then became gravely suspicious. What did the commissioner mean by acting out of character like that? There must be a catch to it somewhere. As we all know, they believe that there is a catch to it still. I think the D.C.'s and the chiefs have the worst time, because in the main they are so much more isolated. The Colonial Service, I think one can say, is a sturdy British mixture of idealism and common sense.

I do not excuse any brutality that can be proved to have taken place. But I can see the picture of their difficulties through the eyes of the men who were trying to cope with them. Let me, at any rate, pay the fullest possible tribute to them. They have attracted a lot of criticism. Worse than that, they have attracted slander, and this is an opportunity which I will take to deal with this problem. I raise this now because two newspapers and an honourable Member in another place raised it, and it worried me deeply. I went to lengths to find out the answers.

There was a man by the name of Thomas Kafua, who it was alleged, was the main informer who told the police officials of the murder and assassination planned by Congress; and his statements, it was alleged, were the basis of a memorandum about the Congress plans; secondly, that the statements that he gave to the police were actually prepared by the police themselves beforehand, and that he was forced to sign them. Your Lordships can imagine how concerned I was as, indeed, will be any noble Lords hearing me now. Both these allegations are totally untrue, as an investigation of the facts clearly shows. Mr. Kafua did not make any statement to the police of any kind until after his arrest and detention on March 5. As the Devlin Report shows, together with the Governor's Despatch, the Governor's assessment of the plans came from seven informers, independently before that date. Mr. Kafua was not one of the seven men and his evidence, such as it was, was not therefore taken into account by the Governor in reaching his decision. That is sufficient to nail the first allegation.

The second, that the police prepared the statement, and that he was then asked, and forced to sign it is equally untrue. The facts are that Mr. Kafua wrote a note asking for an interview with the C.I.D. officer on March 5. He wrote another note and got an interview on the 6th. As a result of these two letters, he was interviewed by the police officers and gave his story. In other words, as an informant he was unknown to the police before March 6, and anything he said was merely corroborative detail. At no stage was he forced to sign any statement whatever, and at no stage was any pressure brought upon him or any inducement offered.

I have nailed those two slanders. There is another. It was alleged last night in another place—I know that we have careful rules of politeness, but I wish to take a load off the mind of the honourable Member who made the allegation as he must have been very worried at such a state of affairs—that, in fact, the police, having produced a false confession and made him sign it, then produced a "model Court" so that he could practice giving his evidence, so that he could do it with great polish in front of the Devlin Commission. I am sure it will be a load off the mind of Mr. Stonehouse to realise that it is a total fabrication.

There is a second point in paragraph 36. It may seem a small point to some, but it seems big to me. You see the expression "loyal chiefs" and "loyal" in inverted commas, apparently as being something spurious or ridiculous. Why the inverted commas? Is loyalty considered to be an out-dated quality? These chiefs took the most immense risks because they were loyal to the way of life we have tried to bring to them. They believed in it and stood up for it. When Charles II came to the throne, as you may remember from the history books, he passed an Act of Indemnity and Oblivion; in other words, he pardoned everybody except the regicides. Charles II rather forgot his old friends, and years after that they called it an Act of Indemnity for his enemies and Oblivion for his friends. If we ever show oblivion towards our friends we shall not last long in Africa.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, asked me how under the district commissioner system anybody could learn parliamentary democracy in Nyasaland. The pipeline in Nyasaland, with its now vastly expanded educational facilities, is gradually filling up, but it will be quite a long time in Nyasaland before you get a class anywhere near to Dr. Banda in education. I mention Dr. Banda, not in approval, but merely because he is an educated man. You cannot jump into a one-man-one-vote assembly straight from the D.C. system. We all know that there are many sad misconceptions in Nyasaland which cause this dislike of federation and dislike of so much else. We must patiently try to dispel these misconceptions. But one thing that you cannot do is to legislate to fit a misconception. I put enormous hope in the constitutional Commission. It has been said that any African who sits on it will be a "stooge." He will be merely guilty of the crime of putting his country before his party. Happily we have many like that in these two Houses of Parliament. We feel that the more that goes in Nyasaland the better. I do not see Africa as being in a hopeless state. I see hope in Africa, if we show real good- will and keep our heads and hold out a hand of friendliness when they hold it out to us.

9.45 p.m.


My Lords, it has been my good fortune to hear every word of every speech uttered in this debate, except for a few moments of that of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, from which I had his courteous permission to be excused. Your Lordships have agreed on one thing: that an infinite number of issues have been raised. And indeed the last two speeches alone, of my noble friends Lord Mansfield and Lord Tweedsmuir, opened great vistas on the wider problems. But I am going to try, as shortly as I can, to deal with the points which, looking at this after-noon's debate as a whole, have given most trouble to your Lordships.

Before I do that I want to do two things in which, although the Opposition Amendment would omit reference to them from the Motion, I am sure I shall have the support of your Lordships. The first is to say that it is no mere figure of speech in which our Motion thanks the Chairman and the members of the Commission for their work. They had a most difficult task. They were dealing with a subject on which they must have known that feelings would be deeply aroused, and of the controversy bound to be engendered. They were dealing with it largely in a strange country and in difficult conditions. In my view, they performed their task with speed, industry, distinction and complete sincerity.

The other point, which again I think your Lordships would all want me to make, is that we have been discussing, and it was inevitable that we should be discussing, the causes of these happenings. It might appear, and it might appear to some of your Lordships when I develop my own argument, that in discussing the causes of the deaths we have forgotten the deaths themselves. I am sure that is untrue of everyone in your Lordships' House, but I think one ought to register that point. The fact of this number of deaths is a thing which is in all our minds and underlines the seriousness with which we approach the problem in front of us.

I do want to say a word as to the limits which the Commission set for themselves in the task before them. I think there is some misconception on the part of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, and indeed on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, as to our approach. I would remind your Lordships again of those limits which the Commission set themselves. Perhaps your Lordships will just consider once more what they said in paragraph 4, on page 3: …we do not regard it as any part of our task to express views on questions of policy or, except where we think that on the facts there can only be one conclusion, to judge of the wisdom or otherwise of the measures adopted by the Government. They go on to say: But the task with which you entrusted us was to report and not to make recommendations. We have aimed at setting out all the relevant facts as objectively as we can in order that those whose responsibility it is to approve or disapprove may be provided with a firm basis of fact for their deliberations. That puts the ball right back, first in the court of the Government and then in the court of Parliament; and it is for the Government to state their view and for Parliament to say whether that is right.

The other point is this: that in the ordinary way—and this has been the practice (I have taken the trouble to find out) of Governments of every political colour—the practice is that after an occurrence and an inquiry a Report is made. There is then obtained the Governor's view on that Report; and in the ordinary way the Governor is given ample time—weeks; or it may be months—to consider the position. Then, of course, his views come back, and on that the home Government consider the position in turn. That was done on several occasions by the Labour Government when they were in office; and in this situation—we know that Parliament is adjourned in the ordinary way at the end of July—we had to cut short the period of study by the Governor and ourselves; we had to get his despatch in order that this matter might be debated and ventilated in Parliament. That is a procedure which is not only justifiable by the past, it is a procedure which is right. But on the point which has been raised to-day, it was necessary surely for us to get the Governor's Report and then consider the matter as we have done.

As I said, I want to deal with the issues which have aroused most interest. I want to base what I say on the Commission's own statements and then to submit to your Lordships that they justify to the full the terms of our Resolution. Whatever our views, it must be a matter of satisfaction to everyone that the Commission support the views of the Governor on three vital points. First (and your Lordships will note that in this they expect everyone to agree), that the Government of Nyasaland had to act and use emergency powers. There has been no question of that in the debate. Your Lordships will find it clearly stated in paragraph 149. Secondly, that the situation was the result of the adoption of a policy of violence by the Nyasaland African Congress. I venture to trouble your Lordships with just two short references to that. The last sentences of paragraph 100 say: Perhaps the effect of it all can best be summed up by saying that there was to be an all-out campaign to defy the Government, violence not excluded. When would the violence begin, how far would it go and what form exactly would it take? The only answer is that it would depend on what happened. If it started in some places and was not checked, it would certainly have spread and might have gone very far; that was the real danger in the situation. My Lords, that is what the Commission find.

The noble Viscount who leads the Opposition put it to us that we were dealing really with a rather harsh treatment of people in a political Party. That is poles apart from that. If your Lordships look again at the first sentence (it is a very short one) of paragraph 166, you will see these words: When we had reached the conclusion that a policy of violence was adopted at the meeting and that Mr. Chipembere, Mr. Chisiza, and the Congress leadership generally was a party to it… There is violence; the leadership a party to it. That is what the Commission have found. That is the position which we have got to deal with.

The third point, which again is of vital importance, is that the Commission have found that the decision of the Governor was his own and was not carried out under pressure. Your Lordships will see that at the end of paragraph 160. I hope that what has been said today about the acceptance of the Report means that the Opposition in your Lordships' House withdraw the suggestions made so irresponsibly in other places that Sir Robert Armitage acted under pressure from Sir Roy Welensky, and that he abdicated his responsibilities to the Federal Government and the Federation. The Commission have made clear that that did not happen, and we go forward with that as the agreed state of facts to regard the future of this intractable problem.

I come to the point that has been discussed at considerable length to-day. That is the question: was there a murder plot or a loose plan to kill? What is perfectly clear—and I ask the noble Viscount to consider this when he is treating this as an exercise of a political Party—is that there was a decision to use violence and to kill people if they came in the way of the plan. The two views are most clearly summarised, if your Lordships will this time forgive me, in paragraphs 25 and 26 of the Governor's despatch. He said in paragraph 25 that the Commission— found that at the emergency conference of the Congress on 25th January. 1959, 'there was talk of beating and killing Europeans, but not of cold-blooded assassination or massacre'. They also did not think that there was 'anything that can be called a plot, nor, except in a very loose sense of the word, a plan'. That is a quotation from the Report at paragraph 168. Then the Governor puts his own view—your Lordships will consider it: So far as I and the Government of Nyasaland are concerned, no distinction is to be drawn between 'talk of beating and killing Europeans' and talk of 'cold-blooded assassination or massacre'. If it was the intention of the Commission to seek to differentiate in this respect between different types of murder, then I must confess myself unable to appreciate the distinction. Massacre may be a matter of numbers, but murder is murder whether you call it killing or assassination. What was important from my point of view was not whether there was just talk of killing Europeans or talk of cold-blooded, or for that matter hot-blooded, assassination or massacre, but whether there was a real threat to the lives of Europeans and Africans as a result of the adoption by Congress of a policy of violence. Let us consider it from three points of view. Let us consider it first from the point of view of what was said. I am not collecting "plums"; I am taking this Report as it is shown as a whole. Let us take what was said first of all. If your Lordships will look at paragraph 34 of the Governor's Despatch you will see what was said by the various Congress Leaders, and in each case the reference is given to the Report and your Lordships can check any one you like. We have the remark …pointed to another African and said that 'when they spilt the Europeans' blood they would spill his.' Mr. Chisiza then says that if Great Britain did not give way the whole country is going to be in blood-shed. He says that they will create disturbances from Port Herald to Karonga even if it means every person in the country dies. After all, my Lords, Mr. Chisiza was said to be, or was described by the Commission as, a sort of bodyguard to Dr. Banda. Then Mr. Chipembere says: apparently there are some stooges who are prepared to face me in court. But the boys here are ready for them, the Youth Leaguers mean real business with such stooges. He goes on: We mean to die for this country or win liberation. Then the most significant statement from Mr. Chipembere—and the noble Viscount did not mention this: My belief is that any such plan must include something quite akin to Mau Mau, for the extraction of Nyasaland cannot be accepted by the White Settlers and their Governments except by catastrophic pressure. The Commission said rightly that Mau Mau denotes to most people cold-blooded murder. That is one test—what they said; and all these quotations are from the Commission's Report.

Now let us consider another test, which I think your Lordships will consider is a fair one: what they did. Your Lordships will find what was done summarised in paragraph 29 of the Governor's Despatch. He says, taking the first part from paragraph 99 of the Commission's Report: From 15th February to the end of March 1959, in the three Provinces of Nyasaland roads were blocked by trees, trenches, etc., on over 1,800 occasions; 36 bridges were destroyed or damaged; installations at three airfields were damaged, and one of these airfields was put out of action. Telephone communications were cut or otherwise destroyed on 38 occasions; 41 residences of Government officers and 30 Government buildings were damaged or destroyed. I say, with great respect to the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition, that that is not a common concomitant of the action of a political Party; that is violence on a considerable scale.

But let us look for a moment at the conclusion which the Governor drew—your Lordships will see that in paragraph 27. I just quote the sentence and the matter on which it was based. It was based on the report of the meeting of January 25 which the Commission accepted. This is the report that they accepted, and paragraph 3 of the translation of the notes says: If our Dr. were caught what would we do… Word will issue from the Central Body telling all people to start war after two days.… Digging up roads, destroying anything belonging to Europeans… Not to pay taxes… To hit Europeans or cut throat. That is what the Commission accepted as being an accurate report of the decisions at that meeting, and the Governor says in paragraph 30 of his Despatch: I find it impossible myself to treat the statement in the document 'to hit Europeans or cut throat' in the event of Dr. Banda being 'caught' as anything less than a record of a decision to resort to personal violence and murder.… If he will allow me to say so, I liked the approach of my noble friend Lord Salisbury; that is, for each of your Lordships to put his hand on his heart and say, "What would I do in that situation and faced with that information?" I do not believe there is a noble Lord in this House who would come to any other conclusion than that that was a decision to use violence and, if necessary, to murder and to carry it out; and that the result of that was that it was necessary to take action. It is only an interesting point, in passing, that the reports of the Governor forming the basis of the Despatch which has been so much criticised, agree with the document accepted by the Commission which I have just quoted.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury asked me to deal with the question: did the Governor sincerely believe in the murder plot? The first answer to that is, of course, his own statement in paragraph 37. As the noble Marquess has asked me, I think it is fair that one should put that. The Governor says: The Commission seem to suggest that no one at the centre of Government appears to have regarded the threats to murder with any degree of seriousness. If such a suggestion was intended, I must flatly repudiate it. The Commissioner of Police on 18th February told me his view 'that the information about a plan for the mass murder of all Europeans and Asians, men, women and children, in the event of Dr. Banda being arrested, was correct and must be accepted seriously.' I could not ignore the considered opinion of the officer responsible for law and order. As [said in my dispatch of 18th March, but for the knowledge of Congress plans, and the widespread violence contemplated, I would have been justified in declaring the emergency on 20th February. As it was, I had no alternative but to defer the declaration of a state of emergency until I had sufficient forces at my disposal.… As my noble friend asked me, I made further inquiries, and there were three points of difficulty which I think I ought to state. The Governor first of all thought that the strong action which he had taken—that is, the wide extent of arrests of Congress members, most of whom were responsible for putting the plan into action, and the presence of security forces—would prevent the plan from moving into that stage. But, of course, there was another reason which carries weight with me, and I hope it will with my noble friend: that the more he said at that time the more it was likely to be explosive material which would exacerbate the position and make the tragedy more likely. My Lords, this is a fact (it is in the Report) that the Government referred to in a statement on March 7; so there was the reference to it. It is quite true that shortly after that, on March 9, they ceased to make reference to it; but that was for the reason that I gave, that exaggerated reports were coming through as to what was said and the Governor thought it was best there should be no further reference to it. These are the facts, and I suggest that they corroborate and reinforce the statement which the Governor himself made—I have read it—that he took this matter seriously and he put it on to the Secretary of State as something in which he had implicit belief.

I want now to pass for a moment to the position of Dr. Banda as shown in the Report. Paragraph 2 of the Governor's Despatch and paragraph 166 of the Report show that Mr. Chiume, Mr. Chipembere and Mr. Chisiza were Dr. Banda's chief lieutenants; and as I have already said, the first two are described as "extremist" in paragraph 24 of the Report, and according to paragraph 27 of the Report Mr. Chipembere described Mr. Chisiza as "extreme" in recommending him to Dr. Banda. All three owed their position to Dr. Banda. He gave them a free hand—that is stated in paragraph 50 of the Report. The real power was concentrated in their hands—that is in paragraph 48. It is extremely difficult to believe that in these circumstances, with these men appointed as lieutenants by himself, Dr. Banda maintained a seraphic ignorance of everything that was going on.

But let us look at what the Commission say. I do not want to jump to any conclusion. In the middle of paragraph 102 they say: We were therefore invited to believe that between 25th January and 3rd March neither Mr. Chipembere nor any other member of the committee mentioned to Dr. Banda the decisions taken"— Your Lordships will remember the decision I read out, "beat or cut throat"— although there was nothing in them that they wished to conceal. We found this all the more surprising since between 25th January and 3rd March meetings of branch committees were taking place all over the country at which the delegates were reporting what had gone on at the emergency conference. Then, my Lords, in paragraph 141 it is stated that Dr. Banda spoke at Dedza, and it is stated: On 8th February at Mlanje Dr. Banda told his audience that moderate leaders were no use. If your Lordships will turn to paragraph 166, at the top of page 83, you will see that the Commission say this: Dr. Banda made his own position clear—that he would accept arrest—and he exhorted others to follow him; but he did not, as he once frankly said (paragraph 84) exclude violence and he never condemned it categorically. It was this inaction on Dr. Banda's part which made the meeting of 25th January possible. If he had been known to have condemned violence unreservedly, Mr. Chipembere's proposals could not have succeeded. If every official of Congress knew that Dr. Banda disapproved of violence in every form, those proposals would have failed. That is what the Commission say. Again, my Lords, I am not consciously (and I have read this Report over and over again) taking words out of their context or applying to one part what does not apply to others. That is a fair account of what the Commission say. That is one side of the picture.

Let us now consider the other side, which, of course, has worried your Lordships, and that is the use of force in the arrests. Let us look at the facts. In paragraph 41 the Governor says that out of 263 arrests, the arrestee—if I may use that horrible word; the arrested person—was injured in seven cases. My right honourable and learned friend the Attorney-General said ten last night, and it may be that apart from the seven cases which are paragraphed there are another three. There is no suggestion there are any more. That is ten cases where injury was caused in 263 arrests, which took place in the night in a very troubled place where a lot of violence had already taken place. The point was raised: why was it done without any injury in Southern Rhodesia? I do not think my noble friend Lord Robins would dissent when I say that conditions there were very different. One was dealing there with a much more urbanised population where the roads are easier, and also, of course—I think this is fail—behind those actually carrying it out there was a much greater force available and a much greater force of opinion as well. I hope I am not putting it unfairly, but I think that has to be remembered.

With regard to the question of meetings, my Lords, I am speaking last in this debate—


Is the noble and learned Viscount turning from that last point?


From the arrests?—yes.


I had hoped that when the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor reached that point he would have said just something about the manner of the arrests and the points raised by my noble friend Lord Stansgate.


My Lords, I am coming to that. I do not mind being interrupted at all, but of course I am coming to that. I was dealing first of all with the numbers and I think that is a fair point; and I am sure the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition would agree it is important that one should realise that, out of 263 arrests in a disturbed country, there was injury caused in, at the most, ten cases.

The other point which is also material is this—and, as I say, I am speaking last and no one has yet mentioned this. After all, however strongly your Lordships feel, you do not want merely to make the points that discredit your country or your countrymen. You want to have a fair picture presented, and it is that which I am trying to present. In paragraph 43 of his Despatch the Governor says: In very many cases—ninety-six between October 1958 and the end of March 1959, including sixty on and after 3rd March—crowds were dispersed without resort to firearms, and only eleven members of these crowds are known to have been injured. This is despite the fact that an African crowd can easily be whipped up into a violent mob. The crowd may have amounted to 500 or 1,000. That is the general picture.

The Commission raise points, putting them interrogatively. They ask whether it could have been done on a smaller scale. The Governor replies to that in paragraph 44. Again I ask your Lordships to consider it. He sets out the violence which had taken place, and he quotes the Commission, paragraph 103 of their Report: It is also likely that rumour concentrated on the more dramatic parts of the discussion and that the killing of Europeans was talked about", and: with all the talk that there had been on 25th January it is certainly conceivable that some Africans were thinking about murder…if the African population once got out of control, there is not in the country any force that could contain it. And that is his answer to the arrests being nation-wide.

The Commission then asked, again putting it interrogatively and perfectly reasonably, could the public have been prepared? Of course, if the public had been prepared the effect would have been to warn the leaders and the operation would therefore have failed. Let me just give an example of the risks which were run. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir, who has been in the Service, would be the last person to resent that risks of this kind should be run. But this is a rather remarkable passage, in paragraph 46 of the Governor's Despatch: The kind of risks which the Commission seem to expect the administration and the security forces to run are illustrated by their account of an incident at Rumpi on 3rd March. when a police inspector shot a man who came up behind the D.C. from a crowd 'brandishing or pointing a spear'. The Commission comment that they were not satisfied that at the time the police officer thought the District Commissioner to be in imminent danger; 'if he had, we think that he would have shouted to the D.C. rather than to the man, and the D.C. heard no warning'. For my own part"— says the Governor— I see no reason to dissent from the verdict of the coroner that 'the shooting by the Inspector was…entirely justified to prevent the rioter from attacking the District Commissioner'. The Governor's view of that is covered in paragraph 50. I think that answers the point which the noble Viscount put to me. The Governor says in paragraph 50: The third criticism alleges that unnecessary force was used in arrests. The Commission rightly say that unnecessary force was not expressly authorised. If it had appeared that any officer had transgressed the limitations imposed by military discipline and by the law it would certainly not have bean condoned. That is what the Governor says. He goes on to quote the remark that the Commission make at paragraph 257. Again in fairness I ask the noble Viscount, if he is wanting a report on what Englishmen do to go out from your Lordships' House, then do let us have the other side of the picture. There has been force in ten cases. It has not been condoned.

But what is the general picture? It is not I who say this; it is not the Government; it is not the Governor; it is the Commission: As we have said, we saw everyone who was responsible for the shooting. In the incidents, that we have so far recorded we have not found anyone who was 'trigger-happy' The general policy for dealing with rioters may have been right or wrong; the individual may have been mistaken in his assessment of the position; but having seen all those who were responsible for the shootings in the incidents so far recorded, we are satisfied that each man did what he did because he honestly felt that he could not discharge his duty in any other way. I shall be very content if I ever earn an epitaph as good as that from an independent commission or from anyone else. That is the position.

Now I turn for a moment to the subsequent action. I turn first to the burning of the houses at Mlanje. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, that it is not very profitable at this stage of the debate to argue about how many houses compose a village, but what I think is worth putting forward, if one is going to attack one's fellow-country-men, is this from the Governor's Despatch: The first relates to the burning of houses in the Mlanje district. The Report admits that this burning was the responsibility of a single officer. The officer took this action because he thought that without such strong measures the whole district (for whose peace he was responsible) would have broken into further violence. It was taken after two days of serious rioting and the looting of Asian stores. Instructions were subsequently given that in no circumstances should punitive action of this kind be repeated. That is the whole picture—in one place; then it is forbidden.

With regard to conduct in the villages, in paragraph 51 the Governor repudiates that the illegalities were expressly or impliedly authorised by him. He says: that the allegation of a great deal of aggressive or bullying behaviour is based on evidence not known to me. I ought to point out at once that the Commission give no specific cases. They do not mention where anything actually occurred. They just make a general statement. The Governor says, entirely rightly, that he would have to have details of the whole matter so that he could inquire into it, and he had not had the chance then.

Again, my Lords, I put to the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition the incident at Nkata Bay, when the D.C. has one sergeant and four volunteers with rifles and a crowd comes in. He has gone to the crowd. The Commission pay a tribute to his heart as well as to his head. He has gone to the crowd and tried to stop them. He and his men cannot get the gates shut. They go back, and with a mob of up to a thousand Africans coming down on them. Three times his sergeant has to ask before he gets permission to fire. Again, I should be very glad if I could imagine David Kilmuir having that restraint and that courage in such circumstances. I cannot put it any higher than that. Now, my Lords, that is the general position; and again I ask your Lordships a perfectly simple question. Put yourselves in the position of that district commissioner: what would you have done? My Lords, I do not believe that anyone here would have done anything different.

Now I come to the general point, of which something has been made—this phrase of the "police state". I think it is very unfortunate that the Commission should have used that phrase, because there is a great distinction in the history of our time between a genuine democratic State that has to use measures in an emergency and the authoritarian or totalitarian State that uses such methods as a matter of governmental theory. It happened that some ten years ago I was chairman of the Legal Committee of the Council of Europe, on which there were about twenty jurists from fifteen countries; and I had some part in introducing the European Convention of Human Rights. Of course, one of the rights that that Convention guarantees is that an arrest should be followed by charge and trial.

My Lords, we put in (and this was unanimously agreed by twenty lawyers from the democratic countries of Europe) that there should be an exception. What was the exception? An emergency threatening the life of the State. Or, if you like it in French, danger publique. That has been the position here. It has been found there was an emergency threatening the life of the State, and a public danger; and it is in these circumstances that we follow out the thought of democratic countries; that people cannot use their own crimes or violence in order to supplant and interfere with the democratic way of life. That is what is happening here; and, my Lords, I say it is a pity. It happens that my experience has fallen in these fields, and it it is very clear to me. I am sorry that the words "police state", which undoubtedly to the ordinary person connotes the Hitlerian suggestion, should have been used in this context. It is worth pointing out—the Governor does it—that this is not a case where there is intolerence of criticism. It is not a case where people need hide their objection to the Federation. Your Lordships will see that in paragraph 14 of the Governor's reply; and, my Lords, as my noble friend Lord Perth said, by this very Commission everything has been thrown open to inquiry.

My Lords, that is the position; and I ask your Lordships to say, as the Governor says, that of course we are not condoning wrong, or saying that nothing has been done. Of course the burning at Mlanje was wrong. Of course, in some cases more force than was necessary was used on the arrests. But, taking it as the answer to that violent situation, where violence and murder were decided upon, I do say that from that we ought to go on to consider the future on the basis that violence and threats to murder will not occur again.

My right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary said, and my noble friend Lord Perth has repeated it, that first of all there are what I might call the short-term advances to deal with the present difficult situation: two Africans on the Executive Council, and more Africans on the Legislative Council; so that there will be a majority of Africans. But, in addition to that, I ask your Lordships to consider two other points. In the first place, the noble Viscount was good enough to say that my noble Leader Lord Home made clear, and said with great force, what I call the preamble point in regard to the Constitution of the Federation. The preamble says: Whereas Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue under the special protection of Her Majesty to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire, these Governments remaining responsible to Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom for, in particular, the control of land and for the local and territorial political advancement of the peoples thereof", and that the question of Dominion status, if I may use the old term, arises only when those inhabitants so desire to go forward with confidence to the attainment of full membership of the Commonwealth. My Lords, that preamble is quite clear. My noble Leader Lord Home has said that we stand by it; my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary has said that he stands by it; Sir Roy Welensky has said that he stands by it. So that you have these two points. You have immediate political advance, and you have the preamble. Again, however much we disagree on points, I ask noble Lords opposite to consider whether they cannot really help in the Commission which we want to set up to do the preparatory work, so that we can go forward to the next stage with full information.

There has been a feeling, "Well, you must not get away from and hide from political affairs by talking of economic affairs". Years ago, when I was young, I studied philosophy, and almost the only thing which I carried away was that these antitheses—body and soul, and so on—are usually either false antitheses or are over-simplifications. I do not believe that, in our life, we can draw a distinction and say, "Political things end here and economic things end there." I should have thought—and I say this with the greatest respect—that the whole history of the Labour Party is a contradiction of that. So let us again look at it from the economic side.

There is, first of all, the short and medium term programme. It is designed to spend £12 million in Nyasaland during the next period, £6½ million in the next two years; and that covers £1½ million on welfare and education, £1½ million on urban and rural development, and £750,000 on new housing. But far more exciting than that is what my noble friend Lord Perth mentioned to-day, and that is the new plan for the Shire River There it is desired to put into effect several projects—and I want to put this point because I think it comes into the general picture. The group of projects in mind for the Shire Valley scheme would help many of Nyasaland's economic troubles. The various projects which, combined together, will eventually constitute a total scheme for the Shire Valley, have recently been reviewed and considered by the Government of Nyasaland and, to the extent to which they are concerned, by the Federal Government. There is a plan for the use of the river in the development of the new town and for the use of the river for power. The financing of the scheme is the responsibility of the Federal Government, and that is being examined.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said with great generosity—I hope he will not think for a moment that I am being sarcastic—why does not the British taxpayer pay for all these developments? He knows that one of the methods of getting the money for large schemes of this kind is to go to one of the agencies which have been created for helping the underdeveloped countries. To take only the World Bank as an example, it is called the World Bank, but it is the bank of the free nations of the world and is largely financed by the United States and the Commonwealth. And one of the great advantages of the Federation is that it is naturally more creditworthy and it would be easier for the Federation to get the loans which are necessary for these big schemes.

The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, asked me one specific question, about the families of detainees. I have obtained information on that point. Their welfare is not neglected. Where detainees were arrested in urban areas they were conveyed back to the places they came from and cash allowances have been made. I made a note of that because I did not want the noble Viscount to think I had forgotten what he said.

I have given your Lordships only a light sketch of the things that can be done. They represent hopes, and the hopes are based on the content of multiracial partnership, on the fact that the races are going to contribute their own qualities to the solution of the difficulties of this part of Africa. It is because there is this sphere for multi-racial, or non-racial or whatever you like to call it, society that I hope we are going to take a constructive position to-day.

The noble Lord, Lord Winster, made what I thought was a poor attack on my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary. But the reputations of politicians are a matter on which we are bound to differ. A politician must be like that famous donkey who got so used to being beaten at the back that when the beating stopped the donkey would stop, too. During his years of office my right honourable friend has been responsible for the emergency of Ghana into independence. He has been responsible for the emergence of Malaya into independence. I went there as leader of the British delegation and I was most struck by what was happening there. He has been responsible for the emergence of the independent Commonwealth of Nigeria, which is coming into being next year. He has been responsible for the steps taken in the West Indies. These are the things which he has done. I ask your Lordships to say that a man with these achievements is somebody who does grasp the problems, the possibilities and the hopes. Now that the matter has been investigated, now that the dust has been scattered by the political fan, I ask your Lordships to let the dust settle, and go on with our duty of trusteeship and training for the benefit of all the people in this territory.

10.46 p.m.


My Lords, the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Wool-sack has made such a remarkable speech that, if I were not conscious of the need to conserve the time of the House, I could speak for at least an hour in reply. I do not think that I should have any difficulty in doing so. Nevertheless, I do not propose to do it. He has followed the same line in the main that the Attorney-General followed in another place yesterday—namely, to support the view of the Governor in preference to the whole of the Report of the Devlin Commission. That is for the Government to decide, but there is no reason at all why the Opposition should not criticise the Government for doing so without due reference to everything that has been said by the Commission. I observe that the noble and learned Viscount has not replied to the passages about the attack on the whole political basis of the Central African Federation. I thought that that was a great pity.

Moreover, he does not need to plead with us for recognition of the necessity for the maintenance of law and order. Many of us have had long experience in government and we do not wish to be lectured, whoever the noble Lord may be or whatever experience he may have, on how to deal with the maintenance of law and order or in any sense on our measure of patriotism to our country. We know that a great many mistakes have been made in the past and by members of the present Government. Mistakes were made by previous Governments. As I have pointed out before, there is not a single main issue in the progress of our great Commonwealth where we have not first of all adopted the kind of policy which the Government are adopting now in Central Africa, and in every case it has led to wholesale bloodshed, through the fault of one side or another, yet in the end the people whom we fought and imprisoned came to hold positions of honour in the State. What we need in dealing with these matters is to have a little more consideration.

In this case, the great effort on the Conservative side has been to denigrate the efforts of the Commission. It is all very well to say that as a Government you need not accept the whole of the Report of any Government Commission or Inquiry. That is perfectly true. But in this case the Government had chosen a hand-picked body which, by its judicial experience and general background could be really impartial. One thing is lacking in the attacks upon it. The critics are acting like ordinary lawyers dealing with a brief handed to them after the sitting of a legal committee, putting their own construction on the written words. But this Commission has examined witnesses on the spot up and down the country. Not one of us has done that. I should have thought that the noble and learned Viscount would have been the first to recognise the difference in the position of a Commission of such experienced people, led by a famous jurist, who made their own judgment on every one of the witnesses, including Dr. Banda. You pass judgment on the basis of this one political idea: "We support the Governor's view, and the Governor's view alone, in preference to the view of the Commission." We on this side of the House do not need to reply to many of the questions put to us to-day, because we have accepted the Report as a whole. Many of the quotations made to us have been quotations which favour the findings which the

Government have accepted; and we accept them, too. We said so in the other place yesterday, and I have already said it here this afternoon. There is no need to put to us points like that.

What we do say is that there is a great lack of courage in the Government in producing only a White Paper as the reply of the Government, instead of taking the whole Report of the Commission to Parliament and saying: "This is what we wish and propose to do, so as to remove the possibility of a recurrence of any of the things complained about by the Commission". Without doubt many people have studied this matter from our point of view; and I very much appreciate the speeches, made with considerable courage, of the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, and the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, this evening, and the short but sharp speech of the leader of the Liberal Party. Although we can be out-numbered by the hosts of the Conservative Party in the House, by going into the Division Lobby we shall at least have made a real and emphatic protest.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 80.

Addison, V. Granville-West, L. Pethick-Lawrence, L
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Greenhill, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Amulree, L. Harmsworth, L. Rea, L.
Archibald, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Shackleton, L.
Attlee, E. Hemingford, L. Shepherd, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Henderson, L. Silkin, L.
Carnock, L. Latham, L. Sinha, L.
Chorley, L. Layton, L. Stansgate, V.
Crook, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Darwen, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Taylor, L.
Elibank, V. Pakenham, L. Uvedale of North End, L.
Faringdon, L.
Aberdare, L. Congleton, L. Hampton, L.
Ailwyn, L. Crathorne, L. Hastings, L.
Airlie, E. Crookshank, V. Home, E.
Albemarle, E. Davidson, V. Howard of Glossop, L.
Ashburton, L. Denham, L. Howe, E.
Ashton of Hyde, L. Derwent, L. Jessel, L.
Auckland, L. Devonport, V. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)
Bathurst, E. Dundee, E. Knollys, V.
Birdwood, L. Ebury, L. Lansdowne, M.
Blackford, L. Ferrier, L. Leconfield, L.
Boston, L. Forester, L. Long, V.
Bridgeman, V. Fortescue, E. Lothian, M.
Buckinghamshire, E. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Luke, L.
Camrose, V. Gage, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Chesham, L. Goschen, V. Merrivale, L.
Clitheroe, L. Gosford, E. Mills, L.
Coleraine, L. Grenfell, L. Milne, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Milverton, L.
Conesford, L. Hampden, V. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monk Bretton, L. St. Oswald, L. Teviot, L.
Netherthorpe, L. Salisbury, M. Teynham, L.
Onslow, E. [Teller.] Selkirk, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Pender, L. Soulbury, V. Twining, L.
Perth, E. Strang, L. Waldegrave, E.
Polwarth, L. Swinton, E. Waleran, L.
Robins, L. Tedder, L. Wolverton, L.
St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.] Tenby, V.

On Question, Resolution agreed to.