§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
My Lords, I greatly welcome the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has put down. I observed with great interest the discussion which took place in another place on Monday last on exactly these problems, because I believe that they are vital problems to all of us. The interest which has been shown in the speeches which have been made and which are to be made shows clearly that there is a great desire to find the answer to all the problems that will arise in this expanding Commonwealth. I think we should sometimes ask ourselves exactly why we are so interested in the continuance of this Commonwealth. After all, it is not purely sentiment. I believe it is because we recognise that, with its member countries acting in co-operation, the Commonwealth will be able to play a great part in the realisation of the ideals for which we all stand—namely, peace, liberty, rule of law and human rights. Clearly, as a United Commonwealth we can play a much greater part than we can individually. I think that is basically why we are all so keen to find an answer to all these problems.
There are innumerable problems, and a great number have been raised to-day. I propose to confine myself to two, 1161 which stand above all the initial problems that arise, and which I regard as fundamental. Those two are the questions of the Commonwealth's power in relation to international politics and the Commonwealth's power in relation to the economic situation in the world to-day. I will make one suggestion later as to how we might have continuous consideration of all the other problems as they arise, but I want mainly to deal with those two particular subjects.
Taking the political side, and why it is essential that we should try to get a common understanding and work together as a Commonwealth, we know what the position is to-day. On one side there are Russia and the satellite States, and on the other side the free nations. What the situation will be in future, when the colossus China comes into the ring really seriously, Heaven alone knows! But we know what the situation is to-day. On the side of the Free World the United States of America is the only country that has the stature of Russia. The result is that, in a sense, America tends to become the predominant partner; that American views have great weight attached to them and often, in my view, prevail, sometimes immaterially but sometimes, I venture to suggest, disastrously.
On the other hand, if we had a really united Commonwealth it would make a tremendous difference to that position. The Commonwealth as a whole can more than measure up to the United States. And if we had that co-operation, the voice of Britain—which must remain for some time the predominant partner—would carry very much more weight. But I venture to suggest that in the general affairs of the world the voice of the smaller nations would also be greatly strengthened, because most of them are members of the United Nations. They must have found by bitter experience there that they can affect practically nothing as individual States. Whenever they affect anything it is because they find people with like views with whom they link up, and then their ideas get a certain amount of weight attached to them. I have had a great deal of experience of international conferences, and I know very well that if I had to link up with anyone I would certainly choose the Commonwealth nations rather than 1162 any other group I know of. So it does seem to me that if we can build up a real understanding on these great questions on which we all see eye to eye, and if we could really use our force in the councils of the nations as a whole, we might bring immeasurable benefit to the whole world by the part we would be able to play. That is one side that I want to deal with.
The other side is the economic one. Again the British Empire and the British Commonwealth, in its turn, were not built up only on sentiment; they were built up on trade. The noble Earl the Leader of the House has given us some of the picture of that situation as it is today. The United Kingdom market, incomparably the greatest market for primary products in the world, has to the developing Dominions and Colonies been their sheet anchor; on the other hand, these growing and expanding young communities overseas have been an extraordinarily good outlet for British manufactures.
I think that Britain can take great pride in the part that she has played not only in providing the market but in the financing of development plans. She has done it for the Colonies; she has done it for the Dominions, and if your Lordships think a little further back you will recall that she did it for the United States of America and a good many other countries in the world: her record is a very good one. The incidence and the sacrifice of the two wars has changed Britain from being the great creditor nation, and the sceptre has passed into the hands of the United States. But if we are going to have this Commonwealth as we want it, that great united force in the world, Britain must remain in, and maintain, that position she has held throughout her history as the great market for our overseas sister countries' exports, and must remain the great provider of capital.
If we are going to do all these things in foreign affairs, economics or anything else, we have somehow to have consultation. In the past, suggestions for machinery for consultation have not been very happily received. On the part of the United Kingdom, she would never like to force it, because it would have appeared that she was coercing the Dominions or younger countries. On the other hand, the younger countries 1163 were reluctant to show any enthusiasm for this co-operation and machinery because they had the feeling that it meant Whitehall domination. I was very interested to hear Lord Attlee say that even Canada had suffered from that—she appears to have got over it now. I have lived all through this from 1923 onwards; and of course Canada had the most frightful inferiority complex. It is a strange thing but my own country, Australia, has never suffered from it.
I venture to say that at this stage of our development this feeling of Britain's that she must not press the point, and the anxiety of the younger countries that they might get Whitehall domination, both appear to me to be completely out of date. It is now absolutely established that any one of us, any country inside the Empire, as soon as we come to maturity, has the right to self-government and independence. What is more, we can enjoy that privilege either inside or outside the Empire. In those circumstances it passes my imagination why anybody should be afraid of creating the necessary machinery. I believe it is necessary to create it.
The Secretary of State for Commonweath Relations gave us a view of how admirably his Department are doing; how they are reviewing all these problems; how they make sure the independence of the countries concerned is maintained; how they will supply them with information—they will do anything. But, to my mind, that is a little dangerous. That is the good old Whitehall getting into the ring, seeing the thing slipping out of its grasp, creating this machinery so that it will continue to dominate the position. I admit that that is possibly an unfair criticism, but having had a good deal to do with the susceptibilities of the younger nations I believe that we should do much better if we did create a machinery. I am not going to go into the question of what the machinery should be, but will merely say that I think it should not be beyond the wit of us all to devise some sort of Secretariat; and that Secretariat, which would be staffed not exclusively from the United Kingdom but from other parts as well, would keep under constant review every problem as it emerged in relation to the developing Dominion, and could provide well-informed information as to all 1164 the arguments for and against any particular course. What we are doing at present is to have a stab spasmodically at these problems that are approaching us. We have a debate to-day, and another place had a debate on Monday; but probably everybody forgets the subject for the next six or nine months, or some other period. I think that it has to be constantly under review. I do not insist that the only way to do it would be by a Secretariat, but I believe that that review must be carried out by something that is Commonwealth, and not United Kingdom, in its character, however admirably the United Kingdom might do the job.
In addition, I suggest that there should be attached to this Secretariat two bodies dealing with the two angles of the problem I am looking at, and, first of all, international political problems. There, I think we should have a group of experts from all over the Commonwealth who would keep these problems under constant review and would supply information to all the different countries concerned. That might prove invaluable to some of the younger countries who, in their initial period, would not find it possible to create a foreign service that could really keep them well advised on development and all the international problems. I throw that out on that side.
Now I come to the rather more difficult part of my observations, the economic side. There must certainly be attached to the Secretariat an economic section manned by experts from all over the Commonwealth who would keep the economic problems under constant review. The basic requirement in the question which I have already posed is that Britain must in future, as it has in the past, remain the king-pin. Britain is the place that matters most if, on the economic side, we are to continue to get closer and closer unity in the Commonwealth. The noble Earl the Leader of the House has referred to the fact that we must go on providing capital for these countries; that it is essential—
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend on the matter of economic services, because his argument interests me? Of course, we have nearly got something of the kind for which the noble Viscount is asking. At the Montreal Conference we set up a Commonwealth Economic Advisory 1165 Council which is composed of representatives from all the Commonwealth countries. The officials meet twice a year and the Finance Ministers once a year; so round the annual clock, so to speak, there is in existence a Commonwealth economic machinery surveying Commonwealth economic affairs all the time.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
I am much obliged to the noble Earl. I had a suspicion that the position was exactly as he has said, but I do not know how many of your Lordships find that when you are out of the ring you get some grasp of what is happening but are always a little suspicious that you may have got it wrong. I thought there was no harm in putting this idea to you; and I am most happy to think that some progress has been made towards what I have suggested.
Now we come to the very difficult point: can Britain really continue to play her part in the Commonwealth as she has played it before? That is the issue we have to face and to think out for ourselves. I am finding it a little difficult, because I am afraid I shall have to be slightly crisp on one or two points—I am sorry, but I cannot help it. I personally believe she can. But I think she must have inspired leadership to do it. I think she must reverse a number of policies which she has pursued, and there has to be an amount of clear thinking that we have recently rather lacked. I say that because, if Britain is to retain her part, first of all there are certain things she must do. She must remain a great Power; her domestic economy must be on a sound footing; there must be opportunities for employment for all her people under decent conditions, and she should be progressively advancing her standards of living. If she is to achieve all those things and to continue to be the country that is supplying the greater part of the finance required for all the great developments that are going on, unquestionably she has to be prosperous—she could not do it if she were not.
The questions I want to pose are these. Is Britain prosperous at the present moment? If she is, is she likely to remain so? From all one reads and hears, there is no doubt that Britain is extremely prosperous at the moment. 1166 That view is based on the employment position, the balance of payments, the cost of living and the gold and dollar reserves. I am not going to traverse all those four points. I content myself by saying that I am not nearly so happy about the position as most other people appear to be, and I will tell your Lordships why. When we look at the position and consider whether we are likely to remain really prosperous, I think there are a number of things which must cause us a lot of anxiety. For example, although our industrial production last year increased by 5 per cent. other countries, our rivals, did better. The output per man in Britain rose 8 per cent. last year, but the rise has averaged only 2 per cent. over five years—and that at a time when there was a high volume of capital investment. That must make one a little anxious. Exports increased a little last year and this year, but, unhappily, all our principal rivals increased their exports to a greater percentage than we did.
When we come to consider the share of the increased exports of manufactures that are going into world trade now, we find that the position is that for the first quarter of this year the United Kingdom had an increase of 17 per cent. Over the same period last year, we find that Germany had an increase of 29 per cent., France of 53 per cent., Italy of 56 per cent., Sweden of 31 per cent., and Belgium and Luxembourg of about 32 per cent. I venture to say that, however optimistic one may be, all those facts must make one wonder whether we are going to be able even to maintain our position against countries which have all done better than we have recently in a competitive world.
And when we realise that Russia is just on the brink of coming into the consumer and ordinary markets of the world as another competitor, that also must make us a little anxious. Then, when we think of industrialised China with her millions, it must again make us at least anxious, if it does nothing more. I cannot think that anybody can remain very complacent in face of the facts I have given. I do not want to appear to be making now any kind of attack upon Her Majesty's Government. Coming from another country, I 1167 belong to no Party, so I will preface what I am going to say by stating that I am sure that either the Labour Party or the Liberal Party would have been just as open to censure as, I venture to say, Her Majesty's Government are slightly open to censure for their performance over the last nine months, since the Election.
These are the facts which I see. The Government then had a great opportunity. They had an outsize majority and apparently a very long period of office before them. I believe that when they came in they should have told the people the hard facts about where we stand. If your Lordships remember, we had then an atmosphere of everything being splendid and that there was to be a boom. I will deal with that in a moment. I believe that the facts which the people ought then to have been told were these: that competition for our exports was getting heavier and heavier and that that competition was going to increase very considerably; that Britain lives by her exports and that the employment the people enjoy and the social benefits they receive are all dependent upon them; that the Government were not prepared to imperil the employment of the people and the benefits they had received and that they would take any drastic action, even to the point of cutting off from the people some of the benefits they were already enjoying, to save them from disaster in the future. The people should have been told that they had to show restraint, exercise self-discipline and accept self-sacrifice. Finally, the Government should have said that exports would have priority over everything else.
I agree that a flat statement of that kind would have slightly startled the nation; there is no doubt of that. But if it had startled them out of what I believe is a dangerous and complacent mood, I do not think it would have done anything but good. It might also have shaken their belief that full employment, higher wages, mounting profits, increased social benefits and a higher standard of living are theirs by Divine Right and that there is no need for them to earn those things by their own efforts and by the sweat of their brow. I believe that that would have done this country an 1168 incredible amount of good. It might even have called a halt to what I believe is a drift, undermining progressively the character, independence and basic virtues of the British people.
Forcing the British people to face realities would not have been at all popular, but I have sufficient faith in them to think that, with the leadership and confronted by the facts, when they knew that they were up against something they would have responded in just the same way as they always have in the past. That is my complaint: that the Government did not follow that course.
I do not believe that the Government can be very happy about their economic record in 1960, up to date, because they were returned to power at a time when inflation was halted for the first time and it looked as though they could advance on a firmer basis of stable prices.
The Government urged industry to raise its sights and accelerate investment for higher productivity and lower costs. That was the whole atmosphere at the time; and industry responded. But industry had hardly made its plans to get on with the good work when they were urged to hold back and postpone their plans. The reason for this volte face was that the Government discovered that private demand and public expenditure exceeded the supply of goods and services available—a thing which it had been predicted would happen.
The Government have given priority, as they did in the last Budget, to current Government spending, and signalled industry to curtail. I venture to say that that is hopelessly wrong in this country, where exports are so vital. Three-quarters of British production and all her exports are produced by private enterprise, and the Government should have given priority to anything contributing to exports which the country needs to buy its esential imports. Even while the gold and dollar reserve is nowhere near high enough, private industry has to take second place to Government expenditure.
When the Government came to power we appeared to be moving towards a boom. So unhappily has the situation been handled, in my view, that we are now choking off the boom before it has eventuated, and are talking in terms of 1169 restriction and restraint. I am sorry if I appear to be slightly drastic in my observations, but I feel all these things so deeply; and believing, as I do, that the whole future of this Commonwealth depends on the position of the United Kingdom, I have felt compelled to make them, much as I have disliked doing so.
What I have been saying in the latter part of my speech relates solely to the economic situation in the United Kingdom. Some noble Lord may remind me that this is a Commonwealth debate and not a debate on the United Kingdom, but I believe that the prosperity of the United Kingdom is so inextricably linked with the future of the Commonwealth that one cannot deal with this matter without facing up to the United Kingdom's position. I would conclude by saying that nobody will be happier than I am if someone will refute all the facts I have given and show that I have been talking nonsense; that there is not the slightest necessity for my apprehension. On the other hand, if that cannot be shown, I would suggest that Her Majesty's Government should take some notice and some action.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, last week we were concerned with changes in the international situation. This week we are concerned with changes in the Commonwealth—changes which I believe are equally far-reaching and perhaps, in some ways, even more perplexing. It was just about twenty years ago that I was appointed to the position which the noble Earl the Leader of the House holds with such distinction today. I became what was then called Dominions Secretary and is now called Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Already then there were signs that changes were beginning; but the description of the Imperial structure in the Report of the Imperial Conference of 1926 was still pretty accurate. I should like, if I may, to remind your Lordships of the wording of that famous paragraph:Autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another, in any respect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.That was the definition given by the Imperial Conference in 1926, and it 1170 could have stood, I think, practically without any amendment in 1941. There were still only five members of the Commonwealth, with much the same background. All of them were European, and three of them, I think one may say, were of purely British origin. All of them were powerful modern States, very well able (to use the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore) to stand on their own feet, economically self-supporting and bred in a long tradition of democratic government. It was very much what has been termed to-day a family party; and it was, above all, bound together by a common allegiance to the Crown.
That was the Commonwealth, the cohesive Commonwealth, which stood alone against all the might of Germany in the early days of the war. That was the Commonwealth whose representatives I, as Secretary of State, met practically every day—the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, was one of them—to hear the latest news of the war as I got it direct from the Cabinet. And below it there were, of course, the fifty or so States of the Colonial Empire who were gradually climbing the ladder of self-government.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Marquess. When he says that it was this body of persons in the Commonwealth which stood alone against Germany, he will not, of course, ignore the fact that there were 2 million Indian troops who were then part of the Commonwealth, through the United Kingdom, and who played a very important part, a very vital part, in the victory we obtained.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I was, in any case, going to mention them later in this particular connection. When I came back after the war to what had become the Commonwealth Relations Office the picture was already very much changed. The party had grown in size. To the five older members had been added India and Pakistan, who had a different background and, in many ways, rather a different viewpoint.
And, since then, as we all know, into the comity of the Commonwealth there has come a flood of new States, of all races, religions and colours—some big, some small; some advanced, some only 1171 just emerging from the primitive conditions in which we found them 70 or 80 years before; but all claiming, and most of them admitted to, full membership of the Commonwealth. Nor does that flood, even now, show any sign of abating. Already to that little party of five to which I have referred there has been added, as well as India and Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaya, Ghana and Nigeria; and looming up just above the horizon there are yet more: Uganda, Tanganyika and Sierra Leone. Somebody has mentioned Kenya this afternoon; and I suppose there are the Federation of the West Indies and possibly Cyprus, and there may be more that other noble Lords could mention.
It is the custom nowadays to regard this development as wholly good and to say, rather as we used to say of the United Nations, "The more we are together the merrier we shall be." I only hope it may be so. Certainly it has always been our proudest boast in this country, in the past, that British institutions are evolutionary, empirical, and capable of constant adaptation to meet changing needs. But, my Lords, this particular situation is assuredly going to face us with the sternest test we have ever had to meet. It is folly to suppose that the present Commonwealth is animated by quite the same family feeling as that old one to which I referred earlier. I doubt even whether many of the new members regard it as especially British. Moreover, what is still more important, the majority are no longer bound together by what has been in the past the strongest unifying force; common loyalty to the Crown: and I submit that nothing can take the place of that—nothing! Nothing can take the place of personal loyalty of the subject to his Prince. For personal loyalty has this supreme merit; that the worse things become, the more brightly that loyalty shines out.
Why did so many Irishmen join the British Forces in the last war, though their country was neutral? It was not for love of England; it was because of their loyalty to him whom they still regarded as their King. Why did the 2 million Indians, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, so rightly referred just now, volunteer to take part in that conflict? It was because their 1172 King Emperor was at war; and they came to help him in his need. But now, State after State among the members of the Commonwealth, by becoming a Republic, has repudiated that allegiance.
I do not emphasise this point just because I am hankering after "the good old days". Whatever one may think of those days, we must all recognise that they have gone past recall. I do it because it is, I think, only right that we in this House should recognise where we and the Commonwealth stand to-day. That allegiance to a common Crown, which was the strongest cement of the Commonwealth, has not indeed, I hope, gone from the hearts of its peoples, but it has gone from the Constitutions of a great many, perhaps most, of its members. The Commonwealth is to-day, for many of the members, merely a combination of States which depends for its unity not on common loyalty but on common interest. It is, too, as I see it, a combination of States whose interests and ambitions not only differ from, but often directly conflict with, each other. That is the team, my Lords, that we are at present attempting to pilot forward, as a team, into an unknown and unpredictable future.
It is, if I may say so with all deference, the great merit of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that, while welcoming the increasing number of the members of the Commonwealth, he faces up courageously and objectively to the formidable nature of the task that confronts us, instead of reiterating, like Dr. Pangloss, that, "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has faced up to the problems, in all their stark reality, and has tried constructively to see how they can be surmounted. How, for instance, he has asked us, in these new circumstances, are we to deal with the problem of the Prime Ministers' meetings, which posed itself for the first time in an acute form at the meeting this year? That is, of course, as I think the noble Earl the Leader of the House indicated, a question which needs most careful thought. In the very nature of things those meetings, I think, cannot be quite as intimate as the meetings of earlier days.
Take, for example, the subject of the co-ordination of defence, one of the most 1173 important subjects for discussion at past meetings, before the recent extension of membership. In earlier days, broadly speaking, the members of the Commonwealth were always not merely members of the same family: they were allies in the fullest sense of the term, having the same outlook and pursuing, broadly speaking, the same foreign policy. It was of the first importance to them to meet and discuss, in absolute confidence, defence measures necessary to carry out that policy. But now, my Lords, more than one of the countries of the Commonwealth are, if not members of the Afro-Asian Group, at any rate sympathetic to it. One should not complain of that. They are free, independent States, and they have a perfect right to orientate their policy exactly as they wish. But that does not alter the fact that the policy and aims of the Afro-Asian Group are in many respects widely different from our own; and where wide differences of outlook of that kind continue it is inevitable, so far as I can see, that talks on subjects of the kind of which I have been speaking must tend to become either of a very general character or limited to certain members. It is no good blinking that fact.
What does, at any rate, seem essential is to ensure, so far as that is possible, that meetings of the Prime Ministers do not become mere forums for the airing of grievances and for the riding of hobbyhorses. That would be disastrous. For there would, I believe, be a real danger that the older members of the Commonwealth, who have been accustomed to something more serious and more constructive, would begin to write off these meetings as futile, and ultimately might not come at all. Actually, I agree, I think, with every other speaker who has addressed your Lordships this afternoon—that these meetings can still do most valuable work, especially in the economic sphere. Moreover, as I think the noble Earl the Leader of the House very wisely said, they give an opportunity for the newer members of the Commonwealth to learn how in practice the institution works and, in particular, the principles of toleration and interdependence, to which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, rightly referred as being inherent in its whole structure. For those reasons alone, I am sure we shall all agree that it is of the first importance that these 1174 meetings of Prime Ministers should continue, if that is in any way possible.
Then there is the problem mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, of those smaller and more backward States who are now getting Commonwealth status but who are, in fact, independent more in name than in reality and certainly are not economically independent. What is to be done about them? Are the British people, who are already so heavily taxed, to continue to pour out money on these countries, although they no longer have any real control over the way in which their money is to be spent? I have always felt great difficulty about this question—more, I think, than the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, himself feels. There is no doubt at all, I think, that the countries in question will expect it. They will no doubt continue to say, in effect, "We are quite able to stand on our own feet, so long, of course, as you prop us up." It is the measure of the immaturity which they still have that they expect the best of both worlds. But it does seem hard on the British people, even in their present prosperous condition.
On the other hand, my Lords, it can, no doubt, be argued with great force that the present position of these nations is largely as a result of our own policy. It is we who assumed the responsibility of training them up for self-government. Ought we, now that they have reached the top of the ladder—even though it is perhaps sooner than a great many of us would have thought wise—to shirk the implications of our policy? It may very well be held that we ought not. I feel that probably the right answer to this very difficult problem is that there should be no standardised policy. We should judge each case on its merits. In one case it will be right, in the other wrong; but we should certainly not lay it down as a fixed rule that we must always help every emergent country just because it is emerging. As I see it, the same kind of consideration applies to all those agencies—medical, agricultural and others—which have been available to these countries in the past. There can, of course, be no question at all of intrusion by the United Kingdom Government into the internal affairs of countries which have gained Commonwealth status. That would be contrary to the whole principle on which the British 1175 Commonwealth is based. Whether such agencies continue to operate or not must be entirely a matter for the Government of the country in question. But if these agencies are wanted—and I believe that in many cases they will be—then I personally think that we should do our best to make them available.
Finally, my Lords, there is the further question, also raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore: Is the machinery for dealing with the Commonwealth, here in London, appropriate for the new conditions under which it now has to operate? This is a question of course, as the noble Earl the Leader of the House knows very well, that has exercised the minds of those who concern themselves with Commonwealth questions for a great many years now. The word "colony" (why, I still do not quite know) has become a term of contumely, and even of abuse. Such being the case (so, I understand it, goes the argument), would it not be better to do away with the Colonial Office altogether and have a single office dealing with all the territories of the British Commonwealth and Empire, self-governing and non-self-governing? The idea has considerable attraction. It would do away with that inferiority complex which makes colonial territories so frantic to achieve Dominion status, often before they are at all ready for it. On the other hand, I am sure that it would certainly not be liked by some, at any rate, of the existing members of the Commonwealth, who would again find themselves lumped together with the Colonies. Moreover, there is, as I see it, this additional practical difficulty. Up to now, at any rate, the Colonial Office has been mainly an administrative Department and the Commonwealth Relations Office, except for the High Commission Territories in South Africa, has been almost purely a diplomatic Department. To combine these two functions on a large scale in a single Department might, I am afraid, raise great practical problems of staffing and so on, which might, in the case of so important a move, prove almost insuperable—I do not say, "impossible"; but I believe that any such change would need a great deal of hard thinking before the decision was taken.
There is another possibility, which I believe was at one time favoured by 1176 General Smuts. That is to have three Departments: one dealing with Africa, one dealing with Asia and the Pacific, and one dealing with Canada and the West Indies. The Ministers in charge of these three Departments would have the task of co-ordinating policy in all the territories of the Commonwealth and Empire that came within their particular sphere, in consultation, of course, with other members of the Commonwealth situated in those areas: and possibly there might be, at the top of the edifice, one super-Minister to co-ordinate policy over the whole imperial field, rather as the Foreign Secretary does over the whole foreign field. That is one possibility.
Then the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, made what I thought were some very interesting suggestions which I should like to read more carefully, about a new inter-relationship between the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. Certainly I do not want to dogmatise—I do not suppose that anyone would at this stage—over all these possibilities. As I understand it from the extremely wise portion of the speech of the noble Earl who leads the House, in which he dealt with this particular question, he does not contemplate immediately any drastic alteration in the present machinery. But I feel sure that he will take careful note of the many practical suggestions that have been put forward to-day.
Now I have done. I owe the House an apology for detaining it so long, but the canvas is so vast that it takes time to cover it, even with the broadest brush. One thing, however, I suggest, emerges from any consideration of this subject. Numbers of members are not everything. The Commonwealth will endure only if it has a common purpose and a common faith. If it has that—heterogeneous though in many respects it may be—it can survive. Without it, I fear that it will not. And the only faith I, like the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, believe, that can be capable of welding together the very varied States which compose the Commonwealth—the only faith that can possibly do it—is love of liberty.
If any State within the Commonwealth wants independence only as a means to enable it to set up a dictatorship in 1177 its own land, then I should not regret its departure. Indeed, I believe that the Commonwealth would be much stronger without it; for by staying it will only rot the fabric and destroy the unity of that great company of new States, the creation of which has been our greatest contribution to the peace and civilisation of the world. But if all the States of the Commonwealth have a real love of liberty in their hearts, that I firmly believe, can give them a common basis for action and a common loyalty—a wider loyalty, perhaps, even than loyalty to the Crown. It is for that that I feel we must work in the years that lie ahead.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ LORD CASEY
My Lords, I join with other noble Lords who have expressed their obligation to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for initiating this debate and giving us an opportunity of speaking on Commonwealth matters, because I am one of those who believe that there has been too little discussion and thought given to Commonwealth affairs in any part of the Commonwealth in recent years. And in that perhaps I might include London—the capital of the founding member of the Commonwealth, the fons et origo of the whole.
I must admit to a certain despondency in recent years about the lack of what appears to me to be Commonwealth-mindedness in many parts of the Commonwealth. I do not speak so much of the Governments of the Commonwealth countries as of the Press, perhaps of the Parliaments, and certainly of the extent to which Commonwealth matters are discussed among groups of people. A number of books and learned articles have been written about the Commonwealth, but largely from the point of view of the past. I should like to see some contemplative books on the future structure and function of the Commonwealth. I only hope that appropriately qualified individuals may arise to give us the benefit of constructively minded prognostications about the future of the Commonwealth, because I think we shall all agree that sentimentality and nostalgia can get us nowhere.
The future structure and function of the Commonwealth is a hard practical matter to which, I believe, all the constructive thinking any of us can give to it would not be too much. The simple fact is that the rapid growth of the number 1178 of self-governing parts of the Commonwealth—from five, twenty years ago, to ten to-day, and to fifteen in a few years time—has been accompanied by a lack of the unity which signalised the Commonwealth in the generations before 1940. I think that we must accommodate ourselves to the fact that that unity will never be restored, at any rate to anything approaching the form which we knew twenty years ago. That is not to say that the Commonwealth has no importance for the future. I believe that it has a high importance for the future as a free association of free countries of people of like mind in respect of national and international conduct. But I believe that if this is going to happen, a great deal of constructive thought has to be given to it.
I think it is true to say that there is no country in the world to-day that has not as its principal aim survival. I believe that the cement of the Commonwealth of the future will be this urge to survive, and that all the present self-governing members of the Commonwealth—and I expect those who will join it in the years ahead—probably take the view that they are more likely to achieve this wholesome aim of survival in this free community of people of like mind. Survival, of course, entails a great many material things—defence, relations with other countries, developmental aid and many other material things; but at the same time there is a non-material thing, which is not the least of the factors that one hopes will ensure survival of individual countries and of the democratic world as a whole. This immaterial thing is what goes on in men's minds, public opinion among thinking people in all the independent and self-governing parts of the Commonwealth. So far as I am aware, that is a matter to which no great deal of thought has been devoted. I believe that the cohesiveness of the Commonwealth of the future will depend largely on the growth of a satisfactory climate of men's minds. If the thinking people in the Commonwealth countries are convinced of the importance of the cohesiveness of the Commonwealth, then I believe that the Commonwealth has more chance of expressing itself in world councils as something closely approaching one single entity.
I believe that no good purpose is served by attempting to paper over the cracks 1179 of the discussions about the Commonwealth. There are many things (although one need not repeat them) that reflect our difficulties in the Commonwealth to-day, as compared with the Commonwealth of twenty years ago. They are well known to us all. There is the fact that the countries of the Commonwealth are spaced widely apart, almost worldwide—a fact which I think has its plus and its minus. I believe that there is both strength and weakness in the widespread geographical nature of the Commonwealth to-day. To my mind, perhaps the most important weakness arising from the remoteness of many parts of the Commonwealth from each other—one of the minus factors—is the fact that many individual members of the Commonwealth are obsessed with their own regional problems, problems which in almost all cases did not exist twenty years ago. They are so obsessed with regional problems that the bolder Commonwealth pattern of thought comes second to their consideration of these problems.
I believe that the people, as apart from the Governments, of one country of the Commonwealth are inadequately informed about the problems, in the broad, of most of the other parts of the Commonwealth. I hasten to say that both the noble Earl the Leader of the House and the great Office which he represents, the Commonwealth Relations Office, are intimately informed of the problems of all parts of the Commonwealth. But I am not speaking of that. I am speaking of the people, of the Press, of the books that are written and of the state of mind of the thinking people in other parts of the Commonwealth. I do not believe that the principal problems of, say, a country like India, that are obsessing the minds of the average intelligent Indian almost to the exclusion of anything else, are adequately appreciated in other countries of the Commonwealth. That, I think, is a bad thing.
I have noticed since I have been going round the countries of the Commonwealth, which I have done for many years, the beginnings of what one can only interpret as resentment in some countries at the fact that the major problems obsessing the minds of some of these countries are, as they see it, almost unknown and unappreciated in other countries of the Commonwealth. 1180 They regard this as apathy or indifference to the problems that seem to them to be filling the whole horizon. If I am right in this, I think we should take note of it, and steps should be taken not to create more governmental machinery—which I do not think is needed at all—but to try to cope with this problem of creating and guiding a Commonwealth public opinion in each of the self-governing countries of the Commonwealth.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, recently pleaded in a most interesting speech for more contact between the ordinary people, as he called them, of the various parts of the Commonwealth. That was answered by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who I remember said that something like 1,000 people from other parts of the Commonwealth were invited to Great Britain from their own country in any one year. One thousand is a lot, but against the background of the numbers of the populations of the Commonwealth countries it is very small. Indeed, when you come to think of it, I do not believe it is possible to get the ordinary people of each Commonwealth country in any degree of important contact with the ordinary people of other parts of the Commonwealth.
This is a matter to which we, in our much smaller sphere in Australia, have given some thought in the past, and we attempted to reach a solution by inviting people who might be called opinion formers in other Commonwealth countries, and particularly the Asian Commonwealth countries, to come to Australia for a few weeks at a time, at our expense of course, and see the country and the people and make up their minds objectively as to whether the policies of Australia are good, bad or indifferent. By "opinion formers" I mean, more particularly, Parliamentarians and the Press: they, I believe, are the opinion formers in any country. People in Australia like to believe that this policy of inviting a regular and continuous series of small groups of Pressmen and Parliamentarians from other, principally Asian, Commonwealth countries has been carried out with considerable advantage to the understanding and appreciation in Asia of the Australian people, their policies and outlook on the world.
1181 I would suggest, with respect, that thought might be given, if it has not already been given, to this business of inviting groups of opinion formers, who on their return to their own country would speak and write of the institutions they have encountered and of the experiences they have been through. If that were done on a sufficient scale—and it would have to be done on quite a considerable scale—I think we should develop in a reasonable period of time a much better informed and, I believe, more sympathetic public opinion in each of the Commonwealth countries.
A moment or two ago I spoke about regionalism, in the sense that the regional problems of many individual Commonwealth countries were appearing to them more important than the problems that might reflect the broad pattern of Commonwealth thinking. I believe that to be the case, and I think we might be wise to take regionalism into account in the future rather more than we have done in the past. By that I mean that, possibly in the course of Prime Ministers' Conferences, I can envisage the Conference starting with a plenary session or sessions and then dividing up into regional, geographical groups of Prime Ministers, holding conferences of these regional groups, and then gathering again in a plenary session or a series of plenary sessions. In that way the problems of individual geographical parts of the Commonwealth might be more closely considered than they are at the present time.
I have spoken a little about constructive thinking, and that made me welcome very much the paragraph in the communiqué of the recent Prime Ministers' Conference which read:The Ministers reviewed the constitutional development of the Commonwealth, with particular reference to the future of the smaller dependent territories. They agreed that a detailed study of this subject should be made for consideration by Commonwealth Governments.That I welcome. If that were carried out, as I am sure it will be, it would be of enormous benefit and really would provide the constructive thinking for which I have been pleading. But I would say this to the noble Earl the Leader of the House. It says:with particular reference to the future of the smaller dependent territories",1182 but I should hope that the work of this body, when it is formed, would not by any means be confined to the smaller countries, coming up the road, as one might say, towards independence. I should hope that the survey would be as broad as possible, and take into account possibly many of the things that have been said by your Lordships in this debate to-day.
May I attempt to sum up briefly what I have been saying? I feel that there is no single magic button that any Government can press that will result in the improved integration of the Commonwealth for the future. All of us, each Government and country, need to give all the aid we can and direct all the developmental investment capital we can towards the countries most in need of it. But I believe that one of the important things is the generating of more widespread interest in the Commonwealth and in the problems of every part of the Commonwealth; and I should hope that in the course of that none of us would shrink from expressing warm, sympathetic interest in the affairs and problems of other parts of the Commonwealth. In fact, if I had to pick one word to express what is in my mind and what I have been trying to say, it is that I believe we want more warmth in our Commonwealth relationships. We can all remember the past with pride, but we should be wise to concentrate on the future. We should not allow the Commonwealth to become the subject of elegant books and articles dealing with the past. The past is gone, good though it may have been, and the future is the thing that concerns us. Let us try to make this Commonwealth conception part of the bloodstream of all thinking people in each self-governing part of the Commonwealth.
I would end by suggesting to your Lordships that none of us, in any part of the Commonwealth, whatever the attitude of each of our countries may be at the present time, should let our loyalty to the Commonwealth be taken for granted. May I be allowed to end with a quotation that seems to me to be very apposite, from Her Majesty The Queen, who said:The Commonwealth bears no resemblance to the Empire of the past. It is an entirely new conception, built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: loyalty and the desire 1183 for freedom and peace. To that new conception of an equal partnership of nations and races I shall give myself, heart and soul, every day of my life.That is a very noble statement which I think all who are concerned with the Commonwealth would be glad to have said and would warmly echo.
I apologise for the fact that I am unable to remain in my place to hear noble Lords who follow me in this debate, owing to what is, for me, an inescapable engagement outside the House—an engagement which, I may say, is not in any way of a social nature.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, in the British Parliament Members have turned their attention this week to Commonwealth affairs, and each will make his special contribution. Having listened to the speeches that have gone before me, I cannot help feeling that already we can say that this is a most remarkable debate. All the speakers who have gone before have held senior posts in the Governments of their country. We on this side take particular pride and pleasure in listening to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee; for we are particularly proud, not only of his leadership but of the fact that during the period of the Labour Government he was largely instrumental in transforming the Commonwealth into what it is to-day. We have heard the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, to which I listened with the greatest interest. I would invite him to come to this House for the debate on the Finance Bill. I only regret that he made his speech today, because I think that it would be extremely pertinent to the Finance Bill debate and would certainly demand a reply. I think that the speakers we have had illustrate the uniqueness of this House and its growing importance.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has moved his Motion in fairly wide terms. He first of all calls for a welcome for the growth of the independent countries within the Commonwealth. Let it be said—for it cannot be said too often—that all these countries within the Commonwealth are there of their free will and by the consent of their friends within the Commonwealth. We naturally welcome the newcomers. We shall welcome 1184 Nigeria in the late year; and hope also that Cyprus, when she becomes a Republic, will decide to remain within the Commonwealth. We are naturally anxious to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on his conversations in Malta, for the situation in Malta has always given this House considerable concern.
With the growth of the Commonwealth, I think we must recognise, as it has been recognised this afternoon, that the bonds that bind us together are becoming more complicated, more fragile, and more obscure. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, recognised this fact when he placed his Motion before the House. I think the noble Lord appreciates that the Commonwealth has reached one of its crossroads in its path through history, and that urgent and vital decisions have to be made. What frankly concerns me is that there is little sign from the Government that they realise the difficult situation, the dangerous situation, that is building up within the Commonwealth; and they have not put before us concrete solutions.
The whole conception of the Commonwealth has changed. It is made up to-day of races and religions with different outlooks on life and different standards of progress. We are no longer a white Commonwealth, looking with affection and nostalgia to the Crown and "the Old Country". As we have heard, from time to time these sentiments have held the Commonwealth together—loyalty to the Crown in the time of war. But the Commonwealth has changed. I cannot help feeling that, to the vast majority of the peoples of the Commonwealth to-day, the Commonwealth and the Crown are something mysterious and obscure; because for the majority to-day the world is bounded by their villages or places within a day or so's march. Therefore, if the Commonwealth is to survive, we must make the Commonwealth mean something special to every man and woman within the Commonwealth.
I should like to pay a tribute to the Queen and to the other Members of the Royal Family. I believe they have shown the Crown in countries which they have visited as something that is real, genuine and kind. I am particularly pleased that Her Majesty has accepted the invitation to visit Ghana, and then India and Pakistan. We saw at the cinema the welcome 1185 of Mr. Khrushchev and President Eisenhower to India. I do not doubt that the welcome Her Majesty will receive will transcend all welcomes that any visitor to India and Pakistan has ever received.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, spoke with some regret when he said that countries were becoming Republics; that they ceased to be a form of Monarchy. I suppose it comes as a shock to those who have been brought up with tradition. But I think we should not criticise. We should recognise that we in this country also have a need, a focus for our loyalty, and it is so in the countries that are now emerging. They have very few traditions, and they are trying to create a focus point on which the peoples' loyalties can be given. Loyalty can be given, as I see it, only if the people can understand and see that focus point. Unfortunately, the Crown is in London. To many of these countries the Crown is something that is not quite understood, and therefore loyalty is hard to give. Therefore, I would not criticise these countries who wish to become Republics. Rather should we be satisfied that they have adopted, and are going to maintain, the standards we have tried to give them, both in the form of democracy and in service to their country. I believe, as I have said, that the Commonwealth is at its cross roads. Economic difficulties abound. I have spoken—no doubt I shall speak again—about the great division that exists between the rich and the poor; the countries that have food and the countries that starve; the countries that have industrial and economic growth and those which stagnate. Those countries are in the British Commonwealth.
The noble Earl, Lord Home, quite rightly drew our attention to the contributions this country is making. But what we contribute is rather like a raindrop in the desert. It may appear to some, in India, Singapore, in Africa, that the contributions we are making are little better than the crumbs from the rich man's table. I am quite sure that this country, if it were given, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne said, an inspired leadership, could make a much greater contribution to the development of these countries. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, wondered whether we should call upon our 1186 people to make what must inevitably be a sacrifice. But if they were asked, I have no doubt at all what the answer from the people of this country would be. We saw their contribution to World Refugee Year, a contribution that exceeded all possible expectations. I earnestly beg the Government to see what more effort they can divert from our economy to give investment in these countries. For whilst we on this side of the House may condemn political slavery in South Africa, what is liberty to a man or woman who is starving in India, in the streets of Calcutta? What is liberty to the man or woman suffering from tuberculosis, denied the medicine, denied the food that could save their lives? Liberty means very little when the stomach is empty. There are many empty stomachs. Much can be done, and the driving force, I believe, must come from this country.
I would not put the whole responsibility on the shoulders of the British people. If we believe in a Commonwealth of brothers this is a Commonwealth responsibility. Therefore, I should like to see a greater effort, co-ordination by Her Majesty's Government with the Governments of the richer countries. Already there is some co-operation with the Colombo Plan, providing officers, advisers; but what is needed is money for investment. I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that there is no point in just pumping money in. What is needed is managerial experience, and the Government have that managerial experience at their call. One part of it, of course, is the Colonial Development Corporation, which we shall be debating in a few days' time. As things stand at the moment, the Colonial Development Corporation will be barred from development work in Nigeria, because Nigeria will become an independent country. Nigeria not only needs money but she needs skilled advisers, and that is going to be denied them because they have obtained their political independence.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
If the noble Lord will allow me to intervene on that, he is wrong. In fact although the Colonial Development Corporation may not be allowed to put more money into Nigeria, it has 1187 management there of which Nigeria, if it wishes, can certainly make use.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I thank the noble Earl. But the point surely is that the Colonial Development Corporation will be unable to expand its existing work and, I presume, to provide further staff.
I should like to say just a few words on the question of South Africa. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that we do not wish this debate to become controversial in this matter. But I think something should be said from this side. South Africa is a very lovely country. I remember having happy days passing through. I also remember the South African soldier in the desert. But I cannot, in spite of my affection for that Dominion, accept the racial policies of that Dominion. I must say that I am utterly at a loss to understand how it is that persons who are Christians cannot worship in the same church as their brothers. The noble Earl, Lord Home, asked us for patience, asked us for tolerance. I believe that we have had our share of patience. Apartheid is not only an attack upon the coloured people of South Africa; it is regarded as an attack upon all the Asian people, not only those within the Commonwealth, as I well know from my experience in Bangkok when the news of the Sharpsville killings came through. The people were horrified and they wanted to know what the British Government and the British people were going to do about it.
My Lords, we have been patient. I hope that the Government will continue to make, in the clearest terms possible, their stand in regard to this matter. I hope they will not agree to any changed membership of South Africa in the Commonwealth until there has been a radical change in the policies of that country—because I understand that the racial policy adopted by the South African Government is not entirely supported by the white population of South Africa. There are many, not of the Left Wing, not of the Radical, nor from big business, who see where these steps are taking them. I believe that this country and its Government must make well known to the South African Government, and to the people of South Africa, where we stand; for I believe that this 1188 is one of the issues which must be settled if the Commonwealth is to continue to expand and to live in peace and harmony.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ LORD TWINING
My Lords, I join with other speakers who have welcomed this Motion, not only because of its importance but because of the wide terms in which it has been phrased. I had my most recent experience in East Africa, and my remarks will be largely concerned with that area. These African territories have been promised that they will achieve self-government, and ultimately independence, at the right time, and it is to be hoped that they will elect to apply to join the British Commonwealth. If they do, they would, of course, do so of their own free will. With the increasing number of free countries which join the Commonwealth, it is hoped that it will not lead to the new ones being regarded as a second eleven.
There have been criticisms about our going too fast in the granting of self-government to these East African territories. The African National political leaders have not been slow to reply. They have replied quite sharply—that who are we to take an objective view as to when they are ready to look after their own affairs? They say that they are interested in self-government, not good government; and they say that if they make a mess of it it will be their own mess. I do not think we should take these arguments too seriously so as to allow them to affect our responsibilities in the matter. We have great responsibilities and we must ensure that the leaders with whom we negotiate are the real leaders—responsible leaders who have the backing of the people of their territories. There are other responsibilities: to see that if independence is to be real these territories have an economy which can raise the revenue to maintain them in a real, independent way; and for them to have an adequate number of staff available to run their countries.
I am heartened that in my old territory, Tanganyika, there is a leader of moderation, responsibility and goodwill, who has gone out of his way to assure the minorities in the Territory that their rights will be assured when he comes into power and that they will have similar 1189 rights to any other citizens of Tanganyika. I believe that, if he remains responsible in the way that he has already done, Tanganyika can influence affairs both north and south.
Now I touch on a somewhat delicate matter. Various Ministers, in speaking about the future of the East African territories, have said that the constitutional reforms are to be based on the introduction of Westminster Parliamentary democracy. I feel sure that we all agree with that. I think it is one of our most cherished institutions, and we want to offer them only what is best. But we must ask the question: will the Westminster model, when exported to African soil, work? I cannot resist the temptation to say that the export model has nothing in it which resembles your Lordships' House.
I have my fears that in the early years it may not work as we should wish. There are various reasons for this. First, there is a lack of public opinion on a national scale in the East African territories. There is an emotional influence—"Uhuru", or freedom; but there are few who could really discuss seriously what the meaning is or what it implies. There are local opinions, on a village or even on a district basis, about who owns a certain water-hole. Though the Press and broadcasting are developing quite rapidly in the East African territories, they have not yet reached the stage where one can say that they have built up a national opinion.
Then there is the fact that most of the political leaders have said that they feel that African nationalism must be based on a one-Party system. I have always been taught that the Westminster Parliamentary model can work effectively only if there is an Opposition which is effective. Thirdly, there is the question of intimidation. There is overt intimidation and there is covert intimidation. Covert intimidation is much more widespread than is realised by people who have perhaps not lived in these countries. It is based on secret societies and on witchcraft, and it affects the population. Finally, the most important reasons why the Westminster model may not work for some time is that the Africans are always saying that they want to build up an African personality: they do not want imported alien institutions; they want to evolve something which is their 1190 own. But I hope that they will accept the Westminster model, and that they will try to make it work, with our sympathetic understanding.
Now I turn to economic aid. So much is needed in Africa that it is most difficult to decide what the priorities should be. There are big schemes and little schemes, but the big schemes usually attract the headlines—the Kariba Dam, the Volta River scheme, and so on. There are a number of small schemes which have been designed to deal with areas which are rather intractable for want of water and where the people are somewhat backward. These are excellent in their way, but quite inadequate, and I feel sure that what are required, if we are going to avoid a disparity between those who live in the most favoured areas, where God has blessed them with good climate, good soil and good rainfall, and those who live in semi-arid areas, are thousands of these schemes, modest in themselves, which will help to build up the standards of the whole of the African population. In the past, Colonial Governments have been rather inclined to spend their money in the most favoured areas because they brought the quickest results. I believe that that is going to cause a dangerous situation, where you have some areas where the people can afford to pay for their educational advancement, and other areas which, unless something is done, will always be backward.
Now there is the question of where the money is to come from. United Nations technical agencies are doing a certain amount of very valuable work in the East African and other Territories, both in money and personnel. The World Bank has made various surveys, including one of Tanganyika, and I hope will be prepared to provide some money. But I believe that, with the suspicions which there are in the hearts of so many African leaders about colonialism, and the fact that they want to be neutral and not attached to one camp or another, the aid which is given should be on an international scale. Your Lordships' House the other day gave its approval to a measure called the International Development Association Bill. That goes some way, but I do not believe it goes far enough; and if there is not sufficient 1191 money on an international scale, these countries, when they get their independence, will turn either to the dollar or the rouble; and they will think (whether it is true or not) that they are being inveigled into one camp or another.
I turn with some trepidation to the judicial aspect. It is taken for granted in this country that the Judiciary and the Executive should be independent. We have given to those countries which we have administered another of our cherished heritages, the Common Law. But for some time now it has been apparent that this is another of our institutions which cannot be exported without considerable modification. Conflicts can arise between the imported law and the native customary law which can lead to serious, even tragic, results. These conflicts become particularly serious when they affect matters closely related to the lives of the ordinary African population, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, land tenure and water.
At the end of last year, a Conference was held in London under the distinguished chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, to discuss the future of law in Africa. It was attended by Chief Justices, Attorneys-General and others from territories of Africa that we administer and also by representatives of the Sudan and Liberia. I believe that this Conference recognised the need to reconcile these conflicts if newly independent countries are to inherit a system of laws acceptable to the public. It is perhaps to be regretted that the Conference did not see fit to recommend the setting up of a commission of distinguished lawyers from the Commonwealth to consider these problems more fully. The problem is of fundamental importance, and a sense of urgency seems to be lacking. The Conference, however, did recommend that a committee be set up without delay to consider what should be done in the sphere of legal education, though I do not know what action, if any, has been taken.
I feel that legal training is most important. Any laws we leave behind could be destroyed in a sweep by an irresponsible act, but it is not so easy to destroy a well trained legal profession. In the East African territories there are few 1192 Africans who are qualified lawyers, and it is inevitable that for some years to come judges and professional magistrates must continue to be recruited from overseas. This should give an opportunity for local candidates to be trained in our traditions; and we have proof, in West Africa and elsewhere, that this can be done. It is important that local law societies and Bar associations should be established on a sound and proper basis.
I turn now to the question of the Colonial Service. I do not think that this is an occasion on which I should dwell on the sorrows of the Colonial Service—or, to give them their correct title, Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. There are still thousands of them doing a devoted, even a dedicated, job of work for these people, in conditions which are not very comfortable, with few amenities. They do the work because they believe in it and because they get a response from the people for whom they are working. It is the uncertainties, not only of their own position but of the work which they are doing and how it will be maintained, which is irking them. They are feeling the matter very keenly.
I have seen that the issue has been confused sometimes by the fact that there is also a demand for more pay and better terms of service. I hope that in East Africa, at any rate, that will be resolved by the Commission which has been recently appointed. But it is the future of these officers which is the main issue, and I feel that the Government have a responsibility not only to them but also for seeing that good administration is maintained, at least until the day of the hand-over, and, we hope, afterwards. We are told that some of these officers have the stigma of the term "Colonial Service" attached to them. I believe that this argument is rather exaggerated. In my experience, the African population have very great confidence in, and affection for, the administrative and field officers who go about their daily lives working for the people's welfare; and they would be sorry to see them go.
It is natural, however, that the political leaders, once the country gets independence, will want to replace those officers as soon as possible with their own people. What are we doing about it? There has been the difficulty that the educational system has not developed as 1193 rapidly as constitutional proposals, and therefore there are relatively few Africans or locally educated men and women who possess the requisite academic qualifications on which the Colonial Office have always insisted in those wishing to become members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. Some Governments (and perhaps I should hardly say "wisely", because I have had some responsibility) tried an experiment—a device, if you like—in introducing an intermediate grade, men with suitable personal qualities but without these academic distinctions, putting them into a grade called "assistant district officers", in which they did precisely the same work as district officers, who were in the senior service, but did not get paid as much. They have become part of the administrative life of that country and have achieved what I believe is a hallmark in being trusted by Government with magisterial powers and authority to sign Treasury vouchers.
I believe we must face up to this problem and that it is our duty to do so. The first thing is to make an approach to the responsible African political leaders and get them to see the problem and to work together to find a solution to their satisfaction. It is, of course, a question of representation—how it is to be represented to them; but I believe it can be done and that it would have a very good effect.
Then there is a situation which I believe is undesirable although I do not know how Government can interfere with it. In each of these three territories there are three civil service associations, each a racial one. Surely for the future it would be far better for the officers themselves, and for the Service, if there were one association on a non-racial basis. The educational system, particularly Makerere College, is likely during the next few years to turn out a number of young Africans who, I think, will be particularly suited to undertake Government posts. In fact, I think that some of them will be up to the standards of some of those expatriate officers who are recruited in this country. But there is a necessity for them to be trained.
I should like to see Her Majesty's Government tackling this problem, too, by taking these people on the lower grade I have mentioned, and also these 1194 young men coming out from Makerere and other educational establishments, and sending them on the courses which have been organised, and are still organised, for the young cadets of the administration who are recruited in this country and sent on a Colonial Service course to Oxford or Cambridge. They would learn much. They would learn sophistication; they would have the pride of having gone to Oxford or Cambridge, and I think they would go back as men of higher stature. What is more, it would be an earnest of our intention to be helpful and to try to find a solution to their problems. I must apologise for having been so long, but I feel that we should approach this adventure of giving self-government with our eyes open.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ LORD DENNING
My Lords, when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, ended his speech this afternoon he spoke of the need for a common faith, and he would find that in the love of liberty. May I suggest that a practical link towards that end is already found in the great common legal tradition which runs throughout the countries of the Commonwealth, a common legal tradition expressing common principles of law handed down by judges who have gone out from here, and now by students who come here—and I am told that there are three to four thousand of them here at this moment studying at the Inns of Court and taking out from here our legal traditions to these countries.
May I try, in a few words, to express the principles which I have found to-day run through these countries that adopt the common law? There are the fundamental principle to protect the individual from arbitrary power, whether on the part of the Government or anyone else; the instinct for justice, which means that right and not might is the true basis of society; and the instinct for liberty, which means that free will and not force is the true basis of government. Those are the traditions which have been handed down by the men who have gone out and those who have come back; and, indeed, it is shown even in the costumes, the robes, they wear. Only a few weeks ago I was in Sierra Leone, and there were the Judges wearing the red robes and wigs, the red robes that have come down as 1195 cassocks from the time of 800 years ago; and barristers in wigs and gowns of the eighteenth century. These traditions are carried on in many countries throughout the Commonwealth.
In many of the new Constitutions now being framed we shall find provisions for safeguarding fundamental rights: freedom from arrest, freedom of speech, no discrimination and no property to be taken without compensation, and all the others. We have not needed them to be written down in this country. The Judges have been able to protect them by their decisions from the Executive. When the Constitutions were set up of the great countries of Canada, Australia and, significantly, South Africa, there were no provisions for safeguarding fundamental human rights. They relied on our system under which the Judges were able to protect the citizens or their principles. But the Judges of this country have no protection against Legislatures. It is assumed and understood by all the people of the country that the Legislature, the Parliament of this country, will not infringe fundamental human rights. But in the new countries which are emerging and coming into this great Commonwealth it is seen in country after country that there must be provisions written down to safeguard fundamental human rights, with the enforcement of which the Judges are entrusted, so that the Judges can strike down acts of the Legislature which infringe fundamental human rights.
That started with India in 1949; Pakistan in 1956; Malaya in 1957, and Nigeria in 1959. Your Lordships will see Sierra Leone and Kenya both stipulating that in their coming Constitutions there shall be a code for protecting fundamental human rights, a thing which the United States of America learnt many years ago with their Amendments. You must have written down provisions for protecting fundamental human rights which the Judges can enforce, and they will strike down acts of the Legislature which infringe them, because it is now seen that Legislatures may become subservient to an all-powerful Executive when there is no effective Opposition.
May I stress the important part that the Judges will have to play in these new Constitutions? To take an instance, it is provided that the right of every person 1196 to his private and home life, his family and his correspondence, should be respected. If that is to be limited, for instance, by powers of police to tap telephones, or whatever it may be, who is to decide, in these new Constitutions which follow in the form, whether the limitation is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, so that there is freedom of the Press where the Press, as in America, claim to be able to comment on any trial whatsoever? In these new Constitutions the freedom of the Press is limited only by what is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. In case after case under these new provisions the Judges will be entrusted with that decision. They cannot help being involved, perhaps as the United States Supreme Court has been, in questions which are almost of a political character and of a policy character.
My Lords, here is the importance of ensuring the independence of the Judges, so that they cannot be removed by the Executive. Indeed, until recently the Judges of the Colonial Territories could be dismissed at pleasure, according to the law. But I am glad to see that in the new Constitution in Nigeria Judges are protected in this way: there has first to be an inquiry by a tribunal in the country; and no action is to be taken on it, no Judge is to be removed, in any of these countries under the Constitution unless the case has been referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
That brings me to the part which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council perhaps ought to play. We know that shortly after the war India, Pakistan, and now Ghana, abolished, or are abolishing, the rights of appeal to the Privy Council. But not all—Nigeria wishes to keep it; Sierra Leone wishes to keep it, and other countries are keeping it. Indeed, if these great constitutional questions arise, is it not desirable to have a body remote from local, maybe political, influences? At the recent Conference of the Prime Ministers, Senator Coovay from Ceylon made a suggestion which was very apposite for Ceylon and which he said would apply to other countries. Ceylon, in becoming independent, becoming a Republic, may no longer wish for appeals to come to a Judicial Committee sitting here in London, with too close an identification with England. 1197 What he suggested was that it should be re-formed, re-constituted, into a Commonwealth Court which should be manned, not only by Judges from England and Scotland but also by distinguished members from other parts of the Commonwealth, and that a panel could sit, say, three in each territory in turn, or as occasion demanded.
Even as a lesser project, my Lords, why should not the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council go on circuit? Let me draw a parallel with the way the Judges of England consolidated our Common Law when there were different customs all over the country. The Judges of England rode round the circuits facing the hazards, as there were then. Indeed, when they got to Newcastle they had to have armed troopers to protect them; and even to-day they get danger money to pay for the troopers to protect them from those hazards. Moreover, the length of time taken in those days on those journeys was far more than the length of time taken to-day in going in an aeroplane to South Africa, or to any other part of the world. Cannot the Commonwealth be consolidated in that way? Cannot we look forward to a Commonwealth consolidated, whether by an itinerant Council or, as Senator Coovay suggested, by a Commonwealth Court in which all could have confidence? Should we not in that way be providing a valuable link on that side?
One word on legal education, which my noble friend Lord Twining has mentioned. If there is any matter as urgent as any other it is that the lawyers of these new countries should be properly trained and equipped for their tasks—and at the moment the facilities are woefully inadequate. The great majority of them—as I have said, 3,000 to 4,000 of them—are over here training at this time, and well trained they are. But we need improvements. We need more improvements in the facilities for practical education, particularly as regards such things as trust accounts, bookkeeping and so on. There should be set up in the African territories law schools and other such places for legal education. In East Africa, for instance, there is no law school at all, except in the Sudan, where there is the old Gordon College in Khartoum. The students have either to come to this country or go to India, with the result that 1198 very few Africans are practising as lawyers in East Africa to-day, although they form the great majority of the population.
My Lords, the Committee which my noble friend Lord Twining has mentioned, over which I had the honour to preside, recommended that that was a most urgent task, and I believe that steps are being taken, I hope quickly, to set up a Committee to that end. But if we take these steps as to the judicial requirements, the constitutional requirements, by insisting on fundamental human rights and by providing proper training for lawyers, surely we shall do something to maintain, not only the rule of law but the love of liberty, and to provide a great bond throughout all our countries.
§ 6.14 p.m.
My Lords, I should first of all like to say how grateful I am to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for moving to-day's Motion, and how grateful are the people who, like myself, have made their homes in and are determined to stay in one of the emergent countries (in my case Kenya), to feel that deliberations are already taking place to see how we can best be fitted into the Commonwealth. I should like to take up a few moments of your Lordships' time to point out that, so far as emergent countries such as Kenya are concerned, the formative years are going to be the years of the transition period before independence is gained. So far as Kenya is concerned, the success or failure of those years will depend entirely on the economic situation of the country. As your Lordships are well aware, all new countries, whether in Africa or elsewhere, are developing ones. They live by development, and it is essential that that development should continue. Despite the efforts of the local population to stimulate that development, I believe that for many years to come outside assistance, both financial and technical, will have to be provided from overseas; and I cannot believe that, unless the economy of those countries is soundly and properly based, that help will be forthcoming.
In Kenya we have seen lately how political reforms, however essential and necessary they have been—and I consider them certainly so to be—because at the time, perhaps, they were not linked with economic proposals, have really had 1199 a retarding effect on the progress which they were designed to bring about. So far as the immigrant communities are concerned, the tremendous fall in land values and the catastrophic fall on the local stock exchange in the value of the shares in the local companies have not helped matters at all; and, so far as the Africans are concerned, the reemergence of Mau Mau oath-taking and intimidation—and, indeed, violence—which unfortunately has been directed in the main to those loyal Africans who supported the rule of law and order during the emergency, has not by any means sustained or helped the confidence of the African people.
Therefore, my Lords, it would seem that a certain pattern must be adopted if these emergent countries are to come through this period of tuition and are eventually to achieve the proper status necessary to take their place in the Commonwealth. The first point seems to me to be that we must have, as has been pointed out by many other noble Lords, British justice and law and order; secondly, that we must have a contented Civil Service, the members of which, because they are secure in their own personal positions, will be willing to guide that essential tuition of Africans during this formative and vital period; and, thirdly, and perhaps most important of all, that Her Majesty's Government must formulate an economic policy which is certain to bring a prosperity to the country, so that we do not fail in that direction. There is no doubt that prosperity is a tremendous assistance, as we have seen in our own country. It helps an independent Government to function; whereas, if there is not prosperity, I do not think things will be very pleasant.
In conclusion, I would say that if, by any chance, the provisions that I have outlined—law and order, a secure Civil Service and economic development—are not provided, I do not think that a country such as Kenya will emerge as an independent State in a satisfactory position. Moreover, it is quite possible that the Africans, if things do not go right, will blame the British people for what has happened and will not wish to continue in association with them after they have gained independence.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I had considerable sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Casey, when he said at the beginning of his speech that he was rather despondent about the lack of interest and lack of discussion about the Commonwealth in most Commonwealth countries, including England. When I entered your Lordships' House some four years ago I started talking about the Commonwealth and the Colonies and I have been going on ever since, but I well remember that there was a period when there was not a single debate on the Commonwealth and the Colonies for a whole year, at precisely a time when we should have been debating the matters we are discussing this afternoon. Fortunately, that period is over and we have had many debates on this most important of all subjects, important not only for the future of our own country and of the Commonwealth but also for the future of the world.
It is a pleasure to find ourselves discussing the practical problems that really matter, because, in the words of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, we have taken the broad brush over the vast canvas on several occasions, but it is not often that, in common parlance, we have got down to brass tacks. That is what we are doing to-day. I was interested by the insertion of the word "happily" in the noble Lord's Motion. The only speaker who has cast any doubts upon its use was the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. All I would say is that whether independence will prove to be happy for the people themselves will depend very much on the way we carry out our duties in solving the practical problems which are enumerated in the Motion before us. I do not think that we can accept that independence is automatically a happy state. If we look around the territories in Africa, I think it would be difficult to conclude that independence for, let us say, the French Cameroons or French Guinea and now possibly for Belgian Congo, is necessarily a happy step forward, if it is a step forward at all.
This brings me to the constitutional side, which has hardly been mentioned this afternoon, except by the noble Lord, Lord Twining, although we talked a good deal about constitutional developments in the debate we had in 1201 March on Kenya, when considerable doubt was poured upon the suitability of the Westminster pattern. I suppose I was one of the main speakers who did the pouring on that occasion. I still maintain that to expect universal adult franchise to marry happily with the Westminster pattern of democracy at the present stage of development is probably asking too much; and we should not hesitate to look at other systems, such as those which have now been started in Ghana or Pakistan. I hope that the Government will not tie their hands in this respect.
I was interested in a phrase used by the noble Earl the Leader of the House—"different patterns of living". This reminded me of an interesting article in The Times about a fortnight ago, entitled, "Why Indonesia Hates the Netherlands". The article pointed out that during three hundred years of colonial rule, not only by the Dutch but by ourselves and the French, Siam remained the only country which had not come under direct colonial rule. Now all the other countries have their independence and Siam, although not better off than the other countries, is not much worse off, if at all. The article pointed out that the colonial period has left little impact on the pattern of living and on the fundamental outlook of the peoples of those areas.
Coming to Africa, I think it would be altogether astonishing if the impact of colonial rule had left a much greater impression there than it has in Asia. Therefore we must be willing to accept other forms of Government, other attitudes towards life, and compromise to the best of our ability with them, provided that we can maintain those fundamental virtues which we have passed on—the principles of liberty enshrined in the Common Law and human justice.
I do not want to go over the ground which has been adequately covered by so many noble Lords, so I will turn straight away to the question of the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office and the Overseas Civil Service. In the past, I have been rather confused about the real situation and what might be done, and had suggested the common idea of amalgamation between the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. I have gone into this question more thoroughly since, and this 1202 afternoon we have had a very clear explanation from the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in defining the duties and the development of the Commonwealth Relations Office. It is interesting to hear that it is developing into a sort of special Department for Commonwealth interests, which can evaluate events everywhere in the Commonwealth in relation to United Kingdom policy and the policies of other parts of the Commonwealth, and which can represent these evaluations forcibly before the United Kingdom Cabinet.
However, this was not quite sufficient to satisfy the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, who feels that a new organisation should be set up which would be definitely Commonwealth and not United Kingdom in character. It is true that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations represents the British Government and not the Commonwealth Governments, but he can do no other. There is considerable food for thought there. Of course, it is a matter which must be threshed out between the Commonwealth Governments, but there is a very big future, and it requires a dynamic outlook in the Commonwealth Relations Office, as well as in the Commonwealth as a whole, to bring about the reform which is clearly needed.
Turning to the Colonial Office, I would remark that it has been said already that there is plenty for the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office to do, each on their own account, and I have come to the conclusion that there is no doubt whatever about that. Like many other people, I have had the idea that the Colonial Office would work itself out of a job comparatively soon. I asked the Colonial Office for a few figures, which I have been kindly given, and I was very much surprised at the result. In 1956—that is to say, before the independence of Ghana and Malaya and before the Federation of the West Indies was set up—the establishment of the Colonial Office was 1,276, and now it is still 1,214. After the independence of Nigeria, which, as has been pointed out in another place by the Colonial Secretary, will take away half the total numbers of colonial subjects, halving them from 74,000,000 to 37,000,000, the reduction in the Colonial Office establishment will be 17. So you see, my Lords, it is not 1203 the number of subjects, but the number of countries, which counts.
Obviously, within the Colonial Office all the research organisations are still needed, the people running Colonial Development and Welfare are still needed, and the number will not be reduced in proportion to the number of subjects being administered from Whitehall. I am not holding this against the Colonial Office. The truth has dawned on me at last, and I thought that perhaps it might interest your Lordships to know what the situation is. So there is evidently plenty for the Colonial Office to do, and they still require plenty of people to do it, quite apart from the fact that, as has already been pointed out, the amalgamation of the two Offices would be unacceptable to the new independent Commonwealth countries. For practical reasons alone, I think that at the Whitehall end there is no case for amalgamating the two Offices, but merely for reforming and (shall I say?) putting a little more dynamic into the Commonwealth Relations Office.
I return now to the last leg of this trio, as it were, which is the Overseas Civil Service. I think that when many of us have asked for a reorganisation of the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, what we have had at the back of our minds has been really the security of the Overseas Civil Service; and not only the security of the individuals, but the welfare of the territories they have been serving, which we feared might be left without sound administration and without the necessary technical assistance. This is probably the most serious problem with which we are immediately faced, because it is a question of responsibility not only to these individuals, but to the territories for which we have been responsible. Without wishing to seem patronising in any way, it is clearly to the interests of those territories when they become independent that they should have the best advice possible; and that I think is becoming increasingly recognised.
The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations made a speech not long ago in which he suggested that these new independent countries did not want the colonial civil servants, simply because, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Twining, they had "colonial taint", and 1204 that they turn more naturally to other countries. That is only the case, so far as I can make out, in Ghana—and in respect of Ghana I have some figures which are interesting. On the introduction of the compensation scheme in Ghana in July, 1955, there were 770 pensionable overseas officers; immediately after independence, 473 were left; and now, three years later—and this is the figure that I want to bring out—of the 473 who remained after independence, there are only 80. That does not take into account people working on contract, but only the pensionable officers. There are grounds for believing that these people have been replaced with people not only from other parts of the Commonwealth, which is a good thing, but from other parts of the world, though I believe on the whole from the Western world: in other words, from Europe. But I do not think that that holds good for the other territories. I think we might say that Ghana would like some of her British civil servants back.
Better arrangements have been made in Nigeria and also in British Somaliland. In Nigeria, in the Eastern Region, there were 220 of these pensionable officers in 1957, reduced now to 100; in the Western Region, 300 reduced to 120; and in the Northern Region and the Federation there were 1,760 officers, most of whom have joined the Special List B and are expected to stay on after independence. In addition, there are over 1,800 officers on contract there. That is certainly a much more encouraging picture. In British Somaliland, out of 111 pensionable overseas senior officers they have asked 75 to stay on, and I believe that all but half a dozen of them have agreed. So I think that the noble Lord, Lord Twining, is right in saying that this colonial taint is not quite so strong as perhaps we have been led to believe by the Minister for Commonwealth Relations, amongst others. I hope that that may be the case.
But we have still to decide what is going to be done in future. I picked up a remark in the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who said that the Colonial Secretary was working on this and that any scheme would be expensive; but he went on, I think, more or less to suggest that it would be worth 1205 it. I wonder whether that is rather a hopeful straw in the wind. Your Lordships will remember that under the Commonwealth Teachers Scheme, which was discussed in this House only a short time ago, we have agreed to subsidise Commonwealth teachers and pay the difference in their salaries, pay for their pensions and all the rest of it, so that colonial territories will be put to the cost only of the average wage the teachers get in their own countries. That is a form of indirect aid, of course; and we have been talking to-day a great deal about the economic aid that is necessary. I wonder if it is possible to carry this sort of scheme into the Overseas Civil Service, because one of the great difficulties—apart from all the colonial taint business, which I think has been exaggerated—is for these new territories to pay the expatriate officers: they need a higher salary than the local men; they must have home leave, higher pensions and all the rest of it. If we are able to give indirect aid by paying the differential, I think that is going to be one of the best investments that this country has ever made. I hope that a plan of that nature will be acceptable to the Government.
I do not intend to go on much longer, but I want to end on a note which will be slightly critical. It is not critical of my noble friend who is going to wind up the debate, or of the Colonial Office; it is not their fault. This is not a new problem. When my noble friend comes to reply no doubt he will say that it is receiving serious consideration. But I hope he will reply in such a way that we get the impression that it is going to lead to some urgent and definite action, and that it is not "serious consideration" in the normal Civil Service sense.
This problem has been with us certainly, if not since immediately after the independence of India, at least immediately after the new Constitution for Ghana, the Gold Coast as it was, in 1951. To be very generous, I will say that anyhow we have had seven years to think about this problem. The remarkable thing is (it seems remarkable to those of us on these Back Benches who are interested in the problem, and to those of my friends I know in another place who feel strongly about it) that, in spite of the very efficient and dedicated Secretaries of State for the Colonies and 1206 Commonwealth Relations we have had, they have not been able to solve this problem; and they have not been able to do that, it is my belief, because there has been a most serious obstruction which they have not been able to remove.
I can only suggest that that obstruction is somewhere else. Whether it is in the Treasury or whether it is in the Home Civil Service, who I feel have not been able to appreciate the enormous importance of the Commonwealth and have not been able to foresee the expansion of the Commonwealth or to visualise the problems on the spot—a point which was brought out by previous speakers—I do not know. But wherever that obstruction is, I ask the Government to break it down, and to break it down soon. If it is going to take a first-class row at the highest level to do it, the sooner that row is had the better; and I believe that it may rest even with the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister himself. If he is unable to solve this problem I do not think that any other Prime Minister will ever have the chance, because it will be too late.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ LORD MCCORQUODALE OF NEWTON
My Lords, I apologise to noble Lords who have preceded me, who have contributed to what has been such an enlightened debate this afternoon, if I do not follow them in their speeches, not even, if I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, in his researches which I thought at one time had a slightly Parkinsonian flavour. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned the question of training officers and instructors, and I think it is as well to have on record that at the present time in this country there are over 40,000 young men and women studying, the bulk of them from the British Commonwealth, and that under the United Nations programme for technical assistance there are more holders of fellowship awards who come to study in Great Britain than in any other country in the world. I know it is only touching the fringe of the problem, but I do not think that, in the efforts we are making, we in this country have anything of which to be ashamed.
I wish to intervene for only a few moments to relate some rather recent personal experiences to your Lordships while they are very much in my mind. 1207 A few weeks ago I returned from the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva, where I had the privilege to be the employers' delegate. There is no need for me, in this House, to relate to your Lordships the achievements over the last 40 years of the I.L.O. in its remarkable existence. But I would remind your Lordships that it is a tripartite organisation, the only one in the whole field of United Nations activities of this nature, where there are delegates from workers—mostly trade unions—delegates from the Governments, and also from the employers.
That brings me to a point which I would emphasise about the I.L.O. in so far as we have had a good deal of talk this afternoon about international aid for the less developed countries. I myself am wholly convinced that the I.L.O., with its tripartite approach, is the international body best able to carry out our desire, which is to improve the standard of life in these less developed countries. Alone amongst international organisations the I.L.O. can attack the problem on what I might call a three-pronged basis. Through its Government representatives it can guide inter-Governmental financial policy, which is essential. At the same time, through its workers and trade union delegations, it can do much to safeguard workers' standards; and through its employers' delegations it can encourage conditions under which private capital can be usefully employed and enterprise can flourish. It is on a tripartite scale such as this that I believe the problem of raising the standards of the less developed countries can be best faced.
I would refer, if I may, in this Commonwealth debate to something a little more personal. We had at the I.L.O. Conference something like 82 nations represented in full membership, and five or six more sending observers—nations like Nigeria who hope within a short time to become full members. Indeed, it was calculated that by next year probably no fewer than 90 nations would be represented. The point I wish to emphasise is the striking way in which, amongst this vast throng of peoples, the Commonwealth nations seemed automatically almost to come together as a family. It is often asserted that mutual self-interest holds the Commonwealth 1208 together, and I have no doubt that that plays a part. But, it was quite apparent to anybody who had the privilege of being a delegate to Geneva at this Conference that the Commonwealth means much more than that.
I wish your Lordships could have been present at our Commonwealth dinner during the period of the Conference. That dinner, which is given by the employers' delegation to all the Commonwealth delegates—those of the workers, Governments and employers alike—and their ladies was a truly remarkable occasion. We had no fewer than fourteen Commonwealth nations represented, many in their own colourful garments. We had over 240 people present. We sent a telegram to the Queen which was unanimously and joyfully suggested. We had a gracious reply from Her Majesty, signed by herself, and we had occasion to see that everybody who wished could have a copy. They naturally drank the Loyal Toast with acclamation, and we ended up—and they did it very well, because we had the words printed on the programme—by singing "Auld Lang Syne." I endeavoured in my remarks which I, as host, had the privilege to make to say how struck I had been by the whole family atmosphere, both at this dinner and outside, and how we had all found ourselves almost driven together among so many foreign nations. Afterwards in conversation those who were present were good enough to say that they cordially agreed with the sentiments I had endeavoured to express.
The other impression with which I came away from this Conference was the desire of our Commonwealth delegates, and indeed of the great majority of the delegates, that the United Kingdom delegations, of employers, Government and trade unions, should show a lead—and they said so with no uncertain voice. So my colleagues and I all came away from the Conference, with a heightened realisation of the truly spiritual as well as material basis of our family of nations.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in saying a few words on the subject of this debate, I should like to begin by saying that I have no intention of going over again the question which has been 1209 dealt with adequately already by the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and that is the position and treatment of the Overseas Service in relation to what they could do to help Commonwealth countries in the future. It would be wasting your Lordships' time if I tried to repeat, in perhaps less adequate language, what has already been said by the noble Lords, Lord Twining and Lord Hastings.
I propose, so far as I can, to try to deal with this Motion, in so far as it relates to the state of the Commonwealth at the moment and in the future, without going into the past or some of the qualifications of the new members. I would start by saying that in my view there are no concrete solutions of what are called Commonwealth difficulties. The Commonwealth is based, as we all know, on a sense of belonging together and working out independent policies in general harmony. We may not have a single foreign policy or a fixed pattern of co-operation, but we have a common purpose: the defence of free institutions and the democratic way of life.
Perhaps I ought to say, instead of "we have", "we had", because the advent of non-European members has raised the question of the effect of the addition of members with so different a background in history and in tradition. The addition of those members makes us look. At present the Commonwealth, consisting of free and independent countries, precludes by its very nature the possibility of any central administration laying down a common foreign economic or defence policy. As I see it, every member nation enjoys a complete control over its own foreign policy and is solely responsible for the international obligations into which it enters.
It is, of course, vital that on matters of common concern there should be the greatest possible amount of harmony and community view. Hence an elaborate system of communication has already grown up and is in existence, of the most frank and intimate character. Apart from correspondence from Government to Government there are periodical meetings of Ministers and officials and daily personal contacts between representatives of the Governments. It is generally understood, too, that any member contemplating action should inform or consult with others liable to be affected. This 1210 consultation does not mean either commitment or agreement. Mutual tolerance and willingness to co-operate are considered to thrive more easily on an atmosphere of freedom than on any compelling regulations.
I made out for my own information recently, and was surprised to find their number, the number of this network of committees, standing organisations which are already in existence to spread knowledge of the Commonwealth and promote discussions between adequately qualified people in the Commonwealth with each other; there are innumerable visits, apart from visits of Prime Ministers and at that altitude. There are conferences of civil servants and technical officers and education officers and every other kind of officer. And one might remember, too, that 40 per cent. of the world's international payments are financed in sterling, and the fact that these countries, with the exception of Canada, belong to the sterling area, is in itself a great bond.
As I look at the Commonwealth, I regard it as a kind of leaven in the world. Perhaps the best example of that is the Colombo Plan itself, which had a Commonwealth initiation but which includes both within that region and without that region many countries who are not at present, and perhaps not likely to be, members of the Commonwealth. There are in the region Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippine Republic, and outside of it there are Japan and the United States. They are all assisting in that plan.
My Lords, peace and prosperity for the human family depends upon the progressive elimination of poverty from the world. I suggest that this means more than anything else in relation to the Commonwealth. It means that capital, skill and industry must be applied. We can provide some of this. But no race can confer liberty on another. It can give it only freedom of choice, which is what the recently made members of the Commonwealth have been given; they are free to choose not necessarily democracy; they can, if they please, choose dictatorship or even chaos. There is nothing to stop them except the influence of other members of the Commonwealth. The results of expanding the Commonwealth are not easily predictable. There 1211 are now, or there will be at the end of this year, five European, four Asiatic and three African members. There is no doubt that in future membership of the Commonwealth will be numerically predominantly non-European.
The material benefits of Commonwealth membership are indeed many. But unless they are controlled and inspired by the simple principles which constituted its original strength, this increasing membership might easily be the cause of a danger of its disruption. If it succeeds in keeping the ideals that are its final binding force, then it could easily be the nucleus of a real League of Nations. The members of the Commonwealth have advanced far themselves on the road to a better world. They have outlawed war between their members and have survived the strain of Kashmir, and are now surviving the strain of the South African Government's domestic policy of apartheid. In that connection, I would say that I do regret the reference which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, to the policy of the South African Government. I do not propose to enter into that subject myself other than to say that it would be only fair, if one must criticise that Government's policy, to remember, too, how much lies on the credit side for that Government in what they have done for African welfare in their country.
The testing time of the Commonwealth lies ahead. Can some of the new members, present and prospective, maintain economic and political stability? Can they produce in their administrators, their civil servants and their politicians, the ability and integrity and understanding necessary to manage a complex economy in the modern world? And is the belief in individual freedom and the democratic way of life really deeply rooted, sufficiently deeply rooted to make them wish to remove barriers between men of equal ability wherever such barriers exist? Or are some of them just suffering from a lethal overdose of Western civilisation?
One gets tired of repeating it, but it is none the less true, that democracy is a set of values, and institutions are merely a way of safeguarding them. In Africa, it is only too often the view that the institutions are the real thing, without 1212 appreciating fully what lies, or should lie, underneath. If I may refer to it, the United Nations stands as a warning to the Commonwealth. In all its philanthropic and welfare schemes, in its health work and scientific research, its success has been enormous; but in its main object, of bringing peace and good will among men, of outlawing war and dispelling the fears which beset mankind, I think it is fair to say that up to date it has had little success. If we want our dreams to come true we must first wake up. Tolerance and understanding, and a refusal to meddle in the internal affairs of constituent Members of the Commonwealth, are part of the very strength itself of the association. One may ask: But what if the internal affairs of a country sometimes assume a wider world significance? That is indeed one of the problems which requires wisdom and tolerance; and perhaps it is as well, in examining such problems, to reflect also on parallel conditions in one's own country.
The question arises, can the Commonwealth survive the continuous succession of fresh members with a naturally different outlook on life? I think the reply is: Yes, so long as we leave to the past its ashes, and retain only the fire of faith, the belief in liberty and order and human dignity, and the long discipline which gives a people self-possession and self-mastery, and a reverence for law which will not fail when that country itself becomes the maker of the law. It is no use (this, I think, was the moral which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, drew) bringing a tribal mind to international problems. The trouble over dealing on a world view with the affairs which come before the Commonwealth is that so many of its members must inevitably, for many years to come, be supremely concentrated on their own domestic affairs.
Up to date the Commonwealth has consisted of States which history has drawn into close association and which have evolved similar institutions—Parliamentary forms, independent courts, free universities, systems of law and so forth. It is an association, and always has been, which offers its members an opportunity of detailed and frank discussions of problems which affect them all. It may be that this compelling 1213 blend of sentiment and self-interest is one of the most important links in the Commonwealth. But in practice perhaps the most important thing, as I see it, is the existence of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, representatives of which are continually meeting all over the world. A bare look at the list of the subjects discussed at these Conferences will show how great an interest there is, and how educational must be its value, in most of the problems which confront the members of the Commonwealth.
In conclusion, my Lords, may I say that these bonds of union are nebulous, almost invisible, but still strong. I know that people with a tidy mind would like to have a central Secretariat and a sort of supervisory authority. But I personally think that any attempt to formalise what the Commonwealth stands for, to imprison its spirit in regulations, would inevitably harm its growth and, indeed, would probably kill it. If you try to imprison the spirit of the Commonwealth in this way it would probably be the end of the ideals for which it stands. I believe that the future of the world depends upon the successful future of what is known as the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I will detain your Lordships for only a few minutes. I have noticed a technique creeping into our debates by which, when noble Lords rise to speak, they sometimes refer to their qualifications to address the House on the particular subject. I think that happened in our Foreign Affairs debate. Alongside the list of distinguished speakers who have come before me (I notice that the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, was to have followed me) my own contribution will be extremely humble. It so happens, however, that I once spent a year or so in a job known as "civil liaison", which was liaising between the military authorities and the civil Administration in India. In that work I found myself in close association with no fewer than 11 district commissioners. In passing, I may note that the best or the worst of them could have been either an Englishman or an Indian, since I regard the breed of the district officer as the same breed all the world over.
1214 I thought perhaps I could usefully add a footnote to what has been stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and I think by the noble Lords, Lord Twining and Lord Hastings, in regard to the fate of the men of the Oversea Civil Service. I think that two approaches have come out of this debate in regard to the future. One approach, which has not been mentioned but was inherent in some of the things that have been said by speakers on this side, is the approach of a group, under the chairmanship of Lord Colyton, which recently studied the Commonwealth and which published a paper called Wind of Change. The other approach has been stated, not so much by that broad and splendid statement which the noble Earl the Leader of the House gave us—a broad picture of the Commonwealth—as the address made by the Minister of State to the Royal Commonwealth Society on May 26.
As I see it, the first view states that with the sovereign independent sector of the Commonwealth more and more dominating the future at the expense of a shrinking Colonial sector, the time has come for a single control. The implication is that the Colonial Office would be absorbed into the Commonwealth Relations Office; and a further implication which I read into that situation is that there would be a common Commonwealth Service serving the needs of either the independent or dependent sectors. As I understand it, Her Majesty's Government are against any formal amalgamation or absorption of Colonial Office functions into the Commonwealth Relations Office. I would agree that we should never seek change merely for the sake of change, but in this rather passionate desire to preserve this—what I believe the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, termed the "nebulous quality" of the Commonwealth of which we are all so proud—I wonder whether we are not also sometimes in danger of a somewhat obstinate refusal to recognise the need for structural change when in fact, to my mind, it becomes rather obvious.
Coming back to the immediate fate of the Oversea Civil Service, Mr. Alport, the Minister of State, stressed in his address the difficulties, and referred to them as more psychological difficulties than anything else. For example, the question was asked: what happens when 1215 Englishmen continue to serve in countries that have passed over to independence? An African may say before the passing of independence that he wants to retain their services; but the fact is that after independence the presence of Englishmen becomes in the mind of the African—and I am stating it completely objectively—the symbol of a status which he seems very anxious to forget. In these territories Ministers may be reluctant to protect Englishmen. We had the case in a Western African territory the other day where the Minister prefaced a remark to a Parliamentary Question with the observation: "Since my Permanent Secretary has not taken the trouble to provide me with the right material, I am trying to answer the Question myself." There is also the natural desire for the local talent to fill the vacancies, to draw the salaries and, indeed, to serve their country. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—and I believe the noble Earl the Leader of the House also stressed this—that there can be no question whatever of forcing the services of these men on to territories; and I presume that whatever measures are taken to preserve the availability of these very fine men would be taken within the context of a general agreement between all members of the Commonwealth.
Others more experienced than myself, such as the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, have stressed the consequences of a sudden break and a hurried exodus of the Oversea Civil Service. The lack of confidence created would frighten away capital investment, and there would be the danger of a vacuum, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred, which might be filled by aid from those whom we should least wish to see supplying aid to these countries. I understand that Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of all these factors and that they have certain measures in mind. My own limited experience leads me to believe that round a table of Commonwealth Ministers, discussing matters of common Commonwealth interest it should not be difficult to find support for something in the nature of an Overseas Commonwealth Service.
Recently at the United Nations it was my privilege, about once a fortnight, to 1216 attend Commonwealth discussions on the agenda, and although I believe it is true to say that on very few occasions did we agree unanimously on any particular issue, the thought processes by which we agreed to disagree were all the same. In other words, there was a relaxation, a tolerance, a friendliness about our discussions which I am quite certain was absent in the case of the more formidable and more noisy blocs such as the Afro-Asians. It is for such reasons that I should always hope that a Commonwealth forum would be the right place at which to settle matters such as the future of an Overseas Commonwealth Service—in principle, if not in actual administrative detail.
My own plea is still for a fully-fledged Commonwealth Service, mainly because I believe that nothing less than that will give these very good men the sense of security and of being looked after which they are entitled to seek. I would suggest that, in time, such a Service could be regarded in terms of the suggestions of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee—sufficiently flexible for an Australian to be sent to Nigeria, and a Nigerian, perhaps, to New Guinea. Hitherto, we have only begun to scratch at the surface of the possibility of what is referred to as Commonwealth "cross-fertilisation".
If Her Majesty's Government, in their wisdom and after full Commonwealth consultation, conclude that a Commonwealth Service is not, in fact, a practical proposition, then at least let the loose arrangement be one by which the individual good man can be retained when and where he is required. The point on which I am hazy is this: I would say that his retention should be covered by a contract with the British Government and not with the Government of the territory concerned. If that involves placing an extra burden on the shoulders of the British taxpayer, by all means let the British taxpayer be informed straight away of the situation. Enough has been said to drive home the point that these 4,000 or so men of the Oversea Civil Service are deserving of a practical expression of our appreciation of their work. They have been referred to as "the salt of the earth", and I believe that that is no understatement.
There is just one other aspect of this situation, my Lords. If we have to face 1217 the day when an Englishman can no longer go out and give of his best in distant and sometimes uncomfortable lands, we ourselves—in a national, collective sense—will be the first losers. There is, of course, a psychological adjustment necessary. A new rôle has to be thought of, as exacting and exciting an experience in the future as was the rôle of executive administrative responsibility in the past. And, provided that in the background there is certainty of tenure of appointment and material security in old-age, I can see no reason why the same type of men who went out to these countries in the past should not go out in the future. If they do, then I do not think that either they or we need make any apology for that process to which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred—the process of colonialism.
I think we can both understand and forgive terms such as "the casting off of shackles" and "the seeking of freedom from the yoke of oppression" when those terms come from those who suffer, for the moment, under a persecution complex. I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was quite right when he said that it is only for the moment. They mellow and lose these complexes. To our own people in these countries who use these terms I would say: "The implication of what you say is that if we had never contaminated distant people in a distant land with our contact, those people by their own exertions would the more quickly have discovered Western technique; the more quickly and effectively have mastered the elements of law and order, have mastered political structures and so on; and they would have done those things better, in fact, than they have been able to do through our contact. If, however, all Australians were to leave New Guinea tomorrow, the people of that country—a people whose technique, I understand, is sometimes to put a visiting policeman into the pot and cook him—would, through the release of some suppressed, inhibited enlightenment, suddenly find that enlightenment".
My Lords, if all that is accepted for the nonsense which it is, it should follow that, where within the Commonwealth good men are both available and willing to work for the advancement of 1218 their less fortunate brothers—and I repeat I am thinking in terms of the availability of Africans and Asians, as well as of ourselves—in a Commonwealth career then, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has said, they should be given a chance to do so. To that end I would hope, and believe, that Her Majesty's Government are taking a long look at the existing machine, not necessarily to create a new machine but to give a new look to the old machine; and that much, I think, is what the men of the Oversea Civil Service can both expect and deserve.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for setting out in a very neat way the four headings of this Motion; and, broadly speaking, I think that the speakers have kept to those headings and have dealt with all of them. There is not time, neither am I the person, to sum up a debate contributed to by so many noble Lords of such great distinction and experience; so I should like to deal with only one or two points arising out of the Motion. Before I do so, may I say that I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Attlee to express his apologies to your Lordships because he has to leave in a few minutes for an engagement with the British Broadcasting Corporation, where he is to pay a tribute to the late Mr. Bevan, and he will not be able to be here for the close of the debate.
My Lords, "constitutional, economic, judicial and organisational requirements of the situation" were what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, directed our attention to. On the constitutional side a remarkable group of White Papers has been issued recently, from which we see that in each of the four months February to May there was a constitutional conference dealing with one of the colonial territories, one of the dependent territories: Sierra Leone, Somaliland, British Guiana and British Honduras. Those are among the smaller of the colonial territories, and they are the ones, I think, which can be classed—two of them certainly, the two in the Western hemisphere—as those which can hardly hope to achieve the full power and status of independent nations.
1219 This problem of the smaller territories, which the Prime Ministers' Conference announced was being investigated by a special body, was, I may say, dealt with by the Labour Party some years ago, and they published a small pamphlet on the special problems of these smaller territories. The problem is a very real one—I do not think it has been referred to this afternoon—because we have in these countries territories of all sizes down to that of a small village. There is Tristan da Cunha with 250 inhabitants; there is Pitcairn Island with rather less; there are territories like Gambia with a quarter of a million inhabitants, and the Falkland Islands with about 2,000. Those smaller territories present a very serious problem if we believe, as we certainly do, that every territory, however small, ought to have the right of self-determination.
We believe that, however small a country, it should progress towards autonomy; and although it cannot, when autonomous, stand on its own feet in the way that a larger country can, it should have the option, then, to determine its own future. It should be entitled to opt for secession from the Commonwealth, for joining with a neighbouring country, such as has in fact happened in the case of the former British Somaliland. It should be able to opt to be associated with some nearby, some neighbouring, Commonwealth country, or left to have self-government in association with the United Kingdom, in which case the United Kingdom would be responsible for its foreign relations and its defence. But the point that I hope will be recognised by the Government is that every one of the citizens of the dependent territories ought to be able to look forward to the highest degree of autonomy possible.
Then we come to the economic question—because I would not dare to venture on the judicial position. We have heard the views of the noble Lords, Lord Twining and Lord Denning, and there have been interesting suggestions for a development of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which I am sure Her Majesty's Government are considering, but it is not for a layman to propose developments of that kind. But what I should like to deal with is the 1220 economic problem. These countries, emergent territories, are achieving—we are granting them—political independence on political grounds; and, let us face it, we are not waiting until they are economically viable or have the full resources to stand on their own feet before we grant them self-government. We grant them self-government because we have taught them in the course of the years they have been dependent on us that man's right to determine his own future is the most important thing for him, and we have held out before them the aim of governing themselves and deciding their own future.
We have given them independence, for the most part, when the demand has become so insistent that to refuse it would cause intolerable strains and stresses. So, it is quite unreal to say that a country, when it becomes independent in the Commonwealth, must be capable of standing on its own feet in the markets and in the life of the world and be economically self-supporting. These countries do not change their status and their power overnight with the grant of self-government, and they must continue to receive help from any sources that will give them help.
Her Majesty's Government evidently recognise this, because in the White Paper No. 974, called Assistance from the United Kingdom for Overseas Development, there is set out the financial and other help which independent Commonwealth countries and the newly independent territories can get. There is the new policy of the Commonwealth assistance loans, for which any country is eligible, and the emergent territories can continue to receive, after independence, the unexpended part of the Colonial Development and Welfare grants that have already been authorised. Moreover, the Colonial Development Corporation can continue projects that were started before independence and can increase the capital allotted to those projects. We think—and we shall have an opportunity of discussing it in a week or two's time—that something more is needed, and that there should be some freedom for the Colonial Development Corporation to add new projects to those which are already in existence. But there it is, my Lords—loans, grants and development projects, all of which can continue after a country is independent.
1221 That leads on to the last heading of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, which is organisational; because it follows from the continuance of economic aid that somebody must assist these countries to obtain the help to which they are entitled, and that body, of course, after independence, is the Commonwealth Relations Office. Therefore the Commonwealth Relations Office must be staffed in such a way that it has people qualified to examine the conditions in these territories: and that, I maintain, adds another function to those which the noble Earl the Leader of the House gave us as the functions of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. He must surely have in his Department an element which is to some extent advisory and administrative.
Now that is something new since the emergence of the smaller territories, because previously the function of the Commonwealth Relations Office was, of course, mainly diplomatic; and, as he said, it has been staffed, and very ably staffed, by officers brought from various branches of the Government service—from the old Indian Civil Service and the India Office, the Foreign Service and the home Civil Service. No one would quarrel with that, or with the work of the Department, but it seems to me that there is a need for officers experienced in administration in underdeveloped countries, who know what it is all about—this question of the development of backward countries in Africa and elsewhere. That is where, I suggest, there is a need for officers with experience, and an opportunity to make use of the experience of so many of the officers in the Colonial Service who see the possibilities for their careers shrinking.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Twining, that the idea that there is a stigma of colonialism attached to an officer who has served in the administration in a dependent territory is very much exaggerated, and I would suggest that any officer who wants to continue in his career, and who volunteers, will realise, before he makes up his mind, that his function in the future will be that of an adviser rather than a paternal governor, and that he will have to serve as adviser to the elected Government of whatever territory it may be—Nigeria, Sierra Leone or any other territory. So I 1222 suggest that the Commonwealth Relations Office would benefit from the infusion of a certain number of officers of this experience and with this ambition to go on helping in the development of these backward countries. I hope that there is nothing in the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that there is some academic qualification which is insisted on for officers before they can serve within the sacred portals of Downing Street.
We have heard enough from various noble Lords to show that there is great anxiety in your Lordships' House about the future of officers in the Overseas Civil Service. I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is going to tell us about that. I hope he will be able to tell us that, in spite of the changing balance in the Commonwealth, and of the diminishing opportunities for service, it will still be a worth-while career that can be offered to any young men who want to take up that kind of living. We cannot see the Service die from the stifling of all opportunities for advancement, and we hope that Her Majesty's Government have plans in hand whereby the great traditions of the Colonial Service can be carried on in the future.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, this has been, I think, a fascinating debate, and I am glad to be able to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for introducing it, and to thank all the noble Lords who have taken part. They have made suggestions which range over a very wide field. I know that those suggestions will be studied here most carefully, and I feel confident that the Commonwealth Relations Office, as part of the duties which you have heard my noble Leader say are theirs, will see that they are also studied elsewhere in the Commonwealth. When I think of the noble Lords who have taken part in the debate this afternoon, and of their vast experience—and, as I say, of the wide range that we have covered—I am a little hesitant of my ability to carry this through, but I will do what I can.
I am very sorry—and I express the feelings of all noble Lords here—that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, cannot be with us now, and for the reason for it—namely, that Mr. Bevan has died. Whatever we may have felt about the views 1223 that he held, whether we agreed with him or not, we are surely all the losers by his death.
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made the point that the Commonwealth is not ours alone. It is not, as it were, our own property—something which we can just run to suit our own interests. He went on, to stress the danger there was in trying to over-organise the Commonwealth, and to get it into what might be formal and organisational channels. Rather did he stress the importance of such bodies as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the value of constant meetings of the Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers, and officials of the Commonwealth. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, felt much the same. In particular, the meetings of Prime Ministers offer opportunities for developing a community of interests which might lead to political action of the type which the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, was anxious to see the Commonwealth follow more positively. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, said that he felt there was a real need of comprehensive action; and, interestingly enough, the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, gave what I thought was a good example of how that worked out in practice when he talked about what happened at meetings of the International Labour Organisation. So that a great deal of what we wish to see in this field happens without the need of special organisation as such.
Turning for a moment to the economic side, I am sure that the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, would not expect me to enter into an economic argument. I do not think that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer could be accused of complacency during the last few months. In other respects, I feel it more appropriate for the Treasury to study the noble Viscount's remarks. But I would make this one point. For many years Her Majesty's Government have stressed the immense importance of exports, not only for this country itself but also in order that we may lend to the Commonwealth. We have, in fact, done that to a great amount over the last few years; indeed, there is a danger that we might overdo it. If we lent too much and brought about a weakness in our exchange position, 1224 that would be a disaster to the whole Commonwealth, which is part of the sterling area.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, did the House a service in bringing out into the open the fact that the growth of the Commonwealth which we have seen over recent years means that the functions of the Commonwealth must change in some ways. He gave the example of the different approach we now have to defence questions. I was glad that he too was very much in favour of continuing the Conferences of Prime Ministers.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, said he felt that more warmth was needed. I think that he will find examples of that in many of the things we are doing. I think that he was particularly stressing the importance of our knowing about the problems of other colonial territories. The noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Hastings, also stressed the importance of this. I think that we already do a great deal in this connection. By that I am not saying that we ever can do enough, but may I give a few examples? Among the Commonwealth Weeks which are held throughout the year, in one part of the country or another, was a recent Commonwealth Week at Liverpool, where 80,000 schoolchildren went to the Commonwealth exhibition. We also help what the noble Lord, Lord Casey, called opinion-formers. We often have delegations from the Press and other opinion-formers of the Commonwealth. We give a large number of scholarships to Commonwealth students—35,000 a year. All these students are opinion-formers. They get to know about us, and we get to know about them. I do not think that I need develop this aspect further, except to say that we are very much aware of the need to know more about Commonwealth problems and are trying to do as much as we can.
In the debate, a great deal has been said about the Oversea Civil Service. I can understand the anxiety of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and other noble Lords. I have always been of the view that one of the most valuable legacies we can make to a country which is about to become independent is to leave it with an efficient public service which 1225 has already a fair number of locally recruited officials. I noted that the noble Lord, Lord Delamere, said that this was one of the three essentials in going ahead with leading territories to independence. The example of India shows the importance of this. But in India we had well over 100 years in which to build up a Civil Service. The position in many of the African territories is very different. Time is short and, unhappily, potential recruits are few, owing to the lack of suitably educated candidates from the territories themselves. I will not dwell on this handicap beyond saying that in every territory we are trying to improve and increase secondary education. Here I must correct the noble Lord, Lord Twining. We are to-day actually providing special training in our own Civil Service training courses in this country; and we provide scholarships which are increasing the number of educated candidates. In addition, we are trying to work out what I would call "crash programmes" on the spot to spur the locally recruited candidates along. But, of course, these things take time.
In leading colonial territories towards independence, Her Majesty's Government seek to discharge three responsibilities in regard to the public service. The first is the building of a local public service which in time will belong to, and be responsible to, the Government of the independent country. The second is the establishment of proper principles governing the public service when the country becomes independent. The third is the carrying out of the obligations to the Oversea Civil Service, together with an encouragement to its members to continue to serve as long as they are wanted. I will examine these three principles at some length, because I think that this is something about which many noble Lords have expressed anxiety, and it is of great importance.
First, with regard to building up a local public service, I have already mentioned the problem of training and recruitment. I want to emphasise that we want to build up a service for a particular territory; that the officers are its officers and belong to its service. We have to instil into a service that it is a Kenya service or a Tanganyika service, and not one which is to a large degree coming from this country and which, therefore, would 1226 not have the proper loyalty to the country which its members are serving. This is a very important point, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, who stressed this matter, would agree.
Several noble Lords have put forward the suggestion of a pooled overseas service covering territories now in the care of the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. But as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury pointed out, the functions of these offices differ greatly. Then, if you had such a central service and its job was to serve the countries overseas, you again would run into the difficulty that the officers concerned would be more inclined to look to home for their livelihood; and the Ministers of the colonial territory who are shortly to run their own government could not fail to be aware of this. The question of building up the service on the spot is a difficult one, and I do not rule out that in trying to help with it in the future there may be some possibility of more centralisation here. We are all the time looking at it, and I am grateful to noble Lords for the various suggestions they have made this afternoon.
Let me now turn to the second responsibility, which is the establishment of a proper principle to govern the public service when a country becomes independent. The vital principle, of course, is that that service should be independent of political control. We manage to arrange this through setting up an Advisory Public Service Commission. I need not develop in detail the steps that are taken to achieve this independence of political control, but we do see that safeguards are put into the Constitution: that, for example, such things as the salaries of the public service commission may not be attacked by the Government of the country.
In this connection, it is perhaps worth while remembering that what we take for granted—the independence of the public service generally, whether it is the Administration, the police or the Judiciary—is not something that comes naturally to the territories that we are leading to independence, but is something which has to be carefully developed and nurtured. It is one of our greatest aims to ensure that that is achieved at the time of independence.
1227 I must say, in that connection, that in the constitutional conferences in which I have taken part I have always been struck by the anxiety of representatives of the countries concerned that something should be written into the Constitution which ensures this independence. I very much agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, when he talks about the importance of the judges: not only how they should be independent, but also the important rôle they can play in interpreting the Constitution and safeguarding the rights of the individual. He went on to stress the possible value of having some appeal, when these questions of human rights arose, to a Commonwealth Court. I cannot go into that in any detail this evening, even if I were competent to do so, but I think the noble and learned Lord knows that this is something which at this moment is being looked at by the appropriate people here, with a view to making a report to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers subsequently.
I come now to the third responsibility that we try to carry out on these occasions—namely, the obligation to those who have served overseas and those who wish to continue to serve, if they are wanted, when a country becomes independent. Both the noble Lords, Lord Twining and Lord Birdwood, touched on this. We have given general undertakings in respect of members who are serving in territories approaching self-government, and the details can be found in Colonial Paper No. 306, published in 1954. Broadly, the undertakings are that officers prematurely retired as a result of constitutional change will receive compensation from the territory concerned; that their pensions and other benefits will be safeguarded; and that the continuity of service of those still serving will not be adversely affected by the change.
In order to ensure that these undertakings are carried out before any territory becomes independent, Her Majesty's Government enter into a Public Officers' Agreement with the territory concerned. I would hasten to say that these undertakings have been scrupulously observed, not only by Her Majesty's Government but by all the territories which have so far achieved 1228 independence. Compensation schemes which come up under the Public Officers' Agreement cover not only those officers who are leaving but also those who are staying on. I can assure your Lordships that in every one of the following territories—Ghana, Malaya, Singapore, Nigeria, Cyprus, British Somaliland, Sierra Leone and some of the West Indian Colonies—such an arrangement has been negotiated. Indeed, it has been argued that these compensation agreements are too generous, and that, as a result, at the time of independence officials wish to leave the service. It is a difficult issue, but clearly the solution does not lie in our being ungenerous: that would not be defensible, either contractually or morally.
We have therefore tried to work out devices to induce these officials to stay. In Nigeria, for example, there was what is known as the Special List B scheme; in Sierra Leone there are new variations; and we are learning all the time. I will not go into the details of the various devices we use, but I think we are meeting with considerable success, as was confirmed by my noble friend Lord Hastings in the figures that he gave. But we are always looking to see whether something more can be done in this respect, and also to ensure that those countries who want these people can have them. Your Lordships would not expect me to add anything to what my noble leader said earlier about what is being studied by my Secretary of State. Perhaps in due course something will emerge, but not to-night.
We in the Colonial Office engage officials for the countries nearing independence more and more on contract terms, and in colonial territories the existing recruitment is now mainly on a contract basis. That is really natural development, when one thinks that what we are trying to do is to build up the local recruitment of these services. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, and, I believe, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, made the suggestion that there should be a Commonwealth Service. That, I think, is a difficult thing. But we already have the benefit in our own service of Commonwealth recruits. For example, I remember well when I visited the Borneo territories that many 1229 of the officers there were in fact either from Australia or New Zealand. Again, we find in the communiqué issued by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers this statement:They trusted that employers in Commonwealth countries—whether Governments, statutory bodies or private companies—would be ready, wherever possible, to encourage members of their staffs to undertake a period of public service abroad and would do their best to ensure that their prospects in their home countries would not thereby be prejudiced.So you see, my Lords, that in this way, on an ad hoc basis which I think is the best way, each of the Commonwealth territories is being encouraged to work for all the others.
Let me turn from Overseas Service questions to the question of what happens when countries reach independence, and to the criticism I think the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, together with one or two other noble Lords, made, that we more or less abandon them financially at that time.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I want to make this quite clear. I made no criticism at all. In fact, I said that I thought that up to now the policy had been right, and that if the Government had not pursued this policy it would have caused great trouble. I am saying that a different approach now wants to be made.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I am glad of that, because I was going to say that it just is not the case. We have done a great deal, as I want to show, because there is one point which I think it is very important to make. If we are going to give a country independence, this must have some real meaning. If a country, apart from the capital it might need for development expenditure, cannot stand on its own feet—cannot, that is to say, meet the recurrent expenditure of its budget—then it is not independent by any stretch of that word. If every year for its ordinary recurrent expenditure it has to get money from whatever source as a regular contribution, I think it is not truly an independent country. I should join issue with the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, on this point, because, in fact, so far as I can recall, there is not one single case of any territory that we have launched to 1230 independence which is in the position to-day of depending on us to meet a recurrent budget deficit.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
Would the noble Earl allow me to interrupt him? When I said that, I did not mean necessarily that they were going to have deficits on their budget. What I meant was that there was much development still needing to be done which could be done only by outside capital.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
I am grateful for the clarification on that point. Then we all apparently think alike, because, of course, there is a different problem when it comes to capital expenditure. All the same, even there we hope that before long these territories may be able in large measure to stand on their own credit. But we recognise that establishing credit takes time, and it is with that in mind that we have developed such things as the Commonwealth Assistance Loans. There is the example of Nigeria, to whom we have promised £12 million of such loans for her next development programme. Apart from that, at the time of making an independence agreement with a country, we have often had to make a general financial settlement, which might not only include a promise of Commonwealth Assistance Loans but also make some degree of grant to take account of the special difficulties that it might face in the first few years. For example, in the case of Malaya the settlement was, I think, an extremely generous one—and rightly so, because they had the particular problem of the emergency to deal with. Thus we do recognise that there is in each case a special problem and we do, in fact, follow the suggestion made by the noble Marquess, that we should treat these things ad hoc as they arise.
I do not think we should underrate the importance of newly independent territories getting money from international sources, such as the World Bank or the International Development Association, or perhaps something like the American Development Loan Fund. The very fact that a territory is independent gives it a better chance of getting money from these sources than it would have when still a colonial territory. With the best will in the world, we cannot "go it alone". We cannot by ourselves give 1231 all the aid these countries need; and it is right that, once they become independent, they should look elsewhere for help. I suggest that there is a real difference between our responsibilities to territories once they are independent and our colonial territories. The colonial territories depend on us to a far greater measure, and we have a direct responsibility for their development and well being. I remember the noble Lord, Lord Delamere, making that point in relation to Kenya. I would say one thing to him. We were very much aware of the economic importance of this at the Lancaster House Constitutional talks on Kenya, and we appreciate that constitutional progress and economic development go hand in hand.
I have been speaking at some length on the money side, but there are, of course, other ways in which we can help. We have Technical Aid agreements, which make provision for the supply of particular experts to cover particular fields. Then we often have those development corporations which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned, which means that industrial companies are interested; for example, the Commonwealth Development Finance Company and also the Colonial Development Corporation have been putting money into these development corporations. This provides a good opportunity of getting expertise from the City of London, which, of course, is so necessary for these countries. We also often provide special help in equipping and training their armed forces at the time of independence. And I hardly need mention all that we try to do, and are doing, in relation to education, scholarships and so forth.
My Lords, I think I have said enough to show that we do not neglect these territories at the moment of launching them into independence, and are very conscious of our continuing interest and responsibility in the case of those younger members of the Commonwealth whose upbringing has been our task. It is a happy thing to see that the Commonwealth as a whole has recently shown more and more anxiety to help its individual members. We have the example of the Colombo Plan, and at the recent Prime Ministers' Conference the subject 1232 of help to the African Territories was discussed. And we have also the educational arrangements which were made by the Commonwealth as a whole after the Montreal and Oxford Conferences.
As various noble Lords have said, it is, of course, all very well to help financially, but perhaps what is more important is being ready to take some of the exports from these newly developing countries. Here again, in the Prime Ministers' Communiqué we find that all of them, not just this country, recognisedthat an important condition of the prosperity of these countries was their ability to develop their export trade.On the subject of the smaller territories, upon which the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, touched, he will find that this too is mentioned in the Prime Ministers' Communiqué, where it says:The Ministers reviewed the constitutional development of the Commonwealth, with particular reference to the future of the smaller dependent territories. They agreed that a detailed study of this subject should be made for consideration by Commonwealth Governments.There is not much more for me to add at this late hour. The very fact that the Commonwealth is growing and is so much alive leads naturally to what I suppose one might call "growing pains". From being a small number of countries composed of British and European stock, there is now a predominance of Asian and African members. That, in this fast developing world, is its particular strength and its greatest challenge. But I was glad to find that no noble Lord showed any despondency about this development. Indeed, they all looked at the future with confidence and certainty, adding, of course, that there are very many problems which we have to overcome.
The Commonwealth is the most outstanding example of multi-racialism that the world has ever seen. It is a true partnership of independent and equal members, with Her Majesty the Queen at its head. I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, that even though some of them may become republics, which we may or may not feel is a system that we would favour, nevertheless when Her Majesty makes a tour of these territories, republic or not, the welcome which she has and the recognition of her position that is given shows where true loyalties lie. Yet I think it is good, 1233 too, that one should think of even wider loyalties, as the noble Marquess mentioned, such as that of liberty. While the Commonwealth's future depends on each member individually as well as on all combined, we, as the founder member and main provider of capital and experience, have a special rôle to play. We will continue to do all we can to strengthen the ties of the Commonwealth and to assist its individual members in whatever way they may wish.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, before referring to the debate, I should like to express, as other noble Lords have done, my sorrow at the sad news of the death of my fellow countryman, Mr. Aneurin Bevan. He had great gifts of oratory, imagination and courage, and his passing will be a sore loss to Parliament and to the country.
Dealing with the debate, I should like just to say this. I have listened with the greatest interest to all the speeches that have been made. It was a list, as others have said, after my own contribution, of particularly distinguished speakers, and it seemed to me that they carried the debate to a high level and that it has been very worth while. I should like to thank all the speakers who have taken part, including, and, perhaps particularly, the two noble Earls who have replied for the Government. I thought that perhaps 1234 there was a gleam of hope in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Home, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I should like to read carefully what he had to say. It is not always easy to pick up the nuance of a speech, but I gathered that at all events his mind was not closed to the various suggestions I had made. I hope that he—in fact all the Government; but particularly he and his two fellow Secretaries of State at the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office—will, as a matter of urgency and prime importance, look at the various suggestions that have been made in the debate, to see whether they can bring about the sort of proposals that we have made. There is nothing left for me to do but again thank all those who have taken part and all those who have listened so patiently to the debate during the course of the afternoon and evening. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.