§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Debate on Second Reading resumed.
§ LORD TWINING
My Lords, in resuming the debate on Nigeria, may I first say that we must not let the somewhat prosaic language., which of necessity appears in the Bill, obscure the exciting and historic event which it brings about. We are becoming accustomed to new Constitutions which give our former colonial territories self-government or independence, but this measure is in a class by itself. It is an example of enlightened colonialism forging into a great nation the peoples of varied backgrounds, languages, customs and religions. Nigeria has been fortunate in having had at its helm many notable and far-sighted colonial administrators—Lord Lugard, Sir Donald Cameron, Lord Milverton, Sir John Macpherson and Sir James Robertson, to mention but a few.
But all their great work would not have brought about such a happy result had it not been for the Nigerians themselves. When one meets Nigerians, one cannot but be impressed by their poise and dignified bearing, which are manifestations of their self-respect and self-confidence. They have produced not only leaders but statesmen, who have approached the goal of independence with a marked sense of responsibility. Unlike the leaders in some other countries, they have been in no undue hurry to obtain independence on the crest of a wave of emotion. They have shown restraint and studied the problem before them, have been willing to take advice and have weighed matters carefully before reaching a decision. The result is, as the present Bill states, the attainment of Nigeria to fully responsible status within the Commonwealth.
Internally they have had the good sense to adopt a federal form of Government, best suited to their particular circumstances. I am sure that your Lordships will be particularly glad to endorse what has already been said about the importance which they attach to law. Not only is there to be a Federal Supreme Court of Appeal but beyond that there will be a right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This respect for law has been recognised and 926 underlined by Her Majesty's Government in their choice of the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack to head the British delegation to the independence celebrations. I had the pleasure and privilege of entertaining the noble and learned Viscount when he came to Dar-es-Salaam to open the High Count. Despite the heat and humid temperature, be-wigged and be-gowned and be-pursed, he carried out the ceremony with the utmost dignity, which impressed not only his legal brethren but also the population generally.
I am glad that the Nigerian Government have expressed the wish to retain the officers of the Overseas Service, and I hope that the arrangements, of which we have been told this afternoon by the noble Earl, will mean that a large number of the best officers will remain until such time as they have been replaced by local men, as this should surely see that the administrative standards, which are very high, will be maintained. The Nigerians have also made clear their realisation of the conditions required to attract capital and the "know-how" needed to develop the great potentialities of their country.
Many of us have grave doubts about where current events in Africa will lead to, but the future of Nigeria seems to be assured, and this new nation can stand four-square as an example to the rest of Africa and demonstrate to the rest of the world that Africans are capable of running their own affairs. Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned is the importance of a period of preparation.
I do not intend to go into the details of the Bill, but there are two points I should like to raise. The first is: what is the position of the Congo Basin Treaty, now that several territories affected by it will become independent? In my experience, it is quite outmoded and should be abrogated or just left to die. I believe that Nigeria is subject to its terms, which are discriminatory. The second point is the position of the accumulated statutory sinking funds on Nigerian loans which have been raised on the London market. Presumably they would be administered by the Nigerian Government according to law, but it is an important point which may arise in the country's future as regards creditworthiness.
927 I am sure that there are a great many people in Africa to-day whose eyes will be turning to Nigeria to see how this great new country progresses. What happens there may have a very powerful influence on affairs throughout the whole continent. I am sure that we all wish the people of Nigeria well in their adventure. We want them to feel that we shall respond to the friendship they have offered us, and that they will find that to be a member of our Commonwealth in terms of equality has advantages of which they hardly dream.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, to-day we are taking part in the birth of a nation. The Birth of a Nation was, in fact, the name of a very early film, which noble Lords may have seen. But to-day, this is no cinema projection, no figment of the imagination and no celluloid story that we are seeing; it is an exciting piece of real history—the bringing into being of a great Federation of ancient African States, old in history and tradition, but new as a State; self-governing, independent and, as we are all delighted to hear, members of the British Commonwealth. This is a great and historic moment, and it is, indeed. as the noble Lord, Lord Twining, has said, an exciting time. We come, all of us, to convey to this State our best wishes.
I have not the long experience of many Members of your Lordships' House in connection with Africa, and I rise only for one reason—namely, because there is one aspect of the development of West Africa that I have watched and in which I have had a close personal interest. It was in 1943–44, right in the middle of the war, when flying bombs and other horrors were descending on us daily, that the Colonial Secretary of the day, the Right Honourable Oliver Stanley, looking to the future, appointed a Commission on Higher Education in West Africa, over which my late husband, Walter Elliot, presided and which came to be known as the Elliot Commission. It was, in fact, the first Commission to have African members. There were three: Mr. Korsah, as he then was (now Sir Aku Korsah, K.B.E., Lord Chief Justice of Ghana), the Rev. Ransome Kuti, Headmaster of Abeokuta Grammar School, and Dr. Taylor Cummings, the 928 Minister of Health for Freetown, Sierra Leone. I can well remember the discussion and the many talks we had, and. when the Commission came to stay with us in Scotland, wondering whether one should at that period put primary and secondary education before university education, and what would be the position of the technical schools.
Sixteen years is a short time, judged by European standards. But sixteen years in Africa is a long time, for so much has happened so rapidly in those sixteen years. It is more like a century of time and changes, because everything moves so fast over there. But let it not be forgotten that the United Kingdom was planning for the independence of the colonial territories when the bombs were crashing on London and the House of Commons was in ruins. These things should not be forgotten in the turbulent situation of the African continent to-day.
Sixteen years ago the Elliot Commission recommended that, both in the Gold Coast (as it then was) and in Nigeria, there should be fully-fledged university colleges, and that Fourah Bay in Sierra Leone should also grow to this status. It was a bold plan to recomment three universities in an area where the tsetse-fly and the mosquito were still the biggest enemies of the people, as well as, of course, being their biggest protection against European invasion. Only sixteen years ago there were also "doubting Thomases," both in the Commission and in the Colonial Office, who, looking at the figures of students and teachers, thought that three universities were not necessary and that one would do the job. But the majority of the Commission, and, most important of all, the three African members, signed the Majority Report; and after some hesitation the Government accepted it, and three universities were provided: one in Accra, at Achimota; one at Ibadan, in Nigeria, and one in Sierra Leone. I well remember the doubts there were as to whether there would be enough professors or enough students; and in Nigeria the University had to be carved, so to speak, out of the bush.
These doubts had some foundation. There were, in fact, as recorded in the Report of the Elliot Commission (which I have here in my hand) only eighteen 929 students in the Higher College at Yaba in Nigeria in 1934; by 1940 the admissions had reached only 36; and in Great Britain, in February, 1945, there were only 193 Nigerian students;—that is, a total for Nigeria of 229. To-day, the University College at Ibadan, aided by the Commonwealth Development and Welfare Fund to the extent of £2.2 million, has six faculties—arts, science, agriculture, medicine, education and engineering and a department of extramural studies; and a faculty of law will start next year. Only yesterday I had the pleasure of entertaining to luncheon in this House the Vice-Chancellor of the university, who told me that there were 1,600 qualified applicants entered for 300 places in the current session of the university term. In 1958 there were 1,150 students in the university, and in addition, between 1958 and 1959 there were 3,585 students from Nigeria in the United Kingdom and Eire, making an increase in thirteen years from 229 to 4,735. Here, I think your Lordships will agree, is really a "wind of change". Furthermore, I read the other day in a pamphlet about Nigeria that there is to be another university in the Eastern Region, 45 miles from Enugu, and that it is hoped that classes will start in September, 1960.
Here is a story of which Nigeria, and we, too, in Britain, can be proud, since in 1944 it required great foresight to see that the future independence of both the Gold Coast and Nigeria would come so quickly, and that the need for trained people to take the responsible jobs would be so vital to the success of these new States. I believe that the University of Ghana, in Accra, is as successful as the one at Ibadan.
The generosity of the Nigerian Government to-day has already been mentioned by various noble Lords, and I should like to add a personal note which I am sure your Lordships will feel is a testimony to our efforts to help Nigeria. I received from the Department of Education in Nigeria a cheque for £500 for the Memorial Fund which has been subscribed by friends of my late husband, who on this occasion was simply the leader of a Commission recommending a policy—since carried out by Parliament—a policy which has been so well worth while.
930 If I have spoken about education in the debate, it is because it is the only part of Nigerian development of which I have some first-hand knowledge. But I should like to say a few words, if I may, about the future. This vast country now becoming an independent Federation has set out on what a distinguished Scottish writer, F. R. S. Oliver, called the Government of men, "The Endless Adventure". What can we do, who are also engaged on the same adventure, to help this great country along? The statement which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has just made with reference to the future of the oversea service of the Colonial Office is most encouraging, because I am sure we can help in money and in trained men and women, and particularly with men and women with technical training—technicians such as medical, veterinary and agricultural experts, engineers, electricians and many other trades, nurses, teachers and other professional people. These are the people whom we can help to provide, if the circumstances and the arrangements about pay and conditions are right; and I think that what the noble Earl has said is going to be of great help, because these people working in an African country know some current language, understand the African people and the various problems of the country, and will be able to put across, as it were, medical, veterinary or agricultural reforms by effective persuasion of the ordinary people which I understand from those who have served out there is really half the battle.
Other countries such as the United States and the U.S.S.R. have more money and more men with technical training perhaps, but I do not think they have the same understanding approach to simple people that we have. We have fully qualified doctors (the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who was here a moment ago, was talking about that), veterinary surgeons, engineers, agricultural experts, who are used to working in African conditions and can probably talk at least one African language. I hope that these people will be able to provide the "know-how" for these new States, because it is on the success of the way they handle this development that their future depends. Also, as one noble Lord has said, quite rightly, to get those people 931 to stay on under conditions of some uncertainty will not be easy; and if the Service could be based here—if it could be a colonial service based here in this country—and people seconded for jobs, so that they would know that when those jobs were finished and they came back they would still be looked after as ordinary civil servants are, I think it would make an enormous difference.
I know that it would cost money—it has been said that it will cost money—but British engineers, agriculturists, doctors, scientists, geologists and others, through the work they are doing, would spread our influence and our ideas of a democratic Government just as well, in my opinion, as people from the British Council or from Information Departments. They could give practical help and encouragement, and Nigerians studying agriculture would in all probability be interested in the methods, and so on, which we could show to them. They might even wish to have agricultural machinery from this country. It would indeed, be a benefit to us, because I believe that it would enlarge our trade with those nations, and be of great use to both sides. It seems very sad and wasteful when skilled men and women have to leave a new country solely because they are part of the ex-colonial Power, when in fact, with a change in the organisation, technical assistance could still be available for these new countries should they so wish.
My Lords, this is a great occasion. Nigeria is now a twentieth century State with access to all the tools of the twentieth century—comets, jets, television, telecommunications, railways, roads, tractors, motor cars, drugs, oil, coal and machinery of all kinds. These are the fruits of the Industrial Revolution—the machines that bring a higher standard of living and are the envy of all the people who do not possess them. What will they do with them? That is the great question. I have great faith in these people. They have shown great wisdom in coming together and agreeing this Federal Constitution. They have shown great wisdom in wishing to remain within the Commonwealth. I hope that we shall show wisdom in finding the next steps to help them, and to wish them Godspeed in this endless adventure, this adventure of government.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, before I speak on the Nigerian Independence Bill, I hope the House will not take it amiss if, as a rather junior and humble Back-Bencher, I should, on behalf of the large number of similar ilk, express my congratulations and very good wishes to the noble Earl, Lord Home, on his appointment as Foreign Secretary. May I add that we thoroughly endorse everything that has been said about the noble Earl by the other distinguished noble Lords who have spoken. We have always found him kind, considerate, extraordinarily accessible, in spite of his many duties, and generous with very useful and wise advice. We hope and believe that we shall receive the same consideration and wisdom from the new Leader, whom we congratulate on his appointment.
I am going to speak very briefly on the Nigerian Independence Bill, because I feel that I know a good deal less about Nigeria than most other noble Lords who have spoken and are going to speak this afternoon. If I speak at all, it is because of my general interest in Africa, in the African sub-continent south of the Sahara. I should like to speak, perhaps, rather on behalf of that part of Africa which I know so well, Central Africa. We have had speakers, and we are to have others, who know West Africa very well, and also East Africa. Perhaps I, with my practical experience of Central Africa, may express a few words on this happy occasion. I cannot, of course, speak authoritatively for the Federal Government, or even for the people of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; but, knowing well their mental attitude, I can assure your Lordships with confidence that all the people of the Federation, whatever the colour of their skins, heartily welcome the independence of Nigeria. To prove that, if it were necessary, I can remind your Lordships of the fact that a diplomatic representative has been appointed from the Federation to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and that that Government have been willing to accept that representative.
I have been to Lagos once and to the Federal territory, although not to the other Regions. While there I met several representatives from other Regions, and I have met them also when they have 933 been in this country—not always leaders, but sometimes more humble representatives studying here. I have been impressed always by one characteristic, and that is the innate common sense—perhaps I would call it the plain common sense—of the Nigerian leaders and their people; the common sense to realise what is practicable and what is not practicable at any particular moment; the common sense to understand what would be, and will be, practicable in the future, and perhaps, above all, the common sense to show toleration and good will and to have patience, and the common sense to want to learn. That is really what the noble Lord, Lord Twining, was saying in rather a different manner in his speech.
If there is any lesson to be learned from the independence of Nigeria—and we have all, not only to-day but last week, been drawing lessons from the independence of Cyprus and the Congo, and turning these matters over in our minds—it is that this great variety of tribes could never have been grouped into three regions, self-governing under one central, independent Government, without that virtue of common sense. That is a lesson which I am sure must be learned and inwardly digested, not so much by ourselves as by the Africans themselves in East and Central Africa, where they are still dependent territories, and by the Europeans in those territories, I do not forget at this tragic moment my friends in Southern Rhodesia. I would ask them to digest the lesson and experience of Nigeria, and it is plainly a lesson of common sense.
By saying this, I do not wish in any way to belittle the great achievements of the people who have gone from this country to help Nigeria, starting, of course, with Lugard, who set up the experiment of indirect rule, creating a native administration, right down to the present holder, Sir James Robertson. The only other one I wish to mention is the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who is to speak after me, because he cannot very well praise himself, and I should like to do it for him. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, he was the proposer of the Constitution of 1946, which really brought together the system of native administration. Divorced entirely, as it was, from the Central 934 Government, with the Central Legislative Council, and welded the two into the unity which we now know. His good work was carried on by Sir John Macpherson. Among others to whom I would pay tribute are the Colonial Secretary of that time, Mr. Creech Jones, whose speech on the Nigerian Independence Bill in the other place read so impressively, and last, but not least, that great Colonial Secretary whose five years of office have brought Nigeria to the very threshold of independence, Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd, to whom we can now refer with great pride and satisfaction as, "our noble friend".
Finally, in wishing every success in the future to the Nigerian leaders and their people, I should add that I have every confidence and, indeed, expectation that they will show to many other African States, both those already independent and those not yet independent, the way to peace, prosperity and happiness, which are the fruits only of genuine freedom—not only the freedom of a nation and a great nation at that, but the freedom of the individuals who make up that nation, living under the rule of law.
§ 4.50 p.m.
My Lords, in the twelve years during which I have had the honour of being a Member of your Lordships' House, there is no occasion when I have risen with greater pleasure to speak than now in rising to support this Bill. It has not only my unqualified support but my confident belief that it marks a turning point in the history of Africa. For, my Lords, this is a dream come true. I think there are few people in this country who realise that fifteen years ago Northern Nigeria had no connection with the South other than through the Governor. The Legislative Council had no members from the North of Nigeria, which comprised more than half of the population which we now know as Nigeria, and laws passed in the Legislative Council did not apply the North unless the Governor chose to apply them over his signature. I need hardly say that it was not quite so autocratic a rule as that, because the Governor always consulted the leading chiefs and other leaders of the North before he did any such thing. It illustrates what a long way has been traversed in so short a 935 time. It was only in 1947 that this Constitution which embodied the North in the Government of Nigeria came into force.
I do not want to weary the House with too much in the way of reminiscent history, but in order to understand and really appreciate what has happened today and what this Bill is the embodiment of, I think it is worth while just for a moment to consider what has happened. This achievement of Nigeria was not accidental; it has taken two generations to produce. Lord Lugard, of course, was the founder of Nigeria. Those of us who had the privilege of meeting that great man, whose name ranks in history only with that of Lyautey and Stamford Raffles, realise that Nigeria was singularly fortunate that he was the man who was in charge at that early time.
If your Lordships will pardon a personal note, may I say that when I was going to Nigeria in 1943 I had a note from Lord Lugard, who was living at b Abinaer, and he said, "If you think I can be of the slightest use to you, I will come up to London at any time you like." I naturally jumped at the opportunity, and I had the privilege of hearing him enunciate what he thought were the principles which would make Nigeria the nation we see to-day. He said, "You are going to Nigeria at a crucial time, and it falls to your lot to be there, and what you do in Nigeria may possibly affect the whole history of Africa."
At the time I wrote down my impression of the basic principle which Lugard wished his successors to follow, and it was just this, if I may be allowed to read what I then wrote:He was confronted with the difficult setting of an artificial unity which existed only on the map. His problem was to build a system which would allow organic growth and make the unity originally superimposed from outside into a living thing which might progress from varying stages of adolescence to adult nationhood. If I may be permitted the observation, Lord Lugard never allowed principles to become divorced from practice, and he held always before him the ideal of natural growth.I think that that embodies the great truth of the difference between Nigeria and much of the rest of Africa to-day. Nigeria does represent a successful attempt to have a natural growth towards its independence as a nation.
936 To pass on, at the time when, in 1943, I was sworn in in Nigeria, I remember making in my speech a remark which came in for a lot of criticism. I suggested then that the motto for Nigeria should be "Unity in Diversity", and a lot of people said how little they thought of that as a remark for a Governor who was taking over. But I think to-day it is realised how true that motto was and has become. Over these years, as I have tried to explain, Nigeria was a network of tribes caught up in an economic web of British control, and out of that a nation had to grow. The secret of the progress lies in various lines of communications of every kind, material, social and economic; and, above all things, there was, in my opinion, a great war-time growth of a feeling of unity, and the person largely responsible for that was the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who came out as Resident Minister there. He threw that enormous dynamic energy of his into the idea of getting not only Nigeria but the rest of the West Coast—but par-particularly Nigeria—to feel that this was a common cause which united us all. He was remarkably successful in that effort, and I think a lot of the modern unity which is felt in Nigeria owes its origin to that effort of his to create it for the war effort.
Of course, he had that friendly relationship with the chiefs, the leaders of Nigeria, which we have seen reproduced in recent years by Mr. Lennox-Boyd. I well remember, as an instance of that friendly humour which governed their relations, a dinner which I gave in Kaduna in those years to the leading chiefs of the North. At the end of the dinner I offered the Sultan of Sokoto one of those groundnut sweets with butterscotch mixed in it, and he said "No". I said, "Do you not like them?" and he said "Yes, I am very fond of them, but I promised Lord Swinton I would keep all the groundnuts for the war effort." That trivial story illustrates the friendly relationship there was between the Resident Minister and the others.
Another thing which perhaps is overlooked if I may be allowed to say so, is that the success of this development in Nigeria owes a tremendous amount to the fact that it is the result of what I believe is called a bipartisan policy. In 937 any case, Nigeria has been singularly fortunate, in that all Parties in another place and here have supported the same thing and have always had the unity here which they were anxious to impose upon Nigeria, too. The first of those Constitutions came originally to Mr. Oliver Stanley. That was at the end of the year 1944, and the next year, before any final arrangements had been made, another Government came in and the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, and Mr. Creech Jones took it over. But there was no noticeable difference. They carried on. They believed in it just as Mr. Oliver Stanley believed in it. And so it had the inimitable advantage of the support of every Secretary of State of whatever Party. Following on that, after Mr. Creech Jones, the people who rendered great service to Nigeria in its development were Lord Chandos and especially Mr. Lennox-Boyd, whose personal charm and tact and active friendship will never be forgotten in Nigeria, as also in most of the rest of the Colonial Empire where he was very well known.
In the days of Sir John Macpherson, whose chief secretary, Sir Hugh Foot, collaborated with him, the 1947 Constitution was found to be successful, and further progress occurred much faster than had ever been envisaged. Finally, we have Sir James Robertson. It would be quite impossible to exaggerate the services which have been rendered to Nigeria by the present Governor-General there; his robust wisdom and his capacity for inspiring trust have been very great. I visited Nigeria about eighteen months ago and went all over it. I was immensely impressed by the fact that everywhere in Nigeria he was regarded not only with trust but with affection and respect, and it is impossible to exaggerate what is owed to him.
A glance around Africa to-day throws into relief the stability of Nigeria, administratively, politically and economically. It has highly capable men at the top—the Sardauna of Sokoto, Chief Awolowo, Dr. Azikiwe, and last, but certainly not least, the Federal Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar. If ever there was a wise statesman, it is Sir Abubakar. My personal opinion is that he is the greatest statesman that Africa has yet produced, and I think that Nigeria is fortunate to have him, with his calm philosophy and his deep loyalty to the 938 idea that Nigeria as a nation has a great destiny to fulfil. These Ministers are assisted by groups of other Ministers and African officers of considerable competence, and the Africanisation of the Services has been proceeding apace. Of course, there is still urgent need of more and more qualified men and women in all branches of the political, social and economic life of the country. They are being produced—not as fast as one would like, but the rate is increasing.
Equally, what gives one confidence in Nigeria is that it is a system of balances. You have the Northern Region, predominently Moslem with all that goes with that. There, there is a group of men at the top who, by long tradition, have learned to exercise authority wisely. You have a people who are trained to respect authority. I have always urged upon them that probably the greatest contribution that is to-day being made to Nigeria comes from the North, which is sometimes said to be rather backward because educationally that has been the case. But the great gift which they have to bring as their contribution to Nigerian unity is this respect for authority, which, as we know, is sorely needed when a country becomes independent and when those who have previously questioned the laws find themselves the makers of them. The progress in the last ten years in Nigeria, as I can personally testify from my visit of eighteen months ago, is absolutely astounding, in every aspect of life.
Before I conclude I would mention just one point about the Cameroons. We have heard tonight what is the choice before them in February, 1961—either to be independent with Nigeria or independent with the French Cameroons Republic. Those of us who know the country hope that the choice they will make will be to be the fourth region of Nigeria. The natural destiny for them seems to be that the Northern Cameroons should go administratively in the same sort of group as the North, and that the Southern Cameroons should find their affinity with the South. But the Cameroons Development Corporation has been absorbed by the Colonial Development Corporation. As the person who was responsible for the creation of the Cameroons Development Corporation, I can only say that I 939 hope that the Colonial Development Corporation will be given the means to make it the success which the Nigerian Government made of the Cameroons Development Corporation, where, apart from profits which were ploughed back into the business, all other profits were used for the welfare of the Cameroons people.
In conclusion, I can only say that I wish the Government and the people of Nigeria all the success and prosperity that surely awaits them in their future—a great future that will loom large in the history of Africa, where their leadership is sorely needed and will, [I am sure, be welcomed.
§ 5.7 p.m.
LORD SAYE AND SELE
My Lords, I have listened with the greatest interest, approval and pride to the whole of the debate this afternoon, and I have heard many well-earned appreciations and eulogies of the Civil Service's work in Nigeria. But throughout the whole afternoon I have not hoard one word about the Armed Forces of the Crown, who have also had their duties in that country and have performed them in an admirable and satisfactory way. I hope that those Armed Forces of the Crown, who are there and will also find themselves out of a job to the same extent as the Civil Service, will be treated in the same generous way as the Civil Service, who so well deserve it. That is a point which may well be borne in mind. The Armed Forces are sometimes left a little behind in these days of peace, and I hope that in this case they will be remembered.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, what could be a happier task than to wind up the Second Reading of a Bill making provision for the attainment by Nigeria of a fully responsible status within the Commonwealth? It is a very great and special pleasure for me to do this, because I have been fortunate in that I attended the last three Constitutional Conferences on the future of Nigeria—in 1957, 1958 and again this year. If I may, I should like to recall one or two of the things that struck me at these Conferences. In particular, there were two that stand out.
One was the qualities of the Nigerians who took part in them. These might 940 be summed up, I think, in the gift of laughter and in the real statesmanship they showed. The second was that, as these Conferences developed, so one saw a growing sense of the reality of Nigeria, and of Nigeria as one unit and as a nation. That, of course, is due to all those present at the Conferences; but in particular I recall the Federal Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar; the Sardauna of Sokoto, Premier of the Northern Region; Dr. Azikiwe, Premier of the Eastern Region and now Speaker of the Federal Senate; and lastly, Chief Awolowo, Premier of the Western Region and now Leader of the Federal Opposition. They played a leading part. It was interesting to see their attitude when at these Conferences points of particular interest to a region, as opposed to the country as a whole, arose; for their loyalties were Nigerian rather than regional whenever there were such questions as the power of the police or the power of the purse. There we owe a special debt to Sir Jeremy Raisman and his Commission who went out and did such fine work on taxation and so forth in relation to the Regions and the Federal Government. Whenever questions like these arose, and the debates were long and difficult, in the end these four statesmen would get together, and it was always what was best for the nation and for a strong central Nigeria that won. That is proof of the real statesmanship they all showed.
I have been fortunate, also, in seeing and hearing many reports on other Nigerians who have been present at many of the Commonwealth Conferences, great and small, on various matters over the last few years. Always one gets the same story. Always one hears and sees the crucial and valuable part played by the Nigerian delegations. I feel that this promises well for the rôle which they are soon to play in the world.
Your Lordships may say that that is all very well—that the people are good material, and that there are nearly 40 million of them, and ask, "But what of the country?" You may wonder whether the country itself can help them to play the great rôle which we believe is to be theirs. Last August I visited the country, for all too short a time. I was there for nearly one month and travelled around. I saw something of its riches 941 and some of the things mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, like groundnuts and palm oil. They have rich tropical land which can produce in great quantity the kind, of things which should be grown there, like vegetable oils, cocoa, cotton and rubber. There are also things like tin, and beasts of many kinds—and, most exciting and importantly, over the last eighteen months they have struck mineral oil in considerable quantity, so that from that angle all looks well.
Then there is the industrial future of the country, the industrial future of a people who have shown themselves skilful and ready to learn. As the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hills-borough, has pointed out, they have taken advantage of such things as the co-operative movement; and I am confident that they have a great future before them, not only by reason of their people, but also by reason of their country itself.
The Bill, as your Lordships know, sets out to give independence, but the four Constitutions—the Federal Constitution and the three Regional Constitutions—will be passed by Orders in Council. I believe it might be worth while to touch for a moment on these Constitutions because there are one or two points which are particularly worth making. They will have in them certain entrenched clauses, clauses which can be changed, in the case of the Federal Constitution, only if two-thirds of both Federal Houses and, in addition, a two-thirds majority of both Houses of at least two of the Regions approve the change. These entrenched clauses are, therefore, pretty secure, and it would need a very substantial reason for them to be changed. Your Lordships may ask what is in these clauses, and I would say that they are the kind of things that we might wish to have enshrined in our Constitution, if we had one—for example, provision for the maximum life of a Legislature; the fact that Parliament has to meet at least once a year; and (a matter which the Nigerians were most anxious to ensure) that matters of the police, the Judiciary and the public service are all outside politics. All were determined upon that, and there they followed what they knew was our example which had grown up by tradition. In general, the whole tenor of the Constitutional talks was of this character.
942 The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked one or two questions on the Cameroons. First, I would say that if the Northern or Southern Cameroons, or both, choose to join with Nigeria, we should welcome it; and provision is already made for the Southern Cameroons in that event to be a separate Region of the Federation. I believe that, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, says, we have very real responsibilities coming to us when we have to take over for the six months' period the running of that country. I will certainly bear in mind the point he has made—that we should tell the world once more that we are putting our troops there as the outcome of what the United Nations have themselves demanded. I would make one further point here. The Federal Government of Nigeria are also to help. They have agreed to provide administration in the Southern Cameroons and have agreed to continue, on an agency basis, to provide a good deal in the way of the ordinary day to day administrative work. We are very grateful for that.
It is particularly fitting that the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, should have spoken to-day because, knowing what her husband, Walter, did in those days, and seeing what has now come out of it, we realise What a great debt West Africa owes to him. Education is, of course, as important as anything in the development of the country. I would only say to her that the things about which she was worried—whether we should be able to provide assistance of one kind or another and do so free—have already been discussed and we have arranged a technical assistance agreement, so that Nigeria, if it so chooses, will be in a position to take advantage of what technicians we may be able to supply.
The noble Lord, Lord Twining, asked about Congo Basin treaties. Broadly, Nigeria is not affected by these. It is true that in one of the broad categories, on the humanitarian side, she is in part affected; but her territory does not come under them. Again, the noble Lord asked about the question of Nigerian loans. With him, I feel very strongly that there is no danger or likelihood of Nigeria in any way prejudicing her great standing and good credit, and I feel sure that she will follow a course similar to that followed by Malaya and Ghana who 943 have fully carried out their obligations in this respect.
One of the interesting things is to see how Nigeria has achieved her independence steadily and with a real sense of responsibility, and all that that means. Nigerians have never wavered in their trust or confidence or in their realisation that our main purpose was to bring them to nationhood and to give them all the benefit of our experience in government. It has been very right that many noble Lords to-day should have paid tribute to those who have helped towards this happy day.
I recall, naturally, the former Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd, who, happily, before too long is to join us here. I should also wish to pay tribute to the Governors; and I should like to start with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, the last but two, because he did so much to build up, as others have said, as an architect of what we have to-day. After him came Sir John Macpherson, and to-day we have Sir James Robertson. I need say no more than that they are both Scots: I could give them no higher praise. With them, of course, we have to thank the whole of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service; and, as the noble Lord, Lord Saye and Sele, has very properly pointed out, there is also a debt due to the Armed Forces. One has only to look at the relationship there is in the building up of the Nigerian Army and in the Nigerian Navy to realise that the Forces have indeed played their natural rôle of friendship and help, as much as anybody else. I think that the arrangement which I was able to announce earlier to-day promises well for the continuing of the work that has been done in the past by the civil servants for as long as the Nigerian Government may wish it.
What of the future? I am sure that the world will be a richer place with Nigeria's joining as an independent member of the Commonwealth. I am sure that nobody was surprised, but, all the same, it is a great thing to remember the welcome that was unhesitatingly given at the Prime Ministers' last Conference by all the existing members of the Commonwealth to Nigeria's becoming a member. Our part in this is one of great pride, but as the noble Lord, 944 Lord Hastings, pointed out, the real credit lies not with us but with the people of Nigeria themselves. There is to-day, my Lords, a great trust and a real friendship between us, and I know that we shall do all we can to ensure that this continues. We will try to give whatever help Nigeria may want of us, and give it willingly for that great nation in the making. Our certainty is in its progress, and our wish the ever-growing happiness of its people.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.
§ Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution of July 14), Bill read 3a, and passed.