§ 2.25 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL rose to call attention to the Report of the Advisory Commission on the Review of the Constitution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Cmnd. 1148); and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I am sure that we are all glad that this debate provides an occasion for the Ministerial début of the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire. It is very satisfactory for us that the noble Duke is to replace the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary as a spokesman for the Commonwealth Relations Office in this House, as so many of your Lordships on both sides take such a keen interest in Commonwealth affairs. I am sure we all wish the noble Duke great success in his new office, and both sympathy and success with the extremely tough assignment he has been given so soon after reaching his Department.
§ We are this afternoon considering the Monckton Commission's Report, and I think we should all agree that, of the 560 many documents which the Review Conference will consider next month, the most valuable and informative will be this Report. Whether or not we agree with the recommendations of the Monckton Commission—and, of course, there will be many different opinions—I think that everyone would wish to acknowledge our indebtedness for their unique contribution to a genuine understanding of the many difficult problems which beset the Federation at the present time. I think it was a compliment to your Lordships that the chairman, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, was asked to be chairman of the Commission, and that the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, was asked to serve on it and did so with great distinction. I am a little surprised that the Secretary of State did not say a few words of thanks to the Commissioners when he spoke during a debate the other day in another place; but, of course, this is something which I have no doubt will be rectified later on.
§ Anyone who has lived for any length of time in Africa and knows what African countries are like once you get away from the big towns and off the tarred roads, will regard it as particularly meritorious that the Commissioners spent no less than three months travelling throughout the Rhodesias and Nyasaland in their quest for local opinion and in order to get first-hand knowledge of local conditions in all three Territories. I do not think that any of us will expect the Government to express their views about the Report this afternoon, although we are all entitled to hope that the Government will take a diligent interest on what we have to say on this subject.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
I will do my best.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
We all recognise that the recommendations of the Report will be hotly argued during the Conference and that the chances of agreement, which we all desire, will be much smaller if the Government were to adopt a rigid posture before the talks begin.
I welcome the Secretary of State's statement in another place that he will try to reconcile different opinions at the Conference table. I am sure he will 561 do his best to bring about, if it is at all possible. a general agreement on the Federation's future. I think that is what everyone in this House certainly would desire. But if the Conference fails to agree—and that is a possibility of which we must take account—the Government will then have the extremely difficult task of deciding about the next of the several courses which will be open to them; and nobody, I think, would be unwise enough to ask the Government to say which course they are likely to take. But there is one course which I am sure the Government should avoid, because it would be a mere evasion of responsibility and would be disastrous to Central Africa; and that is the course of doing nothing at all—that is to say, to allow the Federation to go on just as it is now. A policy of drift in the present state of political consciousness in Africa would be the worst of all policies. If agreement proves impossible, which would be a dire result but is a result that must be considered, then an imposed solution will be better than none at all. I have little doubt that this would have been the view of the Monckton Commission if they had been consulted about this particular question, for it follows logically from one of the recommendations in the Report, in paragraph 340. That says:Federation cannot, in our view, be maintained in its present form".I think the Government will agree that one of the essential conditions for the success of the Conference is that it should be truly representative in character—a real cross-section of African and European opinion in the Federation. After all, the future of the Federation depends on the willingness of the white Africans, who have made their homes there, and of the black Africans, who have lived there for a much longer time, to work together in peace and amity. Therefore both voices should be heard with equal weight at the Conference. I was glad to be told that leading personalities from the African Parties in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland have been asked—and that, of course, is a responsibility of the Government which has been discharged through the Governors of those two territories. I hope that these leading personalities include Mr. Kaunda, from Northern 562 Rhodesia, and Dr. Banda from Nyasaland. There are reports in the Press that Dr. Banda has been asked and has accepted, but perhaps the Government could tell us something now about invitations and acceptances. It would be very useful for us to know what sort of representation there will be from Central Africa, if the Government are in a position now to tell us who will be coming.
Of course, the choice of delegates by the Federal Government and the Government of Southern Rhodesia is nothing to do with us, but I hope that both delegations will include Africans as well as Europeans. It is reassuring that Sir Edgar Whitehead has already said that he will invite members of the main African Party, the National Democratic Party. He has made a liberal gesture in allowing Mr. Joshua Nkomo to go back to Southern Rhodesia. He is, of course, President of this Party, and it would be taking a step forward in the right direction—and a step which would be welcomed by many of us here—if he were invited to come to London.
I should like to ask the Government one or two questions about the procedure that will be adopted at the Conference, and about the general approach that they will make to the problems with which it will have to deal. There is still some doubt in the minds of many people, I think, both here and in Central Africa, as to whether the delegates will be in a position to discuss everything in the Commission's Report. This doubt is due to the conflicting evidence about the relevance of secession. Sir Roy Welensky has, I think, maintained that he had an undertaking from Mr. Macmillan that this matter was outside the terms of reference of the Commission and would therefore be beyond the scope of the Conference. Since this statement, the Government have asserted from the Commission were entitled to deal with secession, but have not, I think, made perfectly clear as yet whether the matter will be raised during the Conference and, if so, whether the representatives of Her Majesty's Government will take part in the discussion.
I should like to remind your Lordships that the Commission have something very definite to say on this subject. On page 563 119 of the Report, the following recommendation is made:It should be made clear"—presumably by Her Majesty's Government—before the Review Conference that the question of secession will be discussed there.I think everyone would like to know where the Government stand on this matter.
The only question I should like to ask the Government about their general approach and attitude to the Conference is whether they now accept the fundamental principle of government by consent as the criterion by which the future of the Federation must be judged. As this is the basic issue on which the Parties here have been divided, and which still divides the Federation, I should like to make our position quite clear. My Party has never objected to the principle of Federation in Central Africa, but only to Federation without consent. When we opposed the Federal Bill in 1953, it was because we did not want it imposed against the will of the African population, and not because we thought that Federation in itself was a bad thing. Unfortunately, nothing that has happened since 1953, since the Federation was set up, suggests that we were wrong in our assertion that we thought that Federation at that moment was premature.
The whole weight of the evidence in the Report shows that African opposition has not diminished with experience of the economic and political consequences of federation. I am glad that the Commission are so outspoken in their emphasis on consent as the necessary condition for the continuation of the Federation, and perhaps I may be allowed to quote another passage on this subject in the Report. In paragraph 75, the Commissioners say:Ultimately, Federation must rest on a general willingness to accept it, or it must be preserved by force. To hold the Federation together by force we regard as out of the question.Thad is the view of the Commissioners.
Surely this is something about which it would not be unreasonable to suppose the Government had already made up their mind. Because these are the two alternatives: if you do not govern by 564 consent, then you will have to govern by force; and that means, in the last resort, the force of the United Kingdom. That, in fact, is the simple and momentous choice before Her Majesty's Government.
I am encouraged by something which the Minister of State, Mr. Alport, said in another place to believe that the Government may already have decided that the Federation cannot go on unless it has the willing support of the majority of both the African and the European population. It is possible that I may have misinterpreted the Minister's statement. I should be glad if one of the noble Lords who is to reply for the Government would tell me whether my interpretation is or is not correct. I should like to quote it (and I think I am entitled to do so as it is a ministerial statement) verbatim. The statement was made at the end of the debate in another place on the gracious Speech. In replying to the Opposition spokesman, Mr. Callaghan, the Minister said [OFFICIAL R FPORT, Commons, Vol. 629 (No. 3), col. 489]:First, he"—that is Mr. Callaghan—asked whether it was the intention, or whether it was thinkable, that we should hold the Federation together by force. I think it is generally recognised in this House, and certainly has been recognised in the course of this debate, that over the long term the possibilities of anything of that sort are out of the question".I should have thought that that ruled out the alternative of force. If this is the Government's view to-day, I am sure we shall welcome it. I think everyone would welcome it; and I should like it repeated on the authority of Ministers in this House.
Now there is one, I think very important, point of constitutional law about which I should like to ask the Government, arising from the right of secession advocated by the Commission. What I should like to know, and what I think it would be very useful for Parliament to know, is whether the Government agree with the Commission's interpretation of the constitutional relationship between the Federation and the United Kingdom Parliament. The Commission's view is that the United Kingdom Parliament is still sovereign and, therefore, can amend, alter or, 565 indeed, abolish the Federal Constitution if it so desires. The Commission maintain that the Constitutional Convention of 1957 has not deprived Parliament here of the sovereign power it is still entitled to exercise in relation to the future of the Federation. Of course, an important consequence of this view, if it is correct. is that the right to secede, while not given by the existing Federal Constitution, can be conferred by Act of Parliament. My Lords, this is essentially a Parliamentary matter, and I feel that Parliament is entitled to know whether the Government take the view that they can still legislate for the future of the Federation. That question I hope one of the Government spokesmen will answer to-day.
My Lords, I do not want to be too long, because we have an extremely long and impressive list of speakers; but there are just two matters that I should like to deal with briefly before I close. The first concerns Southern Rhodesia. The Report confirms the opinion which many of us formed in 1953, that the main obstacle to the acceptance of Federation by the Africans in the Northern Territories is fear of domination by Southern Rhodesia. The Report also points out that this obstacle has not been lessened by the economic benefits from Federation in the last seven years. If I may, I should like to quote one further passage—this is my last quotation—from the Report. It is paragraph 30, page 17:However, despite the effect of intimidation on the free expression of opinion, we were left in no doubt that genuine opposition to Federation on the part of Africans in the Northern Territories has grown more intense during the last seven years, and that the expectations that this opposition would decline as the economic advantages of Federation became apparent have not been realised. It appeared to us that opposition is still mainly rounded, as it was then, on fear that political association with Southern Rhodesia would bring about the sure, albeit gradual, replacement of protection by Her Majesty's Government, leading to eventual self-government, by white domination from Salisbury, the introduction into the Northern Territories of the native policies of Southern Rhodesia, and the eventual loss of landThat is the view which the Commission took about a fear, which has not been removed, which was present at the time the Federation was set up, and according to their view is still paramount in the minds of Africans in the two Northern Territories. We all want to 566 reconcile African opinion to Federation, and surely the best chance of doing this lies in a real change of heart in Southern Rhodesia about discriminatory laws and social practices. It is only fair to point out that there has been distinct progress in removing restrictions in the last few years, although some recent legislation seems to point the other way. But there are still many serious irritants in the shape of pass laws, the allocation of land, and promotion in the public services and in industry, where Africans are at a serious disadvantage, which the Commission would like to have removed.
The Report makes it very clear that no form of association between the Territories is likely to succeed, even with a reformed Constitution, unless Southern Rhodesia is willing to make further drastic changes in its racial policies. I am very glad that this particular recommendation has been endorsed by the two distinguished Southern Rhodesian signatories to the Report, Mr. Justice Beadle and Mr. Ellman-Brown. They and the late Chief Justice, Sir Robert Tredgold, have, I think, set an example in liberalism, which I am sure will make a deep impression on others in Southern Rhodesia. If this fear of Southern Rhodesia, much of it irrational but much of it based on what is actually happening, could be lifted, even at this last minute, from the minds of Africans, then the Federation would have real chance of successful survival. I am sure of that, and in my own mind. this would be the best chance and possibly the only chance of reconciling African opinion to the Federal Constitution.
Now, my Lords, there is just one other matter which I should like to mention, and it concerns the economic arguments of Federation. The Commission agree with, I think, almost everyone else that the main arguments for the continuation of Federation are economic; and here again I think there will be no difference of opinion about the facts of the case. All three Territories are better off while they stand together, and they will be poorer if they separate. And this applies, above all, to Nyasaland, the poorest of the three in this partnership. There are, however, certain points which should not be forgotten when we discuss the economic advantages of the Federal set-up. The first is that there is no country in the world where ordinary people are 567 willing to put their economic interests before what they conceive to be their freedom. In this respect, Africans are just the same as other people the world over—Asians, Americans, Europeans—any people with a vivid national consciousness.
The second point which should be considered is that economic development (and this applies particularly to the Territories which are economically backward, with relatively little development, and which therefore need much more help than we had from outside) is dependent on political stability. That is a primary requirement, and Federation is bound to be politically unstable so long as the African majority is opposed to it.
The third point is that some of the economic advantages of Federation—not all of them, of course, but certainly some of the main economic advantages—could be retained if the three Territories were to become separate States. There is no reason, for example, why there should not be a Common Market, as in Western Europe, with free movement of labour and free exchange of goods. There is no reason why machinery could not be set up, as has been done in East Africa in the shape of the East Africa High Commission, to run public utilities and common services. There is no reason why the Governments concerned should not come together and plan the economic development of the area as a whole. That is a matter of good will between the Governments. In the long run—I am not talking of the short run which, of course, is the real difficulty when we are dealing with the economic position—we shall certainly get better results from a willing partnership, even if a very high price has to be paid for it, than we shall ever get from racial strife.
Now, my Lords, no one here, whatever view he may take of this Report and of the Government's responsibility in relation to the future of the Federation, is in danger of underestimating the importance of the Review Conference next month. What testifies, I think, to the correctness of that assertion is the long list of speakers and the exceptionally large attendance in your Lordships' House this afternoon. The outcome of 568 this Review Conference will decide, for better or for worse, the future of British Central Africa and also the future relations between the United Kingdom and the African countries that have already become independent or are now well on the road toward independence. It is not too much to say that the whole British position in West, Central, and East Africa is at stake. Sir John Moffat, the leader of the Northern Rhodesia Liberal Party, said something last week that I think we should all bear in mind, for he speaks as an elder statesman of Central Africa. What he said—and it is a very solemn thought—was this:There will be civil war in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland within a year after the Federal Review Conference if Federation, in whatever form, is continued against the will of the people.My Lords, I beg the Government—and I am sure that I shall not do so in vain—not to ignore this very solemn warning from one who has spent his whole life in the service of the peoples of Central Africa. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 2.50 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for putting down a Motion for discussion of this Report to-day, and I should also like to welcome him back to our debates. It must be no easy task to speak in a major debate of this kind after having been away from our proceedings for some years, and I think we shall all agree that he acquitted himself extraordinarily well and has put his case clearly and persuasively. I should also like to welcome the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire. Quite recently, only a few months ago, he initiated a debate in your Lordships' House on the problems and opportunities of leisure, upon which he is claimed to be a considerable expert, but I do not think he will have much opportunity for leisure in the future—not, at all events, while he has an office in the Commonwealth Relations Department. Thirdly, I should like to thank the Monckton Commission for what is a most stimulating and realistic Report.
I have always been a supporter of Federation and I still am. I think it is the only practical solution to the problems of East and Central Africa. I 569 am reinforced in this view by the fact that the need for some sort of association was admitted by all parties to the Monckton Report. Not only the majority of the Commission confirmed that Federation or some other form of association was necessary, but even the Africans who signed the Report with reservations admitted it Furthermore, the Minority Report also admitted the need for an association of some kind. Like the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, they tended rather to support the principle of having the East Africa High Commission type of association.
Well, I think that that is a possibility. It is a sort of second best. But one must remember that the reason the Federation was created in Central Africa was because the old Central African Council had failed, and the Central African Council was in fact an association on the lines of what is now advocated. It failed because the Southern Rhodesian people did not support it, and any such association will fail if one or other of the main parties fails to support it. In other words, it does not matter what sort of association one has in form; the main thing is to have an association in spirit. I think that our proceedings to-day are an indication of the folly of the Government in 1953 in forcing through Federation against the wishes of the majority opinion of the Africans. I consider that we who spoke in the important debate in your Lordships' House on April 1 and 2 of that year are justified by what has happened. We warned the Government at the time what would happen if they tried to force it through. All noble Lords will remember the impressive speech by the late Dr. Bell, then Lord Bishop of Chichester.
The Monckton Report is most realistic. I do not propose to go into its details, partly because they are well known, in outline at all events, and partly because the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has touched on many of them. He also mentioned the fact that Sir Roy Welensky has accused the Government and the Prime Minister of breach of faith. Whether this is so or not, it is largely a void point to-day. The past is past and it is no good hashing over these things. We have to look to the 570 future and what our actions should be in the future. And I propose to indicate shortly what our actions should be and not deal with the past.
I think that we should use every endeavour to make the forthcoming Constitutional Conference a success, and we should try to persuade the Europeans and Africans to recognise the realities of the situation—something which, so far as I can see, both parties tend not to do. What are the realities? First of all, there is the political reality. Soon we shall have African majorities in the Legislative Councils of the two Northern Territories, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—in other words, political power will be in the hands of the Africans. So far as Southern Rhodesia is concerned, this is bound to be the outcome, certainly not so early as in the case of the two Northern Territories, but within a comparatively short space of time. This political reality points to the fact that it is folly for Southern Rhodesia, at this moment, or at any moment now, to pass measures like the Vagrancy Act and the Law and Order Maintenance Bill in their territory. It not only upsets African opinion; it does no good whatsoever. They have to accept the political realities of the time. We have to try to stop both white and black Africans from acting the part of Mrs. Partingtons and trying to keep the ocean of change back with their brooms. It will not do.
What are the economic realities? In no emergent territory of which I am aware has there been any tendency to have a less high standard of living than they had before independence. The pressure on the Government of any emergent territory is to raise the standard of living. That means that there must be a firm and sound economic basis on which to work. We have found that in every territory. The old saying about self-government being better than good government applies only when you are fighting for self-government. When you get it, that slogan does not apply at all, as Ministers in these territories very soon find out, and I have had personal experience of this in various territories. There is a tremendous pressure, on the new Government. Their people tell them that now they are running the country they want far better conditions than when the British were in control and 571 running the country. And that is a hard question to answer.
If they are going to maintain, far less increase, the standard of living in these countries, it is essential that they should retain the European influence in business and commerce, and it is no good trying to think of anything different. Maybe in time, in 25, 30 or 40 years—maybe in less, but certainly not in less than 20 years—Africans will be trained to run the economic affairs of these territories, but they cannot do it to-day. It is not their fault; they have not had the training. But we have to face the fact. Even to retain their standard of living, they have to keep a large European influence and a European cadre in the economic life of the territories.
That brings me to a point which is never mentioned in these discussions, either in Africa or here; that is, the question of credit. I spend a good deal of my time trying to assist the economic development of these territories in East and Central Africa, particularly in Uganda, and the whole time we are faced with the question of credit. It is not now a question of being able to get large amounts of credit which we do not have at the moment: it is now a question of retaining the credit we already have. The troubles in Africa, first the shooting at Sharpeville and then the frightful chaos in the Congo, have had a devastating effect on the credit of African territories, however far away they might be from the Congo. I assure your Lordships that this is going to be one of the most difficult problems in future in Central and East Africa—how to retain and enhance the credit of these countries in the world market.
If anybody believes that I am talking "without the book," let him go to the money market in the City of London or in New York and try to raise funds for an African territory and see how far he will get, however creditworthy the territory is. The fact is that the present chaos in the Congo has had a devastating effect on the money markets in New York, London and elsewhere. Only last week I was talking to some distinguished mining engineers from Canada, and they said the same thing about Canadian opinion. When they left, their friends came up to them and 572 shook them by the hand, as if they were never going to see them again, expressing their anxiety because they were going to Africa. But those men were not going anywhere near the Congo—in fact, they were to be thousands of miles away; probably as far from the Congo as we in London are from Taronto. But that made no difference in the minds of the Canadians; anywhere in Africa appeared to be a dangerous spot. That is one respect, above all, in which I feel these African leaders can help.
What does happen from time to time—and we saw it only yesterday—is that some of the leaders, Africans or Europeans, make silly statements. They make statements, possibly at public meetings—owe are all inclined to do it—which are not always very sensible. But at this particular time to make any statements in public, whether they are in English or in same other language, threatening or using abusive epithets towards another community is most dangerous; and I hope that they will refrain from doing so.
Finally, I should like to say this about the structure of the Federation. Why break it up? The fact is that the African leaders, wherever they are in Africa, intend to have far larger Federations after independence. They know as well as we do—they are astute enough—that in many of these countries it is quite impossible to get the necessary economic conditions with very small units, and they are aiming at much larger federal units than the Central African Federation. In fact, one unit will probably embrace the whole of East Africa, Central Africa and Mozambique. So I repeat: why break up the structure of this Federation now?
The objection to it by the African leaders is not an objection to Federation as such but is based on their feeling that it is dominated by the white people of Southern Rhodesia. I would suggest that they get into this Federation and work it, remembering that in a very short time they will all have African majorities in their Legislative Councils and will control the Federation. So what is the sense of breaking up the Federation when in a year or so they will in fact control it? I suggest that at the forthcoming Conference they should consider that point 573 most seriously. As we all know, it is much easier to develop or modify an existing institution than to create a new one. If the Federation is there, I am quite certain that they will be able to mould it in a way that is satisfactory to African opinion, whereas they would probably be unable to re-create a satisfactory Federation in anything like the time. I would urge on the parties at the Constitutional Conference to exercise statesmanship. The situation in Central Africa is a very serious one, and it has its implications in Africa as a whole. Our times and this critical situation cry out for the wise statesmanship that I have suggested.
§ 3.3 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, on this side of the House we join in welcoming the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, after his tour of public service, back into our debates. To-day he has renewed that agreeable, reasonable, reasoned argument to which he had accustomed us in the past, whether he was speaking from the Government Bench or from an Opposition Bench. Certainly there are two things in his speech—and I could say that there is a good deal more—with which I wholeheartedly agree. The first is his welcome to the new Under-Secretary of State. It has been my good fortune to serve in Governments with his grandfather and his father, both of them occupying positions in great Commonwealth offices. So the noble Duke comes to his seat in this House and an almost hereditary title to a Comonwealth office, though I am sure that he will make good on his own. We can also fully agree with the noble Earl in the tribute he paid to the Monckton Commission—some of the members of riper years—for their tenacious and arduous work. Like the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, I can say, et ego in arcadia vixi; and I know that it is quite strenuous work for those getting on in life to get about these territories.
Debates in this House are nearly always valuable. Most of those who speak do so with knowledge and experience, and generally with a deep sense of responsibility. Yet I have found it in my mind to wonder whether, even in this House, it is wise that we should be debating this Monckton Report on the 574 eve of the statutory Conference. If the debate maintains the level of—I was going to say impartiality, but certainly of responsibility and goodwill which it has shown so far, then I think my doubts will be set at rest. For, my Lords, whatever views we may hold about Federation or about the individual territories, I am sure we shall all unite in a sincere hope that the Conference will succeed and reach agreement. I think we should also agree—at least, I hope we shall—that nothing should be said in this debate which can make that agreement more difficult. I emphasise that for this reason. If the Conference is to succeed—and it has a terribly difficult task in front of it—it is most important that none of the participants should publicly take up hard and fast positions from which they would find it difficult to advance or to retreat. So I trust that I shall say nothing which can embarrass the coming Conference.
I was, indeed, in some doubt as to whether I should speak, but having, with my noble friend Lord Chandos, presided over every meeting of the final inter-Governmental Conference in 1953, and having piloted Federation through this House, I felt that your Lordships would expect me to say something to-day. The inter-racial partnership which Federation sets out to achieve is a very great conception. I think we all agree about that in this House, whether we supported the Bill at the moment or not; and certainly it has been most strongly supported by the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, and his Commission. For, as the noble Viscount says:To break it up"—that is, Federation—would be an admission that there is no hope for any multi-racial society on the African Continent, and the differences of colour and race are irreconcilable.He also bears witness to the enormous economic advantages which all the territories, and perhaps Nyasaland most of all, have enjoyed. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has, I think wisely, implied, we must all remember that health, hospitals, education and social services all depend on a firm and sure economic foundation. Indeed—again to quote Lord Monckton of Brenchley:The dissolution of the Federation would lead to hardship, poverty and distress.575 I am sure, from experience, that we cannot get those economic results—here I am entirely at one with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—except through Federation.
My noble friend Lord Listowel, if I may so call him, is really not right in suggesting that results could be obtained without Federation. We tried that during the time of the Government of his Party. Some form of loose association, Governors' conferences, or whatever it was called, was tried. As the 1953 Conference found, that had not worked, and it was only because those results could be obtained through Federation that Federation was so important. In these circumstances, it would surely be a tragedy if Federation failed, and it must be the supreme effort of the Conference to avert that calamity.
I shall not seek to prejudge any of the issues which are raised in the Report which will come before the Conference, and I shall certainly not ask Her Majesty's Government to do so. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, began by saying that it would not be reasonable to expect the Government to give answers. I must say that I thought that in the course of his speech he departed slightly from the self-denying ordinance he had set himself, and put a number of fairly penetrating questions. I do not think—and here I express only an opinion—that it is helpful to ask the Government to express opinions or make commitments to-day, and I am quite sure that it would be wrong of the Government to do so. But I think I could usefully state certain facts, and I have no doubt that they are facts.
The constitutional position of this Parliament has been referred to. I have no doubt that it is constitutionally competent for the British Parliament to legislate, and for the British Government, by Order in Council, to vary the Federal Constitution. That Constitution was created by United Kingdom legislation and United Kingdom Order in Council. Equally, I must say—it is only fair to do so, and I have no doubt that anybody who took part in the 1953 inter-Governmental Conference will confirm this—that once Federation was established none of us ever contemplated secession. I should add this. If, as I hold, the United Kingdom Parliament can legislate on Federal 576 Constitution, I hold equally strongly that whatever may be the technical legal position it would be morally indefensible and practically impossible for the United Kingdom to force on Southern Rhodesia a solution which the Southern Rhodesian Government and Parliament were unwilling to accept.
Southern Rhodesia has been a self-governing Colony for more than a quarter of a century. She achieved that position by her own choice. Many years ago the alternatives were presented to the Parliament of Southern Rhodesia; whether she would be a self-governing Colony, with responsible government of her own, or whether she would join the Union of South Africa. She elected of her own choice to have this responsible Government of a self-governing Colony. She achieved that position by her own choice. She entered Federation of her own violition and by her own decision. The preamble to the Federal Constitution affirms that Southern Rhodesia will continue to enjoy responsible government, and she must be free to decide her own future. Let us never forget not merely the great material prosperity that Europeans, from Rhodes onwards, have brought to their country (it was they who brought civilisation; it was they who brought peace and security, freedom from want and fear to warring tribes on the verge of almost annihilating each other) but also the fact that, for generations, Rhodesia has been their home. To quote the preamble again, the three territories are the rightful home of all lawful inhabitants thereof, whatever their origin.
I doubt whether any useful purpose is served at this time in arguing whether, under their terms of reference, the Monckton Commission were entitled to make recommendations about secession. Leaving aside the fact that it was the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to include secession in the terms of reference which caused the Opposition, as I understand it to refuse to take part, I myself—and as a lawyer of very ancient time I hesitate to pronounce on this point—should certainly have construed their terms as not authorising the Commission to report in favour of secession. At the same time, if the Commission found that a number of people, particularly in Nyasaland, wished to secede, then I think they were entitled to say so in their Report.
577 I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that we have to look to the future. That is rather academic. The Report is there, and in any case I do not see how the statutory Conference in their discussions—which, by the way, because of something said in another place, I hope and assume are going to take place in private—can avoid that topic. It would be quite impossible if they were to be like the General Assembly of the United Nations. The discussions must, of course, be in private, as they always have been up to date, and that is the only question I am going to put to the Government. I should like to have confirmation of that belief. But in these discussions I do not see how they could avoid the topic. As I said, I do not want to prejudge the issues raised in the Report. But on secession I would say—and I do not think anybody will disagree—that one of the most unsettling and sterilising factors in any situation is uncertainty. I am sure that that fact will be fully weighed by the Conference.
My Lords, there is only one other recommendation to which I should like to refer without pronouncing dogmatically. Your Lordships will remember that the Commission have proposed that the Federal Assembly should consist, I think it is, of 60 persons—30 European and 30 African; 30 white and 30 black. I think I understand the reasoning which led the Monckton Commission to make that recommendation that some sort of parity, a kind of Judgment of Solomon, might appeal as fair to both sides— though I may remind your Lordships, in passing, that Solomon's Judgment was not accepted by either side. But what is clear is that the spirit of Federation is everything: unless we can get that spirit I agree that Federation is dead. And here, where the essence of Federation, if it is to succeed, must be partnership, where the idea of two sides is the negation of the partnership concept, it seems to me that to range Europeans and Africans in confronting blocs, apparently for all time—and if you start them in confronting blocs, I do not know how you are going to get away from it—is to perpetuate just what we seek to avoid.
I hope that I have said nothing which will make the task of any delegate to the Government Conference more difficult The delegates at that Conference 578 will need wisdom, tolerance, mutual understanding, vision and faith—qualities in which, happily, the people of the Commonwealth are not deficient. We shall hope they will succeed. Indeed, we shall pray, in the words hallowed by Parliamentary tradition, "that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon their counsels".
§ 3.22 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, may I thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and my noble friend, Lord Swinton, for their extremely kind messages, words of welcome and encouragement. On this first occasion on which I have the privilege of speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government I have found those messages both extremely warming and extremely comforting. To the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I would say this: I will do my best to answer some of the questions he has raised. If I may put it this way, I will try to deal with some of the slower balls and leave my noble friend the Leader of the House to deal with the faster, as he is far more qualified to play fast bowling than I am.
I should like to endorse the thanks to the Commission that have been expressed by the noble Lords who have already spoken by expressing on behalf of Her Majesty's Government our warmest thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley who is, among other things, a distinguished Member of this House, and to his colleagues on the Commission for the great service they have performed in producing the Report which is the subject of to-day's debate. Whether or not you agree with the findings of the Report, everyone will surely agree that it is a document of the greatest importance and the greatest interest. Lord Monckton of Brenchley and his colleagues travelled thousands of miles and spent many weeks, first of all hearing evidence and then putting the Report together, and those labours have earned them our deepest gratitude.
The House has listened to the speeches of the noble Earls and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, with great interest; we have listened to what they had to say on the Report and we will note it and 579 mark it. I and my colleagues look forward to hearing the views of the other noble Lords who are to speak during the course of the debate, and we will listen attentively and I hope intelligently.
My Lords, I fear that so far as I am concerned I shall have no comments to make on the recommendations of the Report, and I am most grateful to the noble Earls, Lord Listowel and Lord Swinton, for their understanding in this matter. I assure them both that we put very great store by this debate. As your Lordships will know, the Conference to review the Constitution of the Federation is to open on Monday, December 5. To answer one of the noble Earl's questions as to the composition of the delegations, I would say that this matter is governed by Article 99 of the Constitution. They have to be chosen by Governments. It is therefore for each of the Governments in the Federation to choose its own delegates. The House may rest assured that the delegations from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland for which Her Majesty's Government are responsible will be as representative as possible, with leading personalities from the principal African Parties invited. We may be sure that the Governments of the, Federation and that of Southern Rhodesia also have this point in mind. As regards individual names, I would ask your Lordships to await the announcement which will be made when the delegations are complete.
About a week before the Federal Review Conference opens, Sir Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, is coming to London for informal talks with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. These talks are being held at the request of Sir Edgar for the purpose of discussing his proposals for amending the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia. It remains the position of Her Majesty's Government that their ability to accept a scheme which would reduce or withdraw the powers vested in the Secretary of State in relation to the Southern Rhodesian Constitution depends on whether arrangements can be devised and agreed which would provide effective alternative safeguards. I hope the House will agree with the noble Earls, Lord Listowel and Lord Swinton, that it would be most 580 unwise for me to express any definite views on the Report prior to the holding of the Conference. For, were I to do so, Her Majesty's Government's chief role at this Conference, that of trying to reconcile the differing views as to the adjustments to be made in the present structure of the Federation which are about to be put forward by the delegations to the Conference, would be seriously compromised.
There are, however, one or two general comments on the subject for which comment by me may be pertinent. I have already expressed our thanks to Lord Monckton of Brenchley and his colleagues and I think that when reading, discussing or thinking about the Report it is worth while bearing in mind the personalities and achievements of those who served on the Commission and who, with only two exceptions, signed the main Report. Incidentally, the fact that such an overwhelmingly large majority managed to reach a comprehensive measure of agreement in such a complex and controversial subject represents a very real personal triumph for Lord Monckton of Brenchley.
As your Lordships will know, the Commission was composed of individuals from the United Kingdom, the Federation, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland, and one individual each from Canada and Australia. I would emphasise that these gentlemen, who were nominated by their respective Governments, gave their services as individuals and not as representatives of the territories they came from. Of the five Africans on the Commission, three signed the Majority Report, and it would be hard to find a more distinguished list than the names of the thirteen men on the Commission from the Commonwealth, representing, as it does, expert knowledge and long experience in the law, banking, industry and African farming, as well as many other subjects. The remaining ten signatories came from the United Kingdom, and it is perhaps not without interest to see that if we include the chairman, no fewer than four of those, ten were members of Her Majesty's Government in 1953 when Federation came into being.
With one exception, I intend to leave aside the details of recommendation of 581 the Commission's Report which, as I have already said, will be the subject of negotiation between the different Government delegations concerned at the forthcoming Conference. The exception is that contained in paragraph 294 of the Report, and this also answers another of the noble Earl's questions. This recommendation suggests that it should be made clear before the Conference is held that secession will be discussed at it. I do not intend to go into the question Whether the Commission were or were not correct in including among their recommendations a recommendation that the territories composing the Federation should be given a qualified option to secede in certain defined circumstances at some future date. However, I can assure the noble Earl that the statement by Her Majesty's Government, published at the same time as the Report, stated:… whatever view may be taken as to whether this recommendation was within the terms of reference of the Commission, it is clear that the Review Conference must be free to discuss this and any other relevant issue.That is the view of Her Majesty's Government.
It is, I think, relevant to point out that the first four chapters of the Report set out the unanimous views of the Commission on the present attitude of the main communities towards Federation and the advantages and achievements of the Federation up to the present time. To sum these up I cannot do better than quote from the final sentences of Chapter 4 of the Report:With the foundation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland there was established for the First time in Africa South of the Sahara a political entity with partnership and cooperation between the races as its avowed aim, in contrast to states in which the Government was dominated either by the white or the black community. … To break this up at this crucial moment in the history of Africa would, we believe, amount to an admission that there is no hope of survival for any non-racial society on the African continent and that differences of colour and race are irreconcilable. We cannot agree to such a conclusion. We believe rather that our object should be to preserve the benefits of Federation by recasting the structure of the present association in a form more acceptable to its inhabitants.In expressing these views the Commission underlines an aspect of the problem of Federation in which I find cause for hope. It is that, while in no 582 sense wishing to underestimate the immense difficulties that lie ahead, the problems posed are essentially ones of means rather than of ends. Everyone in this House, indeed everyone, of whatever race, who has the best interests of Central Africa at heart has the same aim: the establishment in Central Africa of a non-racial community that is stable, prosperous and happy in which the races can live side by side in peace, amity and partnership. Here again I should like to quote, but this time from the Minority Report signed by Mr. Chirwa and Mr. Habanyama. This is what they have to say in their final paragraph:We feel that in is very important that European's should not feel insecure. We want them to live and work amongst us and bring up their children in security. Their value to society as teachers, technicians, producers or traders assures them of safety and continued prosperity just as it assures the rich and salaried classes in England their accepted place in Society.Noble Lords on all sides of the House will, I think, agree that, so far as the economic aspect of Federation is concerned, the venture has shown itself to be a success. The Report gives statistics that show most encouraging figures as to the economic growth of the territories; and if it is argued that the financial benefits have not been as equally spread as is desirable, I think it only fair to say that this inequality of the spread of prosperity is a common symptom in rapidly expanding countries.
Were the problems of the future of Federation solely economic, there would be a comparatively simple problem to solve. Unfortunately they are not, for the main difficulties are political, and since it is impossible to have lasting economic stability and prosperity without first achieving an acceptable political settlement, the economic future of the three territories is bound to be fluctuating and uncertain until such time as a political settlement has been reached. The truth of this can be seen from the slowing up of overseas investment in the Federation since the clouds of uncertainty as to its future have been gathering. The danger to the economic strength of the three territories has been eloquently and lucidly dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and I am extremely grateful for what he has had to say on this subject.
583 In addition to the economic advantages of Federation there is a further consideration. Much has been heard lately, when talking of the problems of West Africa, by both Europeans and Africans of the dangers that would arise from the creating of numbers of small, unviable States in that part of the continent. I can see no reason for supposing that what is undesirable for West Africa should be any less undesirable for Central Africa. The Commission recognise this, for at the end of paragraph 76 they state:Much has been said about the dangers of balkanisation in newly independent African states. It would be a tragedy if this process were to occur in a region under the British Crown.Nevertheless, we must face the fact that Federation as at present constituted is not trusted by very many Africans who are living within its boundaries, and the fact that it has already brought considerable economic advantages, and will continue to do so, will not be enough to make it become so. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has said in another place, the fundamental issue is one of confidence. Regrettably—and here I support what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has to say on this point—this lack of confidence has been increased and emphasised by the mistrust of Southern Rhodesia by Africans living in the two Northern territories. In facing the whole problem of the future of the Federation this mistrust is a factor that must not be overlooked, and to show the weight of its importance again I cannot do better than quote from paragraph 27 of the main Report:The dislike of Federation among Africans in the two Northern territories is widespread, sincere and of long standing. It is almost pathological. It is associated almost everywhere with a picture of Southern Rhodesia as a white man's country.In this connection the recent steps taken by the Government of Southern Rhodesia under which racial segregation and restrictive land practices are, to some extent at least, to be removed, are very much to be welcomed. Her Majesty's Government also note with pleasure that since the Commission has reported, the Southern Rhodesia Government have introduced an amendment to the Public Services Act to make all 584 races eligible to enter the Public Service. I was very glad to hear that the noble Earl recognises these steps and approves of them. There is no doubt that discrimination is the reason for much of the mistrust to which I have alluded and is the cause of intense bitterness among Africans.
It is, of course, understandable that the counsels of both races are to a certain extent governed by fear. The Africans fear that the minority of Europeans are determined to deny them for as long as possible, if not for ever, their right to govern themselves as they see other African peoples now doing in other parts of the continent while the Europeans fear that by too early a handing over of even partial control of the country to the African will lead to a lowering of the standards, of which they are justly proud, to the decay of the administration and of the businesses that they have founded and built up, and will destroy both the future that they have planned for their children and their grandchildren as well as their own lives work, and, in many cases, that of their fathers and grandfathers. We can all readily understand both these points of view and, indeed, sympathise with them. But, as always, fear is a bad counsellor, and I think it is due to such fears that the less wise actions both by Europeans and Africans in the past can be attributed. The future hangs in the balance, and the results of the forthcoming Conference will be momentous. Her Majesty's Government will do their utmost to try to create conditions whereby agreement between the widely differing points of view can be achieved. The prize is great and glittering, while at the thought of failure one is filled with the foreboding of catastrophe.
The noble Earl has asked what Her Majesty's Government will do if the Conference does not agree. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State had this to say on the prospects should the Conference fail to agree. [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 629 (No. 3), col. 378]:All I can say is that, if we fail to reach agreement at the Conference, all the courses open to us will be highly distasteful and highly unsatisfactory. … Let us make no mistake about it. The whole concept of a multi-racial society is on trial. Neither the Africans nor the Europeans or anyone who cares about human progress can afford to let it fail.585 Without being presumptuous, I would say to those who are to attend the Conference: unless all are prepared to make sacrifices, agreement will not be reached and, while it may well be very difficult to yield from positions which have already been taken up, such a yielding will have to take place before agreement can be found. However, let us take comfort from the thought that the rewards that will flow from a settlement will be so great as to make any necessary sacrifices overwhelmingly worth while.
Such a settlement cannot, of course, be measured only by its economic merits. It would represent something vastly more than mere material advantages to its peoples, great as these would be. A settled future for the Federation would be a victory over perhaps the most challenging issue of our time. Surely to-day, in the second half of the twentieth century, men can recognise the folly of peoples sharing a common heritage being divided against themselves by the superficial difference of the colour of their skins. Yet to my mind this is the crucial issue. This is the fundamental cause of that lack of confidence to which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State alluded. For I am convinced that once genuine goodwill has been established between African, Asian, Coloured and European peoples, then the other difficulties, great as they may seem, the differences of standards of living, of education, of widely varying customs and manners—and there are many others—will fall into place so long as the basic issue of confidence between the races has been established. Certainly, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, no effort will be too great, no basis for agreement will be left unexamined in the effort to bring about a settlement.
My Lords, I have been very conscious this afternoon that this is the first time I have had the privilege of speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. I am also aware, for the reason I have already given and which I hope your Lordships will accept as valid, that I have had to be somewhat reticent about our attitude towards the recommendations of the Monckton Report. In these circumstances I can only express my gratitude to the House for the tolerant 586 and courteous way in which it has listened to me. I only hope—and I hope this with all my heart—that I have left the House in no doubt that Her Majesty's Government are profoundly aware of their solemn responsibilities to all the peoples of the Federation and of the ties of friendship and loyalty which bind us to them. We shall patiently and persistently seek a workable solution which is fair and acceptable to all; and, should we fail, it will not be for want of trying.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I should like to offer my warmest congratulations to the noble Duke on his first speech as a speaker for Her Majesty's Government. I thought its tone was admirable and, if I may say so, I very much welcomed the views he gave in his peroration. It was not an easy task and we must congratulate him on the way in which he performed it. I believe we are all conscious of our responsibilities in discussing this Report this afternoon, because the issues raised at this Conference do not concern only Central Africa; they concern the future, perhaps, of the entire African continent, and it may even be said they form only part of the greater problem, the world problem, of the relationship between peoples of different colours.
I should like to join, in our congratulations, the authors of the Report and especially the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley. This was no easy task, and one would not perhaps have thought that such a degree of unanimity would be reached. Granted, when one first reads this Report one is rather struck by the number of occasions when there is a reference to a footnote saying "So and so dissents", and in trying to look up the reference one perhaps rather loses the thread through getting immersed in all these dissents. But there does emerge a broad measure of agreement. Having served on a Commission myself, I believe I know the kind of feeling the members had. However they may start, certain facts get borne in upon everybody and opinions start to change, and I rather think that that was so here in considering the subject of secession.
It is no good setting up a Commission to inquire into a certain problem and then thinking we can put a nice little 587 cage round one part of the problem saying, Hands off this!" I recall being in charge of an inquiry into the Government of India, when we were supposed not to look into the question of the Indian States. We had not been there very long before we had to get a special ruling saying that we could look into those States, because their existence stuck out a mile, whatever part of the problem we looked at. I am quite sure that here, wherever the question of the future of Central Africa arose and opinions were canvassed, the question of whether or not Federation could survive, or in what form, must have thrust itself upon the attention of the members of the Commission. I claim very little knowledge of Africa. I visited the Rhodesias some time ago and I found much the same state of public opinion, though not perhaps so intense, as we find in this Report; and it is remarkable that there should be this unanimity of impression among members drawn from different parts of the Commonwealth.
I believe that at this stage it is no good trying to job back into the past. I may hold the view, as some hold the view, that the giving of such a large measure of self-government to Southern Rhodesia so long ago was unfortunate. It may be that the setting up of Federation without securing the complete assent of the mass of the African people was unfortunate. It is not much good going back to those things now. We have to face the future, and it will be of enormous importance as to whether anything can come out of this Conference. I hope we shall not go into it envisaging defeat. Never go into a battle thinking you are going to be beaten. Always believe you are going to win—even in a General Election. An enormous amount of preparation will be required.
I must say I was impressed by what is said in the Report of what had been done already in Southern Rhodesia. I hope that they will continue, even while the Conference is going on, to advance. There is no doubt about it, as the Report says: talk to any African in Northern Rhodesia and you will find that it is fear of domination by the South that is in his mind. I have no doubt there is the feeling among Europeans of the danger of 588 a breakdown of law and order, such as has taken place in the Congo. It is these mutual fears, as the noble Lord said, which are the chief difficulty in this problem.
I was much impressed by what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who has a great deal of experience in these matters, as indeed has my noble friend Lord Listowel; and I should hesitate at this stage to pronounce one way or another on these various proposals. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, was afraid of the suggestion of parity of representation. I can understand that fear. He thinks that it will mean that you will set up a kind of standing position in which neither side will ever give an inch, having got as far as that. It is worth while remembering that, although they did not work very well, the original arrangements for equality between British and French in Canada did work. Those arrangements carried them over a difficult period from which they eventually got away. I do not think that one should rashly throw away this suggestion unless one has some clear alternative; and it is not easy to see an alternative which will not, in the view of one party, lean too far in favour of the other.
I do not know how the Conference is going to be carried on. As a rule, I think that in Conferences a great deal is done by quiet talk. Little is done by public speeches in which the members take up fixed positions from which they can never retreat. I do not know that it is really good to have a lot of Press publicity. But the Conference will require extremely able chairmanship. One must note, by the way, in looking at this Report, what a remarkable job the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, must have done in getting people of such diverse backgrounds and opinions to reach such a large measure of agreement.
I do not think we should expect in a Report of this kind to get complete unanimity: there are bound to be all kinds of reservations. But, to my mind, the noble Lord is right in saying that this is an enormous issue of whether we can get the African and European races to form a stable Government on a basis of partnership. We have in Africa a great diversity of Governments, some of which are wholly African and some in which the African gets a very small share 589 indeed. But this is an opportunity, if we can once get away from our unfortunate start which has made the word "Federation" rather stick in the nostrils of all Africans. If we can once get away from that, it may be that the endeavours of this Commission and of the Conference that follows it will do work of enormous importance, not only, as I say, in Central Africa but in the whole of Africa and possibly in other parts of the world.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Loan HASTINGS
My Lords, as the first to speak on this side of the House since the noble Duke made his debut in his new office representing the Government, I am sure that it would be the wish of your Lordships that I should offer my congratulations on a speech whose clarity and conviction strongly impressed all of us. We wish that he will continue in the same strain and with the same degree of success in future. The noble Earl who moved this Motion, and also the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, have stressed the very great importance of this Conference: how, in fact, it affects not only Central Africa but the whole of Africa south of the Sahara, the future of the British Commonwealth of Nations and, indeed, the development of world policy as a whole; and therefore anything that we say should be said with the greatest sense of responsibility. That principle has so far been followed, and I shall endeavour to follow the good example.
My Lords, it seems to me that the Report of the Monckton Commission can be divided into two categories; that is, the main conclusions and findings, which are unanimous, and the recommendations arising out of those findings, which in many cases are anything, but unanimous. I do not have time, and I do not think it is a general wish of the House that I should deal in any detail with the second category referring to the recommendations, except to mention or, rather, to draw your Lordships' attention to the very great value of the reservations which cannot be separated from the main opinion expressed in the Report. The recommendations are in clear and concise language, and they often enable us to have some insight into the arguments which went on behind the scenes; and 590 that is of the greatest value. My only comment, in addition, would be that in such a complex subject there is really no reason to suppose that in any particular case 14 Commissioners are necessarily more right than 9, or even that 16 are necessarily more right than 7.
It seems to me that the two main conclusions of the Report are, first, that the Federation ought to continue, and, secondly, that ultimately the continuation of Federation must depend upon a general willingness to accept it. To deal with the first conclusion, there has been suggested, both in the Report and in your Lordships' House by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, an alternative to continuation of Federation, in the shape of some looser form of economic High Commission or, as the noble Earl described it, common market. It has also been suggested in the reservation of Mr. Katilungu and Mr. Gondwe that that might be the right solution. As that is so, and as so many people in the two Rhodesias, which I visited last month, were speaking along those lines and thinking "Maybe, as we cannot get along as well as we hoped, it will be better to try to get along by ourselves," I went into this subject with particular care. And after a great deal of discussion I came to the conclusion that such an economic link-up would be quite impracticable and would not work; and it would not work because the political tensions and divergencies after the breakup of Federation would become greater rather than less. Therefore, any good work that a High Commission or an Economic Commission could effect would be nullified very quickly.
My Lords, I think it is very necessary that, before the Conference meets, we should consider just a little what the consequences of the break-up of Federation would be. That subject has not been dealt with to any extent in another place and I think it is something which Parliament as a whole, and the Government, should face up to before the Conference starts. I should like to give your Lordships an opinion upon what might well happen.
The first thing we can be sure of is that all the people from Nyasaland who are working in Southern Rhodesia would have to go back to that country for 591 economic reasons, because Southern Rhodesia would have to find employment for her own people in her own territory exclusively. Then Her Majesty's Government would be faced with carrying the Budget of Nyasaland. Allowing for a falling economy after the Federation had broken up, an increase in population and an increase in demand for social services, they would probably have to pay in the neighbourhood of £5 million a year indefinitely, so far as one can see ahead. In addition, as a result of the employment situation and the return of Nyasas to their own country from Southern Rhodesia, there could very well arise a situation which could amount to famine, and there would then be an obligation to find massive famine relief and unemployment relief. In those circumstances, it would be very difficult for Her Majesty's Government to hand over self-government to Nyasaland; and, if she did so, I doubt very much whether that Government would be able to maintain law and order in those conditions without the use of British troops. I will not carry the argument any further.
I will now turn to Northern Rhodesia, which is very tribally-minded. At the moment, one could not possibly say that it would be safe to give early self-government to Northern Rhodesia, to an African Government, because the Southern Province is the very firmly established province of the African National Congress, which is opposed to the United National Independent Party of Mr. Kaunda. Barotseland is a protectorate within a protectorate, and would not welcome African government from the centre. They have in fact banned Mr. Kaunda from entering Barotseland. The North-Western Province and the Luapula Province, along the Congo borders, are the homes of the Lunda and Lovale tribes, which originate from the Congo and look for their ultimate authority to the great Chief Mwata Yamvwa whose empire extends through the Katanga Province. If there were a breakdown of law and order in the Katanga Province, that would spread rapidly into Northern Rhodesia and into the Copperbelt. It is impossible to think that the money from the Copperbelt would be available for Nyasaland; still less for a greater Federation which they might think up in East Africa, because 592 there is so much development in Northern Rhodesia that the money is needed in that country. Further, there would be no relief for the terrible land shortage in Nyasaland, because, in spite of the great amount of land available in Northern Rhodesia, the African tribes there will not offer it to their brothers over the border. My Lords, that again is a situation in which Her Majesty's Government would almost certainly have to assist in maintaining law and order if the Federation were to break up.
Coming to Southern Rhodesia, there the country would be forced back upon itself, and its commerce and industry would become stagnant, if it did not actually diminish. The money would not be available to continue the massive progress programme of African education; the building of African, self-contained townships; for the improvement of health services, or even for the completion of their land policy in the field of agriculture. The tensions there on the political level are already so high that if that situation were to arise after the break-up of the Federation I am afraid the Africans might very well resort to force, because at the moment they feel that the winds of change are blowing so strongly in their direction that power is coming to them in any case; and they feel, even, that they are prepared to take it if it is not given to them. That, my Lords, is a very dangerous situation, and it could result, if Federation breaks up, in more bloodshed in Southern Rhodesia, which hitherto has had the most peaceful record anywhere in the African Continent—more bloodshed than has yet occurred anywhere in Africa south of the Sahara since the beginning of this century. I am not deliberately exaggerating and painting a picture of gloom: I am giving your Lordships my honest opinion after discussing this subject with many people whose opinions I have grown to respect.
Let us now turn to the second main conclusion: that the Federation cannot continue unless based on mutual consent. The word I would draw attention to is "ultimately". My Lords, we are faced here with the problem of finding the best way of achieving the continuation of Federation which would ultimately meet with consent. There is a school of thought which believes that, because the 593 African Nationalist leaders in Northern Rhodesia, and particularly in Nyasaland, are capable of swaying the masses in any way they please, Her Majesty's Government must therefore, at almost any cost, come to terms with the African delegations at the Conference and must then try to persuade the Europeans to accept those terms. My Lords, I believe that that approach does not take account of Her Majesty's Government's moral and constitutional Obligations in the matter. I believe that it does not take, account of the fact that it is probably the best way, the quickest way, of bringing the results of the Conference to naught and effecting the break-up of the Federation. I do not think it takes account of the disastrous consequences of the breaking up of the Federation; and, finally, I do not think it takes account of the realities of the situation within the Federation.
It seems to me that those realities are as follows. The constitutional and physical power in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland belongs unmistakably to Her Majesty's Government if they wish to exercise those powers—and I repeat, if they wish to exercise those powers; whereas, in Southern Rhodesia the constitutional and physical powers belong to the Europeans. I know that constitutionally we could even suspend the Constitution, but the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, had a few remarks to make about the position of Southern Rhodesia, and I was interested to hear at a meeting only last week, a very eminent constitutional historian give it as his opinion that there was no precedent in the whole history of the British Empire for any such action being taken by Her Majesty's Government, and that they would not, and could not, take it in the case of Southern Rhodesia.
If those are the realities of the situation, surely the proper mental approach—I will not call it the method of approach, because the Government are going to negotiate freely with both sides at the same time, and not try one approach to the exclusion of another; but the right mental approach (and I think this is of fundamental importance)—is for the Government to extract, if that is a word which would please your Lordships, a fair and reasonable agreement from the Europeans of the Federal Government, and of the Southern Rhodesian 594 Government in particular, and to persuade the African delegations to accept it. I believe that, in spite of the clouds which hang over the whole Conference at the moment, there is a better chance of achieving success than might be supposed. There is, however, just a chance that the African delegations would not accept it, and we come to the question of what the Government would do then.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said that an imposed solution would be better than none at all, and I am in complete agreement with him on that account. But, my Lords, what would the Government do? Here, I think I might call to mind the words of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in this House only a fortnight ago, when he said—and I quote [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 226 (No. 2), col. 58]:In our plans for independence, the timing of independence must be linked with the territory's ability to maintain law and order and justice within its boundaries …Then he went on:And if we know that law and order is the true foundation of independence in our own territories, have we the moral fibre and the physical determination to follow courses which we know to be right and which the experience of our Commonwealth has proved to be well-founded?I should also recall the words of the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister when he spoke about political and economic advancement being on the basis of individual merit, and more recently when he talked about the moral obligations of the Government to our own people in Africa. And similar words were uttered by the Colonial Secretary and by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House a fortnight ago.
If the Government are willing to exercise its responsibility, as I feel sure they must be willing to do (and the words of the noble Duke give us much encouragement, I think, in that regard), it will not confuse the question of force with that of law and order. The Monckton Commissioners themselves have not confused it, because on page 17 of the Report they said:Whatever changes may be agreed by the Review Conference, nothing will be achieved unless intimidation and violence are effectively stamped out.To summarise this part of my argument, I feel sure that the Government will be willing to maintain law and order in the Federation and will not confuse it 595 with the use of force, which could bring upon our heads condemnation from the people of this country.
I should like to say just a word about Southern Rhodesia, because, as I said, Her Majesty's Government must try to maintain a fair and reasonable agreement with the Europeans. Unquestionably that depends to a very great extent upon the attitude of the Southern Rhodesian Government. Here I would say only that I believe that they are alive to the situation. I think that in this respect the people of the country are perhaps ahead of their own Government and that they are quite willing to make the concessions which will be necessary, in my opinion, to achieve success at the Conference on the Review of the Federation. I know the people there very well and I realise that suggestions are not usually welcomed from Westminster, but I think that perhaps, in my rather unique position as a former resident of Southern Rhodesia, I may be able to say one or two things to give a lead.
The Legislative Assembly of the Southern Rhodesian House is going to be extended from 30 to 50 members at the next election. I believe that that is a great opportunity to make sure that a substantial number of Africans are elected to that Assembly—and by "substantial" I do not mean three or four—if necessary by reserved seats. When it comes to consideration of the franchise, there again I have a few figures which may interest your Lordships. At the moment, the lowest franchise is £120 a year and two years of secondary education. It happens that the number of people who have passed standard 6, which is full primary education, at the moment in Southern Rhodesia African schools, is 33,000. It will be 70,000 in five years' time and 150,000 in ten years' time. I make no further comment than that.
Finally, on the question of racial discrimination, the Prime Minister, Sir Edgar Whitehead, said that he is willing to appoint a Commission to go through the Statutes and repeal all legal discrimination; and that is a great gain. But the people there still have to face up to the question of discrimination in places used by the public which do not necessarily come under the Statutes. In 596 conclusion, My Lords, I would quote a few words of Sir John Kennedy, who was chairman of the recent National Indaba held in Southern Rhodesia. He said:Our Report will be a revelation to the world of the way thought is moving in Southern Rhodesia. It is a formidable expression of public opinion that no Government could ignore or would wish to ignore. Our highest expectations have been exceeded.My Lords, I believe that if the Southern Rhodesian Government will come to the Conference in that spirit, and if Her Majesty's Government will adopt that mental approach which I suggested was appropriate, then indeed, at the end of the Conference, we shall all be able to say that our highest expectations have been exceeded.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, in the debate on the Address a fortnight ago I defended British colonialism against a number of baseless charges made against it by Mr. "K"—Mr. Khrushchev. To-day the House has before it the unsolved problem of British colonialism, a problem more difficult, perhaps, than anything which we have had to face since the War of Independence in North America. I hope that this problem will not have a similar result.
I felt, having regard to what I said a fortnight ago, that I should say a few words at least on this additional problem of British colonialism, little as I know about it from any direct knowledge. I can only say that I have read as much as I could of the Reports of the Advisory Commission under the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley. Needless to say, I agree with the noble Earl who opened the debate and with all the other noble Lords who have spoken in praising the Report. Perhaps, in one or two ways, I am able to give special praise, having been Chairman of several Commissions. I know how hard it must have been and how wonderful it is to get such success with a Commission with as many as twenty-six members. I never had more than eleven. The noble Lord succeeded marvellously.
I also agree with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that the government of these three countries must be settled by consent, not by force. I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, has some 597 doubt upon that. At one point he seemed to be suggesting that rather than do nothing, we should force settlement upon the Africans and that somehow we have to get the consent of the white people. Following the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I have consent in view, and for, that should like to suggest three points for particular notice.
My first point is that the settled policy of Britain in regard to all Colonies is, and has been for a long time, the attainment by them of democratic self-government within the Commonwealth. This applies to the three countries now under consideration, though I would say with slight qualification—settled democratic self-government within the Commonwealth as soon as may be. My second point is that co-operation in some form between the three countries is the necessary second objective, and that not for political so much as for economic reasons. My third point is that all the parties concerned in the three countries should be ready to discuss, with open minds and with the serious intention of reaching agreement, both the two objectives I have named and how they can be secured best and most rapidly. I will take these three points in order, and I hope your Lordships will allow me to put the first two points on economics first.
Economics always come a little before politics, or are less amenable than politics. That co-operation in some form between Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland is necessary, for economic reasons, is clearly brought out in the Report before us. Both the Rhodesias have physical resources for raising the standard of living—tobacco, copper and whatever it may be—but now they import labour to exploit these resources. Nyasaland has labour, which earns money by working in the Rhodesias. Nyasaland must choose between being the poor stranger at the gates, if she breaks from the Rhodesias completely, or being an equal partner in some form of political union. The Advisory Commission concluded that the continuation of some kind of Federation is necessary for economic prosperity and recognised that Federation is opposed sincerely and violently in Nyasaland and by a number of leading Africans elsewhere. That opposi- 598 tion arises from the fear that Federation means spreading to them dominance by the whites, as it looks to them to exist in Southern Rhodesia.
Can that opposition be persuaded away? My answer to that lies in returning to my first objective and stressing it. Our British objective for all the three Central African countries, as for the rest of the Colonies, is democratic self-government as soon as may be, which means as soon as the inhabitants are fully qualified for democratic self-government. This problem raises the question of how the Government shall be chosen and what franchise there is to be—whether they should vote separately or together, and a number of difficult problems of that soft. This problem is discussed in Chapter 6 of the Monckton Report. It has practically not been mentioned by any other speaker, though the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, gave some figures which he thought bore upon it. The problem of franchise is referred by the Report to a Franchise Committee as a specially difficult problem. Hitherto, as we know, in parts of Central Africa the power to vote has depended largely on property, at a level in some regions that has kept out nearly all Africans. I cannot defend that situation. I do not think that anyone can defend it. Let me go on to say that, like the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, I do not like at all facing the idea of perpetual blocs of whites and Africans voting separately and electing separately—or at least not as a permanency. As a permanency, they should act together as one body of voters. I do not like property qualifications at all, and for myself I want some for of educational qualification.
It is interesting to realise that for more than 500 years in this country we have had Parliaments elected by property owners. The famous 40s. freeholder was the qualification from 1431 to 1832, when we abolished that, as well as many other things. Now we have a general vote, but we also have compulsory education for all. Our voting is done by people who have been educated, whether they like it or not. I do not mean that they always vote the right way or wisely: they have been going wrong now for just 40 years—wrong either to the Left or to the Right; but 599 I have every confidence that at the next Election they will vote more wisely. Whether they do that or not, it is clear that it is better not to have voting by people who have no idea at all of how to vote.
I hope that we shall consider putting in hand with the maximum speed an educational programme to make the franchise, at any rate at first, dependent upon some educational qualification and thus open the door to everyone who wishes to acquire the franchise. That means both education on the spot and also, I hope, education by scholarship and travel to Britain and elsewhere. We want the people of Africa to get to know, by coming here when they are young, what we are really like. Your Lordships may say that all this will take time. In the interim, there may be things that we could do for the people with whom the Monckton Commission sympathise greatly, the illiterates who are of great political value. Could not the Commission invent a kind of House of Lords, even in the new Federation? It will take time. I suggest that self-government by rational voting is better than self-government as we have seen it in the Congo; it is better than self-government, or any other form of government, by ignorant violence.
I come now to my last point of all, the first objective laid down. I hope that the people from all the three countries now concerned will come into friendly and open discussion of the best form of political association to serve all. I do not ask them to commit themselves in advance for Federation—though they will have to be cleverer than I think they are, or anyone can be, to improve upon some form of Federation; but they might like to call it something else. That request goes, naturally, both to the white settlers and their representatives and to the native Africans and their representatives. But I make the appeal, above all, to the leaders of African thought in Nyasaland, as those who have refused such discussion hitherto and yet have most to gain by success of the discussion and the happy settlement of the difficulty before them.
I make that appeal, also, because it happens that, by inheritance relating to another country, I am a Briton with 600 some special qualification for making the appeal. My father, going to India as a civil servant more than a hundred years ago, during all his 35 years of service was a notorious co-Indian, for which he failed then to get all the promotion he deserved. He was desirous of passing more and more responsibility on to Indians. He had also many warm Indian friends, and he ended by using all his spare time on Indian history. My mother, oddly enough, had an even closer connection with India, long before she knew or had ever heard of my father. At the invitation of a distinguished Indian she went out to India as a solitary young woman to start in Calcutta a school for Indian girls which did not try to change their religious beliefs and make them Christians, as religious schools naturally did. I have a charming picture of her surrounded by her girls. But, happily for me, she met my father before it was too late. That is how I am in this world, one of the millions of Britons who seek to better the world without making any people in it unfree.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, this is, I think, a most remarkable debate, inasmuch as, for my part, I have found myself in much agreement with a great deal of what everyone has said from any quarter in the House, and not least the noble Lord who has just spoken. In particular, I should like to associate myself with the expressions of appreciation which have come from all parts of the House to the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brcnchley, and his colleagues for their truly heroic labours. This is a remarkable State Paper; in a sense, I think it must be a unique State Paper. I cannot remember any similar Commission of which the membership was so distinguished, of which the interests and outlook were so varied and where over so complicated a subject there has been such a remarkable degree of agreement. I am the more particularly glad to be able to say that, and to say it with sincerity, because I do not personally agree with everything in the Report: there is one respect in which I have to confess that I find its point of view deplorable and depressing.
I was struck by something said by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, when he was 601 speaking a few moments ago. He said something to the effect that it was impossible to put any part of a problem like this one of Central Africa in a sort of cage and skate round it. The noble Earl said that it was, in fact, impossible, whatever the terms of reference were, for the Advisory Commission to avoid the question of secession. I am inclined to think that the noble Earl is right and that, in fact, in the circumstances, the Commission could not skate round the problem of secession. But it brings me to this reflection. If it is right that Her Majesty's Government should on every major issue of policy seek outside advice—and I dare say it is right in the complexities of to-day and in the press of problems which assail the Government—might it not be much better if that advice were tendered in private and not in public? I think there is a real difficulty here. When you have a body of the standing, power and reputation of the Monckton Commission, and when that body gives advice, and gives that advice in public, there is a curious, almost chemical, change that takes place: it is no longer advice; it is no longer opinion; it becomes fact. Sir Roy Welensky was, I think, quite right when he spoke in the Federal Parliament the other day and said that now that the Monckton Commission had reported in this sense, whether we like it CT not, it is a fact of which we must take account.
Before the Monckton Commission reported, or at any rate before there began to be leakages of what it was going to say, I think it was generally taken for granted that the forthcoming Review Conference was to be about Federation and how Federation could be developed and, if possible, advanced. Since the Monckton Commission have reported it has seemed to be almost equally agreed that the Review Conference is not to be about Federation and how to advance it, but about secession, and whether, in fact, it is going to be possible to preserve the Federation at all. In other words, the Monckton Commission have made almost a political decision, and it surely would be better that decisions of that kind should be made by the Government, taking such advice as they think necessary, rather than for them to be taken in effect by an irresponsible body—I do not mean, of course, a body without a sense of responsibility, but a body which 602 is not responsible to Parliament. As things have developed, it seems to me little wonder that Sir Roy Welensky feels that he has been misled and that the rug has been pulled from underneath his feet.
I suppose the kernel, the core or, at any rate, the most contentious part of the Advisory Commission's Report is this question of the right to secede. I am not competent myself to speak about the legal aspect. I am prepared, for my own part, to take the view of the Commission. After all, its chairman is a most distinguished lawyer. It included among its members another former Law Officer of the Crown.
§ LORD COLERAINE
Two former Law Officers of the Crown. I am, for my own part, perfectly prepared to accept the Commission's view that it is within the power of Parliament legally to consider cessation and even, as I understand it, to revoke the Federal Act. But it does not seem to me that the legal position is the only one, nor even the most important one. There are serious moral considerations as well. My noble friend Lord Swinton earlier this afternoon said that he hoped no party to the Review Conference would take up an irrevocable position, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, in, if he will allow me to say so, the most impressive speech which he made from the Box earlier in the afternoon, said that if the Government were to take up prepared positions it would be impossible for them to adopt the rôle that they must adopt at the Conference: the rôle of reconciling all these conflicting points of view.
Without dissenting from what the noble Duke said, I wonder whether it is right for the Government to envisage its role at the Conference as just being that of a kind of honest broker. After all, the Government and Parliament here have the final responsibility, and, in the last resort, the Government and Parliament here must surely make up their own minds. There is a danger that if there is too great a desire for reconciling these conflicting points of view, if there is too great a determination to achieve at all costs a successful Conference, a Conference which will end with a communiqué signed by everybody, the Government, in trying to achieve that end, 603 will only cause some confusion and dismay.
In the Report, paragraph 293, the Commissioners quote the joint declaration by the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Federation on the Review Conference of the Federal Constitution. They do not in fact quote it accurately. They leave out one phrase. The omission is not important, except that it adds emphasis to the sentence. What the joint declaration of the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland said in 1957, after Sir Roy Welensky and Mr. Greenfield, the Minister of Law of the Federation, had had discussions with my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, who was then, of course, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and with my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton, who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies, was pretty emphatic. It said:Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland have already made it clear, and take this opportunity of reaffirming, that they are opposed to any proposal either for the amalgamation into a unity state of the Territories now composing the Federation or for the secession of any of those Territories from the Federation.The noble Duke repeated the assurances that have been given in another place that the Conference is free to discuss secession. I think we must all accept that. But what I wonder is whether Her Majesty's Government are free to do anything except resist secession, in the light of the joint declaration which I have just read. I would ask my noble friend the Leader of the House, either now or when he replies to the debate this evening, whether Her Majesty's Government still stand by that joint declaration, or whether they have retracted from it. I think it is extremely important that that point should be made clear before the Review Conference takes place.
I should like to say one or two general words about the Report. There is much in it obviously that is of immense value. I do not think I have ever seen the case for Federation argued more cogently than it is in the Report. I do not think that the tragic disadvantages which would follow from a dissolution of Federation have ever been put more clearly. There 604 are many recommendations about the transfer of powers from the Federal Government to the territorial Governments from which I would not myself dissent, and what they say about racial discrimination in Southern Rhodesia seems to me to be most wise and most balanced. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in the speech with which he opened the debate, a speech which has, I think, set the standard for the whole debate and on which I should like modestly to congratulate him, said that in his view the racial discrimination that still exists in Southern Rhodesia was, I think he said, the greatest barrier to the acceptance of Federation by the Northern Territories. I must say that from everything I have heard I would agree with what the noble Earl said.
The noble Earl gave full justice, as the Report did, to the genuine, and to a great extent successful, efforts which have been made both by the Federal Government and the Government of Southern Rhodesia to overcome this barrier, to reduce racial discrimination; but I think it is very important that the people of Southern Rhodesia, our fellow countrymen in Southern Rhodesia, should know that their friends here—and they have very many friends here—hope that the progress which has begun towards the ending of discrimination will be accelerated as much as it possibly can be.
There is, as I say, great value in the recommendations of the Report, even to those who take what is perhaps the hard view of the situation that I do. But there is one aspect of the Report which I very much regret. In spite of its great merits, and they are very great, it seems to me that the Report as a whole is pervaded by a spirit of weakness and defeatism. The Commissioners know what is best for the African; they say so unequivocally—that Federation is best. But the whole tenor of their advice seems to be that our only hope of a solution of this problem is to placate the African politician. They say it is unthinkable to impose Federation by force. But is it unthinkable to maintain law and order, if necessary, by force? The Commissioners themselves say that law and order has practically broken down in Nyasaland through violence, intimidation 605 and witchcraft. They say that law and order must be restored. Is it going to be restored without the use of force? Are we really to believe that law and order, in a society in which law and order is breaking down rapidly under the threat of intimidation and terror, is going to be restored by giving way to intimidation and terror? And if that is the only way in which we can restore law and order, it bodes very ill indeed for the unhappy peoples of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia when eventually these territories get responsible government.
That seems to me to be a weakness in the Report. But it is, I think, a weakness which infects us all in greater or lesser degree in these days—the Government, public opinion, the whole lot of us. From the time nearly a hundred years ago when Dr. Livingstone made his way up the river into what is now Nyasaland, we here, we in this Parliament, the people of this country, assumed responsibilities to the African, white as well as black, which we cannot honourably lay down. And we owe these responsibilities to the African people—not to a minority of African politicians who, as the Report says, beyond any doubt mislead and intimidate their own people. We talk gaily and glibly about government by consent. By whose consent? By consent of the witch doctor? My Lords, if we go on giving way in these very primitive societies, societies that are still incapable of looking after themselves, if we go on giving way to politicians who are an even smaller and less important class there than they are here, in the hope of persuading them to abandon terrorism and witchcraft, we may salve our consciences but I believe we shall be betraying our trust to the African people, and that one day, probably in our own day, we shall live to repent it.
§ 4.58 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I wish to express the regrets of the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York, who was hoping to make his contribution in this debate, and who to his own natural concern for these issues has added the experience of a recent visit to these Territories. Unfortunately, he has been prevented by indisposition from coming, and I can- 606 not pretend that I am an adequate substitute for him, or even that I know what he himself was going to say. But it is fair for me to put the view of Christian opinion so far as it can be estimated in its corporate expression.
The churches in this country have their own particular natural links with the peoples of the Territories through churches and congregations within their own communion, and they know very well the tensions that are there, both for the European in his minority and for the African in his majority. Moreover, since the Report has come out it has been the subject of very deep concern on the part of the churches in England, and only recently, the British Council of Churches after its welcome to the Report in almost the same terms as your Lordships have given it, was able to present its own representations to Her Majesty's Government through a deputation which the Minister himself received most sympathetically. I can, therefore, say that, so far as the corporate opinion of the churches goes, it goes wholly with your Lordships in welcoming this Report, and perhaps further than some of you would do.
To have such a Report, so sympathetically expressed and yet so clear and outspoken in its own proposals, setting out that there may be and can be a fair settlement in this acute situation, has certainly removed the apprehensions of many who feared about the possibility of maintaining Federation. Both by its courage and by its realism the Report has given us some new hope. No one of us here would be happy at the prospect of the multiplication in Africa of smaller States of doubtful economic stability, and the Federation, as has been repeatedly affirmed here, holds out the hope of a State sufficiently large in its resources, and sufficiently balanced and varied in its own life, to play a really effective part in the whole future of Africa. Even to a layman like myself, the figures given in the Report indicating the steady economic advance of the past five years show what might be possible in the future. Similarly, even a layman like myself can realise what the economic consequences would be if the Federation were to break down. But more than this, we welcome the Report since it concerns what, in its 607 own words, is a great experiment in race relations. To be able to prove that a multi-racial society is possible in the emergent state of Africa to-day, and that a real community can be created out of a free association of peoples there, would certainly have immense consequences, not only in Africa, but throughout the world. We are not concerned with peaceful co-existence, and still less with peaceful separation: we are concerned with nothing less than partnership.
The weight with which this Report sets this hope before us is, to my mind, greatly increased, rather than decreased, by its realism in putting it out. I do not sense, like the last speaker, an air of defeatism. The Report certainly makes no bones about the strong opposition to Federation that exists at present, partly among Europeans and still more among Africans, among whom, as the Report says, it is almost pathological. It does not suggest that Federation can succeed while the present temper prevails. Surely none of your Lordships would dispute that it is only with the willing support of its inhabitants that Federation will really work. To state that is surely only to add weight to its own constructive proposals. We do not feel that we could do otherwise than oppose any settlement which has no real prospect of winning African support or which would prove ultimately, though not necessarily immediately, to be imposed upon a resisting population. And I would ask how far ought this review to be considered in its entirety rather than piecemeal?
On the whole, there has been a quite proper reticence in our debate about the details of the Report, for none of us would wish in any way to hamper the negotiations that are to come. I should like humbly to submit three comments. First, the Commission themselves rightly ask that the new design which they propose should be seen as a whole. It may contain debatable and unpalatable features, and we want as much elasticity as possible in the Conference that is to come next month. But faced with their twofold thesis of the desirability of the Federation and the violent resistance to it as it now obtains, they are right in saying that nothing less than a kind of conversion is going to win the support 608 which is necessary from the Africans. The steps which they propose must surely in fact as well as in potentiality be such as will win the Africans confidence, and therefore can be seen only in a wide framework of proposals such as the Commission put forward as a whole.
Secondly, I acclaim their wisdom in not stressing too much in their argument the economic factor. It is true that they set out the situation clearly, but argument on economics will not weigh very heavily in the reasoning of the Africans even though they have, some more than others, begun to benefit in this particular field. After all, the free rights of the individual citizen which we in England enjoy have come by a slower and more evolutionary process. They did not come first to us because men honed for economic betterment, but rather more in terms of a claiming of rights based on principles or conscience. Now that freedom is secure here the economic aspect of it may seem more important to us. But submit that the political and the personal come first in the mind of the African as they did once, perhaps, yin this country.
On this subject of rights people "think with the blood", and perhaps the African more than most people. Here is an incalculable element which Constitution-making must take into account. For this reason I welcome the approach which the Report advocates, which seems in some ways more bold than some would allow. It might, for instance, in this matter of the representation in the Federal Assembly, have gone more definitely for a gradual approach as some members advocated. But on the whole the majority favoured clarity as being something more likely to establish from the start a principle of partnership between peoples.
I think they are right again, when they deal with racial discrimination, to stress more what might be called the intangible element in racial discrimination—the social attitudes and the habits which do not come under the heading of legislation at all, but which, even in minor ways, can be more irritating in their effects than major points. However, recognising that much has been done in this way, and the need to remove some of the irritants of racial discrimination, they urge quite definitely stronger legislation 609 for it. They would not wait upon public opinion, and I think they are right. But on the whole, most people consider what is legally possible to be morally justifiable, and in this kind of situation legislation ought to lead public opinion and govern it, rather than wait to follow it.
Thirdly, perhaps rightly, in expressing the Christian opinion in this matter, I must endorse what others have said in welcoming the Report, and in grasping the nettle of secession. It is, I believe, wise and realistic in its assertion that the right of secession must be allowed after a fair opportunity has been given to experience the working out of a new Constitution. I know that there is the question of how far this can be said to be going beyond the Commission's terms of reference. I know that some would question the legal and constitutional arguments that this recommendation is right. But to retain in some quite specific way this right seems to many of us intrinsically bound up with the whole contention that the only possible lasting basis of Federation is willing cooperation, provided that all possible steps have been taken to bring that about. This is surely something which is entirely consonant with our own responsibilities to the people we have taken under our protection. But it is surely a principle which, accepted, will greatly assist the moderate element on which so much support will depend; and perhaps the assertion of this will make possible a more co-operative attitude in the coming Review Conference, for the success of which we must all anxiously long.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I have already, in the course of the debate on the gracious Speech, made a few comments on the Monckton Report and I do not propose to repeat them this afternoon. It is difficult enough, in the brief space of a short speech in your Lordships' House, to deal with questions of such complexity as this, but in order to keep the perspective straight and to understand how largely the question of Southern Rhodesia looms in any discussion of this subject, I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to read a short passage from the speech made by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister at the Royal Commonwealth Society, on his return from Africa. 610 He mentioned the new University of Central Africa in Salisbury, and said:In five short years complete integration of all races in the life of the University has been achieved. It is now a matter of course. What an answer this is to those critics who pounce so readily on anything to blame and pass by so conveniently anything that they might have to praise!He went on:Southern Rhodesia has a firm belief in the value of education for all races. I was told this with pride by … the Prime Minister. It is their boast that in Southern Rhodesia the proportion of African children attending primary schools is higher than in any other country in the whole continent of Africa. They do right to pride themselves on this record. There is no better basis for the future.The Prime Minister went on:There are many signs in Salisbury itself of a breaking down of racial barriers. This kind of thing is not always, or even usually, wholly within the power of Governments. But Governments can and must give a lead; and this process follows naturally on the steps that are being takers both by the Federal and by the Southern Rhodesian Governments.Secondary schools for non-Europeans have been equipped to provide the standard training for the University. There is a large programme of expansion of primary schools, so that the Southern Rhodesian record here is not merely better than all other countries in Africa, but rises to the levels of Europe and North America. There are proposals, I was told, for an apprenticeship scheme, and for more technical training facilities for Africans and Asians. Industries are introducing their own training schemes for non-Europeans. In medicine, law and the Civil Service the doors have been opened to men of all races. Everywhere there is evidence that the principle of partnership is gaining ground in Central Africa.I have ventured to inflict that rather lengthy quotation upon your Lordships because, coming front so high a source, it leaves no room for doubt about the progress of which the Prime Minister spoke; and it enables me to say that apparently the differences which one may have with the recommendations of the Monckton Commission are rather those of pace than of principle. What they are recommending should, I suggest, be judged on whether the pace and the scope of this "major operation", as they themselves call it, is reasonable or not.
The Commission have urged that their recommendations should be seen and considered as a whole, and when one looks at the list of distinguished names, when one reflects on the time and trouble expended by them and on the brilliance of their analysis and the lucidity of its 611 expression, it may seem a little presumptuous for an individual to quarrel with some of their conclusions. In this, perhaps, I am merely expressing a thought which has already been expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, as one of the difficulties of publishing a Report of this nature. One would also question only with some temerity the wisdom and practicability of some of their proposals, and suggest that the preservation of Federation, which is their declared objective, will be gravely endangered by the methods they advocate. None the less, I want to try, in a few words, to deal rather superficially with some of these questions, because if one passes them over now, silence may easily be taken for consent; and I think it is desirable that the opinion which I am expressing, and which I know finds considerable sympathy with many others inside and outside of your Lordships' House, should be expressed, however much it may be disregarded.
I turn to the Report. After the chapter on "The Historical Background to Federation" there follows a chapter on "Present Attitudes" in which the views of Africans and Europeans in the three territorial units are carefully studied. The basis of emotion and sentiment amongst the African masses and the appalling prevalence of intimidation used to stifle moderate and pro-federal views in Nyasaland and also in Northern Rhodesia are also noted. I believe that few people would dispute the Commission's conclusion that despite the weight of opinion among Europeans in the three territories, and, surprisingly enough, among Africans in Southern Rhodesia in favour of the continuation of Federation, the strength of African opposition in the two Northern territories makes some changes in the form of Federation imperative. But I venture to say that most people with a knowledge of African psychology and African conditions would hesitate to accept the sweeping and immediate changes advocated by the Commission.
I want to say a little more about that matter later, but Chapter 4 of the Report—"Advantages and Achievements of Federation"—is convincingly clear. One might merely comment that the Commission's statement that dissolution would 612 bring hardship, poverty and distress is indeed an understatement, as the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, has indicated. The consequent unemployment throughout the territories, and the probable collapse of law and order in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, might cause an explosion beside which the friction and dissatisfaction over certain aspects of Federation would pale into insignificance. We ought to bear in mind that extremist African leaders do not envisage relapsing into the comforting embrace of the Colonial Office. They want to destroy Federation as the chief obstacle to their dictatorship—which they are pleased to define as "freedom". In paragraph 81, on page 33 of the Report, it is stated:The Federation is too much disliked to survive in its present form.In other words, African sentiment in the two Northern Territories, which is largely emotional or inspired by political intimidation and social violence, has led to that kind of position. The Report goes on to say that the Commission recommend a "major operation" and they proceed to describe in detail, in paragraph 81, the various forms which that "major operation" is to take. I will not delay your Lordships by quoting from it, as no doubt most of you have read it. In any case, it would be impossible in a short speech to deal with these chapters in detail, but one or two comments spring to one's mind.
In 1953, when the Federation began, it was one of its principles that the functions of government which directly affect the day-to-day life of the people should be under territorial control. The "major operation" to reduce the functions of the central authority seems to me to go so much further than is wise. A government system founded on mistrust of government is surely a contradiction in terms. If you emasculate Federation to such an extent that in taking steps to see that it can do little harm you also eliminate the possibility of its doing good, you inevitably have erected a structure which is too weak to survive. Anyone with knowledge of the innate conservatism of African communities, which oppose habitually all regulations designed to improve agriculture and to prevent the traditional misuse of land, will understand what I mean.
613 The talk of Federation being "imposed" is a thing which I might in this connection mention. It depends on what you mean by that word "imposed". My Lords, all progress, all valuable progress of any kind whatever, in our colonial record has been imposed in this sense—the valuable health regulations, research in agriculture, the improvement of conditions in every direction have all met with original dislike and distrust in these primitive communities. They have been imposed, if you like to use that word. In other words, they have been given legal force in many cases by the authority which is lawfully constituted to do those things and to fulfil a trust which it has undertaken to help the people of that country to develop their conditions
I emphatically agree with the Corn-mission's remarks on tribal authorities, which I think are extremely important, and on the need to do something. In this case I agree that something ought to be done at once to combat the attack on the jurisdiction of tribal authorities which has been developed by African extremists using intimidation and threats of social violence as a weapon, because the proper maintenance of law and order is intimately involved in all of that.
Perhaps the most controversial of all the recommendations is that dealing with the composition of the Federal Assembly: that it should be composed of 30 Europeans and 30 Africans with a Speaker from outside, and an unfortunate Asian who sits there without a vote. This represents a complete abandonment of the principle of individual merit and that appointment to these positions should be made regardless of race, and its corollary, incidentally, of a white political majority now and a probable black political majority in some distant future. It is interesting to note that in the allocation of functions for Governments, the Commission lay down the basic principle that no subject should be divided between the federal and territorial authorities on a racial basis. It has recognised, by its recommendations about a Bill of Rights and Councils of State, the essential need to have safeguards against discrimination, whether on grounds of race or colour or religion. My comment is that such a composition of the Federal Assembly would make racial conflict inevitable and any real 614 government impossible. In any case, the thought of an African-dominated Government in the present stage of their inexperience is not likely to commend itself to any European. Furthermore, though the idea of Bills of Rights to be embodied in the Constitution of each of the territories and of Councils of State—four of them—is no doubt good in principle, it seems to me very clumsy in practice.
I should like to say one word about secession. The Commission have realised—they must have realised this—that the promise of such a delayed option would intensify the clamour for secession on the part of African national leaders and provide a powerful incentive to them to impede all beneficent and prosperity-aiding developments, if not indeed all Government activity Whatsoever. They must have realised, too, that the existence of such a threat would cause complete uncertainty and instability, highly damaging to external confidence and to internal enterprise. The inconsistency of this recommendation with the facts of the situation as acknowledged by the Commission is further emphasised by their insistence that the wishes of the inhabitants—these, I think, were their words—on the secession issue must he genuine and reached in an atmosphere free from intimidation, and that at the time of secessionthe credit-worthiness of the remaining members of the Federation, as well as of the seceding territory, should be preserved.How did they think that all this could be done in anything approaching present circumstances?
One is tempted to agree with the editorial in the Daily Telegraph of October 12, which said:If the Government looked to Lord Monckton to provide a way to make Federation work they have looked in vain. The Report underlines the dilemma. It does not solve it.By all means let us go to the limit of common sense in supporting measures which plainly give to Africans more influence and place in the direction of affairs, not only federal but also territorial, to an increasing degree as they gain experience. In other words, let us continue and expedite the progress which was so clearly acknowledged by the Prime Minister in the words I quoted at the beginning of my speech. Let us not forget, too, that 615 the uncritical acceptance of the demands of African leaders, even if they appear to have wide popular support, can amount to a gross betrayal of the interests of the bulk of the African people for whose welfare the British Government, in the last resort, are responsible. So many African leaders believe and act on the principle that it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.
The Monckton Commission have succeeded, I respectfully suggest, in clouding the atmosphere in which the Review Conference will meat. Any question of secession should surely wait until the two Northern Territories have shown some signs of political maturity. For 70 years they have been under the Colonial Office, with whom rests the responsibility for the acceleration or the delay in their progress. I have been asked: Would you then advise continuation of the Federation by force? My Lords, this question does not arise. The territories will go on being administered, as they are now, in most respects, by the territorial authorities. There may be outbreaks of disorder, which presumably will be put down by force in the interests of law and order and of the peaceful population, just as similar breaches of order would be put down (with, I trust, the support of all sides of this House) in the city of London if they occurred. They would there be put down by what is called "force"—in other words, the authority of law and order.
When the territories reach the stage of responsible self-government and the possibility of an independent Federation is reached, such a consummation, I agree, can be attained only by consent, but until that stage is reached the British Government should surely stand in firm faith by the federal scheme and give it this likelihood of final justification by results. May I quote very briefly again from the Prime Minister words spoken at the same time, at the end of his speech when he had just returned from Africa. He said:Each of us here—British, Asian. African—must answer the question in our own way: is it autumn or spring? Is it sunset or dawn? These are questions which Reason can pose—and Doubt uncertainly debate. They can only be answered by Faith".My Lords, if I may respectfully say so, I heartily agree with that conclusion. It 616 can be answered only by faith: faith in our own obligations and faith in the Federation which we set up seven years ago in such hope, and which still gives hope of being a success if it is handled properly.
My Lords, I have tried not to overload my speech by getting involved in detail, as one should keep in mind that this Report, however distinguished, is only one of many working papers which will presumably be before the Review Conference. I have also avoided any reference to the misunderstanding which has excited the resentment of Sir Roy Welensky; but I should like to conclude by saying that I am one of those who sympathise with him and regret that a statesman of his calibre and integrity, who has tried to the best of his ability to put into force the principles of partnership in Central Africa, should have been embarrassed by the emphasis laid on secession in a Report which might have achieved the same object by merely recording that the Review Conference could scarcely avoid the subject of secession and an optional power to secede when each of the units had reached that stage of responsible self-government which was the necessary prelude to a completely independent Federation.
What induced the Monckton Commission to make proposals so utterly out of keeping with their own views, apparently, on the achievements of the Federation in its seven-year life and the vital importance of keeping the Federation in being? One can only assume that they were so appalled by the fear of disorder fomented by irresponsible leaders of African nationalism in the Northern Territories that they indulged in this brilliant exercise in the rationalisation of panic. My Lords, video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor might well be the motto of the Monckton Commission. These proposals have almost ignored the rights and just interests of the European population and the vested interest in efficiency of the builders of the Central African economy; they have placed political expedience above all other considerations, and in doing so have lost touch with reality. Let us never forget, too, that in these discussions the European subjects of the Federation, who are apt to be left out of the forefront of discussions, are there by right and achievement. In the country which is 617 their home, their presence has brought immense benefit to the African community, as well as profit to themselves, and the position they occupy is theirs by right. By all means let change come, as indeed it must, but let it be ordered so as to be reasonable, and not demanding the sacrifice of standards which have been built with such great pain and labour.
On October 25, speaking about the Monckton Report in the Federal Assembly, Sir Roy Welensky concluded an impressive speech with these words:The Federal Government will be guided solely by considerations of reason, logic and good government. In applying these criteria it will be ever mindful of the need to associate all the peoples of the Federation in the processes of government, but it will not—and I want this to be plainly understood—it will not agree to any adjustments which are acts of political appeasement as distinct from political wisdom. Political wisdom may counsel us to make certain adjustments in the structure of the Federal State which will enable it to function more smoothly and harmoniously. Political appeasement can only put us on the slippery slope to destruction. I can assure the House that. I have no intention of putting this country in that position.My Lords, I hope that that declaration of Sir Roy Welensky's faith will carry him to successful agreement at the coming Conference.
In conclusion, may I respectfully suggest—we hear so much about the wind of change in Africa and elsewhere—that no Government should turn itself into a weather vane or model its policies entirely on such movements. Any sailor will tell you that to reach a desired goal it is generally necessary to be prepared to use the motive power behind prevalent adverse winds in order to reach that destination, and to sail against them. Running before the wind, my Lords, is not the essence of seamanship, or, I suggest, of statesmanship, either. I submit that the recommendations of the Monckton Commission, taken as a whole, as they ask us to do, in their zeal to make Federation attractive in theory have made it impossible in practice, because in the pace and scope which they have suggested in their recommendations for this major operation in the territory they have run counter to human facts and human limitations and have therefore invited disaster.
§ 5.40 p.m.
My Lords, I rise to give you the point of view of the ordinary country African worker, who comprises, I suppose, some 80 per cent. of the population. I feel that he has been somewhat overlooked. I employ some 200 of these workers on my farm, so I think I know a little about them. We have all heard what the African political leaders want. We have heard what the Europeans want—and I hope that your Lordships will call them Europeans; they hate being called "settlers". But your Lordships have not really gone into the point of view of the African worker.
Surely the African worker is very important, because your Lordships' aim should be to give the greatest good to the greatest number. He is a charming individual but is most happy when sitting in the sun in his reserve in his glorious climate. His moral code is strict. Out there I never locked my car or my house. How different in London! But he is learning the value of money more and more each year and is coming out of his reserve to do contracts of one or two years' duration in the copper mines or on the tobacco farms. He then goes back with plenty of money to buy more wives or more bicycles. The Nyasa boys, of course, go in thousands from their own territory to work in the copper mines of Northern Rhodesia or the tobacco farms of Southern Rhodesia. Hence one of the great economic values of federation. We know that the African requires stability and prosperity in the country as a whole; and this was happening in a most amazing way during the past seven years, until last year. Then, I very much regret to say, some ill-advised statements made by those in high places fanned the flames of black nationalisation and at the same time frightened much white money out of the country.
The schools in the native districts are doing excellent work. Practically every farm has one, and you see children learning to add two and two; you can see them dancing, and learning a little English. As the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, told us, the franchise is on an educational basis, so that more and more Africans are having the vote. Surely his gradual takeover is what we 619 require, rather than risk another Belgian Congo. Intimidation of these farm workers by extremists has occurred and is still taking place—even the Monckton Commission admitted that. May I tell your Lordships about one incident, which sounds almost fantastic but which actually happened on my farm and on the farms of three of my neighbours. A woman or two on each farm had a white number chalked on her black skin, and each woman was told that some time during the year a lorry would drive up with a white man in it and these black ladies with white numbers would be taken to Johannesburg, where they would be killed, cooked, put into bully-beef tins and re-imported into Rhodesia to be eaten in the Federation. That threat stopped all work on the farm for about three days. It is all a part of this witch doctory which, I regret to say, is still prevalent and most convenient for anti-white pronaganda.
I believe that these natives love and admire their employers, who look after them to the utmost of their ability by providing hospitals, health centres, clinics, and so on; and I do not think they would like to see them go. If that were to happen, these people would probably revert to a position in which they found themselves at the mercy of black opportunists thirsting for power. Democracy would quickly be thrown overboard. We have all heard both Dr. Banda and Mr. Mboya say that democracy is not suitable for Africans. I believe that Ghana is now a one-Party State. Perhaps they will go back, if we are not careful, to the days of Lobengulaf—it is, after all, only 70 years ago—who killed, I think it was, one million souls, chiefly for fun. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to remember the point of view of this great mass of Africans who are, as it has been said before, our responsibility.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, as one who, in contrast to the noble Lord who has just sat down, has never set foot in Central Africa. I can assure your Lordships that I shall be brief. The "armchair expert", whether he speaks from the front of the club fireside or from the equal comfort of these Benches, can he a menace. I propose only to 620 stress certain principles which I believe are commonly accepted by us all, and then perhaps note how the situation in Central Africa measures up to those principles.
Our function this evening, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, is to place ourselves at the disposal of the forthcoming Review Conference; and as I see it, that does not necessarily mean that we should project one common agreed view, if that were possible. It allows us to range wide in our ideas—and I stress that because my own idea with regard to federation may be slightly unorthodox. We are all agreed, wherever we sit, that the principle of partnership is the beacon which guides us. I think we can assume, too, that we are all agreed that that is the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government. But the soil belongs to no one community; it belongs to all communities, and all communities must contribute according to their ability. In the case of the African, we recognise that it is a matter of increasing ability. I might perhaps add a footnote to that by recalling that last year, at the United Nations, that somewhat unpredictable but interesting figure in international affairs, Mr. Khrishna Menon, in presenting a resolution on the racial policy within South Africa, was emphatic that there was no question of apartheid in reverse: the European had a place in Africa, and that place had to be maintained. That was a significant remark, I think, coming from that particular source.
If, then, my Lords, we recognise that a true partnership is the goal, I suggest that it is worth while, if necessary—and I stress those words "if necessary"—making some sacrifice to reach that goal. In effect, that might mean—I say this with a sense of sober responsibility—that if we were ever driven into a choice, and if this problem were reduced to a simple but tragic choice between federation or partnership, then, so far as Her Majesty's Government were concerned, that choice would have Ito be partnership. But need there be a choice of such desperation? May we for one moment consider how we should have wished this situation to develop could we have waved a kind of magic wand over Central Africa and moulded development according to right principles and 621 an ordered plan? Should we not have striven jealously to prove the principle of partnership in each of the three communities first, and then, and only then, have hoped Ito bind the three of them together in a mutual association, economic and administrative, of both strength and progress? It seems to me that the simple logic of that unassailable process has eluded us. We have put on a horizontal roof of federation before the vertical foundations of partnership—and I refer to three vertical props—were secured.
I have read that brief Chapter 2 of the Monckton Commission's Report three times. Even now I cannot understand exactly how the architecture of federation has gone wrong. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, however, that it is no good looking back except to help in mending the future. To a layman such as myself that indicates, perhaps, that to a certain extent, the egg may he unscrambled, not necessarily to be thrown away, but so that it can be re-cooked by a better method; and I think that that process is recognised by the Monckton Commission in the concept, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, criticised, of transferring certain powers back from the centre to the three units. If this is recognised, it seems to place an obligation on the European to make a success of partnership first, so that he is then able to carry the African with him into a true Federation at a later date. That also places a solemn obligation on the African—and here I think that we are justified in standing as firm as a rock. If the European is prepared to put partnership before federation for the time being, then the African must equally be ready to put that same partnership before his political associations with other Africans outside the area, who have no concern whatsoever with the internal administration in Central Africa.
I do not know exactly how the constitutional position at present could be adjusted to adhere more closely to these principles. I only know that we all accept these principles, and that political situations can be made to fit principles, whereas principles cannot be made to fit the political situation. An irrevocable dissolution will not meet our need so well as a postponement of federation—which 622 may become an irrevocable postponement—until the three units as such have proved that partnership is a success in every sense of the word. That, in turn, would involve abolishing the unsavoury social features of discrimination.
Finally, my Lords, perhaps I may be allowed one reflection in a wider field, in which perhaps I can speak with a little more authority—that is, the impact of this situation on international opinion and the world outside. It stands to reason that what happens in Central Africa will have its repercussions across the frontier in the Congo. The situation is also being watched by a far wider audience beyond Africa. And sometimes we could wish that the Europeans in the Rhodesias, in their very natural anxiety not only for their own future but also for the future of the country which they rightly claim to have created, could be a little more ready to look outside Central Africa and see their country as others see it from a distance. Do they realise, for example, what this next step means in terms of Commonwealth interest? As a Commonwealth of nations we have come surely and steadily along a clearly defined road. The going has not always been easy, but we have progressed because we have known the road along which we wanted to go. Then suddenly we are faced with this last river to cross—partnership in Central Africa. It could be presented, I believe, as the final milestone in Commonwealth evolution. Cross this river and we are home; fail to cross it and the work of many good men over past decades might be lost.
Then, looking beyond the Commonwealth, could not the success of partnership in Central Africa have its repercussions in Algeria where conditions are not altogether dissimilar? Altogether there is a lot at stake. I have stressed the Commonwealth and international aspects of the problem because I should hope that it might be the background to the Review Conference and the spirit in which it is approached. It is in this spirit that I wish Her Majesty's Government good luck in their task. I cannot add to the eloquence with which the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, summed up the Government's needs. Wisdom and diplomacy in abundance they will need, if they are to persuade the Europeans 623 and Africans, when they come to London, to see their future as one in which they are irrevocably linked together, to see their future in the light of a greater responsibility than that of their own interests and their own environment.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, a great deal of ground has been covered, and, fortunately for your Lordships, I have had to scrap a great deal of what I had intended to say. I should like to speak briefly on one of the conclusions of the Commission—namely, that Federation can eventuate only if it is the wish of the majority of the inhabitants. If the wishes of a people are to be granted, surely the first thing to try to achieve is that they know the advantages and disadvantages of the problems they are being asked to decide and, having understood the advantages and disadvantages. that they are able without fear to express their opinion. Unless conditions prevail in a country to make this possible, to talk about abiding by the wishes of the people is merely a hypocritical Fabianism, a convenient bolthole for shedding one's responsibilities.
There is certainly no evidence to show that the African population in the Rhodesias and Nyasaland are able to express their opinions without fear. The Report, as several noble Lords have pointed out, speaks of intimidation and violence organised by nationalist parties against their opponents and against those who hold contrary or pro-federal opinions. The Report also mentions the threatening of witnesses before the Commission and even talks of murder and witchcraft. The Report further states that in Nyasaland the Government has been greatly undermined by intimidation. Surely these illnesses cannot be cured by just widening the franchise and altering the allocation of seats in the Federal Assembly. I should have hoped that we had learned our lesson in Kenya. I am convinced that if, in the early days of Mau Mau, we had had, say, 50 executions, we should have saved 10,000 African lives.
Surely the first duty of the Government is to give all their backing to the restoration of law and order. As the 624 Report points out, nothing can be achieved until intimidation and violence cease. It is, of course, extremely difficult for a democratic Government in this country, but the time comes when you have to risk some unpopularity in your own country and have to use force in the interests of the majority—and by the majority I do not, of course, mean the few extreme Africans who seek to agitate, but the ordinary simple Africans.
But after law and order is restored, cannot Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the Federal Government, embark on an energetic scheme of publicity and propaganda to explain to the untutored African that Federation is not out to deprive him of his land? I feel sure that if only the Africans could be made to understand that Federation is not going to harm them the opposition to Federation would die away. I agree that it is difficult to explain to the African the economic benefits of Federation. My only real knowledge of Africans is in West Africa, but I have employed quite a fair number of people of African descent in the West Indies, and I have come to the conclusion that, as a primitive people, they really live in the present and you have to appeal to them in the present. I have before in this House harked on the fact of our poor propaganda services, and I think, that in Africa there is a glaring example of this. I may add that by "propaganda" I do not mean untruthful propaganda, but the truth.
If only we were able to educate the African I think it would be a great help. But on the whole our efforts at education in Africa have not been good. I should like the Africans to be told, for instance, of the horrors of Africa before the white man went there. So many Africans take our civilisation for granted they do not realise the hundreds of years of self-denial and hard work which have built it up. We are inclined to think that in Africa academic education is an excuse for civilisation. That is not to say that I have not a high regard for the Africans: they have a good sense of humour; they are cheerful, and they are a very fine people. But I think that we are asking almost the impossible when we ask them to do in 50, 60 or 70 years what has taken us 1,000 years.
625 I have seen evidence in Africa that some Africans look upon democracy as an extension of tribal warfare; that is to say, as a means to an end. It is very hard for an African to understand democracy. The average African, if he has power, wants to keep it, and I believe that few of those would be prepared to ask others if they want them to remain in power. I have spoken like this because I am appalled at the disaster which could happen in Central Africa if the Federation should break up prematurely. If only Her Majesty's Government could use all their influence towards advancing Africa by stages of political development, the Africans would not lose any advantage; it would, in the end, be to their gain.
One other point to which I would refer was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in relation to seats in the Federal Assembly. I agree with the noble Earl that to have the allocation on a parity basis appears to go against the whole concept of a multi-racial society. The African Electorate will continue to grow, and in the end will have a majority. So why not have the moral fibre to stand up against the extremists? In the course of time, when the Africans have proved themselves, as they will, and as they are doing, they will have the power. What is all the hurry?
I agree with several noble Lords that to bring up the subject of secession was premature. It is absurd to speak about it before all the three Territories are self-governing. As I have already pointed out, it is pointless to hold a plebiscite unless the people understand the issues they are being asked to decide. If only we had taken the chiefs and elders more into our confidence, and if only, in the early days of this Federal General Assembly, we had advised them, I am sure that a great deal of this trouble would not have occurred.
I have seen some of the handiwork of the Russians in Africa. I have been in one or two countries on the West Coast of Africa, apart from British Colonies, and I can assure your Lordships that a large part of Africa is to-day for sale—I do not mean for sale for investment but for sale to the highest bidder to provide arms and money. It is very difficult to say, but I am afraid that there are some African politicians 626 —I do not mean to be abusive in any way—who lack the professional conscience and who appear to be more interested in personal gain than in Africa. There is a wonderful opportunity for Russia to take advantage of this, and Russia is taking advantage of it. It is absolutely essential that the Federation does not break up, because if it does I am convinced that Russian money will stir up trouble and do an immense amount of mischief. Before I end, I would add that I hope that at the forthcoming Conference the Government will not be panicked into any premature decisions, because if they are the so-called "wind of change" will become a hurricane which will sweep right through Africa.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD REITH
My Lords, I begin with a remark that has nothing to do with the present Government, but is a background to the Commission and its work. There was in the presentation and introduction of the Federation art extraordinary ineptitude and lack of preparation from which we are all suffering and, I am afraid, will continue to suffer for a while. There were resultant and inevitable misunderstandings and perversions of truth. Here, as often elsewhere, those who were ex pane prejudiced and suspicious did not even trouble to get the facts right before distorting them—surely, an elementary and wise precaution. The idea of a Commission may have been good or bad: its composition, its terms of reference, its procedures, its findings, good or bad. It may not matter much, but there is no doubt that the subsequent present controversy, especially as to the inclusion of a discussion on the right of secession or otherwise of any of the Territories, has been and is altogether deplorable. Perhaps never in Commonwealth or Colonial annals has there been such a melancholy and miserable exhibition of England to the world as in the handling of affairs in Central Africa.
There is far too much talk about breaking up the Federation; far too much encouragement to those who, largely for their own ends, are anxious to see the Federation broken up. There is far too little talk about the duty and 627 advantages of preserving the Federation for the immense derivative benefits—educational, health, economic—to all the territories and to all who live therein, but especially to Africans. If the Federation were broken up, not one of the three Territories would have the strength, the creditworthiness or the economic flexibility it needs. I should be interested to have confirmation or denial of that from the noble Lord, Lord Robins. Diversity of the economy of the Federation, I would say, was the strength of each territory, and each territory gains strength from the existence of the Federation.
The United Kingdom Government have consistently supported Federation since the Secretary of State's pledge in March, 1953, that the Review Conference was not to decide whether federation should be abolished or continued but simply to make such alterations in its working as experience showed desirable—and experience might show that immense alterations were desirable. The joint declaration of April, 1957, reaffirmed this, renouncing any idea of secession. The United Kingdom Prime Minister said in July, 1959, that if Her Majesty's Government were immediately to break up the Federation or to form a new one, it would "be guilty of an act of treachery." Mutatis mutandis, Sir Roy Welensky is the legitimate and worthy successor of those who have gone before, such as Rhodes and Huggins. He is passionately loyal to Crown and Commonwealth. He is entitled, I submit, to the encouragement and appreciation of this House, and I hope that he will get it from the noble Viscount, if from no one else. I wish that almost everything that has been said or done over recent weeks and months could be forgotten, and that the Review Conference might meet in circumstances of mutual confidence, courage, high principle and faith—perhaps above all faith. But it will all depend on the chairman; and we wish him high speed and great success.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD ROBINS
My Lords, at this late stage of the debate I feel sure that your Lordships will not wish me to weary you with a repetition of what many noble Lords have already said regarding, first of all, the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission and, secondly, the way in which the Commission have 628 carried out their task. In fact I had come prepared with a volume of detail to put before your Lordships this afternoon, and I am sure you will be relieved to know that I have destroyed it.
It seems to be common ground and agreed by everybody that the Federation must be preserved; there seems to be no argument about that. And we cannot afford to let it fail. May I say something with reference to what my noble friend Lord Reith has just said? He asked for confirmation from me that there would be a disaster if the three Territories were broken up into their component parts; that they could not, any one of them, stand alone. After 30 years' residence in the Federation, and having seen it grow from its inception, I can confirm that in full. These Territories are now interdependent. Nyasaland's labour, Northern Rhodesia's copper and Southern Rhodesia's agriculture and mineral wealth are all required to make the Federation an economic unit to hold its place in Central Africa and in the Commonwealth.
The second point I wish to make is that it is our duty to make this Review Conference a success. Therefore I agree with what many noble Lords have said: that it is up to us to avoid, so far as possible, anything in the way of acrimonious dissension that may take away from the atmosphere in which that Conference should be held. One of the first things that has to be done in the United Kingdom is to dispel the suspicion with which the Governments, and many of the people in the three Territories, regard Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. I am very sorry to have to say that, but it is an absolute truth: and it is one which I saw when, some few weeks ago, I spent some time in the Federation. Sir Roy Welensky has had a very natural outburst at what he considers to have been a let-down. I feel, that he "went off the deep end" rather quickly, but that is his nature; Sir Roy Welensky is a forthright man; he says in no uncertain terms what he thinks. Cannot we in this country, a Conservative Government, say, in a forthright way and in no uncertain terms, what we think? If the Federation is to be preserved, let us be definite about it and not play about with compromises and possibilities which everybody knows cannot be very good.
629 I want to refer to one or two points which, in spite of the late hour, I hope your Lordships will allow me to mention. The Report, in the first 30 pages, gives a wonderful build-up to what the Federation has done since its inception and puts the case for its continuance. But from then onwards the recommendations made appear to be designed to break down that structure. To quote the words used by Sir Roy Welensky in the Federal Assembly on October 25 last:The Commission has given the benediction with one hand and the death stab with the other.It has been pointed out that 23 of the 25 members of the Commission signed the Report. Eight of those signed it unconditionally; 15 signed with, between them, 55 reservations on points of fundamental importance; 2 would have nothing to do with it or with the continuation of the Federation at all, and, understandably, signed a Minority Report.
Reduced to basic simplification, the Commission's conclusion is that, while the advantages of Federation are great and it ought to be maintained, that maintenance must rest on a general willingness to accept it or it will have to be preserved by force. I do not quarrel with the general principle of that conclusion. No one would argue that a Federation which failed to observe the rights and interests of its peoples and could be held together only by force deserved to continue. But when it comes to the question of general willingness you have to consider whether you are going to yield to the irresponsible and unrealistic demands of black agitators, supported, as they are in many cases, by intimidation and witchcraft, or whether you are going to govern and lead, carrying with you, by stages, the native peoples who, whatever may be said to the contrary by itinerant politicians and pressmen, look to the white man for guidance and advancement.
In the first place, there is the question of what subjects should be in the Territorial and Federal spheres. No doubt there are many subjects at present handled by the Federal Government which ought to be transferred to the Territories. To my mind, public health, education, roads, prisons, agriculture, might well be completely Territorial. 630 External affairs, defence, higher education, tax policy, railways and airways, electric power, research and all matters affecting banking, currency, company law and building societies and customs should be Federal. No subject—and I think this has been referred to by other noble Lords—should be divided between Federal and Territorial Governments on a purely racial basis.
May I say one word about the proposals for the Federal Parliament. Sixty members and a Speaker will hardly be necessary to deal with reduced powers. I agree with the Commission—and I think everyone would agree—that more African representation should be provided; but it must be on qualifications and merit and not on race. I would do away with the European members representing African interests and I would allocate those seats to African areas. I cannot accept parity between European and African seats; this merely perpetuates racial divisions. As for the suggestion that there should be an Asian member of the Federal Assembly with no power to vote, I must discard that as being in the realms of nonsense. We should have gradual and natural development, with no setting of a time limit; so some changes may come quickly and others slowly. That has been our history in this country and in other Commonwealth countries, so why should we start now to lay down a limit of a few years? In any case the position has been rapidly changing since the Federation was formed, and there is no doubt that the changes will continue to be rapid from now on.
One word about the franchise. We should do away entirely with what are called "weighted" or "devalued" votes. There should be a common roll with qualifications that will be sufficiently high to exclude the entirely illiterate and irresponsible people of whatever race, and provision should certainly be made for the inclusion of chiefs, whose position in the Federation requires revision. We should delimit the electoral districts so that preponderantly European and/or African areas will get appropriate representation. The floating African population in the town will not vote there but, if qualified, will vote in the area, whether tribal or reserve, where they have their permanent homes. The difficulty, of course, will be to define what is the 631 permanent home of an urban African or one who is a migratory person from a reserve; but that is not a matter that cannot be solved. That may result for some years to come in urban areas being represented by Europeans and in rural areas being represented by Africans, but it is quite possible that for many years a predominantly African area will elect a European because he happens to be the best man. Working up African representation must be a gradual process, and it must be recognised, whether our African fellow citizens like it or not, that for many years to come the Federal Parliament will be dominated by Europeans. We must be realistic in this matter.
I do not propose to say anything about this question of secession. It seems to me that, whether or not it was within the terms of reference of the Commission—in fact we know that it was not—when they found that evidence was being brought upon this subject I feel it was their duty to communicate that fact, not only to the Prime Minister in this country, but also to the Federal Prime Minister. It was the only fair thing to do.
With regard to safeguards, I feel that the proposals are rather top heavy. I do not consider that Councils of State are necessary. And a Bill of Rights for each territory seems to be unnecessary as well; but if it pleases the people in those territories there can, of course, be no objection to them. Four Governments, two Territorial with African majorities, as they will be, one Territorial and one Federal with increased African membership, should be enough to deal with Central Africa for many years to come, and I think it is unnecessary to have any other cumbersome bodies.
The Monckton Report is a compromise. Although there is much in it that we must accept as being extremely valuable, I hope that the Conservative Government will not make it a basis for the Review Conference which is to be held next month, and that the Conference will not allow itself to be prejudiced by it. As a last word, may I hope that Her Majesty's Government will make a firm and unequivocal statement that it will keep the Federation in 632 being, that it will recognise and support the white leadership which has brought Central Africa out of barbarism in 70 years, and that it will not allow itself to be deflected from a just and firm administration by the clamour and violence of agitators.
§ 6.34 p.m.
My Lords, Federation is a well tried system of government, but wherever it has been found useful and successful I suggest that three conditions have obtained: first, that there are common interests between the partner States; secondly, that those States are of comparable nature and status, and thirdly, that Federation has the consent of the majority of the inhabitants of each of the partner States. Nobody would argue against the fact that in 1953, and now, there were, and are, common interests between the three partners of this Federation. Nobody can claim that in 1953, or now, they were, or are, countries of comparable nature from the constitutional point of view—and I am indeed glad that among the recommendations of the Monckton Report are proposals which would bring these three countries, one a self-governing Colony and the other two Protectorates, to a state which they would have equality, or almost equality, of status.
In 1953 the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants were overridden. In my view the Monckton Report is an historic document which posterity will compare with the Durham Report. I say that because of the weight that it attaches to African opinion. Who are the authors of this Report? They are not armchair critics of what has obtained in the past. Some of them are inhabitants of the Federation; others, though they are not inhabitants of the Federation, have travelled so widely over it in the course of the work of the Commission that the map which is provided at the end of the Report reminds one of the maps one used at school of the missionary journeys of St. Paul, and they make St. Paul seem a relatively pedestrian traveller.
Who are the signatories of this Report from the Parliament of the United Kingdom? They are four—two from this House and two from another place. All of them are men of great distinction, all 633 Privy Counsellors, all former Ministers of the Crown, all Conservatives, and all "fathers" of the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland in the sense that they were members of the Government which introduced and piloted through Parliament the Federation scheme. Are they in any way queer Conservatives? I do not think so. They have had most reassuring careers. If I may, I would draw attention to the fact that one of them, the Chairman, was Director-General of British propaganda in Cairo under no less a person than the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos; and that the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne was Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Colonial Office to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton.
I do not think that the bulk of our Party will take the attitude that has been taken by many noble Lords who have spoken from these Benches. I think they will feel that it is remarkable that the four distinguished men to whom I have just referred have altered their view about the nature and the weight of African opinion. In the last seven years African opinion has not faltered except in one respect, and that is in intensity; but I believe these gentlemen must feel—and I think it is clear that they do—that African opinion is of such a nature and weight that it cannot be overridden in 1960 as it was in 1953.
I had this attitude towards African opinion seven years ago but in those days that attitude was not popular on these Benches, although I must record my appreciation of the support that it received from both the Benches opposite; and I believe that this Report brings us nearer than anything else has done in the last ten years to the possibility of a tripartisan colonial policy, a policy agreed to by the majority of members of each of the Parties in this country. I wish to say nothing that might endanger the acceptance of this Report or be disagreeable to the representatives attending the Conference. I would only emphasise that the Commission say that their proposals must be taken as a whole. They are designed to win among Africans that confidence which was lacking in the Federation set up in 1953. They have made proposals which, in their opinion, are minimum proposals for winning that confidence. I, for one, am a great admirer 634 of the Report which they have presented, and I wish the Conference well.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I believe we should all be agreed that this has been a very great debate. I must confess that, like the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, at one time I rather wondered whether it would be useful or wise to have a debate of this character so soon before the Conference, early in December. But I believe this debate has proved us both wrong, and although we do not ask the noble Viscount, Lord. Hailsham, to tell us very much in reply to what has been said, he can at least tell us—and I am sure he will—that the House has well and truly lived up to its traditions of responsibility and statesmanship.
We are discussing a long Report and an immense subject—all the more immense, I think, in that it goes a great deal wider even than the immediate question of the future of the Federation. The debate has really taken us into discussion of the possibility of continuance of partnership between the black and white races in any part of Africa. I cannot help feeling from my own mind and from what has been said that there one really fundamental issue arises, but perhaps before I touch on that issue I may be allowed to comment for a moment on some of the points that have been put before us to-day. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the noble Lords, Lord Milverton and Lord Robins, have brought up in their speeches the same point about the constitution of the Federal Legislature. It cannot be right to approve a proposal that enshrines the very principle of racialism that we are striving to get rid of.
The Minority Report makes an attempt to get away from that by having at least 20 Members allowed on the common roll; but surely what we want, if we are to achieve African representation or even parity, is that the increased African representation should arise out of the franchise rather than out of an enforced position where 30 white faces on one side of the House have 30 black faces glowering at them from the other side. What I want to see—and believe the noble Lord, Lord Robins, said the same, though possibly in different words—is every European candidate having to think of his African constituents and 635 every African candidate having to think of his European constituents. That is how we are going to choose a nonracial Legislature—and I think the word "non-racial" is to be preferred to "multi-racial".
Not a great deal has been said on the transfer of powers from the Federal Government to the Territorial Governments, although the noble Lord, Lord Robins, mentioned it. I think all of us have tended to say little on this subject because we feel it is open to negotiation. If, however, I may mention one word of warning, I would say, as the noble Lord, Lord Robins, has said, let us be careful not to have a Parliament composed of 60 men or women sitting in a Parliament and having really nothing to do. Let us be careful that we do not send Sir Roy Welensky down every morning to a completely empty desk, with no work to give to his staff—if it is worth while his having a staff.
A good deal has been said on the vital subject—"vital" is a word we must use with care and I use it deliberately—of racial discrimination. The noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, mentioned it in his excellent speech, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lords, Lord Hastings and Lord Coleraine, also dealt with it. One is happy to feel from what has been said in this House and from what one knows of growing public opinion in Southern Rhodesia itself that there is increasing agreement on the need to do away with all aspects of racial discrimination. What I believe is not quite sufficiently realised, although we are all grateful to the noble Duke for giving some credit to Sir Edgar Whitehead and the Southern Rhodesian Government on this point, is the extent to which things have moved during the last few years.
I have here a short list of large and small items—and often it is the small things which are as important and annoying as the large ones. They include removal of barriers in post offices and banks; a growing number of non-racial cinemas, theatres, clubs and hotels—and I may say we owe a great deal to the noble Lord, Lord Robins, and his associates for initiating, as I believe, the first non-racial hotels in the Federation 636 —the complete disappearance of any discrimination on railways and air services; the deliberate cutting off from some of the South African sports club in order that there shall be non-racialism in sport—it will have been noticed that in the Olympic Team there was an African representing Southern Rhodesia—and the growing number (though not, I think, a great number) of African doctors and lawyers functioning in the European quarter. The noble Duke referred to the admission on equal terms of Africans to the Federal Civil Service. I believe that has either been done or is being brought about, also, in the Territorial Service.
Other noble Lords have spoken about the university. What I do not think has been mentioned is the new teaching hospital that has cost £1½ million, which is to be run on a completely non-racial basis. Not many of us have mentioned the new report which has been adopted by the Southern Rhodesian Government on land apportionment. That, I believe, is a very important subject in dealing with Africans. When opening the Salisbury show this year, I had the honour of being asked to say, on behalf of a number of ranching companies, that if the Government, in their wisdom, felt that there should be more land available for an extension of African farming and native purchase areas they would consider it wrong for the ranching companies to stand in their way.
Those are just a few examples of what has been done. After all, we have been there for only 65 years, and the first ten or fifteen of those were pioneering years. We can think of the difference between those examples and the sort of atmosphere that exists (I say this without offence to any other country) in a country where Africans have been for over 200 years, in the Southern States of America, for instance in Little Rock and in New Orleans, and what happened the other day in one of our Midland areas when some of our busmen refused to take in colleagues in the transport service if they were either Africans or West Indians.
May I now turn to this vexed question of secession? On the whole I would say little about it, as I think most noble Lords have tried to do, because it is one of the most difficult problems to be dealt 637 with at the Conference. There is no question; no one can contend for a moment that three territories, unwillingly joined, can be kept together by force for ever. But some of us must regret the form in Which this subject has been introduced into the Report, which gives almost a direct invitation—not in so many words but by implication—to secession. One has to admit that if this was hoped to be a wise psychological gesture—the dropping of the reins to gain African approval and to appease African opinion—it cannot claim any great success. One must admit that perhaps those who believe so passionately in Federation have in some ways made the case a little worse for themselves than they might have done; because, by seizing on what 1s, after all, only a very incidental recommendation in this Report, we have tended to magnify its importance and have not made sufficient of the fact that the Report is almost unanimous in favour of the continuance of Federation. It may be a mistaken suggestion of the Commission to have thought that this was a means of appeasing hostile opinion, but it was done with the motive of continuing what they felt to be vital to the country—namely, Federation. The one speaker who in the last month or so has tried to draw our attention to the point is the Prime Minister himself.
This brings me to the point that seems to me to be basic to the whole question. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, put his finger on it. Is not the real trouble that the African extremist leaders—I am not talking about whether they are right or wrong—have come to feel that they have only to shout hard enough, or exercise sufficient extreme pressure, for the walls of Jericho to collapse and for them to be given exactly what they want? And the Europeans, I am afraid, have gained the same feeling, and therefore they feel they are living on quicksand. We are not going to get wisdom from either side under those conditions. This recommendation of secession is unwelcome to most of the Europeans, anyhow.
But what is the use of talking about giving a trial, whether it is for five years or seven years or until there is self-government, if every one of us has the horrible feeling at the bottom of his heart or in the pit of his stomach that, 638 if sufficient pressure is exercised, that trial is not going to be given? What is the point of talking about ascertaining the views of the people after a certain period, assuming we get through that period, when, in the words of the Monckton Report itself, there is no real law and order and there is therefore no freedom of expression?
The Monekton Commission talked freely of what are the African view: and the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, knows exactly what the Africans are thinking. But how, my Lords? It is stated on page 17 of the Report that:A number of witnesses who had expressed their desire to give evidence to us were deterred from coming forward, and some who had Oven evidence were subsequently threatened. One witness was threatened in the street as he left the building … and returned to ask for protection. The nationalist parties extended their boycott even to social contacts with Commissioners, and a member of a municipal African commitee who defied this boycott was threatened with murder".There are some who know Nyasaland very much better, and have known it for much longer, than the Commission, who state that there is, as Mr. Justice Devlin said, a police state existing in Nyasaland. But it is not run by the Colonial Government; it is being run by Doctor Banda. That may be speaking in extreme terms but it is what has been said.
My Lords, would the noble Earl forgive me if I point out that the last paragraph on page 17 begins with the word "However", and ask if he would be good enough to read the first five lines of that paragraph?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
Willingly—However, despite the effect of intimidation on the free expression of opinion, we were left in no doubt …That is what I am questioning. Why were they not left in doubt by the intimidation? The fact is that there cannot be a fair trial or any worthwhile ascertainment of the views of these people unless and until law and order can be maintained and, where it has ceased to exist, as in Nyasaland, restored.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, would the noble Earl then contend that these people who spent all this time out there came to a completely wrong conclusion when they said there was this genuine 639 opposition on the part of the majority of Africans?
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I am not saying anything about a completely wrong conclusion. I am drawing attention to one particular (as it seems to me) inconsistency; and if the noble Lord can show me where I am being inconsistent I shall be extremely grateful to him.
We may well say: Are you prepared to use force to restore order? I can only say that if you and I thought we should like to form a Party in this country, and decided we had public opinion so little behind us that we had to employ thugs to exercise intimidation, I do not think we should be left in very grave doubt as to whether or not it was right to use force.
I want to stress the point that I merely skimmed over: that the one sure indication that the nationalists themselves are not convinced they have everybody behind them is their feeling that they have got to use these extremities of intimidation. You do not intimidate people who you think agree with you. My Lords, forgive my stressing this point, but it seems to me so tremendously important. Everything really depends on Her Majesty's Government giving at this Conference some proof of their ability to take a stand somewhere.
I believe that the public opinion in this country, I am quite sure the general view in this House and, I think, a very widely held view in the Federation itself, is that we must be prepared to go a long way—a very long way—in order to meet the legitimate aspirations of Africans. This must, moreover, be not only in political terms: it must be in terms of employment also. That is why the negotiations for which Sir Edgar Whitehead and his Government are very largely responsible—the successful negotiations with the railway unions, the building unions and the copper companies—are so vastly important. In a small concern in which I am interested, a ranch divided up into five or six sections, we have actually found it a good thing to promote our ranch-hands to African section managers in charge of 15,000 or 20,000 acres. That is an important advance. In another part of Africa to which I go sometimes (admittedly it is East Africa) we are 640 actually putting Africans on our local boards of directors. I think that one of the troubles is that we are such a tremendously political nation. We seem sometimes to think that the only form of progress must be in terms of politics. I do not think that is right.
I am quite sure that all of your Lordships, or nearly all of your Lordships, would be prepared to support what was decided at Lancaster House with regard to Kenya, what was done with Tanganyika, and what was settled at the last Nyasaland Constitutional talks. But, my Lords, while we say that all those things are right, we must get some certainty back into the situation by feeling that the Government are capable of saying, "We go thus far, and it will be a very long way; and, later on, when progress has been shown, we will be prepared to go further; but for the moment we will not go further".
Now what is the test that we must satisfy before we do hand over, I will not say greater power but ultimate power to an African majority in a Territory—in fact, grant self-government to that Territory? The first point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore: that there must be economic viability. To hand over to an agriculturally poor country with a small primitive population powers to make it into an independent State must result in chaos. There must be a system of law and order administered on the basis of, and backed by, justice. There must be some system of Parliamentary government. I say "some", because it may or may not take the exact form of the Westminster model; but it must in fact contain within it fair play for an Opposition. The rights of minorities must be guaranteed.
My Lords, I trust that these conditions will be applied when, at the Conference, the Government are asked to consider the question of the secession of Nyasaland, either now, as Dr. Banda is asking, or later. If they are able to stand on those conditions, then they will be creating the sort of situation in which Africans will be persuaded to settle down and learn the art of government as a preparation for further advance; and it is the minimum condition of European agreement and cooperation. What the European wants to know is whether the Government are 641 definitely pursuing a policy or whether they are engaged in sliding down a slippery slope.
May I say one last word, my Lords, on the importance of European agreement? This is Central Africa, not West Africa. We have been in West Africa for generations. It is a different race of men, with thousands of degree students, as opposed to five or six in Nyasaland. One has to admit that, wherever you go in Central Africa, whatever you see which is worthwhile in terms of civilisation has been produced or taken there by the European, whether it is in town or country, the economy, the industry, the mines, the schools, the hospitals or the university. Do we see the West Coast—the far more advanced West Coast: Ghana, Sierra Leone or Nigeria—engaged in trying to get rid of the expatriates? No; we see them trying to keep the expatriate Europeans. How much more should this apply to Nyasaland, where half their budget comes from outside sources and a quarter of their employment? In addition, of course, a great deal of employment within the boundaries of Nyasaland is dependent on Europeans. The Rhodesians know these things. These Rhodesian brothers and sisters of ours—and do let us keep this very firmly in our minds—are not people who are likely to give in. They have a proud record. They know what they have achieved and created; and, if any of us here does not know it, then let him read that part of the Monckton Report devoted to their achievement. They may have made their mistakes, but the Report gives the story; and if we try to coerce them against their consciences, we shall surely fail.
My Lords, I close by congratulating Her Majesty's Government on the degree of confidence that they have won amongst the Africans, but I assert that they are going to succeed in their policy only if they regain the confidence of Europeans. That, my Lords, is the basis, the foundation, of the success that we hope and pray they will be able to achieve at this Conference. It must be based on the re-establishment of law and order, of freedom of expression in these territories, and on the feeling among the Europeans and the moderate Africans not only that they are living in a firm, secure State, with progress extending ahead of them, 642 but also that the Government know just how far they are prepared to go.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we are coming to the end of what seemed at one time to be a very long sitting but which fortunately looks as if it may terminate at a reasonable hour. I was very glad that a number of tributes were paid in this House to the Monckton Commission. We are a much more generous House than the other place; in the other place no tributes were paid by the Government representatives to the Commission. Here, although I imagine that the Report was not 100 per cent. to the liking of the Government, nevertheless handsome tributes were paid to the work of the Commission. And I think it is right that that should be so. The Commission, as has been pointed out, consisted of eminent people, some of whom have held high office in the State. They gave freely of their time and participated in a very strenuous undertaking. They came to a decision which was practically unanimous, and it was a decision probably against the preconceived notions of many of them. It was truly an objective Report.
It is all very well for noble Lords, like Lord Milverton and Lord Reith, to sneer at them, but they are, in my judgment, and in the judgment of many Members of this House, individually and collectively far more competent to arrive at a decision than most of those who criticise them.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord and ask him whether he considers that a difference of opinion from myself or from Lord Reith is necessarily a sneer?
§ LORD REITH
My Lords, I should like to endorse that. I was not aware of any sneer in anything I said.
§ LORD SILKIN
I thought I detected it, but if it is not so I withdraw the remark cheerfully. But I certainly detected signs of sneers in the speeches of both noble Lords about the findings of this Commission.
Of course, one can disagree—there are things in the Report which I do not agree with myself. But while I am on the subject, I should like to say that we ought to cherish the kind of Reports we get 643 from Royal Commissions and Committees which are set up. I think we are almost unique in the whole world in being able to lay our hands on men and women who will give of their time and upon whom we can rely to give an objective report to the best of their ability. That is one of the things I feel most proud of, and I hope we shall always be ready to pay tribute, to the work of these Commissions.
I should also like to pay a tribute to the debut of the noble Duke. He made a most admirable speech with which I find it almost impossible to disagree on any point. Whether that is commendation of his speech or not, I should not like to say. I suppose, in the eyes of some noble Lords, that is not exactly commendation; but I think the noble Duke did extremely well. He talked of "standing up to the bowling". I thought he meant the bowling, both slow and fast. He thought he had dealt with the slow bowling but was leaving the fast bowling to [his noble friend; but I doubt whether he has left any fast bowling to his noble friend to deal with. except one point to which he did not reply—which perhaps was a bit "fast"—and that was the question which my noble friend put about the legal view as to the functioning of Parliament: whether Parliament really was in a sovereign position to deal with the Federal Constitution. I think the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, thought that it was, and no doubt it is so; but some doubts have been expressed and some of us received a document this morning purporting to be a legal opinion from some eminent legal authority in Rhodesia which threw some doubt on the subject. However, I am sure that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will be in a powerful position to give us the Government's view on this point.
I would also commend, on the whole, the spirit in which this debate has been carried out. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, hoped that we should discuss this question in a responsible way. We are all conscious of the fact that this is an exceedingly difficult question. We all want the Review Conference to be successful, and we certainly do not want to say anything which would have any effect on the Conference which we should not desire. We all start off with the desire 644 for Federation. We all want that because we believe that it is for the benefit of the three territories concerned. We may have differences of opinion as to the extent of the benefit, but I do not think it is necessary to go into that aspect. It is definitely for the benefit of the three Territories; we are on common ground there.
I was not so sure whether we were on common ground that it would not be possible to maintain Federation except with the consent of the parties concerned. Some doubts were expressed on that point. Some noble Lords (I will not name them because I do not want them to stand up and prolong the proceedings) I thought definitely made the point that, even if the parties concerned did not assent to Federation, nevertheless it should be imposed on them for their own good. Some even challenged the fact that there was this opposition to Federation. One noble Lord—I am not sure that there were not two—referred to leaders of the groups who were opposed to Federation as being "black agitators." The expression "black" is certainly not calculated to give the impression that those noble Lords are in favour of abolishing racial discrimination. If it were necessary to define these people in this manner, one could define them as "agitators" without the addition of the adjective "black". It seemed to me that it was not exactly a helpful description of people who are opposed to Federation.
Like the noble Duke who dealt with this point, I feel that it is really not necessary at this stage to discuss what would happen if the discussions broke down and we could not continue Federation by consent. I think that events will solve that problem. But in the opinion of at least one observer in the Federation, Sir John Moffat, very serious consequences will flow from any attempt to impose Federation against unwilling parties. Therefore I very much hope that, contrary to some of the advice that has been given the Government, the Government will use their influence in securing conciliation on both sides.
I have by no means given up hope of Sir Roy Welensky as negotiator. I have a sneaking admiration for Sir Roy Welensky. I think that he is a very able and sincere man, who is working for the benefit of the people of his country, and 645 I believe that he is moving in the direction of abolishing race discrimination, so far as he can, although one may have some argument about whether he is proceeding fast enough. In the opinion of a good many people, he is not going fast enough, but being on the spot to some extent he must be the judge of how far it is possible for him to go. After all, he is not entirely his own master. He has political and other friends to contend with, and very often in these matters, as I know from experience, the pace at which you can go is not the pace of the fastest of your colleagues but the pace of the slowest. So I have great sympathy and faith in Sir Roy Welensky.
I find it unnecessary to cover the ground to any extent because it has been so admirably covered in the course of the debate. I was glad to have the assurance that the Report will be accepted as a factor in the discussions that will take place and that nothing will be ruled out, not even the vexed question of the possibility of secession, although I hope, as every noble Lord who has spoken hopes, that the question of secession will not arise.
In my view, the most important question that has to be dealt with is the question of racial discrimination. There are three types of discrimination. There is political discrimination, which can be dealt with by Statute, and is being dealt with. There is economic discrimination, which is being faced up to, to some extent. I was glad to know that some of the trade unions are prepared to accept members of all races on equal terms. There is no good blinking the fact that in the past some of the most determined opposition to economic equality has come from fellow workers. I think that we must be fair and accept that. And we are grateful to the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, for giving a lead in employing black people on his ranch, as other people are doing. Knowing him as I do, I nearly called him "My noble friend."
§ LORD SILKIN
I am sure that the noble Earl is treating them on a parity with white people and using them because they are the best people available. All this is helpful.
646 In my view, however, the third discrimination is the most important of all—social discrimination. You can put a man on an equal footing as regards pay and prospects, and you can give him a vote, but if you do not treat him on his merits as a human being, as your equal, if he is your equal; if you are not prepared to do that, but separate people in hotels and do not allow the African to go to cinemas which are used by white people, then you are not really dealing with the problem of racial discrimination. Until you can look upon the African as a brother and as an equal, as you would look on a while person, you will never solve the problem that exists to-day.
There has been some criticism of the Commission's recommendation that the constitution of the Federal Parliament should be based on equality of representation as between white and black. I understand the criticism is that this will perpetuate the racial distinction between the two. But I would ask the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, who is against equal representation, what the alternative would be. Is not the alternative to have European domination over the point of view of the African? If you do not have equal representation, you have unequal representation. I am sure that everybody who has spoken in the debate and complained about equal representation, has in mind unequal representation, with the European in a majority. We have really to face up to the fact that this will not be acceptable. And if it is not acceptable to the Africans, what then do you do? Are you prepared to see the negotiations break down on this point? That was the dilemma with which. I imagine, the Monckton Commission were faced.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, I do not think that there is any disagreement between us. I want increased African representation to be obtained through the franchise, rather than by nominating 30 Africans and 30 Europeans.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will take notice of the alternative proposal, which struck one as exceedingly fair and reasonable, put forward in a reservation signed by Mrs. Huxley, among others. I am 647 certain that it goes without saying that the Conference will give careful consideration to her proposal.
§ LORD SILKIN
So am I, my Lords. It will be the duty of the Conference to consider the Report as a whole, including the reservations. Of course, the ideal would be to have a Legislature consisting of human beings and not of Africans and Europeans; and I hope that that will come. Are noble Lords justified in being so fearful about the consequences of having equal representation of Africans and Europeans? Is it the assumption that in the Legislature the Africans will all vote in exactly the same way and the Europeans will also vote in exactly the same way; that there will be no differences inside the two camps?
I remember, as I suppose many other noble Lords will remember, that in the days when women were trying to get the vote one argument against the women's vote was that, because women outnumbered men, we should have a Parliament dominated by women. It was an absurd argument—as I think that this is an absurd argument. If we have in the Federal Parliament people at different levels of culture and economic position, among the Africans as well as among the Europeans, I imagine that the voting will be much more on the basis of the class from which they come, of their general level of interests, than on the basis of colour. Unless we can think of something better, I should have thought that this equality of representation was not a bad thing to start with.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting him, but I assume that he would not give the task of government into the hands of a white man who was not qualified for it or had not the education for it. Would he then, merely for the sake of preserving equal numbers, do so with a black man?
§ LORD SILKIN
I was not aware that there was any particular qualification required from the European. I assumed that the only qualification was that he was of age and was not debarred by a certain specific disqualification, such as insanity or character.
§ LORD ROBINS
I interrupt the noble Lord only to say that the qualification 648 for the white voter is exactly the same on the common roll as it is for the black voter.
§ LORD SILKIN
I will accept that from the noble Lord. I do not profess to be an authority on the subject of the qualifications for voting. But the fact is that we do want to broaden the basis of qualification for the African so that we can get a much more realistic register of African voting than we have at the present time. I should have thought that one could not possibly justify the present disparity in numbers as between the two.
I do not think that I need say more. The purpose of this debate has been, I think, amply achieved. Most of the speeches have been responsible; but I think that one or two would have been improved if the speakers had had the opportunity, which unfortunately they did not have, of hearing the debate before they spoke. By and large, I think the Government will have benefited by the discussion we have had. It is said that in a multiplicity of counsel there is wisdom, if only you know where to look for it—and the counsel that they have had has been somewhat divergent. I hope that the Government will be able to find the wisdom in the counsel that they have had during the course of this debate. We hope that agreement will be arrived at during the forthcoming discussions and that the result will be amicable unity of purpose among the three Federal States. In any case, we look forward to a successful issue and. as many noble Lords have said, to the creation of an example of a way of life which will show the world that it is possible for different races and colours to agree and work together for the common purpose. We shall probably desire to have a debate after the Conference is over, and I should like nothing more than to be able to congratulate the Government and all concerned on having reached a harmonious agreement, which would be for the benefit not only of the people who are immediately concerned but, I believe, of the whole world. This is a very important and responsible Conference that they are going into, and I am glad that they are going into it in the spirit in which the noble Duke made his speech.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I certainly would agree with the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat that the purpose of this debate bas been achieved and has been of benefit to the Government, and I shall try to show that the multiplicity of counsel to which he referred was perhaps not as great as some of the participants seemed to show; that, on the contrary, there was an underlying series of themes upon which substantial agreement could be claimed. I should feel, before I set forth upon my course, that I should be doing less than my duty if I did not underline what I think my noble friend Lord Coleraine called the high tone of the debate from beginning to end, begun by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, with an admirable speech and so continued throughout.
I should also like to express, on behalf of my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire and myself, our feeling of gratitude for the generous way in Which his first effort from the Dispatch Box has been treated from all quarters of the House. Maiden efforts of all sorts are always trying occasions to those who take part in them and this was something of an ordeal: not only a Parliamentary occasion of considerable importance, but also an occasion when a word out of place could probably have done a great deal of harm. I think it was a tribute to my noble friend, which in this context at any rate he will appreciate, when the noble Lord, Lord Silk in, said that so little cut of place were his words that he could find nothing with which to disagree. At all events, he is a great asset to us on the Front Bench, and all my colleagues were delighted to welcome him in his first speech from that position.
During the 22 years that I have been a Member of either one House or the other, I think that on no occasion, except for a few brief moments on a limited subject, have I ever spoken on a Colonial or Commonwealth topic of this kind. The reason has not been any lack of interest or conviction so much as a lack of specialised knowledge, and the belief, fostered by some experience, that ill-informed speeches can undermine loyalties, destroy confidence and, alas! even cost men's lives. If I speak as I am doing at the conclusion of this vital debate on the Report of the Monckton 650 Commission, I do so in the knowledge that I have not the intimate experience in such matters of many noble Lords on both sides who have contributed.
Merely to repeat the names of those who have played a part in this debate is to rehearse some of the most distinguished careers in contemporary history. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, brought to it the experience of an ex-Prime Minister. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who introduced the subject, was until recently Governor General of Ghana while it was still under the sovereignty of the Crown. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who spoke from the Liberal Benches, had experience not only in professional life in two colonial territories (as they then were) but also in both of the Commonwealth Relations offices under a Labour Government. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who spoke from our Benches, bas contributed a lifetime of service to the Colonies, from the lowest position to the highest, in Asia and in Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, my noble friend Lord De La Warr and the noble Lord, Lord Robins, all speak from long and intimate knowledge of the territory about which we are speaking. The noble Lord, Lord Forester, also has personal connections therewith. The noble Earl, Lord Lis-towel, has been Secretary of State for India and Minister of State for the Colonies. My noble friend Lord Swinton has been Secretary of State for the Colonies and for Commonwealth Relations as well, and is, as he reminded us, if not the fattier at least one of the godfathers of the present arrangements in the Federation. My noble friend Lord Hemingford speaks from missionary experience, and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester drew on the missionary experience of the Church. Then there is the noble Lord, Lord Reith, with his wide experience in these affairs and his great reputation in administration.
It would be difficult to find a group of people more distinguished or more qualified to give their opinions on this question. Moreover, their distinction and, if they will allow me to say so, their obvious sense of honour and love of justice, their feeling for human dignity and law, their sympathy for those of different races from themselves, are not only in themselves remarkable, but 651 offer a refutation of the prejudice and slanders with which it has become fashionable to attack British policy in recent years.
The object of this debate is to look to the future rather than the past, and it is, I would say, in a sense fitting that the debate has to be brought to a close on behalf of the Government by one who has none of these distinctions and, apart from his position in the Government, no special claim to be heard. In a way this goes to emphasise a most important fact and one of the most important themes in this debate—the fact that a great burden of responsibility, perhaps the ultimate burden of responsibility for right action, rests with the people of Britain through its Parliament: people, I must say, with no special knowledge to guide them except what they read in the newspapers and in documents like the Monckton Report; people without direct personal contacts, no long years in the public service, no months of study and no intimate associations.
The fact that this is the situation is the justification for the appointment of a Commission like the Monckton Commission. This, I would say with respect to my noble friend who raised the question, is the fact which renders it inevitable that the Report of a Commission of this kind should be made available to all Members of Parliament and, therefore, to members of the public, because decisions taken by Her Majesty's Government in a matter of this vast moment are not private, secret decisions arrived at in the council chamber; they must be decisions which we are prepared to defend in public on grounds of reason and knowledge, for the purposes of which preliminary inquiries and investigations such as the Report of the Commission which we are discussing this evening must be at any rate some kind of foundation or preparation.
it may be that our responsibility is not one to be envied; but it is not one, either, which can be shuffled off—though it must necessarily be shared, for European and African leaders in Africa cannot avoid their responsibilities. But our responsibility cannot be denied. it is without doubt ours by law. I shall revert to that subject later. But it is not a matter which is going to be determined 652 by legal opinions on one side or the other. For the fact of the matter is that it is ours in fact, whether we act or whether we do not act, whether we give or whether we withhold, whether we hasten or whether we delay, whether we speak or whether we are silent—the responsibility remains ours. Time, which is not always our friend, will remorselessly decree that we in our generation must bear the guilt or claim the credit for what must inevitably be a crucial series of decisions in the history of the human race.
There is one paragraph in the Monckton Commission's Report which nobody sought to dispute, and that is a paragraph—which I will not read again, only because it was read by my noble friend and referred to by so many speakers—in which the seriousness of the consequences which might follow the break-up of the Federation were underlined: serious consequences on the economic side which were spoken of both in the Report and by various speakers who contributed to this debate, but, far more serious, the catastrophe on the political side to the hopes of those who wish to build in Africa the possibility of a State where the race to which the inhabitants will belong will be the human race and not the African or the European primarily. This is a theme of the Report upon which nobody has differed. There has been no multiplicity of counsel here. As to timing and pace, yes, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has reminded us. But, as he said—it was a fine phrase—it was pace, not principle, which divided speakers.
I do not think, either, that the debate will turn upon the terms of reference of the Monckton Commission. Indeed, discussion of this is no longer helpful. This is also something about which many speakers agreed. The Monckton Commission was appointed to advise the five Governments in preparation for the 1960 Review Conference, only a few weeks away. It is the Review Conference, and not the Monckton Commission, which must succeed. It is that, and not the recommendations of the Commission, which must not be prejudiced. I must say that I particularly welcomed the generous way in which speaker after speaker recognised this and freely absolved the Government from the duty 653 of adopting in advance any attitude to the Review Conference which would prejudice its discussions or which would lead the delegations who attended to feel that their opinions would not be listened to, or that some members would not be welcomed in a spirit of complete equality and freedom. This has come from both sides of the House. It came from the noble Earl who initiated the debate. It came from my noble friend Lord Swinton in a most valuable contribution, if he will allow me to say so; and I happily accept the guidance and wisdom which has come from these two quarters.
I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will understand me if I say that, if I do not respond in detail to his invitation to state what the attitude of Her Majesty's Government would be if the Conference failed, it is because, as my noble friend Lord Swinton so well said, I wish to see the Conference succeed. To talk now about the rival merits of a policy of drift or an imposed settlement, or even about the possibility, in the event of disagreement, of the principle of government by consent or its opposite, the use of force, might, I think, seem in the sensitive imaginations of some to militate against the success of an enterprise the success of which is so much the best of things we can legitimately hope should happen as a result of the Conference.
I would respectfully agree with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that we must not go into this Conference with thoughts of failure in our hearts. In such a matter a determination to succeed, and belief in its possibility, is as much a condition of success as careful preparation. If we claim that Ours is to be, as we should wish it to be, a healing rôle, a rôle of reconciliation, we are, I think, entitled to point to a record in Commonwealth and Colonial affairs which entitles us to ask for confidence in our sincerity of purpose. As I have indicated, there has been virtually complete agreement that federation is the thing we must aim at, and I do not find in this any difference between one side of the House or another.
As to the constitutional position, I would say again that I do not think that this matter is to be decided one way or the other by lawyers' opinions. I do not myself believe there is any doubt 654 about the legal position. It is that stated by my noble friend Lord Swinton: the legislative power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom is expressly preserved by subsection (2) of Section 1 of the Statute. And even if it were not, of course, the underlying principle remains that the legislative authority of the United Kingdom Parliament remains a legal fact unless it is expressly taken away.
I would not myself think that that concluded the matter, because in affairs of this kind the conventions of the Constitution are equally important as the legal position. And the most important convention that I know of in the British Constitution is the undefinable one that you do not press legal advantages beyond the point at which they are endurable. For that reason I would not pursue very far this evening the constitutional position, except to say this: that I think it would be a mistake, to some extent, to draw analogies from other Confederations in the Commonwealth or with other Colonies in the Commonwealth.
This is a very unusual Federation that we are discussing. The parts are composed, as to one, of a society with what is technically called responsible government. The other two are Protectorates whose position as such is not a mere formality. It is expressly entrenched and protected by the Preamble of the Constitution, just as much part of the Constitution as any other part of it, in which it is expressly said that their position is not to be taken away except in the conditions therein defined. Now, my Lords, this clearly gives a responsibility and a right to Her Majesty's Government, as the protecting Power in relation to the Territories; and the Preamble goes on to express the hope that the Federation, when the inhabitants of the Territories so desire, might go forward with confidence to membership of the Commonwealth. It is in the light of those words, I think, that one must read the whole question of secession, and I should have thought that, if they were properly understood and wisely applied, those words might even go some distance towards solving it. But I do not think it is for me to carry the matter further to-night.
The key question, as has been repeatedly said in this debate, is the question of confidence in the minds of those 655 who will have to carry out the negotiations in this and their own country. A great deal has been said about the removal of suspicion in the minds of Europeans. A great deal might also be said about the removal of suspicion in the minds of Africans. The only thing I would say about it is that it would not be much good removing suspicion in the one at the cost of confirming it in the other. Both, one hopes, must come to the Conference in a mood of confidence in one another and in us. What I think needs to be said, and to be said quite boldly, by a member of Her Majesty's Government, is that neither Her Majesty's Government nor the British people have done anything to merit any want of confidence in their integrity or good faith in this matter by either of the two races. Do the Africans feel suspicion of our good faith? Let them look to India and Pakistan, to Burma, Malaya and Ceylon. Or, in the African continent, let them look to the Sudan, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Gambia—yes, and Kenya and Tanganyika, too. Since 1945 we have enfranchised something like 650 million of the world's inhabitants. In the face of such a record as this, dare anyone suggest that we cannot lay claim with confidence to the goodwill and trust of African people anywhere, simply because here and there difficulties make the way of progress hard?
But we shall be told—and, indeed, my noble friend Lord Robins referred to it—that it is the Europeans whose want of confidence has been echoed in your Lordships' House. I should like to repeat, and endorse, the tribute to the Europeans work in the Territories which was made so well and so appropriately by my noble friend, Lord De La Warr. I do not think I could use better words than his, and therefore I shall not attempt to do so. But I can remember one phrase in a previous speech by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, when we were discussing this matter, in which he said in the last Parliament—I can hear him saying it now—that the Europeans of the Territories were us, people like ourselves, of our own flesh and blood; people neither wiser nor more foolish; neither more tolerant nor less; neither more fond of justice than we are nor less. They are, in short, people who, 656 by the chances of this mortal life, have gone there rather than remain here. These are not people for whom we can feel anything but loyalty and affection.
But where is the basis of any want of confidence? In spite of the record to which I have referred (and here I am afraid that I am largely repeating something I said only two weeks ago, but I think it is appropriate in this context to do so), the 650 million people or thereabouts enfranchised since the end of the war, at a time of great international tension and in fact at a time when this country has been labouring under every kind of trouble, internal and economic; in spite of this record, in no single case where freedom has been granted has a general attack on European lives or property occurred after independence. Is not this something which merits confidence rather than lack of confidence?
Of course, there have been attacks which have happened before independence. There have been times when law and order has been threatened. It was threatened in Malaya; it was threatened in Kenya; it was threatened elsewhere in the Commonwealth. But every time that has occurred and there have been generalised attacks on life and property, those attacks have been fought and broken by successive Governments, supported by successive British Parliaments with different political complexions. Sometimes, to hear some of the speeches to which we have listened, one would have thought that we were a nation of weathercocks—that was a phrase that was used. But looking back on the harsh story of the last 15 years during which this great process of liberation has been going on, we have been compelled again and again to stand up for law and order; and I would say that in every case where within our Colonial Territories we did so, we have done so with determination, and successfully. I should think, indeed, that our record had been one where both races could look to us with confidence—the Africans in the knowledge that we favour enfranchisement, the Europeans in the knowledge that we do not treat our fellow subjects, of either colour, as expendable or as otherwise than equal to ourselves.
657 Of course, we are not insurers of anybody. In this terrible twentieth century of violence and bloodshed we have been unable, twice in a lifetime, to insure ourselves against danger or loss of life and property. No one can demand this to-day. What is true is that we have never spared ourselves in the great adventure of human freedom. I would say that no one can claim to opt out of the risks and perils which, quite frankly, beset us all, in this country no less than in Africa.
Of course, as my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard reminded us, timing is all-important. But timing cannot isolate itself from what is going on elsewhere, on the African Continent and in the world. Of course, if this had not been true, some people might say that it would have been safer to play it slower. On the other hand, there might have been less risk in more rapid progress. But we must judge these situations as we find them, and not as we should like to find them. All I would ask at this stage is: where is the evidence, in what we have done, of either irresponsibility or ill-faith in either direction? We are entitled to call on both races to treat us as their friends, for that is what we are; and, as friends, we must say both to Europeans and to Africans: "If you wish for good things in Africa for your children and your children's children, you must learn, before blood is spilled, to live amicably with one another, not hating, nor envying, nor despising."
I say this only by way of conclusion in this matter, for I think we shall have many other opportunities to continue a discussion which has been most valuable. No one could, I think, accuse me of being otherwise than almost a Conservative of the Conservatives. My father was a Unionist; my grandfather was a Unionist; and my great-grandfather was a Unionist. I see a certain number of ghosts. I am not sure that ghosts are bad things to see from time to time. We have always stood for law and order, and I hope that we always shall stand for law and order. But we have had to face intimidation before. This is not the first time in the history of nationalist struggles that we have had to face it. One remembers the brutal murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish which was the breaking point 658 of Anglo-Irish relations in the latter part of the nineteenth century. One remembers Captain Boycott and Captain Moonlight. It is possible to over-emphasise the element of violence in nationalist movements. I want to say, as I think one is bound and able to say, that those who practise violence must be doubtful of the reason of their cause. But these things have happened, and I hope we have learned wisdom from them.
On another side of my family one of my ancestors partook in the siege of Yorktown on the American side. I hope we have learned from that the unwisdom of forcing European settlers beyond a point. Another of my ancestors fought on the losing side in the war between the States. I remember that he used arguments not greatly different from those to which I listened with such appreciation from my noble friend Lord Forester. His employees, too, I remember, were "happy sitting in the sun."
There are a lot of ghosts in British history, and I think one is wise to remember them. There is another to which I should like to refer before I sit down. I sometimes see the ghost of a military tribune of Claudius's army standing on the coast of Kent. He must have said, must he not, as he saw our be-woaded ancestors, the subjects of Boudicca, "What have these people ever done to further human progress? Here are we, with all the might of Rome behind us, with Latin and Greek literature enriching our school days, with our technical know-how, our great wealth, and our immense civilisation. What have we to do with these people, except to teach them the things we know?" The Romans came here and they brought civilisation. It did not last, because it found no lasting root at that time in the hearts of the people. I think, on the whole, the sainted Pope was wiser when he saw up for sale in the slave market in Rome the two golden-headed boys, and said non Angli sed angeli. I have no doubt that some of the bystanders there said. "How very charming those children are. One must remember, however, that when they are grown up they will be just buck Anglo-Saxons."
I think it is as well to remember that the scientists tell us that the human race has been here for about 500,000 years. Only in the last minute of the last hour 659 of the last day has modern transport enabled us to visit our separated brethren in different Continents. It is small wonder that, from time to time, there are bloody episodes and unedifying incidents. But, in the short distance which separates us from birth to grave, it is as well to remember that there is one comfort only for us all—namely, that hidden beneath the unprepossessing appearance of black and white alike there is none the less, somewhere, to be found an image which is divine. That image, we must learn, it is presumptuous folly to despise, and it is an image which it is blasphemy to try to defile.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount for his eloquent speech, particularly because he was able to say, as a Cabinet Minister and a most distinguished lawyer, that he agreed with the Commission's interpretation of the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom Parliament and the Federation. I think we on this side of the House are most grateful to the Conservative Government of the day for refusing his request to be allowed to remain a Member of another place on succession to his father.
660 I should like also to thank noble Lords on both sides of the House who have taken pant on this debate. I believe that it has been a memorable debate in many ways. It has been memorable because of the speech of the noble Duke, who has established his reputation in this House much more quickly than most of his seniors were fortunate enough to do. It has been memorable also for the weight of knowledge and instructed judgment which came from noble Lords speaking from many different fields of experience, to which the noble and learned Viscount himself has alluded, and which has served the valuable purpose of advising the Government and also. I hope, instructing public opinion about British responsibility in Central Africa. I believe—and I am sure the noble and learned Viscount will agree—that the message Her Majesty's Government will have received from this debate is one of good wishes and success to this momentous Conference. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes past eight o'clock.