HL Deb 16 July 1962 vol 242 cc463-87

2.56 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have it in Command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Bill, has consented to place Her Majesty's prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The object of this Bill is to provide for the independence of Trinidad and Tobago. I feel sure that your Lordships welcome the fact that at the recent Independence Conference it was the unanimously expressed wish of the delegates that Trinidad and Tobago should remain within the Commonwealth, and that they should continue in allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen as Queen of Trinidad and Tobago.

My Lords, it is now some 160 years since Trinidad was ceded to the British Crown, and in that period the population has risen from some 18,000 to over 800,000 people. As your Lordships know, it is one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the world. The two largest population groups are those of African and Indian descent, but in addition there are British, French, Spanish, Chinese and Syrian stock.

In recent years there has been the possibility of racial tensions, due to the fact that the Government Party was largely supported by people of African descent, and the Opposition Party largely by people of Indian descent. I am glad to say that the recently-concluded Independence Conference has made a big contribution towards the, easing of these racial tensions. For the Constitution agreed upon will provide considerable safeguards for minorities and the protection of human rights. The determination of the Prime Minister, Dr. Williams, and of the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Capildeo, to work together and to unite the people in one nation has, of course, been a prime factor in allaying the anxieties of minority groups, and generally in reducing racial tension. In Trinidad and Tobago there has recently been great advance in the social field, particularly in education and in housing. I think it right that I should pay a tribute to Dr. Williams, whose energetic and imaginative leadership is so largely responsible for this progress.

As noble Lords are aware, the principal source of revenue of the country was originally from sugar. Later cocoa and citrus were developed. While not of primary economic importance to the country, I must also mention the Pitch Lake, and Angostura Bitters. But, most important of all, of course, my Lords, was the discovery of oil early this century. Great efforts have been made by the Government to diversify the industries of the country, and there are now a number of thriving industries manufacturing such things as textiles, industrial chemicals, cigarettes, cement, glassware, gramophone records, and so on. So Trinidad and Tobago will enter into independence in a strong economic position, and with good prospects for the future.

My Lords, this Bill is in a similar form to other Independence Bills which have been placed before your Lordships, and I do not think it is necessary to detain the House for long in explanation of it. Clause 1 provides for fully responsible status for Trinidad and Tobago. Clause 2 deals with the citizenship question on lines already embodied in several previous Independence Bills. Clause 3 provides for the consequential modifications to various United Kingdom enactments. Clause 4 gives the delimitation of the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Clause 5 is the short title. All the clauses are perfectly straightforward. I commend this Bill to your Lordships, and I am sure that it will receive support from all parts of the House. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, once more this is a Bill which we are delighted to welcome. Any step forward towards giving former Colonies their independence must be an occasion for rejoicing. But it is difficult, particularly on this occasion, to mention nothing except the rosy future that lies ahead. I do not want to be a pessimist, and I do not want to cast any gloom over what is undoubtedly a great and happy event; but Trinidad, like the other newly independent territories, has great problems, and I hope that the fact that the noble Marquess has spoken only briefly and cheerfully does not mean that he and Her Majesty's Government are unaware of these problems.

The noble Marquess was perfectly right in mentioning the racial difficulties—what he described as "the cosmopolitan society"—which exist in Trinidad and Tobago, and which are a very real danger. While I express my admiration for Dr. Eric Williams, in his capacity as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, an extremely able politician and a statesman, and also for Dr. Capildeo, who I am certain is a fine leader of the Opposition, I must frankly say that both these gentlemen and their followers, great though their qualities may be and great though their patriotism for their own country's welfare may be, are not necessarily the people who are going to minimise the real racial tension which exists at the present time in the two islands and make it disappear altogether. The mere fact that independence has been achieved does not mean that racial tension will automatically disappear. I think that that is something we -must face, however unpleasant it is to have to say.

I am happy to see from the White Paper, which is the framework of the Constitution (and once more I must say that I should be much happier if on these occasions we were able to see the actual Constitution before such a debate as this took place), that one of the "ordinarily entrenched provisions" relates to human rights and fundamental freedoms. I cannot help feeling that it seems to be an extraordinary sense of proportion in those who have appended their names to this White Paper, who include not only the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and the Leader of the Opposition, but also Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs at that time, that the provisions relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms come under ordinarily entrenched provisions, whereas among the important matters under the head of especially entrenched provisions is the remuneration of the Governor General. Surely it cannot be asserted that there is anything more important to entrench in the Constitution of any country, even our own, than the provisions relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms, above all in a country such as Trinidad and Tobago, with the difficulties which the noble Marquess has mentioned. To put those provisions as of ordinary or rather minor importance, and the remuneration of the Governor General as being of greater importance, cannot be the right way to start off with due regard to the social rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals in this new country. I hope that serious thought will be given to this point by Her Majesty's Government and by the islands themselves, because I look on this as one of the fundamental difficulties which will arise in Trinidad and Tobago now that they have their independence.

There are other problems which face these two islands. First of all, there is the straightforward economic problem. The noble Marquess has referred to the fact that there have been conversations with Dr. Eric Williams on this aspect. I hope that he is satisfied, but if one can go by what has been said by Dr. Williams on his return home, he has certain doubts and reservations as to whether this country is, in fact, going to do what at least we on this side of the House should like to see it do in helping Trinidad and Tobago to achieve real economic viability. We cannot allow the fact that former Colonies have become independent in any way to interfere with our obligations to them to see that they progress economically, as well as socially, in the way they wish to and we wish to see them, go. I hope that the noble Marquess will be able to assure the House that the aid we are morally bound to give will be forthcoming in fact, and that any misgivings and fears which Dr. Williams may have are entirely unfounded.

Turning to the actual economic situation in Trinidad, as the noble Marquess told us, the islands now have a population little short of one million. It has risen rapidly over the past twenty or thirty years. The islands enjoy, so far as the Caribbean area goes, a high standard of living among certain individuals and have an advancing economy. But, as your Lordships know, their economy is based on oil. Eighty per cent. of the export trade is in oil, and 40 per cent. of the revenue comes from oil. This makes the economic problem a dangerous one, and one particularly doubtful at the present time, with the Common Market negotiations that are going on. I hope that in these negotiations we shall not take as an example to be followed the arrangements already reached with the Dutch possessions of Aruba and Curacao, although conditions there are different from those in Trinidad.

Leaving the economic side but remaining with oil for a moment, the economic and social evolution of Trinidad is different from that of many other islands because of oil. The wealth which has come to the islands has come entirely from one economic sphere, and as a result other economic development has been largely neglected. Above all, agriculture, which is normally the mainstay of such islands, has fallen far behind. I am not referring to sugar, which is an efficient and important industry, and which I hope will be continued to be safeguarded by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement; nor to the agriculture which is carried on in large plantations, but to the smaller people whose farms should provide the major part of the food for the islands. Production from these farms has fallen so much behind that it is incapable of supporting the rural population in a condition of life which is in any way comparable to the wages which can be earned in the oil industry. This has led to a movement of people from the land, to a rapid urbanisation of a society which is not used to such things, and to the creation of appalling slums, shanty towns and overcrowding, together with juvenile crime and all the other things which go with these conditions.

My Lords, all these social evils, including racial hatred, envy of those who have and disillusionment among those who have not, are the things which make it so hard to build up a really stable democracy, no matter how admirable the leaders of the Government and the Opposition may be. We can still help in many ways; but, above all, we can help with financial and material aid. Once more I would ask the noble Marquess to give us an assurance that this aid will be forthcoming, and that our responsibility towards these two islands will remain just as real as ever it was. Unless that happens, no matter how sincere our wishes are for the happy future of these islands, there is little chance of those wishes being fulfilled. Our wishes for them are good wishes, but I hope that there will be action to go along with them.

3.11 p.m.


My Lords, I should like, from these Benches, to welcome this Bill and to express our hope that Trinidad and Tobago as a new State will have a successful voyage into the future. But, before saying anything about Trinidad and Tobago, I should like to say a word or two about the remarkable event that has just happened with regard to the Colonial Office, whose representative we have here to-day. We have now come round almost full circle after 37 years. When we left here on Thursday evening there were two Secretaries of State and two separate Departments of State. To-day, after the chopper has come down on a big scale, there is one Secretary of State, and for the time being—although I think it is only for the time being—two Departments. In case the two Departments are merged when the House is in Recess, as may well happen, I think we should pay tribute to the Colonial Office—which, as I say, has ceased to be as an independent Office with its own Secretary of State—for the great work it has done throughout the centuries it has been in existence, starting, as it did, as the Department of the Plantations, and at one time exercising, in so far as they were exercised, some of the functions of the War Office. It is an Office in which many distinguished statesmen started their ministerial careers, including Mr. Gladstone, Sir Winston Churchill and, as no doubt the Prime Minister will remember, Mr. Phineas Finn.

I am not at all sure that this is the right moment to have this merger of responsibility, because, so far as I can see, there is an enormous amount of work in the Colonial Office which falls to the head of it individually. Just lately I have been engaged, as has the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, in the Uganda Conference—and we have two or three others coming on. I do not know how Mr. Sandys is going to manage with the Prime Ministers' Conference looming up and the functions that will fall to him to perform personally. I hope it does not mean that the Colonies that remain will be pushed in the background and have less attention given to them than they should have: because this is an important stage in their evolution.

The Colonial Office to-day is very different from the days when the late H. G. Wells wrote Ann Veronica. Your Lordships may remember that when one of Ann Veronica's suitors came to see her in South Kensington she asked him what he did for a living; and he said he was an official in the Colonial Office, a post which does not unduly interfere with my leisure. I do not think anybody would say that to-day, because the officials there are hard pressed. The only way in which the Secretary of State will be able to do the work is to have a sound system of devolution. I do not know whether the noble Marquess and the noble Duke opposite will be beneficiaries or otherwise of that system; but we are, at any rate, glad to see them here to-day. One almost wonders Who one will see when one next comes to the House. However, let us hope that they remain with us.

To turn now to the Bill——


Hear, hear!


Well, a little introduction is always welcome, especially when there have been such changes as have taken place over the weekend: surely one is entitled to make reference to them.


There is still hope for the rest.


To turn to the Bill, the new State has considerable advantages, and rather unusual ones in these days. As the noble Marquess said, it is viable; it has a favourable balance of trade. That, as I say, is a considerable achievement these days because in most cases in which we have been granting Constitutions the countries have been doubtfully viable, to put it at its highest. So Trinidad comes forward under a very favourable wind. It also has, as the noble Marquess said, a mixed economy. It is not tied, as so many of the territories we have been considering are, to a single crop, and one that is very much at the mercy, as a single cash crop usually is, of world markets.

The disadvantage (and I think the noble Marquess skated a little smoothly over this) is that politics in Trinidad, as in British Guiana, are on an Afro-Asian basis: not the Afro-Asian basis of the United Nations, where they are generally joined in criticising everybody else, but an Afro-Asian basis in which they criticise each other. This is an unfortunate situation. I do not think there will be political health in Trinidad and Tobago until politics get on a sounder basis than depending on the particular race to which the voter or the member of the Party happens to belong. We have found elsewhere that when a political system is based on race it is a very weak one and generally leads to trouble in the end. I hope that Trinidad and Tobago will get away from that.

So far as their relationships with other countries are concerned, I would say that, unlike Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago are not sufficiently close to the United States. They are too critical of the United States, and they do not sufficiently take into account the great deal of help they could get from that country if they were prepared to accept it. So far as their relationships with ourselves are concerned, as Lord Walston said, Sir Eric Williams, the Prime Minister, has, rightly or wrongly, been very critical of our help. So perhaps when the noble Marquess comes to reply he can give us an indication of whether he thinks there is anything we could or should do to satisfy Sir Eric Williams, or whether he thinks that all that we have done is enough.

I should just like to say a word of welcome to Trinidad and Tobago from another angle. In the Schedule to the Bill there is a reference to the admission of the new State as a member of the Commonwealth Institute. As a Governor of the Institute, I should like to welcome them, and I hope that they will play their full part and take a keen interest in the affairs of the Institute. It so happens that the interest of Commonwealth countries in the Institute is rather patchy; some are very good and take a good deal of interest, but others do not. It is, in my view, a most important organisation. It is the only organisation, so far as I am aware, which is maintained and supported by all the independent Members of the Commonwealth; it is a true Commonwealth organisation, although, of course, in the main, the support comes from Her Majesty's Government.

Finally, I should like to ask the noble Marquess a few questions, and if he cannot answer them to-day perhaps he will be able to do so during a later stage of the Bill. First of all, what is the position of Chaguaramas base? Is it affected at all by this new arrangement? Secondly, do any of the eight smaller Colonies want to join with Trinidad and Tobago? I have heard it said that Grenada wishes to join with them and to leave the suggested Federation which the United Kingdom is proposing. Is there any truth in that, and what is the United Kingdom attitude to such a suggestion or wish, if Grenada puts it forward?

Finally, what is the position of the common services? To what extent will Trinidad and Tobago be entitled to take advantage of them? Your Lordships will perhaps remember that when the West Indies Federation broke up recently it was decided to keep on the common services—or, at all events, some of them—and a high official was sent out from this country in order to take charge of them. I remember the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in a previous debate expressing the wish that these services should not be allowed to die away. They are highly important in this area, and it would be most unfortunate if such a strong territory as Trinidad and Tobago were to depart from the common services scheme on becoming independent. With those few comments, and the questions that I have asked, may I reiterate my good wishes for the new State of Trinidad and Tobago?

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to join with other noble Lords in offering a warm welcome to this Bill. I should also like to join the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, in paying a tribute to the work of the Colonial Office and its officials, at home and abroad. I must confess that, having paid three visits to Trinidad as Minister of State for the purpose of negotiating the establishment of the Federation of the West Indies, my welcome of the Bill to-day is tinged with regret that we are not now welcoming a Bill for one independent Federation of the British Caribbean territories. I still hope that one day it may be possible for them to move closer together politically for I feel sure that one great single unit in the Caribbean, imbued with the traditions of British democracy and justice, could have been, and still could be, a great bastion of freedom, security and common sense in a region which has not always been notable for those qualities. Meanwhile, however, Trinidad and Tobago will now get the opportunity to "go it alone" in circumstances in which we hope will prove to be both politically and economically successful.

On the political side, Trinidad and Tobago are entering into independence under excellent auspices. Dr. Williams, a statesman with remarkable knowledge of the workings of democracy, and the determination and drive to put it into practice, is their Prime Minister. They also have an efficient Opposition under Dr. Capildeo, who may be trusted to keep a watchful eye on the Government's activities. Here I should like to refer to the statement by Dr. Williams and Dr. Capildeo at the end of the Marlborough House Conference, to the effect that they were united in their determination that they would work together to make Trinidad and Tobago into one country with one nation.

I should also like at this time to pay a tribute to my old friend, Mr. Albert Gomez, who did so much in the past to develop Constitutional progress in Trinidad and Tobago. Incidentally, it is of interest to note that for the first time, so far as I know, in any Commonwealth Constitution a leader of the Opposition is to be appointed by the Governor-General who will act on his "own deliberate judgment", and will select as leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives the head of the Party Which in his view commands the largest number of Members. Certainly welding together the very diverse races which inhabit Trinidad and Tobago, including persons of African, Indian and Chinese descent, as well as those of many other European origins, will not be an easy task, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said. However, I feel sure that the great natural intelligence of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, fortified by the British Parliamentary institutions and the rule of law which they enjoy will enable them successfully to contend with those difficulties.

As has been said already, the territory of Trinidad and Tobago starts from a strong economic position. With her oil deposits, the great pitch lake, and her agricultural resources, Trinidad is far and away the best-equipped territory in the British West Indies economically to embark on the path of independence. But this does not mean that we in this country should be forgetful of her needs, and here I should like again to make a plea for the alteration of the powers of the Colonial Development Corporation to enable them to initiate new schemes in newly independent members Of the Commonwealth. With the number of dependent territories dwindling year by year—almost month by month—the scope of the Colonial Development Corporation is now becoming seriously restricted. My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in another place the other day gave a slight hint that something was in fact brewing. I hope that that is so, and that we may have an announcement on the subject before Parliament rises.

My Lords, I should like to say one more word on the economic side; and that is, as has been done already by the noble Lord, Lord Omore, to urge on the leaders of Trinidad and Tobago (and this applies equally to Jamaica) that they should give the utmost support and encouragement to the arrangements for continuing the common services for the West Indian territories. Sir Stephen Luke has been entrusted with working this out, and certainly no one could be better qualified to do so. I hope and trust that the contacts which these common services will involve will help to harmonise the policies of these territories in a still wider field, including, I hope, that of concerting political action.

Finally, I should like to refer to one matter which gives me some concern. As in the case of Jamaica, this Bill contains no provision whatever for any arrangements for defence. Unfortunately, I could not be in the House when the Jamaica Independence Bill was debated on Second Reading, or I should have raised the point then. The position is perhaps more acute in the case of Jamaica, owing to her proximity to Communist Cuba. It cannot be a very comfortable position for a country to be lying a bare 90 miles from a bellicose dictator such as Dr. Castro, who has already proved himself only too ready to indulge in acts of subversion in other Caribbean and Central American countries, and who has all the necessary material to hand, in the form of Russian jet aircraft and tanks. Against this, all that Jamaica can put up, as I understand it, is one battalion of the West Indian Regiment, with no artillery or aircraft.

It could be argued that Trinidad and Tobago are far removed from immediate danger, but it would be absurd to ignore the fact that Communist subversion is taking place throughout Latin America, and that Venezuela is one of the main targets. Trinidad lies only seven miles from the coast of Venezuela, and it has in the past frequently been the first place of refuge for political leaders from Venezuela who have been overthrown in some revolution. One cannot dismiss the possibility of a situation arising in which a successful coup in Venezuela led to a wholesale influx of non-Communist leaders and refugees into Trinidad. Nor can one ignore the possibility that the Communist régime in Venezuela would exploit the difficulties arising out of such a situation to threaten and perhaps even to invade a small and wealthy neighbour such as Trinidad, which at present, apart from the American base at Chaguaramas, which is already greatly depleted, has no defences of any kind. There is no NATO ORGANISATION, no SEATO, no CENTO in the Caribbean.

Should we not, when granting independence to these small territories in the West Indies, at least give them some kind of guarantee of military assistance in case of need, and, at the same time, work out with them defence plans to make such assistance effective? Of course, this would have to be done by agreement with them, and it may be that some wider form of defence organisation in which the United States could also play a part would be more appropriate. But I really do feel that to leave these small, new, independent countries in this troubled world with virtually no arrangements for defence is a grave breach of our responsibility. Having said this, my Lords, I should only wish to conclude by repeating how warmly I welcome this Bill as a whole and express my best wishes to the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Trinidad and Tobago, as it is described in their Constitution, for a successful and prosperous future as a member of our Commonwealth of Nations.

3.32 p.m.


My Lords, before the noble Marquess replies, and if no one else is going to speak, I should like to say just a word or two. Of course, we all welcome this Bill. I must say, however, that I was profoundly disappointed with the tone of the parting message which Dr. Williams gave on leaving this country and the great publicity which was given to it over the broadcasting service. While I welcome very much the introduction of this Bill of independence, I should have hoped that we might this afternoon have a firm lead from the Government as to what real help is going to be given to this country of Trinidad and Tobago; particularly in view of the publicised statements of Dr. Williams that they could not rely upon us and must seek to go on their own and look to other quarters. That is the general interpretation I put on this speech of farewell. I am pretty anxious about that and I hope the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, will be able to tell us what was the nature of the discussions between Dr. Williams and his Department and what is likely to be done along the lines that Dr. Williams obviously had in mind to secure substantial help and assistance and, I take it, some assurance on defence.

The other thing I should like to say is that the White Paper on this Bill is perhaps the best in the present circumstances that could be obtained, but I feel that the Department and the Minister will have to watch carefully the effect of paragraphs 36 and 37. I noted that the noble Lord who has just sat down said a word which I thought was rather in praise of paragraph 36, about leaving the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition to the Governor General. How ever circumstances may have led him to think that that was a good permanent principle with an independent country, it seems to me to be a little difficult to understand.


I merely drew attention to it as an innovation.


I see; I am much obliged. I dare say, from inquiries I have been making in the meantime through my noble friend Lord Walston and others, that no doubt the present organisation there of the Opposition, or Oppositions, would not always be fruitful in throwing up a clear-cut, outstanding leader of an Opposition. But if you grant independence to a country of this kind, then surely people who are dissident from the majority at an election should have the power to appoint their own leader unless there is some very special objection to it. We do not have to go to Her Majesty for approval of a Leader of the Opposition whether he be Labour, Liberal, or, as perhaps he may be in the future, Conservative. I do not think we should like it altogether. I think therefore that we ought to have some note of this point made and see what is going to happen.

Paragraph 37 of this White Paper says: The Governor-General will be required to act on the advice of the Cabinet in the exercise of his functions except in respect of"— then come two items—

  1. "(a) any function in respect of which he is required to exercise his own deliberate judgment; or
  2. (b) any function in the exercise of which he is required to act on the advice of persons or authorities other than the Cabinet."
I know it is very early days for this new independent State, hut I hope we may get from the noble Marquess some idea of exactly what are the functions paragraph 37 of the White Paper is expected to cover. Certainly the administration of the Governor General in these respects will he followed intensely closely by the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and we ought to know exactly what these functions will actually cover. Perhaps the noble Marquess could tell us some more about this in the course of his winding up speech in this debate.

The other thing I want to say is this. I support most strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, said about the rendering of help to a State of this character. It is a great disappointment to many of us—for example, those who have watched the work of the Colonial Development Corporation—that directly a State becomes independent, however handicapped it is at present in development, it shall per se be ruled out straight away of any further arrangements for help from the Colonial Development Corporation. I know the title of "Colonial" was so separate from anything else and that it entitled only those to whom it applied to be eligible for help. Now that these two Offices are united together I should not have thought it was altogether out of place to make this a time for a re-examination of the limits of that Corporation and to see whether the Minister who will now be Secretary of State for both the Commonwealth and the Colonies might have a proper and beneficial eye to aid these particular States. I hope we may have an answer to these points.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure it will be a source of satisfaction to the people of Trinidad and Tobago that this Bill has received such a warm welcome from all parts of the House. I think that perhaps I should at once say something about the question of the racial tensions, to which the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, referred, reminding us of the observations made by Dr. Williams and Dr. Capildeo at the end of the Marlborough House Conference. I should particularly like to remind the noble Lord, Lord Walston, of this. Of course, life in a cosmopolitan country such as Trinidad is indeed much more complicated, but should it not be a source of great satisfaction to us all that the Leader of the Government there and the Leader of the Opposition have expressed their determination that all races in Trinidad and Tobago should be given an opportunity to work together; that the Government should not be conducted on a racial basis; and that it is their purpose to see that their country is united and welded together as one people? I hope that, in expressing our good wishes to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, we shall not for one moment suggest that we feel any doubt of their determination to do this.

Perhaps I might digress for a moment. I remember not long ago finding myself in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, a country which has been alluded to today. I was in the great military circle which was built at great expense by the late Dictator Pérez Jimenez, and I remember seeing a huge mural. It represented the Arms of Venezuela being cut by hammer and chisel by three types of men, an Indian, a Spaniard and an African. This made a very deep impression on me. Here was a graphic representation of a real attempt at multi-racialism. Let us not be pessimistic about the prospects of Trinidad and Tobago. Let us believe in their leaders. Let us hope that they will, in fact, heal the divisions which were at one time evident among them. There has been in this respect a great improvement in recent times, and it is my hope, as I am sure it is the hope of all noble Lords here, that this will continue.

The noble Lord, Lord Walston, referred to the question of human rights and how these are entrenched in the Constitution. It is perfectly true, as he says, that human rights and fundamental freedoms come in Appendix B in the ordinarily entrenched list—a fact which seemed strange to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who wondered whether there was some misapplication of emphasis, if I may put it that way. Perhaps I can help the noble Lord here. What in fact happened was that at the Conference there was quite a degree of disagreement on how the human rights and fundamental freedoms should be entrenched in the Constitution. It was, in fact, a ruling of my right honourable friend. He suggested this compromise, which was accepted, after considerable discussion, by all.

But I think I should point out this: that the Constitution will provide that in times of emergency the Government may act contrary to the human rights provisions. That is inevitable in times of emergency. But in order to prevent unreasonable suppression of such rights during such a period, it was agreed that a provision would be included which would give the courts power to determine whether any derogation from fundamental rights and freedoms was reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation as it existed at the time. Appeals from the decision of the courts in these matters can be made to the Privy Council. The period was also agreed during which such an emergency could remain in force; if it was to be extended, it could be done only by a vote of a majority of the House of Representatives; and actually it could only run for six months without another vote being taken. So I rather hope that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who I think is perfectly right to raise this point, will realise that although in fact the human rights and fundamental freedoms are described only as ordinarily entrenched, there are very considerable safeguards ending up finally with an appeal to the Privy Council. I hope he will no longer feel that this Constitution is too loosely drawn in this respect.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess a further question? I am grateful to him for explaining it so fully. As I understand it, the ordinarily entrenched provision of the Constitution can be changed only by a certain majority in Parliament. Where there is a specially entrenched provision it requires a greater majority in order to change it. All I was drawing attention to was the fact that it appeared from this that we were prepared to allow such laws as will at present exist to be changed when they relate to human rights sooner than we would those which relate to the emoluments of the Governor General. That was the specific point which the noble Marquess has not answered.


I quite take the point, and I had hoped that I had answered it. I was trying to explain that there was considerable disagreement on this, but I think the noble Lord will find in effect that the human rights, although in this list described as ordinarily entrenched, are in fact very deeply entrenched, because of the appeal to the courts and from the courts finally to the Privy Council. In effect—which is what matters—I think the noble Lord will agree they are very well entrenched That was the point I was trying to explain to the noble Lord.

There were other points to which the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and other noble Lords, drew my attention. I think the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, have all been somewhat disturbed by the observations which Dr. Williams is alleged to have made. I do not know exactly what Dr. Williams said. I have two newspaper cuttings here, which no doubt noble Lords have also seen, but I take it to be the case that Dr. Williams, on his return, has said to his people that of course they must, in so far as they are able, fend for themselves. After all they are getting independence.

If Dr. Williams did in fact say these things, it would be a sad thought to me that he implied by them that after independence we, in the United Kingdom, no longer cared. As the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition and other noble Lords know, this is quite untrue. It is not the case that we no longer care, and I think a perfectly good proof of this, if proof is required, is the immense amount of trouble to which we have gone in the Common Market negotiations to see that the people of Trinidad and Tobago get as fair a deal as it is possible to get. Furthermore we hope Dr. Williams himself will participate later on in the discussions with Commonwealth Prime Ministers on this subject. I regret it if Dr. Williams did in fact say what he is alleged to have said. Perhaps he put rather too much emphasis on the need for the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago to paddle their own canoe. But do not let us assume for one minute that the British people, the people in the United Kingdom, are saying goodbye and we no longer care any more. This is certainly not the case. I am very grateful to noble Lords for having given me the opportunity this afternoon of saying this so that it can be brought into perspective in Trinidad. I am grateful to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition.

On the question of revenue, of course I am not trying to pretend that everything is going to be easy for Trinidad and Tobago. They will have difficulties as indeed all new independent countries will have difficulties. What I was trying to say was that Trinidad and Tobago enter into their independence with a very high degree of economic viability. But, of course, at the same time they are vulnerable, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, reminded us, a very large proportion of their revenue is derived from oil. I think it is for this reason that the Prime Minister and others in the Government have gone to such pains to try to diversify, as far as possible, the industrial life of the country, and I think they deserve every congratulation for this.

I was interested to hear the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about departmental reorganisation here, but in no way has it any bearing on what we are discussing this afternoon. So I cannot in any way comment on that, beyond saying just one thing which I am quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, knows as well as anybody else in your Lordships' House. There is certainly going to be no question whatsoever of Her Majesty's Government paying less attention, giving less time and devoting less energy to the affairs of the Colonies than heretofore. Of course that is not going to be the case, and I am certain that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, realises that.


My Lords, I am glad to hear it. But I just wanted to point out that there is a limit to what any one man can do, however capable that man may be. Mr. Sandys has all the problems of the Prime Ministers' Conference, and so on, to face. Will he be able physically to devote the amount of time that Mr. Maudling was able to devote to these grave problems of the emergent territories? That is what I had in mind. I should have thought it quite a proper observation.


My Lords, of course the noble Lord is entitled to ask such a question; but I think, equally, he must admit that I am entitled to reassure him that Her Majesty's Government have no intention whatsoever of not giving all the regard which is necessary and should be given to the Colonies, as heretofore. I can only repeat what I have already said. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, also asked me something which has a bearing on what we are discussing this afternoon—namely, the position about the Chaguaramas base. The position is unaltered, because the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, as is said in the White Paper, assumes all the treaty obligations which already exist. So that so far as the Chaguaramas base is concerned, the situation is unaltered.

The noble Lord also asked me whether there was any sign of other territories in the area wishing to join with Trinidad and Tobago. The answer to that is that, so far, there is none of which I am aware. But like the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and other noble Lords Who have spoken, I think we all feel it is sad that the West Indies Federation came to an end, and despite this we all hope that these countries will tend more and more to work together. I believe that in the fullness of time something of this nature will take place.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, also asked me about the common services. I promised last week, when speaking on the Jamaica Independence Bill, to give your Lordships any information I could. Representatives of all the countries in the area, as I reported to your Lordships, met on July 10, and their Conference is still in progress. The discussions are confidential, and so I cannot disclose in detail to your Lordships exactly what is taking place, but I understand that the Conference got off to a very good start indeed; such important matters as the University of the West Indies, the meteorological service and the shipping service are matters which are receiving serious consideration, and we have every reason to hope that the outcome of this Conference will be satisfactory and that these valuable common services will be continued in so far as that is possible. But, of course, this is a question for agreement between the territories concerned.

As for the Colonial Development Corporation, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition said that he hoped he might get some satisfactory answer this afternoon. I do not think he seriously expected a statement from me this afternoon. I should greatly have liked to be able to give an answer, but I am not in a position to do so. Noble Lords who study Hansard closely may perhaps have drawn certain conclusions. Whether or not they are entitled to draw those conclusions I am not in a position to say; but I perfectly appreciate that, with the contraction in colonial responsibilities, there is a good case for the Colonial Development Corporation's being able to assume other responsibilities. I am afraid that this afternoon I cannot give any definite undertaking on that point.


My Lords, I thought that the slashing of members of the Government might lead to an expansionist policy.


I must ask the noble Viscount to contain himself in patience for a little longer. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, expressed anxiety about the defence arrangements, and he also told us that he wished he had had an opportunity to express the views which he expressed to-day in relation to Jamaica as well as to Trinidad and Tobago. The position is this: that in fact we have not entered into any specific defence agreements, but should the Caribbean territories, now our responsibility from the defence point of view, on independence ask for our assistance, we will continue to give it, as is perfectly clearly stated in the Defence White Paper. If anybody wishes to verify that matter, the words of paragraph 21 are: Should they, however, thereafter"— that means after independence— seek our assistance, Britain will remain the main base for this task. That is clearly stated in the Defence White Paper. I think I should also remind your Lordships that this question has not been allowed to go by default, because we have already sent experienced military advisers to both these territories and they are helping now to lay the foundations of an efficient local force. That is in fact in train already.

Perhaps I should also remind your Lordships of the geography. Surely we cannot deny the fact that these territories lie within the defence influence, if I may so put it, of the United States of America. But that does not for one moment mean that we forget the arrangements that we have undertaken with them—certainly not. There is a further point which I think we should bear in mind this afternoon—namely, that these countries, on independence, are perfectly entitled, should they so wish, to apply for membership of the Organisation of American States. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, was regretting that there is no pattern of defence arrangements in the area; but, of course, the O.A.S. is such a defensive organisation, and these countries may, in the fullness of time, decide that they wish to adhere to this organisation. As noble Lords are well aware, an attack on any one member of the O.A.S. is an attack upon all. It is perfectly possible that Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed Jamaica also, might elect to join this organisation.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. Could he say whether, in view of this offer of military assistance, if it is necessary, it would not be a good idea to work out plans in advance—staff talks or something of that sort—as to how it would be given, by way of naval, air or land defence?


My Lords, at the time of the Independence Conference, and before it, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, is well aware, there were informal discussions, and I have every reason to believe that these were perfectly satisfactory. What we are discussing to-day is a Bill to bring about the independence of Trinidad and Tobago under an agreed Constitution. What is taking place is with the entire agreement of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and there has never been any hiding from them what the true position is. I should like to make that perfectly clear. These are matters which have been discussed, and the present situation is considered satisfactory by all concerned. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, will feel reassured on this point.


My Lords, could I be clear on this point: that in pursuing these possible defence arrangements there will be absolutely no departure from the manner in which we have proceeded in all other previous cases, so as to try to maintain, on the widest possible basis, connections with those to whom we have properly granted independence but who may have very much the same rights to defend themselves as we have, and to whom in the past we have looked for assistance?


My Lords, I think I can do no more than refer the noble Viscount, with all his knowledge and experience of these things, to the Defence White Paper. I believe the situation is clear there, and I do not think he would expect me to go beyond that.


I will look at it again.


It is paragraph 21. I do not think there were any other points that were raised.


Paragraphs 36 and 37.


Yes, certainly. Paragraph 36 is the question of the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition. As I understand it, the point of this provision is really made fairly clear in this paragraph: There will be a Leader of the Opposition appointed by the Governor-General from the House of Representatives who, in the Governor-General's own deliberate judgment, is the leader in the House of the party which commands the support of the largest number of members of the House in opposition to the Government. I understand that the reason for that particular wording is that it was thought that there might be disagreement on this point and that therefore it was necessary to have an outside view to decide who, in fact, was the leader of the largest party in opposition.

Then the noble Viscount asked me about paragraph 37. This is a case in which the deliberate judgment of the Governor-General would have to be exercised.


My Lords, is there any precedent for this in a newly granted colonial Constitution? I doubt whether there is. Of course, I quite understand, as, the noble Marquess says, that, having regard to the elections, things have worked out differently; but I have heard nothing but unity this afternoon in regard to the Leader of the Opposition out there. I take it he has not been selected by the Governor-General.


The noble Viscount has asked me a difficult question and I should very much like to be able to give him an absolutely satisfactory answer. I am not certain I am in a position to do so to-day, but I will see to it that the noble Viscount is given a proper answer. I apologise for not being in a position to do so now.


My Lords, as this is a matter in which a number of us are interested, I wonder whether the noble Marquess could allow this information to become more widely disseminated than merely conveying it to the noble Viscount?


Certainly, I will take the necessary steps to see that all noble Lords receive this information. I do not think there were any other points that were raised that I have not dealt with; I think I have covered them all.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Marquess would be kind enough to include in his circulated information the answer to the question I put on paragraph 37.


I think one takes them together. I will deal with paragraphs 36 and 37 together, because they really go together. My Lords, I think that that covers everything. I apologise for not being able to answer those two particular points, and I would now ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.