HL Deb 26 July 1962 vol 242 cc1145-72

4.27 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I have At in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of She purport of the Uganda Independence Bid, 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 purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The object of the Bill is to provide for the Independence of Uganda. I am sure that your Lordships will be pleased to know that it was the unanimous wish expressed at the Independence Conference that Uganda should remain in the Common wealth and be under the sovereignty of Her Majesty the Queen, as Queen of Uganda. It so happens that it is almost exactly 100 years since the explorers Speke and Grant discovered the headwaters of the Nile and it was from this date that our association with Uganda began. It is now 68 years since the Protectorate was first declared. During these years Uganda has been growing into a nationhood. Its peoples have been learning to work together to create a stable and happy country. There is a growing spirit of co-operation in Uganda and in recent years a read basis of political unity has been worked out. The Munster Com-mission (which your Lordships will remember was the Relationships Commission) did much to promote this spirit of unity, and I should like to record the gratitude of Her Majesty's Government to the noble Earl, Lord Munster, who led the Commission, and to his distinguished colleagues Professor Wade and Dr. Marshall.

At the Independence Conference which was concluded on June 29 at Marlborough House, arrangements were agreed which offer a permanent solution to many of the long-standing problems which have faced Uganda. The most important and baffling of these problems has been the welding of the traditional kingdoms of Buganda, Ankole, Bunyoro and Toro into a modern structure of Government The Report of this Conference is contained in Command Paper No. 1778, which was recently laid before Parliament. Uganda, perhaps more than any other British territories in Africa, has been notable for the exceptional strength of its tribal loyalties and institutions. Buganda, with its central position, with its highly developed system of Government, its Kabaka, and its traditional Council the Lukiko has tended to overshadow the rest of the country. The other kingdoms and districts have also been equally concerned to preserve their individuality. They have all, however, been willing to make sacrifices in order that the new Independent Uganda should have sufficient strength and cohesion to play its part in the affairs of the modern world.

The difficult question of the position of Buganda was to a large extent solved at the Lancaster House Conference last year. The work of the Independence Conference last month was greatly facilitated by this preparatory work. A federal relationship between Buganda and the Central Government had then been agreed, and a satisfactory relationship has now been worked out between the other Kingdoms and districts and the Central Government. Noble Lords will remember that the Central Government, under the leadership of Mr. Obote, has been in office for less than three months. None the less, during this short time much constructive work has been done.

The success of the Independence Conference was in no small part due to the confidence which Mr. Obote and his Ministers were able to inspire in the delegates from all parts of the country. Having myself sat for many hours in the Constitutional Committee, I was able to see this for myself. I should like to pay my tribute to the painstaking care and obvious sense of responsibility with which the Uganda delegates set about their task. I am bound to say that again and again during the course of the Conference regional interests were pressed; but equally, my Lords, when there seemed some danger that these regional interests were being over-emphasised, the good sense of the delegates prevailed, and they reminded themselves that their purpose was to achieve a Constitution which would benefit Uganda as a whole.

There was one issue at the Conference which proved incapable of solution by agreement. This was the dispute between the Kingdoms of Buganda and Bunyoro over the so-called "lost counties". As your Lordships will remember, the Prime Minister appointed a Commission consisting of three Members of your Lordships' House, under the chairmanship of Lord Molson, assisted by Lord Listowel and Lord Ward of Witley, to advise the Government on this difficult question. Those of your Lordships who have read their report will, I am quite certain appreciate the immense care and close consideration of all the facts with which they discharged their task.

Like the Munster Commission, Lord Molson's Commission treated the problem of the "lost counties" as a political question and not as a juridical one. Their report, your Lordships will remember, recommended that two of the counties, Buyaga and Bugangazzi, should be transferred from Buganda to Bunyoro. We entered upon the Independence Conference with the conviction that this would be the best solution to the problem, if the two Kingdoms could be brought to agree to it. But, my Lords, in the event, Buganda were adamant that there should be no transfer of territory. They maintained that the territory concerned was lawfully theirs, and, furthermore, that Lord Molson's Commission had to a very large extent acquitted them of charges of discrimination.

As there could be no agreement, my right honourable friend had to weigh very carefully the consequences of an imposed decision. He took fully into account the Commission's warnings of the risk of serious disturbances in the future if nothing were done. He also accepted their view that the atmosphere was quite unsuitable for holding a referendum in the short time available before the promised date of independence. He therefore decided upon a solution which gave the responsibility of the administration of the two counties to the Central Government for a period, and with it the responsibility to give the people who live there the opportunity by a referendum to decide their own future in conditions of peace and security. It is our belief that this solution will give security to the peoples concerned, and should greatly reduce the threat to peace and good order at this crucial period in the life of Uganda.

As your Lordships know, the view was urged in another place that there should be written into the Constitution a date before which the referendum must be held, or, at least, that a public declaration should be made in Uganda that a referendum will be held, without necessarily putting a date to it. An undertaking was given that these views would be put to Mr. Obote and this has been done. Mr. Obote is now embarking upon discussions on the practical implementation of the Conference's decisions. I am sure that your Lordships would not wish that by anything we say here to-day we should complicate the issue in Uganda.

My Lords, turning to the Bill itself, Clause 1 is in the normal form and provides for the fully responsible status of Uganda. Clause 2 deals with nationality matters consequent upon the attainment of independence by Uganda. The provisions here are similar to those for Tanganyika. Clause 3 deals with consequential modifications to other enactments. Clause 4 enables loans to be made to the East African Common Services Organisation under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1959, after the Independence of Uganda. This follows the precedent in the Tanganyika Independence Act. Clause 5 interprets the words "existing Constitution Order", which means the Uganda (Constitution) Order in Council, 1962, which was made on February 26 this year. Clause 6 is the short title of the Bill.

My Lords, I think we can look back with pride at the period of the British protection over Uganda, and I feel sure that your Lordships will endorse the sincere thanks of Her Majesty's Government to the British civil servants who have contributed so much to Uganda's progress. We are particularly glad to know that the Government of Uganda is anxious to retain their services after independence, and that the arrangements made under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme have made it possible for many of them to decide to stay on. I think it is right that at this time we should also remember the part played by explorers, traders, members of the professions, doctors, lawyers, and the like, and above all the missionaries, whose work has been so particularly successful in Uganda. My Lords, I beg to move.

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

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for the clear and concise way in which he has moved the Second Reading of this Bill. My next task is to apologise to your Lordships on behalf of my noble friend Lord Listowel, who has had to go abroad and, to his great regret, has been unable to be hare. He particularly wanted to be here, having been, as your Lordships know, a member of the Commission of which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, was Chairman.

Looking at Uganda on a map of Africa, one is struck by its geographical situation. It abuts on the Congo and the new State of Ruanda-Burundi; on the Sudan in the North; and with the East African Territories; and one is impressed by the enormous importance of stability in Uganda, with its dangerous elements on several sides where disturbances have already taken place. If Uganda can continue to be, as it has been far the whole period of British occupation, an oasis of calm and stability, then we can see this Independence Bill go through with a good conscience and with good hopes for the future. I was speaking only a few months ago with a Canadian friend who had been travelling on United Nations business all round Africa. He said that it was at Kampala that he was struck more than anywhere else by the racial harmony and the general air of tolerance and good feeling, and we can hope that this state of affairs will continue.

The noble Marquess has referred to the unanimous wish of all Parties taking part in the Conference that the independent State of Uganda should continue to be a member of the Commonwealth. I think we can welcome that, and, as the noble Marquess says, we can welcome the spirit Of compromise that was shown by the parties taking part. One could, however, wish that that spirit had gone just a little further. I have seen it said in a letter from the Ruler of Bunyoro that "compromise is quite unknown to Africans. Yet," he said, "we willingly accepted the compromise proposed by the Molson Committee." The tribal loyalties are there held with great intensity and great feeling; and that tempts one to put over a more general idea: if we look around Africa to-day it is really deplorable to see how the epidemic of nationalism which is sweeping the whole of the world has taken hold of Africa. The fragmentation of that country, more particularly since the colonial Powers left, really puts obstacles in the way of the peaceful future for the continent and gives one cause for alarm.

On a smaller scale we have a manifestation of it in the case of the "lost counties" that are in dispute between the Kingdoms of Uganda and Bunyoro. The Commission of which the noble Lord, Lord Molson, was Chairman went into this subject in great detail and came to a unanimous conclusion—and I can say on behalf of my noble friend Lord Listowel that he was entirely in agreement with the Report of that Commission. They recommended a certain course to Her Majesty's Government, and the noble Marquess has explained that Her Majesty's Government also thought that that would be the best solution; but we have to face it that when they saw that they could not get agreement with this solution they decided against imposing a solution while Her Majesty's Government was still in control. Remember, my Lords, that the Act says, in line 14 of the first page: … as from the appointed day Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom shall have no responsibility for the Government of Uganda or any part thereof. I and my friends feel that Her Majesty's Government have shirked the responsibility which was theirs of deciding on the solution which they themselves thought was the best. They decided that it would be dangerous to leave things as they are and that a referendum was impossible in the time they had available. Delay, surely, will be dangerous. Two years' delay before there is a referendum will give opportunity for feelings to be inflamed and for passions to be played upon, with every risk that they will lead to a situation which cannot be settled peacefully. A referendum when carried out by an independent State cannot be supervised by outside impartial authorities.

The changes in the Constitution and territorial changes in the new State have to be passed by a two-thirds majority. Everything depends on the two-thirds majority. At the moment I understand that Mr. Obote is leading a Coalition Government and his principal supporters are the Buganda Party. The Buganda Party have gone on record as saying that they are irreconcilably opposed ever to giving the control of any of the disputed counties to another kingdom. That is what leads one to look on the situation with some alarm. We think that Her Majesty's Government have taken the wrong decision and have shirked their responsibilities. There is hope that the peoples of Uganda who, after all, have recognised the value to them of a peaceful combination to make the new State a success, may see that, no matter what they feel now, some compromise by both parties to the dispute is inevitable.

But that sort of attempt requires mutual confidence on both sides, and the confidence of the smaller of the two disputants, Bunyoro, is not likely to be forthcoming when you get threats expressed like those reported in The Times of July 19, when the acting Buganda Premier said: The Kabaka's people had been prepared to invade Bunyoro if Britain had ordered any of the Lost Counties to be transferred. That is not the kind of language calculated to permit of a peaceful settlement. We can only hope that more moderate counsels will prevail; that the future will be assured; and that this country, which has been, as the noble Marquess said, such a good example of a Protectorate under the British Crown, thanks to the devoted efforts of the British Colonial servants, will continue on its path of independence. We hope that the dispute between these two component parts is settled peacefully. I would extend our warmest wishes to the peoples, all of them, of Uganda.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches I very much welcome this Bill. I also appreciate the language that was used by the noble Marquess in moving the Second Reading. It was a little warmer than that which some Ministers have used in this House in the past on independence Bills. I have sometimes felt that we have missed a great opportunity, in that they have been treated in a rather doleful way, when, from their point of view, this particular period in their history is, of course, a very joyful one. The noble Marquess mentioned one particular class of people who in my experience are very rarely mentioned; and yet in Uganda, particularly, they have had a tremendous effect upon the happiness and wellbeing of the people. The sequence of British association in Uganda has been like this: first of all the explorers; secondly, the missionaries—those are the people that I was glad to hear the noble Marquess mention; thirdly, the civil servants, and fourthly the businessmen.

So far as the first are concerned, the explorers, the noble Marquess mentioned Speke. It may be of interest to your Lordships to know in this very month in Jinja there is a big celebration in honour of Speke. The poor man certainly did not get much honour in his own country; be was called liar and cheat, and all sorts of things, when be was alive. It is a very good thing that after his death, 100 years after the finding by him of the beginning of the Nile, his great achievement should be recognised. When I was in Jinja a month ago I said to them, "I am very glad you are recognising Speke; it is time he was recognised. But there is one memorial to him already; it is a few hundred yards from my residence in London—I refer to the obelisk that is erected to him in Kensington Gardens". But for some reason it is singularly uninformative, since the only inscription on it is, "Speke. Victoria, Nyanza", which cannot give very much information to the people, nursemaids and others, who visit Kensington Gardens.

Then we come to the missionaries. I said that they had performed a great service. When I visited Uganda about fifteen years ago there was an old lady still living there, an old French or Belgian missionary, who 50 years before had walked all the way from Mombasa, through the bush, in peril of wild animals, and wilder men, to Uganda. In fact, of course, the reason the railway was first developed through Kenya was to take the products of Uganda down to the sea at Mombasa. Then, finally, we have the civil servants, who, as the noble Marquess quite rightly said, played a great part, and the businessmen who have also played their part in the development of this country. I should also like to pay my tribute to nine Uganda Development Corporation, under its chairman, Mr. Simpson, who have made a tremendous contribution to the economic development of the protectorate.

My Lords, I feel that the prospects of Uganda are bright, because, unlike so many countries whose independence we celebrate in this House, it is economically viable. It has a small population for its size—only some 6 million or 7 million in a country the size of Britain—and it has a rich soil, with many natural resources. There is no large settler element there and there is no large racial minority. Such racial minorities as are there are badly needed in the development of the country; and I am sure—indeed, I know—that this fact is understood by the African leaders. Politically, therefore, so far as those problems are concerned—problems which are so acute in other parts of Africa—there is no difficulty in Uganda.

They also need, as the noble Marquess said, and as I know from personal discussions with the African leaders in Uganda, the assistance of the European expatriate officers. Unhappily, I do not feel that they are going to get it; because in Uganda, as in every other country to which we grant independence, at the moment of granting independence we commit an act of extreme folly in bribing the officers who are most needed for the development of the territory to leave it. Just at the moment when their skill and their expertise, their advice and wisdom, are most required they are off, bribed by the British Government. Moreover, a great deal of the money which is at that moment granted by loan or grant to the country from Britain has to be applied to the compensation of the officers, so that money is not available for the development of the country.

I have mentioned this point to your Lordships on many occasions on these independence Bills. The situation has not altered. What should be done, of course, is to do for the civil authority what the Army does. If the Army seconds officers, as it does in large numbers, it does not expect them to lose all their pension rights or anything of that kind. They remain as officers in the British Army, under the War Office, and when they have finished in the other countries they come back. These civil servants of whom I am speaking should be part of the Home Civil Service. They would normally work not at home, but overseas where they are needed. But the mere fact that they are part of the Home Civil Service, pensionable as home civil servants, would avoid this problem of having to get rid of them and compensate them for exercising their right to leave the territory at this very delicate moment.

With regard to the Uganda Independence Conference last month, there is just one minor matter I would mention: it does not affect your Lordships, but it might cause a little confusion later on. When the noble Marquess kindly made a reference to myself in the course of the proceedings on the Jamaica Independence Bill he said that I had been the adviser to the kingdom of Toro at this Uganda Independence Conference last month. In fact the people who had the advantage, or disadvantage, of my advice were not the Kingdom of Toro but, as it is now to be called, the Territory of Busoga. I mention that because it might lead later to some misunderstanding.

I have been on a number of these Independence Conferences and I am sure that, above all, one has to have boundless patience, especially with Africans. You cannot hurry them; they must know the reason why. They must be satisfied with what is happening; they will take nothing on trust or for granted. It is not often that I have the opportunity of congratulating Her Majesty's Ministers—usually I have to criticise them—but I should like to say that the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, who was, as be has just told your Lordships, the Chairman of the Constitutional Committee, on which I also sat, showed boundless patience and no and of courtesy. In fact, sometimes when we had been sitting from 9 in the morning until about 11.30 at night, I thought his patience was a little too boundless; but, at all events, it was a fault on the right side.

How do we harmonise the need for a strong central Government with the tribal feeling and the attachment of these small territories to their own kingdoms? The noble Marquess said, quite rightly, that this was the main problem at the Conference. It is particularly so in Uganda, because they have such strong attachment to their local kingdoms. On the whole, I think that the solution found at the Independence Conference was the right one, and that there is enough power in the centre, and yet enough authority in the various kingdoms and districts and the territory of Busoga, to allow for the needs both of a strong central Government and of tribal attachments to their own particular districts and kingdoms and territory.

I think we have to understand the difficulties of African political leaders. Your Lordships occasionally read and hear rather flamboyant statements from various leaders, although I am glad to say that this does not apply to the Uganda leaders. These statements are made because to a large extent they are entering what is to them a new world, and there is no comfortable body of political and constitutional doctrine to fall back on, as there is in this country or in the United States, where politicians who are in doubt can always call up some precedent from something that has happened at some time. These people cannot do that. As I say, they are really entering a new world without any of the guide posts which in well-established democracies are always present—sometimes, some of us think a good deal too much present. Therefore, you will find unco-ordinated speeches and you will find rather inflammatory speeches, but I am quite sure that they must not be taken too seriously.

As the noble Marquess said, the acute problem was over the lost counties. Originally, there wore six, and now, as the result of the Report of Lord Molson's Commission, that is cut down to two. There were three courses which we at the Conference thought that the British Government might take. The first was to give the two counties to Bunyoro; the second, to allow Buganda to retain them for all time, as it were; and the third was to do nothing. After some experience of Her Majesty's Government, I must admit that I was afraid they would take the third course and do nothing. It seemed to me highly important that they should do something. It was quite beyond reason to expect a young Uganda Government to handle a problem of this kind which was, in any case, sixty years ago the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, and on which nothing has been done ever since.

So I was very glad indeed that they took action and did take a decision. It was quite an unexpected one—namely, that the Central Government should administer these two counties for a period of not less than two years, after which the decision should be taken by a referendum organised by the National Assembly of Uganda. I thought that was quite an imaginative proposal. It was a decision which was accepted by the Uganda Government. It was a great step forward. Mr. Obote, with great courage I may say, accepted the decision, and I think it may well be that it will be found in time to be the right one. The only question in my mind is whether there should be a maximum period as well as a minimum one—in other words, whether the referendum must be held within a certain period of time. But, on the whole, I think it is perhaps just as well not to include it in the Constitution. If a declaration can be obtained from the Uganda Government, so much the better. All these things will be in the hands of the Uganda Government, and I personally have every confidence in Mr. Obote. I think he is a remarkable man and, so far as he is concerned, I am sure he will carry out any obligations to the letter.

So far as Clause 4 of the Bill is concerned, I am pleased to see that the Colonial Development and Welfare Act will be made applicable to the East African Common Services Organisation, after Uganda Independence. This is definitely a step in the right direction. As your Lordships know, the East African Common Services Organisation took over responsibility from the East African High Commission and they administer a number of common services, such as the railways, the posts and aviation. I am certain that this tendency will increase as time goes on. In fact, quite recently Mr. Mboya said, on a future East African Federation, that the three territories—that is Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika—and Zanzibar could no longer shy away from the question. He said: They not only have so much in common, but are so interdependent that it would be futile for any leader to ignore the logical consequence of this interdependence. Call it a federation or anything else, but it must be a workable and viable unit, formed by courageous leadership, far-sightedness, and the ability to accommodate the sensitivities, weaknesses and legitimate interests of the various sections of our community. I feel sure that we should all support Mr. Mboya in that expression of view.

There is only one other point I should like to raise, and that is on the future of the East African. University. As your Lordships know, this is spread over various colleges throughout the three territories. The main one, and of course the largest one, is Makerere in Uganda. It is beautifully sited, and I think it is quite likely that, after independence, the headquarters or part of the headquarters of the University will move to Entebbe. That again is a beautiful little place, and in every way suited for the headquarters of a university. But beauty does not in itself, although it is a valuable constituent in a university, mean that the university is going to be successful; and I urge the United Kingdom universities to give all the help they can to the new University of East Africa. The University certainly needs it. In my opinion, it is vital that university development should be on a large scale in the next decade, because there is a great shortage of African professional men—technicians, managers, administrators and so on. This can be made good, in my opinion, only by an expansion on sound lines of the University.

Finally, I fed that the future for Uganda is particularly bright; and I must say that for the rest of East Africa I feel that the clouds have a silver lining. I am sure that with our help and sympathy, and the help and sympathy of the United States, of various international organisations, and other European countries, like Switzerland and West Germany, we can really help to develop this vast, undeveloped and under-populated area of the world. The blue-print for progress is there. It needs to be put into operation. There is a great deal of moaning in this country over East Africa, much of it unnecessary. Only to-day I had a vast sheaf of paper posited to me. This conitinually happens. This one starts off in a most lugubrious way: There must be few who have any illusion left about Kenya now. This is by a man who claims to know a great deal about it. Well, I do not think there is any need for pessimism about any of these territories. What they need is help, support, and encouragement, not people going around the City of London, Wall Street, Zurich, and so on, running them down. In my view, if we in this country and the people in the United States and elsewhere do our part, then they will do theirs, and their future will be a happy one right throughout East Africa. My Lords, we on these Benches send our best wishes to Uganda for a most happy and prosperous future.

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, may I begin by asking for the customary indulgence which your Lordships extend to those who are addressing the House for the first time? To-day, I join that growing, but I hope still select, band of Peers who have the distinction of having made two maiden speeches in the same Chamber. Indeed, it was almost from exactly this same seat that I made my first maiden speech in January, 1946, when your Lordships' House was temporarily another place and when these Benches were the Opposition Benches. I am glad to note that the little red button which, in my nervousness while waiting to speak, I detached from the upholstery, and which I have preserved in my stud box till to-day, has been replaced by another. I only hope that I shall not now receive a bill for it from the Treasury.

My Lords, I have never regarded myself, and certainly no one else has ever regarded me, as an expert on Colonial Affairs, and I ventured to intervene briefly in this debate to-day only because I was one of the three Privy Counsellors, under the leadership of my noble friend Lord Molson, who, at the request of the Prime Minister, visited Uganda last January to inquire into and report upon the long-standing boundary dispute between Buganda and Bunyoro. Anyone who has once been to Uganda will, I believe, always take a close interest in its future development. For one cannot fail to be captivated by the beauty of the country and by the kindness and charm of its people; nor can one fail to recapture much of the magnetism which compelled the great Victorian explorers to return there again and again, determined, in spite of immense hardship, danger and disease to uncover the wealth of secrets it held.

So, my Lords, I am glad to welcome this Bill which gives Uganda her independence as a sovereign Power within the British Commonwealth. I believe, like other noble Lords who have spoken before me, that Mr. Obote and his Government will guide the future progress of their country with wisdom, courage and statesmanship, and I wish him every success. I should like also to add my own warm tribute to all those members of the British Civil Service whose wisdom and devotion to duty over so many years have brought Uganda quickly and smoothly to independence. Many have elected to stay on; and their knowledge and experience will still prove to be invaluable to the new Government.

But, my Lords, even in a maiden speech which I know must not be too controversial, I cannot refrain from expressing my disappointment that it was not found possible to get agreement between Buganda and Bunyoro over the lost counties dispute before the date of independence. As the noble Marquess has said, our Commission recommended that two of the counties should be returned to Bunyoro and that the other four should remain in Buganda. We also recommended that Mubende Town should be placed under the administration of the Central Government. Those recommendations were accepted without reservation by Her Majesty's Government and, I think, by Her Majesty's Opposition as well. The Omukama of Bunyoro, although disappointed that we had not recommended the return of all the territory, generously agreed to this compromise in the interests of peace, stability and the unity in Uganda as a whole, and he renounced all claim to the four remaining counties. And if there could have been an equally magnanimous gesture by the Kabaka of Buganda, the problem would have been solved and the dispute settled for all time. But, unfortunately, the Kabaka, doubtless with the Kabaka Yekka breathing down his neck, refused to cede any territory at all.

This put my right honourable friend the then Colonial Secretary into a very difficult position. Whether or not he left himself enough room for manœuvre; whether or not our Commission was appointed too late; whether or not this nettle might have been grasped earlier and linked with the date of independence—all these are matters of argument which I prefer not to develop now, but to leave to other noble Lords if they wish to develop them. In any case, it is always easy to offer advice with the benefit of hindsight, especially from the back seat. But the point is that the Molson Commission recommended a solution which was welcomed by the Government as being fair and sensible, and which depended upon obtaining the agreement of both parties to the dispute before the date of independence. It is very disappointing indeed to me that the agreement of one Of these parties was not forthcoming. However, all that is now water under the bridge and the important thing is what is going to happen in the future.

As we know, my right honourable friend produced an alternative solution Which was agreed by Mr. Obote, but, unfortunately, by neither the Kabaka nor by the Omukama. It is that these two counties of Buyaga and Bugangazzi should be placed under the administration of the Central Government for a minimum period of two years and then a referendum held at some appropriate time to determine the wishes of the people. I have read carefully the arguments put forward in another place that there should be a maximum period within Which the referendum must be held as well as a minimum cooling off period, and I must admit that I have some sympathy for the views expressed; but I very much doubt whether it would really be practical politics. One reason (and I think my noble friend Lord Molson will agree) Why our Commission was so anxious to get this matter settled before the date of independence was precisely because we felt it would be impossible to bind the Uganda Government to settle it after the British had gone. And, of course, the same thing applies here. One cannot bind them to stick to a maximum period.

It may be asked: "If you lay down a minimum period, why not a maximum one?" But, of course, they readily agreed to a minimum period. As every Chief Whip knows, there is no difficulty about agreeing to speak for a minimum of ten minutes; but to promise to limit one's speech to a maximum of ten minutes is quite a different matter. In any case, I am sure Mr. Obote wants to get the matter settled. Indeed, I believe that both the major political Parties in Uganda want to gat the matter settled, although I am not so sure about the Kabaka Yekka, which unfortunately holds the balance of power. But, certainly, Mr. Obote will be in the best position to judge the right moment to hold a referendum, and certainly in a better one, I think, than we are now at a distance of two years away.

Whether or not a referendum will work at all depends largely upon the kind of administration which the Uganda Government establishes in the two counties in the next two years. Certainly, it would not work now. As we said in our Report: a referendum would inevitably fan the flames of tribal feeling, would invite intimidation, and would create a situation in whch no lastng settlement could be expected. At worst it could lead to bloodshed. I cannot help feeling considerable doubt whether this will not be equally true two years from now. Certainly, Mr. Obote is shouldering a very great responsibility. There will be—and I am sure he realises it—much preparatory work to do in the selection of local chiefs, for example, and insistence upon absolute impartiality in their administration. Supervision must be both independent and strict. Security arrangements must be efficient and unbiased.

In that connection, I wonder if I might ask the noble Marquess, when he replies, whether he can give us any idea of the position with regard to the two companies of King's African Rifles in Uganda; whether he is satisfied that they are properly equipped and there in adequate numbers to deal with any troubles that may arise; and, if not, whether he will assure us that the Government will give them all the help they can. Much will depend upon the two tribes themselves. Any needling of one another, and, particularly, any acts of lawlessness, will tend to perpetuate an atmosphere in which a referendum is impossible. But we can only look on the bright side and hope that things will change considerably in the next few years.

My Lords, having said all that, and I hope I have not been too controversial, I should like to congratulate my right honourable friend now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also the noble Marquess, on the success of the Constitutional Conference. There were, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, pointed out, many difficult problems to be resolved other than that of the lost counties. That they were resolved was due not only to the skill and diplomacy of my right honourable friend, but also to the spirit of co-operation shown by the Uganda delegates. This augurs well for the new Sovereign State, for sit is only by a determination to build a united Uganda, in which the nation comes first and tribal loyalties second, that the people of that fascinating country can look forward to the happy and prosperous future they deserve.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, may I congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Ward of Witley, on his maiden speech? It was a felicitous speech, and I listened to it with great pleasure. Although he dealt with this intractable problem of the lost counties, he was able to speak with sympathy and with authority. I am sure your Lordships will wish to hear the noble Viscount on many occasions in the future in your Lordships' House.

My Lords, it was my privilege to serve in Uganda from 1923 to 1938, first in the Army and then in the Administration. I know the country well, and I count among my friends many Uganda Africans from the most lowly to the highest in the land. As the noble Viscount has said, anyone who visits Uganda must be struck by the beauty of the smiling countryside which has been so wall endowed by nature. This is reflected by the happy look on the faces of those who live there. They are an intelligent and well-mannered people, who go about their business with a dignified poise suggesting a natural pride in their land and their way of life. If during the last few years there have been political stresses and strains, most of these have been resolved by the mature good sense of the people and the statesmanship of their leaders.

Uganda is notable for the strength of the monarchical system. The Kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole cover a large part of the total area of the country. I have always thought that the British Administration tended; to underestimate how deeply rooted monarchy is in the minds and the loyalties of the people. In Buganda the Kabakaship is regarded as being sacrosanct. It is the outward and visible sign of their history and of their sense of nationhood, while at the same time it carries with it a certain undefinable but, nevertheless, powerful mystique. I have known two Kabakas, and can testify to the devotion and loyalty shown by their subjects, both to their office and to their person. The same is true of the other Kingdoms. It is therefore not surprising, though it is none the less gratifying, that they accept our gracious Sovereign, not only as Head of the Commonwealth but as Queen of Uganda.

Uganda possesses a peculiar geographical feature, which I believe is to be found in only one other part of the world, in Central Asia. There are parts of the country, on its western extremities, which are situated 1,000 miles from the sea in every direction. I mention this to emphasise that the country suffers from the disadvantages of being both landlocked and remote. This makes the transportation of imports and exports a very costly business. Nevertheless, it has prospered, but it is dependent on a lifeline, which is the railway to the coast. This is a single-line mountain railway, climbing to over 10,000 feet above sea level before descending to the port of Mombasa. Uganda has contributed substantial sums to the development and equipment of the railway and the port. Both are extremely well equipped and efficiently operated.

Uganda has always been unenthusiastic about any proposals for a Federation of East Africa, or even for any form of closer union. Her people have feared domination by Nairobi. But, being sensible and realistic, they recognise that some form of association is essential to their wellbeing, and they are prepared to make the best bargain they can. They would, I believe, like to see the port of Mombasa neutralised, so that it would be under the control of no one East African Government. They have accepted the East African Common Services Organisation, and it is certainly in their best interests that this form of inter-territorial co-operation should continue.

But, my Lords, because of their remoteness we may expect to see, in the course of time, a development which could make Uganda one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, an industrial country serving the interests and exploiting the potentialities of the Lake Victoria basin. Within a radius of some 250 miles of Lake Victoria lies a huge area which rises from some 1,800 feet above sea level on the Uganda-Sudan border to over 10,000 feat in the Kenya Highlands. In this area almost any crops requiring tropical or temperate conditions can be grown. Within this area, too, is a large and rapidly-increasing population which provides a source of labour and a considerable and growing consumer market. Hydro-electric power is available at the source of the Nile at Jinja in almost unlimited quantity. There are natural communications provided by a great system of waterways which have been linked by man, by air, by railways and by a splendid road system. Here are the makings, my Lords, of a future common market in the centre of Africa.

Much has already been done by far-sighted British administrators, and I should like particularly to mention the names of Sir John Hathorn Hall, Sir Andrew Cohen and Sir Frederick Crawford. But future development will require an immense amount of capital and technical resources. I believe that Uganda and its six neighbouring countries can in time provide a sufficient number of efficient and well-qualified technicians, but large-scale financial aid and capital investment will be needed from outside. It is therefore of the greatest importance that independent Uganda should earn a good name for political stability, and as a safe place for capital investment. Given proper planning and the right conditions, this part of Africa could be transformed during the next 25 years. If, as is likely, Uganda turns to us for help, I hope that we shall not be backward in showing our confidence in this new member of the Commonwealth.

In the meantime, the short-term prospects seem to be favourable. The Government has shown already that it has a strong sense of responsibility and is facing up to its problems with moderation and a sense of purpose. The only cloud on the horizon is the problem of the "lost counties," which will require good statesmanship to solve, but I will not dwell on that as it has already been touched upon. I should like to pay a tribute to the work of the missions, as did the noble Marquess. To-day, Uganda is largely a Christian country. It is true that in the past there has been strong rivalry between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics, and even today this tradition persists to some extent in the political field. But a Christian spirit prevails which can continue to play a vital part in the life of the country. It is this spirit and the maturity of the people that give one confidence that the country's course is "set fair," and that it can exercise a stabilising influence in this part of Africa. I am sure that your Lordships will wish to join in an expression of sympathetic good will to this, the latest of our former colonial territories to gain independence and to become a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, though I have not the unequalled experience of the noble Lord, Lord Twining, of Uganda, I am very fond of the country and know its people well. Therefore, I should just like to say how much I welcome this Bill, and to congratulate Her Majesty's Government, and the Uganda delegations, on the successful outcome of the Conference. The road to independence has not been altogether smooth, but it has been a great deal smoother than in the case of many of the other States in Africa which have found, or are about to find, independence. It has, in fact, escaped many of the unpleasant events which have occurred along its borders.

There is one fact, however, which is not always remembered about Uganda; that is, that when we arrived there were many political institutions which were then in existence, and had been for many years. We did not have to teach them the idea of a Parliament. Although their Parliament may have been more like this House than the other, it nevertheless existed. It was because these institutions existed that Her Majesty's Government chose to use them, and have used them, with indirect rule, for many years most successfully. That is perhaps why peace has, on the whole, reigned over the past years. When I was last in Uganda a great deal of concern was expressed that Her Majesty's Government might seek to destroy those institutions and put in their place a modern Constitution. They felt that this would be entirely contrary to what they would expect from the United Kingdom, whose traditions and whole way of life are based on existing institutions. Therefore, it seemed only right and proper to build on the existing institutions. To destroy them and impose a Westminster Constitution would have been entirely alien to the African world. In fact, it has not always worked in other parts of Africa, as we well know. If changes are to be made, let them be made by the Africans now, through their own institutions.

My Lords, I wanted merely to say, briefly, how pleased everybody is that the Conference succeeded so well. I am certain that, in the future, not only will Uganda be a shining example to those countries on their west, in the Congo, and also to their east, in East Africa, and in Tanganyika, but that it will also be a concrete example of our good intentions towards the independence of our colonial territories.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, like every other speaker to-day, I welcome this Bill, and I hope that it will inaugurate a period of happiness and prosperity to Uganda when the country obtains its independence. I am also very happy to congratulate my noble friend Lord Ward of Witley upon his admirable maiden speech, which gave me special pleasure after the long and agreeable association that we had on the Commission.

But, my Lords, I should not have risen to say those two things if I did not feel bound to make certain remarks about the settlement which has been imposed in the lost counties dispute. I do not intend to speak on the merits of our Report. I think that I am justified in saying that it has been accepted as fair and reasonable by everyone except the parties to the dispute. I share the disappointment that the appeal that we made in our Report to Buganda to make a generous move towards a settlement has not been accepted. As my noble friend has said, our proposal was that, of the six counties, two, Buyaga and Bugangazzi, where the Bunyoro were in a large majority and were obviously very much attached to the Omukama in sentiment, should be returned to that Kingdom, and that the other four should continue to remain with Buganda. My Lords, we did not recommend a referendum. We thought it unnecessary, and we thought that it was likely to be extremely dangerous, likely to inflame political opinion and likely to lead to intimidation and violence.

In view of the refusal of Buganda to accept these proposals, my right honourable friend who was then Secretary of State for the Colonies felt obliged to impose a compromise. I feel that this compromise is unduly favourable to Buganda, which is the more powerful of the disputants, and is unfair to Bunyoro. It is, of course, arguable that it is desirable that there should be a referendum in those two counties in order to ascertain what I think is already quite obvious—namely, that they wish to be returned to the Kingdom of Bunyoro. I cannot think, however, that it is reasonable to lay down that that referendum should not take place for two years, without any firm assurance that it will take place at any time.

My Lords, I will certainly heed what was urged by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne: that nothing I say should complicate the issue. Our desire was to act as peacemakers in this dispute, and I am still hoping that peace may come as a result of the compromise that has been imposed. My Lords, we said that it was most desirable that this dispute should be settled before independence. We foresaw that there was a great danger that under the 1961 constitution the Prime Minister of Uganda would be dependent upon a bloc of representatives from Buganda, and we said in paragraph 103 of our Report that the Federal status in an independent country, which Buganda is to enjoy from October 9, 1962, would make it relatively easy for the Kabaka's Government, if it so desired, to obstruct the implementation of a settlement. And we said in paragraph 105 that if a Prime Minister of an independent Uganda were dependent upon the Buganda bloc for staying in office, he would find it difficult to support any concession to the Bunyoro. My Lords, that is exactly what has happened. The 21 representatives of Buganda are all nationalists, and Mr. Obote is dependent upon their support for remaining in office. It therefore appears to me to be important that the demands which were made by both Parties in another place should be heard, and that an assurance should be given by the present Government of Uganda that the referendum will be carried out at a reasonably early time. I share the doubts expressed by my noble friend Lord Ward of Witley, that the passage of time may not necessarily lead to an assuaging of these passions, but that in fact the feelings may become more inflamed as time passes. I am quite sure, therefore, that the next thing which should happen to make a settlement likely would be that some assurance should be given that the referendum will in fact be held.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was not quite correct when he said that Buganda had accepted this compromise. It is said in paragraph 69 of the White Paper that, at the final plenary session, the Buganda delegation stated that the decision of the Secretary of State was wholly unacceptable to them.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that correction, but if I said "Buganda", it was a mistake, a slip of the tongue. I meant to say that the Uganda Government accepted it, not the Buganda Government. I was there at the time and I knew very well that Buganda had not. I apologise if I made a slip of the tongue.


My Lords, I am much obliged. The slight difference between the words "Buganda" and "Uganda", however familiar one is with them and their etymological origin, sometimes makes it difficult to hear which is actually said. But the fact that, up to the end, this compromise was not acceptable to the Government of Buganda, makes it all the more desirable that an assurance should be given by the the Government of Uganda that this referendum will be carried out at a reasonably early date. My Lords, there is a great opportunity open to Mr. Obote and to his Government. Whatever I may have said in criticism of Her Majesty's Government for this compromise, it has this outstanding merit: that it leaves open to the Government of Uganda, and to Mr Obote in particular, a great opportunity even now of settling this matter, and of making sure that the independence of Uganda brings about a settlement of this ancient and distressing dispute.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, although, perhaps, the speeches which have been made in your Lordships' House this afternoon will not be so closely scrutinised in this country in view of other speeches which are being made at the same time to-day, it is quite certain that they will be very closely scrutinised in Uganda. It is for that reason that I should like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this Second Reading debate for the Wholehearted welcome that they have given to the approaching independence of Uganda; and, furthermore, I should like to thank them for the thoroughly justified praise, if I may say so, that they gave to all members of the Uganda delegation in London, and, in particular, to Mr. Obote, the Prime Minister.

The noble Lord, Lord Malson, speaks with the weight of great authority and experience, and, of course, it is natural that he was, as indeed all of us were, disappointed that the solution which he and his Commission thought out so carefully was, in the event, beyond application. I am not going to go into the details of the negotiations which led my right honourable friend the previous Colonial Secretary to reach the decision to which he came. But I can tell your Lordships this: he did not reach this decision without the most careful consideration, and without long and patient discussion with the panties concerned. I have taken note, of course, of what noble Lords have said about the question of an assurance that the referendum should be held.

May I be allowed to add my very sincere congratulations also to the noble Viscount, Lord Ward of Witley, on his speech? I was interested to hear how he had considered the question of the minimum and the maximum periods, and, in the end, had decided to reject the idea of a maximum period. The noble Lord, Lord Molson, although he criticised the decision to which Her Majesty's Government have come, said this—I hope I shall not misquote him: it does leave it open to the Government of Uganda to make this great contribution itself towards the future peace and prosperity of its country. My Lords, I suppose it must truly be said that we in fact failed to reach the answer. We tried, but it appeared to be beyond our reach; and, after all, politics is the art of the possible. We had to think very seriously whether we might not, by a solution to which we were very much drawn, in fact inflict upon Uganda a dreadful wound. And so it was that my right honourable friend reached the decision to which there has been reference this afternoon.

It is, of course, the earnest desire of us all—those of the Commission and all of us in this House—that this decision will, in the end, be proved to be right. I, for my part, have a very considerable degree of optimism that it will so turn out, for the reasons which have been so admirably stated by other speakers in this debate this afternoon: that there is among the people of Uganda a clear sense of nationhood; a realisation that if their country is to continue to be, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, described it, an oasis of calm and stability, it will be necessary for them to work together in a spirit of compromise. The noble Lord, Lord Twining, with his great knowledge of the country, referred to the necessity for political stability in order to attract the necessary development capital. Here again it has been our hope that the actions of Her Majesty's Government will indeed ensure the political stability which is so necessary for the attraction of investment capital to Uganda.

The noble Viscount, Lord Ward of Witley, asked me a specific question about the King's African Rifles in Uganda. I am informed What the 4th Battalion of the King's African Rifles, consisting of three rifle companies and a headquarters, will become the nucleus of the Uganda Army on October 9. Britain has undertaken to meet the cost of this force from then—that is, the date of independence—until March 31, 1963. This would be at the cost of about £200,000. We are doing our best to ensure that the weapons and equipment of the Battalion are handed over in good condition and complete to the regular scale.

I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for having inadvertently the other day, when we were discussing Jamaica, described him as the legal adviser of Toro. Of course, this was a slip of the tongue. I knew perfectly well that he was advising the territory of Busoga. I should also like to thank him for his kind remarks about my chairmanship of the Constitutional Committee of the Conference, and to apologise to him for the effect of my patience upon him.

There was a point that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised, with which I think I must clearly state that I disagree; it was on the subject of overseas officers. In fact, we do not bribe the overseas officers to leave these territories at the moment when they can render such useful service. The Overseas Service Aid Scheme, to which I referred and upon which the noble Lord is well informed, is specifically designed to encourage our overseas civil servants to remain in these territories, and I am happy to say that it is having its effect. The latest reports available show that slightly more than one-third of those concerned in the territory of Uganda have given their notice. I should like to point out that they receive compensation, whether they stay on or not. Of course, there is a small advantage if they stay on—and that is the purpose of this scheme: they can commute an additional one-sixteenth of their pension every year. I think that it is true to say that this Overseas Service Aid Scheme is being effective and is encouraging our valuable overseas officers to continue in their work.

I have no doubt that the good wishes of the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who knows the country well, will be well received when they are read in Uganda. In conclusion, I should like to add my own words in praise of Mr. Obote. The solution which Her Majesty's Government have decided upon was a great test of Mr. Obote's courage. Other noble Lords have referred to this. It will require courage for him to carry out the responsibility which he has assumed, the responsibility of the administration of the two lost counties. At this very time he is engaged in conversations on the practical application of the decisions of the Conference, as I said in my opening remarks. We have drawn his attention to the anxieties which have been expressed in another place, and I will see to it that he will also be informed of the anxieties which have been expressed in your Lordships' House this afternoon. I do not think there is anything further that I would wish to add, except once again to thank noble Lords for their generous attitude and to add my sincere good wishes to the people of Uganda and to the new Central Government.

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