§ 2.57 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
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 West Indies 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 purposes of the Bill.
I now beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. I think I might usefully start by recalling the statement which I made in this House on February 6, when I was repeating a statement made by my right honourable friend in another place after his visit to the West Indies. I said at that time [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 237 (No. 32) col. 26]:… Jamaica has declared its determination to withdraw from the Federation and this decision has been accepted by Her Majesty's Government. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has decided not to participate in any federation of the Eastern Caribbean. Finally, the Premier of Barbados and the Chief Ministers of the Leeward and Windward Islands, while advocating a new Federation between their territories, are agreed that the present one should be dissolved.The statement went on:Her Majesty's Government have therefore decided to introduce legislation into Parliament very shortly which will enable us to dissolve the present Federation, and to set up an interim organisation. …Here, my Lords, is the Bill promised.
I cannot pretend that this is a very happy occasion: rather is it a melancholy one. It is always a melancholy affair when, having set out at a certain time 1159 with high hopes, one is faced through circumstances with change. In this instance the high hopes of the Federation with which we set out have come to nothing, and indeed we are faced in its place with dissolution.
My Lords, I think it will be useful if I go back a little into history to show why we started and how the Federation, has ended. Between the wars the idea of federation between the various territories of the West Indies was canvassed by many prominent West Indians, and during that time there was a West Indian Royal Commission on the economic side of the problems for those countries. I am glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, is to speak to-day, because he was, with another Member of your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, a member of that Royal Commission.
After the war the late Mr. Oliver Stanley said that we were prepared to do all we could to help the territories towards federation if they so wanted. Then, from 1947 on there were constant conferences and deliberations on this question, which culminated in 1956, when finally the ten territories said they wished to be bound together in a Federation. We took the necessary steps to that end, and in 1958 the Federation was launched. It was launched as rather a weak thing, but our hope was that, as years went by and as experience was gained, so it would grow stronger.
In fact, the experience of the next years showed that there was a very serious difference of opinion between members of the Federation. One group wanted to see it even weaker, and others wished to see it even stronger. It was very difficult to get them to agree together. They had all said they wanted independence, but the question was what form that independence should take. We had a Conference in London in June, 1961, and we thought we had reached a compromise between these two views which would enable the Federation to be launched on its own. But in reaching that compromise there was a specific allowance for the various parties to the Federation to judge whether they wanted to go on. To quote the exact words they were: 1160that the recommendations were subject to such decisions as may be obtained by our delegations from their respective Legislatures and peoples.I stress the word "peoples" because—and this was realised at the time when the word "peoples" was inserted in that declaration—there was to be a referendum in Jamaica on the question of whether they did or did not want to stay a member of the Federation. On September 19 that referendum was held and, unhappily, there was a small but decisive majority against Jamaica's staying in the Federation; and this despite the fact that the Premier of Jamaica, Mr. Norman Manley, had done all he could to persuade his people that it was a good thing to stay in. Indeed, I recall that when I saw him a little while before the referendum he was full of hope that he was going to put it over to the people, but unhappily it went the other way. What were Her Majesty's Government to do under these conditions?
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, will the noble Earl forgive my interrupting? Was it on the initiative of the United Kingdom Government that this referendum provision was made? In our own country we do not encourage the referendum idea, and I should have thought it was still more debatable in the West Indies. Why did we walk into this trouble and not leave it to the Legislative Assemblies of the countries concerned?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
It certainly was not on our initiative; it was at the initiative of the Premier, who said he wanted to consult in this way. This came out during the Conference, and it was for that reason, as I have already quoted, that we said "respective Legislatures and peoples". It certainly was not of our choosing, because I agree with the noble Lord that this is not the happiest method of determining what may be the opinion of peoples.
There we were. The situation was that Jamaica had said in a referendum that they did not want any of it. What was to be done? The first thing that happened was that the then Secretary of State. Mr. Iain Macleod, saw the Prime Minister of the Federation, Sir Grantley Adams, over here. I take this opportunity of paying tribute to Sir Grantley Adams for his efforts in four years or more in the 1161 Federation, and to all those who tried to make it work. At those talks, when Sir Grantley was over here, Mr. Macleod said:As I see it we have no option but to accept the desire of the people of Jamaica".That was not objected to by the Prime Minister.
Shortly after his visit, there came to this country a delegation from Jamaica. On October 6 last year, the following was stated as a result of that meeting with the Jamaican delegation. I again recall that the Secretary of State had seen the Prime Minister of the Federation beforehand. This is what was said:Her Majesty's Government accepted the result of the referendum as a final indication of Jamaica's wishes and was prepared to introduce legislation as early as possible in the forthcoming Session of Parliament to provide for Jamaica's withdrawal from the Federation. Every effort would be made to secure the passage of the legislation before the end of March".That, my Lords, is the reason why we have this Bill to-day.
To carry on this melancholy history of events, at the end of December last year there were the Trinidad elections. The Premier, Dr. Eric Williams, was again returned to power, and very shortly after that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State paid a visit to the West Indies to see for himself what was the position and what could be done. In fact, the day after his arrival there he consulted with the Federal Government, and then with the others. But on January 14, as I say, the day after his arrival, a General Council of the Premier's Party unanimously agreed that they did not wish to continue in the Federation now that Jamaica had decided to withdraw, and that they, too, wanted independence forthwith. At the same time, they expressed the wish that the common services which had existed until then should go on, and they also said that they were ready that others should be associated with them, but on the basis of a unitary Government and, of course, under their ægis. That, I must confess, was a disappointment to us and to the remaining members of the Federation.
Then, at the initiative of the Premier of Barbados and the Chief Ministers of the Leeward and Windward Islands, a meeting was held shortly after this statement and, as a result, the statement of 1162 February 6, to which I have already referred, said:Her Majesty's Government regard the suggested federation of Barbados and the Leeward and Windward Islands as a promising development. They consider further that a great deal of careful study, both here and in the West Indies, will be needed before any final decision can be taken, and they propose, for their part, to initiate this study in the very near future.Since that time—and events, as you see, are moving very fast—there was the Jamaica Independence Conference. We had already said that we should be ready to give them what they wished, and at Lancaster House a date for independence was fixed, that date being August 6.
Finally, between February 26 and March 3 there was the final meeting in Barbados of the eight remaining members of the Federation. We are awaiting a report on the exact details of what happened there, but it looks encouraging that they have met, that they have issued a report, and that the general tenor of the report seems to indicate that they want to continue as a Federation. But they also said they want to wipe the slate clean. They do not want the old Federation. They want a new one if they are to start again. So far as we are concerned, we must await the report. After all, the history which I have gone over of the last ten or fifteen years all shows the importance of not rushing into federation but taking it with great care, lest, unhappily, the same thing happen a second time.
My Lords, so much for the history and some of the reasons for the Bill. Just to recall the three main factors, they were the referendum in Jamaica, in which they declared they wanted to be out of the Federation; the subsequent elections in Trinidad, with the expressed wish of the majority Party that they, too, wanted to leave the Federation; and, lastly, the remaining eight saying that they wanted to keep together, but on a new basis. I think, bearing in mind these three main happenings in the last several months, that we have had no option but to proceed with this Bill which allows for the dissolution of the present Federation.
To turn to the Bill, I would say that dissolution of a Federation which has been going for several years is almost as complicated as, or even more complicated than, starting something, and 1163 it is more true when one has certain members of it who want to keep an association in being although bound to the dissolution of the Federation. Owing to the circumstances I have outlined there is a general wish to retain various of the common services which the islands at present handle; the meteorological services, advisory services of all kinds, shipping services and others. We should frankly have preferred to be able to wait a little before bringing in this Bill. We should have preferred more certainty on many matters; for example, on just what form the interim organisation should take pending the establishment, if it so happens, of a new Federation, and pending the establishment of a new organisation under any conditions which will keep the common services going. We should have preferred to wait to note what form, if any, the eight might choose for their Federation, but these things have a habit of taking a very long time, and we have the pressure from Jamaica and the undertaking to Jamaica that we would do our best to get legislation through by the end of this month. Furthermore, we have settled, subject, of course, always to the approval of Parliament, a date for her independence. The outcome of all of that has been that we have had to seek—and that is what this Bill seeks to do—enabling powers to deal with any situation that may arise in relation to all of these happenings, or any combination of them.
Just to look very briefly at the Bill itself, it is, as I say, an enabling Bill and really does give us very wide powers for the purposes which I have outlined about dissolution or the setting up of a new Federation of the eight, keeping the common services going and so forth. If we look at the Bill we shall find in Clause 1 that it allows for the dissolution of the Federation or the secession of one of its members before the dissolution. Quite frankly, I would hope that we do not have such a secession but get on with the dissolution, because this is tidier and a less difficult method of procedure. Also, Clause 1 allows for some of the Federal laws to lapse and others to be continued, because as I have endeavoured to explain, there are certain features of the Federation which one 1164 wants to continue in one guise or another.
If we look at Clause 2 of the Bill we find that this is particularly directed to the common services and gives permission for an interim authority to deal with those common services which at the moment are handled by the Federation. It further allows for these to continue until such time as permanent arrangements may be worked out; and, lastly, once these permanent arrangements have been worked out, it will permit us to deal appropriately with those continuing in a permanent form.
Clause 3 of the Bill empowers Her Majesty's Government to secure the payment of pensions and compensation where appropriate to Federal servants. I am sure all your Lordships will agree that this is both right and necessary. Its exact details have to be worked out with the Governments concerned, and I might point out that Clause 3 (2) is permissive and not obligatory; an Order in Council may provide for the raising of money, and so forth. Here I do not know exactly what the position is, what may be the assets and liabilities of the Federation; and so at this stage it does not seem appropriate to go any further or any less far.
§ Clause 4 of the Bill allows for a new Court of Appeal.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, before the noble Earl leaves this part of the Bill, could he explain what are the powers of Parliament in connection with the Orders in Council? Will Parliament have the right to challenge? Will they say if and when Parliament will see them? I gather that at the moment we are giving the Government a blank cheque. We do not know at all what the Government propose to do. Will there, in time, be an opportunity of challenging any of these orders?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
In fact, I think this comes in Clause 7 of the Bill and, if the noble Lord will allow, I will touch on it when I deal with that clause.
Clause 4 is in relation to courts. Then we come to Clause 5, which gives Her Majesty's Government powers to give new Constitutions or to alter existing ones for the territories where it may be appropriate. I would, however, wish to make it very clear that it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government 1165 to use any of the powers under this clause to derogate in any way from the constitutional status of those territories which are already enjoying full internal self-government. But, for example, as a result of this clause we shall be able to give Barbados a written Constitution, which appears to be her wish. Or again, we can include in the Jamaica Independence Constitution certain provisions which they wish for and which may not be covered under the Jamaica Act, 1866. Clause 6 allows all the eight remaining territories, if they so wish, to federate, and will also allow the Virgin Islands, if they so wish, to join that Federation, but this is purely a permissive power and would not, of course, be used in relation to the Virgin Islands unless they themselves should wish it.
Then we come to Clause 7, which has been the subject of the question by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and there your Lordships will see in the first part that we seek to cover any sort of incidental or consequential things which may arise; I think that that takes the normal form. The third subsection of Clause 7 is, I think, that to which the noble Lord directed his question. If any Order made under this Bill should modify or adapt an existing Act then it will be subject to the normal annulment procedure, but otherwise we are empowered under this Bill to proceed on any of the matters which are embodied in this Bill purely by Order in Council, and I would stress that this gives us to that extent blank permission within the range of the things contained in the Bill. Clause 8, as your Lordships will see, allows grants in aid to continue. I think Clauses 9 and 10 explain themselves.
As I have endeavoured to show, this is not a very happy Bill; in fact, it is a rather sad Bill. But we must face the facts; we must accept the wishes of the people of the territories. That has always been our practice, and I see no reason for thinking that in this case—much as we might like, in certain respects, to see otherwise—we could do other than respect their wishes to proceed. That is why we are asking your Lordships to give this Bill a Second Reading. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Perth.)1166
§ 3.20 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, the noble Earl has frankly admitted to us that he has come with a sad story; he has come with a small sprinkling of ashes over his not very capacious sackcloth. I feel that perhaps there ought to have been some coals of fire before the ashes. But he has also come before us—and he has not said this—to some extent, in the guise of a Pontius Pilate who has washed his hands of many of these things, who has run away from the responsibilities that he and Her Majesty's Government have in these matters and who has left it to others to decide on matters which are of such great importance that nobody other than Her Majesty's Government should make that decision.
The noble Earl told us a little of the early history of federation. He told us that there had been wise men who looked on it as a first step, as an essential step towards independence, which was right and proper. He did not tell us, though I think we all know it, that the reason for federation was, quite simply, that none of the Caribbean Islands, individually, was large enough, economically strong enough, or even with enough people, to carry independence as a separate island. Let me remind your Lordships that the largest of those islands, Jamaica, has a population of rather less than 1¾ million people; that Trinidad has a population of 800,000, and that the remaining islands, the eight, have a population, between them, of somewhere around half a million. So, even with all of those added together, we only just reach a figure of 3 million people, a figure not very different, in fact, from the populalation of Nyasaland, also the subject of some talk about federation.
Therefore it was a wise thing to say to those islands, "Come together. Federate, and with your resources, which are not inconsiderable—bauxite, oil, asphalt, agriculture and tourism—you should be able in a few years' time so to bring up your own standard of living, that, with the resources you have, the people you have among you"—and, my Lords, there are great men living in these islands—"you will be able to run your affairs as an important member of the Commonwealth, as an independent 1167 country". But I am afraid that Her Majesty's Government at that time allowed themselves to he led astray by that happy picture of the future and did not face up to the true facts which they must have known had they listened to their own advisers on the spot and to those who knew these areas. There were manifold difficulties; there were difficulties of personalities; there were difficulties of races; there were difficulties of tradition; there were even difficulties of language, and of the whole background; and, of course, there were difficulties of conflicting interests.
We see Jamaica, an island beginning on the road towards industrialisation, wanting to build up its own industries to become independent of certain commodities which hitherto it had had to import, and naturally anxious to protect its industries by imposing import duties. There were the other islands, many of the smaller ones, with no hope of ever starting industries of that kind, whose interests are in importing, from the cheapest market possible, whether Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom, those self-same commodities that Jamaica was anxious to protect and to produce herself. The conflict of interest is between Protection for Jamaica and Free Trade for the rest. There is the conflict of interest over the movement of labour, immigration. All the islands are over-populated, as we know full well in this country, but some are relatively more densely populated, some with a higher standard of living and some with a very low standard of living. It was natural that those with the lowest standard of living wished to go from the small islands—for instance St. Vincent and Grenada—to Trinidad, where there was more work and higher pay. The people in Trinidad, again understandably, were afraid of having a free influx of labour that might spoil their labour market and increase their unemployment, push down their own wages. Here was another conflict of interest; and there were many more.
Those were not the things that Her Majesty's Government talked about in those happy honeymoon days of federation. Those were not the things on which, as they should have done, they went to the assistance of this young 1168 Federation and said, "You must realise these problems before you give your support to the idea, the concept, of federation. You must know what you are letting yourselves in for; that it entails sacrifice, as well as simply receiving, but we shall be there, not only to point out these difficulties to you but to help you overcome them, with our advice, our experience and our money". That is what the Government should have done, and their failure to do that is one of the reasons for this sad story which the noble Earl has had to tell us to-day.
Now we will come on to this story of the desire of Jamaica to secede from Federation—something which in many ways was inevitable as matters stood. Because let me remind your Lordships of one more factor in this complicated story. Jamaica is in the Caribbean; it is one of the West Indian Islands. But not only has it more than 50 per cent. of the total population, it is some 1,000 miles or more away from most of the other islands. There is not the contiguity and contact between Jamaica and the other islands which, looking at it on a small-scale map in this country, one might justifiably suppose. So, when the Federation was set up, there was a struggle over where the capital should be. It was finally decided that it should be in Trinidad, a reasonable place, good for communications, the second largest island and in quite close geographical contact with the other eight small islands. But that gave a big fillip to Trinidad in this set-up; and it became even more important than it otherwise would have been, with Jamaica pushed out somewhat on one side.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
If the noble Lord would allow me to intervene (though I am sure he appreciates this fact), that seems to imply that we chose Trinidad as the capital; whereas, of course, it was the decision of all the islands themselves. I think it is important to observe this.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for pointing that out. It had not escaped my attention, and it was something that I was about to develop in a little more detail. Trinidad was chosen by the Federation as the capital. They had that choice; 1169 we did not have it. It was quite right that we should not have it; it would have been wrong had we imposed it upon them.
It would have been equally wrong had we imposed upon them the Prime Minister. Obviously, they chose their own Prime Minister. They made an admirable choice, from two points of view. It was right that the Prime Minister should be a representative not of Trinidad or of Jamaica but of the small islands, and it was right that they should have chosen one of the outstanding figures of the West Indies, Sir Grantley Adams. I was glad to hear the tribute paid to him by the noble Earl. It is one with which I gladly associate myself. But here we have the picture of Trinidad represented (if I may put it that way) in the Federation by having the capital; the small islands represented, in the person of Sir Grantley Adams, by the Prime Minister, and Jamaica represented hitherto by nothing.
My Lords, could we have done anything at that stage? I believe that we could have done something. We still had to appoint a Governor-General. That was the responsibility, the privilege and the right of Her Majesty, advised by Her Government. I do not want to say anything in derogation of the Governor-General, who has worked hard and has had an uphill and sad task. But I cannot help thinking that, had the Governor-General been somebody (I mention no names) who was respected, known and experienced in Jamaica itself, that would have gone a long way to redress this balance between the small islands and Trinidad and Jamaica; and it might well have made the task of keeping Jamaica happy in the Federation a somewhat easier one than the present Governor-General had—a task which I concede was, in these circumstances, impossible.
For the reasons I have given, Jamaica came to the conclusion during the course of 1961 that she no longer wished to remain in the Federation. As the noble Earl said, experience during the three years of experiment showed that there were serious differences of opinion (those were his words), which led to the Conference in London in 1961. Then the noble Earl said something about which I should be happy to have some 1170 amplification when he replies. He said (again I wrote down his words) that at this Conference in Londonit was realised that there would be a referendum.The referendum was on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Norman Manley. I do not know who realised it, or how widely realised it was. But that is, to me, an extremely important point, and it must be made abundantly clear. It has been said in most reliable quarters that the first the Prime Minister of the Federation knew of the referendum in Jamaica was when he read about it in the newspapers. Whether or not that is true, I do not know; but I hope the noble Earl will tell us just what he meant by those words—"it was realised that there would be a referendum."
But whether or not it was realised by all those who were at the referendum, or only by Her Majesty's Government, the right thing then to do was to go straight to the Governor-General of the West Indies, to the Prime Minister of the Federation of the West Indies, and say, "This has been proposed by one member of the Federation. Your Cabinet must advise as to what should be done, whether this should be accepted or whether it should not be accepted." It cannot be the right way to help a naissant Federation, struggling against many difficulties to find its feet and to make itself viable, simply to turn your back on the elected representatives, upon the Prime Minister and his colleagues in his Cabinet; to pay no attention to them whatsoever, and for the Secretary of State, simply talking to the Prime Minister of one of the members of the Federation, to arrange this between them, leaving the Federal Government entirely on one side in this matter. That sort of action can be defended by nobody.
It may be said that it was thought the referendum would simply strengthen the position of Jamaica in the Federation and that she would vote in favour of it. I believe that many people took that view. But events showed that there, as in so many other cases, the beliefs of Her Majesty's Government were wrong. But even if they had been right, even if, in fact, the referendum had reinforced Jamaica's position in the 1171 Federation, that could not have been the right course to follow. As my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth pointed out, we in this country prefer Parliamentary government to referendums and plebiscites, and to give way over the suggestion of one referendum merely because we think it is going to come out right for our side, makes no difference whatsoever to the rightness or wrongness of holding a referendum.
As I say, had the referendum shown a decision in favour of remaining in Federation, what would have happened if St. Kitts had then said, "We want to leave the Federation. We shall have a referendum among our 20,000 inhabitants. Jamaica had it. Why cannot we?" Should we have said "Yes" to St. Kitts, Antigua or to Dominica? He could not have done that. It was only because Jamaica appeared the most powerful and most important member of this group that we, weak-kneed, gave way to it. Of course, when that happened, what was inevitably the next step? It was no good thinking that the Federation would continue without Jamaica; truncated; with only 40 per cent. of the original population and far less than 40 per cent. of the original wealth left in it. Of course the rest would not do it. Trinidad—and by "Trinidad" I mean the Government of Trinidad—would say that it, too, wanted to leave Federation, bringing, if it had to, under its own umbrella as many of the other small islands as wanted to come.
The noble Earl went on to discuss Trinidad. I am quite sure that he in no way wished to mislead your Lordships, but the impression some of you may have got—because, as he said, shortly after the Election the Prime Minister of Trinidad announced that his country wished to leave the Federation—is that the Elections in Trinidad were largely fought on the issue of the Federation, and that his request or demand to leave the Federation came as the result of his victory at the polls, representing the will of the people of Trinidad. But in fact the Election in Trinidad specifically excluded federation from its campaign. Dr. Eric William's Party reserved its position. It did not fight the Election saying, "If we win we shall secede", or "If we win we shall remain in". They fought the Election on the basis, "When 1172 we have been returned to power we will then decide what attitude we wish to take on federation." So do not run away with the idea that we in this country are certain to-day that by giving freedom (if that is what you want to call it) to Trinidad, we are in fact giving the people of Trinidad what they themselves have said they want. We do not know. I do not believe that anybody knows what Trinidad wants.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, may I ask whether the noble Lord is suggesting a referendum for Trinidad? Because certain noble Lords on that side do not like that form of seeking information.
§ LORD WALSTON
The noble Earl is extremely helpful in always asking questions just before I am about to ask them. I am very grateful to him for that. We, alas! are not in a position to dictate what should be done in Trinidad. We are not the Government of that country now. I cannot help thinking that if we had been there would be no need for this debate at all. But, given the situation, all I would say to the noble Earl is this. Do not hurry ahead with this Pontius Pilate "washing of hands", the view that Trinidad is no longer any responsibility of ours. Simply because the Government Party has said at its Conference that this is what it wants, do not get the idea that you are fulfilling what the people of Trinidad—let alone the people of the Federation—want.
How this should be done is not for me to say. I certainly would not recommend a further referendum, though, having had one already, it would be extremely difficult for the noble Earl to explain why there should not be another one. Possibly there should be. I think he still has the power, through the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, to dissolve the present Parliament and have a new general election. I am not recommending that either; that is the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. But whatever we do, and however we do it, do not let us fool ourselves into saying, "As in Jamaica, we are giving way to the expression of the wish of the people". We are doing it in Jamaica and Trinidad, although we have no inkling of knowledge whatsoever as to what the express wish of the 1173 people is because they have not in fact been given an opportunity to express that wish.
I cannot help wondering—and I am sure this has also passed through the minds of some of your Lordships—why it is that when Jamaica wishes to secede it is given the opportunity for a referendum, and, with this amazing haste, steps are taken to put its wishes into practical and immediate effect, and when Trinidad in this much vaguer way, has expressed a desire to secede, the same thing is done; yet when we look across the Atlantic to Central Africa, where there are also troubles of federation, where there are also certain constituent countries of a proposed federation who are not too happy about going into that federation, there is no talk of referendums, no talk of rushing a Bill through Parliament to allow one country to secede. The only talks one hears—and that comes from the other side—is about the use of force to maintain federation. One cannot help drawing a distinction between Sir Roy Welensky and his threats of the use of force, his flying to this country and all the rest of it, and Sir Grantley Adams and his very different, far more responsible, far more democratic, far more co-operative attitude. One can only wonder if in fact in this world, with this Government, the way to get what you want is to threaten force, refuse to co-operate, and to organise a lobby among Members of Parliament in order to protect your interests, rather than to try to operate through the normally accepted means of democratic government.
Let us pass on, my Lords, as the noble Earl did, to the future. We are presented with this sad story of failure. What can we do to bring something out of this pitiful wreck? As the noble Earl has said—and here I agree with him—we must re-think federation; and I would agree with every word that the noble Earl said when he quoted the views of Her Majesty's Government on this subject after the conference of the eight smaller islands, when Trinidad had expressed her wish to leave. The words he used were, "This requires a great deal of careful study". Yes, my Lords, it does require a great deal of careful study, and I do not consider that a hastily prepared Bill, hastily presented to your Lordships with the avowed object 1174 of getting it passed into an Act of Parliament by the end of this month, is consistent with a great deal of careful study.
The noble Earl went on to say that the Government would have preferred to wait a little while before bringing in this Bill, in order to have known what form the eight would take, and so on. Well, my Lords, who is the Government of this country? If the noble Earl and Her Majesty's Government would have preferred to wait a little longer, why did they not wait? Why did they have to say to Mr. Manley of Jamaica, and to Dr. Williams of Trinidad, "We should like to wait, but, of course, because you are in a hurry, we shall do it in a hurry"? That is the attitude of a Pontius Pilate; it is not the attitude of a responsible Government of a great Colonial Empire, and the leader of the Commonwealth.
What should we do, assuming we are given not a great deal of time, but a little time, in order, as I say, to rescue something from this wreck? Whether we actually preserve federation as it is, and allow Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica to secede, retaining federation for the other eight, or whether we scrap the whole of federation and start again from the beginning, is to my mind a matter of technical convenience. I do not mind very much which it should be, but we must be in a position now to give all the encouragement, advice, help and support to the remaining eight islands who wish to remain grouped together in some form or another. We must pay attention to their wishes, wishes expressed through their elected Governments, through their oppositions and through the other sources that they have. Of course, we must pay attention to that. But we must not forget that the responsibility for this is ours. We have to make the decision, and we have to stand by that decision when it is made.
I do not believe that it is beyond the powers of this country to hold those eight together, to cement such good will as exists between them already, to reinforce it, and, on top of that, and perhaps more important than that, to build up their economic strength, and thereby their standard of living, so that within a relatively small number of years those eight islands, with their half a 1175 million inhabitants, as a result of our help, will have become a sufficiently strong economic unit, so that the other two—Trinidad and Tobago on the one side, and Jamaica on the other—will be happy to enter, not into a fully-fledged political federation but perhaps, as we are now in Europe discussing the Common Market, some form of economic get-together, with a progressive lowering of barriers against trade, barriers against movements of people and all the rest of it. With their common background such as it is, that would be regarded as a stepping-stone towards a fully-fledged economic and political integration of this whole area. Some people have suggested that it could evolve from that into a much wider Caribbean area, embracing even those countries and islands which have never been British Colonies, though I do not know whether that is looking too far ahead. Our immediate object, however, must be to build up the remaining islands so that they can be on an equal footing with the other two larger islands and can be accepted eventually as equal partners.
In this help that we give them we must, of course, avoid all dangers of paternalism and of making them feel that they are only Colonies; because remember that we have made it very much more difficult for ourselves already. If we are going to draw a distinction between on the one side Jamaica and Trinidad—which have full independence, are self-governing, and are free for good and all from the fetters of imperialism—and on the other the small islands which are kept under the Colonial Office and under colonial rule, then we are going to make the whole problem very much more difficult.
My Lords, from the days of Queen Elizabeth I until the days of Queen Victoria we in this country built up what is probably the greatest Empire that has ever been known. Although "Empire" is not a word which it is popular to use to-day, that, in its time, was something of which I think we are all proud. It had many faults. Many atrocities were committed in the name of Empire-building; many wickednesses were perpetrated; but, by and large, I believe not only that this country benefited, but that the world and mankind benefited from what 1176 happened during that period. We did not achieve that Empire by sitting back, by washing our hands, by leaving it to other people; we did not achieve it by closing our eyes to the difficulties and looking only on the possible brightnesses which might accrue. It was achieved by courage, by skill, by patience and by integrity.
We are now entering on a second era. Hitherto, every great empire has crumbled and has gone. We believe that what was the British Empire will last as the British Commonwealth and will become a far greater concept, a far more important influence in the world. But that sort of thing does not just arise, any more than that the Empire just happened. The Commonwealth can be built only if we have an equally creative attitude towards it; if we have equal courage, equal skill, equal patience and equal integrity. We have a need for all of that. But our experience in this one—I grant you small—part of the Commonwealth has shown that there, at least, those qualities are sadly lacking.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? He said that we lacked integrity. I should be very grateful if he could explain a little more fully where the lack of integrity is in our performance.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I was not specifically referring in this case to any act of integrity, or the opposite. But I will go on to say that I think that in some of our dealings with some of the Federal Ministers, the men who have devoted the recent years of their lives to the building up of this Federation, there has been a lack of integrity. The noble Earl asked for specific examples, I do not think that it is consistent with my idea of integrity to deal directly with the Prime Minister of Jamaica over the matter of the referendum affecting the whole of the Federation, instead of dealing with the Federal Prime Minister, with his Government and with his Cabinet. The noble Earl may have different ideas as to whether or not that is consistent with true integrity and the honest dealings which one expects between Governments, but that is my feeling in this matter. I still maintain that we need those qualities and that 1177 all of them, in this particular instance and this particular unhappy episode, have been lacking.
So what do the Government do now, my Lords? They come along, and announce this failure. They say: "We have failed to achieve what we set out to achieve. We should now like to go slower, but for some reason"—which doubtless the noble Earl will explain to us—"we cannot go slower. Something greater than ourselves is pushing us on with this undue haste. Therefore, we, who are now bankrupt on our own admission, come to you with this Bill and ask you for a blank cheque."
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said, this is a melancholy occasion, but I, personally, do not feel that we need be too gloomy about it. I am quite certain that the able and delightful people of the Caribbean and the West Indies will be able to manage their affairs in the future, with our co-operation, and that we need not look upon this as any disaster. I think it is not only a great pity that Jamaica seceded; I think it will be found by her that it was a mistake from her own point of view. I believe it will be found to be an even greater mistake from the point of view of Trinidad, for whom the Federation offered great prospects. But they had the right to secede and they have seceded.
This afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Walston, whom I should like to congratulate as it is the first time he has spoken from the Box on behalf of the Opposition, has launched a powerful attack on the United Kingdom Government. Although, as your Lordships know, I am always ready to criticise the Government if I think they have been worthy of criticism—as, indeed, it is my duty to do as a member of the Opposition—in this particular case I cannot see that they have done anything calling for criticism. I am sorry to say this, and it may embarrass the noble Earl, Lord Perth, but I feel that they have not done anything wrong in this particular case—at least, nothing which has been proved to us to be wrong.
I believe that over the years successive Governments have shown a great deal of patience with and some understanding of the problems of the West Indies and the Caribbean. One must remember that the 1178 statesmen and the politicians in that vast area are very able men, men of great personality, and they will not be pushed around. That is what it comes to. If they want to have a referendum in Jamaica, they are going to have one. It does not matter what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, or his Secretary of State, says: they are going to have a referendum, and that is that. What could Her Majesty's Government have done to prevent it? If we did not want them to have a referendum, what could we have done? Could we send troops out? Can anyone imagine, even if we had any battalions to spare, which we have not, that we could contemplate British troops shooting down Jamaicans because they wanted a referendum and we objected to it? The whole idea is absurd.
My Lords, I do not propose to go over the past. As I have said, I do not think that the United Kingdom Government are really blameworthy. They have done their best and the thing has not come off. In a way, it is better for the constituent parties to find out now that they do not settle down together, rather than go into a watertight Federation and find out afterwards. I should prefer to deal with the future, as I do not think it is much good going over the past. As to the future, we have to look clearly at the situation as it is at the moment. It is obvious that Jamaica will soon be an independent member of the Commonwealth, and that in no long time to come Trinidad will be in the same position.
What of the remaining islands that form this Federation, and the Virgin Islands? There are nine rather small islands which, according to my arithmetic, have a total area of 1,392 square miles and a total population of 677,500 souls. That is the situation with which we have to deal: a number of small islands with a small population. Strangely enough, in some of the islands there is a great shortage of labour. We hear and see so many of these travelogues on B.B.C. and on Commercial Television and we get the wrong impression, because we get only a global picture, and everything does not fit into it. In fact, on one or two of the islands there is a great shortage of labour, and a good deal of mechanisation is having to be employed to make it good.
1179 Furthermore, some parts of these islands have become a millionaires' playground. I do not know whether your Lordships' attention has been drawn to a series of articles by Mr. Wolf Mankowitz in one of the London evening papers. He calls himself a demi-emigrant, because he has gone out to buy property in Barbados. In one of his articles he says—and it is rather interesting because it makes the point that I want to make:Barbados has one of the highest population densities of the world. Behind the beaches on which the tourist lounges away his idyllic fortnight, a quarter of a million people are packed into the parts of the island's 100,000 acres which cannot be cultivated.From Bridgetown, the country-town-like capital, the ribbon development is continuous northwards along the optimistically described 'Platinum Coast' where millionaires' … beach-houses pack side by side with shantytown shacks, and the beachland is valued at about £20,000 an acre.I know the tourist trade is valuable in most places, but in a place like Barbados, where cultivatable land is scarce, is it a good thing to have beach-houses for people who, naturally, will occupy them for only a few weeks in the year, rocketing up the price of land to £20,000 an acre? What happens to the people who want to cultivate the land? What happens to the smallholder? That is always a danger, I think, on islands which go in for providing these millionaires' playgrounds. It is not necessarily a good thing. Although it is very tempting for a Government, I think it is a matter which wants watching; and I hope that, as we have still some responsibility for Barbados, we shall watch it—and I am quite sure that the very realistic Prime Minister of Barbados will do so.
Several of these territories are, of course, Treasury-controlled, which means that they have not enough money from their normal income to pay the expenses of government. I do not know how many there are now, but I guarantee that several of them are still Treasury-controlled; and there is provision in the Bill to enable the Treasury to make these grants or subventions after this Bill is passed and, presumably, even after federation is established. In my view, one of the troubles about these islands is that there is too much of a panoply of government. I have used 1180 the expression before and I use it again because I think it explains what I mean: there is too much harness for the horse. In fact, in some of them there is a good deal more harness than horse. There is a Governor-General; Ministers at Federal level; and then, in each island, a Governor or Administrator, and Ministers. All this expensive and cumbersome system is unnecessary, in my view, to deal with populations and areas of a size which, in this country, would be dealt with by an urban district council or a rural district council.
My Lords, this is a problem for them, but it is also a problem for us, because one must remember that we have to make good any excess in their expenditure over income. It is therefore a matter to which we can draw their attention; and I hope that the various experienced statesmen concerned—guided, I am sure, by my old friend Sir Grantley Adams, with the tributes to whom I entirely agree—will look at this problem. I myself feel that what they should have is a simple system of a central Government for all the islands, with a Governor or Governor-General at the head of it; and, in the various islands, no paid Governors or Administrators at all, but simply, as we have in this country, unpaid Lords Lieutenant. These would be responsible for the ceremonial duties and would represent the islands on such occasions as were necessary. Then, together with the Lords Lieutenant, there should be an absolute minimum of local government. Now this is going to upset many people because, of course, a lot of Ministers are going to lose their jobs; but I think it is quite unnecessary—and, as I have said, it is expensive and cumbersome—to have in each little island (when I say "each little island", I mean each little island Colony) a full panoply of government such as is at present the case.
In spite of the fact that the noble Earl has characterised this Bill, quite rightly, as a blank cheque, I think that perhaps he might be able to fill the cheque in a little bit with reference to the authority mentioned in Clause 5. Can he not give us any idea of the scope of the authority? Is it going to deal with economic matters, scientific matters, social matters or political matters? What is its scope going to be? I am 1181 sure the Government know this, because they have considered the whole problem and must have to some extent made up their minds on it. What will the structure of the authority be? Who will control it? To whom will it be answerable? Will there be any representation on it from the various Colonies which make up the new Federation?
The noble Earl will recall that the Prime Minister of Trinidad, as reported in to-day's Daily Telegraph, has complained that he was not consulted on this part of the Bill; that he was not consulted on the provision for the continuation of the common services. I should therefore like to ask the noble Earl whether, after the new Federation (in whatever form it may be) has been created, the common services will apply and will be made available to the other territories in the West Indies and the Caribbean which now are seceding from the Federation. In other words, will the services also apply and be made available to Trinidad and to Jamaica, and even to British Guiana and British Honduras? We should like to know that, if he can tell us.
My Lords, that is really all I want to say. I feel that what we want to do to-day is to assure the people of the Caribbean that our interest in them is as keen as ever it was; that we acknowledge the debt we owe them and have owed them over many years for the great help they have been to the economy of our country; and that in the future, as in the past, whatever co-operation we can afford, whatever assistance it is within our power to provide, will freely be made available to them by the people of this country, who have for these islands a very warm spot.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I will take up your Lordships' time for only a few minutes. A certain obituary solemnity is bound to overhang this debate, but no one was overhung more heavily than the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who threshed and rethreshed pretty mildewed crops. I do not accept for a moment that Her Majesty's Government rushed blindly into federation. I do not accept for a moment that they underrated the difficulty, nor do I accept that they are running away from their responsibilities now. I do not think that 1182 to refer to Her Majesety's Government in general, and to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in particular, as "Pontius Pilate" is a particularly happily chosen simile, and I am bound to say that the noble Lord did much less than justice to the Governor-General.
I have only one point to make, and I can make it briefly. One of the difficulties we always foresaw when we started this Federation—and all Federations are an act of faith—was that, although there is strong local island patriotism, the feeling of what one might call "West Indianness" was extremely limited. Had that feeling grown and become much stronger this Federation would never have broken down now. We knew that it was limited, but we hoped that with federation, and with living closer together, it would grow. It has grown, but it has not grown anything like fast enough.
Your Lordships, even those of you who do not often go out to the West Indies, probably know a good many West Indians. It is a very interesting thing to note that if you meet a Jamaican or a Trinidadian in London, he will always describe himself as a West Indian. But if you meet him at home, he never does this; he is a Jamaican or a Trinidadian. Of course, there are many good reasons for that. They are immensely separate, as several noble Lords have said to-day. It is about as far from Jamaica to Trinidad as from London to Lisbon. Ninety-eight per cent. of the inhabitants have never left their own island to go even to the next island. They have been outside the sphere of the warring giants of power politics for several hundred years. They have never got that feeling of exterior threat which blends men and nations together, nor that feeling of rivalry which comes when two countries look at each other across a land border.
The point I want to make to my noble friend Lord Perth is this. He has been asked a question by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the common services. These talks are going on about this new Federation of the "little eight", and while these talks are going on about the common services, we should probe the possibility of retaining a link which covers the whole West Indies. If that link is broken, it may take centuries to forge it again. It is still there at the 1183 moment. There are certain things which are the responsibility of all the West Indian Governments. There is the University of the West Indies for one. There is the West Indian Regiment for another. They must meet and unite to deal with those and other subjects. They have a job to do. There must inevitably be a secretariat. And, of course, secretariats must be responsible to somebody. Even if it is the loosest possible council, as long as it is representative of the whole West Indies, it is doing a most valuable job. If you break that link, you will not re-form it for a very long time to come.
If we could only have, in addition to these three units that the West Indies are now going to have, Jamaica, Trinidad, and probably a Federation of what are called the "little eight" divided like Gaul into three parts, another association, however loose, which we might describe as a "Community of Commonwealth nations of the Carribean" (though it would certainly have to be known by a very much shorter name) which could on occasion put up one spokesman in the councils of the Commonwealth or of the world beyond to speak for the whole Caribbean, it would be an effort well worth the trouble. As I said at the beginning, there is a certain obituary solemnity to-day. I personally regard the need for this Bill with great regret, but, like my noble friend Lord Ogmore, with no despair whatever. Federation is about the hardest thing to devise in the political world, and a harder thing still is to keep it going once you have started it. America retained her federation at the expense of a terrible civil war within one hundred years. All Federations are subject to recurrent strains. In the 1930's Queensland tried to opt out of Australia. There is quite a strong separatist movement in Quebec at the moment. Federation is a most difficult thing to run, far more difficult even than to devise. We are now having a second shot at this, and let us hope that we can find a solution which will be enduring.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, I want to speak for only a short time. I agree very much with a good deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has just said; I want to strike a note of 1184 hope rather than despair. It is more than twenty years ago, as the noble Lord reminded the House, since I was on the Royal Commission to the West Indies. One of the few surviving members of it, the noble Lord, Lord Citrine, was here last night, and I had rather hoped he would also be here to-day, but I think he is unable to attend. I remember so well at that time forming the impression very clearly that, one of these days, federation was the right answer. But it was quite extraordinary to find how little the people of one island knew about the people of another. The people of Jamaica, who, after all, are more than 1,000 miles from Trinidad, had hardly heard of it. They knew none of the people in Trinidad, and they had very few common contacts. They all had contacts with London. There were no communications each between the other, and they were really in no sense, except geographically, the West Indies.
As time went on, the people came together and they have grown together and they are going to go on growing together. But my own impression is that the attempt that we made in this Federation was just a little premature. When the Bill was before Parliament, I thought of making a speech. In fact, I prepared one to suggest that it was premature. But I came to the conclusion, as it looked pretty certain that the Bill was going through, that it would not be a helpful thing to do. However, I do entirely see why this Federation has temporarily broken down.
I do not believe that, in looking ahead, we need be too pessimistic. This area of the Caribbean may develop in many different ways. We must not forget that the West Indian Islands are not all British; there are French West Indian Islands, Dutch West Indian Islands, American West Indian Islands, and so on. I think that there is a chance that this area will develop, and therefore we do not want to break down more than we need what has so far been achieved. These islands are all very poor. We have a tremendous responsibility to them, I think perhaps more responsibility than to any other part of the Empire, and for historical reasons. It is our duty to recognise that.
They are beautiful islands; the population are a charming, delightful, and 1185 colourful people, and the prospects for their future are dimmed only by their economic difficulties. Jamaica and Trinidad are, of course, comparatively rich. Jamaica has the advantage of bauxite and a more highly developed agriculture and a fine tourist business. Trinidad is lucky enough to have oil adjoining, as it abuts on Venezuelan oil field, and it also has the asphalt lake and a good agriculture. But these small islands are very numerous and very difficult to deal with. I do not know how many there are; I do know that I went to 26 different islands when I was there and some of them are very small indeed.
Now as to the organisation, about which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has been talking. It is important to try to arrange this in a way which is not extravagant, because it is not really necessary to have elaborate forms of government for them all. This Federation has broken down because the islands are so far apart and their people have not come to know each other very much yet and they do not yet feel the sense of fellowship. There are a number of colourful personalities who have not always succeeded in getting on with each other. And, in addition, there is the economic problem due to the fact that Jamaica and Trinidad, much the richest islands, are unfortunately walking out and leaving the small islands which are very poor. This is a problem in which we have to try to help as best we can.
Looking ahead, I believe that unity will one day again be found. If we look back at the history of any country, if we look back at the history of our own country, we see how much time it took to weld it together. It must have taken 400 years after the time when the Romans left Britain to weld the heptarchy into one country. If the West Indies Federation is to be restored and the islands welded together, it may take a long time. There has been a temptation for some of the smaller countries to seek independence for prestige reasons. They have a seat in the United Nations and feel a sense of importance—I hope that Scotland and California and countries like them will manage to resist that temptation. It is important to bring to the notice of people the fact that independence in itself is not of great value. It 1186 may be of value in certain circumstances. It may be that many of us have stressed the merits and the importance of independence and made many simple people believe that this is the one thing desirable to achieve, whereas in fact that is not at all true, and everyone in this House knows that to be the case.
As time goes on and people learn—and some of the politicians in these islands have learned very fast and will be able gradually to spread wiser doctrines—I see, within a generation, another Federation being created in which both Jamaica and Trinidad, and certain other islands in that part of the world as well, will participate. I do not want to sit down without telling your Lordships that I am not unhopeful of the future.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, let me start by saying that I feel very much, with the noble Lords, Lord Ogmore, Lord Tweedsmuir and Lord Clitheroe, that the end of this story has not yet been told. All three noble Lords ended on a note of hope. My noble friend Lord Clitheroe, who has so much experience in this field, was very firm in that hope. I can only say that, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, anything we can do to further the welfare of the peoples we shall always be anxious to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, made an attack on the Government's record in connection with the whole business of federation. On Ash Wednesday perhaps it is appropriate to have ashes, but I am not prepared to accept the charge that, like Pontius Pilate, we have washed our hands of the business and run away from our responsibilities. If I understood him correctly, the noble Lord said that in the light of the views expressed, we should have helped them with advice in their difficulties, and with money. My Lords, we did all those things. Before the project was set up, there was a Conference in 1947; and there were further Conferences in 1953, 1955 and 1956. In all those Conferences we took part and gave all the help and advice we could on these very difficulties. That was not all. There were yet more Conferences in 1959 and 1960, and a final one in 1961, when we desperately 1187 tried to bridge the gap between those on one side, who were for a weaker Federation, and those on the other who favoured a stronger Federation. I have no doubt at all that we did all that anybody could do to advise, but your Lordships must remember that these are free peoples; and, in the last analysis, they must do what they choose.
Did we help them with money? Certainly. I do not believe that there is any other area in the colonial territories where more has been done than was done in the West Indies. During the years of federation, we provided, in grants in aid or from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, something like £6 million a year to help them on their way. Is that neglecting them? No. I would say that, on both those charges, we certainly did all that any Government could do to fulfil the needs the West Indies themselves indicated.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, the noble Earl said that Her Majesty's Government have done everything they could in past years to make federation a success. He is confident that in future it will be sucessful. If they have done everything they could in past years, what remains to be done now that can turn failure into success?
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I do not think that I said I was confident that the future was going to be a success. I echoed the hopes that other noble Lords had expressed; that, sooner or later, these territories, in one way or another, would get together again. But I did not say anything more than that.
The only point the noble Lord could bring out about the actual setting up of the Federation was that we did not choose a Governor-General from Jamaica. Well, there may have been a very good Governor-General who could have been chosen from Jamaica, but I am equally confident that the noble Lord, Lord Hailes, whom we chose as Governor-General, did all that any man could do to help the cause of federation, and I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to what he has done while he has been out there.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I apologise for interrupting once more? I think that perhaps what I said was mis- 1188 understood by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir. I certainly meant to cast no reflection upon the Governor-General, and I would certainly associate myself with the noble Earl's remarks.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much. I felt sure he had the same opinion as we all have of the work of the noble Lord, Lord Hailes.
Lord Walton's next line of attack was in relation to our integrity, and when I pressed the noble Lord to say where we had failed to behave as an honourable people, he gave as an example something to do with the referendum in Jamaica. But what are the facts? In May, 1960, the Government of Jamaica announced that they were going to have a referendum on this subject. We were not warned that they were going to do this, and we could not have stopped it. Under the Constitution of Jamaica they were perfectly empowered to decide that this was what they were going to do; and we had no option. I understand it to be suggested that we should have conculted Sir Grantley Adams. Consulted him about what? That the Government of Jamaica had decided, when they were perfectly entitled to do so, that they would have a referendum on this matter?
There then came the Conference in June, 1961. At that time it was specifically laid down by all who were at the Conference that one might consult either through the Legislatures or through the peoples—and when the word "peoples" was used, it was well understood that the reference was to a referendum in Jamaica. Quite simply, I can find no grounds for a charge of a lack of integrity.
The last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, as I understand it, was that in some way or another we should have delayed things, because it was not good for the people of those territories to act in a hurry. It was, if I may say so, a very paternalistic approach to the whole of this question. Were we really to say, "Oh, no. We promised you at one time independence, but now you are going to have to wait. You, Jamaica, say you want it, but you must wait." Trinidad (I want to make this quite clear) has not yet officially asked for independence. And, of course, 1189 until she does so—and perhaps she will not—we do not take any action; we merely have the enabling power so to do. But we think we know what her expression of her wishes is; and we also know what the Eight want. They have said that they want to be finished with this Federation and hope to start a new one. In such conditions, should we wait? Should we risk all the ill-feeling that we may create with these people by waiting for a few more months, or longer, when they, after 50, 100, 200, 300—more than 300—years, have more or less run their own show? No, my Lords; we could not do that.
Then there was some comparison—and I can well understand this point being made—to the position in Northern Rhodesia and Central Africa. But the position there is not comparable. It is easy to make that comparison, but in that case there is no question at this moment of independence for the Federation. If there was we are under an absolute obligation to consult the people who are under our care—that is the peoples of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia—on what may be their wishes. But that is quite a different situation. What was laid down for that Federation was that after a period of time we would consult about their future; and that is what we are doing.
I pass from the various points made by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, to one or two raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I would very much agree with the noble Lord when he says that in the event of the eight deciding that they wish to work together they should avoid over-elaborate administration. There is no doubt that at this moment those administrations are very elaborate and expensive; and we have to foot the bill. But, quite apart from that, it is not a good thing to have so much. But I think they themselves are aware of this fact, and we shall see what comes out of their report after their meeting.
1190 The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me who might be the authority (the noble Lord specifically referred to Clause 5, but I think that in this connection he has Clause 2 more in mind) to enable the common services to continue. I suspect that the authority will be somebody nominated from here, whose only purpose will be to try to ensure that the common services carry on during an interim period, and until such time as all the territories get together, if they so choose, to set up a permanent organisation to run the services. Certainly if they want that it will be, so far as we are concerned, open to one and all of them to join in. But I must again stress to your Lordships that ours is not the option on this matter: it is to be decided by the people of the West Indies. However, I would hasten to reassure my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir on this point: that we will do all we can to help if they wish the common services to continue, whether it be by technical assistance or other means which may be appropriate.
My Lords, I think I have come to the end of the various questions that have been asked. I am very anxious that your Lordships should agree that we should take this Bill in Committee at the earliest opportunity, because, unhappily, we are in great difficulty on timetables. However, I have no doubt that on this point we can confer in the normal way, and try to work out something for early next week. I would end this winding-up of the debate rather as I began, by expressing the hope that, out of what is a melancholy Bill, over the years something good may come.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before five o'clock.