HL Deb 27 November 1962 vol 244 cc1131-50

4.8 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Your Lordships will recollect that Tanganyika became independent as a monarchy within the Commonwealth on December 9 last year. On February 15 this year, the Tanganyika National Assembly decided that Tanganyika should become a republic within the Commonwealth and, in May, the Tanganyika Government published their proposals for a republican constitution in their Government Paper No. 1 of 1962. These proposals were unanimously approved by the National Assembly in June and a Bill giving effect to them was passed by the Tanganyika Parliament, sitting as a Constituent Assembly, on November 23.

I do not need to remind your Lord-ships that the form of government chosen by an independent Commonwealth country is not a matter on which the British Government or Parliament can properly express an opinion, but it is of some interest possibly to notice that, first as a Mandated and afterwards as a Trust Territory, Tanganyika, from 1919 until 1961, was a ward of the international community and stood in only an indirect relationship with the Crown as Sovereign of the administering Power. It was only on achieving independence that Tanganyika became part of Her Majesty's Dominions.

It will be helpful perhaps, if I also draw attention to some of the main features of the Constitution as set out in the Tanganyikan Bill. As your Lordships know, Dr. Nyerere has been elected as the first President of Tanganyika by an over-whelming majority, and I know that your Lordships on all sides of the House would wish to congratulate him most warmly on this. As President, he will be Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. The executive power of the State is vested in him and, with certain exceptions, he may act in his own discretion. However, the Constitution provides for the appointment of Ministers and a Cabinet to advise him as President, and, subject to his powers, to be the principal instrument of policy. The President also has powers in relation to public service, judicial and police appointments. The independence of the judiciary will, however, be safeguarded, since the judges, once they are appointed, will have security of tenure and can be removed only for misconduct or unfitness and after appropriate judicial inquiry. The Tanganyika Government have recognised the need to preserve the rôle of Parliament in the framing of laws, the raising of taxes and voting money.

The constitution provides explicitly that legislative power would be vested in Parliament and that, although Presidential assent can be withheld from a Bill the first time it is passed, if it is passed again by a two-thirds majority the President must assent or dissolve Parliament. It also provides that no tax may be imposed without the authority of Parliament. Thus, although the President has wide executive powers, the essential characteristics of a free democratic society, such as an independent judiciary and the supremacy of Parliament in making laws, are to be preserved and safeguarded in this new constitution.

As evidence of this, I do not think I can do better than quote the preamble to the Tanganyika Government Bill. It goes like this: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace: And whereas the said rights include the right of the individual, whatever his race, tribe, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to life, liberty, security of the person, the enjoyment of property, the protection of the law, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and respect for his private and family life: And whereas the said rights are best maintained and protected in a democratic society where the government is responsible to a freely-elected Parliament representative of the people and where the courts of law are independent and impartial: Now, therefore, this Constitution, which makes provision for the government of Tanganyika as such a democratic society, is hereby enacted by the Constituent Assembly of Tanganyika". I am sure your Lordships will all agree that this is indeed a stirring declaration of human rights and freedom; and, incidentally, it has very much in common with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Noble Lords, if they cast their minds back, will recollect that at the recent meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers it was agreed that they would be happy to accept Tanganyika's request, as a Republic, to stay within the Commonwealth, acknowledging Her Majesty as its Head. On his return from the Prime Ministers' meeting, Mr. Kawawa, the Prime Minister of Tanganyika, made a broadcast in which he strongly supported the general desire of Commonwealth countries to maintain and strengthen their unique relationship, and he went on to remark how impressed he was with the frank and friendly way in which the discussions had been conducted at the meeting.

I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Tanganyika at the beginning of last month, and during that time I was most impressed with the degree of importance which the people of Tanganyika, both in Government circles and in other spheres, attached to the Commonwealth link; and I am certain that in becoming a Republic Tanganyika has no wish to weaken this link. In passing, I may say that I have the additional good fortune of paying a further visit to Tanganyika next week as Her Majesty's Government's representative at the celebrations which are being held to mark the bringing into being of the Republic.

I now turn to the Bill itself. As your Lordships realise, it is not a new development for a Commonwealth country to become a Republic, and this Bill is, therefore, similar to legislation adopted when other Commonwealth countries became Republics: for example, India in 1949, Pakistan, in 1956; and Ghana, in 1960. On becoming a Republic Tanganyika will cease to be part of Her Majesty's Dominions. Clause 1 of the Bill is to prevent any consequential effect on such of our laws as use this or similar expressions. It therefore requires, in effect, that Statutes and other instruments continue to be read as if these expressions still included Tanganyika. The law affecting Tanganyika will therefore remain as it is unless and until the appropriate law-making body provides otherwise.

The Bill does depart from precedent in one minor respect. Previous Acts have operated on the law not only of this country but also of all dependent territories. The reason for this was that these Acts were originally designed as holding operations, giving time for the various legislative bodies involved to review and amend their law for themselves. But, with the experience that we have gained, it has been found that very little colonial legislation is, in fact, affected. Moreover, the tendency in recent legislation is not to use phrases which incorporate the somewhat technical conception of being part of "Her Majesty's Dominions". It has accordingly been decided to take this opportunity to invite Parliament to return to its general practice in relation to dependent territories and to leave it to the local territorial legislatures themselves to enact appropriate legislation. This Bill, therefore, in the colonial field, extends only to Acts of Parliament themselves and to Orders in Council applying the Acts, which are, of course, matters beyond the competence of the colonial legislatures to effect.

I now turn to Clause 2 of the Bill. This covers the wish of the Tanganyika Government to terminate arrangements by Which appeals from Tanganyikan Courts go forward to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Tanganyika Government feels that after the country has became a Republic it would not be appropriate that appeals should still be heard by the Judicial Committee, and therefore her Government wishes to discontinue such appeals after the day of independence, which is December 9. However, at the request of the Tanganyika Government this clause provides for arrangements to be made for the hearing of any appeals which may be outstanding on the day of independence, December 9.

My Lords, these are the legal technicalities which make legislation of this kind necessary. I feel certain that noble Lords Will agree that this is an appropriate occasion to extend sincere good wishes to Tanganyika for her future. It would be idle to suppose that that future will be wholly an easy one, for the problems which face this young country are indeed formidable. But, as I have said, I have recently seen for myself something of the energy and enthusiasm with which these problems are being tackled, and I am confident that if the people of Tanganyika can develop, as I am sure they will, in the spirit of the preamble which I read out, then their achievements will serve not only the Commonwealth, but humanity. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Duke of Devonshire.)

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that this Bill will have the sup port of noble Lords on all sides of the House. It is, in fact, the last time that Parliament will be dealing with legislation about Tanganyika, and it therefore affords an opportunity to Members of both Houses to give a valedictory message of credit and good will to this new African country. My only regret this afternoon is the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Twining, who would have spoken with more authority than any of us. During his long period of office as Governor of Tanganyika, he did as much as any Engilshman to build up that country, to prepare it for self-government, and to create or to foster that harmony between the races which is one of the pleasantest features of Tanganyika. I know we all regret that the fact that he is overseas—he comes here very regularly when he is in Lon don—means that he cannot add his expression of good will to those of others.

The substance of the Bill, which was clearly explained by the noble Duke, is of little political importance, but the occasion of its introduction is of the utmost importance, both to Tanganyika and to the Commonwealth. As the noble Duke pointed out, Tanganyika is the fourth independent Commonwealth country and the second in Africa to choose a republican form of government. In a White Paper the Government of Tanganyika has underlined that this means no disrespect to the Queen. I am glad that they took the trouble to emphasise this fact, because I think the Press and the public in this country often imagine that becoming a republic some-how suggests a disrespect or discourtesy to the Queen. I know that this is not the case. I know from my own experience in Ghana that the popularity of the Queen and the Royal Family is not lessened by one iota as a result of the introduction of a republican constitution. The simple fact is that a change in the law is something very different from a change of heart; changes in the law do not change men's hearts or their loyalties.

Our constitutional relationship with Tanganyika has not been as long or as close as that which we have had with Ghana; nevertheless, a great deal of affection for the Royal Family has grown up in Tanganyika in the last forty years. This was shown by the extraordinary welcome given to the Duke of Edinburgh at the Independence celebrations this year. As the noble Duke has told us, Tanganyika will stay with us in the Commonwealth, which is, I think, a remarkable tribute to the Commonwealth from a country—the first country of this particular type—that has for so many years been a Trust and before that a Mandated Territory.

I think the important thing to note from the constitutional point of view is that the Queen's official relationship with Tanganyika will be altered in the new constitution, but not terminated. As the noble Duke said, Her Majesty will remain Head of the Commonwealth, and this title will acquire real significance in Tanganyika by reason of the affection and respect in which Her Majesty is held. As politics and policies in Common wealth countries become more diverse, the function of the Crown as a symbol of Commonwealth unity becomes increasingly important. The noble Duke told us that Mr. Nyerere has been elected by an overwhelming majority as the first President of Tanganyika. He has already shown outstanding statesmanship in Tanganyika and perhaps an even more remarkable accomplishment in his relationship with other African neighbours. I am sure we all join with the noble Duke in wishing him the utmost success in the service of his own country, to which he will return When he is installed as President, and of Africa.

I am delighted that the noble Duke will represent Her Majesty's Government at the installation of Mr. Nyerere on December 9, and I can assure him that he will also represent the whole House. I think we can take some pride in the fact that Her Majesty's Government has chosen a Member of our House to represent them at this important event in the history of Tanganyika. I hope that he will convey, on our behalf, to the Government of Tanganyika, our best wishes for the success of their new constitution, which we hope will stand them in good stead for many generations to come, and our keen anticipation of our continuing partnership with Tanganyika in the affairs of the Commonwealth.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join the noble Duke and the noble Earl who have just spoken in sending our best wishes to Tanganyika for the future development of that country. Personally, I feel that the proposal which is being made in this Bill is a sensible one. I think that with most of these new countries, particularly in Africa, it is desirable for them to have their own Presidential Head. It is often difficult for them to explain to other States in Africa, who have never been under the British Crown, why they should still retain a British Governor-General, or any Governor-General. Indeed, it is often difficult to explain to people from the United States why Canada has still a Governor-General. I found that difficulty only a week ago in Paris. An American whom I thought well educated expressed great surprise that Canada still had a Governor-General. So these offices are not necessarily the best offices for the new States which are coming into being in the new Commonwealth. As I understand it, this is the Presidential system on the lines of India, and not on the lines of the United States. In other words, the President is the Head of the State. There is still a Prime Minister, a Ministerial system and a Parliamentary democracy, as we have it more or less in this country.

I welcome, as my predecessors in this debate have done, the fact that Tanganyika has applied, and the other members have accepted her, for membership of the Commonwealth. This is an important development in our Commonwealth relations. It is significant that for many years no State which was formerly a Colony has departed from the Commonwealth when it has become independent. This is one of the most significant features, I think, of our Commonwealth relations, and is often overlooked. I would go so far as to say that if the present system proposed in this Bill had been thought of when Burma became independent, Burma would never have gone out of the Commonwealth. But, unfortunately, it was not thought of at that time, and it was only when India was becoming independent that this system was discovered which has been applied so often since.

Naturally, as the noble Duke suggested and the noble Earl inferred, Tanganyika will need a lot of help. She is fortunate in one respect. There is no great tribal feeling in Tanganyika; there are not strong tribal rivalries as in Kenya. She is free of corruption, and she has a powerful and responsible police force. But in the economic field she will need great help, because here there is a vast, poor country. It looks wonderful as one goes down through this enormous territory with the great, rolling parkland. But the lack of water, in many cases the depth of the calcrete layer below the soil, and, above all, the tsetse fly (which is the real ruler of Africa, covering an area twice the size of the United States) mean that economically Tanganyika has much to gain from an association with outside countries. The Government and the people cannot develop this country on their own. They must have a great deal of aid from outside. They are going ahead with self-help schemes.

They have had a good deal of assistance from international authorities such as the World Bank, and from the United Kingdom and Germany. It is, I think, significant that Germany—I mean, of course, West Germany—has taken a lot of interest in the last few years in Tanganyika; possibly because of old sentimental ties, because it was once German East Africa. Be that as it may, they are putting up a great deal of money in the form of a loan for development of the country; they are making grants and other measures of technical aid. One way in which we can help is by continuing the assistance we are already giving, and I hope will continue to give, by the various measures of United Kingdom grants, United Kingdom loans and United Kingdom benefits, in the various fields. I will not specify them now because they are well known to your Lordships, and, in any case, I am prevented from specifying one of the most important owing to a Parliamentary rule or custom of which I fully approve.

But there is one way in which we can and must help—and I would ask the noble Duke to take this point into account very carefully—and that is, we must retain the East African Common Services Organisation in such a form that Tanganyika can take full benefit from it, and in such a form also that it can develop possibly into an East African Federation at a later date. As your Lordships know, the East African Common Services Organisation was originally the East African High Commission, and it controls the various common services such as aviation, post, telegraph, railways and the like which are common to the various territories in East Africa which were originally British colonial territories.

The difficulty at the moment is that Uganda has become independent and Tanganyika has become independent but Kenya is still a colonial territory. Therefore, there can be no possibility of federation so far as these territories are concerned until Kenya becomes independent; and at that stage, of course, it is possible for this Common Services Organisation to develop as a federal system. This is most important because there are 23 million people in East Africa and it is essential, in my view, for those inhabiting this vast area to retain these common services and make them flourish eventually into some form of federal system. This is the right way to do it. We can learn by the wrong way, by the Central African Federation, which was not built up organically as this is being built up but was suddenly thrust down, fully fledged, on the people before they fully understood what it was all about.

To some extent we can also learn from the West Indian Federation, which has also collapsed because, again, I think, too large a superstructure—too much harness for the horse—was put on to those little territories before they were ready for it. Therefore, since no final decision can be taken with regard to federation until Kenya becomes independent, it is essential that Her Majesty's Government should take great care that the East African Common Services Organisation is kept in being and is able to be developed in that way if the territories so desire it when they are all independent.

There is only one other point I have to make. It concerns Clause 2 of the Bill, the one relating to he appeals to Her Majesty in Council; that is, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Here is a melancholy development. Here is probably the finest court in the world bar none: the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. So far as the eminence of its members is concerned, most of them, as noble Lords know, are Law Lords in this House. It is a Tribunal of very great eminence. Why have Tanganyika and so many other countries de parted from the opportunity of having their appeals heard by this great Tribunal? I will tell your Lordships why, and I can quite understand it; I do not blame Tanganyika or any of the other territories. They have done it for two reasons: first, because until the last few days, although shore was a Ceylon judge, virtually no distinguished judges from the Commonwealth were on this body. Secondly, it was always stuck;in London. In fact, a few years ago, noble Lords may remember, it used to meet in one of the corridors just outside the Chamber, where our own guest room is now or next door.

The fact is that the people of the Commonwealth never looked upon it as a Commonwealth court. They always looked upon it as requiring attendance in London; and when I practised at the Colonial Bar many years ago I felt the same about it. Many cases which came within my experience and which should have come to appeal I had to turn down. I had to say: "I am sorry; you ought to go to appeal, but the expense of taking it to London is so great that it is quite impossible for you to do so." I regarded that then, as I do now, as a denial of justice. It is for those two reasons that they do not have their appeals heard: first, because no Commonwealth members were on these courts; secondly, because the courts always met in London, as in fact they still do, and they were not regarded as a Commonwealth Court of Appeal.

When we talk about the Commonwealth and what it means, we cannot think of it as being without some sort of common institutions; otherwise it is purely an idea—a fading idea. Re member that in the past it had common institutions. If you destroy those common institutions, if you are not careful, there is nothing left. Therefore I welcome the fact that, belatedly, the Government or the Privy Council or whoever decides these things, have decided to appoint, or perhaps we may say they have agreed with the other Commonwealth countries to appoint, judges; and in the case of Australian, New Zealand and Nigerian members of the Commonwealth judges have been appointed to this body and will in future sit on the Judicial Committee; and I hope that will be extended to many, in fact all, of the Commonwealth countries, which take advantage of the Judicial Committee.

The second question is still not answered: why does not the Judicial Committee sit from time to time in Commonwealth capitals? Why should it always sit in London? Why does it not occasionally sit in Lagos or any of the other capitals? I am sure that unless it does we shall lose the connection which we now have with these countries so far as the Privy Council is concerned. The Commonwealth members will not go on year after year sending their cases to London and hoping for the best when they get there. They will not do it; and I think that would be a tragedy. None of us would quarrel in any way with the excellent sentiments both of the noble Duke and of the Preamble to the constitution, but sentiments do not alone necessarily make a constitution, and far less do they continue constitutional practice. There must ultimately be a court of law which can stand for the rights of the individual, for justice and for freedom. That court up to now, so far as the old Empire was concerned, has been the Judicial Committee, and I want the Judicial Committee to be the final Court of Appeal for the new Commonwealth as it was for the old.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to add a few brief but none the less sincere words of support of this Bill to those which have already been expressed. I do so all the more gladly because, like some other Members of your Lordships' House, I have the honour of enjoying the friendship of Julius Nyerere, who is to be the first President of Tanganyika. And I would add my congratulations to those already offered to him on his election. Tanganyika is indeed most fortunate in having a man of the distinction and calibre of Mr. Nyerere at the head of affairs during what is bound to be a most difficult time. I have no doubt that he will face up to the many problems which will arise with the same resolution, broad mindedness and human understanding he has displayed in the past. I should also like to pay a tribute to the work done in the past year by the Prime Minister, Mr. Kawawa, who stepped into Mr. Nyerere's shoes at a moment when the latter found it desirable, for reasons which we all under-stand, to devote his time to a full-scale reorganisation of his party in the interests of national unity.

My Lords, as regards the constitution, those of us who over the past ten years at various times have been responsible for formulating policy in regard to the emergent British colonial territories in Africa must frankly admit, I think, that at times we have been wrong, or at any rate over-optimistic. I think we were wrong because we took it for granted too much that the Westminster model of Parliamentary constitution could be automatically transported overseas to Africa in its entirety. In the West Indies, where men of African stock have lived side by side with men of European race for hundreds of years, and in fact have enjoyed their own Parliamentary institutions, dating in some cases from the seventeenth century, the adaptation of the Westminsiter constitutional model has been achieved easily and smoothly. In Africa, this has not always been the case, and I think it is quite understandable; and in saying this I do not for one moment wish to condone the transformation of Parliamentary institutions into what is, in effect, a dictatorial or repressive regime such as I regret to say we find in Ghana to-day. I feel sure that under the wise guidance of Mr. Nyerere, and with the common sense of the people of Tanganyika, we can rely on the new Presidential system of constitution in Tanganyika working in the way which was intended, in the interests of all the people of Tanganyika and on the lines suited to their special problems and to their national character.

It is particularly important that this should be so having regard to Tanganyika's great need of foreign investment capital and technical assistance from overseas. This is especially so if the existing great gap in the standard of living between different sections of the population of Tanganyika is to be closed as rapidly as possible. We must realise that other foreign nations, other foreign influences, are bound to play their pant in the development of Tanganyika—and, indeed, it is quite right that should be so. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, referred to Western Germany, and I fully share his view that the West German Government and people are anxious, in a way, to make a sort of show piece out of what was once their colony.

Then, of course, there has been the valuable assistance which has already come to Tanganyika from Israel, where experiments in co-operative schemes, which in many fields can be successfully adapted to the needs of the economy of Tanganyika, have been brought forward. I remain convinced that Britain, both through her Government and through private enterprise, still has an immense part to play in Tanganyika, and I have no doubt that our close association with the people and, I believe, their genuine trust in us will enable us to achieve this task. In adding my own good wishes to the people of Tanganyika on this great occasion, I feel sure that the House will also wish to send a message of good will and hopeful encouragement to the many men and women of British blood who have made their homes and their careers in Tanganyika, and also to the great Asian community, all of whom, in my opinion, still have a notable part to play in the future of the Republic.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to make a brief contribution to this debate, I should like to begin, as did the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in paying a tribute to the great work done by Lord Twining in Tanganyika and to express regret that unavoidable business abroad prevents him from taking part in the debate which marks the coping stone of the work which he did, in collaboration with Mr. Nyerere, in leading Tanganyika to peaceful independence.

I would agree with the noble Lord who initiated this debate in saying that this is essentially an occasion suitable for the expression of harmonious good will to the people of Tanganyika, and especially to Mr. Julius Nyerere, who has served his country so well in its extremely rapid progress to independence. Tanganyika is indeed fortunate in her first President, whose statesmanlike moderation and determination to lead his people in an atmosphere of racial harmony along the road to a better standard of living has attracted wide support. He has always appreciated the dynamic effect of self-respect, self-help, hard work and co-operative endeavour, and he has made this a prominent feature of his public pronouncements to his people. We all hope that he will find the ready response which his own high qualities promise to inspire. If your Lordships look at the printed statement of the Tanganyika Government of its four basic principles you will see that they are declared as the purpose of the Tanganyika Government; and the first of them is that so far as possible the institutions of Government must be such as can be easily understood by the people. It goes on to say that this must be buttressed by a strong executive, recognition of the sovereignty of Parliament and the rule of law. My Lords, that statement in itself gives the reason for this Bill.

There is no doubt that in Africa there is a deep respect for the person of the Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, membership of which is desired and valued by all the people. But a British Queen as an alien legal Head is not easily compatible in Africa in the people's mind with independence, and hence the attraction of a republican form of government. Recently even the Sardauna of Sokoto in that very striking book, his autobiography, entitled My Life, which has just been published, has a chapter in which, surprising in some ways, from this patrician head of the north, he says that he fully understands why African people want a Republic, in spite of their intense respect and affection for the person of the Queen; and he just gives it as that; that it is hard for an ordinary person to understand what is so clear to, say, people in Canada or Australia or this country.

My Lords, there is no doubt in my mind that in the early stages of building a new independent nation a monolithic parity rule tends to give it the stability which is sorely needed, and it also tends to concentrate local pride into a new loyalty to what is, after all, a new authority. It may be that in the atmo sphere and traditions of Africa, an executive President inevitably tends to appear to be a dictator. We have seen how difficult it is in the adolescent stages to entrench rights and restrictions in a constitution, or to control and guide into constitutional channels the fervour of adolescent trade unions. Difficult problems must inevitably confront the builders of a new nation. It seems that for some time the economic future of Tanganyika must lean on agricultural and pastoral development, in the absence of any immediate realisation of its mineral hopes. The country has indeed great potentiality, although its population of 9 million is small in relation to its extent. But the greatest asset of any country remains the character of its people and the quality of its leaders. The President of the new Republic is a great and confident patriot, and so we would wish him and his people a prosperous and happy future. I support the Second Reading of this Bill.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, I would intervene for but a short time to support a great deal of what Lord Ogmore said about the regrettable effect of Clause 2 of the Bill. It is a real disappointment to me, as I am sure it is to many others, that so soon after the Malaya Bill the first territory to become independent should decide to stop sending its appeals to the Privy Council. But, on the other hand, one fully understands the reason. It is really based on exactly the same feeling as Lord Milverton has pointed out—namely, the desire to become a Republic rather than to remain under the direct sovereignty of Her Majesty.

It is most difficult to explain to the people of a newly independent country why they should accept as their final court of appeal a British court sitting here in London; and the tendency, therefore, is for them to desire to have their own completely independent form of court of appeal. The Malaya scheme was one which I think was welcomed by all of us—that, by legislation here and in the independent country, power should be given to the Privy Council to advise, not Her Majesty but the Head of the State of Malaya as regards appeals sent to this country from Malaya. It was hoped most earnestly by many of us that that would make it easier for newly independent countries to arrange to send their appeals to the Privy Council as before. But here we have Tanganyika not accepting any such scheme, which, I am quite sure, must have been put to them in the course of the negotiations.

To my mind, the serious matter here, and the result of this, is that while the new arrangement for the appointment of Judges from the Commonwealth must strengthen the Privy Council as regards all parts of the Commonwealth over which it has jurisdiction, and may well stop others from giving up sending their appeals to the Privy Council, none the less there is growing up inside the Commonwealth something like ten or a dozen independent courts of appeal, all of them dealing with a large common mass of legislation and Common Law. In the course of the next twenty-five years there must be many diverging and conflicting decisions given, and there is no machinery whatsoever in the Commonwealth at the present time by which it is possible to keep the law on one common set of tram lines.

This is not a new problem in the world. It exists in the United States of America; it exists most seriously having regard to the fact that 52 supreme courts of the States are independent except as regards certain areas where the Supreme Court of the United States has jurisdiction. They have had many conflicting decisions which have caused great difficulty to their commercial and civil populations, and they have devised a cumbrous system by which conferences and so forth recommend which of conflicting decisions should be made universal, either by legislation or otherwise. It is an interesting history of a cumbrous attempt to try to restore the unity of the law when divergencies have occurred.

I ventured upon an occasion recently to suggest that we ought to have a Commonwealth Law society with the object of members from all over the Commonwealth directing their attention to unifying conflicting decisions where they occur. But at any rate I am quite sure that it is in the interests of all people, and particularly the commercial community, that some system should be devised or thought out under which some sort of unity of the law can be restored, as divergencies are bound to occur with these separate independent courts of law. I have taken this opportunity of raising this matter again in this House, because it is a matter which I am sure is going to be of the greatest importance to those who come after us during the next generation.

4.57 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and I feel sure that the reading of this debate in Tanganyika will bring great pleasure to Mr. Nyerere, to Mr. Kawawa and to all Tanganyika, for it gives abundant evidence of the immense fund of good will that there is in this House; and, indeed, it reflects the feeling of the whole country to Tanganyika in the future. I am most grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for his characteristically well-informed and charming speech. I shall be only too glad to pass on his message, coming from the whole House, to the leaders of the Tanganyika Government when I meet them next week; and I shall be glad to convey my noble friend Lord Colyton's message as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, raised two specific points. First of all, he spoke of the future of the East African Common Services Commission. I entirely endorse everything that the noble Lord said. The Government are fully aware of the vital work that these Common Services do. We have every intention of doing all we can to strengthen and support them. I think it would not be inappropriate if I took this opportunity of conveying a warm tribute to Mr. Adu, the Ghanaian Secretary General, who is doing his job magnificently. I had the good fortune, when in East Africa last month, to spend a whole afternoon with him; it was a real inspiration, and with him at the helm we can be quite certain that this all-important body in East Africa will continue to grow and to flourish. I do assure the noble Lord that we fully support his views.

The other point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, which was sup ported by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, concerned the question of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I hesitate to express any opinion as to regret or otherwise at the action of the Tanganyika Government in terminating appeals to this Committee, because it is entirely a matter for the Tanganyikan Government, and I do not think that it would be seemly for me in any way to criticise their action. I am sure we have been most interested by what the noble Lord, Lord Spens, has said about this matter, and I am quite certain that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will be extremely interested in this suggestion of the Commonwealth Law Society. I know that anything we in the Commonwealth Relations Office can do to help with such an idea we shall be only too ready to do.

On the matter of (dare I use such a word?) the shortcomings of the Judicial Committee in that it sits only in London, I feel sure again that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will take cognisance of what the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said. The Lord Chancellor made some reference on an earlier occasion to the extension of the member ship of the Committee to include Judges from Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria. He also said, When speaking to the gracious Speech on October 31, that he hoped to make more detailed reference to this matter at some future date. So there may well be an opportunity for discussing whether it will be possible for the Committee to sit in different parts of the Commonwealth when the Lord Chancellor comes back to the subject of composition.


My Lords, may I draw the noble Duke's attention to the fact that the Lord Chancellor has already referred to this point, in answer to a Question by me on November 7; and, quite frankly, he did not seem to hold out much hope of having a peripatetic Court. But I would ask the noble Duke, and, through him, the Government, the Privy Council, and the others concerned, to take this matter very seriously, be cause I think it is important.


My Lords, I am sorry I was not in the House at the time of the noble Lord's Question, but I am sure that the House and the Government will take note of the importance which, we can understand, the noble Lord attaches to it. I will say this, (however: although appeals to the Judicial Committee will now cease so far as Tanganyika is concerned, this does not mean that there will be no right of appeal from the courts of Tanganyika. As noble Lords will be aware, there is a Court of Appeal for East Africa, which hears appeals from Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, and certain other territories including Aden; and the Tanganyikan Government has recently enacted legislation providing that appeals from its courts will continue to be heard by this Court of Appeal after the date of Tanganyika's becoming a Republic. So there is an extraneous Court of Appeal. I do not Chink I need say any more, except to repeat my thanks to noble Lords who have taken the trouble to speak in this debate and, once again, to wish all prosperity and happiness to Tanganyika and its peoples in this new step they are taking in their development as an independent country.

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