§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Baroness Elliot of Harwood—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I should say at once that although, through the usual Channels, to-day's debate is allocated mainly to Commonwealth and colonial matters, I want, if I may, to be allowed the privilege, as the Leader of the Opposition, of dealing more generally with the contents of the gracious Speech. My noble friend Lord Listowel will be speaking principally for us on the matters which are down for to-day for consideration.
May I first say how much I agreed with the mover and seconder of the Address yesterday in their comments on the great service our gracious Queen and her Royal Consort have rendered to the State, especially in the last twelve months? I am quite sure that they can both rest assured that they have the full confidence and admiration of all Parties in the State.
The gracious Speech as a whole strikes me as being inadequate to the needs of 1962, and the more I read it the more I feel that it is the product of a Government which is rather tired and which does not seem quite to know what to do or what to say about some of the most urgent problems that we have. Nevertheless, I do not want to utter criticism of that sort on the opening part of the speech which refers to what has taken place in connection with the dispute between Russia and Cuba and the United States, except to say that I hope very much that the negotiations which have now been opened between the Secretary-General of the United 37 Nations and Dr. Castro will be successful. I was not very much impressed by the reports which were received last night over the wireless, and I dare say that other Members of your Lordships' House besides myself have received from the Cuban Embassy in the last 24 hours or so a document setting out the five conditions which they would regard as essential before they could come to an understanding of their position in relation to the United States. However, I am very happy indeed to feel that at present, at any rate, we have avoided a very serious break in the world, and I hope that the wishes expressed by the Foreign Secretary—and the general position will be taken up in far greater detail in the debate to-morrow—will bring about the success that we need. I offer all the best wishes I can that we may do our part in this break in the matter of seeing that this leads on to greater progress towards consideration of general disarmament.
I am also very concerned about the situation in India. The House will perhaps pardon me for saying a word or two about that, because I am the only surviving member of the body of four which for nearly four months in India in 1946 considered the position of India then and which issued the rather famous statement of May 16 of that year. Lord Wavell, Lord Pethick-Lawrence and Sir Stafford Cripps have all passed away, and we are faced with the very difficult situation for India to-day. I cannot help thinking—and I feel sure that my noble friend Lord Attlee would agree—that if at that time India had accepted broadly the position laid out in the statement of May 16, 1946, a good deal of the difficulty which they face now would not have had to be met.
At that time we set out a real plan in which the whole sub-continent would have been united upon defence, foreign policy and communications. That plan was never accepted, unfortunately, and the matter has since developed in such a way as to raise further divisions of opinion between Pakistan and India; and I am just wondering whether the communications which have been sent to Pakistan by the British and United States Heads of Government will do just what is necessary at this juncture, because Pakistan have a certain case to 38 put about this, since India still remains in default to the request by the United Nations in relation to Kashmir. Nevertheless, I hope very much, from what I have learned from other sources, that Pakistan has, in fact, offered to have a united policy in defence in this matter and to join their forces together. I hope that India will do the right thing and agree. It is especially important to get a united defence policy for that subcontinent, and I hope that anything that we may do officially from the Government of this country may help in that direction.
I should like just to say a word or two about the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, yesterday. I read it right through—I disagree with quite a lot of it—and although I do not want to say too much on the subject I must say that I thought that, when she came to deal with agriculture, she was rather over-confident as to what the agricultural industry in this country as a whole is willing to accept. She made me fear that in that direction change was essentially necessary, and that change at any time was good. I am not sure about that. If it is a change from good to evil it is not good. If it a change from evil to good then it is good; and we have to examine all that from that point of view. I hope that the noble Baroness will not always be persuaded in the direction of change.
I should like next to say a few direct words about agriculture, and the way it is mentioned in the gracious Speech. I should have thought, as it is now many days since Mr. Heath, in his discussions on the Continent, ran into the last and more major difficulties in dealing with agriculture, that some more specific reference to agriculture and the Common Market might have been made in the gracious Speech. There is no such reference at all. In fact what I have in mind is that it is very difficult for the farmers themselves to plan their programmes at the moment because they do not know quite where they are. I know that there are people on both sides of industry who also are having difficulties with regard to the future, whether they are against or for the Common Market, because they do not know exactly what is going to happen. What I should have liked to see in the gracious Speech was a real guarantee from the Government that, 39 unless the minimum requirements of the Commonwealth and the actual security of the agricultural industry in this country were forthcoming, then the Government would keep their pledge not to enter the Common Market. I think a statement of that kind would have led to a great deal more confidence in the agricultural industry than, for example, that which the noble Lady would have got by the other means of dealing with it and practically saying, "We will chance our luck when we get in".
Next I want to say a word or two about the inadequacy, in my view, of the comments in the gracious Speech on urgent social questions in home affairs. Considering the vast nature of the problem of housing in this country at the present time, the reference to it in the gracious Speech is at the barest possible minimum you could have put in any speech. We are getting within our Party constant cases, verified cases, all over the country where young people, especially, quite apart from the older ones, are getting married and cannot find a home of any sort unless they live with their parents-in-law. In some cases these numbers ars quite fantastic in relation to what is required. When we consider the actual lack of control of cost that we have had in these matters for the last eleven years, it is not to be wondered at that the young people, even with the more remunerative wages they have been getting, cannot possibly face the cost of getting a house, which costs £4,000 to build, whether they are going to buy it or rent it. That is leading to a good deal of frustration in life.
Also I would say that the provision for homes for the older people by local authorities would be very much more facilitated if the Government made some special effort to deal with it. There is promise of something more being done in the gracious Speech, but it is a very vague sort of promise, and I hope my noble friends who will be speaking tomorrow on home affairs will ask some more pertinent questions upon the matter.
I have been very interested in some of the new legislation proposed. For example, there is some sort of Bill going to be brought in with regard to the future of persons working in shops. Your Lordships will no doubt remember that 40 we gave a very great deal of attention in this House to a Shops Bill; I think it was almost five years ago now. The manner in which the matter is referred to in this gracious Speech does not seem to indicate to me that all that your Lordships decided upon in that Bill such a long time ago is likely to be included in the one that is expected. May I say, too, in looking at the other reference in the gracious Speech to the consumer, that the Government have been in office for eleven years and we have made various efforts from time to time to get them to move on consumer questions, and I must say that their response has been very inadequate; and now one of the principal ideas suggested is that they will introduce a Bill.
Again, in the case of the Shops Bill they are going to introduce, they say there will be a fresh Shops Bill. I do not know whether, after all the work we put in in this House on weights and measures, there are going to be fresh things in the Weights and Measures Bill But I do hope that if your Lordships are going to be asked to take the initiative in any of these Bills, and the first consideration of such legislation is to be put to your Lordships' House, we shall not have to suffer the frustration again of doing all the real, initial hard work on reshaping a Bill, sometimes making it unrecognisable compared to what it was, and then finding that the Government have not got the pressure behind them to push it through the other place. I really have been very disappointed with the Government's actions in these matters in the past, and so I look forward to better treatment of our work in the future.
Then I should like to say a word about the mention in the gracious Speech of the Government's intention to bring in proposals for dealing with employers' letters of appointment to workers and the amount of notice that they will be required to give of certain matters. I suppose that this is really a resurrection of the proposals that were in a Conservative policy manifesto fifteen years ago. No doubt it may have some good points about it having regard to some of the present circumstances. But I do press upon the Government that before they draft a Bill they should have very careful consultations with the leading trade 41 unionists in our country, and that also the full legal position should be understood as to what is required in this direction without destroying the basic principles of the Trades Disputes Act, 1906. There are certain requirements in that Act that are very important to trade unionists, and I hope that my trade union friends on these Benches, who render us great service here, will be able to include this consideration of this matter in their speeches tomorrow when they come to deal with home affairs in the gracious Speech.
Then, because I may not have another opportunity, I cannot at this stage refrain from raising the question of local government of Greater London. I must say that the reference to it in this gracious Speech is very scanty indeed. I do not know quite what the Government intend to do. They simply refer to "legislation". That is sometimes interpreted in different ways. However, in this vastly important matter of changing so completely the basis of the government of Greater London it seems to me that there ought to be a pledge from the Government that everything which is going to be done will be included in the draft Bill they put before Parliament. When there are so many matters on different subjects included in the administration of a local authority, especially one of the size of the London County Council, in the view of some people it would be impossible for the term "legislation" in the gracious Speech to include Orders in Council, Statutory Orders, which could be made under other Acts of Parliament which might have certain effects upon these particular subjects. I want some assurance from the Government that all that is required, in principle and in practice, will be in the draft Bill itself when it comes to Parliament.
May I also warn the Government that they cannot expect from us anything but bitter opposition in both Houses towards this measure, which seems to me to be totally divorced from the real facts of the situation, which seems to point more than ever towards the real idea being not one of efficiency but of changing the balance of political power in Greater London. That is really an unworthy motive for legislation of this kind, and almost unthinkable if you consider that all the voters in London local elections—that is, those who are concerned 42 enough about local government to go to the polls—have both in last year's County Council election, and in this year's borough elections, increased their representation because they are fed up with this proposal of the Government. In such circumstances it seems to me almost unthinkable that one should go now as far as the Government have already gone in the gracious Speech to do this to London without Londoners themselves having a chance to consider the details and to vote on them before they are carried. They should have the matter put to them. A vast number of families—the number runs into millions—are concerned in this, and if the Government go on as they are going, they really cannot expect anything else but bitter opposition against this biased procedure.
We shall have to look carefully at the Bill which must be introduced to complete the next stage of the practice of independent television in this country. We hope that the Government, after all the revelations in Professor Wilson's book called The Pressure Group, in any changes that they may make this time, are not going to be swayed by a similar pressure group, and that whatever the facts are they will be brought to the notice of Parliament at the time in such a way that we can have proper and independent judgment.
I am glad to see that the Government are to introduce what must indeed be a most important measure with regard to water supply. A large proportion of the local authorities dealing with water are already public authorities—water boards of a public character, or municipal or county controlled. But my partners and I have in the last twenty years never veered from the view that a great national control of the whole of the water system of this country is required—that it ought to be in a form of public ownership that really can be controlled. I have listened with great interest to the noble Earl who so often raises this matter in this House. I must say that when one looks at the effect of the drop in the water level in such areas as that in which I live, in North East Essex, and even further South than that down towards the London area, one realises that the matter is growing more serious. The year before last the rainfall in the 43 place where I have a farm totalled 14 inches, yet only a few miles away surface and other water is being taken away to assist the populated areas in London and Outer London. Whatever is done when this Bill is brought in, I hope that all (these matters will be taken into full consideration.
Lastly, I want to say that I am most concerned about the general defence position in this country. Since 1951, I have carefully kept this photograph of Mr. Butler, reproduced in the Bristol Evening Post. I happened to be speaking at the other end of Bristol on that particular night. He was speaking in the General Election campaign, and he complained that the Socialist Government had let the defences of the country down. That was in 1951, just prior to the election in which the Conservative Party won control from the Labour Government. Eleven years have passed since then. There is no comparison today between the strength that we handed over to the Conservative Government in 1951, and what it is to-day.
We shall have other opportunities to discuss this matter, but to-day, at this important stage in the progress—the Rake's Progress, if you like—of the Conservative Government, I may perhaps just call attention to the point that eleven years ago they were going to the jeleotors and appealing for votes because, they said, the Labour Government had let the defences down, when in fact we had hundreds of thousands more men, a full Navy and a full Air Force—and at a cost less than is being spent to-day for about one-third of the Forces in each of the Services. I think I ought specially to draw attention to that fact, when one comes to think of what would be the claims upon us now if, unfortunately, there were a break in the situation in the world, or if we had to come to the active assistance of any of our Dominions which was being unfairly attacked. I hope that the Government will pay special attention to this question. And now we shall be giving further consideration to the details of the gracious Speech, commencing to-day with Commonwealth and colonial relationships.
§ 3.17 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS OFFICE (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, as the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition has said, to-day is the day allocated for discussion of Commonwealth and colonial affairs; and as Minister of State in the Commonwealth Relations Office may I say that I regard it as a compliment to the importance of these affairs that the first day of debate on the gracious Speech should have been allocated to them. I should like, also, to endorse what the noble Viscount has said about the visit of Her Majesty to Australia. I know that we have all welcomed the news of the visit of Her Majesty and of His Royal Highness to New Zealand and Australia.
It has been my good fortune during the past two years to travel extensively in the Commonwealth. I hope that your Lordships will not think it out of place if I take this opportunity of paying a tribute to Her Majesty for all that she does to further Commonwealth relations. I have no doubt whatsoever that the person of Her Majesty is the greatest unifying force in the Commonwealth to-day, both in the countries that remain monarchies and in those where the Queen is Head of the Commonwealth. There is an immense regard and affection for Her Majesty, and we must indeed count ourselves profoundly fortunate that in Her Majesty we have such a tireless worker for the cause of the Commonwealth. Of course, in this work Her Majesty is magnificently supported by the other members of the Royal Family who, like her, pay frequent visits to different parts of our family of nations. I found in my travels that, wherever I went, there had either recently been a visit by a member of the Royal Family or there was to be one in the near future.
During the Parliamentary Recess I have had the particular good fortune to attend on behalf of Her Majesty's Government the independence celebrations in Jamaica and in Uganda. I need hardly say that not only were these two occasions extremely happy and most enjoyable, but in the case of Jamaica it was the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon, and in the case of Uganda the 45 presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Kent, which were I can only say literally the crowning glory of those celebrations. In addition to Jamaica and Uganda, Trinidad also achieved independence since the House broke up for the Summer Recess, and from all I have heard Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal enjoyed precisely the same triumph during the Trinidad celebrations.
My Lords, we hear a great deal, of course, understandably and rightly so, of the problems that have to be faced and surmounted during dependent territories' advance to independence, and sometimes I feel that we get the picture a little out of focus. For example, as I have said, here are three more formerly dependent territories achieving full independence, which brings the membership of the independent Commonwealth to no fewer than sixteen countries. What is more, all are now happily settling down in their new rôle as fully independent sovereign States actively and usefully participating in the affairs of that part of the world in which they find themselves situated. I do not have to remind your Lordships that it has been the policy of successive British Governments for generations to bring those territories for which this country has been responsible to full independence at the first moment at Which we deem it to be not only in their interests but also within their capabilities, so that they can bear the strains and stresses that must by force of circumstance accompany independence. In this our country has a long record of success.
I would not for a moment wish to gloss over the problems that will have to be solved in the few remaining dependent territories before they, too, achieve independence. Nevertheless, I hold the view that every citizen of this country has the right to be proud of our record as a colonial Power. In the years since the war independence has been achieved by thirteen different countries with a combined population of over 700 million. On the other side, the total population of our remaining dependent territories is some 25 million, and this is spread over some 43 different territories. That is not a bad record for seventeen years. While no dates have been fixed for the creation of further independent sovereign States, much work is being done in widely different parts of the world to 46 bring about this goal. I should like to make a brief allusion to what is happening in some of these territories.
I should like to begin with the very exciting vision of the new State of Malaysia. Your Lordships will recollect that my noble friend the Minister of State for the Colonies reported to the House on August 1 that the Government of Malaya and Her Majesty's Government had decided in principle that the new Federation should be established by August 31, 1963, and that after further local consultations they would, within six months, conclude a formal agreement. It is expected that this agreement will embody the precise details of the status which Singapore and the North Borneo territories will assume in the new Federation, including agreed conditions and safeguards for North Borneo and Sarawak, to which, as the Cobbold Report shows, opinion in those territories attaches great importance. Since then there has been set up an intergovernmental committee, under the chairmanship of the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, Lord Lansdowne, on which the British, Malayan, North Borneo and Sarawak Governments are represented, and to which the Government of Brunei has sent an observer. This Committee is considering the precise form in which the territories of North Borneo and Sarawak will take their place as constituent States of the new Federation and the form of the necessary safeguards of their interests.
I hope that I may be forgiven—and I hope my noble friend will not regard it as impertinent—but I know that it is the wish of my Secretary of State, and indeed his Secretary of State, to pay tribute to the work done by Lord Lansdowne during his recent visit to the territories. He has spent a good part of the Summer Recess in those territories; indeed he is to go back there very shortly. I am sure that he has earned the gratitude of us all by the work he has done in bringing about this imaginative and extremely promising project for bringing independence to further dependent territories.
The composition of the North Borneo and Sarawak delegations to this Committee was approved by their Legislatures and it includes—which is important, I think—non-officials. Working 47 parties of the Committee axe now sifting the mass of detail, and it is hoped that the Committee will be afole before the end of the year to formulate its recommendations, which will then form the basis for the formal agreement. The authority of our Parliament will, of course, be required, as indeed will that of the Malayan Parliament, for the legislation that will be necessary to implement whatever final plan may commend itself to the various Governments concerned. This House will, therefore, have the opportunity of considering the matter further and, of course, in far greater detail.
It may be of interest to bring to your Lordships' attention the fact that this matter was raised at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in September and that the Conference noted with satisfaction that great progress towards the creation of Malaysia was being made. Furthermore, the announcement of the London agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Malayan Government last July has been welcomed by the Legislatures of North Borneo and Sarawak. In addition, at the referendum in Singapore the Singapore Government received a decisive endorsement of its plan for a merger with Malaya, which had already been agreed with the Tunku and accepted by a majority of the Singapore Parliament.
Your Lordships will therefore see that in this particular field steady progress has been made in recent months, and we have every reason to believe that progress will be maintained. And when the day comes for Malaysia to become a reality, it will mean that about 3 million people living in Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak, and we hope very much Brunei also, will be members of an independent sovereign State, thus achieving yet another goal of Her Majesty's Government in giving independence to the people of the territories for which they have been responsible.
My Lords, in looking at the list of speakers this afternoon, it occurs to me that it may well be that the problems of the future of Central Africa are likely to loom large. I know that my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack will deal fully with these matters when the winds up the debate this evening.
48 Next I should like to turn to the neighbouring territory of Kenya. The situation there is that at the Constitutional Conference held earlier this year the framework of the internal, self-government Constitution was agreed, and a coalition Government was formed to work out the details. My right honourable friend who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer visited Kenya in July and a number of outstanding matters were settled, so that sufficient progress has been made to enable the work of drafting the Constitution to be started. Preliminary arrangements have also been put in hand to enable elections to be held. The completion of the drafting of the Constitution, and the holding of elections, depend upon decisions which will have to be taken in the light of the findings of the various Commissions which have been appointed as a result of the recent Constitutional Conference. All of those Commissions are still at work. In the case of Kenya, in addition to the constitutional political questions, there are problems which confront us relating to security, unemployment, land and, indeed, the economic and financial situation. All of these are expected to be—and I am sure will be—discussed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State with the Governor, during the latter's visit to London next week.
If I may turn to a nearby territory separated by a narrow passage of sea, Zanzibar, since elections were first held there in 1957 constitutional progress has been rapid. There is now an unofficial (majority in both the Legislative and Executive Councils. However, the past independence has been marred by the disturbances which accompanied elections held in June of last year. A conference was held in London during March and April of this year to consider further constitutional advance, but the outcome, I am afraid, was inconclusive because of the differences between the Government and Opposition Parties. Because of these differences, and the consequential difficulty of ensuring a stable Government in Zanzibar during the period of self-government—and I must stress that Her Majesty's Government regard this period of self-government as essential—the conference was informed that our Government had decided that it would be wrong to set 49 dates at the present time, either for internal self-government or for full independence; although I feel I do not have to add that independence for Zanzibar remains the aim. In the interim period since the ending of the Constitutional Conference, the British Resident has been attempting anew to bring the parties together by means of a coalition, and, of course, he will spare no effort to try to find a way out of the present unhappy impasse.
Just for one second, if I may, I will now look westwards to British Guiana. The British Guiana Independence Conference opened, as noble Lords will be aware, at Lancaster House on October 23 and it is still in session. In view of this, I feel I should be meeting the wishes of the House in not making any statement Chat might prejudice the workings of that Conference.
My Lords, this has been a very brief review, and I think perhaps your Lordships would be entitled to think that I had told you very little and that I had been pretty unforthcoming. I hope noble Lords will forgive me for this. The reason for it is, of course, that we are going through a period of stocktaking and preparing the way for the next step forward. I am, of course, aware that some feel the Government move too slowly in these matters towards granting independence, but, my Lords, on the other hand, some feel that the Government are moving too fast. Might it be that the contradictory criticism, whioh the Government are receiving over this, means that in point of fact we are proceeding at just about the right pace? Be that as it may, I cannot but recall a very striking phrase used by my noble friend Lord Milverton in a debate some two years ago when discussing African affairs. He said then that what was in dispute was a matter of pace, not principle. How right my noble friend was! For the principle of bringing independence to those countries for which we are responsible is firmly in the forefront of Her Majesty's Government's thoughts and actions when considering their colonial policy.
My Lords, before I sit down I should like, if I may, to make a very brief reference to what is domestically, and perhaps internationally so far as we are concerned, the great issue of the day—whether or not Britain should join the 50 European Economic Community. As the House will know, there is to be a debate on this great issue on November 8 and, therefore, I know that noble Lords will not wish me to dwell at any length upon it. We shall, I am sure, have a most illuminating and full debate then. But I would just say this, that as a result of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference held in September, a very thorough and frank discussion of the problems involved took place.
Your Lordships will have read the communiqué which the Prime Ministers issued at the conclusion of the Conference. The Prime Ministers recognised the important contribution which the Community could make to the expansion of world trade. The representatives of the other Commonwealth Governments acknowledged the strenuous efforts which the British Government had made to ensure that the Six had a full understanding of the safeguards required if Britain's entry into the Common Market was not to be on such terms and conditions as to impair their vital interests. Further, it was agreed that when the negotiations were resumed, as they were on October 8, British Ministers would take full account of the views expressed on behalf of the other Commonwealth Governments during the Conference and would continue their efforts to safeguard essential Commonwealth interests. Her Majesty's Government also undertook to continue to consult closely with the other Commonwealth Governments during the remainder of the negotiations. Since the issue of that communiqué, all this has been done and is continuing to be done. For their part the other Commonwealth representatives accepted, in the light of full consultation with the other Commonwealth Govermmenits, that it would be for the British Government, and the British Government alone, to decide Whether to join the Community when the negotiations were completed.
Before leaving the subject, may I say something to those who feel that, quite irrespective of safeguards for particular countries' economic interests, the unity and cohesion of the Commonwealth would be ended by Britain's joining the Community? I do not believe it and, since the September meeting, many of the Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries have been at pains to 51 make it dear that they do not, either. Perhaps I might quote Mr. Holyoake, who has said that New Zealand sees nothing incompatible between Britain's membership of the Common Market and continued leadership of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of Nigeria has categorically rejected the idea, pointing out that the Commonwealth is not linked by economic ties alone, and that our common ideals are of even greater importance. Others have spoken similarly, and I share their views.
The Government believe, as I have said, that the whole Commonwealth would benefit by Britain's membership of the Common Market. We believe that, as a part of the European Community, Britain could be of ever greater value to the Commonwealth. Above all, I would impress upon your Lordships that should Her Majesty's Government decide that Britain should enter the Community, we are not asking the people of this country to make a choice between the Community and the Commonwealth. On the contrary, my Lords, I believe that it is through membership of the Community that we can best realise our potential strength as the senior partner in the Commonwealth; and only through full membership can we reach our full capacity in either and play our full rôle in the world as a whole—and, indeed, the world does need our counsel. I hope I have not delayed your Lordships too long, and I hope I have not left too many questions unanswered; but, if I have—and I expect I have—my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack will no doubt answer them.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I must confess that I was deeply disappointed by the noble Duke's speech because, try as I may, I could not find anything in what he said about which I could quarrel with him—and nothing can be more frustrating for an Opposition spokesman than not to be able to quarrel with the content of a Government statement. But that, no doubt, is part of the new strategy with which the Conservatives hope to undermine the morale of the Labour Party, and it is always a good thing to be warned. This 52 omission of controversial matter—and may I say that I did regret that the roving camera of the noble Duke was limited to those areas of the Commonwealth where, in fact, there is no political controversy, although I dare say that, now he is answering for such an enormous area of the globe, that is to some extent unavoidable—was made all the more deplorable because the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who unfortunately has now left the Chamber but whose name was on the list of speakers after the noble Duke, would no doubt have remedied that omission, and I was going to make some reference to what the noble Marquess would no doubt have said.
I see that the noble Marquess has now returned to the Chamber. I was saying merely that I know we all regret that he has decided not to speak, because whether we agree with him or not, his speeches are always full of interest and are remarkable in quality, and they represent a very large section of opinion, both in your Lordships' House and outside. But if the reason for the noble Marquess's not speaking was because he did not want to add to the embarrassment of the Government, then I quite understand why he does not want to add to these sources of embarrassment at the present time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, my silence to-day is merely that I am reserving my remarks until a later date.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
am delighted to hear that, because noble Lords on both sides of the House always look forward to a speech by the noble Marquess. In that case, I am sure that, if the noble Marquess puts down a Motion on the subject of Central Africa, which is very near to his heart, before the Christmas Recess, after much has happened which will make his remarks even more timely, then we shall look forward to his participation in the debate.
My Lords, I am also a little surprised that nobody has made any reference to India, because India is one of our Commonwealth partners; but, if I may anticipate the noble Duke, I presume that this is because it is going to come into the Foreign Affairs debate to-morrow.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Then I had successfully anticipated the noble Duke; but perhaps the House will forgive me if I say something very briefly, following my noble Leader, about India—because, like my noble Leader I have a very old association with India. I must declare an interest in that, when my noble friend Lord Attlee was Prime Minister, he gave me the duty of piloting through your Lordships' House, as some of your Lordships may remember, the India Bill, which gave India its independence. So I must declare the interest of a longstanding affection and regard for India.
Of course, as a partner in the Commonwealth we owe something more to India than we should owe any foreign country which is the victim, as India is, of aggression. The pre-war doctrine that an attack on one member of the Commonwealth is an attack on all is, of course, quite out of date. The Commonwealth is no longer even a tacit military alliance. But in the place of this doctrine, to which our sisiter countries responded so nobly in two world wars, we are certainly placed under the inescapable moral obligation to do everything in our power to assist any of our partners in the Commonwealth that has to face the forces of an invading Power. India is doing just this, and is facing the gravest crisis that it has faced since independence in 1947. The Indian Prime Minister has told the world that the Chinese action is no longer a frontier skirmish but an all-out invasion of the sub-continent—and the gateway to Assam, the town of Tawang, has now been captured by the Chinese.
The danger I see is not so much that the Chinese will continue their advance into India—though, of course, this military danger is still a possibility—as that Chinese military pressure might undermine the economic and political foundations of India. The economic planning of the Indian Government has been the largest experiment in the world in improving the standards of life in a developing country without using the methods that are used in Communist countries. If the economic resources and the manpower of India have to be diverted from productive to military purposes, there is a serious risk that demo- 54 cratic planning, and even democratic government, may be discredited. That is all the more reason why we should do everything in our power to help India to drive the Chinese back in the shortest possible time and at the minimum cost in Indian manpower and in Indian material resources.
On the other hand, India cannot accept negotiations or a truce on Chinese terms which mean the occupation of Indian territory. I hope, my Lords, that, while the active warfare continues, as it is continuing at the moment, not only shall we give India the arms and equipment that we have already given, but that we shall offer the diplomatic support which India needs at the moment at the United Nations in Washington, and in Pakistan. There, I think and I hope (and perhaps we shall hear the Government's reply tomorrow, if not to-day), we shall find the Government in full agreement with our views.
Now, my Lords, it is my business—and, indeed, my pleasure—to introduce a note of controversy into this debate, having rebuked the noble Duke, with all humility, for omitting controversial issues. The first I want to raise is that of Aden. I daresay that the brief on this so complicated matter, and the responsibility, have gone to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but I gave notice that I wished to raise the subjeot of Aden, and I hoped that there would be a ministerial reply. Many people, both here and in Aden, are deeply concerned about the Government's decision to unite that Colony with the Federation of South Arabia, with its neighbouring States in Southern Arabia.
The position, I think, is this: the Secretary of State has said that, subject to the approval of Parliament, Aden will accede to the Federation in March, 1963. Now I thought it was very striking that there was nothing about an Aden Bill in the gracious Speech. One would have thought that, if this accession which is subject to the will of Pariaiment is to be effected by March of next year, some reference to such a Bill would have been made in the gracious Speech. Some reference should have been made to this subject. I hope that this indicates that the Government may have had second thoughts on this matter. But I should 55 like to ask the Government whether their intention is to drop the idea of federation or whether the matter is being given further consideration.
Now my Lords, I should like to make the case against federation. No one will deny, and this is true of all the Commonwealth, that there are many advantages for a small territory to be in close association with its neighbour for the achievement of independence. But it seems to me we have learned from bitter experience that the advantages of federation are dependent on one essential and indispensable condition, and that condition is the willingness of the peoples of the territories joining a Federation to unite and stay united. Two illustrations of the vital importance of this condition are so recent that they must be present in the minds of all your Lordships. The Federation of the West Indies broke up because Jamaica and Trinidad decided to pull out.
The Central African Federation is on the verge of breaking up because it was imposed on the peoples of Central Africa and ever since its imposition they have been doing all they can to get Her Majesty's Government to dissolve the Federation. I should have expected the Government to learn from such recent experiences the necessity for consent as a prior condition of federation. I should have expected them to make absolutely certain that the oonsent of the people of Aden had been obtained before they were united with the Federation of South Arabia. No doubt the Government spokesman will say that the Aden Legislative Council have voted in favour of federation. But what is the Aden Legislative Council? Can it be said in any sense to represent the people of Aden? When this issue came before the Council the majority of the elected members did not vote. They went away; they left the Chamber, and when the issue came before it, it was carried, therefore, by the nominated, the official, members and those few elected members who were also Ministers.
But, apart from the fact that the elected members were against federation when the matter came before the Council, the Council itself is totally unrepresentative of the people of Aden. The last elections to the Council in 1958 were 56 boycotted, rightly or wrongly, by trade unions on account of the narrow franchise, and only 23.7 per cent., or less than one-quarter, of the qualified voters on a very narrow franchise went to the polls. So the Aden electorate, small as it is, has had no more chance of pronouncing on Federation—because, apart from the fact that the elected members were elected by such a small number of voters at the last election, the issue of federation was not before the voters—than has the British electorate on the Common Market. This, to my mind, makes it all the more surprising that the Government have decided that the Aden elections, which were to take place this year, must be postponed for another year—in other words, until after the Federation has become a fait accompli.
I am certain the Government will not deny there is a lot of feeling against federation in Aden, and I think this is far from surprising when the terms of the proposed Federal Constitution in the White Paper published in August show us that this prosperous little Colony will be completely swallowed up by its feudal neighbours. It will be in a permanent minority, both in the Federal Council of Ministers and in the Federal Legislative Council, and the ail-important power of internal security, with control of the armed police, will pass from Aden to the Federation.
The strength of this feeling in Aden against federation can be tested only by another election, and that is what I am asking the Government to do. I am suggesting that federation should at least be postponed—I am not putting it higher than that. It may be that it is impossible to persuade the people of Aden to change their minds, but I am suggesting that federation, the constitutional change, should be postponed at least until the elections have taken place in Aden to give an opportunity for the people of Aden to pronounce on whether they want to join this Federation structure or not. It would be a great advantage, although not absolutely necessary, to get a real test of public opinion if the franchise were widened to include all adult males making their homes in Aden (some of them Yemenis) before the election takes place. I know the Government say, quite rightly, that a very large part of the population of Aden 57 consists of floating Yemenis, and I am not suggesting that people who come into Aden to work and go back again to their homes should be given the franchise; but a lot of Yemenis have settled in Aden, and I think they should be given the vote.
I could not help being faintly amused by one of the proposals for constitutional advance in the White Paper, which suggested that by adding four members to the Legislative Council elected by the other members of the Legislative Council you would have a more advanced democratic body. It seemed to me to have a faint flavour of pre-war colonial policy. Of course the revolution in the Yemen has considerably strengthened the case for a reconsideration of the proposed Federation. Whatever its merits, the new Yemeni Government will have much more support than its predecessor among the people of the Colony and the Protectorate, and this will, of course, increase their dissatisfaction with the present situation. It is so much in the interests of Aden to be on good terms with its neighbours that one would hope that the Government of the Yemen, which has now been in the saddle for some time, would be given de facto recognition by Her Majesty's Government at the earliest possible moment. That is the usual procedure. To establish better relations between Aden and the Yemen would make it easier to avoid such incidents as have occurred recently between the states that border the Yemen and the Yemeni Republic.
Western Germany has already recognised the Republic of the Yemen. Why do we leave it almost entirely to the Communist countries to get in first? We should recognise it at the earliest opportunity and get some of the good will that comes with recognition. I do not know whether it is partly a Commonwealth and partly a foreign affairs matter, but I hope that the Government spokesman will reply on the policy of the Government in relation to the Republic of the Yemen.
I know that a very important consideration in the political future of the Yemen is the security of our own base there, and I would suggest that, with the experience of Cyprus, with a lot of experience of trying to run a base in a hostile country, we should anticipate that if we antagonise the people of Aden, the 58 base there will be very much less secure than it is at the moment. That is another very important reason for not forcing them into a political set-up they do not like. I hope, for all these reasons, that the Government will reconsider the position before irreparable damage has been done—as I believe it would be done if this federation were to take place as the Government intend it to do—to our relations with the people in the Colony of Aden.
May I now say something about Central Africa? The noble and learned Lord will reply on that subject and I am delighted that he will be following me so that I may be able to have answers to a number of questions whicn I wish to address to him as well, perhaps, as a defence of certain policies with which we do not agree. The first point I would raise is this. Your Lordships will remember that in the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland there is a provision—it is the last provision in the Constitution—for its review in not less than seven or more than nine years from its inception. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Molson, is speaking in this debate, because as a member of the Monckton Commission he will be able to speak with special authority on the Federation, and I hope that this is a point on which he will also be able to throw light. As I read it, this is the provision. The nine years since the Federation was set up are now drawing to a close and, though a Review Conference met in London about two years ago, there is no suggestion in the gracious Speech that this Conference should meet again, even after the approaching elections in Northern and Southern Rhodesia.
I would not blame the Government at all if they are dropping the idea of convening another meeting of the Conference, because I am certain that if there was another meeting it would end in just the same deadlock as the first meeting. But I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack whether he can say, as there is no indication of Government policy in the gracious Speech, whether or not the Government are considering convening another meeting of the Review Conference after the elections in Northern and Southern Rhodesia.
59 I would remind the Government—and I have no doubt that this reminder is one that will also be in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Molson—that the Monckton Commission, which, of course, was strongly in favour of the Federation on what it considered to be acceptable terms, stated most emphatically that the Federal Constitution could not continue in its present form. The noble Lord, Lord Molson, endorses my interpretation of what the Commission said. Surely the impossibility of getting the three territories and the Federal Government to agree to mend the Constitution places the responsibility fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government. When there is no agreement, then the Government have to take the responsibility of the decision. Therefore, the question is whether to mend or end the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. I shall hope to put forward some arguments in the course of my remarks in favour of giving the peoples of the Federation at least a chance of deciding which of these courses the Government ought to take.
The future of Central Africa will be decided very largely in the next two months after the elections in Northern and Southern Rhodesia—the elections in Northern Rhodesia, of course, took place yesterday, but we shall not know the final results until the beginning of next week—and after the Constitutional Conference in London next month. It is true—and no doubt the Government will point this out—that British policy towards these territories must depend to some extent, and certainly for its detailed formulation, on the outcome of these elections, but there are certain broad things that I think ought to be decided now. There are two things which I think the Government should do immediately, because further delay would embitter relations between the territories themselves and add to their resentment against Her Majesty's Government.
The first of these is to acknowledge the right of the three territories to withdraw from the Federation if they so desire. There can be little doubt—and I am sure the Government will agree with this—that when Dr. Banda comes here next month, he will make this request to the Ministers in London and 60 this will be the principal thing that he will want to discuss. Surely it would be the height of folly to refuse a request to do something which we cannot prevent when Nyasaland becomes independent and when a refusal would almost certainly create a very disturbing situation in the territory itself. But if we allow one territory the right to secede from the Federation, we can hardly withdraw exactly the same right from the two other territories. Whether or not Northern or Southern Rhodesia would wish to secede would depend, of course, on the outcome of their elections. For example, if the UNIP of Mr. Kaunda were to win in Northern Rhodesia, there is no doubt that Mr. Kaunda would ask the Government to agree to the secession of Northern Rhodesia from the Federation. In that case, the Government would have to face the break up of the whole Federation, not just the secession of one territory.
But surely the time has passed when any reform of the Federal Constitution would go far enough to satisfy the political leaders in the territories themselves. It is a very sad and unfortunate thing, but I think that it is a fact that has to be faced. If we have to face the political break-up of the Federation, as I believe we should do, it would be a very great misfortune if it resulted in economic isolation for each of the territories. This is the second thing which the Government ought to do now and not wait until it is too late to make the necessary economic arrangements. Your Lordships will remember that when the Federation of the West Indies broke up, the common services were retained. And, of course, in East Africa, the East African High Commission runs the common services for the three East African territories. Surely there is a great deal to be said for plans being made and put forward now by Her Majesty's Government for continuing the closest possible economic co-operation between the territories in the event of the political link being severed.
Mr. Butler's advisers have travelled round the Federation and returned to London in August, and surely the Minister must have a lot of data on which to work. I should like to ask the Government—and this is another question I am addressing to the noble and learned 61 Lord—whether, with the help of the information which these advisers have brought back, the Minister has been able to work out any scheme which could serve at any rate as a basis of discussion with the Governments of the three territories for administrative and economic co-operation. Or is it the case (and it may be so, because we have had no public statement) that these wise men were concerned only with the economic consequences of secession in Nyasaland and with the forging of new links with the two Rhodesias after Nyasaland had seceded? I do not think that anyone knows, and I feel that it would be a great help if we could have some light thrown on the subject.
I am afraid that the Government's policy of indecision and drift in Central Africa will result in so much bitterness between the territories that even economical operation may become impossible. That is why delay is so regrettable, why swift action is so important, and why it is really not possible to do the things you want to do if you wait so long that you have lost the good will that lis necessary to make them practicable.
I should like to say a word or two about Northern Rhodesia, although one cannot say much on account of the elections, the result of which we do not know. I am certain, however, that, whatever happens, there Will be serious trouble in Northern Rhodesia unless the Government can say that they will at the earliest possible moment give consideration to having a more advanced Constitution compared to the present what I might call "trick" Constitution of that country. Northern Rhodesia must be told that it will have a Constitution in which the majority of its inhabitants have a reasonable Chance of getting a majority of seats in the Legislature of the country. The present "trick" Constitution must be regarded—and this should be said in public—as a purely temporary and transitional Constitution.
In conclusion, my Lords, I should like to say just a few words about Southern Rhodesia, although this matter will be dealt with by my noble Mend Lord Lucan, who, having visited it quite recently, knows Southern Rhodesia better than I do. I should like to say this. In Southern Rhodesia the British 62 Government seem to be making the worst of all possible worlds. We are being fired at from all sides in the United Nations because of the policy of the Rhodesian Government, a policy for which we are not responsible and which we have no power to alter. Surely this is not a situation, from the point of view of the good name of this country, which Her Majesty's Government can allow to continue. Of course, Southern Rhodesia is the only British Colony in Africa that has no immediate prospect, or prospect in the near future, of African majority rule, and therefore it is not surprising that we find that our only friends in these debates in the United Nations are the Portuguese and the Union of South Africa.
Under the new Constitution we have given up, in return, of course, for certain constitutional safeguards, our right to veto discriminatory legislation. This will bring the Colony to complete internal self-government and, therefore, a step further away from British rule and the right of this country to intervene in the affairs of Southern Rhodesia. That is the factual situation. Nevertheless, we still exeroise theoretical sovereignty; and there is nothing, presumably, to prevent Parliament from abolishing the Constitution of Southern Rhodesia—I shall be corrected if I am wrong about that. The outside world, including the great majority of countries represented at the United Nations, will therefore continue to blame us for the policy of the Rhodesian Government. We should certainly do our utmost to convince these critics that we cannot interfere in the internal affairs of this territory.
I must say—and I am sure your Lordships will agree—that it shows statesmanship and courage on the part of Sir Edgar Whitehead to go to the United Nations and put forward his country's case. That is a splendid thing to do, and it will help us considerably, because it will show the other countries that the independence of Southern Rhodesia is something real and not just something on paper. Surely it also shows that it really is much too much to ask a British official to defend in public a policy that is diametrically opposed to the traditional colonial policy of the British Government. No one can be surprised that a man of high principle 63 like Sir Hugh Foot decided to resign his post, and possibly to wreck his career, rather than defend in public something which was contrary to his conscience and contrary to the policy of the Government which he had been serving. This precedent of Sir Edgar Whitehead, a Rhodesian, going to the United Nations should be followed up. I should have liked to see the Government here ask a Southern Rhodesian to become a member of the British delegation at the United Nations, and to defend the case when it comes up at the Trusteeship Council, in the General Asembly or anywhere else in the United Nations. I do not think it is fair to leave it to an official, and I hope that no other official will be placed in the position in which Sir Hugh Foot was placed at the United Nations.
In this House we look at things from the broadest point of view, and there is one thing that we ought to say about Southern Rhodesia on which everyone will agree. The real tragedy of the country, quite apart from the rights and wrongs of the two races in Southern Rhodesia, is that although the pace of African advance has quickened very notably in the last few years it is still not going nearly fast enough to give the African the place that he expects in the new Africa. There is good will, but there is too little of it, and it has come too late. That is the real tragedy of Southern Rhodesia, as it was the tragedy of Ireland. The policy of the Southern Rhodesian Government, though it is much more liberal than it used to be, is still not liberal enough to save the country from what may be ultimate disaster. We are all deeply concerned about the fate of our fellow countrymen in Southern Rhodesia and about what is likely to happen if they go on trying to stem the tide of African racialism.
The advice that I would venture to give to them—and it is very humble advice, because obviously they know their country better than I do, although I have lived in Africa—is that the best safeguard for them and their future, for their stake in the country and the place they occupy, and for the rôle they are playing in the country, and the only hope for friendship and real partnership with their fellow Africans, is to give up 64 political power within the next five years. Yesterday, in a remarkable speech at the United Nations, Sir Edgar Whitehead said what, so far as I am aware, has never been said before, and particularly in Southern Rhodesia—namely, that he expected African majority rule within fifteen years. That is a remarkable statement, and it must be very gratifying to all who had felt that the pace of advance has been too slow. But my great fear is that it is still not fast enough and that calamity may befall Southern Rhodesia before those fifteen years pass. If only the Southern Rhodesians can bring themselves to accept, and to say now that they will accept, African majority rule, not within the immediate future but within a reasonable period of time, from the African standpoint, then I think the position of the white Southern Rhodesians would be just as well assured as is the position of the settled Europeans in Tanganyika or Uganda or in the West African countries.
One understands why the Africans have boycotted the present Constitution and will not co-operate in it (I am not going into that now), but the point, surely, is that unless a Constitution can be devised by the Government of Southern Rhodesia in which the Africans will co-operate, they are bound, because they have no constitutional outlet for their political aspirations, to react with violence and increasing hatred of the European. So I hope that Her Majesty's Government—and this is a positive suggestion which I hope the noble and learned Lord will consider; perhaps he will say something about it—will do their best to create an atmosphere in which it may be possible, after the December Elections in Southern Rhodesia, to bring African and European leaders together with a view to framing a more democratic Constitution for the country.
It is all-important to create this atmosphere of good will—and it does not exist at the moment. I think that two things are necessary if this atmosphere is to be created. First of all, the release of all Africans who are detained or restricted and not awaiting charges of violence or intimidation; that is to say, all Africans who are detained on purely political grounds. Otherwise, clearly, the Africans are not going to co-operate. Your Lordships 65 will remember that the first Prime Minister of Ghana was released from prison in order to become Prime Minister, and there are plenty of examples of eminent men in the Common wealth Who have spent a considerable time in prison. I do not think that Southern Rhodesia would be losing face if she released African leaders who are detained or restricted, including Mr. Nkrumah, the leader of the majority African Party.
The other thing that is necessary—and this is perhaps harder to ask of any Government, because there is always some loss of face involved—would be the repeal of two recent Acts, the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, and the Unlawful Organisations Act. This legislation is such as to make the politically conscious Africans feel that they are the outlawed in Southern Rhodesia. I do not want to comment on it, because nothing that we can say here could do anything but make it more difficult for the Southern Rhodesian Government to go back on what it has done. But I am convinced that this legislation, which is regarded by the Africans as repressive legislation, and what even a former Chief Justice of the Federation has described as "setting up a Police State", should be repealed in order to create an atmosphere in which negotiations can take place.
I think the most that we can do is to give the Government a fair warning—and this comment is addressed particularly to the noble and learned Lord, as he is replying to the debate. Conditions in the Federation are getting more dangerous and more explosive with every day that passes. Mr. Butler has been given special responsibility for Central Africa—and we all hope great things of him, with his fine liberal record at the Home Office—and he has had plenty of time to get a thorough grasp of the Constitution in the territories. But Mr. Butler has failed hitherto to produce any change in policy, which remains exactly as it was before he took over his new post. Unless the Government—and this is, I feel, a warning that should be given, and would be given by many non-political people—take a fresh initiative within the next couple of months, there will be a trial of strength 66 between the races in Central Africa which might easily become the worst disaster of British colonial history.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD MOLSON
My Lords, I think that in many ways it would have been easier to conduct this debate if it could have been held after we had known the outcome of the elections in Northern Rhodesia, and still more if we could have delayed it until the results of the elections in Southern Rhodesia, to be held on December 14. But I agree with the noble Earl who has just spoken that the general course of developments in Central Africa is now plain enough for us to be able to express at any rate a general view as to what the future policy there should be.
I think that, with the passing of two years since the Monckton Commission reported, there has come to be general agreement with the main points of our diagnosis. We said that the Federation was so unpopular that it was impossible for it to be maintained in its present form. That is what the noble Earl, I think, quoted from the Report. At the same time, we went on to point out how extremely serious any break-up of that economic unit would be. We pointed out that, so far from there being any hope of an improvement in the present low standard of living of the Africans there, a break up of that unit would have most disastrous consequences in bringing about a great reduction. For that reason we made a number of proposals as to how federation in an amended form could be made acceptable to the Africans. We indicated a number of reforms, but, unfortunately, not enough has been done in these last two years: two years which the locusts have eaten have made it more difficult to preserve federation.
What are the main changes that have taken place in the situation since your Lordships last debated this matter? The first relates to the Federation, and I think that perhaps it is of special importance. I would invite my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to give special attention to this point, which was raised with his predecessor in that debate, and a very important statement which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, then made in reply 67 to questions put both from the Front Opposition Bench and from other parts of the House. In a long and very careful statement the noble and learned Earl who was then the Lord Chancellor accepted generally the view expressed in Chapter 10 of the Monckton Commission Report as to the constitutional powers of the Imperial Parliament to deal with the Federation. I had expected that he would come to that conclusion, in view of the legal eminence of those who advised us on the point. They included the present Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Hugh Beadle, an ex-Attorney General of this country, Sir Lionel Heald, an ex-Attorney General of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Victor Robinson; and, of course, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, the Chairman of the Commission, not only was himself a lawyer of great eminence but had also been Solicitor General of this country.
I think it would be fair to summarise the noble and learned Earl's speech with a quotation of this sentence [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238, col. 958]:Legislation for the dissolution of the Federation or the secession of any one of its constituent territories is a matter solely within the legislative competence of the United Kingdom.That is an emphatic rejection of an opinion upon this subject given by Sir Ivor Jennings. The significance of it, from the point of view of this debate, is that it enables the British Government to take the initiative in dealing with matters where in the past there has been a deadlock because of the view of the Federal Government that no changes could be made without their consent.
My Lords, I pass from that matter of the Federation to the present position of Nyasaland. Whereas two and a half years ago Nyasaland was a territory in which law and order had almost completely broken down, and it was in far the worst condition of any one of the three territories, it would, I think, be correct to say that at the present time it is the happiest of the three territories. That reflects great credit on the predominantly African Government which is representative of the Malawi Parity; and it is of special interest that the national leader in Nyasaland, Dr. Banda, 68 should have been made Minister of Natural Resources. According to my information he has advocated those unpopular measures of soil conservation and so on which are essential for increasing the wealth and prosperity of the country but which his Party, when in Opposition, did everything they could to discourage. This is a clear example of the way that responsibility is often a cure for irresponsibility. I hope that at the forthcoming Conference Mr. Butler will agree to the secession of Nyasaland from the Federation, if that demand is put forward. It seems to me obvious that it must be, because it was the main plank of the Malawi Party, and they won an overwhelming victory at the last Election. I think they hold 54 out of the 59 seats in that Legislature.
In considering what the line of Her Majesty's Government should be about this matter, it is relevant to remember that Sir Edgar Whitehead is on record as being of the opinion that Nyasaland should be allowed to secede. It is also the case that the Prime Minister of the Federal Government, Sir Roy Welensky, although he has said contradictory things, in quoting the opinion of the Monckton Commission that to hold the Federation together by force is out of the question, said, speaking on October 25, 1960:I would be the first to agree; clearly the Federation cannot be held together by force, and no sensible body of people would attempt to do so.If a concession should be made by Her Majesty's Government in this matter, it is of the utmost importance that Dr. Banda should show an equal flexibility of mind and statesmanship. It is quite obvious that if there is to be any form of secession something will have to be done to deal with the economic and financial difficulties that will arise. There is, I think, no doubt at all that Nyasaland always has been financially a deficit territory. It has been subsidised to the extent of more than £3 million a year by the other two territories in the Federation; and, as the noble Lord, Lord Walston said on a previous occasion (I am not quoting his exact words), self-government is no substitute for the prosperity that comes of a progressive economy.
Therefore I do hope that at the Conferference which is to be held here next month it will be possible to devise some 69 means of satisfying the political aspirations of the Malawi Party while, at the same time, dealing with the economic realities of the situation in a way that so far has not been recognised or admitted by most of the African Nationalist Parties.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, might I ask the noble Lord one question? What exactly has he in mind about the financial future? He said that he hopes that Her Majesty's Government will find some way of dealing with the financial future, but he did not say what it was.
§ LORD MOLSON
I intend to try to deal with that in very general outline at the end of my remarks before I sit down. So far as Northern Rhodesia is concerned, the attempt of Sir Roy Welensky to have a gerrymandered Constitution was, I am glad to say, not accepted by Her Majesty's Government. I think the Maudling Constitution can be regarded as fair, but I am not quite sure about some of the rules for the demarcation of constituencies. Certainly, two and a half years ago the sentiment in Northern Rhodesia was overwhelmingly against federation and not merely among the U.N.I.P., as they now are, but among the chiefs also. If this General Election does not show popular sentiment to be against it, then I shall not feel that it has correctly expressed the feelings of the people. I have seen some of the early figures and I deeply regret to say that the Liberal Party, upon which many of us based great hopes of acting as a bridge between the two races, appears to have suffered a very severe setback indeed.
I turn to Southern Rhodesia, which is the most pressing of the problems that face us. It was because Southern Rhodesia was generally regarded as an area of European dominance, political, economic and social, that there was such hostility to federation in the two Northern territories. We felt that the best hope of saving the Federation was that the Government and Legislature of Southern Rhodesia should follow a liberal policy in all those respects. I think we should all recognise how much Sir Edgar Whitehead has done in the last two years to bring about an improvement in that way. He has legislated against the social colour bar and he and his Government are pledged to 70 repeal the Land Apportionment Act. When one considers that at the present time he enjoys a precarious majority of only three and that that three was arrived at only on the second count—on the first count what is now the Rhodesian Front was in a majority—one has to recognise what immense difficulties he has had to face during the time that he has been Prime Minister.
I should like to associate myself with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in expressing admiration for the courage that he has shown in going to the United Nations and facing one hostile audience there by saying that he was not prepared to go further than his Government was prepared to go, and when he said how far they were prepared to go, he was earning the animosity of his political opponents at home. Seldom has a statesman found himself in a more difficult position, and I think that he showed courage as well as statesmanship in doing what he did. But it is still an unsatisfactory state of affairs that the United Kingdom should be held responsible for a policy, however much that policy may be forced upon the Rhodesian Government by political considerations, for which this Government and this country have no responsibility.
It is, of course, very unfortunate that such a series of Acts of a repressive nature should have been passed. They are distasteful to all of us and I am sure to Sir Edgar Whitehead himself. But before passing judgment upon them, I think we must await the outcome of the prosecutions which are being launched at the present time in which it is alleged that conspirators have been collecting arms and explosives for a policy of violence. There does come a time when a Government has no choice between repressive measures and abdication, and I think we ought to withhold judgment until we know more about the facts as they emerge. It may well be that detention on political grounds may be justified if it can in fact be shown that there is a large underground terrorist organisation.
But where do we go from there? Or rather, where does the Government of Southern Rhodesia go? The next thing, of course, is the ejection of December 14. I have read the statement of policy 71 of the Rhodesian Front. It indicates quite plainly that they would stop the whole of Sir Edgar Whitehead's progressive policy. They have made it quite plain that they would not repeal the Land Apportionment Act and that it would be their policy to preserve for all time the same kind of institutions that they have now. AM I can say is that if by some misfortune the Rhodesian Front were successful, then indeed we should be confronted with what I might call a revolutionary situation and one which I am sure would be as unacceptable to a large proportion of the white people of Southern Rhodesia as it would be to the Africans. Let us not discuss that beyond saying that if that situation did arise it would have to be dealt with, and it would be extremely difficult to deal with it in any satisfactory way.
I feel, as the noble Earl has said, that it will be necessary for the First Secretary of State to take the initiative in trying to bring together the Governments of the different territories as soon as these elections are over. I do not think that I agree with the criticism that Mr. Butler has had no policy so far. The first thing to do was to ascertain the facts, and he did send out highly qualified people to make a special review of the situation there; and until we know what kind of Government is going to be formed in Northern Rhodesia and whether Sir Edgar Whitehead is going to win the general election in Southern Rhodesia in December I very much doubt whether he will be able to take the initiative. But as soon as that is over I think it is essential he should do so.
As I have ventured to suggest, the view indicated by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, that responsibility for maintaining or amending the Federal Constitution rests upon the Imperial Government, puts Her Majesty's Government in the position of being able to take the initiative of reconvening the Federal Conference, if they think fit to do so, and it would then be possible for them to legislate to give effect to their conclusions after hearing the views of the representatives of the three territories. It is quite obvious that there will have to be a certain slackening of the ties of federation and that some of the matters which are now federal sub- 72 jects will have to be restored to the territorial Governments.
I do not want it to be necessary to go further than the Monckton Report, and I believe that if that had been acted upon two years ago, the position would be very much better than it now is. But now it may be necessary to go further, and here I venture to give a very sketchy outline of the kind of idea of what might be done to preserve Central Africa as an economic unit, even if it were necessary very largely to decentralise political power to the territories.
I think it is essential that there should remain a single customs union around the whole of the three territories. Factories have been established which were designed to meet the requirements of the whole of the market—there would be widespread unemployment and distress if the market were reduced in size—currency and exchange, banking and credit, posts and telephones, railways, I think all the collection of taxation and the administration of the national debt, foreign affairs and defence against foreign aggression. I am not suggesting it is ideal. I am only responding to the question as to whether it is possible to go any way towards meeting the political aspirations of the African national parties while at the same time preserving the economy as a whole. I think that could be dealt with by a Confederation, as opposed to a Federation, where practically speaking only the collection of taxation and decisions upon the amount of the tax would be settled at the centre and where the central Legislature would consist of the representatives convened for that purpose of the Legislatures of the territories. This is based upon an amended idea of the East African High Commission.
Negotiations there will have to be between those who come to power in Northern and Southern Rhodesia as a result of the forthcoming elections. I hope that the Federal Government will play a full and sympathetic part in these discussions and will not attempt to stand pat on the existing Constitution as it is. But I am sure that the initiative in this matter must come from Her Majesty's Government, and I hope that it may be possible for my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to indicate to-day 73 that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to take the initiative in order to try to bring a happy solution to these Central African difficulties.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, hitherto the debate has, somewhat naturally, dealt to a very large extent with Africa, in particular with Central Africa. But I would ask your Lordships to turn your attention for a short time to another area of the British Commonwealth, the Caribbean. Events of the past week have made it very clear indeed that we can no longer say, as some people, I am afraid, have been only too twilling to say, that the Caribbean is nothing to do with us; that it is in the United States sphere of influence and we had better leave it to them. It is quite obvious that, although the threat from Cuba was primarily directed towards the United States, it was a threat which was not solely against them but was in essence a threat to world peace. Therefore it is an area which we in this country simply cannot ignore, quite apart from the obligations that some of us may think we have, owing to our past historical connections and our present colonial and Commonwealth connections.
One of the lessons we learned from last week, of course, is that in the actual event we in this country, regrettably, were completely powerless to intervene: we had to sit by and allow President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev to work out the salvation of the world while we could do no more than hope that the result would not lead to war. But although in that particular instance we were powerless, we are far from powerless, and far from being without influence, when it comes to the longer-term arrangements for the whole of the Caribbean area. We still have influence there; we still have a considerable amount of actual power there, and we also have a large amount of responsibility there. How are we living up to this? How are we fulfilling that responsibility? How are we making use of the influence that we could, and should, exercise? Of course this is a question which applies not only to the Caribbean area but to the whole of the British Commonwealth.
After searching as diligently as I can for matters to put on the credit side, 74 where I can say that we are exercising this power and this influence well, I must say that it is difficult to find anything that has happened in the last few years to show that actions of Her Majesty's Government have enhanced that power and that influence and have fulfilled that responsibility. In fact, the only entry I can find on the credit side is the activities of the Colonial Development Corporation, and eventually, finally, after a great deal of urging from this side of the House and from others, the extension of the Colonial Development Corporation to cover the wider field of the Commonwealth. For that we are grateful, and certainly give credit and thanks to the Government for doing that.
But when we look at the debit side I am afraid that there are far more entries. First of all, one has to put, albeit regretfully, the negotiations which are going on at the moment about the Common Market. I do not want to stand here under false colours. I personally hope that we enter the Common Market. I believe that it is the right thing for us to do, provided we can get the right conditions. But there is no point in shutting our eyes to the fact that our entry—or, even if we do not enter, our negotiations with the Common Market countries—must undoubtedly impose a still further strain on our relationship with the Commonwealth. That is something which we must not deny, something to which we must not shut our eyes. Those of us who are in favour of the Common Market as a concept have an even greater duty, perhaps, than others to face this fact and to see what we can do in order to minimise those difficulties.
One of the proposals which has been made by Her Majesty's Government, as well as by others, is that eventually the whole Common Market area should consider the setting up of long-term contracts for primary commodities, which will help the underdeveloped areas and, in particular, certain areas of the Commonwealth. That is an admirable idea: it is something which I wish we had done many years ago, and which many of us have urged for a long time. In passing, I would say that it is curious that the present Government, having been in power for ten years, and having dismantled a certain number of the long-term commodity contracts when they 75 came into power, should now suddenly wake up to the fact that they are of value. But once more, as with the C.D.C., the fact that they have now woken up to this is something for which to give them credit and to thank them.
That is one of the items on the debit side. A second item on the debit side, which we in your Lordships' House spent many days on in the last Session, is the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. The discussion we had on this Act is a thing of the past, but the effect of the Act is by no means a thing of the past. I would remind your Lordships of one particular aspect of that Act that has placed a great strain on good relations with the Commonwealth—that is, the section which allows deportation of certain classes of criminal. Those of your Lordships who were present at the debates will remember that this point was raised and discussed, and that, in particular, it was pointed out that as the Bill was then framed it would enable magistrates sitting in petty session to recommend the deportation of a whole range of petty criminals.
The then Lord Chancellor, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, gave us some specific assurances. On March 20 he tried to make clear the type of offences which in his view were to be covered by deportation. His words were [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238, col. 499]:Among these summary offences in respect of which it may be thought that the courts should be able, in proper cases, to recommend deportation are: assaults of certain kinds; repeated offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution; brothel-keeping and related offences …With that statement few people quarrelled. But your Lordships will remember that shortly afterwards there came the case of Carmen Bryan who was sentenced to deportation for shoplifting. There was a considerable outcry about that, and eventually the deportation order was, quite properly and fortunately, rescinded. But the taste of that still remains: the Act still remains as it was actually passed, and magistrates are still empowered to recommend deportation. What is more, nothing has been done, so far as I know, to point out to magistrates the words of the Lord Chancellor.
76 A week or so ago I received from the local bench on which I sit a note on the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962. When I looked at it I was pleased, because I thought that it would, in fact, contain some extracts from the Lord Chancellor's speech as a guidance to magistrates. But I am afraid that it does nothing of the sort: it simply gives a résumé of the Act. It says that a magistrates' court has power to recommend deportation in respect of any person who is convicted by the court of an offence punishable with imprisonment. It does nothing whatsoever to make it less likely that further cases of the Carmen Bryan type will take place. That is something which I think we should realise at the present time, when we are talking about links with the Commonwealth. It is something which it is within our power to put right, which it was the intention of the Government, we understood, to put right, but about which no action of any kind has been taken—and the damage that has been done is continuing to be done.
There is a third point where our relations with the Commonwealth are under strain and, in my view, under increasing strain. I do not want again to go over the debate that we had concerning a Bill to make illegal racial discrimination in one form or another. That your Lordships and Her Majesty's Government decided was a Bill which did not commend itself to you. But I would remind your Lordships that since that happened there have been increasing outbreaks not only of violence but of incitement to racial discrimination. Further instances of racial discrimination have taken place in this country. Only last week, in The Times of October 26, there was a column headed "Hotel's refusal to Indian. Man on trade visit", which stated:An Indian businessman was refused accommodation at a Birmingham hotel because he was colouredand so on. So we see that that sort of thing is still with us, and I would suggest is with us in increasing rather than in decreasing intensity.
In the course of our debate on the racial discrimination Bill, the then Lord Chancellor, echoing the sentiments of many other speakers who said—and I know that they were sincere—that they 77 were opposed to any form of racial discrimination, took the line that this was something which could not be dealt with adequately by legislation, but was something which could properly be dealt with only by education. In fact the Lord Chancellor said in the debate on May 14 that only patient education of public opinion could achieve lasting results. The impression was given that Her Majesty's Government would look with considerable favour upon any schemes which might be put forward which, through education, would remove what was universally admitted to be an unmitigated evil.
Following upon that a certain group of highly respectable and responsible people, under the sponsorship eventually of the Royal Commonwealth Society, proposed a plan for a pilot scheme of education designed solely to meet this particular problem. It was an effort of private enterprise, if you like, which is not entirely anathema to the present Government; an effort to achieve some of this education which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, and many other spokesmen on the Government side said was admirable in purpose and should be encouraged. It was a simple scheme for getting together teachers from schools in this country and from schools in countries of the Commonwealth, coloured, white, Indian, West Indian, and so on, and letting them mix together;a scheme with specially designed courses, so that they could go back to their own schools and in this way spread the doctrine of non-discrimination; a scheme that would provide them with the knowledge, the understanding and the good will to enable them to do this.
It was not, as I have said, a very ambitious scheme, but, naturally enough, it required a certain amount of money. An approach was made to Her Majesty's Government, with every confidence in view of what had been said in the debates in this House and in another place. But although the refusal that was received was a polite one and spoke encouragingly of the general objectives, it did not disguise the fact that the refusal was there, and that in spite of all their fine words, in spite of all their spoken desire to educate people and to assist in education, Her Majesty's Government did not think that this 78 method of combating racial discrimination was worth £7,500 for two years.
My Lords, in the light of that sort of thing it is hard enough for people in this country to feel that some of these high sentiments that we hear spoken of in regard to consolidating the ties of the Commonwealth, having a multi-racial community, and all the rest of it, are really worth very much. If that is felt by people in this country, people with no axe to grind but with that national pride that makes us want to see the best in what our own Government and our own country do, what on earth can be the reactions of people in other parts of the Commonwealth who are already smarting under a feeling of inferiority, who are already affected by the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, by discrimination, and all the rest of it? Surely, their only answer can be:"Great Britain is not interested in us except when it comes to making speeches; when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets it is quite another story".
Let me now turn to one other section of the Caribbean, a topical one, which was briefly mentioned in passing by the noble Duke: British Guiana. We are at present (faced with a problem which must be deoided one way or amother within a matter of weeks. A conference is now in progress to decide the future of British Guiana, and very naturally the Guianese themselves wish for independence as quickly as possible. There are, of course, many problems involved in independence for that country. It is an unstable country; it has racial problems. The population is divided—not equally, although not grossly unequally—among Indians, who comprise about 42 per cent. of the population, West Indian Negroes, who comprise about 35 per cent., and people of European descent, largely Portuguese, numbering about 15 or 16 per cent. It is an unstable country, as we know from the recent riots which broke out there. It is also a poor country. It has to spend a vast amount of money out of its own resources simply to prevent the sea from encroaching on the flat coastal area where 90 per cent. of its population lives. And although it is a huge country, the size of the United Kingdom, with only 600,000 people in it, a very large part of its area is in fact valueless or can be exploited 79 only after very heavy expenditure of capital. Therefore, undoubtedly it has many problems.
But these problems cannot, and will not, be solved by postponing a Constitution, by postponing independence, and by hoping that things will be better in a few years' time. Sooner or later British Guiana must become independent, and the sooner it does so the easier will it be to overcome those very real problems with which it will be faced. I urge Her Majesty's Government at the present time, before this Conference ends, to give to British Guiana a promise of speedy independence and, at the same time, to give to the country a Constitution of the simplest bind. This is not an occasion which calls for a complicated weighing up of the different racial interests, a complicated electoral system or anything of that kind, but an absolutely straightforward voting system which can be understood and followed by everybody. That is what is wanted, and it should be given as quickly as possible so that elections can be held, let us hope within six months, and then, within a month after that, actual independence can be given.
My Lords, safeguards are, of course, needed. There are, as I have said, sizable minorities. There are strong racial feelings and therefore there must be safeguards written into the Constitution to provide for them. There should, in my opinion, be a supreme court charged with safeguarding the interests of minorities and to whom they could appeal. I feel that such a court should be appointed possibly by the Governor General, rather than in any way be a political appointment. There should undoubtedly be a provision that the Constitution cannot be changed except with, for example, a two-thirds majority. There should be things of that kind. But there is no need to go into enormous detail and to make this a delicate machine with checks and balances all along the line. Something straightforward, simple, easily understood and rapidly arrived at, must be the answer to the problem of British Guiana.
But when that is done, there will still be many problems left, because much has happened in the last few years that has led to a complete lack of confidence 80 on the part of many people there. There is to-day a great shortage of confidence, a great shortage of skilled people and a great shortage of capital, and it is no good, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said earlier on, giving people independence if you are going to leave them in poverty and chaos at the end. Therefore, at the same time as we do that, we should make provisions to re-establish confidence. That is the first thing. That, I suggest, can be done by having a small armed force there, but, because of the racial problems, because of the problem of deciding whether your officer should be an Indian, a West Indian Negro or a European, it would be far better to have a small group of officers of a different country. Here I would suggest that the United Nations is the obvious organisation to fill that gap.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, might I ask the noble Lord whether this force is to be maintained there after independence, or prior to independence?
§ LORD WALSTON
I myself should prefer to see it put there prior to independence, so that it is there to carry on in a perfectly smooth and orderly way; otherwise, there might be an awkward interregnum. I think that through the good offices of the United Nations, with officers from the uncommitted nations—only a small number; a dozen would be ample there—we could overcome some of these racial problems which otherwise would undoubtedly arise. At the same time, the United Nations might well be invited to provide a small cadre of technical civil servants to organise the development plan of British Guiana, because owing to the disturbances and lack of confidence over the past years there is admitted on all sides to be a very serious shortage of such people.
Finally, there is the problem of money. Money must be forthcoming to maintain existing services, to preserve the country from bankruptcy, and to develop its resources. Whether the money would come from this country, from the United States or from the United Nations, I do not know. Personally, I should rather see it come from this country. I hope we can afford it but, in our present parlous economic position, the Government 81 may tell us that we cannot afford to fulfil that type of responsibility. In that case, all right; let us ask the United States or the United Nations if they will do it. But it must be done in some way or another, because the only result of failure to supply this money and failure to do all these other things will be to lead to complete chaos in that area.
My Lords, one may say cynically: "After all, what does it matter if British Guiana does go through a period of chaos? There are only 600,000 people there. It is many thousands of miles from here. It is no concern of ours." But it is just as easy to establish nuclear missiles in a country of 600,000 people as it is in Cuba; in fact, it is easier to do so. Of one thing we can be quite certain: that whether or not there is Communist infiltration there at the present lime—and I, personally, am inclined to doubt it—if we leave British Guiana to develop into a country of political instability, social inequality and economic backwardness, that is the surest breeding-ground for Communism and the most certain way by which we can ensure that Russia will have what it has for so long desired—a foothold in Latin America.
Our whole history over the past ten years or so—and I say this quite deliberately and knowing what I am saying—so far as our colonial policy is concerned has been one of complete dilatoriness. We have done some good things; there have been some successes. But there has been no sense of urgency for getting on with the job, for planning in an imaginative manner, for doing things briskly, quickly and sympathetically, with an understanding of the actual local problems as they are in these countries. Delay in a case of this sort—and in so many other cases, too—does not have the result that delays might have had a hundred years ago, when a few more people went on suffering a little longer, and certain small improvements took another five years to arrive. Delay in a case of this sort means that the door is being thrown wide open to the enemies of our Western way of living, and we are actively, by going slow, playing into the hands of Communism. To-day we are reaping the fruits of the seed that was sown many decades, even generations, ago. Our job to-day is to 82 ensure that the seed we sow is sown well, is sown quickly, and is seed of good quality.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, when we heard the opening speech of the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, one might have thought that the only dominion we were concerned with was the United Kingdom and the only non-self-governing territory was the London County Council. However, the very informed and interesting speeches we have neard from noble Lords opposite have brought this debate back to the subject which was primarily intended. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord who has just sat down, but I find it rather hard to recognise the picture of dilatori-ness, which he talked about, in the achievements of the last three Colonial Secretaries.
I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to the very serious problems confronting Hong Kong. As your Lordships know, there is a population of 3 million on a territory of under 400 square miles; a population greater than that of New Zealand on this small territory, which is utterly without raw materials of any description whatsoever, and of very small food-growing potential. Of this population, nearly half came in as penniless refugees in one great rush. The only assets Hong Kong has are a magnificent harbour, the skill, industry and enterprise of its people, and an extremely efficient and progressive colonial Government. They have made there an economic miracle, which will compare favourably with any of the "economic miracles" so often quoted in other parts of the world. They have done it without international help, or much help from this country. No one has starved in Hong Kong.
The public health situation is remarkable. Houses for these refugees are going up; great blocks of flats taking 2,200 people are being opened every ten days. It is the envy of some in this country that a new primary school is being opened there every four days. There has also been a steadily rising wage level, and improved conditions of work. But this has been done entirely through the export of manufactured goods. But many in this Colony live on the edge of want. 83 It is necessary not only that these markets should be held; they roust be steadily increased, because the population is increasing at the irate of 90,000 a year. In spite of whatever the Government may do, it is estimated that at least 60,000 Chinese refugees come in by junks every year; and so it is necessary, not merely to hold the existing markets but that they should be steadily expanded if this situation is to be maintained and improved.
Now there is real anxiety in this Colony over the future of the Common Market and how it would affect them. The Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce fears it might reduce their exports by 30 per cent.; but even if this were a considerable overestimate and it was only about 20 per cent., or even 15 per cent., the effect would be catastrophic. My Lords, this is our responsibility, in this Parliament. Other territories, either wholly or in partial degrees, have self-government, and they can make their own economic arrangements with other parts of the world. Hong Kong is entirely the responsibility of Great Britain, and its sovereignty rests completely in the hands of the Colonial Office and of the Governor. We cannot divest ourselves of this moral responsibility towards a place which has been a showplace, not only of economic and social development against incredible odds but of real racial co-operation and good feeling; a place where the races mix unselfconsciously and naturally; and where, when I was there recently, four highly intelligent (and, indeed, very pretty) young Chinese ladies were taken into the highest class of the Civil Service, equivalent to the I.C.S. in India.
Therefore it rests upon this country to make a real stand in our negotiations on this matter, because whole countries like New Zealand, or such counties as the farming counties of England, have a certain cushion, a certain amount of fat on which they can live, a high standard of living which might go down a bit; but in Hong Kong there is none. Half the population live on the very edge of need; and, unless the momentum of export and growth can be maintained, they will be reduced over the borderline towards starvation. No amount of charitable aid could help this huge problem: 84 it can essentially be solved only by ensuring markets for their exports. Therefore, my Lords, we have, I submit, this moral commitment. We can neither alow 3 million people, or any great portion of them, to starve, nor can we just wash our hands of the matter and let them drift into Communist China.
If we acknowledge this responsibility, we have to think what points Her Majesty's negotiators can put to Europe as to why this is a special case. First, I would suggest that the whole image of the Common Market in the world would be catastrophically ruined if the first result of going into it was that 3 million people were reduced to starvation. I am a keen supporter of the Common Market. As the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, knows, I was one of its first supporters, and I continue to be. But what an image it would be if, instead of its being used for development and improvement, the immediate result was a catastrophe in that part of the world! In other places, where there is a margin, one may say, "Let us wait a year and see how things work out, and negotiate later". Here you have no margin on which you can work.
If some countries, after recent events, do not entertain the warmest feelings towards the Far East, surely we all know that the Chinese are a great race, a great civilisation; and it is vitally important that Europe should keep these links—whether social, economic or intellectual. The University of Hong Kong has now some learned Chinese scholars from China, and with a great school of Sinology growing up there, it is important to keep this contact. Finally, everybody in Europe hopes that the days of the cold, and sometimes almost hot, war will be ended one day, and we look, we hope, for peaceful co-existence. But there is no place in the Far East where peaceful co-existence is such a fact as in Hong Kong, where this British Colony, next to the mainland of China, has managed to maintain an entirely non-political co-existence; where we are able to show the benefits of British justice, of British enterprise and of our free system; and where the whole West can find an outlet, a market, and its contact with the Far East.
So, my Lords, in these few words, I wish to put it to Her Majesty's Government that we must have a statement in 85 due course as to how they propose to handle this matter. I hope that the Lord Chancellor will not think I have bowled him a quick one (it would not be cricket) between wet-bobs. After all, many years ago I did cox the noble and learned Lord to victory in a race and I am glad to see him safely ashore and on so important an eminence. But we hope that, whilst we cannot expect a detailed answer to-night, in the debate next week on the Common Market Her Majesty's Government will give us a full statement on this vital problem, where our interests and our honour are both involved.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, so many important matters connected with Commonwealth and Colonial affairs are sub judice at the present time that I think it is inevitable that many of them, however important they are, have not been able to be treated with equal weight. In fact, one might think that in some ways this debate had been rather like a game of noughts and crosses, but if there has been a thread, a consistent thread, running through many of the speeches made by noble Lords, then I think that thread is that, whatever the political aspects are of any of the problems which we have discussed, there remain also the economic and geographical problems which in the long run are even more important.
The economic conditions can change only slowly, and geographic conditions can change not at all. So, my Lords, for that reason my noble friend Lord Astor, I know, will understand me if I cannot follow him on the matter of Hong Kong which he understands and I do not, and I will attempt very briefly at this hour to put three crosses on three subjects which have been mentioned already this afternoon. The first is to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said when he expressed approval of the paragraph in the gracious Speech telling us we shall be asked to make provisions for extending the powers of the Colonial Development Corporation. I hope that that means we are going to break down the ridiculous inter-departmental barrier, so that a country, once having obtained independence and having previously been in receipt of the good offices of C.D.C., will now be allowed to continue 86 to use their good offices, whether or not the country happens to come under at any given time the ægis of the Colonial Office or Commonwealth Relations Office. The fact that countries may obtain their independence has no bearing whatsoever on the need for this country and the obligation of this country to continue to provide economic and financial assistance, industrial know-how, et cetera. In fact, in certain directions, like those of finance, the demands may be even greater as countries becoming independent cease to be dependent on the Treasury in this country. I shall look forward very much to that Bill, to see it passed quickly and that full use is made of that Bill when it becomes law.
I should like to touch on what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, about India. I cannot help feeling (and I hope this is not wishful thinking) that one of the results of the present Indian situation may be to provide an opportunity of rectifying certain mistakes in the past. This situation may, with a certain amount of luck and management, provide a catalyst for situations which have been unsatisfactory since the end of the war and which we all know about. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to believe that in the long term it may provide the start of negotiations to bring Communist China into the United Nations.
But it will most certainly provide, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, an opportunity for new arrangements with Pakistan, because, as I said just now, none of the political arrangements between India and Pakistan can alter the view that that continent is a geographical unit and cannot be defended or even run economically in the long run unless those who inhabit it make a joint defence plan. There will be other consequences following from this regrettable state of affairs, but most of the consequences I think are more concerned with internal defence organisation in India, and this is probably not a proper subject to talk about this evening. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will forgive me if I suggest that something he said in his remarks which, I think, was that the Commonwealth 87 was not even a tacit military alliance, did not seem to tie up completely with something the noble Earl's Leader said which I understood to refer to the need for a strategic reserve in the Commonwealth. But no doubt that is a matter that will come out in the course of the Defence debate. But as the two thoughts were expressed from the Benches opposite I doubt when they are read in Hansard that they will appear entirely consistent.
Having said that, may I say only a little about Central Africa, because so much was said by Lord Molson with which I entirely agree. Most of our talk about Africa has been concentrated, with good reason, on Central Africa. I was disappointed, though not surprised, that Lord Listowel did not favour us with his views about the present state of Ghana, which would interest us very much. But to come back to Central Africa, I think that here again far too little has been said about the economic advantages of federation. After all, since federation in its present form has been a fact there has been an increase of 60 per cent. in the volume of production in the Federation. There has been a very large increase in the average earnings of Africans and increases in the same sort of thing all the way round, such as in the number of bicycles per head and the number of children in school. Solid material advances have been made. And just as we, when considering the prospects of going into the Common Market, have nearly all agreed to accept certain political restrictions in order to make those economic advances, so it seems to me that those in Central Africa, Europeans or Africans, who are concerned with the economic future of that country must realise that something of political sacrifice in various directions is necessary in order to provide for the continuance of the success story which the economic development has been since federation started, and indeed before that.
I cannot help feeling that that aspect of the matter has never been properly put forward in Central Africa—certainly not to the Africans—and it would be the greatest tragedy if the British Government, in playing their part in the 88 development of Central Africa, were hustled into agreeing or accepting or promoting political arrangements which were to the detriment of the economic development of the country and therefore, in the long term, to the detriment of those people, Europeans or Africans, who are going to live there. That is the short point; but I feel that, since so much has been said about political conditions, finishing up with what was said in the United Nations by Sir Edgar Whitehead, we must miss no opportunity of exercising our responsibilities to see that we do not damage what is undoubtedly a very bright future for Central Africa. It will certainly be damaged if we are hustled into political arrangements which militate against this.
I should like to pay my tribute to Sir Edgar Whitehead for having gone to the United Nations. I hope that neither he nor Her Majesty's Government will take too seriously the reaction to it. After all, colonialism is a very handy stick to use and there will not be many more opportunities to use it in that way. In any case, our conscience in this country is absolutely clear. If it is said that the Southern Rhodesian Government started late in their advance towards Africanisa-tion, that may be so; but it does not mean you can move faster than a certain pace. Surely any delay is worth while if it can produce a sound solution in the end; and if to-day more and more Africans are coming out of the schools the advance has already been started and the effect of that will be cumulative.
But I hope, also, that Sir Edgar Whitehead's visit to the United Nations will not be taken to mean that we, or indeed he, accept the view that the United Nations have a greater responsibility for the matter than we already think they have. I think that would be entirely wrong, because, to my mind, this problem is one mainly for the people of Southern Rhodesia and secondarily for us here. I think, too, that one ought to pay tribute to Sir Edgar Whitehead for all the work he has been doing in the last two years to reach the state of affairs when he can go to the United Nations and say to them and to the world what he has already said. The fact that he has been able to do so points to the success he has had internally in Southern Rhodesia, in putting over the point of 89 view he has now been able to express publicly. After all, he was faced with strong European opposition. The Afrikaner element cannot have helped, and if he has been able to come now and say what he has said, then it means surely that he must have worked hard and successfully for months and years past in order to reach the point where he is now and from which I am sure he will go forward.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I see that it is almost a year since we debated the subject of Southern Rhodesia, on the Southern Rhodesia Constitution Bill, and I think that it is worth recalling that I was followed in that debate by the noble Earl, Lord Winterton. I think that this might be an opportunity to say what a great gap is left in the ranks of your Lordships' House by his death. There was hardly a single occasion on which I found myself in agreement with anything he said, yet I found him a most attractive personality, and he had made for himself a unique position in both Houses of Parliament.
I speak from choice on Southern Rhodesia and perhaps I should declare that for many years I have had a family link with that country. I visited it in May and June of this year. Although, after the speeches of my noble friend Lord Listowel and of the noble Lord, Lord Molson, I feel that there is not much more to be said, I should like to add a few comments from a more detailed point of view, comments which lead up to the same conclusion as my noble friends have already given to your Lordships, that of the great concern that all of us must feel about the progress of events in this country.
Sir Edgar Whitehead has come in for a good deal of praise and I am disposed to join in it, but I must say that he is a most baffling personality in politics, because his words and his deeds are in such complete conflict. I myself have heard him talk most convincingly to a Rhodesian audience about the need to build a multi-racial State, the need for everybody in the country, regardless of colour, having the same opportunity, and so on. Yet his Government have been responsible for the most gratuitous acts of repression and for legislation that has been criticised by eminent lawyers as 90 being wicked and unjust. Their latest action was the banning of Z.A.P.U., Mr. Nkomo's nationalist movement. The banning was supported by a document issued by the Southern Rhodesian Government called a "Report on the Z.A.P.U.", which is really unworthy of a Government document, because it makes no attempt to give a judicial, factual account or justification for the banning of this political Party by the Government. It resorts to the crudest form of smears. I think that I must really read a few extracts to your Lordships to show the kind of thing which Sir Edgar Whitehead's Government use to justify their actions. The introduction says that:Z.A.P.U.'s published aims were to fight for the immediate and total liquidation of imperialism and colonialism, direct or indirect, and to co-operate with any international forces as are engaged in this struggle. To establish a democratic state with a Government based on one man, one vote and in which democratic liberties thrive. To foster the spirit of Pan-Africanism in Zimbabwe "—which is the name coming into vogue in nationalist circles for Southern Rhodesia—and the maintenance of firm links with Pan African movements all over Africa. To maintain peaceful and friendly relations with such nations as are friendly towards them. To eliminate economic exploitation of people and to struggle for economic prosperity in order to achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number. To foster the best in African culture and thereby develop the basis of a desirable social order.One is astonished to read the next paragraph after this quotation. It says:In brief, its manifesto was neo-Communist and Pan African in character and it fostered extreme racialism.I find no foundation at all for these statements. The published aims which I read out are the aims of a nationalist political Party and, while one might not agree with them, they are perfectly legitimate aims and have no possible connection with Communism or anything of the sort. Pan-Africanism, yes, but that is not illegal. It is not banned; it is a legitimate expression of African opinion.
The Southern Rhodesian Government go on to say:The Z.A.P.U organisation in Southern Rhodesia was based on well known lines.And two paragraphs later it says:Regional secretaries were charged with the formation of branches.91 There is nothing extraordinary about that in the formation of a national political Party.These have developed on a cell system so familiar in certain other countries where freedom is but a word little understood by the masses. From these cells have developed other cadres—the Youth League so similar to the Komsomol…".Why similar to the Komsomols more than to any other youth movement in any other emerging nationalist country? The next paragraph talks abouta rapid and unorganised development of cells, loosely called branches.The use of these words, "cell", "Komsomol" and "neo-Communism" seems to me totally unsupported by the facts of the case. They can only have been used by the Government in what is called a "smear campaign", to smear the African nationalists with the taint of Communism, which we know has been the practice of the South African Government in South Africa for many years. I think we should remember that the banning of Z.A.P.U. was justified by this extraordinary statement. Then the rest of the White Paper lists a large number of cases of lawlessness, disorder, sabotage and the rest. But the Government admitthat the rapid development of the cells resulted in the breakdown of Party discipline, and the situation developed where small local leaders acted without the Party leader's authority.Clearly there was a breakdown, and violence broke out here and there as the result of irresponsible people in the lower ranks of the Party taking the law into their own hands. Those actions were repudiated. I think I am right in saying, by Mr. Joshua Nkomo and seem to give no adequate foundation for the banning of the whole movement.
What is the result of the banning of the whole movement? Surely it is that African nationalist feeling in Southern Rhodesia is deprived of any legitimate means of expression. Sir Edgar Whitehead himself said in his Party newspaper, Federal Outlook:An African nationalist party expressing the legitimate aspirations of the African people was essentia! to the political health of Southern Rhodesia.He went on:But such a party had to work on constitutional lines and keep within the law.92 My Lords, how could a Party keep within the law and keep its disorderly elements in order, if it was banned? He also said that:What the country needed was an African nationalist party that would encourage its members to get on the voters' roll.That wish has not been fulfilled. I believe that out of a possible 30,000 Africans who could comply with the qualifications to get on the Voters' Roll something under 10,000 have in fact registered.
One good reason for the small number who have registered is the document required for registration. The registration of a voter in this country is a comparatively simple thing, although admittedly it is more complicated where different qualifications have to be laid down. But this document comprises four foolscap pages, and I defy any of your Lordships who wanted to become an African voter in Southern Rhodesia to fill this in without a great deal of trouble, and probably having to go to your legal adviser. It is impossible to expect Africans to register in large numbers when the completion of a document like this is the only way in which they can do it. I cannot see that the Southern Rhodesian Government took any great trouble to make it easy for the voters to register. As a result, with only 10,000 voters on the list out of nearly 3 million Africans in the country, even if the Africans co-operate in the election, it will be a farce; and I believe that Z.A.P.U. members, even if registered, are not going to take part in the election.
This question of the political Parties is surely a display of political blindness which it would be hard to beat. It would be wearisome to go through the list of countries where the policy has been followed of banning the moderate African leaders in the hope that more moderate ones would come forward. Inevitably that results in power going to the extremists—those who do not cooperate. That, it seems to me, is what will happen. A notable statement was made by one of the Europeans, Mr. Ranger, a British subject, a teacher in the university, who himself was a member of Z.A.P.U. and is one of the 1,600 people who have been detained, restricted or arrested since this took place. He said:His attempt to do so"—93 that is, to bring lawlessness to an end—by banning Z.A.P.U. and making any new safety-valve impossible by preventing the formation of a new party is bound to fail.To my mind the leaders on both sides, Sir Edgar Whitehead and Joshua Nkomo, are perfectly reasonable men, of moderate views, and they see that the future for Southern Rhodesia lies in cooperation between the races. But the sad thing is that they are both the slaves, so to speak, of their extreme wing, and both have to take account of the feelings of their extreme supporters. One of the saddest examples of this was in the case of the Nyasaland undergraduates at the university, on whom great pressure was put by the Nyasaland Government to withdraw—some, in fact, were compelled to withdraw before they had completed their courses—purely on political grounds. In the same way, Sir Edgar Whitehead has been compelled to take these repressive actions, one after the other, which have completely demolished any chance of co-operation from the African political leaders.
There is, as your Lordships know, a small Liberal Party—not an organised political Party, but a handful of liberally-minded people, comprising both Africans and Europeans—who feel desperation at the prospect of things as they are now going. One of them wrote to me:We are heading for a clash of violence.He then says:There might be a solution in recalling the constitutional conference, because I doubt whether the new Constitution in Southern Rhodesia can ever be put into force… This much is certain: the British Government must act quickly and decisively.The Constitution, in fact, is going to be put into force—it comes into force this week, I think—but on a basis that can never achieve the aim of co-operation with the politically-minded Africans. The sad thing is that whereas the Africans in Rhodesia are very conscious of the feeling in the rest of the continent, and in the rest of the world, and the present opinion of colonialism, the white population seem to me dangerously out of touch with the present trends of world opinion.
I cannot claim intimate knowledge, but it is a point that strikes the visitor to Southern Rhodesia now that they are living in a dangerously blindfolded con- 94 dition, and that unless they can bring themselves to speed up the irate of advance, and the rate of concessions to African opinion, nothing can save them from force. They may succeed in keeping order by force, but only at a terrible cost; and that is why we ask Her Majesty's Government to step in at once. It was noticeable, if I may revert for a moment, that in Rhodesia the standing of the United Kingdom and Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom was low on all sides. The standard European opinion, mostly fairly Right Wing, feels they have been betrayed by the British Government into giving such concessions as have already been made. Liberal opinion feels they are being betrayed by the British Government because they are not saving them from the inevitable clash. It is for that reason that we ask this Government to take this matter as a matter of great urgency.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD DILHORNE)
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just resumed his seat began his speech with a charming reference to the late Lord Winterton. He and I were Members of the other House together for many years, and in those days he played a very active part indeed in the affairs of that House. I think that at one time we were in Opposition together, and he showed himself very skilful in arousing controversy; but, at the same time, he had a large number of friends on both sides of the House. I could judge of his actions in your Lordships' House only from the reports I saw in the Press, but it seemed to be clear that for as long as he could he played a very active part in public affairs. I was glad the noble Earl referred to him, and I should like to endorse all that he said on that subject.
The debate to-day has been a very interesting one to listen to, and I think I can claim to have heard nearly everything that has been said in it. It has been very interesting, though without that heat and that degree of controversy to which I have been accustomed in years gone past. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, began the debate with a speech in which he referred to many of the proposals contained in the gracious Speech. I enjoyed listening 95 to his speech. I feel that he did not find it very easy to be critical, save in respect to the Greater London Plan, and I can assure him that the Bill, when it is introduced to deal with that project, will indeed be comprehensive and will contain all that a Bill should contain in relation to that matter. The noble Viscount did not, I think, touch on Commonwealth and Colonial affairs, and the rest of the debate has centred on those questions. In my reply I do not intend to-day to deal with the noble Viscount's general criticisms of the gracious Speech. They will be answered, and answered fully, in the course of this great debate. I propose to confine my observations to those questions Chat have been raised relating to the Commonwealth and the Colonies.
Before I begin to do so, I should first like to say this. I hope that the significance of the fact that this House is devoting the first day of this new Session of Parliament to this subject will not be overlooked. It marks, I think, the great interest which your Lordships take, and I have no doubt will continue to take, in the affairs of the Commonwealth and Colonies. I think it is true to say, too, that the greater part of the speeches we have heard to-day—after the wide-ranging speech of my noble friend, which I was glad to note the noble Earl who followed him found it impossible to disagree with in any particular—have been devoted to the problems connected with Central Africa. I shall therefore devote the greater part of my reply to that particular subject.
Before the noble Earl turned to that subject he started by saying that he would engage in some degree of controversy, and he raised the question of Aden. But, if I may say so, he did not seem to me at all controversial. What he did was to ask me to answer to-day a number of big, important and far-reaching questions. I am sorry to have to disappoint him, but I really do not think it is possible, or would be right, for me to do so on this occasion. There is to be a full debate in another place, very shortly, on the subject of Aden and I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has a Motion down to debate this matter in your Lordships' House. In the circumstances, I hope 96 that noble Lords will not expect me to anticipate this evening the statements which will be made then on those occasions on behalf of the Government.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord—because this is, as he agrees, a matter of the greatest importance—whether, when a statement is made in another place (and I gather from what he said that the first statement of Government policy on Aden will be made there, because the debate there will come before the debate in this House) there will be a similar statement made, so far as possible, at the same time in this House.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, the noble Earl can rest assured that I will bring his request to the attention of my noble friend the Leader of the House, who I am sure will do his best.
I now turn to Central Africa. I think it is true to say that during the last few months the problems of Central Africa have come increasingly into the foreground. I want, if I may, first of all to refer to the series of debates which have taken place in the United Nations on Southern Rhodesia: first, in the Committee of Seventeen, then in the General Assembly, and now in the Fourth Committee. Some harsh words have been spoken, and resolutions have been passed which were, and are, wholly unacceptable to us. Her Majesty's Government have consistently maintained that this amounts to an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, and is therefore wholly outside the authority of the United Nations. We have, consequently, my Lords, all along refused to take part in the voting on this subject.
We have been, and it may be that we shall continue to be, criticised for not ourselves altering the balance between the different communities. But just as it is not open to the United Nations, in my submission, to interfere in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, so, really, it is not open to us to do so; and, indeed, the noble Earl at the beginning of his speech recognised this. Southern Rhodesia has had its own Constitution since 1923, and it is a long-established practice—one might call it a constitutional convention—that we do not interfere in their internal affairs, save 97 at their request. Nor, indeed, are we in any position to enforce any internal policy which is not acceptable to them. My Lords, this fact should be recognised, and I think that it is very regrettable that it has not been.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack a question? There is some truth in what he says: in other words, that we have responsibility without power, so far as Southern Rhodesia is concerned. But would it not be possible to let those who have power without responsibility—that is, the Government of Southern Rhodesia—go to the United Nations and answer the charges. Because I myself have been Government spokesman in Committee (not, of course, for this Government), and I found that it was a great advantage if you met a challenge instead of doing what the Foreign Office always wants you to do, which is to keep a stiff upper lip and say nothing. That is a mistake. I believe that if Sir Edgar Whitehead and others went to the United Nations they would at least put their case before the United Nations and have that satisfaction.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord's intervention. Of course Sir Edgar Whitehead was there, yesterday I think it was, and made a powerful speech, to which I shall be referring later. But I was on a somewhat different point; I was referring to the fact that we do not interfere, and have not interfered, in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia; and that we are not, in fact, in a position to enforce any internal policy which is not acceptable to them. I think the position is this: that however well-intentioned the interest taken by the United Nations, I regret it cannot really do other than make the present situation more difficult, tend to undermine confidence and lead to both sides' adopting extreme positions.
The discussions in the United Nations have shown that there is a considerable degree of ignorance of the situation in Southern Rhodesia and of the policies of the Southern Rhodesian Government. Her Majesty's Government therefore weloomed Sir Edgar Whitehead's decision to appear personally before the Fourth Committee, and I am glad that in the debate to-day observations have been 98 made on both slides of your Lordships' House commenting on that course of conduct on his part. As the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said, in so doing and in what he said before the Fourth Committee Sir Edgar Whitehead showed great courage. I am sure your Lordships are glad that he went, and his visit will, I hope, do something to meet the desires just expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore. I trust that his speech, if it does nothing else, will go far to dispel some of the current illusions about the situation.
To-morrow, as was said in the course of this debate, the new Constitution comes into force and the present Southern Rhodesian Legislature is dissolved by the Governor on the advice of the Southern Rhodesian Ministers. I Should like to remind your Lordships of the effect that that Will have. The immediate effect of the new Constitution will be to introduce substantial African representation—they will have at least 15 seats out of 65—and it will provide an opportunity for the African voters to improve the chances of progressive European candidates. There is inherent in this new Constitution provision for the growth of African power. It eliminates most of Her Majesty's Government's reserved powers, Which in practice have never been used and which, in fact, it is quite impracticable to operate; and in their place there are new alternative safeguards entrenched in the Constitution such as a Declaration of Rights enforceable in the Courts. It is easy to criticise any Constitution, but I think it is right to say that this new Constitution does constitute a great advance.
The noble Earl, in the course of his speech, said, and said truly, that the British policy in relation to Central Africa must depend on the outcome of the elections. I agree with him that one must await the result of these elections before in any way approaching any final conclusions. But he urged that there are things which should be done now, one of which was to acknowledge the right to secede, and he referred to the speeches made by Dr. Banda on that subject. The noble Lord, Lord Molson, I think, referred to the same point.
My Lords, as regards Nyasaland, on May 8 my right honourable friend the First Secretary of State stated in another 99 place that Her Majesty's Government acknowledged that Dr. Banda and the Malawi Congress Party are not prepared to remain within the present Federation. Her Majesty's Government have, of course, the whole situation in Central Africa under consideration, and they recognise that the present position of Nyasaland presents a problem of particular urgency. I cannot go further than that, though I fear that the noble Earl will not find it entirely satisfactory on this occasion. The Constitutional Conference to which he referred will, of course, be concerned with further constitutional advance in the territory. That was made olear when the Conference was announced.
The noble Earl then went on to say that we should seek to make economic advances now. But, my Lords, I think it would perhaps be unwise to seek to make any economic arrangements now: rather should we await the results of these elections. He urged that if one could not get the territories to agree, if they would not agree, a solution should be imposed upon them. But surely the wiser course to follow is to see what emerges from the result of the elections; to see to what extent agreement on the various issues can be obtained, and then to formulate a definite and precise policy. He urged upon us the calamities which would ensue if we did not move fast enough, if progress was not sufficiently rapid. He held out an alarming prospect of what might happen. It can equally be argued that calamity becomes equally certain if progress is made too fast before the peoples of the territories are ready for it. It is a real difficulty, the time to advance at the right rate, and one can only hope and pray that that in fact can be achieved.
The noble Earl said something about Northern Rhodesia. There again the full results in all constituencies of the elections to the Legislative Council will not be available until late on November 1. Your Lordships will not expect me to indulge in any prophecy of the likely results, which will depend on who wins the fourteen national seats, for it is here that the candidates must win a minimum of votes from Africans and Europeans before qualifying for election. I do not think one can say any more about the situation in Northern Rhodesia until one 100 sees what the position is after this election.
The noble Lord, Lord Maison, with his knowledge of this subject, based on his experience and the work he did on the Monekton Commission, made an extremely interesting contribution. I hope he will not expect me at this late hour to follow him in any detail, but I can assure him I shall draw the attention of my right honourable friend the First Secretary of State to the views he expressed.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord passes from Central Africa, I wonder whether he could answer one question I put-namely, whether the advisers which the First Secretary of State sent out were advising solely on the economic consequences of secession for Nyasaland and future relations between Northern and Southern Rhodesia, or whether they were advising in a wider context about future economic relations between all the territories of the Federation?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I do not think I am in a position to give the noble Earl a precise answer to that question. My impression is that they were asked to advise over a very wide variety of subjects. Their report is now in the hands of my right honourable friend and no doubt has been subjected to close study. I have no doubt that economic question came under consideration.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, spoke first about the Caribbean. I was sorry not to have heard the whole of his speech and I hope he will forgive me. He expressed the view that during the last week we had had to sit back and were powerless. I cannot accept the proposition that all we did was sit back and do nothing. I have no doubt that subject will be more fully discussed tomorrow, as indeed perhaps will be the question which I omitted to deal with posed by the noble Earl as to whether or not there would be de facto recognition of the Yemen. That is again a question which falls not within the sphere of the Colonial Office but within the sphere of the Foreign Office.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, went on to express some concern about the 101 operation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. I hope I can allay his fears by speaking shortly and not at great length. So far as I can ascertain, that Act is in fact operating well after perhaps a few difficulties to start with. He will remember that the scheme contemplated not only that there would have to be a recommendation by a court after conviction but also an exercise of discretion by the Home Secretary of the day before that recommendation could take effect. There was that deliberate safeguard and I think it is right to say that safeguard has proved useful. One must expect differences of actions in the different courts throughout the country, but that of course is adjusted when the matter comes before the Home Secretary. I do not know whether it interests the noble Lord to know that there have been something like 310 recommendations made for deportation. More than half that number in fact represents persons who came from the Irish Republic. In fact, deportations have been made and orders signed for just over 74, including 49 Irishmen, and decisions not to deport number 77, including 35 Irishmen; they are all after conviction. So far as rate of immigration is concerned, in the first three months since the Act came into force about 6,000 more Commonwealth citizens entered the United Kingdom than left it during that period. There have been 30,000 vouchers applied for, up to the middle of this month; some 16,000 have been issued but under 3,000 actually used. This would appear to me to indicate that the Act is operating as it was intended to do, not as prohibiting all immigration into this country but as a filtering process to be applied.
Then the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, referred to Hong Kong and their possible difficulties on our entry into the Common Market. He made an eloquent speech and a persuasive speech which I listened to with interest. He said towards the end of his speech that he would expect a statement in due course, which I took as a hint that he would not expect one to-night. I will draw my right honourable friend's attention to what he has said and to his expectation which I hope will be gratified too in due course.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, referred to the Colonial Development 102 Corporation. I am glad to be able to tell him to-day that the effect of the proposed Bill will be to authorise the Corporation to undertake new development schemes in independent Commonwealth countries in which they operated when those countries were dependent territories. I am sure he will welcome that. In his reference to Central Africa he expressed the view that there was far too little said about the economic advantages of association. I do not think it is the occasion now for me to stress that. But in the consideration of all the problems relating to Central Africa serious regard must be paid to economic considerations if the effect of political changes is not to lead to a diminution in the standard of living, when we all want to see that standard of living increase.
There is one subject to which no reference has been made so far in the course of the debate. I hope your Lordships will permit me if I just say one word about it because I think it is a subject of some little importance. None of your Lordships has in fact drawn attention to this fairly recent development. Your Lordships may recollect that at the conclusion of the recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference it was announced that an agreement had been reached between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and I, and Mr. Menzies, Mr. Holyoake and Sir Abubakar Balewa about the sittings of Commonwealth Judges in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In brief, the Judicial Committee is to be reinforced and its judicial base broadened by the regular attendance of Judges from Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria.
Your Lordships will know that Ceylon has a most valuable representative member of the Judicial Committee, and it is hoped that the plan announced in regard to Australian, New Zealand and Nigerian judges may in due course be extended to other members of the Commonwealth judiciary. Your Lordships are well aware, I am sure, of the constant endeavours of my predecessor, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, to maintain and extend by all possible means the Judicial Committee as the valuable Commonwealth link which he firmly believes it to be. He was tireless in his efforts, and I am indeed glad to acknowledge 103 that the new plan is the direct result of his initiative. I need hardly say that I strongly support it and I believe all your Lordships will do likewise. It has been enthusiastically acclaimed in judicial and legal circles in the Commonwealth. Indeed, one of the most heartening features of the consultations in which the noble Earl and I took part was the readiness of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to recognise the important part which a strong Commonwealth based court can play in maintaining Commonwealth unity of thought and direction.
It is obvious that the plan will have considerable technical advantages in the judicial sphere. The United Kingdom Judges, mainly Members of your Lord ships' House, who sit in the Judicial Committee will receive constant refreshment in their judicial thinking from our overseas colleagues, who will be bring-nig with them to London first-hand, up-to-date knowledge of conditions in other Commonwealth countries. We shall also receive valuable help in manning the Judicial Committee when the pressures of judicial business are especially heavy. The Commonwealth Judges 104 who come to sit here will return to their own courts strengthened through the experience of silting with our Judges in London and of hearing appeals from many different Commonwealth courts.
There will be another occasion, no doubt, when I can appropriately say more on this topic, but I did not wish the occasion to pass to-night without drawing the attention of the House to what I regard as an important landmark in Commonwealth relations. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me for introducing an entirely new topic at the end of this debate, but it is one to which I felt it was necessary to draw your Lordships' attention in the hope that your Lordships would approve, as I am sure you do, of what has been done.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Henderson, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Lucan.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty-six minutes before seven o'clock.