HL Deb 27 November 1963 vol 253 cc649-77

2.53 p.m.

LORD WALSTON rose to call attention to the situation in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the High Commission Territories; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for initiating a debate on this subject, in spite of the fact that it is not many weeks ago since your Lordships had an opportunity of touching upon it. A certain amount was said on that occasion, but, in my view, and I believe in the view of many people, the whole subject of Southern Africa, comprising, so far as this country is concerned, primarily the High Commission Territories and the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, is of such enormous importance that it should be debated at the greatest length that can be spared.

The area of Southern Africa is one where the future of that whole continent is at present being decided, and for all we know the future of the world well may also be decided by what transpires there. In essence, the struggle that is going on there is a struggle between the European and the African races, and, in particular, between the two philosophies, apartheid and multi-racialism—or, as it is now perhaps aptly called, non-racialism. I do not think there are many people in this Chamber or in this country to-day who would disagree with the words of the Prime Minister on that subject. With your Lordships' permission, I will quote words that he used on another occasion, and which he first delivered at a meeting of the Royal Commonwealth Society, when he said that he believed that the greatest danger ahead of us is that the world might be divided on racial lines. He went on to say: I see no other danger, not even the nuclear bomb, which would be so catastrophic as that.

That is true, my Lords. It is in the context of Southern Africa that we now see this struggle being decided. Therefore, it is only reasonable that in discussing the problem of the High Commission Territories and of the Federation we should allow our eyes to wander a little over the strict geographical borders and take a short look at the Republic of South Africa: because it is there that the opposing philosophy to non-racialism —apartheid—is being put into practice.

I do not want to devote much time to this matter, because I have much to say. All I would say is that my own personal impression, after a short visit to the Republic of South Africa, was that the policy which was being adopted there was infinitely more abhorrent and repellent than had seemed to me, bad enough though that was, simply by reading about it and by hearing of it. There is no point in pretending that this is purely a question of political apartheid; that there are certain groups of people who, because of their education, and for no other reason, are not entitled to vote and have a say in the running of the country. That is something which can be defended. But this is not simply political apartheid. This is social apartheid; it is dividing people up solely on the grounds of their colour; forcing them to live in certain places; refusing to allow them certain jobs; preventing normal social intercourse; insisting that they be educated in different places of education; and, in fact, as is going on at this present stage, refusing to admit that an African has any right to reside in the Republic, whether he be born there, whether he be married there, whether his family be there or not; and only if he has a job and a permit to work, which can be arbitrarily withdrawn at any moment, should be allowed to live there. That is, briefly, the situation in the Republic of South Africa at the present time.

But it is only right to say, here and now, that there is a body of very fine men and women, of all colours and races and of all political beliefs, or nearly all political beliefs, who are strongly opposed to this policy of Verwoerd's Government. They are doing their best to alter this situation; but with the laws as they are at the present time their struggle is a vain one. However, I think it is right that we in this country should realise that there are those people there, and we should salute the efforts they are making and the fight they are putting up, often at considerable personal risk to themselves, in order to stand by the principles in which we believe and in which they also believe. And very many, but, alas! not all, of the leaders of the churches in the Republic are taking a similar line.

I know it is said by those who support apartheid that the answer is to help the Africans to develop on their own, and the Bantustan is the practical example of this. But to anybody who has gone into this with any degree of care (and to anybody who wishes to I would recommend the writings of Professor Pistorius of the Republic of South Africa, a well-known student of these matters) it is abundantly clear that the Bantustan idea simply is not a starter from the economic point of view. There is not sufficient area there to enable the vast number of Africans to live and develop happily; the people themselves do not wish for it, and, apart from the Transkei, have refused, and are refusing, to co-operate; and the Transkei itself makes a mockery of its elections in what we in this country call a democracy. It is going even further in the rigging of elections than happened in some of the Communist satellite countries in the years after the war. So we must not delude ourselves here that Bantustan is the answer to this economically; or that it is the answer politically and socially, or on human grounds, either.

There is one more thing about which I think it is worth reminding your Lordships before I leave the Republic of South Africa. People say, "Why do not these liberal-minded people you have spoken of do more about it? Why do they not organise themselves and use constitutional means with which to fight this present system?" I do not think people who say that sufficiently realise the power of the central Government as it is in the Republic to-day; the power of the security police and the various laws which have been introduced, in particular the infamous 90-day detention Regulations, which empower the Minister of Justice to detain without trial for 90 days anybody he suspects of Communist or allied activities—and that covers a very wide range indeed—without trial and in solitary confinement; without access to their family, friends, or even their lawyers; and, at the end of the 90 days, if he so wishes, to continue to detain them. Since this Regulation was introduced, not many months ago, 500 men and women have already been detained in the Republic of South Africa. Of those, 120 have eventually been released without being brought to trial at all; 300 have been charged, but have not yet been convicted or acquitted—indeed, very few have, in fact, been brought to trial; and 80 have not yet even been charged. That is the position, very briefly and sketchily, of the political and social situation in South Africa itself.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the subject of South Africa, may I say, in fairness to the South African Government, that I have always understood that they spend more money per head on the African population than any other Government in Africa. For social reasons I do not personally agree with the policy of apartheid, but I think it should, in all fairness, be pointed out that the South African Government, from the material aspect, looks after the African far better than any other independent Government in Africa.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Viscount for what he has said. I do not dispute it; and I intended to come to that point. But it is not a reason for praising the South African Government. It is, I suggest, a reason for very deep shame on our part, that we ourselves spend so little money on the welfare of the Africans in our own Colonies and Protectorates that it should be possible that that could be said.


I said "independent" Governments.


My Lords, I have no wish to intervene, but I would draw the attention of the House to the terms of the Motion.


My Lords, with permission, I will now resume what I was saying, which is directly concerned with the High Commission Territories. I maintain, however, that one cannot get a proper assessment of the position in the High Commission Territories, or in the Federation, unless one takes a brief look at some of the neighbouring countries. Without that the whole exercise would be completely in vacuo and useless. I would further suggest that we cannot arrive at any reasonable or satisfactory conclusion to this whole problem of Southern Africa unless we look at it as a whole. We cannot pick out Bechuanaland and say, "What shall we do there?" and then pick out Nyasaland and say, "What shall we do there?" Because, although they are geographically separated, the Africans must be regarded as one problem.

I would take up the point which has just been made about the welfare of Africans in the Republic of South Africa and admit, with shame, that, in spite of the conditions that I have described, there are every year hundreds of thousands of Africans who are prepared to submit to these social indignities and hardships, and fears of imprisonment, in order to escape from the grinding poverty in their own countries—countries which are under the protection of Her Majesty's Government, and some of which are actually at the present time British Colonies. That is something to which we cannot blind our eyes.

What we must do with the Protectorates as the Economist pointed out in an article two week ago, is to invest more money and more technical help, and, of course, give other forms of assistance, as we are to a minor extent giving at the present time. We cannot dodge our responsibilities there, because if we are sincere in supporting the views expressed by the Prime Minister con- cering the dangers or racial strife we must ensure that our shop windows of non-racialism in the Protectorates and the countries at present forming the Federation on the borders of apartheid, are good shop windows which show that non-racialism can work. Just as the West has been prepared to pour money into West Berlin in order to show that Western democracy can work and works better than Communism, so we must be prepared to give all the assistance that we can to these territories to show that non-racialism can work, and that apartheid is not the only, nor, indeed, the right answer; otherwise the words of the Prime Minister, great though they are, are empty words.

Going briefly through the different Protectorates, let us look first of all at Bechuanaland, a vast area without many people, an arid country, with small mineral resources—though there are some—dependent almost entirely upon the livestock industry. What is needed there more than anything else (and the Morse Report of several years ago made this quite clear) is water. There must be a hydrological survey; and, following that, money must be invested in boreholes, in canals or in dams, or in a combination of them all, to enable an increased head of cattle to be kept and to permit an increasing export of meat and hides. While on that subject, I should like to pay tribute to the useful and admirable work done by the C.D.C. in its Lobatsi abattoir, which, though I will not say that it has transformed the economy of that country, has certainly made a great difference, and shows what a really imaginative and large-scale programme of work of that kind can achieve.

But in regard to Bechuanaland I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to education and to the health services, because our responsibility is not only in the matter of economic welfare: it is in the matter of general welfare also. There are still in Bechuanaland schools where there are 100, or even 150, pupils with only one teacher; and that teacher not qualified in any way. There is only one teachers' training college, though it is fair to say that another is being built, very late. But two teacher-training colleges do not make very much impact on a problem as great as that. There is only one trade school teaching the Africans trades and crafts, and that turns out every year 24 pupils out of a population of 350,000. To turn to health, I myself visited a hospital in Francis-town which serves a total population of 80,000 people. The hospital has 190 beds. There are two doctors—admirable, devoted men, but only two: and there are six trained nurses with a couple of dozen trainee nurses to help them. And that is in a British Protectorate.

With regard to Basutoland, what can we do there? What has been done there? First of all, I think that we must accept that Basutoland can have no future divorced from the Republic of South Africa. It is an island surrounded by the Republic. It is relatively a small country with a large population, three quarters of a million or somewhat more, of whom approximately 200,000 go to work every year in the mines of the Republic. It can receive nothing across its borders and it can export nothing across its borders without its passing through the Republic; so it is quite clear that its present and its future is inextricably linked with that of the Republic. We can and we must do more for it, but we should be fooling ourselves if we believed that it could ever be made entirely independent of the great and wealthy country which surrounds it.

We have already heard from the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, about water supplies, the Ox-bow Scheme, of Basutoland. That is something which I hope will come eventually to fruition, but even if it does it can contribute, so I am told, no more than three quarters of a million pounds annual revenue to meet a deficit of something between £2 and £3 million annually, so, valuable though it will be, it will be far from solving the economic problem of Basutoland. Agriculturally far more can be done than is being done at the present time although, again, credit should be given, particularly to the Agricultural Department there for their farm institute and their very realistic forms of demonstration farms. But there can be no very great improvement until there is far-reaching reform of land ownership, which strikes at the heart of the whole tribal system but which will eventually enable the cultivators of the soil to have some form of title to the soil itself, so that they can make permanent improvements and raise money on it for the modern types of farming which they have to practise. Of course, once more, as the Morse Commission pointed out, there must be more roads opening up the interior of the country, allowing the agricultural produce to be transported out.

Then there is the third Protectorate of Swaziland, which, in many ways, is a far more hopeful territory. Economically it is viable. It has rich mineral resources, water, and access to the rest of Africa through Portuguese East Africa without having to touch the Republic at all. It has the pulp mills, again a C.D.C. venture, it has private enterprise in sugar and citrus, and canning factories, and it does have a favourable balance of payments. So there, at least, there is a country which, on the economic front, has a good future before it. But still there is a very long way for us to go before we can point to it with pride as an example of what a British Protectorate can and should be, or with pride because it is what a country living on the edge of the Republic of South Africa can and should be.

In 1962, for instance—and I return once more to education because without education you cannot expect any country or its people to advance—only 600 children out of the whole primary schools of the Territory reached secondary standard, and only thirteen secondary school children gained their G.C.E. "O" level in one subject. That is not the way to build up a class of people who are going to take over the running of their country, whether it is the political, commercial or economic running of the country. Unless we are prepared in an imaginative way to devote far more resources to the education of the children of all these territories we can make no real and lasting progress towards their economic wellbeing and political advancement.

I would suggest that, not only here but in all these Territories, we should give more serious thought to the less conventional methods of education. We have heard talk in this country of a "university of the air". I think we should have "schools of the air" in those Territories. Whether it could be done with closed-circuit television, I do not know. Even without the expense of television but with relatively inexpensive single-channel broadcasting, and cheap radio sets in the schools to receive the one wave-length, we can at least temporarily overcome this appalling shortage of trained teachers and make sure that it will be not 600 but 6,000 children who have been to primary schools and reached secondary school level, and not 13, but 1,300 who at the end of their secondary schooling can achieve G.C.E. standard. It is no good pottering along in the old ways when we have these urgent problems facing us which will make a failure of any other efforts that we put into these Territories.

But, my Lords, the basic problem in Swaziland on the political front is not a struggle between the Europeans and the Africans—and I am proud to say that in the other High Commission Territories as well it is not that struggle—but, above all, it is the struggle between what one can call the traditionalists, the tribal chiefs and their supporters, and the progressives, the people who want to break away from the tribal influence and approach more closely to what we call Western democracy. That is where the real struggle lies, and that is where the difficulties are going to arise in the very near future.

As your Lordships know, a Constitution has been proposed for Swaziland. It is not too difficult to find fault with that Constitution; many people have. But on balance, I believe it is a good Constitution and should be given a chance of succeeding. But it is going to have a great deal of opposition in Swaziland, and, in fact, is already subject to a great deal of opposition there. That opposition is not entirely spontaneous from within the Territory itself. A lot of the opposition comes from outside, from the Republic of South Africa, and it is not hard to understand why. Clearly, it will be of no assistance to Dr. Verwoerd and his Government if it is shown that on his own borders there is an economically and politically successful example of non-racialism. It will make his whole effort towards Bantustan infinitely more difficult. And it is absolutely true to say that a great deal of support for the opposition to the present Constitution proposed by Her Majesty's Government, although coming from the traditionalists of Swaziland, has received, if not inspiration, at any rate encouragement, and help, from outside.

I will read the final paragraph of a document which came into my possession while I was out there, a document prepared by a prominent and extremely able lawyer in Pretoria for the traditionalist group in Swaziland advising them as to how best they can counter the present proposals of the Secretary of State and Her Majesty's Government. I do not blame the traditionalists and King Sobhuza's group for going to get this advice; I think they are quite entitled to do so. But it is right that we should know that they have done this; and it is right that Her Majesty's Government and the country here should know the influence which is coming from the Republic of South Africa in these matters. The advice in this document is how to act in the question of this new proposed Constitution, and the final paragraph reads thus: The time of the proclamation of the Constitution is the right time for the King to launch his political party, making full use of the degrading agreement which the Secretary required him to sign and protesting strongly against the Constitution. The political party, which must have been fully prepared and made ready beforehand must then immediately swing into action in a nationwide campaign. It seems undoubtedly clear that such a political movement launched at the psychologically right moment would gain tremendous momentum and would at once become the most powerful force in the land. Not only would the machine of the Constitution then be used to the advantage of the King's movement, but by demanding self-government and independence as soon as possible much of the wind will be taken out of the sails of other political parties. On top of that it will not then be a question of going cap in hand to the Socialist Government"— In parenthesis, I may say it is assumed by this time there will be a Socialist Government in this country— to beg for favours for the traditional Swazi; to the contrary, the King's men will then go to London as the strongest political force in Swaziland to call for the removal of all colonial rule in Swaziland, which is one of the principles of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom.


My Lords, could the noble Lord say whether that is a public document?


It is not a public document, though parts of it have been published in some of the Johannesburgh newspapers.


That part?


I do not know whether or not that part has been published. But I think it is right, as I say, that we should realise, when we are dealing with this difficult and important question, that we are not dealing solely with the people of the country itself, but that (I am not for a moment complaining about it) there are neighbouring countries which are interested in what goes on there and trying to exert their influence and right to achieve a result they wish.


My Lords, before the noble Lord goes on may I interrupt him for a moment? Has he any justification whatsoever for these wild accusations against the South African Government? From what I know—which I think is possibly more than the noble Lord knows—what he says to be the policy of the South African Government in relation to Swaziland is utterly wrong.


I do not know that I was actually saying what the South African Republic policy is towards Swaziland. I said that they were interested in it, and that I would assume it would be unfortunate for their policy of Bantustan if non-racialism were to succeed on their borders. That, I think, has been said by some of them, certainly in private if not in public. And of course, it is a logical and reasonable conclusion to draw; in exactly the same way as, when we were trying to show that apartheid does not work and that non-racialism does work, it would be bad for our argument if apartheid were proved to work—though it has not been proved to work so far.


May I interrupt—


I believe that the noble Lord is going to speak later, so I should like to sum up my points, if I may, so far as the Protectorates are concerned, and say that we have reason for pride in knowing that the relationship between Africans and Europeans is good and that there is practically none of the racial antagonism which is found not far away across various borders; that the standard of our officials there is first-class and that they are, almost without exception, able and devoted men; that the main struggle, certainly for the future, is between the traditionalists and the progressives; that the main problem at the moment is economic in its widest sense—it is money; and that we should be full of shame when we see the standard of living, the actual starvation, the conditions of the sick, the educational facilities, as well as the purely economic investment that has taken place, and is taking place, in these territories under our protection. I am afraid that I am detaining your Lordships for a long time, but there is a wide area to cover, quite apart from the interruptions, which I welcome.


My Lords, as the noble Lord welcomes interruptions, would he mind my asking him (I came here to be educated) how we are to know about these private conversations, and about published, though not public, documents which he has been quoting to us, because we have no knowledge of them.


The noble Lord now has knowledge. How else can one have knowledge unless somebody puts them forward?


Would the noble Lord place that document in the Library?


I am perfectly prepared to show it to the noble Lord or to any other noble Lords who are interested.

Perhaps I may now leave the High Commission Territories temporarily and turn to the Federation. Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia have emerged from their struggle for independence with a remarkable absence of bitterness. Credit for this must go, and should go, to Her Majesty's Government and to the officials on the spot, as well as to the African leaders themselves. I believe that the African—European relationship in those two territories is hopeful in the extreme. The large-scale industrialists are prepared to sink more money into those countries; the small-scale businessmen, almost without exception, are prepared to stay. The majority of European agriculturalists (I know that there are not very many of them) are also prepared to stay and make a go of it. The European civil servants—I am not talking about the Federal civil servants but about the Territorial civil servants—even though some of them are leaving, are co-operating with the African Ministers. So that, in general, the prospects there are good from the point of view of the relationship between African and European and, also, with certain serious reservations, on the economic front.

I would confirm very strongly what the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, told us last time we debated this matter: that it is entirely misleading to talk about a breakdown of law and order in either of these two Territories. There have been incidents—of course there have. There are incidents in Southern Rhodesia, too. But do not let us exaggerate the importance of them, and do not let us forget the causes of them. Let us give credit to Mr. Kaunda and to Dr. Banda for the most responsible leadership that they are exercising over their own people, exhorting them to work hard, making them realise that independence does not mean riches brought upon a golden platter, but hard work and tightening of the belt.

But let us not also forget that the political leaders of both these two territories are going to be faced with serious difficulties in the future—Nyasaland more than Northern Rhodesia because it is in a far weaker economic position. It has virtually no natural resources other than agriculture, and already it starts life with an over-expenditure of something like £5 million a year. If we let that go on, if we wash our hands and say, "It is all yours; you have got the independence to carry on", what is going to become the outcome of that? The outcome is going to be economic stagnation or falling off and increased unemployment. And let me remind your Lordships that in the past six years in Nyasaland, while the population rose by 20 per cent. employment remained absolutely static; and that in Northern Rhodesia the population rose by 24 per cent. while employment declined by 3 per cent. So it is manifest that there is a growing number already and, without increased aid from outside, there will be an increasing number of unemployed.

Unemployment there is different from unemployment in this country, because there is no unemployment insurance; there is no dole; and in many cases there are no tribal areas to return to even for a subsistence life. Therefore, you are creating a group mainly of young men, discontented men, violent men, hungry men, desperate men. What better group could an opposition politician in an emerging African country wish for if he were anxious to stir up trouble and throw out the present responsible Government? Unless we in this country realise that our responsibilities even after independence are continuing, that is what is going to emerge in this area of Africa; and whether or not we say, "You are responsible for it" we shall be involved in the chaos which will ensue.

Finally, Southern Rhodesia. That, I believe, is the saddest country of all with the most serious position. The political situation there is deteriorating rapidly. The situation economically is receding; it would be too much to say that there is a slump, but there is growing unemployment. En Bulawayo there are now thousands out of work, and there is no official relief, though the municipality has been able to find enough money to enable the 800 poorest families who have been out of work longest to receive 17s. 6d. per month with which to buy food. That is the 800 poorest, and there are many who are nearly as poor but who receive nothing. That is not helpful for a stable country.

The majority of the Europeans are completely disillusioned with this country, with Her Majesty's Government and, I am afraid, with the Commonwealth also. What of the African leaders? I emphasise the word "leaders" because there are many people who say that the ordinary Africans are happy and contented and do not much mind. But let us not fool ourselves. A political leader does not have to work hard to stir up a feeling of national resentment in a situation of this sort, even though it may be that the ordinary African does not mind at the present time. The African leaders are losing such patience as they ever had, and possibly more sinister than that, are split among themselves, so that even if it were possible to get one of the leaders to agree to a reasonable solution, the others would denounce him as being the stooge of the imperialists. This cannot be allowed to go on; it has gone on far too long. We all know that proposals which would have been accepted, had they been put forward, five years ago are now turned down out of hand. The longer we delay taking a firm and unequivocal line, the harder it will be to arrive at any settlement.

We have heard in the last week a statement, again from the Prime Minister, which we on this side of the House took as meaning that Her Majesty's Government refused to give independence to Southern Rhodesia unless there were majority rule. I do not know whether or not we interpreted that aright. Certainly, the Minister of Justice in Southern Rhodesia, Mr. Dupont, put a different interpretation upon it. Addressing the Rhodesia National Affairs Association, he said that some disquiet had been expressed at the British Prime Minister's statement that the British Government accepted in principle that the majority should rule and the minority, whether white or black, should be protected. In some quarters this had been construed as a categorical statement that the British Government favoured black rule. Mr. Dupont goes on to say: I entirely disagree. I think it was a typical diplomatic, non-committal reply. I hope that we shall have from one or other of the noble Lords who is going to answer in this debate a reply which will be neither non-committal nor diplomatic, but will be absolutely forthright and leave no ground whatsoever for any misunderstanding on any side at all. Until we have some firm statement from Her Majesty's Government, we can make no progress of any kind in this vexed problem. I would suggest, first of all, that we must have this firm statement in which we state categorically that there will be no independence until there be majority rule. Then a constitutional conference should be called in London to which the Europeans and the Africans should be invited, and at that constitutional conference we should insist upon repeal of the Land Apportionment Act and there should be legislation against racial discrimination; and from then on we should work out with the Europeans and Africans of Southern Rhodesia the timetable for this move.

I fully understand the fears of the Europeans out there. I should have exactly the same fears if I were there myself. I fully sympathise with men—some of them have gone out there, some have been born out there—who have made their lives there and have created wealth for themselves and for the country, and who, in the main, I believe, have looked after their employees well and have raised the standard of living of the Africans around them. I fully sympathise with their situation. But it is no good looking at this from that point of view. We must look at it from the realistic point of view.

What are the alternatives facing Southern Rhodesia to-day? The alternatives are to retain by force—and force is being used to-day—white domination in the face of growing African subversion, terrorism and violence, antagonism and bitterness; or we can accept the fact that sooner or later Southern Rhodesia will have a majority Government, and the majority will be African. The question then comes down to what "sooner or later" means, and that is purely a matter for hard, tough negotiation. But it is not going to get any easier by delaying it and putting it off. Until Her Majesty's Government make that very clear we can make no progress. We shall simply be slipping further and further down into this morass of bitterness and violence.

My Lords, I have spoken long, too long, but I will just say one more thing. I believe that the future of the peace of Africa rests upon the solutions that emerge from these Territories about which we have been talking. In some of them we have direct responsibility and in others indirect responsibility; but, even in those in which our responsibility and our influence are indirect and very remote, I like to believe that the moral influence of this country is still great enough to bring about a right and just solution. But we must do more than that. The troubles which we are experiencing to-day in that area stem from lack of foresight, lack of thought, lack of right action, and frequently lack of courage, on the part of people in the years gone by.

If we exhibit deficiencies of these kinds we shall be storing up trouble not only for ourselves but perhaps for a coming generation. The trouble will be the fight between the "haves" and the "have-nots", the rich and the poor—all of them Africans by then—in these areas. We can do a service to ourselves by solving to-day's problems, and to coming generations by providing the educational and economic aid which will enable those countries which have achieved their independence to go forward with their economic progress in order to raise the standard of living of their peoples and to make possible stable and responsible government rule instead of rule by extremists and men of violence. Do not let us lose sight of our moral responsibilities because we are so obsessed with the problems of the moment. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Walston, suggested that he has spoken too long. I am sure that all of us who have had the good fortune to listen to his extraordinarily well-informed speech on this part of Africa will thoroughly disagree with that statement. I feel that the whole House is very much in the debt of the noble Lord, not only for initiating this debate but for the great ray of illumination he has cast on it and on the problems facing this part of the world. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I do not speak at quite such length, or if I speak rather more briefly than is customary for someone opening on the Government side. But I shall do so only because a good deal of the ground covered by this afternoon's debate was covered by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, in his speech when replying to the Address on November 14. I hope that your Lordships will not think that I am showing the House any discourtesy by adopting this course.

I should like to begin what I have to say by following Lord Walston in talking, first of all, about Central Africa, and then at the end I shall say a brief word about the Territories. Before I go into any detailed analysis of the situation in Central Africa, I would say a word about the background, as I see it, of the situation with which we are faced to-day. As your Lordships will appreciate, Her Majesty's Government had hoped and believed—and my feeling is that many in this House shared the Government's hopes—that Central Africa's future lay in a different direction; that is to say, in the direction of federation—the Federation which came into being with such high hopes and expectations in 1953. To-day, we know that those hopes and expectations were frustrated, and that the Federation is now in the process of dissolution. It will serve no purpose this afternoon for me to go into the causes of this dissolution. I will say merely that with the break-up of the Federation an experiment in racial co-operation came to nothing; and, in my view, Central Africa, and indeed the whole world, is the poorer for it.

One hears it said that the Government are responsible for the dissolution of the Federation. While, of course, it is true that the actual legal responsibilities for this step rest with Her Majesty's Government, the cause of the break-up was due to the fact that two of the three Territories were not prepared to remain within the Federation. That is why this step has had to take place. I think that perhaps noble Lords will wish me to go in a little more detail into the actual procedure and progress of dissolution, and to give an assessment of the prospects for a successful completion of the tasks of the respective Committees charged with working out the detailed arrangements for the transfer of the Federal functions to the Territories. This part of the dissolution is dealt with by what is known as Committee A; and, equally important, the future of inter-Territorial co-operation in the various fields is being dealt with by what is known as Committee B.

This machinery set up for bringing about the orderly transfer of these functions and the orderly break-up of the Federation results from the Conference held at Victoria Falls earlier this year. I am sure that all noble Lords join me in paying a tribute to the infinite skill with which that Conference, presided over by my right honourable friend the present Foreign Secretary, was conducted.



As noble Lords will know, the target date for final dissolution is December 31 this year. Although the matters on which these two Committees have been working are very numerous, as well as extremely complex, progress has, on the whole, been both smooth and rapid. An immense amount has been achieved, but not altogether surprisingly. As those working on these difficult tasks reach the culmination of their work, certain major issues emerge which make heavy demands on the patience, foresight, and indeed on the capacity for compromise, not only on the part of those serving on the Committees but on the part of the Governments which they represent.

The House will not expect me at this crucial stage, when the most difficult stage of the discussions is being reached, to anticipate the final outcome, but I will say that great progress has been made. In this progress one of the key achievements of the Committees has been the reaching of an agreement on the future of the Federal public service. Noble Lords may well be aware that reference was made to it during the debate on the Address on November 14, and the terms of compensation for members of the Federal Service have recently been the subject of considerable interest in this country. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may wish to say something on this when winding up this debate. I will content myself with saying that it seems to me that the basic cause of misunderstanding which has arisen over the terms of compensation is due to the fact that the terms of service for the Federal Service and for Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service are basically different and contain basically different terms of compensation. Since the Federal Service was from its very beginning a local service, with no connection with any British service, it is not possible to compare the respective terms of compensation, because it is in no way comparing like with like. As I have said, it may well be that the Lord Chancellor will wish to say more on this later this afternoon.

In the field of future inter-Territorial co-operation, it has been very encouraging to record agreement of the Northern and Southern Rhodesia Governments that the great Kariba project should continue and be further developed as a unity under their joint ownership and control. Although no announcement—I think I am right in saying—has yet been made, there are good grounds for belief that the three Territorial Governments will agree to the continuance of the Central African Airways as a jointly owned and operated enterprise. This, again, we find a really encouraging, heartening demonstration of the will to co-operate and recognition by the Territories of their interdependence; and this, I am sure, is something that bodes well for the future of this part of Africa. The future of the Rhodesian Railways is also in the final stages of consideration between the Northern and the Southern Rhodesian Governments, and here again it is hoped that a result can be achieved which will be of mutual benefit to these two adjoining Territories.

It is the intention of the three Territories to establish separate national currencies. That this will be carried out in an orderly and responsible manner is ensured by their agreement to maintain for a transitional period after the dissolution the existing legislation on currency, banking and exchange control, and the authority and functions of the Central Bank.

A further important matter on which there has been agreement between the Governments concerns the arrangements to be made in respect of citizenship. The Government of Southern Rhodesia intend to introduce before dissolution a Bill which will confer Southern Rhodesian citizenship on those Federal citizens who can be regarded as belonging to Southern Rhodesia. The Governments of the Northern Territories—Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—will not enact citizenship laws at this stage, but Her Majesty's Government will make provision by Order in Council for all Federal citizens who do not become citizens of Southern Rhodesia to become citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, at any rate until such time as the Northern Territorial Governments pass their own citizenship legislation.


My Lords, could the noble Duke say what will be the position then under British law?


My Lords, I think the answer to the noble Marquess's question is that we must wait and see what is the stage of these Northern Territories' legislation on citizenship. But I am sure the noble Marquess will be aware of the announcement of legislation to bring changes into our own citizenship laws to enable and to make it easier for those who have been citizens of this country in the past and have changed their citizenship, to resume citizenship of this country. Though I should not wish to say that this is entirely relevant, it does bear on this problem. I feel sure that noble Lords will be pleased to learn that the continued British nationality of former Federal citizens is thus assured. While, as I have already said to the House, the dissolution machinery has worked with speed and efficiency, and we owe those people who have worked so hard in Salisbury in recent weeks a very great debt, I am not able to describe this afternoon the final pattern of dissolution.


My Lords, could the noble Duke say what happens about Kariba? He was going through three or four of these—


My Lords, I made some reference to Kariba, and said that it would continue as a joint venture between Northern and Southern Rhodesia.

The combined efforts of our own Government and the other Governments have now reached the stage where the provisions of the final Order in Council to dissolve the Federation are beginning to be framed, and I hope it will not be too long before the whole pattern of the provisions can be laid before your Lordships for your approval. I am sorry that this is in a way an interim review, but I hope that before long the whole picture will be presented to this House.

With the final dissolution of the Federation immediately ahead of us, each of the three Territories is faced, of course, with a new situation. In the case of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia I am happy to say, and to agree with the noble Lord who is also my friend, Lord Walston, that the future seems assured. Nyasaland enjoys internal self-government at the moment under its present Constitution, which came into force in May of this year, and at that time Dr. Banda's Government became fully responsible for Nyasaland's internal affairs, with certain exceptions. In addition to the retention by the Governor of responsibility for law and order, including the operational control of the police, special transitional powers were retained in respect of finance and the public service. These arrangements were agreed at the Constitutional Conference at the end of 1961 and recognised the special local problems in the Territory. The Governor's powers over the overseas element in the public service lapsed, however, on November 1 last, and the Public Service Commission is now fully executive. With the dissolution of the Federation further responsibilities are being transferred progressively to the Nyasaland Government, and when dissolution is finally effected the Nyasaland Government will have acquired responsibility for health, railways, prisons, post, telecommunications, higher education and other ex-Federal functions. The Federal responsibility for defence and external affairs in respect of Nyasaland will, from the date of dissolution, rest with Her Majesty's Government, of course until such time as Nyasaland achieves full independence.

In September this year discussions were held with Dr. Banda about the next constitutional steps and it was agreed that the United Kingdom would grant Nyasaland independence on July 6, 1964. The details of the Independence Constitution are at present being worked out in Nyasaland, and will shortly be submitted by the Governor to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, for Her Majesty's Government's agreement. Meanwhile it has been agreed that the Legislature should be re-named the National Assembly and enlarged from the present 29 members to 55. Of these, 50 are to be elected on a general roll on the basis of universal adult suffrage; the remaining 5 seats will be elected by a special roll to represent minorities in the Territory. The details of franchise for this roll have not yet been finally decided. The Bill of Rights which was introduced with the present self-governing Constitution will be retained in the final Independence Constitution. The Constitution will be in the form of a Monarchy, and Dr. Banda—I know noble Lords on all sides of the House will be delighted to hear this—has expressed a wish to join the Commonwealth when on July 6 the Territory achieves final and full independence.

Now, I should like to turn to Northern Rhodesia. Shortly after the Northern Rhodesia Coalition between U.N.I.P. and A.N.C. assumed office in December, 1962, they proposed the introduction of a new Constitution on a universal suffrage basis. After considering this request, the then First Secretary of State, the present Foreign Secretary, suggested that the two political Parties of the Coalition should first decide precisely what kind of Constitution they had in mind. Arrangements were made for a Ministerial Working Party to consider this question under the chairmanship of the Solicitor-General. This met during the summer in Lusaka and in due course produced proposals which, generally speaking, envisaged that the new Constitution should provide a more or less conventional form of internal self-government. We have been through this procedure of bringing countries to independence so often that there is now very largely a set pattern by which countries proceed through internal self-government to final independence, and the Constitution for Northern Rhodesia is following very much the lines of what is now a traditional pattern.

The present Foreign Secretary then asked the Governor to discuss these proposals with the three leaders of the three political Parties: That is, Mr. Kaunda of the United National Independence Party, Mr. Nkumbula of the African National Congress and Mr. Roberts of the National Progress Party. These discussions between the Governor and the Party leaders resulted, I am happy to say, in a very substantial measure of agreement. Naturally, in the course of the negotiations, each of the leaders had to compromise over various features of the new Constitution, but, despite their different reservations, the House will be glad to know that all three Parties were agreed that it was both desirable and, indeed, urg- ent that the Territory should proceed to internal self-government at the earliest possible date. The principles to be embodied in the new Constitution have now been accepted by all three Party leaders, and this achievement is very largely due to the skill and patience of the Governor. I know that Members of this House on all sides would wish to join with me in expressing our warmest admiration and appreciation for the work done by Sir Evelyn Home in bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion.

The new Constitution is now in an advanced stage of preparation, and we can expect developments at an early date. It is intended to bring it into force for a General Election towards the end of January, 1964. Its features were announced both in the Territory and in this country on November 5, and those noble Lords who are interested in this subject will, I know, have made themselves acquainted with these details. It will be a self-governing Constitution, as I say, of more or less the standard pattern. The Governor will retain the usual powers in respect of defence and external affairs, and will be required to reserve for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure any Bill which, in his view, is inconsistent with any obligation imposed on Her Majesty by any treaty, convention or agreement with any country or international organisation, or is likely to prejudice the Royal Prerogative. These are customary terms, and there is nothing unusual in them. The Governor will also retain ultimate responsibility for public order and for the police force, but he may delegate such responsibilities subject to the approval of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

The present Executive Council will be replaced by a Cabinet which will consist of a Prime Minister and not more than 13 other Ministers, to whom the Governor will assign portfolios on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Legislature will be enlarged to a total of 75 members, of whom 65 will be elected in main roll constituencies and 10 in reserved roll constituencies. The electorate of the main roll constituencies will be African, and that of the reserved roll constituencies will be European. Asian and coloured persons will opt on which roll they wish to vote. Members of any race, so long as they possess the qualification to be a voter, will be eligible to stand as a candidate in all constituencies. Personal liberty and minority rights will be safeguarded by a Bill of Rights and a Constitutional Council with powers to delay legislation inconsistent with the Bill of Rights. The Territory will have its own High Court and Court of Appeal, with the Chief Justice presiding over the latter. Special care is being taken of the position of the Barotse Native Government, and it has been agreed to carry forward into the new Constitution those provisions which safeguard the position of Barotseland in the existing Constitution.

Over the third Territory, Southern Rhodesia, there hangs a question mark. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, spoke, I thought, with all respect, too depressingly of the future of this Territory. However, I fancy that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may again wish to say something on this on winding up the debate. I shall content myself with saying merely this: important—and, of course, it is vitally important—as it is for Southern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesians to find a satisfactory solution to the problems posed by its constitutional position, the consequences of the solution of these problems spread far wider than Southern Rhodesia itself; and I think it only right to say that unless all those concerned with this problem show wisdom—and more than wisdom: forbearance—a situation may well arise which could gravely upset existing relationships within the Commonwealth.


My Lords, could the noble Duke make clear one thing which was not clear from the speech of the noble Lord who introduced the Motion? At the moment, and until something else is agreed, are we right in taking it that the existing Constitution of Southern Rhodesia, which was agreed by all Parties and introduced only a year ago, stands?


Certainly, my Lords. The existing Constitution of Southern Rhodesia stands, and will stand until steps are taken to alter it. It certainly exists at this moment—and, indeed, I think at this very moment the Southern Rhodesian Parliament is sitting under the terms of that Constitution.

So much for the Territories of Central Africa. I should now like to make a few brief remarks—and I promise your Lordships that they will be brief—about the High Commission Territories. If I may, I would pay a particular tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Walston, for the extraordinarily well-informed speech he made on these little-known Territories. We in this country tend to know far too little about the High Commission Territories, but we certainly know a great deal more as a result of the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and I am better qualified to be a Minister than I was before I had the privilege of listening to him this afternoon.

I would say only a word or two on their economic problems, because the constitutional position was fully covered by my noble friend and kinsman Lord Lansdowne when replying in the debate on the Address on November 14. Now all three Territories have before them development plans, and these development plans run for the period 1963 to 1966. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, had some critical things to say about how little was being done in the field of welfare in its widest sense—the field of health and education. I should like to reassure him that very high among the priorities of these development plans are ideas to meet educational and hospital needs in those Territories. They are a first charge on these development plans. There are substantial plans for secondary education, including schools at Gaberones. There is also a new hospital at Gaberones, and we are to make a major contribution towards the cost of the university at Roma, in Basutoland. The noble Lord may not think we are doing enough, but I should like to say that we are conscious, as he is, of the needs of these particular Territories, and the particular faults he found are being looked at. They are ones of which we are conscious and which we are doing what we can to meet.

But, of course, as in so many development plans, the cost of development so sorely needed in all three Territories is greater than the funds immediately available to meet them. Indeed, in my limited experience in my office I have never come across a development plan which had sufficient funds to meet the plan which was set out. The basic source of finance for all three plans will be C.D. and W. grants, and it is right that it should be so, as we are responsible for the welfare and future of these Territories. But it is hoped that additional assistance for these plans may be found from such sources as the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which has already provided a loan of £1½ million for a hydroelectric scheme in Swaziland. Perhaps other sources might be the International Development Association and the United Nations Special Fund. The needs of these Territories are all legitimate charges on the resources at the disposal of these international bodies.

There is also a possible source of loan capital from the commercial banks. We hope very much that they will be interested in these Territories; while such organisations as the W.H.O. and the United Nations Children's Fund—and, indeed, Oxfam and Freedom from Hunger—which have given assistance to these Territories in the past, will not, we hope, lose interest in them in the future. Finally, certain developments for which expenditure is required are likely to be loan-worthy; so I say that, although at the moment I cannot give to the House exactly where the money is to be found for these very necessary developments, I am reasonably optimistic that these plans will be brought to successful fruition, to the benefit of all three Territories.

If I might, I will now give a little background, and I hope that your Lordships will not think it too gloomy. It will be appreciated that both Basutoland and Bechuanaland have little in the way of natural resources and the soil of Basutoland is badly eroded, and other than ample water and some diamonds there is little for the indigenous population to develop. As a result some 45 per cent. of the adult male population works in the Republic of South Africa, and this labour force brings into Basutoland a very considerable inflow of both cash and goods. Those who remain in the Territory are mainly engaged in farming. The principle exports are cattle, grain, wool and mohair and they are sold almost entirely to South Africa.

Bechuanaland, as the noble Lord has said, is a sparsely inhabited country, being largely desert, and suitable chiefly for cattle raising, and dependent, again as the noble Lord has said, on sufficient water supplies; and this is something of which those responsible for the development of the Territory are conscious. The cattle industry is far and away the most important economic activity, but there is some farming and some mining. I do not wish to raise hopes on this matter, but from surveys now taking place there is ground for cautious optimism—and I emphasise the word "cautious"—in the mining field. Again there is a very substantial section of the adult male population, some 25 per cent., working at any one time in the Republic; and, again, the cash that they can send to their homes makes a substantial contribution to the economy of the Territory. Here the most important industry is beef—they export some £2 million of beef a year—and once more the Republic is the most important market.

As the noble Lord opposite has said, Swaziland is the most prosperous of the three Territories and has enjoyed a reasonably rapid growth recently in the fields of farming, forestry and mining. There is iron ore, coal, asbestos and plenty of water in the country. A railway is to be constructed to transport iron ore from Laurenço Marques for ultimate export to Japan, and a trans-Swazi highway is under construction to assist industry generally. Asbestos is the largest exportable product, followed by sugar, and in both these products Britain's industry plays a substantial part. I should like at this point to pay tribute to British industry. A great deal is being done; those responsible deserve every credit, and I should like it to go on record that we pay this tribute. There are substantial agricultural exports and, with the exception of asbestos, which is exported to this country, they go largely to South Africa.

This is a very brief review of the economic situation of the Territories; and I hope I have said enough for noble Lords to appreciate that, with the exception of Swaziland, really promising prospects for rapid economic growth are not great, through no fault of those in the country but because of the limited physical resources there. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government are aware of our responsibility in these Territories, and are determined that they shall not be the Cinderellas of our colonial possessions. We intend to put them on the map and see that they enjoy with the rest of the world increasing good fortune and increasingly higher material standards of living.

I would end with a very brief peroration. British colonial rule in Africa is drawing to a close. Kenya and Zanzibar achieve independence next month; and then there will remain only the Territories about which to-day's debate is being held and which are still under ultimate British authority. As, I am sure, are all noble Lords, I am deeply proud of the British record over the years as a colonial Power. I have no doubt in the months and years to come that the final chapters of British rule in Africa will be written. When those chapters are written one thing is certain. Such arguments as we may have in this House and elsewhere as to the way these final acts of bringing independence to Africa are conducted will be concerned with the timing rather than the principle. I can recall, on the occasion of the first speech I made as, a member of the Government in this House, a most striking phrase was used by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who I am pleased to see will be speaking this afternoon. He said, on this subject: The arguments about bringing independence to African countries are concerned with pace and not with principle. This is a phrase that I have kept with me ever since, and I regret to tell the noble Lord that I have used it as my own on some occasions. But this is still true; and I find it reassuring that noble Lords on all sides of the House believe in the principle of self-rule and independence for all the African peoples, just as we believe in it for elsewhere in the world.