§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I have it in Command from The Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The object of the Bill is to provide for the independence of the Nyasaland Protectorate under the name of Malawi. I am sure that your Lordships will be pleased to know that it was the unanimous wish of the Nyasaland Legislature that the independent Malawi should become a member country of 638 the Commonwealth and that Her Majesty should remain its Sovereign, as Queen of Malawi; and I know that your Lordships will share with me the satisfaction that I feel in commending the Independence Bill to the House.
The history of the British Government's responsibility for the Nyasaland Protectorate extends over some seventy years and, particularly on this occasion, we are all most conscious of the special ties which have grown up since the early days of our connection when missionaries and administrators from these islands first concerned themselves with the chaos of tribal warfare and the degradations of the slave trade which for centuries had effectively hindered the progress of Nyasaland's peoples. In this relatively short time, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of those of our countrymen who have lived and worked in Nyasaland, a stable foundation has been laid for the development of a modern State based on a progressive economy.
Our recent relations with Nyasaland have not been without controversy, and it cannot be disguised that her membership of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland created formidable political difficulties which were surmounted only with the Federation's dissolution. But, despite the controversy of the past decade, the material benefits which the Territory derived from its temporary union with the other Central African Territories are evident. Unfortunately, it is equally evident that the dissolution of the Federation has seriously increased the pressures on Nyasaland's limited financial and economic resources.
At this time, however, we are not concerned with history, however recent it may be. Both here and in Nyasaland we look to the future; and while the economic difficulties which will lie before the newly independent Malawi must not be under-rated, there is one factor which should prove of inestimable value in meeting these difficulties. The people of Malawi have a sense of unity and cohesion remarkable, and perhaps unique, in the African territories now emerging to nationhood. There can be no doubt that they are overwhelmingly behind their present Government—a fact convincingly demonstrated at the recent elections; and tribal rivalries which continue to pose formidable problems elsewhere in Africa 639 pose no problem in Nyasaland. This is a considerable and favourable element in the situation and one that will contribute greatly to future stability.
Moreover, the British Government will continue to do all they can to assist Malawi, just as, in the past, they have aided the Nyasaland Protectorate. We have recently had inter-Governmental talks with the Nyasaland Finance Ministers on the scope and nature of the financial assistance which Nyasaland may expect to receive from Britain after independence, and there will undoubtedly be need for further regular consultations between us on financial and economic matters. Evidence of our good will in this field is, I think, convincingly provided by the fact that we are contributing aid up to £5 million in 1964 to cover the deficit in Nyasaland's current Budget.
Your Lordships will recall that, following the discussions between my right honourable friend the then First Secretary of State, Dr. Banda and the Government of Nyasaland, in September, 1963, it was announced that Her Majesty's Government would grant Nyasaland independence on July 6 this year and that proposals for the Independence Constitution would be worked out in Nyasaland by the Governor, in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. These proposals have now been received and have been accepted by Her Majesty's Government. The precedents of previous independence Constitutions have been closely followed and the detailed proposals will be promulgated in an Order in Council which is to be laid before Her Majesty's Privy Council. We are not at this time concerned with the details of the Independence Order, but your Lordships will wish to know that it is proposed that the Bill of Rights embodied in the present Constitution is to be retained.
The Constitution will also provide for Malawi citizenship to take effect from the date of Independence, and for a Legislature of fifty members elected on a General Roll and three members representative of European opinion, elected on a Special Roll. There will be a Cabinet system of Government and the judicial system will provide for mini- 640 mum rights of appeal from subordinate courts to the High Court. There are also to be rights of appeal from the High Court to the Supreme Court and to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Order will also contain the normal provisions for public, police and judicial service commissions.
I should now like to say a few words about the detailed provisions of the Bill. Its principal object is to confer on Malawi fully responsible status within the Commonwealth. Clause 1 provides that on and after July 6, 1964, Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom shall no longer have responsibility for the Government of the Territory. Clause 1 also provides that future British legislation will not extend to Malawi, that any enactment or instrument passed before July 6 shall continue in force, and that no alteration in the law of the territory shall result from the change of status from a Protectorate to one of Her Majesty's Dominions.
Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill deal with nationality matters. At present, the majority of the population are British protected persons, but there are also a number of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and these include persons who were until recently citizens of the former Federation. As I have already said, it is proposed that detailed provisions affecting Malawi citizenship should be included in the Independence Order. Clause 2 of the Bill provides that a person who becomes a citizen of Malawi will, by virtue of that citizenship, possess the status of British subject or Commonwealth citizen, that British protected persons will not lose their status as such until they acquire Malawi citizenship, and that on July 6 citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies will be withdrawn from persons who acquire Malawi citizenship. Your Lordships will observe, however, that this last provision is modified by Clause 3, where citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies is preserved for those persons who, becoming Malawi citizens, nevertheless have substantial connections with the United Kingdom. These provisions relating to citizenship and nationality correspond with similar provisions in other Independence Acts applicable to former British Protectorates or Trust Territories in Africa.
Clause 4 of the Bill and Schedule 2 deal with modifications of various 641 United Kingdom enactments consequent on the grant of independence and require no special explanation. Clause 5 enables provision to be made conferring jurisdiction in appeals from Malawi and in proceedings concerning judges of Malawi courts to be conferred on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and excluding a right of appeal to Her Majesty in Council. This provision is similar to the provision made in the Kenya Independence Act, and its purpose is to permit the establishment of appeal arrangements in the Constitution of the territory, which can remain unaffected should the territory later become a republic and consequently cease to be under Her Majesty's sovereignty.
Clause 6 terminates the divorce jurisdiction of courts in Malawi in respect of British subjects domiciled in the United Kingdom and makes provision for transitional arrangements. As your Lordships will see, Clause 7 is an interpretative clause, and Clause 8 deals with the Short Title of the Bill.
In commending the Bill to the House, I confidently look forward to a continuation and strengthening of the friendship and understanding between our two countries. Her Majesty's Government will gladly continue to do all they can to assist Malawi in meeting the problems which will confront her: and I am sure that the House would wish to join with me in sending greetings to the Government and peoples of our new Commonwealth partner and in wishing them every future prosperity. I may add, perhaps, because I know that it is a source of great satisfaction to the peoples of Malawi and to everyone interested in the future of the country, that the senior representative of Her Majesty's Government at the Independence Celebrations on July 6 will be my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. I know that this is something which has given great satisfaction in Nyasaland.
Finally, I would say that there is great urgency for this Bill, as the Title shows, and, after noble Lords have spoken, I would propose to move at the end of this debate that the Bill be not committed, unless I receive some indication from your Lordships that there is a desire to have a Committee stage. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, we on this side of the House welcome this Bill and we are grateful to the noble Duke for the way in which he has presented it to us. We are also glad to hear that the principal representative of Her Majesty's Government to the Independence Celebrations in Malawi will be the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. It is a compliment to the whole House that the choice of the Government has fallen upon a Cabinet Minister and the occupant of the Woolsack in our own House.
I was grateful to the noble Duke for his explanation of the contents of the Bill, but there is one matter about which I must say I am still puzzled, and perhaps in his reply the noble Duke will remove my doubts and difficulties. This is in relation to nationality and citizenship, which is always the most difficult part of these Independence Bills. I dare say that other noble Lords will have experienced the same difficulty as I have experienced. Although this is a matter of law, it is also a matter of great practical importance. It is of very great importance to all the Britons who stay on in Malawi after independence—and I am sure we all hope that a lot of them will stay on—to know exactly what their future rights as citizens will be.
As I understand Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill—no doubt the noble Duke will put me right if I am wrong—a person who possesses United Kingdom nationality will lose his citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, with certain exceptions, and these exceptions are the persons who belong to the categories mentioned in Clause 3 of the Bill, and who have a special connection, by birth, for example, with the United Kingdom or a British Colony. These persons, when this Bill is passed into law, after July 6, will presumably have dual nationality. I see the noble Duke shakes his head.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, perhaps I may explain the position. As I understand it—and I agree with the noble Earl that these are most complicated matters—they will not have dual nationality, but they will have the right to revert to citizenship of 643 the United Kingdom and Colonies should they so wish at any date in the future.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I, too, had some difficulty in understanding this point. Would it not be possible, even at this stage, to amend the Bill to make this clear? I noticed that a lot of Members in another place were equally befogged by it.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Possibly I should make the difficulty as clear as possible in order that it may be easier for the Government to find some solution. As I see it, they will have dual nationality in British law—and we are dealing with British law at the moment —but under Malawi law they will not: because, as the noble Duke has pointed out, under the Malawi Constitution there will be only one nationality, and somebody who becomes a Malawi citizen cannot be a citizen of any other country at the same time. I think that is an accurate description of the position. Therefore, it is a difficult situation to understand for the British official who stays on. If it is difficult for us to understand when we make a genuine effort to do so, it is certainly going to be difficult for the British civil servant in Malawi to understand.
What I think he will want to know is whether he will lose his British nationality and have a lot of complicated processes to go through before he can recover it, or whether when he leaves Malawi (it does not matter when he is working in Malawi) on retirement, or for some other reason, and comes back to this country, he will automatically be regarded as a British citizen. I think this is a practical point, apart from the legal aspect, that ought to be cleared up so that he can really understand the implications on his own future.
That is the only detailed point I want to make, but I should like to make one or two comments on broad matters of policy. I think the most outstanding fact about Malawi is that it will be the poorest of all the British African countries to which we have granted independence; it will be one of the poorest 644 independent countries in the world. Malawi will not have a chance of success in these early stages of independence unless we go on helping her financially —in fact, unless we give her an exceptionally large measure of financial support. That is the plea that I want to make to the Government this afternoon. Nothing was said during the debate in another place, which I read carefully, about specific proposals by the Government for economic aid for Malawi after independence. The noble Duke went rather further than I think his colleague in another place went, and said that £5 million is being given this year to meet the budget deficit; and this, of course, will cover the beginning of the period of independence. But he did not go further than that, and I should be glad if in winding up the debate he could give us more information about the Government's proposals in relation to economic aid for Malawi.
After all, the statement made yesterday that we are giving Kenya a parting gift of about £53 million is a very good precedent for Malawi. I think some people may regard this as being too large, but, for my part, I regard it as being both generous and equitable. I think it is an overdue recognition by the Government of the financial needs of Colonies when they become independent: because their financial need is greater when they become independent than it was when they were dependent on us. It seems to me that, with this example of Kenya, we must also be very generous to Malawi. Indeed, as Malawi is even poorer than Kenya, there is a strong case for treating Malawi with even greater generosity.
Malawi is further handicapped by its lack of Africans qualified for administrative and professional work. There is only a handful of these, and only a small handful of Africans who are being trained for such posts at universities and technical colleges. Since the number of Africans in Malawi qualified to do this work is lamentably small, it is vitally important that the Government should encourage British officers, and especially technical officers, to stay on for as long as possible after independence. It would be a tragedy if most of these retired immediately with their compensation. They will be desperately needed 645 until they can be replaced by qualified Africans.
What these officers, if they are to stay on, must be convinced about is that their prospects will be as good under a Malawi Government as they were under British rule. This, of course, is not by any means entirely a matter for us; it is largely and mainly a matter for the Malawi Administration and their policy in relation to promotions and appointments in their own Civil Service. On the other hand, that does not relieve us of a direct responsibility. What I think the British Government should do is to give these officers as much sense of financial security as possible. In the case of a poor country like Malawi, this is surely a case where we should take over responsibility for the payment of compensation, pensions and pension increases to the expatriate officers serving there, who until the take-over will, of course, he members of the Overseas Civil Service. I think we should also go on, as we are doing in Kenya, paying the difference between salary and allowances of the expatriate officers and those who are locally recruited and in the Government service. I should be obliged if the noble Duke could say something about our proposals for helping in the financial arrangements with expatriate officers.
It is clear that Malawi will not be able to find out of its own revenue the money to cover its expenditure. I think it is equally clear that it would he unreasonable to saddle this poverty-stricken country with a crippling burden of debt. As I have pointed out, the Government of Malawi will be short of money and of technical skill. The reason for this increasing shortage of money is that with the dissolution of the Federation it has lost the annual subvention to its budget from the Federal Government. Furthermore, it will lose the grants it used to receive as a Colony from welfare and development funds. Moreover, after it becomes independent there will be further calls on Government expenditure which will make it quite impossible for the Government to cut its expenditure to match these losses of revenue.
I am sure that everyone realises now—I wish we had realised it five or six years ago, when our African dependencies 646 first became independent—that independence is a very expensive business. Every country spends more when it becomes independent than it used to spend under British rule. Apart from large calls on its expenditure, it assumes a new and expensive responsibility for external relations and defence. Here again I hope that we shall help Malawi. I hope that we shall save Malawi the expense of a number of diplomatic missions abroad by representing it in foreign and Commonwealth capitals, wherever it so desires. In this respect, of course, other Commonwealth countries, particularly its African neighbours, could help considerably.
I know that the fact that we are making a contribution to the budget of Malawi, as we have done to the budget of Kenya, is an innovation from the point of view of our practice in relation to independent Commonwealth countries in Africa. But I am sure that this contribution ought not to be regarded as the last, and that the Government should consider the desirability of enabling Malawi to balance its budget until it is in a position to pay its own way. T cannot see any other way in which the country will be able to meet the increased expenditure which will continue over several years, resulting from independence, and reach ultimately a stage in which it is able to pay its own way in the world. I hope we shall give capital grants, or long-term loans at a very low rate of interest, for the economic development of the country, and for the expansion of the social services. I am sure that international agencies, such as the World Bank and the Agencies of the United Nations, will also appreciate the need of Malawi for public investment and technical aid. This, of course, is particularly important just after independence, because private capital will not come into Malawi until the private investor has had time to assure himself of its political stability.
The economic future of Malawi in the longer run will depend a great deal upon the degree to which it can integrate its economy with that of Northern Rhodesia and preserve its good relations with both Northern Rhodesia and its Southern Rhodesian neighbour. Looking still further ahead, the day may come when there will be an East African Federation. It is a long way off, but that is an aim 647 that is worth striving for, especially for a poverty-striken country like Nyasaland.
I was glad to hear from the noble Duke that Malawi, when it becomes independent will stay in the Commonwealth. This, of course, will make it eligible for Commonwealth economic aid. For example, now that the Colonial Development Corporation has been authorised to operate in independent countries, it can start new projects in Malawi. I am sorry to see that the noble Lord, Lord Howick of Glendale, has fallen out of the list of speakers, because I had hoped that we might hear from him what the Colonial Development Corporation is doing at the moment, and what its intentions are. I should like to mention this, especially as it was not mentioned by the noble Duke.
It is very gratifying to us in this country that Dr. Banda has invited the present Governor, Sir Glyn Jones, to stay on for a time as Governor-General. That is a very pleasant compliment to the British. Of course, whether at a later date Malawi becomes a Republic or remains a Monarchy is a matter for Dr. Banda and his Government. It certainly does not seem unnatural, judging from the course of events in the past, that an African country should choose an African Head of State. At the same time, this has never implied any discourtesy to the Queen, who in this situation remains Head of the Commonwealth; and this has already become a well-established practice in republican countries. I believe that race relations can be left safely to Dr. Banda. He is a man who bears no grudges, and he wants the white man as a partner in building up his country. He is also a man who likes and respects this country, where he spent so much of his early life. I believe that Malawi is fortunate to have a man of such outstanding qualities to guide it during the difficult early years of Statehood. I should like to associate myself and my friends on these Benches with the good wishes expressed by the noble Duke to Dr. Banda on his discharge of his great and responsible task, and to wish to the people of Malawi of all races happiness and growing prosperity as they start on the great adventure of national freedom.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to associate myself with the 648 welcome the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has given to this Bill. We have had a long association with what, up to now, has been called Nyasaland—an association which started in an extremely good way. Unhappily, in some parts of the Commonwealth the association was not so good. In some places our earliest association was as slave traders; but we went into Nyasaland in the first place represented by the missionaries, and by that great missionary and explorer, Dr. Livingstone, who was the representative there of the London Missionary Society. That Society still has a considerable interest in Nyasaland, and I am glad to say that the present General Secretary of the Society, whom I know very well, has just paid a visit to Nyasaland and has come back with a glowing account of the work there.
I am glad to find that over the last year or two the Nyasaland Ministers have been preparing themselves for independence. They have become interested in matters outside the boundaries of their own territory. The Foreign Minister was present at the Organisation for African Unity Conference at Lagos. The first Labour Administration Course of the International Labour Organisation was held recently in Nyasaland, and was a success. In March last, the first meeting of the reorganised Agricultural Research Council of Central Africa was held in Blantyre. We all know that in places like Nyasaland agricultural development must be the basis of their prosperity.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, spoke on two occasions of Nyasaland as "a poverty-stricken country". I do not think the Malawis would like that description, and I do not think it is a true one. It is an agricultural country. Of course, the people have not the cash resources, but very often in countries of this sort they still live a happy and contented life in their traditional way. I do not think it is right to describe them in that way, which might give offence. I should have preferred to call them, as we now call countries of this kind, "underdeveloped". I think it betrays an urban attitude of mind, and I am quite sure that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, whose interest in these territories we know only too well, did not intend in any way to be disrespectful.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, if we are competing for terminology, may I draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that the word "developing" is even more up-to-date than the word "underdeveloped"?
§ LORD OGMORE
I consider either of them are preferable to "poverty-stricken", because I think that has rather an offensive connotation. I should not like to be called poverty-stricken—although I may be—but I should not mind being called "developing" or "underdeveloped".
Recently, the new Grain-Legume Pathological Laboratory at Chitedza was opened by the Governor. Its intention is to investigate diseases which attack the various crops which Nyasaland grows, in the first instance the diseases of the ground-nut crop. Ground-nuts grow there and in fact are becoming an important export for Malawi. About 20,000 tons were produced in 1963. The importance of nucleus estates as the focus of smallholder farmers is recognised in Malawi, and they already have instances of this type of undertaking, which is very important in this type of country. As Mr. Woods, the new President of the World Bank, pointed out recently, smallholder development in agriculture is the basis of development in this type of country.
I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships to one quite remarkable achievement of one of these smallholder plantations. There is the Kasungu Tobacco Estate, and a nucleus estate run by Europeans with the idea of teaching the Africans the best methods of growing tobacco and so on. In 1962–63 the African smallholders actually beat the nucleus estate in the production of tobacco. It is the first time that that has happened anywhere and it is a quite remarkable achievement. The nucleus estate produced 980 lb. of tobacco to the acre, realising £161 to the acre, and the smallholders, the farmers themselves, produced 1,160 lb. to the acre, realising £190 to the acre. This is a really remarkable achievement and I should like to send my own note of congratulation to them.
In these territories, as we know, the problem of increased wages and standards of living is a difficult one, and I am glad 650 to find that in Malawi it is proposed to make continued use of the social security already existing in the villages, based on the kinship system. This is an old African tradition which has largely, I think, disappeared in Western countries —that a man helps his relatives so far as he possibly can, and the relatives who are sick or become old depend on their kinsman for assistance. This is to go on for the time being and I think is very valuable.
Dr. Banda in a speech recently to the Nyasaland Tea Association, made it clear that existing land titles would be recognised and that he is anxious to encourage and secure investment in Malawi. We are all, I am sure, pleased to receive that assurance from Dr. Banda which is a very helpful one at this particular moment.
As to citizenship, it is interesting to note that there are 1.8 million registered voters in Malawi of whom over one million are women. It certainly gladdened my heart, and would certainly have gladdened the heart of my mother, who was a great suffragist in the old days before the First War. Suffragists believed in women's suffrage, but did not believe in blowing up post offices, and so on, in order to achieve it.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has spoken to-day on the difficulties we find in the citizenship proposals, particularly in Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill. I should not be prepared to be examined on it, but I think I understand what they mean, after the explanation given to-day by the noble Duke. But Dr. Banda has said that citizenship is not to be regarded as a right, even to people born in Malawi, and I think, therefore, we have to scrutinise these provisions very carefully.
I consider they are quite clear with regard to people who were born in Malawi and can be regarded in every way as Malawi citizens, as the normal inhabitants of the country. I think we can also be clear as to what is going to happen to people who were born in this country and would normally be regarded as citizens of the United Kingdom. But I am not so sure that I understand what is going to happen to the Asian population. Under the provisions of the Commonwealth immigrants Act I presume that they would have no automatic right to come here. They will be regarded under this Bill as 651 citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies if they so desire, but I am not sure to what extent that will be a valuable privilege if the operation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill prevents them from exercising their right under it. That is one point on which perhaps the noble Duke could clarify the position.
Many of these people—I have had the pleasure of knowing some of them—have lived for a considerable period in what was Nyasaland. They have never had any contact whatsoever with India, or Pakistan, as the case may be, and now at this stage, if they are prevented from coming here because of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and have no contact whatever with India and Pakistan, their future must be subject to some doubt. I think we might have some assurance in regard to them.
There is one clause I am very pleased to see in the Bill. The noble Duke did not spend any time on it to-day—perhaps he thought he would leave well alone—and that is Clause 5. I suppose that in the last ten years I have made exactly the same speech on this point on every one of these Bills. I have said how dreadful it is that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will no longer have power. In the old Empire, the Supreme Court for the Empire was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and not only were the Judges, as they still are, extremely eminent, and nearly all Members of this House as Law Lords, but they retained a corpus, a body of law, one Law for the Empire, so to speak, in this higher tribunal.
One, and possibly the only one, of the sad effects of independence has been that in many countries they have done away with the right of appeal to the Privy Council. If I am right, there is an exception in this Bill and appeals will still be able to come to the Privy Council from Malawi. If I am wrong, no doubt the noble Duke will correct me. If I am right (and the noble Duke has not jumped up to correct me), I should like to congratulate him and the Government upon the persuasive powers which no doubt they have shown in this regard. It is a good omen for the future, and will be of the greatest assistance to the people in Malawi.
652 As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel has said, Malawi certainly needs a great deal of trade and aid, and in this regard I would put in a plea for trade as well as aid. In the case of so many of these countries the infinitely richer Western Powers have been prepared to give a certain amount of aid, for which the countries themselves often have to pay, but they have not always been prepared to trade, and they have put up barriers, quotas and other impedimenta affecting the flow of trade from these countries. These countries such as Malawi want to trade with us, and I think the Western World in general, and we, in particular, should give them every encouragement to trade and should do away with all the tariffs, quotas and other restrictions that are the curse of international trade in the modern era.
My Lords, I have only one further point. I was very glad to hear, when coming to the House to-day, that Mr. David Cole has been appointed High Commissioner of Malawi. I say that because back in 1950 he, Mr. Fowler and myself were concerned together at the United Nations Assembly in looking after Commonwealth matters there. I can assure your Lordships that Mr. Cole is a first-class man, and I am delighted that he is to be the first High Commissioner in this important State. Strangely enough, it has been announced in the last week that Mr. Fowler will be the High Commissioner in neighbouring Tanganyika, which is now joined with Zanzibar. I am pleased to think that in the case of these two gentlemen ability has been recognised when they are still comparatively young men. I wish them well. That is all I have to say on this Bill, and on behalf of my friends and myself I wish the State of Malawi a prosperous and happy future.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, first of all I feel bound to say to your Lordships how regrettable I think it is that we should have been asked to debate this important measure at such very short notice. It was, of course, put down for Monday. I myself learned of it only barely more than 24 hours ago, and then only by chance. At this busy time of year it is difficult and often inconvenient to prepare a speech containing a fair amount of statistics and 653 technical information at such brief notice.
However deeply many of us may regret the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and deplore the way in which this was brought about, the past is the past. Our task and duty now is to deal with the facts as we find them in the interests of all the peoples concerned. It is in this spirit that I approach this Bill. Like the noble Earl opposite, I also was anxious to obtain additional explanations in regard to the question of dual nationality. I am still not sure whether I understand the position correctly, but perhaps my noble friend will enlarge on it in his reply. Meanwhile I should like to add a few observations on what I think independence means for Nyasaland, or Malawi as we have to learn to call it in future.
It was said in another place the other day that one of Dr. Banda's great achievements arising out of the turmoil of the past few years was to create a Malawi nation, and no doubt politically it is true. Nevertheless, I think it would be wrong and unfair to the people of Nyasaland to suggest that their national characteristics and qualities are of recent creation. My first personal connection with the Nyasa people was for a brief period with the K.A.R. in Ethiopia and French Somaliland in 1942. I formed an admiration for them then which I have never lost. Everyone who has studied the history of Central Africa, from the days of Dr. Livingstone, Sir Harry Johnston and Dr. Laws onwards, must be aware of their very special qualities, both as fighting men and as skilful, industrious and reliable workers. It is not only on account of overpopulation and the inherent poverty of the country that Nyasalanders have been tempted to emigrate and take employment elsewhere; it was also because of the very qualities to which I have just referred.
I was amazed to read in the speech of an honourable Member in another place on the Second Reading of this Bill that he believed that it was urgently necessary that these men should be encouraged to return home. It has been estimated that there are at least 132,000 Nyasa labourers in Southern Rhodesia alone, with many thousands more in Northern 654 Rhodesia and South Africa. The money which these people remit to Nyasaland cannot be accurately estimated, but there is no doubt whatever that it forms a very important contribution to the balance of payments.
Malawi will start on its independent existence with the advantage of a people largely united behind its leader, Dr. Banda. For them he is a hero and a saint and in their eyes he can do no wrong. Indeed, power is centred in his hands to an extent unknown with any other political leader in the world to-day. Whether this was indeed the intended result of 70 years of British colonial apprenticeship is perhaps beside the point. But his very power lays upon him the personal responsibility of dealing with the many problems which are bound to face an independent Malawi. These are largely in the economic field, and once the excitement of political rallies, of kwacha, of freedom, one man one vote, and all the rest, has died down it will be with the hard facts of economic life that Dr. Banda and the Malawi people will be faced. In this respect, I regret to have to say that Malawi enters into independence with many grave disabilities. It does no good at all to ignore these. It is better that they should be brought out openly so that we can all see in what way we and others can help to meet them.
I feel sure that Dr. Banda must know that, however much some of us may have disagreed with his approach to Federation and to the question of an independent future for Malawi, once the issue has been settled he can count on all of us to collaborate in doing what we can to help his country to achieve prosperity. Nyasaland, of all the newly independent countries of Africa, is bound to look outwards. One friend of mine, writing some time ago, said that should Malawi turn her frontiers into ramparts they may become prison walls. Her boundaries are purely arbitrary; they are the legacy of the colonial scrambles of seventy years ago. If she is to prosper she is bound to retain and enlarge her contacts with her immediate neighbours, whether they be Northern Rhodesia or Southern Rhodesia or Tanganyika and Mozambique.
To turn for a moment to the immediate problem of Nyasaland and its 655 people, the country is already overpopulated and it is said on reliable information to be doubling its population every 25 years. What is to become of this small country if steps cannot be taken to improve its agricultural production, on the one hand, and to provide for additional resettlement in neighbouring countries, on the other? And here I am afraid I cannot share what I felt was the rather complacent approach of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the continuation of the traditional way of life in Malawi. Hitherto the problem of over-population and unemployment has been met by European capital investment, mainly in the Southern Province, while the emigration of the young men to earn money elsewhere has to a great extent been offset by infiltration of tribes from Mozambique. At the same time there has been, not only there but in other parts of Malawi, the wholesale destruction of the natural forest, the impoverishment of the soil through desiccation and the lowering of the water table. A devoted agricultural department has helped to minimise these ills, but often against tremendous odds.
One of the essential necessities to-day is to ensure, as the noble Earl opposite said, that the departure of British experts will be stemmed so far as possible, and their loss replaced by agricultural and other experts from elsewhere. Nyasaland, as I say, is a poor country. It has virtually no minerals as yet discovered, no prime mover and a most unreliable rainfall. There is much talk now there of industrial development, but industrial development itself without some increase in the purchasing power of the peasant farmer will be valueless. Ways have got to be found for raising the peasant farmer from the subsistence level, or the traditional way of life the noble Lord referred to, to a cash crop production, whether by land settlement schemes, by co-operatives, improved farming methods or extended plantation farming. Industrial development can never advance unless it is geared to the home consumer market, and new factories must be specifically related to the products of the land, the demands of the farming community and the progress in its expansion.
Of course all this will depend on increased investment from abroad, whether 656 from private sources, from Governments or from international organisations. The present financial position of Nyasaland is precarious. The Minister of Finance's budget statement in January this year forecast a total expenditure for the year of £15.6 million. This included £2.3 million to cover compensation and commuted pensions for retired expatriate civil servants, and that I am glad to see will be paid for by Her Majesty's Government. Against the total remaining current expenditure of £13.3 million, revenue is expected to amount to only £9.1 million. And we should remember that that revenue is three times the amount of the revenue of Nyasaland at the time of Federation. There will thus be a deficit of some £4.2 million, which I understand from my noble friend Her Majesty's Government will finance through grants-in-aid.
The public debt in January totalled £17.8 million, of which £12.1 million resulted from the apportionment of the Federal debt. The cost of servicing this debt, which is included in the expenditure to which I have referred, will amount to £2.6 million. I should perhaps refer to the fact that the fears which many of us expressed in this House in our debate on December 17 about the effects of the treatment of the Federal public debt, have unfortunately been more than confirmed. The value of Federal stocks has fallen by eight to ten points since they were allocated to the Nyasaland Government.
Proposed expenditure on development plans amounts to £3.5 million, of which £1.8 million is to be provided from internal sources and from various international funds and institutions. The British Treasury has agreed provisionally to provide the difference of £1.6 million. I understand—and perhaps my noble friend would say something about this—that a further development plan has been worked out over the last two months of which the results have not yet been published. The cost of the Nkula Falls hydro-electric scheme of £2½ million, which the Nyasaland Government, your Lordships will remember, refused to accept from the hand of the Federal Government, is now expected to be covered from loans from the Commonwealth Development Corporation, the Standard Bank, Barclays D.C.O., and an additional £350,000 from the Kariba Power Surcharge Development 657 Fund, which I understand is in compensation for the fact that little Federal money was spent on electrical development in Nyasaland under the Federation.
Foreign trade and balance of payments figures are difficult to estimate because Nyasaland since 1952 has been dealt with statistically as part of the Federation. But there has been an increase in foreign trade of some £3.3 million. On the other hand, there has been a tendency for exports to countries other than the Rhodesias to fall and for imports to rise. No doubt, once independence comes, Malawi will find it possible to obtain funds from countries other than the United Kingdom, who will in any case this year be called upon to provide £5½ million. I share with the noble Earl opposite the hope that Her Majesty's Government will continue to provide these funds in future years in one way and another. Already the United States are doing something; the Federal German Government has given assurances of aid, and Israel is already reported to be considering assistance.
Once there is independence no doubt the pattern we have seen elsewhere will be repeated, and the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Government will be coming forward with offers of loans and other forms of assistance. But all of this, and a great deal more, will be required if, having regard to the increase of population in Malawi, the existing pitiful standard of living in Nyasaland is to go in or even to remain static. So we must face the fact that in the long run a great deal will depend on the private investors. I have no doubt that if they can be given assurances of security of land tenure, guarantees against nationalisation, which is breaking out like a rash over other parts of Africa, of freedom from penalising taxation and from impossible forms of trade union harassment, these funds will be forthcoming. Above all, they must be assured of the rule of law.
I do not propose to enter to-day into the alarming accusations which have been made recently about the physical attacks on individuals in Nyasaland who were not prepared to conform to the political ideas of the majority. At least nine of these people lost their lives. But, according to the latest information available to me, Dr. Banda has taken 658 the matter in hand and he is taking steps to ensure that the enforcement of the law shall be carried out; and this matter I believe he is tackling as confidently and as resolutely as he is tackling other problems. We must wish him and his Government all success, and assure them once again that, provided that the basic conditions essential to foreign investment are carried out, they will not lack for people in this country eager to help.
One of these conditions must be security from Communist subversion. Although Dr. Banda, in a speech on Whit Monday, said that he would make an alliance with the Devil if it suited the interests of his people, he has emphasised his goal of a new theory of what he calls "discretionary alignment" after independence. I do not know what is exactly meant by this, but I believe that Dr. Banda is basically, by upbringing and instinct, a man of the West, and that he must be as alarmed at the Communist trend of events in Zanzibar between January and April as were the other East African leaders. Our task must be to prove to him and his people, without in any way infringing on their newly-found independence, that their interests lie, if not directly with the West, at any rate in resistance to the alien and non-African Communist subversion which now threatens. Dr. Banda is essentially a realist and he will know what fertile ground disillusion, unemployment and poverty can provide for such subversion once the initial enthusiasm and fervour of independence has died down.
I hope also that the relations of Malawi with their immediate neighbours, as exemplified by the invitation to Mr. Smith, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, to attend the Independence Day celebrations, and their amicable relations with Mozambique, will continue. In all these matters it is Dr. Banda who will play the predominant, and perhaps indeed the unique rïle, of an all-powerful ruler. From July 6 on, the responsibility will rest with him, and him alone. However much I may have differed with him personally in the past, I can now only wish him success in his task, for the future of the people of Malawi lies in his hands.
I should not wish to conclude without a word of tribute to the Governor, Sir Glyn Jones, who has played such a helpful part in these affairs. I welcome the 659 fact that he is to be invited to remain as Governor General, and I feel sure that his personal friendship with Dr. Banda will still bear fruit as it has in the past. To him, and to all the expatriate and other members of the Nyasaland Civil Service, past and present, I should like to offer grateful thanks for their devoted labours on behalf of the people of Nyasaland all these years.
§ 6.57 p.m.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend, and to the noble Earl opposite and other noble Lords, for their extremely helpful and constructive contributions to this debate. I feel that I echo the feelings of all noble Lords here to-day when I say that we could not fail to be most impressed by the great knowledge of my noble friend Lord Colyton in regard to the affairs of Malawi. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that as his speech developed my admiration became tinged with envy at his comprehensive knowledge of the subject.
I think there are only two points to which I need devote attention in reply: one is nationality, and the other is aid. I hope to be able to shed some light on the nationality problem, but I am acutely conscious that in trying to do so I may make confusion even worse. However, I will do my best. As I understand it, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who automatically becomes a citizen of Malawi on independence will retain his United Kingdom citizenship if he has such a connection with the United Kingdom as is specified in Clause 3 of the Bill. He will therefore for a short time have dual citizenship; but after one year from July 6 Malawi will take away his Malawi citizenship if the individual concerned has not in the meantime renounced his United Kingdom citizenship. If he does renounce it he will be a Malawi citizen only; if he does not renounce it he will be a United Kingdom citizen only.
I would add that if he does take up Malawi citizenship he will have, if he comes within what is laid down in Clause 3, the automatic right to revert at some future date to citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. I hope that that explanation will have cleared up this point. I should add that when I say automatic right "I mean that he can 660 have it at any time for the asking. I should also add that under the Constitution citizenship of Malawi will be conferred on every person born in former Nyasaland who is a United Kingdom citizen or British-protected person, provided that at least one of his parents were born in Nyasaland.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Do I understand the noble Lord correctly in this respect? Suppose a British officer decides to retire on the compensation and settle here. He has become a Malawi citizen because that was a condition of his being allowed to continue in the service of the Malawi Government. If he wants to come and settle here, the noble Duke says that he would automatically recover his right to be a British citizen. That means that he does not spend the qualifying period of five years without British citizenship; that is to say, he qualifies under the Nationality Act of this year. All he has to do is to write to the Home Office for a British passport. He does not even have to have his claim adjudicated by the Home Office. That is what people will want to know—that they can recover their British citizenship without any difficulty at all.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
The noble Earl is perfectly right: that is the case. It is as of right, without any delay, always provided that it comes within the specifications of Clause 3.
§ LORD OGMORE
Is this right also given to the Asian population?
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I was going to come to the Asian population. They have not, as of right, got to revert to United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship, nor do they automatically become citizens of Malawi; they have to apply for it. But if they do apply they automatically acquire Malawi citizenship. In both cases they come under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act.
My Lords, there is a small coloured population in Nyasaland, so far as I remember. Could the noble Duke make clear what their position will be?
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
If they apply to the Malawi Government, they have the right then to have Malawi citizenship. I hope I have not made confusion even worse. 661 I should like now to say a word about aid, which has been mentioned in the debate. I can assure the noble Earl that this system of "topping up" the salaries of expatriate officers applies to Nyasaland and will continue to apply to Nyasaland after independence. I would agree with the noble Earl how important it is that these people should stay on, so that Nyasaland can continue to have a stable and technically competent administration. I think that is of great importance.
In regard to aid generally, the Government appreciates that Nyasaland is a special case and will require very considerable aid, both recurrent aid and aid for development projects in the future. I should like to quote what the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said in a debate in another place on December 17. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 686 (No. 26), cols. 116970]:… I can tell the House that we have in mind the provision of a substantial amount of aid to Nyasaland for some years to come, both in balancing her budget as well as for capital development.With all respect, that is a fairly forthcoming statement from a senior Treasury Minister, so I hope the noble Lord's anxieties in this field will be relieved by that statement. I am sure that Mr. Cole and Mr. Fowler will much appreciate the kind and, if I may say so, well-deserved remarks made about them by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and I will see that their attention is drawn to his remarks in Hansard.
I should like also to associate myself with what Lord Ogmore said about trade. Trade and aid go hand in hand with national prosperity. I was very glad that my noble friend Lord Colyton said some timely words about the conditions that these independent countries must create in their territories if they wish to attract overseas investment. Of course the developed countries will invest, but only if they can see security for their investment. As they came from my noble friend, I am sure his remarks will be read, digested and weighed in Nyasaland.
Then the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me about the Judicial Committee. The noble Lord is quite right in saying that appeals in certain cases to the Judicial Committee are maintained in this Bill, but I think he is not correct in 662 suggesting that there have been no appeals under previous Constitutions to the Queen in Council. I think there have been such appeals allowed to the Queen in Council in some cases.
§ LORD OGMORE
I think in very few cases, and in one or two cases it has been done in a rather different way. However, I was congratulating him on doing it here.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
The reason is that should they become a republic at some future stage the appeals can still go on. I would associate myself with the noble Earl in saying that should they wish to become a republic at some future date, we shall fully understand. We shall realise that no discourtesy is intended, and we shall not have hurt feelings about it. I am glad that the noble Earl made that point.
I hope that I have covered the points raised in debate, and I am most grateful to my stalwart friends on all sides of the House who take part in these debates. We have had a number of such debates in the last few years and it is always the same friendly faces that one sees around one. I am grateful to all those who have taken part, and I join with those who wish Nyasaland, or Malawi, every success in the future, that she may take her part in the Continent of Africa, and indeed the whole world, and play a full rïle.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a; Committee negatived.