§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I should like to begin with an apology to the House. I fear that I shall have to leave the debate very shortly after I conclude my speech, because many months ago I undertook a speaking engagement in Manchester and if I am to be there in time, I shall have to leave here shortly after half past four. I offer the House my sincere apologies for this. There is nothing I disapprove of more than someone speaking in a debate and not waiting afterwards to hear it out. In these particular circumstances I hope that the House will forgive my apparent lack of courtesy.
Noble Lords on all sides of the House, I know, will not only be grateful to the 951 noble Lord, Lord Casey, for initiating this debate, but also wish to associate themselves in his wish to create greater cohesion in the Commonwealth. And I know that all noble Lords have listened with great interest to what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor had to say about the development of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation, the progress made in the Commonwealth Medical Conference and the steps to be taken to form a Commonwealth Law Association. All these are steps in the right direction, and I look forward very much to further progress being made, particularly in the Commonwealth Secretariat and Foundation, at the next Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I would just say that it is nearly a year ago since the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference put these things in motion but, apart from a meeting of senior officers at Chequers in January or February this year, nothing very much appears to have happened. I accept the point that in dealing with 21 different countries it is difficult to move fast, but I hope that at next month's Conference the chance to keep up the impetus will not be let slip.
As the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has told us, the modern multiracial Commonwealth is, in historic terms, a very new creation. It is also, we must never forget, an unprecedented experiment in human relationships. It is composed of two elements—the old Dominion countries, on the one hand, and the new developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, on the other. It is under twenty years old. While in any of our lifetimes twenty years is a considerable chunk, in terms of history, as the Commonwealth can only be judged, this is but a moment of time. Nevertheless, in that short time the Commonwealth has changed from a small group of tightly-knit countries, primarily of Anglo-Saxon stock, into a vast multiracial association of 21 nations, consisting of nearly one-quarter of the world's population and physically representing nearly one-quarter of the world's land surface.
If this remarkable institution, this modern Commonwealth, is to grow and flourish, it is essential that it should remain one Commonwealth and not become split between the older, richer, developed 952 countries and the poorer, developing members. The significance of the Commonwealth is not only its multiracialism, but the fact that it is not so much an association of like-minded peoples but of unlike-minded peoples, peoples with totally different histories, of different races, with different religions and largely of very different practices. The old Dominions were an association of like-minded people. This is something new—a voluntary association of unlike-minded peoples. I must confess that it is difficult for me to find a suitable analogy for the Commonwealth. I dislike that of the family, because it gives the false impression that we in Britain represent a kind of mother figure or father figure to the Commonwealth. That is something that existed in the past. Nor do I like the analogy of a club, because the Commonwealth has no rules and I have never heard of a club existing without any rules—except possibly your Lordships' House. Perhaps I should not call it a club, but it has no rules as one understands them.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I think that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, once warned us that we must not think of this House as a club but as a Legislature.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I feel that the sins of the uncle must not be visited upon the nephew. I think that the best I can do is to liken the Commonwealth to an old boys' association, because every member of the Commonwealth was at one time or another at a British school, by which I mean that we were the schoolmaster and, to a greater or lesser extent, we have left on the others an imprint of our way of life. It may be an imprint concerning the importance and value of our institutions, such as the independence of the Judiciary and the Civil Service, or it may have given a value to less important parties and of such tunes as "Colonel Bogy". Nevertheless, we have left our imprint, and all members of the Commonwealth were at one time our dependents.
So I think it is of vital importance when thinking of the Commonwealth always to remember how new it is. Independence and self-government is an experience that has taken place in the 953 lifetime of the great majority of the people of the modern Commonwealth, and many of them have been brought up to look upon Britain, if not as the enemy, at least as a guardian who has outlived his usefulness. Therefore, however much we in Britain might wish to further the cohesion of the Commonwealth—and, my goodness!, we do—we must remember that any steps taken by us to tighten the bonds that hold the Commonwealth together are bound to be looked upon with suspicion, at any rate by some elements in those countries which have only recently achieved their independence and might regard such moves as an attempt to advocate neo-colonialism.
In suggesting that at this stage of the Commonwealth's development it would be wise for the older members to hasten slowly, I hope the House will not think that I am lukewarm in its support; quite the contrary. It is because I am so acutely conscious of the possibilities for good that the Commonwealth can achieve that I am anxious that the experiment shall not fail from being asked to do too much too quickly. I also believe that, now that Britain has nearly completed the task of transforming an Empire into a Commonwealth, the time has come when new Commonwealth initiatives should come from all its members. In this connection, it is heartening to know that certain suggestions and initiatives have come from the new rather than the older members of the Commonwealth. This is something that is a great encouragement, and I hope that the example will be followed when further Commonwealth initiatives are set on foot.
Let us always remember in this connection that, while it was the "British Empire", it is the "Commonwealth". There is no question of its being the "British Commonwealth". At the risk of wearying your Lordships (some of you may have heard it already), I think there is a good analogy to the change that has taken place between the Empire and the Commonwealth. In the old days of the Empire, it could be likened to a wheel, with Britain the hub, and the spokes going out all round. Now it has changed. The Commonwealth can still be likened to a wheel, but now the members are equal.
My Lords, I am conscious that, so far, I have been largely negative in what I have had to say, and before I conclude 954 I want to make one or two what I hope will be positive, if not very original, suggestions as to how more cohesion might be given to the Commonwealth. I would put first more provision of higher education for Commonwealth students. Here, owing to their very much greater facilities, the older Commonwealth countries must make the greater contribution. Already this is being done on a very large scale. I think I am right in saying that to-day there are over 40,000 Commonwealth students within these shores.
But I would remind the House that these students are nearly always the élite of the youth of their country. Most developing Commonwealth countries have acute balance-of-payments problems, and they can afford to send only their very best to this country. On their return to their own countries these boys and girls will fill important places, and in due course will take up positions of great importance, and, indeed, of great influence. Thus their reactions to the time they spend in Britain, particularly as it will be spent during a highly formative part of their lives, will colour their views of Britain and the Commonwealth throughout their careers.
During the years that I had the good fortune to spend at the Commonwealth Relations Office I became much impressed by what is done for overseas students in this country. I should like to pay a very warm tribute to the work done in this field by the British Council. To my mind, no praise is too high for what the Council do to help young people arriving here from thousands of miles away, to settle down here and live a full, fruitful and enjoyable life. Only yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and I were at a happy occasion when Her Majesty the Queen Mother opened International House, which is a separate organisation providing 134 new beds for students from overseas. This is yet another example of what is being done; but we cannot do too much.
While on this subject, I should like to express my warm admiration for all that is done in this field by such bodies as the Royal Commonwealth Society, the English Speaking Union and the Victorian League; and, most of all, to express my admiration for those private families who invite overseas students 955 into their homes. Nothing, I am sure, does more to further Commonwealth relations than people inviting these students into their homes, thus giving them the feeling of belonging somewhere in this, to them, strange land. As I have said, in the future this kindness will be repaid one hundredfold. As I say, a great deal is being done, but we cannot do too much in this field. It is not only humane and Christian, but it is very much in our own interests.
As many noble Lords will know much better than I do, a vast programme of expansion in higher education is taking place in this country. There are six universities on the stocks, to say nothing of new colleges of advanced technology. I sincerely hope that as these great institutions come to fruition the Government of the day, whichever Government it may be, will ensure that a generous number of places will be found in them for students from the Commonwealth. Not only have we, as the former Imperial Power, a moral obligation to do this, but only by mixing the young people of the Commonwealth together can the Commonwealth grow and prosper. Let us never forget that the Commonwealth is a body of peoples rather than of Governments.
My second suggestion concerns the need to expand even further the teaching of English as a second language. I believe that the English tongue will prove in the future to be one of the greatest cohesive forces in the Commonwealth. The present need is for the training of men and women who will then go out and teach others, whether in Africa, Asia or elsewhere, who in turn will teach their fellow citizens English. I know that London University is tackling this matter, but I believe that more should be done, because, so far, I think that only a handful of people are receiving this all-important training. Steps have been taken to turn it into a career or profession, but I should like to see a "crash" programme in this direction. Every possible advantage should be taken of the modern and comparatively modern means of mass media—television, wireless, tape recorders and, not least, the gramophone 956 —in this programme, for it is only by these means that those who learn English will be able to understand each other.
I believe that there is a real danger that an African speaking English will not be able to understand an Indian speaking English, although they will both be able to understand the same hook. We must ensure that all those who learn English will speak one tongue (shall I say that they will all speak Commonwealth English?), and that Commonwealth English is established throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. As I say, there is a great danger that dialects will develop, which will mean that people who can read English will still not be able to understand eāch other.
My third point, to give added cohesion to the Commonwealth, was touched upon by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I hope the House will forgive me if I come back to this. We must develop self-help and mutual aid between different members of the Commonwealth—self-help and aid both financial and, equally important, in the provision of expertise in different trades. At this stage of its evolution, this will largely mean aid from the economically developed countries to the developing members.
Having said that, I should like to put it on record that I fully recognise the vital rôle that trade has in the past played, and will continue to play in the future, as a cohesive force within the Commonwealth. Clearly, the richer countries can afford to give only what their own economic position allows them to give. You cannot give what you cannot afford. It is not a question—as is sometimes said not only of the world but also of the Commonwealth—that the rich countries get richer at the cost of the poorer countries getting even poorer. Only by the richer countries prospering can they afford to give the massive assistance so desperately needed by the emergent countries if their standard of living is to begin to compare with our own. Certain it is that we must lean over backwards to be as generous as possible. If I may ride one of my own hobby horses for a moment—I know it is not always popular in Treasury circles—may I make a special plea for help to the developing countries towards their own local costs? The 957 haunting spectre of unemployment is very much present in all the developing countries, and help towards the local cost of new projects is one sure way of ensuring that fresh employment is created.
I must not start talking about matters of which I have no knowledge, but it seems to me that in many of the developing countries who wish to show the results of independence (because so often independence is presented as the goal, whereas in point of fact it is just the beginning) it is imperative for the leaders of those countries to show some concrete, positive gains following upon independence. It may well be that it is better for the economies of these countries to build a road, using 1,000 men with picks and shovels, and taking six months to build, than to build it by fifteen men using ten bulldozers. It may be slower, but it is better, because it creates employment, and it is better for the developing countries. This is a subject on which I am not knowledgeable, but I do know that unemployment is a grave problem in those countries. Any aid that we can give to create employment is something which deserves the warmest support.
As I have said, if the Commonwealth countries are to prosper, all its members, whether they have a low or a high standard of living, must prosper together. It is the Commonwealth, and we sink or fall together. Therefore I hope that when the occasion next arises for this country to seek closer relationships with Europe, even to the extent of joining the European Economic Community, we shall have no more wails of woe, either in this country or in any other Commonwealth country, of Britain deserting her old Commonwealth friends for her new European friends. Such a conception is absolute nonsense. After all, I have never heard anyone criticise Britain for deserting her Commonwealth friends on behalf of her EFTA partners. If joining the Common Market means bringing greater prosperity to Britain, it also means bringing greater prosperity to the Commonwealth, because the more we prosper the more we can afford to help them to prosper. If we can narrow the gap, if we can meet the great challenge that confronts us in the decades of this century of bridging the gap between the high standards of living of the rich of the 958 "have" countries and the poverty of the poor of the "have-not" countries, it will be an enormous step towards creating greater cohesion in the Commonwealth and making it truly one Commonwealth.
Further, I am convinced that the future importance of the Commonwealth lies in the fact that it is the one international association that can have a foot in every camp. Already it embraces those aligned to the West and the non-aligned. Already it is multiracial. Should we, at some future date, join the Community, it would then have a foot in Europe, just as through its African members it has to-day a foot in the Organisation of African Unity. Perhaps one day, through its Caribbean members, it will have a foot in the Organisation of American States.
Thus, if we all work at it, and if the Commonwealth is to succeed, it must not be a one-man British band. We are all in it together. We have ceased to be the Imperial Power; we are just one of a community of 21 nations. But we must all work at it. There must be give and take, and we must try to understand each other's problems. While we must understand the other people's problems, our Commonwealth partners must also make efforts to understand ours. If the will is there—and I believe it is—then I believe that the Commonwealth can become the solvent or, perhaps I should say, the catalyst, which the rest of the world needs to solve its problems. If, my Lords, you say that this is the rule of the United Nations, I would reply in this way. When the United Nations conducts its affairs with the same spirit of frankness, trust and mutual confidence as exists at Conferences of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and, indeed, at all Commonwealth gatherings, then, and only then, will the rôle of the Commonwealth be superseded by that of the United Nations.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I should like to join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for introducing this debate, and for travelling such a long distance to take part in our deliberations. I welcome the references he made to the importance of personal contacts. I think we are still too near to events to assess 959 the full significance of the transformation of the British Empire into a Commonwealth. It has become somewhat of a platitude to say that the Commonwealth is unique, but, quite apart from the advantages to other member nations of the Commonwealth, it has, I believe, brought considerable benefits to Britain herself. In past history, when a country has ceased to be the centre of an empire, it has tended to fall into decay. Britain has not passed through that experience, and need not do so. We have lost an Empire, but we have gained membership of a Commonwealth.
Views may differ as to the strength of Commonwealth ties, but the very fact that the Commonwealth exists at all is, I think, important. Moreover, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has said this afternoon, we hope that the Commonwealth will be of benefit to the world as a whole. I believe that the gradual change from Colonial Empire to Commonwealth has come at an important time in the world's history. We are passing out of the era of the nation state. New groupings of nations are being formed, and those groupings will overlap. That membership should overlap must, I think, be accepted as one of the facts of life, but it of course presents a great many practical difficulties. For this reason, it is all the more important that there should be the closest association between members of the Commonwealth at all possible levels. As the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has indicated, this is essential as an aid to mutual understanding. I think it is essential if the Commonwealth is to survive.
I shall heed the very wise advice given by the Lord Chancellor earlier this afternoon, and not refer specifically to a certain part of the Commonwealth. I will, however, say this. In my view, a number of mistakes were made a good many years ago, and some of those mistakes might have been avoided if there had been greater effort to achieve mutual understanding, not only on Government level but between the peoples of the territories concerned, including the people of this country.
May I refer for a few moments to the Commonwealth Parliamentary 960 Association, since this, I think, is one of the bodies which is helping to bring about those personal contacts to which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, referred? This body provides the sole machinery for regular consultation and exchange between Commonwealth M.P.s, and I am very happy to have the opportunity of commending the work of the C.P.A. I do not think it is sufficiently well-known. There are 94 branches, each in a separate Parliament or Legislature. The C.P.A. is a body of individual members of which there are about 7,500 from all Parties and from no Party, and with the help of the C.P.A. there is consultation not only between Members of Parliament but also between officials. A lot of quiet work is being done in the training of Clerks of the Table and those under them for service in Commonwealth Parliaments. The fourth Clerk of the Table in another place, whose special responsibility this is, has just returned from a Conference of Clerks in Barbados, held under the auspices of the C.P.A.
At the same time, courses are held for Members of Parliament from all over the Commonwealth to study Parliamentary procedure, and one of those courses is about to start in London this week. Among those who attend are Members from Commonwealth countries which have discarded some of the main features of the Westminster model. On two or three occasions I have had the privilege of going with a delegation to one or other of the newly independent Commonwealth countries in order to make a presentation to their Parliament, and on two occasions I have had the opportunity of visiting the same countries again, and I have noticed the changes that have taken place in the practices and form of their Parliaments. It is easy to be critical, and I must admit that at times I have felt disappointed, but I think one should be chary of passing judgment too soon on this subject. In any case, it is right that these differences should be discussed, and at these courses there are frank discussions between Members of Parliaments from different parts of the Commonwealth about the problem of making a success of Parliamentary democracy. I think that is all to the good.
I think it is too soon to say whether the Parliamentary system of government 961 will survive throughout the Commonwealth. My guess is that it will take about fifty years before one can tell how deep are the roots of the Parliamentary system in the newly independent countries, and when that period of fifty years has elapsed I shall not be here to express an opinion; but I hope very much that Parliamentary democracy will prove to be one of the permanent characteristics of the Commonwealth. After all, we must have some characteristics in common. Past history is not enough. I sincerely hope that loyalty to the Parliamentary system of government will prove to be one of the links in the future. Regular consultations between Members of Parliament—and I include Members of an Upper House as well as of a Lower House—will certainly help. I am assuming that Upper Houses will continue to exist. I am sure these regular consultations are valuable. But far more needs to be done in this respect. The number of contacts at present is quite inadequate.
The Commonwealth is not a military alliance, nor can it ever be a close economic unit. If it is not a military alliance it should at least be in a position to provide reconciliation where disputes arise between its members, and I have in mind a specific question I should like to put about the new Commonwealth Secretariat. I listened with interest to the remarks of the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, can take this subject any further, in indicating the functions of the first Commonwealth Secretary-General. Will his powers be comparable with those of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, or will his powers be rather less than that? If, for example, he is not expected to attempt to arbitrate in the event of a dispute arising between two Commonwealth countries, will he at any rate be free to provide his good offices in initiating consultation, and so help in bringing about reconciliation? As long as there are these disputes, as between India and Pakistan, one cannot feel entirely happy about the future of the Commonwealth; therefore, for that very reason, I welcome the Statement that was made this afternoon.
On the economic side, I have never believed that the Commonwealth can be held together solely by economic ties, and 962 for this reason. I have never regarded joining the Common Market, on the one hand, and strengthening the Commonwealth, on the other, as irreconcilable alternatives. But this does not mean that we should not provide as much economic aid as possible for the less developed members of the Commonwealth. I do not want to impinge on the debate which is to take place to-morrow, but I am bound to say that, in my view, the new corporation tax may have a grave effect on our long-term investments and may damage the policy of increasing trade with member countries of the Commonwealth. In a letter to the Guardian on May 4, Mr. P. J. Griffiths, President of the India, Pakistan and Burma Association, drew attention to the inconsistencies between Britain's desire to aid developing countries and the policy now proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
Further, on the subject of economic aid I would commend the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. But there are, of course, limits to what the C.D.C. can do, and I think we must recognise that the finance offered by Britain is sometimes too expensive. I am thinking of interest rates, and I think even the C.D.C. has to pay regard to the ruling interest rates. Where projects require several years to fructify it just is not practicable for some countries to pay the current interest rates. I think there is a strong case for, say, a seven-year period free of interest in special circumstances. I think this is being realistic, and I do not think the idea should be dismissed as merely competing with Communist countries which are trying to buy good will.
Finally, may I say that the Commonwealth has already survived some very serious strains. I believe it almost broke up at the time of the Suez affair. I hope that an event of that nature will never occur again. But there will be other crises, as, for example, over Central Africa; and if these crises are to be overcome it is essential that the greatest possible mutual understanding should be achieved, with continuous consultation at all levels.
§ 4.20 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I want gratefully to 963 support the plea of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for a greater concern about the Commonwealth; and I am sure that within our own country there is room for that greater concern. My own interest in the Commonwealth, and I would say enthusiasm for the Commonwealth, comes from a number of experiences: experiences of a good many journeys to Commonwealth countries which I have made by virtue of my office. The most recent of those journeys was to Australia and New Zealand, and when I was in Australia I was greatly moved by the immense enthusiasm in that country for the Churchill Memorial Trust. The sum of money asked for was exceeded in contributions within a very short time. That enthusiasm was very moving, and the outcome of that enthusiasm will certainly be great.
My interest in the Commonwealth is also bound up with the fact that in my day-to-day work as a Churchman I am always discovering analogies between the Commonwealth and the Anglican Communion of churches. Originally, the Anglican Churches overseas were largely directed from this country, with bishops appointed and consecrated in this country. To-day, the Anglican Churches overseas are, with us, a community of autonomous Churches, and in the Anglican Churches overseas the leadership is more and more ceasing to be an English leadership and becoming a leadership from within the particular country itself. While perhaps the Anglican Communion especially provides an analogy to the Commonwealth in its structure, I would not hesitate to say that all the Churches within the Commonwealth countries greatly serve the Commonwealth fact and ideal, by the constant coming and going of people engaged in educational work, in medical work, in the arts, in the cure of souls, and in the striving to build up a partnership between the races.
I am sure that the Commonwealth does not arouse in this country the enthusiasms which it should—indeed, there are parts of our population in which the awareness of the Commonwealth is indeed rather faint. It is quite easy to understand how this should be so. The older idealism of Empire belongs to the past; the newer idealism of a community of nations in the Commonwealth is so new, and has 964 come so rapidly, that thinking and feeling have not yet been able to catch up with the rapid movement of events. But I believe that it is most important that feeling and thinking, concern for the Commonwealth and a sense of idealism about it, should catch up with the events.
If we think for a moment simply of the relation between this country and the older Commonwealth countries, how good it would be if more young people in this country, thinking about their own futures, could have a far bigger mental map before them as they make their decisions—a kind of mental map in regard to which they said to themselves something like this, for instance: "Here we have a small, absurdly overcrowded island, with a civilisation old and rather stale. But, say, in Western Australia there are vast spaces where the most exciting developments—cultural developments, spiritual developments as well as economic developments—are possible; a land where homesickness soon gives way to the feeling that one is not so far away; a land that is wonderfully like home—and, indeed, is home". I believe that in recent years the movement of Voluntary Service Overseas which is appealing to many schoolboys and schoolgirls and students, though it is not a specific Commonwealth undertaking, is doing a great deal to encourage this larger mental vision. But we all know that it is in terms of the older and the newer Commonwealth countries, together as a community, that the idealism needs to be aroused.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, pleaded for the provision for many more books in English at low cost for people in other Commonwealth countries to read. I want to carry his plea about literature a great deal further; because we need to be thinking urgently, not only of populations which are already reading, and of the need to give them goods things to read, but also of the immense growth of literacy that is going to happen in many countries of the world, and not least in Commonwealth countries, within the next decade. I have seen figures of the calculated probability of the growth in world literacy in the next decade or two, and the figures are just staggering. I have not seen the application of those figures to Commonwealth countries in particular.
965 This is a most urgent problem. There are Commonwealth countries in which thousands—no, millions—of people are going to be reading for the first time. Some of them will be reading quite a lot; others will be reading no more than literature of the cartoon variety. But what are they going to be reading? The vendors of Communist propaganda will certainly be ready to supply them; and no doubt the vendors of trash will also be quite ready to supply them. Here is a matter—I suggest that it is a Commonwealth matter—of great importance for the activity of those concerned with the publication of books and literature of every kind. Here is a great new market for writing, publishing, selling and distributing books to read, the need being one that urgently affects the fact and the idea of the Commonwealth, and much else in the world besides.
Let me end with one particular point. If the great fact and idea of the Commonwealth is going to grow, is it not most important that every Commonwealth country should face up to what is going to be demanded of it in terms of racial partnership? It is rather easy for any Commonwealth country to have the temptation to say to itself, "We belong to a great inter-racial community of nations. We know that within this inter-racial community of nations there are particular countries where citizens of a number of different races live side by side; but we go on rather assuming that our own particular country can continue indefinitely monochrome in race, whether the colour be black or whether the colour be white." I believe that it is within the facing out, in each Commonwealth country, of the practical matter of racial partnership that each Commonwealth country will be able to play its part in the creation and future progress of the great Commonwealth ideal of partnership of races. It is about the idea of Commonwealth that I have been speaking—and without apology, because we need to be doing a very great deal in the realm of ideas, in the realm of those enthusiasms and actions which spring from ideas. The Commonwealth has been called both an idea and a fact. Both the idea and the fact are very young, and it is for us to see that both the idea and the fact have a great future.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I humbly crave your Lordships' indulgence and traditional kindness to those who find themselves in the position I am in to-day. I have a great interest to declare on this subject, not through any merit of mine—I have none—but because, through an accident of birth, I find myself with connections and relations all over the Commonwealth. By family tradition, mainly due to the conditions prevailing before 1829, the younger sons have generally gone abroad. Some have made a success. Some were obviously exported for their country's good. Hence, as a result, I have relations in New Zealand, descendants of the first Speaker of the New Zealand House of Commons, in Australia, where I was born and where I still have interests, in Canada and in parts of Africa.
Lest your Lordships should think that the connections are only with what my noble friend refers to as the "old" Commonwealth countries, I may mention that I have with me a letter from a Ghanaian friend of mine telling me that he has named his latest son after me. I do not know whether he has done so on the lines of what the noble Duke referred to as repayment for having entertained him over here in my home, but I think it is rather hard on the young lad. Only a few months ago I was made a godfather to the son of a Nigerian veterinary surgeon friend of mine. Finally in what I term my list of contacts, I might mention Sir Hugh Clifford, who, inter alia, wrote the first English-Malay dictionary, and on the strength of whose reputation when I was soldiering in Malaya I achieved many a free meal in Court and kampong. I also have an uncle living whose work in Africa, the Bahamas, Mauritius and Trinidad is, I believe, still remembered.
I mention these things to explain why over the last eight years I have entertained a continuous stream of Commonwealth visitors. These are not visitors of the type noble Lords have so far mentioned, but the ordinary, middle-section type of Commonwealth visitor. I have enjoyed entertaining them and have learnt a lot from them. However, I have learnt from them some things about us which are not quite so encouraging, and on that basis I wish to say a few words. I consider that we ought to do 967 something to improve our own image. Some reputations, of course, we cannot possibly live down. I am sure your Lordships know the story of the young Australian girl who was about to visit England. Before she left Australia she was sent up-country by her parents to say good-bye to her aged grandmother. When she told her grandmother where she was going, the old lady was astounded and said: "My dear, you mustn't go there; that's where all the convicts come from."
It is the matter in reverse that I really want to get at. I have with me my Australian passport and it reads "Australia—British Passport". Just recently the Badminton Horse Trials were held, and anyone who knows anything about the subject (and I do not know very much) knows that the greatest sportsman of the occasion was an Australian called Mr. Bill Roycroft. Yet the silver plate award for the highest placed "British Rider" was not given to him. It is things like that which do this country immense harm; it is a question of bad manners and of offending people. No wonder a letter of protest from Australia appeared in the Horse and Hound last week.
To go even further—and this is an extreme view—a couple of years ago a Commonwealth visitor came to me and stayed a few nights. After he went back he wrote me a letter—perhaps a "bread and butter" letter—which I should like to quote:Thank heavens we visited you before returning! It was not just the fun of staying at a stately home, but that with you I met ordinary friendly people. Before our visit to you, I was convinced England consisted entirely of a self-centred, stuck-up mob, whose only interests seemingly lay in pornography of the type so much publicised in the Lady Chatterley case and the Wolfenden report. The only enthusiasm I could note for anything was for the 'Ban the Bath and Barber Brigade'.That is only one man's opinion, but it leads me to the point I should like to make. We do not do enough to put the correct image to our visitors before they come here, or even when they arrive. With all these public relations officers and image-making activities that go on in the Ministries, would it not be possible to do something to project an image of ourselves as a nation, an image which at present is not always acceptable to visitors? Perhaps a pamphlet, similar to 968 the one given to American visitors on arrival, could be given to Commonwealth visitors when they arrive, telling them that as we are a tight little island of some 52 million people we are by nature always searching for some privacy. This therefore makes us tend to appear to outsiders a little more unfriendly than we really are.
The main thing we should seek to do is to try to educate our own people by pointing out that many Commonwealth visitors come from countries where every passer-by is welcome—if not from friendship, from curiosity. My noble friend stressed the importance of opinion-formers travelling the Commonwealth to get to know one another. As I have already said, my only experience, apart from travelling abroad myself, is with the middle-sector of Commonwealth visitors to this country. I hope to be able, to the limit of my capacities, to go on entertaining them when they come here, for I find it most rewarding. The plea I make is this. Would it not be possible for the intellectual élite who roam the passages of pomp and propaganda to do something to project an image that does not make us seem to be like the fractional minority who hit the headlines? To some of our visitors, our equivalent of bread and circuses plus the Press and television headlining of slick, sick humour, makes the decline and fall of the Roman Empire seem to them by comparison a gentle slope. This is not correct, and there is another and, thank God!, better picture to present. I am sure that an effort to reveal it, by widening our visitors' understanding through personal contacts, would be well worth while.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, there is in this House a very ancient and admirable tradition, that you make your maiden speech on a subject of which you have some special knowledge and some special interest. I think that your Lordships will, therefore, agree with me that the noble Lord, whom we have just heard making his maiden speech, made an admirable choice of debate for his first intervention. I think I speak for the whole House when I say that we shall hope to hear him often on this subject.
I am going to make a speech for two or three minutes, because most of the 969 points which I should have made have already been made. There is also an extremely old custom in this House that we try, so far as possible, to avoid repetitive speeches. I should just like to say a few words in definition if I may, and will try to leave one idea with the House. First of all, anybody who listens to this debate will, I am sure, be struck by the complete identity of approach to the problem of all those who have so far spoken. There is in your Lordships' House a very great reservoir of knowledge of the Commonwealth, and all speakers have approached the problem from exactly the same standpoint.
The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, in moving the Motion was a most reasoned and interesting one, and when he called for cohesion I thought that cohesion would have to be preceded by what I would call an awareness of the possibilities of the Commonwealth. There is a new generation which has grown up now, which naturally takes a different view of its genesis. Talleyrand was once asked what he did during the Terror. He replied, "J'ai vécu"—I lived. The Commonwealth has certainly shown a remarkable aptitude for survival through great storms in the world which shipwrecked the League of Nations, and the strain of two world wars.
But it is also important to remember that it is not just the evolution from something old to something new, but still more or less of the same pattern: the Commonwealth is in a continuous state of transition, and that transition will never cease. At the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference 21 nations, I think, came together to see how they could give a slightly more positive direction to this giant, and I shall be very interested when the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, replies, to hear what he has to say about their suggestion of a Secretariat, because I have myself put forward this idea at different times, but have latterly had some doubts as to just how it would work, and to whom it would be responsible.
I have a great deal of sympathy with the "aids to understanding" of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, and was impressed by what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said had been done since the Conference took place. I thought the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, 970 made a most interesting speech when he said that it was hard, if not impossible, to define the Commonwealth. I agree with him about that; but what one can do is to define its sources of strength, and many of them have grown up over very many years.
Its greatest source of strength is that we are a group of nations who are "unforeign" to each other. If you come to London from any of the 20 nations, you may be a stranger but you cannot be a foreigner. Secondly, we have achieved a common habit of thought through many things—through the concepts of law, through the practice of commerce—which makes for understanding. Thirdly, we have the English language; and, fourthly, we have that technique of co-operation by which we try, where we can, to help other Commonwealth countries, and if we must do something to their hurt we warn them and try to mitigate that hurt. An interesting example of how Commonwealth countries may try to be helpful to each other was implicit in the Statement made to-day by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, about the present quarrel between India and Pakistan.
With countries spread so widely all over the world, of so many religions and so many different nationalities, when we do come together with them we can achieve some kind of binocular view between East and West, old and new. The noble Duke spoke of a new generation looking at Britain, and at the history of Britain, in a new way. I heard an interesting speech in the country the other day, when somebody said that the new countries of the world had a totally different concept of Europe from the one with which we had grown up. If you look at maps which are made on Mercator's projection, you will see that the Mediterranean, the traditional cradle of civilisations and wars, is always in the middle of the map and everything else radiates out from it.
Of course, to many of the young generation in the young countries the two "world wars", as we call them, were not "world wars" at all. They were European civil wars into which the rest of the world was drawn. I see that somebody in Malawi (I think it was the Government there) was recently denying that Dr. Livingstone ever discovered 971 Lake Nyasa. The people of Malawi knew all about Lake Nyasa, but in those days people were not discovered until they were known in Europe. We have these expressions like Near East, Middle East, Far East. But Far East from where?—from Europe. But it is easier to understand these new generations, if we understand that they do not necessarily accept these expressions.
I should like just to say this in conclusion. I believe that we are all entirely in favour of, and fully support, the whole machinery of Prime Ministers' Conferences, but I do not think anybody could suggest that we should have more than one a year, because there must be a very full agenda and something really worth while to discuss. Although I have never been at one of these Conferences, and although I never expect to occupy a position where I ever shall attend one, I have always thought that such a Conference was most valuable when the set speeches were over and when people sat down to discuss impromptu, present and pressing problems. As Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, our rôle and that of the Commonwealth is now in the leadership of ideas, an arbiter of standards, a widener of the area of sanity in the world.
My last thought, and the one I should like to leave with the House, is this. What was important about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, was not just that it was a very constructive speech, but that it was made by an Australian statesman; as indeed speeches have been made by his fellow Australian statesman, Lord Bruce of Melbourne. Years ago, many of us will remember Lord Bennett, who was Prime Minister of Canada; and I was glad to see in his place earlier Lord Sinha, of India.
I am sure that everyone in your Lordships' House would approve this principle of people coming from the other countries of the Commonwealth to sit in your Lordships' House, and I should like to see it vastly expanded. This House is a sounding-board for the public opinion of this country. I should like to see it much more a sounding-board for the countries of the Commonwealth, so that as time went on we should have not just one Prime Ministers' Conference a 972 year, excellent as it is, but a place where ideas might be exchanged; and a sounding-board from which, as your Lordships know, the ripples go out and none can say where they end.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, may I commence by joining the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, in expressing from this side of the House our hearty congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House. I feel that it was full of wit and humour in a way which your Lordships will appreciate, and I sincerely hope that we shall have many more opportunities of hearing him in that tone.
I wish that I could follow the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, at some length in the wonderful sentiments which he has just expressed. I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that what he has said has been in line with every speech during the course of this debate, and I wish that I could express myself as well as he has done. This is the kind of subject about which we all feel from the depths of our hearts, and our desire for the well-being of the Commonwealth is very real indeed. I would also join with other speakers in expressing thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for initiating this debate. Those of us who are old enough remember the tremendous services which he has rendered to the Commonwealth, and over the years we have read of those services. As a new Member of your Lordships' House, this is my first opportunity of coming in close contact with him, and I want to say how very deeply I personally appreciate the way in which he opened this debate.
My Lords, when I heard the noble Lord's opening sentences I had some misgivings. I felt that what I wanted to say this afternoon was perhaps not in line with what he calls—and it is the operative word of his Motion—cohesion. However, as he went on he opened the door wide for me, and other noble Lords who have preceded me have pushed it open even wider. Because in my contribution to this debate I want to concentrate on the Commonwealth aspect of overseas development, arising from the introduction of the Overseas Development and Services Bill in another place 973 in February, with emphasis on the West Indies, since I know that part of the Commonwealth best; and I want to talk more particularly about help to the Windward and Leeward Islands. I approach any contribution I make with some temerity because I am very conscious indeed of the wealth of knowledge of Commonwealth matters which is possessed by Members of your Lordships' House.
Very recently a publication of the Overseas Development Institute, written by Mr. David Morgan and entitled, Aid to the West Indies, came into my hands. That document gives some amazing figures, and causes grave thought. I wonder, for example, why those parts of the Commonwealth which are not particularly poor but have experienced some very serious disturbances have done so much better in the way of aid from us than those poorer territories going calmly about their business. For example, in the seventeen years from 1947 to 1962, we have given in aid from this country 6s. per head of the population to India, against £182 per head in the case of Malta. Sierra Leone got £7 4s. per head, while Cyprus got £82. British Guiana received £61, while Trinidad and Tobago received less than £10, per head. I wonder whether there is any significance in these figures. I feel sure there must be. While Trinidad and Tobago have comparatively higher standards of living than most of the Caribbean countries, the total unemployment rate is still about 20 per cent. Similar figures, my Lords, can be quoted for the lesser islands, whose need is greater and more urgent since the breakdown of the West Indies Federation.
I am concerned, too, about the sources from which we give our aid. We spend money from Colonial Development and Welfare funds for projects, when the money might be obtained from the international Agencies, and when the Colonial Development and Welfare funds might well be better used for welfare in the social sense of hospitals and education. The International Development Association has given in all a vast figure, a figure that we cannot grasp, 1,500 million dollars in grants and loans; but 30 per cent. of it was for road development in various parts 974 of the world. In my judgment, no area needs this kind of development more than the smaller territories of the West Indies, and yet we are financing road building there from Colonial Development and Welfare funds.
This brings me to the policy of the International Development Association, which is to provide aid for the larger countries and therefore rules out individual islands such as are contained in the Leewards and the Windwards. In any case, these smaller units have trouble in providing the data for their needs. They have not the facilities for that kind of thing. I wonder whether Her Majesty's Government can make approaches to the I.D.A. to merge the road requirements of the Leeward and Windward Islands with perhaps those of Barbados, in order to satisfy the criteria of the I.D.A. population figure. The honourable Member for Northfield, Mr. Donald Chapman, made a speech in another place on the Second Reading of the Overseas Development and Services Bill, which was very impressive indeed. He said the kind of thing that I am now saying. That was nearly three months ago, and I am therefore wondering whether in the interim Her Majesty's Government have been able to consider this line, and whether they have thought of making approaches. I should be very grateful indeed if my noble friend could give some indication on that matter when he comes to wind up this evening.
At the time of a 7 per cent. bank rate—and this has been referred to by the noble Lord who sits on the Liberal Benches, Lord Wade—it is difficult to talk of low interest rates, but this matter needs a lot of attention. The interest rates charged by the last Government for this kind of work have been appallingly high. Only about 7½ per cent. of the loans we have given have had an interest rate of 1 per cent., while 61 per cent. of the United States loans have had a rate of under 1 per cent. Our regular figure was 5½ per cent., and I suggest that this is crippling to small territories. I take it—my noble friend will correct me later if I am wrong—that the new legislation will merge all our various modes of aid (C.D. and W., Colonial Development Corporation and the like) and so give greater opportunities in all spheres of aid.
975 Could I ask my noble friend, further, whether there is any chance of a consortium for the Caribbean between the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada? After all, all three are involved in their welfare. The United States is involved because of its nearness geographically and because of economic ties. Aid for welfare, I would suggest to your Lordships, is much more profitable than guns, on purpose, to establish understanding. Canada is concerned because of its being the nearest older part of the Commonwealth to the Caribbean countries; and we are ourselves concerned because of our deep responsibility after centuries of rule. It is all right to talk about our not being able to do it in our present economic conditions and circumstances. I know we have done great things in the years that have gone by; but, frankly, we need not be very proud of the living conditions of some of the West Indian people after the long period of our rule.
Finally, may I again ask my noble friend—and this is not on economic aid; but it has a relationship to it because I believe that the merging of territories is of great advantage—whether he has any up-to-date information to give to the House on the possible federation of the "Little Eight", or it may be now the "Little Seven". In my view, some of the problems cannot be solved, nor can there even be an approach to a solution, without the federation of those countries. Viability is impossible in such small, individual units of government. Aid will be needed for a long time after federation or even independence, but it will be much easier to allocate it if those smaller islands were to come together under one Government.
My concluding words would be an appeal to Her Majesty's Government for support, not only for the territories that I know best in the West Indies, but for all the emerging nations of the world. It is not just a question of what we can afford; it is a question of what is right. I have always believed that we have to indulge in this enterprise to the extent of sacrifice and until it hurts; and not until we develop that spirit (and do not merely go forward giving what we think we can afford) will the emerging nations of the world be benefited as they need 976 to be. I apologise for having concentrated in the main on a particular section of the Commonwealth; but I wish to emphasise and stress the difficulties of that particular area.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD HOWICK OF GLENDALE
My Lords, I listened with the greatest interest to the admirable speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, and particularly to the passages in which he spoke of India at the moment when that country became a Republic. At that time I was a High Commissioner, and I remember that when India became a Republic, and asked to remain in the Commonwealth in spite of becoming a Republic, this put a very difficult problem to the other members. This problem was anxiously debated. Some felt that the request should be accepted by the other Dominions, and that from that acceptance would flow a wider and expanding Commonwealth and a very exciting prospect. Others believed that if the request was accepted, Commonwealth links would be so stretched that the whole Commonwealth structure would collapse.
Looking hack now, in 1965, I myself think that the right decision was taken; but I also think that the great achievement of the English-speaking peoples (and I know, from the speeches I have heard, that your Lordships will agree) has been to maintain this grouping of nations, and to maintain it in such a way that an Australian Peer, the noble Lord, Lord Casey, is able to speak in this House to-day, and therefore to keep in being a grouping, not merely geographical, like all the others, but one which defies what has been called the "estranging seas".
In his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Casey, rightly showed great concern for the feelings, policies and thoughts of the newly independent nations in the Commonwealth. I have spent most of my working life in those nations and I visit them frequently on account of my work at present. I was struck with a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir. He said that a member of the Commonwealth throughout the Commonwealth is "un-foreign". I think that that puts very well the whole essence of the Commonwealth. I was recently 977 in West Africa where a leading and extremely influential political figure said to me that his feeling as a West African for the Commonwealth is one of sentiment. He said: "I am about to go to Canada. When I am in Canada I do not feel a foreigner." I was struck by that statement. I thought that that arresting phrase, that remarkable appeal to sentiment, that mention of not being a foreigner, underlines for us all the importance of maintaining those feelings in the newly independent countries. It also gave us, for the future of this now widely-spread Commonwealth, a bright ray of hope.
All the same, in spite of our hope, we must not expect too much. I think it is expecting too much to expect a newly independent African country to follow closely in foreign politics the line of policy taken by the West. To ask them at the United Nations not to vote, on most occasions, at any rate, with the Afro-Asian bloc is to ask something very difficult indeed. The outcry against colonialism in the world is still far too loud. Nevertheless, I think that we see encouraging signs now that the newly-independent nations are beginning in affairs of the world to take a line of their own. By no means all African countries accept the rather extreme counsel given them by some of their own number. Outside the Commonwealth we had a striking example of a courageous action by a Mohammedan Arab-speaking country when President Bourgiba went against the aggressive Party line put forward by Nasser. I hope your Lordships will agree with me that this development of thinking for themselves among these nations is much to be welcomed.
Surely our greatest danger, or at least a very great danger, is that, at any rate on this side of the Iron Curtain, there should be only one line of division between nations, a line of division which President Nyerere, of Tanzania, has described as a division between the "haves" and the "have-nots". This could easily come about; and if it did it would lead to a great resentment against the developed, the "have", nations. I think it would come about through separation. Separation would be a kind of apartheid. Therefore I think the noble Lord, Lord Casey, was right to lay the strongest possible emphasis on the 978 development of all possible points of mutual understanding.
There are, as noble Lords know, several answers to this problem. One is that we should try to provide more than one meeting place between the developed nations and the developing nations, between the "haves" and the "have-nots". The primary meeting place is the United Nations; but there discussion is formal, the Assembly is rather big and there is very much publicity. I think that Commonwealth meetings—not as a substitute for the United Nations but as something to supplement and help it—are important, for they would be smaller, far less formal and less public.
To illustrate this obvious point might I intrude a personal memory? I was the Governor of Kenya when arrangements for the first time were made for Africans, Europeans and Asians all to be represented in the Government. The running of a mixed Government for the first time presented the Governor with a rather acute problem. His main problem was to discover how to deal with and forestall divisions among his Ministers on sharp and racial lines. The technique which is required (and there is a technique) and which was adopted, was simple, but rather important. It was that when there was a prospect, in a formal Government discussion, of a division on these lines the Governor brought the discussion to a close. Before the second formal meeting the Governor had an entirely informal meeting in which he took the initiative in calling a few of the Ministers from all communities to speak in his own room in an unrecorded meeting.
I venture to suggest, with humility, that that illustrates on a small scale the type of thing which the Commonwealth can do in the world, the type of service which the Lord Chancellor said it ought to render to the world. The formal meeting is the United Nations; the informal meeting is the Commonwealth meeting; the country to take the initiative is Britain, with its historical position. A good example, I suggest, of all this occurred at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva in 1964. As I understand it, the developing nations, the "have-nots," came to the conference with very distinct requests and very clear ideas. They were 979 much upset by a speech made by the representative of a very important developed country—not Britain—and there was a prospect of a breakdown. The lead through to a solution in avoidance of that breakdown came from an informal meeting by the Commonwealth nations; because the Commonwealth nations represented both sides in this issue.
So I hope that, in the sphere of broad politics, the Commonwealth can, so to speak, back up and support the United Nations, just as in the sphere of economics a British or a French economic agency can, without acting as a substitute, supplement and support economic international agencies, such as the World Bank or the I.D.A. I do not believe that if this process goes on over a period of years the Commonwealth nations will reach an identity of policy. However, I do believe that together we might perform an increasingly useful function for the world as a whole; and in doing so we might draw closer together ourselves—all of us, whether we are the younger or the older Commonwealth nations.
Much has been said as to how this process can be speeded up. I should like to say three things. One is that I am sure, as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said, the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is invaluable. In some Commonwealth countries the internal political affairs are carried on in a way which we do not like, but despite that I believe that in all of them British Parliamentary institutions are still very much respected and it is possible that in the future these nations will turn to them. Also, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, the export of law is of the greatest possible importance. So, of course, are the links which come from education, and notably the effect of our universities in higher education. Finally, I would also mention the importance of co-operation in science and scientific research. The Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux which gave an admirable information service to scientists all over the Commonwealth and in other countries too, are a very good example.
Then of vital importance are the men and the money required for development. I believe that the decision of the Government 980 to establish a Ministry of Overseas Development was wise. We needed an instrument through which Britain could participate in a joint Commonwealth effort and, by so doing, canalise its own efforts to assist, both by men and by money, the economic growth of the developing countries. I think a hopeful sign is the Overseas Services Aid Scheme, and over 1,100 British men and women now help some forty Commonwealth Governments. I also believe that the Commonwealth education arrangements, both for the interchange of scholars and for the supply of teachers to universities in those Commonwealth countries that require them, are admirable.
Economic growth, as has been mentioned before in this debate, is also of vital importance. In fact, without it the new countries will be uninterested in much of what we do for them. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, mentioned the gap between the developed and the developing countries, and he was quite right in doing that. If that gap widens, all our other efforts, however well meant and effectively carried out, will be useless. If, on the other hand, that gap narrows, all our efforts will become much more fruitful than they would otherwise have been.
I was much touched by the kind reference made by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, to the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, of which I am Chairman. I am particularly glad that he made that reference, since we operate in, among other countries, Malaysia, and now, for the first time, we, as a British Government agency, find ourselves about to start a project in cooperation with Australian partners, something which we welcome very much indeed. Secondly, in Malaysia we have had experience of the admirable effort that Australia has made to train Malaysian men and women. We have had them in our projects, which include factories, building societies and plantations. We have seen the excellent work of those who have been trained in Australia. They have all been extremely happy in Australia and they have nearly all been a great success in their working lives afterwards. It is certainly true that no Malaysian could possibly say "I shall feel a foreigner in Australia".
981 Speaking in this House a year ago, I ventured to mention the interesting speech made at the annual meeting of the World Bank by Mr. Woods, who was then, in 1963, the new President. He spoke a great deal of the World Bank and the I.D.A. and the International Finance Corporation, and the efforts they had made to increase the standard of living in the developing countries. His particular point was that, though much had been done for public utilities and industry, not much had been done for agriculture, and that the World Bank ought to exert more effort in regard to the problem of rural poverty in these areas. He was absolutely right, because it is a problem of vital importance. He also showed a great deal of interest in the work which had been done in those countries by the Commonwealth Development Corporation, and we in turn in that organisation showed an equally great interest in what he was doing, because we thought we saw a chance of fruitful partnership and cooperation and also the opportunity of spreading some of our ideas.
I am very glad to say that a great deal of progress has been made in this direction. In 1963 only a few members of the staff of the World Bank were concerned with agriculture. I spent ten days in Washington in February this year, working with the office of the World Bank there, and there is now a large section concerned with agriculture. We ourselves are doing two projects in partnership with them; we hope to be doing probably at least three more. The head of that section is British, the representative in Rome who co-operates with the Food and Agriculture Organisation is Australian, and in Washington its chief authority on livestock is a New Zealander. So we have several Commonwealth nations represented in that part of the World Bank which is doing work of extreme importance for our less developed Commonwealth friends.
The other point I would make is regarding the suggestion that the Commonwealth Development Corporation should attempt to bring together modern scientific ideas on up-to-date tropical agriculture, on a large scale on the one side, with a social system of smallholders on the other. We have done this, starting in Malaya; we are about to do it, we hope, in 982 Nigeria; and we have done it in Swaziland and in Kenya. We have not the resources to spread it very widely, but we hope, with the co-operation of the World Bank, with their providing the prestige and the acceptability in new countries of an international organisation, and their providing also far more money than we have, and with ourselves supplying the experience in management and tropical agriculture, we shall together be able to spread it a great deal more widely than it has so far been spread.
I think that is one practical way in which we can help some of these newly independent countries in their most difficult problem and the one in which they find it hardest to get help. If we can assist by investment, by aid, by the export of British knowledge, by the training of young people in those countries, and thus raise the standard of living, then we shall be doing something which will help to forward all the other points of mutual understanding about which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, spoke. With that series of actions, of strengthening of the links, it may be possible in the end to get a wide political movement towards the greater cohesion which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, so keenly and so rightly desires.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, I think we are indebted to my noble friend, Lord Casey, for initiating this debate. Not so long ago I was in Swaziland, where I was able to examine and witness the activities of the Commonwealth Development Corporation under Lord Howick of Glendale's chairmanship, and I can testify to its efficacy, its most valuable work, and the development which it is inspiring and undertaking on behalf of great corporations as well as on behalf of the small peasant farmer.
One aspect of Commonwealth development which perhaps has not been touched upon very deeply is that of the Parliamentary pattern. I would observe that this has been a most important export from the old country. We are indebted to the Parliamentary Association, as well as to the Clerks of the House of Commons, notably my old friend Sir Bryan Fell, for doing so much to show young countries that were starting Assemblies and Parliaments how to make use of the 983 Speaker and of the Clerk and of the various procedures. Many of the attributes of Parliament—free speech and the understanding of the functions of the Opposition—have unhappily gone by the board, especially in Africa. Nevertheless, the model is still there and the lessons are still in the minds of those who have tried to operate these procedures and it must be our hope that the practices which, after 700 years, we have found appropriate may yet come back into use in those Parliaments.
For ninety years, members of my family and I have shared the life of the people of South Africa and of Basutoland, shared their triumphs and disasters. And by "the people" I mean all the people of all races. Therefore, I declare an interest, arising out of that long association, which survives to this day. I am a politician, or at any rate a Parliamentarian, here in Britain, and have been for forty years. Therefore, it is not my practice to take part in Party politics in South Africa or in Basutoland; and I should like to state that what I am going to say is aimed at presenting what I consider to be a picture of happy omen to your Lordships, without any Party alignment or Party bias or implication whatsoever.
I should add that my use of the word "Basutoland" is now out of date. This country is now to be called the Kingdom of Lesotho. The first thing I want to do is to wish that new Kingdom the very best of good luck in launching into a new era in its constitution. Bearing in mind the good advice of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to us not to discuss an election that may be coming, I think that I am at liberty to comment on an election which took place last week and which was only concluded last Monday; that is, the election of Lesotho. There are 60 seats in the little Assembly there, which I have attended more than once. This morning, I understand that 30 seats were won by the National Party, 25 by the Congress Party, 4 by the Marematlou Freedom Party, and 1 seat remains to be settled. If that seat goes to the National Party, they will have a majority of two over all Parties; if not, they will be equal.
It is not my purpose to praise the Party that won or the Party that lost, but rather 984 to praise the Basutoland Advisory Committee, as it was until lately, the National Council as it then became and now, for the first time, an independent Parliament, though not yet in an independent country, responsible to the Ministers whom it will support, and to praise the leaders of the Parties and all who have taken part in this first election under full adult direct suffrage. Every man and woman of this nation of 400,000 voters has had a direct vote for these 60 members of Parliament and they have carried out the election with precision, in amity and peace, in the main, with no more than the excesses which we ourselves have had in our own time, from Eatanswill to the present day.
I should like to say a word of particular praise to the Paramount Chief, as he was called until a day or two ago, now to be the King of the Kingdom of Lesotho, who is Her Majesty's Representative there. My people and his people have known each other for ninety years, and I have not the slightest doubt that he will carry on, in rather different circumstances, as a constitutional monarch, the anxious task of guiding and helping his people, as his ancestors did at the time when they made their first friendly advances to Queen Victoria and came to her for protection.
I would also mention the services rendered to Basutoland by successive British representatives, and in particular at this time by Sir Alexander Giles, lately Resident Commissioner and now occupying a post more analogous to that of an Ambassador, and to Mr. Stanford, lately a member of the South African Parliament, who has acted as President or Speaker of the Basutoland Parliament for some years, and who has been of the greatest possible help to them. The greatest praise goes to the whole electorate in Basutoland and to all those who have guided and helped them and brought them so far as they have gone along the road.
Your Lordships may not mind if I recall that that country is not yet independent. It has now entered the penultimate stage before independence. The next stage will be for the Lesotho Parliament, if it so wishes, to pass a resolution asking the British Government for independence, and it is foreshadowed that, in about a year, if this be done, the British Government will take that 985 into earnest consideration. It is generally believed that if this request is made by a component House in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, Her Majesty's Government, whatever Government it may be, would then grant independence. That is what is being looked forward to, as soon as the appropriate time comes.
It must be remembered that this country will ask for, and will probably get, political independence before it gets economic independence. Therefore, a responsibility must rest upon those who are governing in Lesotho and those who are governing in Britain, which has been associated with Lesotho for nearly a hundred years, and on the Government of South Africa, which surrounds the territory of Basutoland, and which has longstanding trading and economic relationships with them, to see that this little mountain or semi-mountain State in the middle of South Africa can be, and is, viable.
In order to achieve that there will have to continue a subvention, or grant-in-aid, which may amount to between £1¾million and £2 million a year, and capital advances from time to time, which in the last two years have amounted to nearly £2 million. We have to look forward to that. When, if ever, Britain can hope for an honourable discharge of our obligations to this country, I do not know; but it cannot be for a long time. It is my hope that members of all Parties and all Governments, and of both Houses of this Parliament, will recognise that it is no good bringing a new Parliament to birth in Basutoland if it is not given a way of life. This grant-in-aid is an absolutely necessary element.
Then, there must be trade, and continuing trade, and good relationships with South Africa. Many thousands of the Lesotho people go yearly—they wish to go, and enjoy going—to the Republic of South Africa to work for good wages: better wages than they can get elsewhere in Africa. That must continue. Only through the ports of the Republic of South Africa can the products of the peasant farmers in Basuto—namely, mohair and wool, and occasionally, when they have a surplus, maize and wheat (though I would remind your Lordships that they do not often have a surplus 986 of maize and wheat; indeed, they have to rely on the Republic to help to feed them)—reach the outside world.
The Customs Union is one for the whole land; the railway, such as it is, is operated by South Africa; the telephone system is a common one, though operated separately: indeed, this country is an integral part of the economic life of South Africa, and this muse be recognised. Therefore, the matter of supreme importance is that Britain, South Africa and Basutoland should remain on good terms with each other, and should be prepared to trade freely with each other. However some, or all, or any of us may disagree about political views, we must still be prepared, as we are (shall I say?) with Russia, on the one hand, and the United States, on the other, to take two extreme cases, to trade with them and encourage trade; otherwise Lesotho, starting off now on its great adventure of independence, cannot survive.
I have little else to say, except that Basutoland has only one great rich capital asset which it can sell to the outside world, and that is water. It happens that in the mountains of Basutoland there are millions of gallons of beautiful clean water. There is no other clean water left in Southern Africa. There is a great scheme to produce large quantities of water from the Orange River, away to the West, to clean it and then pump it right up to the North-East, hundreds of miles to the Vaal Valley, where one-third of South Africa's industry is centred. But this will cost hundreds of millions of pounds and it will be many years before it eventuates. In the meantime, the level of the water in the Vaal Valley is running down, and the time will come when South Africa will have to turn to Lesotho for water. Then we shall find that South Africa, on the one hand, and Lesotho, on the other (perhaps then already independent), will have to make a deal or enter into a trade agreement of some kind whereby South Africa will pay some £10 million, and Lesotho will pay £10 million, which it will borrow from the noble Lord of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, or in some other way, and with this money there will be produced some way in which this tremendous source of wealth can contribute to the happiness and future of Lesotho.
987 There is no other way in which they can earn money, except by selling their labour and by selling some of their tourist resources. Obviously, we must all do what we can to help them to get trade and industry. But there is no great hope in this direction, because the country of Lesotho has in it only five little towns, each of which is on the periphery of the territory and is much more readily served from the territory of South Africa than from any one of the other towns. There are hardly any communications in this country, and it is not a country that lends itself to ready communications. This tends to emphasise how important is the water question which I have mentioned.
Finally, it will have been observed by noble Lords that throughout Africa the good intentions of the British over the last ten years, following a long tradition of perhaps a hundred years, to set up independent countries in Africa generally which would operate independent Parliaments have not worked out as happily as we could have wished. It is very hard for people who have been under colonial rule, good and fair as colonial rule was, fully to understand the Parliamentary system in which the Opposition is positively praised and the Leader of the Opposition is actually paid—an incredible thought to them. Colonial servants hardly encouraged opposition, and it is not surprising that when you hand over the territory to the locally elected people they do not understand opposition but set it on one side. I do not blame them; I only blame ourselves for not having seen the inevitability of this process.
But I am not without hope. I want to call your Lordships' attention to the fact that there are two little countries in Africa—and perhaps two only now—where there is real hope that something like the Parliamentary system based upon the Westminster pattern may survive and endure. One is Lesotho, which we have made; and the other is the Transkei, which the Republic of South Africa has made. Until last week the Constitutions in these two territories were identical: the Parliamentary set-up, the use of an Executive Committee—a kind of local Cabinet—the weighting of the democratic vote by packing the Lower House with chiefs, which they do in the Transkei, and which we have also done in Basutoland until this week.
988 There is an identical pattern here. Although the Transkei is now a stage behind (because Basutoland has gone forward this week into the next phase) it may be that these are the only two countries left in Africa where something like a Parliamentary system, with recognition of the right of free speech, voting, and all the rest of it, will survive. If it does survive, right in the middle of the Republic of South Africa, it will have two most important effects for the future. It will show the South African people, many of whom do not appreciate our Parliamentary system as we do; many of whom have not had 700 years in which to learn how to work suffrage for all, but only 300 years of experience to work upon, and many of whom feel that when this Parliament gave them the charge of South Africa we meant it. It may be that if these two small States in the middle of South Africa one set up by us and the other by the Republic—survive and are successful, they will demonstrate two things to South Africa themselves. One is that the Lesotho, on the one hand, and the Xosas, on the other—that is, the people in the Transkei—really can govern themselves sensibly: can run a Parliament, with an Opposition, and hold elections fairly; can provide judges, lawyers, a Speaker, top officials and top policemen, and so on. It will be a great surprise to many South Africans. But it may also show that they are good neighbours to live with.
If these lessons are learned, then there is hope that the better mind of South Africa, which I cherish and which I know is there, if only we will cultivate it and encourage it, instead of persecuting it and blaming it, as we so often do—if only these territories can succeed, and if we can help them to succeed, then they will set an example in South Africa which may well change the face of that Southern Continent. I hope that noble Lords in all parts of this House, and Members of Parliament in another place, will join with me in wishing Lesotho the very best of good luck in its advance into independence.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I have frequently had the experience of following the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, in another place, and I am 989 happy to do so on this occasion. We have clashed in our views, but I think all of us will recognise the very great service which he has given to ex-Servicemen in this country and, if he will allow me to say so, all of us revere a quality of heroism which is in his own personality. I had hoped that on this occasion I would be able to speak following him without coming into conflict with the views which he had expressed, but he will forgive me for saying that I am just astounded that he should equate the new constitution in Basutoland with the constitution in Transkei.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene, with the greatest respect? What I equated were the two Constitutions last week. That was quite clear. Now Basutoland has gone a stage further forward. But last week they were the same. That is what I said.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I certainly did not wish to misrepresent the noble Lord. I would not say that they were equated last week. In Basutoland, in Lesotho as it now is, there is no racial distinction on the voting register. Transkei is a Bantustan state in which racial distinction decides whether you will have the right to vote or not. I do not propose to develop that point, because in the case of Transkei many of us are happy to say that it is not within the Commonwealth. But I want to express appreciation of the fact that the noble Lord has drawn attention to the question of the three protectorates in Southern Africa, not only Lesotho but Swaziland and Bechuanaland. Those three territories are in the Commonwealth, and in these coming months and years they will need great assistance from the Commonwealth if they are to withstand the racialist policies of the Republic of South Africa which surrounds them all, and if they are to develop as the democratic equalitarian States for all races, which is the principle of the Commonwealth, and which has been endorsed by the Parliaments of this country.
The noble Lord made a plea that the Governments of Africa should increasingly follow our political systems and our Parliamentary systems. Thank God we do not have in this country the kind of racial discrimination which there is in the 990 neighbourhood of those protectorates! We have even had, and we have now in this House, Members of other colours and of other races who sit as equals with us. That is the great principle which is the principle of a Commonwealth. I do not intend to speak on that subject, and I am not going to impose on the House the speech which I had originally prepared. I hope it would have been regarded as constructive. It would have made a series of proposals for the greater cohesion of the Commonwealth, which we all wish to see succeed. But nearly all those constructive proposals have been mentioned in speeches which have already been made: the promising development of a Commonwealth Secretariat, which can do so much for economic co-ordination and political co-ordination within the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Medical Conference, the Commonwealth Education Conference and the Commonwealth Foundation—all these are practical steps, not merely to revitalize the spirit of the Commonwealth, but to give that spirit something with which to function in a constructive way.
I want to mention only two points in relation to the development of the administration of the Commonwealth. One is the suggestion which has been made that there should be a Commonwealth Assembly; that it should represent Members of Parliament from the Commonwealth territories, just like the Council of Europe. My own view is that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in its conferences has already contributed very greatly towards that result, and that it may easily be that by the development of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association gatherings we shall be able to establish a Commonwealth Assembly, which is the ideal of many of those who are seeking the integration of the Commonwealth.
The other subject to which I want to make reference in this respect is that of immigration. Many of the nations of the Commonwealth were greatly disturbed when the Government of this country, without agreement by them—and, indeed, as I know from their own words to me, with very little consultation with them—suddenly imposed restrictions upon their citizens' coming to this country. I am very glad that the Government have now asked the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, to discuss this 991 matter with them; and I am very glad that it will be discussed at the forthcoming Conference of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. But I want to make a further plea. I do not believe that this matter can be decided just by immediate consultation, and just by discussions at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I believe that the problem of migration between Commonwealth countries will require continual adjustment.
Let us remember that this is not only a matter of Commonwealth immigrants coming to this country; it is a matter of citizens of Commonwealth countries passing from one country to another. An agreement should be reached in the Commonwealth under which this whole problem of migration can be settled in principle, with a standing committee considering continuously the need for readjustments, the changes of the pressures of population, the changes of the economy in different countries, the requirement for particular services and contributions in great projects of development. These will be continuous subjects, and I hope that when the Commonwealth Secretariat is established there will be a standing committee which will be able to keep them under continuous consideration.
I propose to approach the question of the Commonwealth in a way which has not yet been debated. I think we must appreciate that, with all our belief in, and faith and affection for, the Commonwealth, we are now facing a stage where adjustments will be necessary and, indeed, where dangers will have to be faced, if the Commonwealth is to develop as we desire. This is because in territories within the Commonwealth new loyalties are developing which may easily come into conflict with our Commonwealth conception.
There are Commonwealth countries in Africa. They are now responding to a new loyalty of Pan-Africanism. This is not only a matter of theory. We have recently granted the right of self-government to Gambia. Gambia is a part of the Commonwealth. But everyone appreciates that Gambia cannot become economically viable if it remains an independent territory on its own. It is surrounded by the ex-French colony 992 of Senegal, and inevitably at some point Gambia will either amalgamate or federate with that ex-French colony. And at that point the question arises of its relationship with our Commonwealth.
I give that particular illustration of a tendency which will inevitably grow in the continent of Africa. When, at the Berlin Congress of 1885, European Governments divided up the continent of Africa they did not do so on the ground of tribe or of race, not even of geography; they did it where their trading depots were, where their troops had reached, where their Christian missions had been established. Thus the partition of Africa to-day is completely artificial and arbitrary. The day will inevitably come when there will be a new Berlin Congress, a Congress held within Africa itself, redrawing the map of Africa; and the sense of Pan-Africanism, of solidarity over the frontiers of Africa, will inevitably grow and grow. It is not too early for us who believe in the Commonwealth to begin to think in terms of how the Commonwealth can continue to exist and can be adjusted to that inevitable development.
This development is not taking place only in the continent of Africa. I was interested to read in The Times or The Guardian (I am not sure which; I spend the first hour of my day reading both) this morning that the Tunku had said yesterday in Tokyo that there must be a sequel in Asia to what is happening in Africa in the development of Pan-Africanism there; that there must be Pan-Asianism. You will find the Tunku, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and countries in the Commonwealth, India, Ceylon, Pakistan, will begin to respond to the magnet of their Asianism. We must adjust our Commonwealth to that kind of development.
I want to say something which perhaps is more serious; and it is this. The territories in both Asia and Africa will begin to respond to the pressures which are now being exerted by China and Russia, particularly by China. The noble Lord, Lord Howick of Glendale, mentioned in his speech how President Nyerere of Tanganyika had said that the real division in the world to-day is between the "have" countries and the 993 "have-not" countries. African and Asian countries turn in their minds towards China, because they regard China as one of the "have-not" countries, because they see China as carrying through a revolutionary emergence from conditions of poverty to conditions of statehood. Quite strikingly, they do not see Russia in that way: they regard Russia as an establishment "country; they regard Russia as a rich country. But no one who knows Asia and Africa to-day can be blind to the fact that sympathy and solidarity with China is increasing because they feel that China is successfully passing through an experience into which they are moving as well.
I add one further danger to the Commonwealth idea, and it relates to the United Nations. We made a disastrous mistake—at least, we did not make it, because we recognise China, and, rather timidly, have supported its entry into the United Nations, but the United Nations itself made a disastrous mistake in keeping China out of the United Nations. One result has been that Indonesia has left it, and China will be at a conference next month at Algiers, representing African and Asian nations, and will be urging there that an alternative revolutionary organisation should be established by the withdrawal of those nations from the United Nations.
I make no apology for drawing attention to these tendencies in the world today, because they must affect the continuation of our Commonwealth. I believe that we can still have a Commonwealth and an association of Pan-African States. I believe that we can still have a Commonwealth and an association of Asian States. But if we are to do that, we must show our belief in the Commonwealth, both in spirit and in organisation, in a much fuller and much deeper way than we have done so far. We shall retain the loyalty of those nations towards the Commonwealth only if we identify ourselves with the aims of the new nations.
One speaker in our debate (I forget who it was) said that the era of colonialism is over. The truth is that even the era of political colonialism is not yet over; and the era of military colonialism and the era of economic 994 colonialism, which are the major factors now capturing the minds of the peoples of the new nations, so far from being over, remain to-day the great challenge. If the attitude of our Government here remains one of resisting the advance of those peoples from the political freedom they have won to freedom also from military imperialism and freedom from economic imperialism, then their loyalties will turn from us to Pan-African and Pan-Asian ideas which will exclude the future of the Commonwealth. If we are to save the Commonwealth, our thinking must be completely revolutionised in our relationship to the new nations who are in the Commonwealth.
I beg your Lordships not to think that I am speaking in an extreme way now. My words may seem extreme in this House, but they reflect the feelings of the new nations, which now form the majority in the Commonwealth; and unless we adopt a policy that will win their loyalty and their confidence, then the Commonwealth is doomed. That would be a tragedy. We have pride in it because it is multi-racial. We have pride in it because it is inter-continental. We have pride in it because it is a cross-section of the human beings of the world. It is the hope of the world for peace, for co-operation and for racial equality, but that hope will be realised only if our Government here, and those who are responsible for the Commonwealth, respond to the new spirit that is within it and establish the machinery by which it can be expressed.
§ 6.5 p.m.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, it is a privilege and pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Casey—it is the second time I have done so—partly because of his great lucidity, partly, as the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, said, because he is an Australian, and partly because of his positive emphasis on the element for fusion in the Commonwealth. I agreed most heartily with the particular remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, whose hope was that in some way or other further representation from the Commonwealth might be present with us in the future.
It so happens, however, that I had prepared to come to this House a little while ago to speak on that part of Africa of 995 which Rhodesia is a focus. Before reaching the House, it had become obvious that one should not mention that subject. So I took up another part of the Commonwealth where I have a personal contact—the relations between India and Pakistan. Owing to the Statement made to-day, it would seem inappropriate to dwell on the friction between the two—the fundamental friction of Kashmir. Therefore, as happens from time to time with me, as a speaker near the tail of the list, I scrapped not one, but two speeches, and I start de novo in this Chamber with a few remarks on what other noble Lords have perhaps left under-emphasised, or on what they have said with which I may agree or disagree.
I have followed the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, a second time. The first time was on the occasion of his maiden speech when, so far as I remember, he said that he hoped that he would be persuasive, even though he might not convince. For a second time I feel that he has been intensely persuasive, and if I venture to put up a slightly different point of view on one of the aspects of his remarks on Africa, it is, I hope, one to be studied in conjunction with his own. In my contacts with Africa I have felt, and I still feel, that we have contributed to that Continent, not the division which revolutionary Africa denounces, but a tremendous act of unification. Out of some 2,000 tribes we have contrived at present 36 nations, and by the time the process is over it cannot be more than fifty. That is an act of unification and not of dismemberment.
Although in marginal cases, about which I have had occasion to speak to your Lordships, there have been grave cases of dismemberment, the general picture is one of a unification; and it seems to me that, notwithstanding the thought of a pan-Africa, the great task before the leaders of the new African nations is to hold together what we put together, and that the great danger at present is not that they will coalesce into a greater unit, but that they may disintegrate. That seems to me a much greater danger than any other.
Another factor is that each of the European nations has imposed a pattern which they will find indelible, and one 996 feels and hopes that when prejudices have subsided they will see that the most likely patron to benefit them is the Colonial Power which has become a partner. So I feel that there are unifying forces at work which are much more likely to persist in the continent, as it is divided between colonial cultures, than a pan-Africa.
I listened with great interest to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, and I felt that he was trying to tell us something, of which he might say more outside the Chamber, to the effect that somehow or other we do not extend the warmest of welcomes to every visitor from the Commonwealth. These things are difficult and no doubt present themselves to many of us. For example, the British Council in Bristol asks one to receive their members from the Commonwealth to tea once a year, and that is an easy one to meet. But when somebody writes and says, "Will you have an African officer cadet in your house for the vacation?" it becomes more difficult. We have children of school age, we have accommodated them and enjoyed doing so for some time and hope to continue to do so. The Africans who visit us are our friends and stay as one of the family. But it is not an easy matter for everybody. Perhaps a few more people would be able to help if some contribution could be made towards expenses. It can become quite expensive, when one considers food, entertainment and other things. I am not asking for it in my own case. I am merely wondering whether the idea put forward by Lord Clifford of Chudleigh should not lead to some considered plan in respect of those in this country who may not find the entertainment and hospitality of Commonwealth visitors an easy matter. I know that a lady who organises holidays for African cadets finds it quite difficult to get them placed.
I should like to follow up what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Royle, and also by the noble Lord, Lord Howick of Glendale, in the matter of aid, investment and trade as between the wealthy nations and those which are backward. I noticed among the resolutions before the Conference of Non-aligned States in Cairo, which took place in October, one to the effect that what was wanted was a new international division of trade. This 997 point should be looked at. I take it that technically "aid" means something free—either free money which is given, or free technical advice—and that any other form of assistance should properly be described as "investment". Investment, of course, gives rise to the payment of interest, and some of the countries are borrowing at such a rate that difficulty is going to arise. They have to pay their interest and cannot possibly pay it in any way other than by exporting. What, then, are we going to buy? It is the old problem which one had to face when the South American countries were developing.
Before the matter goes too far, is there not a possibility of an international division of trade? A short letter in The Times the other day posed the question whether we should not allow cutlery to be produced in some backward country—I have forgotten where—which is a simple process, and whether we ourselves should not concentrate more on the more sophisticated lines of production. The same idea was developed by Mr. Macmillan in his pamphlet on the Common Market, though I do not think it had any relation to the Commonwealth at that time but dealt with the relations between the more backward and the more advanced economies of Europe. If something of this kind is not undertaken in the Commonwealth, how are these small nations to pay the interest on loans which we make to them? This is a fundamental matter. It is not only a matter of what they produce, but of seeing that what they produce is not such an inferior product that nobody wants it. That is a vital consideration.
The World Bank has been mentioned, and a short time ago I listened to an address in Nairobi made by the leader of a World Bank Mission. He said: "Let it be understood that the World Bank does not invest in anything which it contemplates is going to be a failure. It only invests in something from which it expects to get a return". If a return is to be expected, how are the developing countries to pay?
That is the particular contribution I wish to make to this debate. Although there has been a hint that man does not live by bread alone, it is impossible for the rich to address the poor in these terms. It is impossible for anybody who 998 is healthy and well-clothed to go to the poorer parts of India and even think of such a thing. It is vital to them—bread is the thing so many of them need, and it is all tied up with siphoning labour from the land into industry. What are they going to produce? Will anybody buy it? I have not seen any coherent plan or document setting out the methods. Those countries are borrowing money from this country, from West Germany, from Czechoslovakia, from China. One wonders where it is all going to end, how they will repay, and into whose hands they will fall when presently they become bankrupt.
§ 6.17 p.m.
LORD BELHAVEN AND STENTON
My Lords, like other noble Lords who have spoken to-day, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for bringing this Motion before the House, for it is a most important one. Indeed, I can think of no Motion of more importance at the present time. If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Casey, himself embodies a connection which I hope will strengthen with the years. Real bonds of family as well as of loyalty and affection unite us with Australia. My own family is a case in point, for I have the good fortune to be married to an Australian wife. My family is thus a miniature union of two nations. Like all close unions we have our troubles, but I certainly have no complaints and we all get on very well together. It can truly be said that we are connected with Australia by a very close-knit mesh of family ties. On the political level the situation is somewhat different and here the connection could and should be strengthened.
Britain to-day is a small country faced with big problems. Indeed, the problems of being small and of remaining viable are experienced to-day at every level of society, from that of small businesses to that of small nations. Our belated attempt to enter the Common Market, which to many of its protagonists was seen—and is still seen as a first step towards political union with Europe, was an implicit recognition of the fact that Britain, divested of her Empire, is too small to "go it alone" economically. In fact, it seems that we have to start somewhere and that the difficulty is to know where. Many people object to 999 the Common Market on the grounds that to join it would weaken our ties with the Commonwealth, but I must say, with the greatest respect, that I have as yet seen no constructive proposals from these partisans of the Commonwealth to counterbalance effectively the persuasive arguments of the Common Marketeers. A constructive approach of this sort could, and should, be made and, as a very junior Member of your Lordships' House, I hope to be able to put before your Lordships certain ideas which occur to me on the subject.
It would seem to me to be axiomatic that any move towards greater cohesion in the Commonwealth would have to start with the old Commonwealth. I think that a confusion has grown up about the Commonwealth from a tacit assumption that both the old Commonwealth, consisting of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and the new Commonwealth, are associated with us and with each other in the same way. I think that this is a pity and that it has had a tendency to weaken those strong bonds of blood, family and allegiance, which bind us to those who often literally are our brothers and sisters.
There is between us and these nations so strong a bond that it is often taken for granted, and I think that it ought not to be. We are of the same race; we have a unity of tradition, language, law and history, and we share the same bewildering hotch-potch of religions. When Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders come to this country they are in no sense foreigners. In fact, in my experience they are far more often members of the family. Unlike some noble Lords who have spoken today, I have never had any difficulty with Australians. They have just been cousins and have come into the house.
In saying all this, it is not my intention to derogate from the new Commonwealth or to run it down. It is very important and towards it we have very great obligations. But I wish to make clear the very real distinction which exists between the old and the new Commonwealths, due to the fact that the peoples of the old Commonwealth and ourselves are in many ways one nation. I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I digress a little here.
1000 There have lately been all sorts of proposals of unions with Europe and with the Commonwealth—commercial, political, close and loose. I therefore think it appropriate at this time to mention another Union, that between Scotland and England which took place in 1707. Before that date the British island was divided into two sovereign States. They shared the same Queen, but the division betwen them was ancient, deeply felt, and often bitter. Each country constituted a potential menace to the other, and it was evident that something would have to be done about it. In the face of the most determined opposition in both countries, there was negotiated an incorporating Union, which is still in force, and out of which the British nation was born. The results of the Union were an expansion of power and prosperity without parallel since the rise of Rome. The two nations became one, but without either of them losing its individuality. And being myself a member of the smaller nation, and thus the one most likely to be swallowed up, I feel that I am entitled to urge the advantages of Unions. I do, however, think that one should be discriminating about the people with whom one unites, otherwise, one may face the danger of incompatibility and divorce; and we all know that divorce is far more difficult and infinitely less rewarding than marriage.
I think it is true to say that unions of one kind or another have from time to time been proposed between the British nations of the world. They have been, and are, dismissed as impractical dreams. The distance between the countries involved, I am told, would make such a union impossible; and none of the four nations, and more particularly the three Dominions, would be willing to forgo national sovereignty. History, my Lords, is made up of impractical dreams which resolution has turned into living facts. I would say that on the first point. As for distance, one can travel from London to Sydney in a shorter time than it took to travel from London to Edinburgh in 1707.
I fear that I have been going a little fast here. I have been reading the Hansard Report of last Wednesday's debate, which I regret I was unable to attend. I was afraid, when I started to 1001 read it, that I should be "out on a limb" when I came to address your Lordships to-day, but I took courage on reading the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Blyton. I used to favour the European approach, and I am still not totally opposed to it. Of course we want to work with our neighbours—not against them. This is common sense, and belated common sense at that. It should have been thought of long ago. But I think that we shall find ourselves running into considerable difficulties if we try to undertake political union with Europe. After all, we have difficulty enough in interpretating our own law, which is written in only one language. A Treaty of Union drawn up in several languages, with all their differences of emphasis and peculiarities of idiom, would no doubt be possible, but it would be quite extraordinarily difficult. By comparison, what I am putting before your Lordships—a union of the British nations of the world—would be simplicity itself.
There are, of course, enormous difficulties in this idea, some of which I have already mentioned briefly. But in any proposed union of States the greatest barrier is the reluctance to give up national sovereignty. It is greater than economics, for we are human beings, not computers, and we feel these things deeply. We Scots—and I dare say the English, too—like to look back nostalgically, even now, at the times when our country was independent; when Scotland traded on equal terms with other nations; when Edinburgh was a true capital to which ambassadors were accredited and in which Parliament sat and deliberated. But, really, my Lords, what have any of us got to look back on? An England squabbling over Divine Right and given to fits of mass hysteria over imaginary Popish plots; and a Scotland tyrannised alternately by a fanatical Kirk and muscular gangs of Episcopalians such as Claverhouse's dragoons.
History does not repeat itself, and the conditions prevailing in the four British States to-day are hardly as bad as that. None the less, when our descendants, in 250 years' time, look back on these days of the twentieth century, is it not possible they may say that it was in the 'sixties that a distinct change for the better came about, and that the dismal and increasingly 1002 sterile quarrels about nationalisation and the so-called class war sank without trace and were forgotten in the great burst of national energy caused by the natural but long-delayed union of the British peoples?
It stands to reason that any union of this sort would be federal and that, consequently, the States involved would retain much of their present autonomy, and, I am sure, all their national pride. After all, my Lords, after 258 years of incorporating Union with England we Scots are inordinately proud of our country. In fact, some people think we make a nuisance of ourselves about it. Indeed, to underline this point, Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia, said recently that he was "as proud as Lucifer" of his Scottish ancestry. What possible source of national pride could those great nations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada lose through a Federal Union of British nations? And if, as I believe, there is no loss involved, what glorious prospects would open up before us!
A great British State would emerge, elevated once more to her true position as the foremost nation of the world, possessed at once of the greatest extent of territory and the most active, intelligent and civilised population which has ever dwelt on our planet. We may be a few years behind America in some forms of advanced technology, but, given this life-producing union, we should, I believe, eventually catch up and overhaul all our competitors. The whole conception of the Commonwealth would be transformed, and I believe that those States of the new Commonwealth which are true friends would wish to become more closely associated with us. America, which has for too long held a position of almost unendurable responsibility, would be immensely relieved by the emergence of a strong and vigorous partner, willing and able to share her guardianship of the Free World. Europe could go ahead on her own, as she shows every sign of doing. Our relations with her would be close and cordial, but we should be spared the almost impossible task of negotiating a union with a variety of European States speaking a babel of languages, and with codes of law and traditions of government which are quite different from our own.
1003 That is the direction which we seem to be taking. The protagonists of Europe are having it all their own way, and we are being goaded, frightened and lured into this union, for all the world as if we were a lot of pigs being loaded on to a cattle float. We know what can happen to pigs once they are safely shut in a float. I am not suggesting that we shall have our throats cut, but as the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, said last Wednesday, we are threatened with becoming an off-shore island, irretrievably immured in a federal Europe. In that case, it is likely that the Dominions will get very tired of being British. Who can blame them? They will gravitate towards America, and our chance of remaining a great nation will be lost. No one can rob us of our past, but is it too much to suppose that we might have a future?
I do not know where Her Majesty the Queen would fit in a European union. She would, I suppose, go on a rota with General de Gaulle and other Presidents and Kings and Queens, and come up as the head of the United Europe every so often, for a limited period. But she is already Queen of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in such a union her position and the splendour of our ancient Throne would be enormously enhanced. My Lords I realise that all this could be called an idealist's dream. Nevertheless, the basis of a civilisation is in its ideals, for without these there is no point in life at all. I realise that many economists will disapprove of the ideas which I have put before your Lordships to-day, but I believe that we could do it if we wanted to, that it is the natural line of our destiny, and that in a world teeming with impoverished and unviable sovereign States it would be a move in the right direction. After all, my Lords, we lack neither wealth, nor men of genius and enterprise, nor communications, nor territory. All we need is will and determination, and nothing worth while can be achieved without these.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD DIGBY
My Lords, this debate should be about leadership. The two most potent forces for procuring the cohesion of people are fear and leadership. Fear was provided by the war, when the incredible unity of the Commonwealth saved the world from Nazi domination. 1004 The fear of Communism followed after the war, but this fear has lost its potency for many members of the Commonwealth, and the unifying force which is now required is leadership. Our Victorian ancestors who built up the Empire may have had many faults, but they did know all about leadership. But now we have an empire of the mind, and our leadership must be of the mind. I do not suggest that we should wear a notice saying, "I have got a gunboat in my mind". Our leadership should not be built on force, but on a rock, and that rock should be the knowledge held by all members of the Commonwealth that this country will support and defend their Constitutions, their institutions and all their legitimate aspirations against all pressures.
My Lords, since the war this country has been anything but a rock. We have dismantled an Empire and formed a Commonwealth, but we have not provided new leadership based on a code of conduct and integrity which we follow in our own actions. I do not suggest a written code—this is not the way of the Commonwealth —but a code that is crystallised through our own actions in the same way that the Common Law has evolved. We must start this code by proving that we apply the same standards to all people—and this means the obligations as well as the privileges. The standards applied to Ghana must be the same as those applied to South Africa; the standards for Malaysia must be the same as the standards for Australia; and, above all, the standards required of our own Government must be the same as those required of all other Commonwealth Governments. I will not attempt to define this code: it must evolve. But, my Lords, leardership must be shown by justice, impartiality, bravery and determination. That is the rock on which cohesion of the Commonwealth must depend.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think all your Lordships will agree that we have had a most interesting debate, and I, too, in common with other noble Lords, am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Casey, for giving us the opportunity of discussing this Motion. I think there must be very few people in the Commonwealth who know more about the subject than he does. In fact, as some of your 1005 Lordships may know, he has written a book on the steps which should be taken to bring the Commonwealth more closely together, and some of the ideas that he puts forward in that book he has most usefully repeated this afternoon. If he will allow me to say so, there is nobody to whom I would rather listen on this subject, or whose opinion I would rather have, because I know at first-hand how greatly he influenced Australian foreign policy, not only in this respect but in others, during his long and fruitful term of office as Minister of External Affairs. He has also given us the opportunity of hearing an excellent maiden speech front the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, and the intervention in a debate of this kind, which we do not always get from many new speakers (some of us have been doing it for years), of my noble friends Lord Digby and Lord Belhaven and Stenton. We are very glad indeed to have heard from them this afternoon.
The noble Lord, Lord Casey, has analysed very clearly the problem which makes it necessary to have a Motion of this kind. It is, of course, primarily, though not entirely, the accession to the Commonwealth of sixteen countries, formerly Colonies, all of them without the same racial and religious similarities which held the old Commonwealth so closely together. But I do not think that that is the only reason. There have been since the war fresh groupings in the world, and, as the world has got smaller through air transport and better communications, so have countries become more interdependent economically and politically. We have new groupings, such as SEATO, NATO AND CENTO; we have the United Nations and all the organisations associated with it—ECAFE, ECOSOS, UNESCO, UNWRA and all the rest of them; we have the Afro-Asian group and the Organisation of African Unity; and, of course, there are many others. It is also true that the economies of the old Commonwealth countries have grown very greatly since the war, and have become much more complicated and while, before the war, the old Commonwealth traded almost exclusively with Britain, this, in the nature of things, could not be so now.
I think it is a mistake to assume that, had there not been this change in the 1006 Commonwealth by the addition of what we call the new Commonwealth, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and ourselves would necessarily have been closer than we are to-day. But undoubtedly the new countries have changed the whole character of our organisation, and for that reason it is right and proper that we should look at ways and means of bringing ourselves more closely together —and I, for one, shall be very interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has to say, in addition to what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said earlier this afternoon.
All of us, regardless of Party—and this has been clearly shown this afternoon —want to see the Commonwealth succeed; but, in common with my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire, I sometimes wonder whether we do not expect, at this stage, a little too much. Nobody who has any knowledge of the Commonwealth can seriously believe that it can be, or should be, an economic bloc or a political bloc or a military bloc. It is not; it cannot be; and in my view it should not be. It is an organisation of a very different sort; and I do not think we should be too discouraged when things happen in some of the newly-independent countries which perhaps we do not like very much. I do not think it altogether surprising—and here I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has said—that countries newly-independent should take a little time to settle down and find their feet; and what sometimes we may take for rather an unfriendly gesture may be only a determination to be, and to appear to be, truly independent.
We must remember that most of our former Colonies were wholly tied to the British economy, and that their armed forces were trained, equipped and led by the British, as were their police force. Though we may regret it, it is clearly quite a natural step for a newly-independent country to take to remove herself, even a little, from her purely British connections; and we should not assume that, because she buys arms elsewhere or gets a loan elsewhere, or because she does not automatically vote with us on every issue in the United Nations, all is lost, and that that particular country has gone Communist. In many cases, all they are doing is pushing themselves a little more towards what they think is the uncommitted 1007 centre and away from entire dependence on ourselves. We may dislike it, but perhaps we should at the same time try to understand it a little more.
In a way, I have heard something of the same sort said about Lord Casey's own country. I have heard, and I expect he has heard on many occasions, fellow countrymen of mine who have been to Australia say on their return that it was very sad that Australia had gone so American. They shake their heads sadly and talk about the way of life in Sydney. They do not seem to have realised that what is happening is that Australia has gone Australian, and that the influence of the United States is no more apparent in Sydney than it is in London. After all, jeans, barbecues and Coca Cola, in so far as our weather allows it, are just as much a part of the British scene as they are of the scene in Sydney or New York.
And what is true of Australia is true of every other country in the Commonwealth, in its own way. They all want to become themselves, to have their own identity and their own national pride and spirit; and I should not have thought that that was so very terrible. So let us, even if some of the things that some of them do sometimes shock us, be a little understanding; and by example, by wise counsel and by restraint, time may well prove to be the cure. Here I would say how very much I agreed with almost all that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said in his speech. He seemed to think he was being very extreme, but I thought he was being extremely moderate and extremely wise in the counsel he gave your Lordships.
What, then, do we expect of the Commonwealth? All your Lordships will know the reason why, for most of us, it is an association which is essentially worth preserving, and there is no need, at any rate in this House, to talk of the possibilities in the future of the Commonwealth showing the way to a better relationship between peoples of every kind and diversity. There is, too, the undoubted fact that the members of the Commonwealth themselves, old and new, still want the association to be maintained. There is no doubt that the Prime Ministers' meetings serve a very useful purpose, and I very much hope that the meeting next month will be no exception to that rule. I see no reason why it should be. The 1008 very fact that we are prepared to talk to each other is in itself of some importance, and although we may not agree, we have heard the other man's point of view in friendliness and good temper and are that much better equipped to set an example to others whose disagreements and arguments are settled by other means.
We know, then, what we want the Commonwealth to be; and Lord Casey's Motion is directed to suggesting ways and means in which that might be achieved. I think that we should start with small things first. In exactly the same way that we are not going to solve the problem of disarmament by grandiose schemes which are totally unacceptable even before they are tabled, but by hard work on the periphery of the subject, so, certainly, the problem of a cohesive Commonwealth will not be solved by a grand design which takes no account of the many problems, difficulties and issues in front of us. That, I think, is the view taken by Lord Casey.
Last year, when Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister, a number of projects, some of which the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack has mentioned this afternoon, were suggested and some of them have now been started. That, I think, was absolutely on the right lines. I do not want to mention them again this afternoon—we have heard some of them discussed in the speeches that have been made—but there is one on which I should like, perhaps unpopularly, to sound a note of warning. It is the Commonwealth Secretariat. Though I support this, I would make this reservation. It is perfectly understandable, now that the Commonwealth consist of so many countries, that there should be a wish to see some central body which can, to a greater extent than has hitherto been possible, arrange its meetings and ensure that information flows smoothly from one country to another. There was, no doubt, a suspicion—although I think it absolutely unjustified—that because the meetings are held in London and the agenda is organised here and the C.R.O. is responsible for the secretariat and the arrangements, too much responsibility lay with Britain.
All that, I say, is very natural; but I think there is a danger the other way. It would be equally unfortunate if the 1009 Commonwealth became over-organised and too much on the lines of an international body like the United Nations, with a strong Secretary-General and a Secretariat pumping out a mass of papers, resolutions to be moved, subcommittees to be formed and all the rest of the paraphernalia which is essential for the United Nations but which would, I think, be a sentence of death to an organisation like the Commonwealth, which is loosely knit and has quite different objects from those of other organisations. I hope we shall not allow these things to be made too formal. It is inevitable that some of the informality must be lost as the membership has grown; but do not let us formalise too much, and do not let us allow it to be run entirely by a Secretariat.
From my own experience as High Commissioner in Australia, I know how important visitors are. In the whole time that I was in Australia—and this is not in any way a criticism of the Party opposite—there was not one visit by a senior Member of Parliament of the Labour Party. I absolutely understand why this was so: it is a very long way and it is extremely expensive. But the fact remains that personal relationships must always be the kernel of Commonwealth relations. If the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations had been widely known in all the Commonwealth countries, as I know he was in some of them, his task and that of the Commonwealth relations would have been that much easier. And what is true in politics is true in every walk of life; it is true of doctors, trade unionists, botanists, bell-ringers and businessmen. The more exchanges we can manage, the closer we shall become, and the more we shall trust each other and understand each other. That is the greatest single step that we could take to bring the Commonwealth closer together. I am glad to think that that is clearly understood not only by noble Lords opposite (because I know it is) but by the Commonwealth Relations Office and all of us who are interested in the Commonwealth.
I couple with the work which the noble Duke mentioned, the importance of teaching English, the work of the British Council, for whom I have the greatest 1010 possible respect. They went through a difficult time in which they were greatly criticised as being "arty-crafty", bearded and shaggy. Well, the ones I dealt with were not "arty-crafty", they were not bearded and they were not shaggy. They were highly competent and efficient people who did a splendid job in presenting the British way of life. But the most important aspect which could possibly be presented is the English language. It is becoming increasingly the world language and it is certainly the language of the Commonwealth. But there must be many millions of people in the Commonwealth who neither understand nor speak it. It is difficult to convey our purpose if one does not have the means of communication. A common language is of vital importance to us, and everything we can do in the way of English teachers, television, films and the rest, we should not hesitate to do to further that cause.
Lastly, there is, of course, the problem of investment and money, about which we shall all—myself included—have a lot more to say to-morrow. We in this country are going through a particularly difficult period. Unfortunately this coincides with an equally difficult time in the United States, and it may well be that a shortage of capital in the Commonwealth (in all the Commonwealth and not just the new Commonwealth) will make itself felt in the next year, and felt, perhaps, seriously. It may be inevitable. But let us consider very carefully the money we spend abroad and see that it is spent in the best possible directions—which may not necessarily be aid. But more of that to-morrow.
The difficulty of making, and having made, a speech of this kind is that, though one knows exactly what are the problems, it is very difficult to pinpoint any particular solution. I end as I began, by saying that I feel sure that we shall be patient and understanding and not expect too much all at once, but by visits, by consultations, by the teaching of English and by many other small things that I have mentioned and which have been mentioned by other noble Lords who have spoken, we shall go forward slowly but steadily in the direction all of us desire.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, my first duty is to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, on his maiden speech and to sympathise with him and the noble Lord, Lord Casey, on not being eligible for the Plate at Badminton, which unfortunately was not awarded to an Australian. One does know friends from the old Commonwealth, who sometimes feel that their reception here is less than cordial. I think that most of our old Commonwealth friends understand that we take things quietly, that we are an overcrowded island, that we could get on as we do only by not being over-friendly and over-neighbourly with each other, and that excessive personal jollity is not a basic feature of the British personality.
I think the noble Lord, Lord Casey, can congratulate himself on having initiated a debate which has proceeded both smoothly and rapidly and with a very high level of quality and agreement. In fact there has been almost no disagreement with the principles he enuncitated in his opening speech. What he really asked for was more of all the things which this Government and the previous Government have been striving to do to increase Commonwealth cohesion. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that we must not institutionalise too much; that the Commonwealth is not an institution and is perhaps better thought of as an association (we have had many analogies this afternoon), and that if we were to overdo the Secretariat and try to over-develop it we should be making a great mistake.
Only a few years ago the whole idea of a Commonwealth Secretariat was abhorrent to most Commonwealth countries, and it is a remarkable thing that they should now be wanting it to develop. But I think that its prime purpose should be as an information service and as a service of organisation, for servicing meetings of the Prime Ministers; not the type of service envisaged by the noble Lord, Lord Wade: that is as a sort of mediating service in disputes between members of the Commonwealth. I think that would be disastrous—indeed, nobody, I believe, has thought of it in that way.
The details of the Secretariat's functions will, I imagine, be one of the subjects 1012 that will be, and can only be, decided at the Prime Ministers' Meeting which is to take place shortly. I think the Secretariat will be an immense service, particularly to the small Commonwealth countries, which at present try to duplicate in their High Commission offices all the services on social and economic problems which a large Commission would have to cope with. One has the idea that if only they could have a common information service, they would get the information they want. They would feel that it was theirs, and thereby save a great deal of money, and would get, we hope, a very much better service in the future. That is how one hopes that such a service will develop.
The only point in the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Casey, with which I disagreed was when he said there had been a great decline of the Commonwealth as a force for good in the world's affairs at the time when it ceased to be a coherent political bloc. I just cannot accept that evaluation. Certainly the Commonwealth is not a power bloc. The late Lord Beveridge once pointed out that power and influence vary inversely; and the influence of the Commonwealth for good, I believe, has never been greater, precisely perhaps, as my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor pointed out, because it is a voluntary association of peoples of the utmost diversity.
There is, of course, a special homogeneity about the old Commonwealth, but the extraordinary thing is the growing homogeneity we find within the new Commonwealth, despite its racial diversity and the fact that about half the new Commonwealth countries are Republics. I spent last week in Sierra Leone; and really it was more British than Britain in many ways, particularly when it came to church service—then, perhaps, it was more Scottish than Scotland.
Cohesion in association springs not only from common interests but from like-mindedness, which in turn springs from a wide variety of common institutions, of which political methods are but one, and a continuous interchange of thoughts and ideas and a readiness to help one another at times of special need. The noble Lord, Lord Casey, spoke of what was needed as a sort of huge public relations effort. But surely it is 1013 something better than that. That is needed, but it is treating public relations in its most generous and its deepest sense if we are to get the exercise the noble Lord desires. There must be a continuous interchange of thought and ideas at all level; and the first level, of course, is the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, about which I do not propose to say any more.
Almost as important is the continuous travel by Ministers from the Commonwealth to Britain and to other parts of the Commonwealth, and from Britain to the Commonwealth. I have tried to find out how many such visits there have been over the past six months. Ninety Commonwealth Ministers have visited us in Britain during that time, and we have made about twenty-one visits to Commonwealth countries. Sometimes our friends in the old Commonwealth feel that we do not visit them as much as we ought to and that we are paying too much attention to the new Commonwealth countries. May I say that, on looking through the list, I find that this is not so. Of the twenty-one visits, seven were to old Commonwealth countries, which I think was a pretty good ratio for three old Commonwealth countries, excluding ourselves.
Mention has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, and by a number of other noble Lords, of the value of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It is a remarkable organisation, and I think that what it has already achieved is often underestimated by those who have not been to a C.P.A. Conference. I certainly had no idea of the impact which an annual C.P.A. Conference makes on the country in which it is held (if it is a country other than England, shall we say): because this great influx of Parliamentarians, of all the countries of the Commonwealth, stimulates the country; it fills the local newspapers, and people of all countries have a chance to meet in an extraordinarily friendly and successful way. The Association does not cover only Federal Legislatures; it brings in Provincial and State Legislatures as well, and also colonial territories; so that we have the whole Commonwealth represented in it.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade, mentioned the annual courses in Parliamentary 1014 procedure, and I entirely endorse what he said about them. This year the United Kingdom branch has invited the Presiding Officers and Speakers of the other national Parliaments to come to this country in June for the 700th anniversary of Parliament. While here these visitors will be the guests of the United Kingdom Branch. They will play an important part in the historic ceremony which is to take place in Westminster Hall on June 27, when we hope that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers will also be in attendance.
Your Lordships will know that I had the privilege of leading our delegation to the last Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Annual Conference at Kingston, in Jamaica, and it was most encouraging and exciting to see how efficient the new Commonwealth countries were in their democratic procedures in such an environment. The noble Lord, Lord Belhaven and Stenton, said at one time that he was speaking too fast. I thought that he was speaking very fast, indeed, and it reminded me of this C.P.A. Conference, when the delegations from India and Pakistan insisted on having confrontation. Steps were taken to try to prevent them from discussing Kashmir, but eventually the chairman, Mr. Sangster, the Deputy Prime Minister of Jamaica, said that they would be given twenty minutes each. The Pakistan delegate started off at a tremendous speed, and after two minutes the entire Commonwealth was shouting, "Slower, please, we can't follow you". For about a minute or two the gentleman slowed up, then off he went again; but by the time the bell went at the end of his twenty minutes he had only got to 1947. Bless my soul! if the Indian delegate did not get up and do exactly the same thing. At the end, both of them were so delighted that they suddenly saw it was funny and insisted on having a combined photograph of both delegations to celebrate their wonderful "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" battle at the C.P.A. Conference in Jamaica. That seemed to me to be the right way to resolve the Kashmir dispute, or indeed any dispute. At the last Prime Ministers' Conference last year, the British Government indicated that they were ready to step up their contribution to C.P.A., and this has been done.
1015 Now a word about the question of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly, which my noble friend Lord Brockway mentioned and which has already been discussed as a possibility. Bearing in mind the history of the Commonwealth Secretariat, I do not like to rule out any possibility where the Commonwealth is concerned and, as the Prime Minister said in another place, we intend to explore with the Commonwealth Governments—and I hope this can be begun during the forthcoming Prime Ministers' meeting—the proposal for setting up a Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly, but it must depend on the views of the other Commonwealth Governments. It may be that what is wanted is something quite new, or it may be that an extension of the existing conference of the C.P.A. is really the best thing. I must say that when one sees the efficiency with which the C.P.A. carries out its work, one feels perhaps that might be the best answer; but I should not like to be dogmatic.
The next form of contact about which I would say a word is the day-to-day contact between the High Commissions and High Commissioners in the Commonwealth countries and the Governments and the people of those countries. Here I would pay a personal tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for his remarkable achievement as High Commissioner in Australia. My impression is that our High Commissioners take more part in the daily life of the community than Ambassadors in comparable foreign countries. This is what is expected of the British High Commissioner by the community; this is how he is supposed to behave. And he and his staff are in contact with an enormously wide range of people throughout the society in which he is working, in a way which I believe plays an immense part in making the Commonwealth a reality. Again, my experience is small compared to that of most of your Lordships, but from what I have seen I am convinced that the quality of the High Commissioners and of the staffs of these High Commissions is excellent.
A word now about the work of the British Information Services. There is a thirst throughout the Commonwealth not only for education but also for in- 1016 formation. The most reverend Primate asked what were the first things that the people of these developing Commonwealth countries were going to read, when they became literate. The answer is, newspapers. In many of the smaller territories the rôle of the local newspapers is enormously helped by the British Information Services Press service, not in any evil way, but simply because they are too poor to subscribe to the great international sources of information. The B.I.S. serves them fairly and well, with honest and disinterested information.
The smaller territories all suffer from shortage of material for their Press, radio and television, and the information officers of the Commonwealth Relations Office are doing a remarkable job. The job is not only to present Britain to the Commonwealth, but also to present the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth. One of the most striking examples is the magazine, Commonwealth Today, with which many of your Lordships are familiar. Half a million copies are sent out eight times a year in three regional editions and in fourteen different languages. One finds these magazines in all sorts of unlikely places and they are valued by the people who receive them. It might often be that this will be the first thing that people who become literate will read.
Exactly the same sort of work is done by the Central Office of Information, the B.B.C. and I.T.V. in the provision of television programmes and of taped and "disced" radio programmes. Between them, these services do a remarkable job in helping the developing Commonwealth countries to fill up their television and radio time with worthwhile material. I think that a large amount of it is surprisingly good.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Casey, spoke about sponsored visits, and the noble Lord told us how twelve years ago Australia had started these visits. The United States makes great use of this—and I must say that I had two months there at the expense of the United States Government, as one of twelve people from each country who are given a visit to see what they want to see and visit what they want to visit of a technical or occupational kind. The number of Commonwealth visitors 1017 whom we now help in one way or another is steadily growing. Some are looked after by the C.O.I. and some by the British Council. I have not found it easy to find out who looks after whom, and why, but it seems that the C.O.I. looks after journalists, politicians, and trade unionists if they are politically inclined trade unionists. The British Council looks after the other professions, the academics, the less political trade unionists and, strangely enough, Ministers of Education.
I have been investigating how much of the British Council's work is devoted to the Commonwealth. It is, in fact, 40 per cent. of its total effort, and this is a growing percentage as the number of Commonwealth countries increases. Of the 80 countries that the British Council serves or works in, the three in which it makes its greatest effort are India, Pakistan and Nigeria. I entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the type of people and the type of work. It is sometimes suggested—1 think the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has suggested it—that it ought to be a Commonwealth Council rather than a British Council. I must say that I think a better solution would be that each of the old Commonwealth countries, and perhaps some of the new Commonwealth countries, should have its own council doing the same sort of thing on an appropriate scale.
As a matter of fact one Commonwealth country—namely, India—has its own Council. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations is almost an exact replica of the British Council on a smaller scale. Its work is directly parallel, and the co-operation is considerable. There is a Canada Council, but the Canada Council does something quite different. It does the kind of work done by our Arts Council and University Grants Committee, and does very little work overseas. I hope that one day we may see an Australia Council projecting Australia in the same way as the British Council projects Britain, and sharing with us in the language teaching. The results may not be identical, but I think they will be understandable. I well understand that it is more difficult for Australia. As it is a federal country, and education is a State subject, it is not easy for the Federal Government to set up a Council in the 1018 same way as the British Government have set one up.
I do not propose to repeat or to outline all the work that is done, or the emphasis that is given to English in teaching, except to say that I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about its immense importance. It is steadily growing in every aspect—the teaching of teachers of English in laboratories; the export of teachers; the intake of pupils to learn English in order to go back and teach it; and the development of British libraries and public libraries, as well.
I was surprised to find that the British Council have a subvention for sport. They now have £10,000 a year in their budget for sporting activities, which covers such things as the sending of trainers in specific sports to Commonwealth and foreign countries, and assisting particular teams to visit Commonwealth countries. Among the financial assistance recently given was aid to a British hockey team to go to India and Ceylon, to an Eton fives team to go to Northern Nigeria, to an amateur football team to go to East Africa, to a cricket team to go to India, Ceylon and Malaysia, and for coaching various sporting activities in Ceylon, Malaysia and Ghana, with others to follow. This is a most desirable development of British Council work which can do nothing but good.
The most reverend Primate stressed the importance of books and the cheap books scheme. I do not think one need repeat what has been frequently said about this, except to remind your Lordships that the book publishing industry has set up the Book Development Council as an independent, non-profit-making organisation, under the chairmanship of Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, to stimulate the export of British books. The new Council will provide a link between the Government and the publishing trade in the Government's low-price book scheme, under which 1¾million British books have so far been printed, mainly for sale in Commonwealth countries.
I now come to what I think is the most basic long-term method of producing cohesion within the Commonwealth, and that is by the interchange of students and student relationships. If we have 1019 students and pick them correctly, or if the country which sends them does so; if they spend their formative years here and learn the subjects as we should try to teach them in our universities or our technical colleges; if they have a good time and enjoy themselves, and feel that this is a good place to live, then we have built cohesion for the future, because in twenty years' time some among any group of students will be leaders of the country concerned.
If one takes the number of foreign students in relation to population, the two countries at the top of the poll, I am pleased to say, are Great Britain and Australia. I must say that it gave me great encouragement to learn how much Australia had done, especially for Asian and Malaysian students, in their universities, and for Indonesian students, some Indian and some African. One must feel that there must be many Indonesian students back in Indonesia who perhaps have better ideas than some of their rulers. The country which comes third in the poll is France. The United States, which has numerically the most students, has proportionately less; and the U.S.S.R. comes quite a long way down. We now have 64,000 overseas students working in Britain, of whom 50,000 are Commonwealth students. But of these less than one-quarter are at universities. The rest are at technical colleges, professional institutions, teacher-training centres and so on; and more than half of these students are in London. What a problem it must be—and in fact is—accommodating them and making sure that they have the sort of life we should like them to have!
The ways they come are many and varied. Your Lordships are aware of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Scheme, which has immense importance because it is a multiple effort. It is not just a British effort to establish scholarships and fellowships in British, for seventeen Commonwealth countries are doing the same thing. So we are, taking students from them, and also sending students to them. The Commonwealth Teacher Training Bursary Scheme (some of your Lordships may have attended their annual garden parties) embodies a wonderful collection of people from all over the Commonwealth who are getting higher education here.
1020 Mention was made of the V.S.O. and the graduate volunteers. There is also the growth in local education links between particular places; for example, between the London County Council area and Northern Nigeria, with the emphasis on seconding teachers to Northern Nigeria; between Hampshire and Malawi; East Sussex and Zambia, and Bristol and Tanzania. In this way teachers can be encouraged to go out and can find places when they come back again.
I need not repeat what has been said about what we have done in the way of capital help for Commonwealth universities, but I would emphasise that more important even than the capital help has been the provision of staff for so many Commonwealth universities. Here we have been joined by the other countries of the old Commonwealth; and Canada, particularly, has played a part in helping to staff new Commonwealth universities. I am not going to say anything about student welfare, or about the work of the Overseas Students Welfare Expansion Programme scheme, except that it is continuing and developing. As the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, said, he and I yesterday saw the opening of the latest students' hostel, International Students' House, by Her Majesty the Queen Mother in London. The British Council here are doing a wonderful job, but the size of the job remains enormous.
The final point I wish to make is to answer something in which the noble Lord, Lord Casey, has a special interest, and that is his point about family planning in the developing countries. As my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor indicated, this is not a major subject for the Commonwealth Medical Conference, but I think I should tell him what has happened since July 1, 1964, when the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, made a Statement from this Box describing the attitude of Her Majesty's Government, and saying how they were prepared for the first time to help countries which asked for it with family planning expert advice, and assistance of various kinds. The noble Earl also said that if the question were raised again at the United Nations, Britain would vote for it. It was raised again at the United Nations, at the Economic and Social Council, in July, 1964. On that occasion a resolution was adopted, for 1021 which we voted and which was passed unanimously, saying precisely what the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, had said: that the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies would expand the scope of the technical assistance they were prepared to give, upon the request of Governments, in the developing of statistics research and experimentations, and action programmes related to population.
That resolution having been passed, the first action under the auspices of the United Nations was the sending, in February, 1965, of a five-man team to India, at the invitation of the Indian Govvernment, to advise the Government on the course of action to take to make small families more acceptable, to encourage the practice of family planning, and to reduce the national birthrate. They were led by Sir Colville Deverell, the Secretary General of the International Planning Federation. They returned from India in April, and their report is now being prepared.
The second thing which has been done is this. As the noble Lord will know, it is the habit of the Consultative Committee of the Colombo Plan each year to have a special topic. They have chosen for their special topic for their next winter meeting the relationship between population and economic development. Preparatory meetings of a committee of experts are being held this month in Karachi. We are sending someone from the Ministry of Overseas Development, and Dr. Cecily Williams, who are experts in this field, and that will be the special topic which the Colombo Plan Consultative Assembly will discuss next winter.
The third and final thing I should like to report to the noble Lord is what has happened in the way of the response to the offer made by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. The response has been limited, but encouraging. We have received requests from India, Pakistan and Ceylon, among Commonwealth countries; from Mauritius, Barbados and the Gilbert and Ellis Islands, among dependent territories, and from three other countries outside the Commonwealth. These requests are being studied to make sure that the advice given is of the right and proper kind. In one case we are collaborating with another foreign country in making sure that we give the best possible help.
1022 I have not answered all your Lordships' questions. I have not answered my noble friend Lord Royle on the Windward and Leeward Islands. I will, if I may, write to him in detail about the points he has raised, because they were rather complicated. If I have failed to answer other points, I will make sure that I go carefully through the notes I have taken and send written replies to any of your Lordships on the points I have failed to cover.
To sum up the arguments I have endeavoured to present, cohesion within the Commonwealth depends on a continuing meeting of minds, a common stock of shared experience of methods of mutual help and assistance. If there is a weakness, it is that these links are not yet as multilateral within the Commonwealth as they might be. But time and outward-looking development by all members of the Commonwealth will put this to rights. I would end by agreeing most heartily with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that we must take this thing slowly. Let it grow; encourage it; fertilise it, and help it all we can; and it will come right in the long run.
§ 7.27 p.m.
My Lords, the time is getting very late, and I am sure you will he relieved to hear that I am not going to attempt to deal at any length with all the many notable contributions that have been made to this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who has just sat down, has covered most meticulously practically all the points that have been raised by any of us in this debate. I must admit that it is a certain satisfaction to have initiated a debate which has brought about such an interesting result and so many notable contributions from so many noble Lords on each side of the House.
It may be anomalous for me to mention any particular interpolations, but I think noble Lords generally will be very pleased that the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury thought fit to interest himself in this debate. I had the privilege of meeting him in pleasant circumstances in Australia quite lately, and I can assure your Lordships—if you do not already know it—that his visit was a strikingly successful one. His personality and his message were reflected all over Australia.
1023 on the national wireless and otherwise. While in Australia he had a certain private upset, as your Lordships may be aware, but fortunately that has been ridden over and has turned out quite well. We appreciated his visit to Australia, and I think it did a great deal of good, not only to the Church of England.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has covered practically all the points that have been raised. I should like, while it is fresh in my memory, to speak on the recent point he made about family planning and population pressure. I think he and I were talking a little at cross purposes. On several occasions in the past in your Lordships' House, and again shortly to-day. I have been pleading for an increased degree of scientific research in this country, designed to evolve a contraceptive method acceptable to Asian countries. The existing methods in European countries are really quite unacceptable for an Asian country. I am surprised that the noble Lord said that requests had not been made to this country for more intensive research in that regard. It has been made to the Americans on very many occasions, and they have responded vigorously, and there is a great volume of research going into the Asian contraceptive problem—I am afraid a great deal more than, even on a population basis, is going on in this country.
The merits of family planning, I think, are not in dispute, because the Indian and the Pakistan and other Asian Governments have made family planning a positive national programme and have asked for research into contraceptive methods that will be applicable to their conditions. They have not the resources, scientific or otherwise, to do it for themselves. That is all I would venture to suggest. In the meantime the Americans are doing great things in this regard, both in respect of their own population and in attempting to help in the problem as it presents itself to the Asian countries.
I was interested in Lord Brockway's interpolation and in his fear that he may be becoming too radical in his analysis of the problem in Asia. I do not think he was at all. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. These are things that we who live on the other side of the world are perhaps more 1024 accustomed to thinking about than people on this side of the world, but with a long view I do not think his fears are anything other than properly justified.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, spoke with appreciation of Lord Carrington's time in Australia as High Commissioner. I should like to endorse that very fully and heartily. I met the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, there for the first time, and I can assure your Lordships that he made the office of British High Commissioner in Australia a very real thing indeed, to the advantage both of this country and of Australia. I saw a good deal of him at that time. I had a slight advantage over him, because I happened to have been at school with his father in Australia, which I think he rather resented earlier on, but he rode over that. I welcomed indeed his contribution to this debate, which as usual was lively and to the point and essentially common sense.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who said some kind things about my presence in this Chamber as an Australian, and hoped it might be possible for others of us from the outer reaches of the Commonwealth to have a place in your Lordships' House. I represent what I think I might call an experiment in your Lordships' House, in that I am the only Life Peer—I think almost the only Peer—who does not live in this country. I live in my own country, Australia, and visit this country each year for two or three months. I can only hope that one day there may be at least a handful of us who come from the outer reaches and can express in your Lordships' House the politics and views and problems of the areas in which we live. At the moment I am the only one who is an outlander, as one might say, and certainly from time to time in your Lordships' House.
I was interested, too, to hear for the first time the noble Lord. Lord Belhaven and Stenton, because he and I have a certain thing in common, in that the paths of one of his forbears and one of mine in the outer reaches of Queensland nearly crossed almost a hundred years ago. Now we are meeting in the more sophisticated conditions of your Lordships' House.
I will not say any more. There is a good deal one could comment on, and 1025 if it were not so late I should have liked to comment, because the debate has been of great satisfaction to me. I have been most interested in the fact that there has been, practically speaking, no disagreement with the general set of propositions I ventured to put before you. I can only look forward with interest to the Prime Ministers' Conference to see what Her Majesty's Government appear to do at that Conference towards further integration and cohesion within the Commonwealth. That is all I shall say, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.