Motion made, and Question proposed
That a sum, not exceeding £57,025, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1920, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty s Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant for certain Expenses connected with Emigration."—[NOTE.—£37.000 has been voted on account.]
I hope I shall have the indulgence of the Committee in my first attempt to deal with so vast and complicated a range of subjects as those which are covered by this Vote. In the limited time at the disposal of the Committee it will be hardly fair to hon. Members who have many points of importance to raise if I endeavoured to do so in any comprehensive or detailed fashion. I would rather, if I may, devote such time as I can reasonably take up to outlining a general point of view towards the great problems of reconstruction in the Empire, and a general attitude of mind towards those problems, more particularly the problems of reconstruction in those vast and undeveloped regions of the dependent Empire for the administration of which the Colonial Office and this House is directly responsible. It would be impossible for anyone in such a limit of time to deal with this subject without some reference, however brief, to the part borne by the Dominions and the Colonies in the War. Indeed, it is very hard to resist the temptation to devote the greater part of my time to the task of bringing home to the Committee the immensity of the patriotic efforts of our fellow citizens and fellow subjects beyond the seas, men and women of every race and every creed, who are-associated with us in that great league of the commonwealth of nations which for want of a better term we call the British) Empire.
I need not give to the Committee figures to show what the Dominions have done. I will content myself with a single compari- son, and I make it in no spirit of depreciation of the immense value of the assistance afforded by the United States to the Alliance in the closing phases of the War, or of the immense effort that the United States were prepared to make if that War had continued any longer. Dealing with the actual sum total of military effort in the field, the sum total accomplished before 11th November of last year, whether you take as. your standard of measurement the number of lives sacrificed or the numbers of the enemy killed or captured, or the total number of hours spent in the trenches, it is a fact that both Canada and Australia alone, each of them, contributed a greater total military effort up to 11th November last in this War than the great United States of America, with their population of over 100,000,000 souls. In the Crown Colonies the conditions are naturally so different that there could be no question of a military effort on their part at all comparable in intensity with that of this country or of the Dominions, but that effort has been far greater than I think is usually realised. In every part of the Empire the white community, whether official or whether unofficial, has contributed as high a quota as any community in the world.
Take, for instance, East Africa, which was the first community in the British Empire to impose conscription. More than two-thirds of the male inhabitants in that colony took the field. The white population of Rhodesia showed a similarly patriotic ardour. As regards native troops there again the combatant figures have been quite considerable, and their fighting value has been recognised by all the Generals under whom they served. The West African forces, the King's African Rifles, and the West Indies Regiment, between them put something like 80,000 combatant troops into the field, and very much more than half a million carriers and other auxiliaries were raised in the African Colonies to carry on the campaign in Africa and in other regions of the world. From every part of the Empire and every section of the population, from the native chiefs to the humblest of the people, gifts and contributions of every kind have flown lavishly towards the Red Cross and other funds. The Colonies themselves have in every instance contributed from their revenue a substantial sum towards the cost of the War. In many cases I am afraid that the liability which they have incurred is much larger than prudent finance would allow. I hope that that fact will not be lost sight of in this country when the question of development and reconstruction in the Colonies have to be considered.
It is on those problems of repair and reconstruction that I would particularly like to speak to the Committee, I am speaking, of course, of the problems of repair and reconstruction in the Colonies and Protectorates for which the Imperial Parliament is directly responsible. In all these matters we have an immense amount of leeway to make up after the War. It is quite true that in some of the Colonies and Protectorates they have gained considerable advantages during the War by the immense demand for raw materials of all sorts; but we must never forget that right through the War the administration has been understaffed, the whole work of development has had to be put on one side, and in some cases, as for instance that of East Africa, the whole work of development has not only been retarded but has inevitably been set back and injured by the actual process of the campaign which took place in those regions. All this required great effort on the part of the Colonial: administration and of the Colonial Office. What I wish to impress on this Committee —and I know it is the intense conviction of the Secretary of State—is that much more than that is wanted. Reconstruction in the outer Empire, just as much as here at home, must mean something more than the restoration of pre-war conditions. It must mean that we must set up a new and more positive standard of our duty and obligation towards the peoples to whom this House is in the position of a trustee and to those territories whose boundless-potentialities call urgently for development in the interests of their own inhabitants, of the British Empire as a whole, and of the impoverished and wasted world.
I can say without fear of contradiction that British Colonial administration formerly was the best in the world. I can say equally without fear of contradiction that British social and industrial legislation before the War, as far as it went, was the best in the world. But just as we are not content to accept the prewar standard in social legislation as our standard after the War, so, as far as the entire administration of our Colonies and Protectorates is concerned, the pre-war standard is not enough. We must have a new standard of effort and achievement and a new consciousness in regard to the task that lies before us. An additional reason for setting a. now standard in our task of reconstruction is that by the terms of the Treaty of Peace large territories will be assigned to us under a mandate. I do not think that that mandate is likely to impose upon us any conditions which we would not impose on ourselves or which we have not been in the habit of imposing upon ourselves whenever we dealt with subject peoples. We have always in very large measures treated native territories under our rule as a mandate to us in the interests of the inhabitants and of the world at large, and we have justified our authority hot merely in our own interests, but by the general consent of other nations with regard to our rule. It is our task now to do this work more successfully than ever, and to establish beyond doubt in the judgment of mankind that we are worthy of the trust reposed in us.
The first essential in the task before us is to bring our machinery for reconstruction to the highest stage of efficiency. When I speak of machinery for reconstruction I mean the men who have got to carry out the task of reconstruction. I mean, for instance, that splendid Colonial service to whom the Empire owed so great a debt of gratitude during these long trying years. These men have done wonderful work. Thousands of them have volunteered for military service, and without their services, their knowledge of languages, their moral power over natives, it would have been impossible to expand our small native Armies to the extent to which they were expanded; but I wish to speak more particularly not of those who were allowed to go to the front, but of those whom in the interests of the Service it was necessary to forbid to go, men who have done their own work and the work of those who have gone to the front, who have been without leave year after year in most trying conditions of climate, and often with acute domestic anxiety due to a scale of pay which, not too generous I am afraid, was made miserably inadequate by the very heavy increase in the cost of living. This last evil has, of course, to a very considerable extent been remedied by the granting of war bonuses on a varying scale, but I think in most cases reasonably generous and ample in the different Colonies. But, of course, that is a purely temporary measure, and it is, 1 know, the conviction of the Secretary of State that the whole permanent scale of salaries in the Colonial Civil Service does need revision and will have to be most seriously considered in the near future.
Of course, it is not only a question of money. It is a question of the whole conditions in which these men have to do their strenuous and difficult work and maintain their health, and that moral poise which is so necessary in dealing with a subject and often not very biddable tribe or race. There is one aspect of the question to which I know the Secretary of State attached the very greatest importance. That is the desirability of making married life more possible for members of the Civil Service and bringing about a condition of health and housing, even in those regions which have had in the past the worst reputation, so as to mass married lifts as far as possible the rule rather than the exception. I have spoken about the Civil servants, and primarily it is upon them we have to depend in our task of administration, but, of course, we do not want to depend upon them alone. We do wish to enlist in every way the co-operation of every other element in those Colonies, whether officially, as we do enlist them through legislative councils and executive councils, or unofficially through the advice and support that the independent members of the community can give to a Government which is prepared to trust and consult them?
Of course in that matter, however great cur confidence and trust in the officials who have to carry out the work in this time of reconstruction, the ideal towards which we are aiming in the sphere for which the Colonial Office is responsible is the same ideal which is found throughout the rest of our Dominions, the ideal of self-government, the participation of the people of the country, in so far as they are capable of it, in the government of the country. The difficulties of advancing in that direction are very great in some cases these difficulties arise owing to the backward condition of the population, whom it would be a crime to allow to walk unassisted at the present time. In other cases, where the population is of the smallest and most scattered character you cannot decide that a community with a population equal to a second or third-class city in this country has all the attributes of self-government, even though in other respects it might be fit for it. Again you may have a case, as in Gibraltar or Malta, where the population live within the precincts of a military fortress or live immediately around a great military or naval fortress. All these things do make tile problem difficult and complex. Critics in this House may say sometimes that we are slow in making progress, that we see the difficulties rather mere clearly than they do, or that those difficulties seem more serious to us. But I would like to give them this assurance that, though we are not able to move as rapidly as they would wish us in some respects, at any rate we have the same ultimate goal in mind as they have.
I come now to the actual task of reconstruction itself. One of the first and greatest problems of reconstruction in the outer Empire, as in the heart of the Empire here, is the problem of health. The whole problem of the development of the tropics is in fact largely a problem of coping with disease. Remember that the deadliness of the tropics is not merely the deadliness to the white man. If he suffers it is entirely, or almost entirely, because he catches diseases with which the native community ground him is already infected, and which lowers the vitality. Our problem is not merely to make East Africa and West Africa healthy to the white man, but to make them healthy to the whole population, to undertake out there, as here at home, a campaign for dealing with the diseases of those countries in a much more comprehensive and bolder spirit than we have ever undertaken it before. I do not wish to depreciate what we have done in the past. A great work was initiated under Mr. Joseph Chamberlain for dealing with tropical diseases, which has already borne rich fruit. I believe that the death-rate among white officials in the West African Colonies Is to-day less than one-eighth of what it was twenty years ago, and the death-rate among the natives has also gone down, if not absolutely pari passu, it has largely gone down; but there is an immense amount to be done. I was immensely impressed some twelve years ago when I was in Uganda with the appalling wholesale destruction of the population brought about, on the one side, by sleeping sickness, and, on the other hand, by venereal diseases. Whole districts were literally exterminated. A very effective campaign was begun to cope with these two problems, and a very large measure of success attended it. Up to the outbreak of war we could really look back with pride on what we had achieved. What happened then? A very high proportion of the medical officers in Uganda were required for military purposes and were taken away. Owing to the need for porters and carriers for the different expeditions marching up and down East Africa, there was a flow of population backwards and forwards from one end of the country to another, which brought that disease into districts which had practically been clear of it, and the state of the country to-day is one that calls for the very greatest effort to bring it back to the position we had reached before the outbreak of war. It is no easy problem. You have to get doctors, and they are very difficult to get at this time, even on quite reasonably substantial salaries. At any rate, I wish to bring that particular question of health before the, Committee. To my mind it is one of the greatest tasks which lie before us.
Another problem closely connected with the problem of health is that of dealing with the liquor traffic. There, again, I think that, upon the whole, we have been in advance of oilier Administrations in our effort to keep that traffic within bounds, more particularly by imposing heavy duties upon it. In large areas, as in Northern Rhodesia, we have long had complete prohibition of imported spirits, but we felt that we were bound to make a distinct advance and to give a lead. The late Secretary of State for the Colonies last year did announce, without waiting for agreement between the Powers, that, as far as the British West African Colonies were concerned, complete prohibition of imported trade spirits was a settled policy decided on and to be carried out as rapidly as circumstances would permit. It was not an easy decision to take. It involved a loss to the Revenue of Nigeria alone of something like £1,000,000 a year, and a loss to the Revenue of the Gold Coast of £500,000. To a Government anxious to find money for railways, for schools, and for every other laudable object, it was no small thing to have to abandon a large and easy source of revenue, and to try in one way or another, possibly by a very much less popular form of taxation, to get that revenue back again. I am glad to say that since that decision was taken by the British great progress has been made with respect to the International Convention on these matters, and the British and French Governments between themselves have agreed to the raising of the minimum duty on trade spirits into their tropical Colonies to 17s. 6d. a gallon, which compares very favourably with the rate before the War.
Another problem to be dealt with is that of the arms traffic. There is a very great danger that, with the enormous number of arms that are likely to be at the disposal of various Governments throughout the world, there may be a temptation to smuggle those arms into every uncivilised region, with a result which means not only great difficulty and possible expense to the ruling Power, but also means slaughter and misery to all those weaker tribes which happen to be beyond the limit and prompt reach of the Government. Another problem in the outer Empire, as here, is the problem of labour. There, again, we have to deal in a constructive spirit with the problem. It is not enough for the Government merely to try to hold an even balance between the desire of the planter to get plenty of cheap workmen and their duty towards seeing that the native is well treated and remunerated. More than that, we want to see that production is not hampered by the absence of willing and understanding, wishful workers in this field. Our main hope, at least a very large avenue of development, lies in inducing the native to become his own employer, his own cultivator—to make him realise the advantage and the profit of becoming an intelligent cultivator. That has been done with very considerable success in many parts of the world. In the Gold Coast, for instance, we have induced the natives to take up with great enthusiasm "on their own," not as workers in the plantations, the cultivation of cocoa, and the output of cocoa from the Gold Coast has gone up from 960 tons in 1901 to 120,000 tons now—about 'half the whole world's production of cocoa. The cultivation of cotton in Uganda, and of sugar in many of the West Indies, has developed very appreciably by what has been called the small farmer development, by getting the native himself to grow for profit. Of course, all that can succeed only if the native really understands and can be educated. There is always, a certain measure of danger that a crop which is not carefully cultivated may fall below the standard which will secure it a market. There is a great danger to the Gold Coast cocoa of the quality not being sufficiently high to command a good price in the world's markets. The natives may grow too much and too carelessly. A great part has been played there by the assistance of the Government, but a part, and a very useful part, can be played with the assistance of the white man's plantation. I am not one of those who believe that the white man's plantation with the hired coloured labour should cover the whole field. On the contrary, I wish to see the field of the small native cultivator extended as widely as possible. But there is plenty of room and plenty of need for both kinds of cultivation, the higher type of cultivation setting a standard which the others will follow. The old indenture system, I think on the whole carried out very reasonably and fairly, has yet brought up against itself a very strong feeling in India, and I do not think that on old lines we could hope to bring all the willing, helpful, Indian labour desired to those Colonies which would be glad to have it. What is wanted is to do what the Dominions have done—to offer settlement, offer opportunities to the men to come and make a home, to let the settler labour for himself if he likes for some of his time, but let him have his own choice in the matter.
I spoke just now of the desirability of educating the native. That is one of the greatest problems before us, and one in respect to which we are only at the very beginning of what we ought to do. There is a very large task before us, both in general education and, perhaps more particularly, in practical education in agriculture. We want to strengthen all our Agricultural Departments. We want to start, for study and research, agricultural colleges, or universities, if you like, which will be the centres from which new ideas and better methods will be diffused to all the surrounding Colonies. It is a matter about which there was a good deal of talk before the War. but, like many other things, it inevitably had to wait. I hope now to take up the matter again, in the first instance with the West Indies, and I hope also elsewhere in the tropical Empire, so that in this respect, as in others, we may be able to give a lead to other Administrations. I may mention in this connection that we have been fortunate in securing from the Treasury a Grant of £20,000 a year for special research work in those Colonies which are not able to do research work themselves, on the lines on which very much larger sums have been granted for research work in this country.
There is one subject as to which I should like to say a word, because it is the very key to all successful development, and that is the subject of railways. 1 confess I sometimes think that we have not done anything like what we ought to have done in the way of railway construction in our Crown Colonies and Protectorates. I think in that matter we have not had the courage of our convictions to the same extent as the Dominions, in the Dominions they have thousands of miles of railways through absolutely empty country, trusting that those railways would bring population and revenue with them. We have many regions in West Africa where we cannot lay down 100 miles of railway which is not paying its way within a few months. I tried to take out the figures to see how far our efforts in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates for which we are responsible compare in this matter with the efforts of the Dominions. They have no doubt been at it a good deal longer. The Dominions and Rhodesia had built altogether up to the outbreak of war something like 200.000 miles of railways, while the total of the railways in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates at that date was 3,700 miles. The total area of the Dominions is larger, but, even so, while there are thirteen miles of railway for every 1,000 square miles of territory in the Dominions, the figure for the Crown Colonies and Protectorates corresponding to that is 4.8. Or, to put the matter in another way, whereas in the, Dominions there is a mile of railway for every 220 inhabitants, in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates there is only a mile of railway for every 7,700 inhabitants. I think the Committee will agree that there is a primâ facie ease for a very great programme of railway construction. I know that that involves finding money, and I know the difficulties with regard to money with which the Government of this country and the industries of this country are faced. I do not want to put forward any undue claim for preference in the work of developing the Colonies, but I do wish to point it out, and I think it is well worth taking into consideration, and 1 believe that every pound spent would bring a manifold return in a very short period.
Again, it seems to me that we have been too timid in capitalising the territories under our charge, and I think that certainly, as compared with the Dominions, the Crown Colonies and Protectorates are under-capitalised. I should like to give some figures which certainly convey that impression. 1 saw some figures the other day—they are not official; they are from the "Financier"—about the general investments in the Dominions and the Colonies. Up to 1914, all investments in this country of all kinds in the Dominions amounted to something like £1,300,000,000, and the sum total of the investments in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates was £120,000,000, or loss than a tenth of the investments in the 'Dominions. The amount of public loans raised in the Dominions is about £320,000,000, and in that I am not counting the loans raised during the War, while in the Crown Colonies and Protectorates the total is £22,000,000. I think, there again, there is on the face of it reasonable argument for thinking that we ought to invest more capital in the development of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates I give my own opinion for what it is worth. I think we have neverrealised sufficiently the immense economic possibilities of those Colonies and the immense wealth that could be created by science, energy, and organisation in those parts of the world. The prime object, of course, of that development must be the welfare of the inhabitants of those regions. Our first duty is to them; our object is not to exploit them, but to enable them materially, as well as in every other respect, to rise to a higher plane of living and civilisation. But I am as sure as I stand here that we cannot develop them and help them without an over-spill of wealth and prosperity that would be an immense help to this country in the difficult times that lie ahead. So much for the problem of reconstruction in. the Crown Colonies and Protectorates.
I should like also to say a word or two about a matter which I think several hon. Members wish to raise—that is, about Rhodesia. There you have a peculiar form of government which is neither Crown Colony nor self-government, but government by a chartered company, a form of government that was more common in the old days. You have the great example of the East India Company. I think there is this difference. The East India Company was undoubtedly in its inception and in its intention a commercial and trading concern. In the case of the British South Africa Company I think the circumstances are different. What Mr. Rhodes had in his mind was the necessity of retaining for the British Empire and under the British Flag that great region of Southern Central Africa, and to prevent a fence of German and Boer territory being run right acoss the development of British South Africa. It was only because he could not enlist the support either of the Cape or Imperial Governments for his policy that he hoped by the device of a chartered company to get the necessary means and support to carry out the work, the importance of which in his mind lay in its Imperial significance. From his point of view I think his efforts were well justified. The fact that Rhodesia was British was invaluable in South Africa. The fact that Rhodesia lay between German South West and German East Africa, and that from Rhodesia we could co-operate effectively in the East African campaign, was invaluable to us. Looking at the matter from this point of view it is only a natural confirmation of Mr. Rhodes' intention that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should have reported that this commercial company in its dealings had only been acting as agents of the Imperial Government.
That, of course, creates a new situation, because the Report of that Committee treats the chartered company as the agent of the Crown in dealing with these matters and lays it down that the company was, therefore, entitled to be reimbursed in respect of deficits incurred in connection with its administrative expenditure. It is obviously not easy to determine exactly what expenses the chartered company pay to administrative and to commercial expenses. Naturally, the company would wish to make its full claim. It seemed to us that the only way to settle that problem was to appoint a Commission which, whether from the judicial or financial side, should command such respect that its judgment upon the Report laid down by the Privy Council as compared with the facts presented to it here and in South Africa, would command universal respect. It is with this in view that we pressed and succeeded in inducing Lord Cave, in whom I think every Member of this House of every shade of opinion has great confidence, to accept the Chairmanship of that Commission, and joined with him is Lord Chalmers, whose experience in the Treasury, of course, qualifies him in the highest degree for that work, and Sir William Peat, head of the great firm of accountants, to go into the whole of this matter and to investigate here and on the spot the accounts presented and the statement made by the South Africa Company, and to make all such inquiries as may seem to them desirable in order to come to a finding which shall in their opinion correctly and truly represent the judgment of the Committee of the Privy Council. 1 will not say a word more on that subject beyond this, that of course their assessment we are prepared to accept as a final, definite assessment. We are also committed that before any payment is made or any settlement come to as to the method of payment, or other matters that may arise after the account has been settled, that we shall come to this House for the sanction of the House on those matters
That Commission began its sittings in the House of Lords yesterday, and it is going to hold a series of sittings at the earliest possible moment, and next month go out to South Africa and take evidence and hear opinion out there. I should like also to say a word about the constitutional development in the relations between ourselves and the great self-governing Dominions, because that has been one of the most remarkable features in the development of the British Constitution during the last two years. We went into this War without having the time and without having the machinery through which we could take the opinion of the Empire as a whole on. our policy. We had to act on our own decision, and happily the whole of the Empire endorsed that decision. But it was obvious that was not satisfactory, and a clear pledge was given by Mr. Asquith's Government that in the settlement of the terms of Peace the Dominions would have the fullest opportunity, not only of considering, but have a voice in deciding. During the last two years, by the happy device of what came to be known as the Imperial Cabinet, we have had a machinery both for consultation and for decisions. I was privileged to act as the Secretary of that body during its sessions, and whatever may be said about the novelty of the peculiar constitutional form of a Cabinet which as far as execution goes has to act through a number of autonomous and separate bodies, the fact still remains that the common policy of the Empire, as regards the conduct of war, as regards the ever-pressing foreign questions that arose while the Imperial Cabinet was in session, as regards considering and laying down what we wished the terms of peace to be, was carried out as a single policy by a body of men who gamed a. single view of these matters and worked together as effectively as a Cabinet can work.
That process has been carried on at the Conference in Paris, and it has had two sides. The one that has most impressed the outside world is the fact that at that Conference the full equality of the Dominions with ourselves as nations has been recognised, not only by us, but by the other Governments. They have been treated not only as equal nations within the brotherhood of the British Empire, but as equal nations with other nations outside the Empire, and I know that there are. some timid Imperialists, I might perhaps call them, who are rather startled by this, who think it is a beginning of the end of any effective Imperial unity. My conviction is exactly the contrary. I have always been convinced that closer imperial unity could only be based on the recognition of the fullest equality of status between ourselves and the other Dominions of the Empire, and that conviction has only been strengthened by what tans happened in the last few months, because while on the one hand that Conference has recognised equality in the national status of the Dominions, that Conference has seen the Dominions and ourselves working together on the British Empire Delegation, which for the time being took the place of the Imperial Cabinet, as a single body with one mind, one thought, and one policy. The policy which the Prime Minister of this country brought back from the Peace Conference was not the United Kingdom policy, but the policy hammered out by the whole Empire, and on every Committee of that Conference the Dominions were represented, not as representing the Dominions, but as representing the British Empire. It was as representing the British Empire that Mr. Hughes was chairman of the Commission on indemnities, and it was as representing the British Empire that Sir Robert Borden dealt with the problem of territorial delimitation in the Near East. The more the principle of equality is openly established to the world, the greater the effective unity of the British Empire. How that unity is to take a constitutional shape in the future no one can say. It has been agreed at the Conference of 1917 that as soon as may be after the conclusion of Peace a special constitutional conference is to assemble and to consider how, on the basis of those principles of autonomy and equality, effective common action can be taken in foreign policy and all cognate matters. 1 do not know whether that conference will be able to come to any definite conclusion, or what it may recommend. The difficulties in the way of any solution are enormous, but I do say this, that, difficult as the problem may be, it cannot be impossible, because no man has a right to call that impossible which for the last six months has been a reality in practice. The Empire has existed in fact and in practice as a unity for working purposes, and to my mind it is inconceivable that such a unity cannot somehow or other, by those patient and wise methods with which all our constitutional progress has been attained, be in some shape or form attained in the future.
The Committee listened with the very greatest interest to the very able and lucid account which my hon. Friend has made of the stewardship of the Colonial Office, and I can only express regret that a very much larger number of Members were not present lo listen to what has been laid before Us. in the very short time that I shall occupy of the Committee's attention. I should like, first of all, to deal with the point with which my hon. Friend concluded his speech, and that was the constitutional development which has taken place in the relations between ourselves and our self-governing Dominions. He spoke with warmth of gratitude and with eloquence of what has transpired of late, and it is indeed interesting to note that what really comes through all that he said was the truth of the paradox, the greater the liberty the greater the tie, and it has been a distinguishing characteristic of what we call the British Empire that its foundations have been most well and truly laid when they have been laid in trust and in faith, in those principles of freedom and responsibility by which alone history has shown the Empire could have been held together. The latest demonstration of that, of course, has been a magnificent result of the application of those well-established doctrines to South Africa. The rally of South Africa to the side of this country was undoubtedly due to the application without fear of that great and fundamental principle. As to how far it will develop, I only say this: I am one who looks forward with hope, and, indeed, confidence, to the development in more definite shape of the co-ordination of common efforts between the Mother Country and the great self-governing Dominions, who are, as my hon. Friend has well said, in fact, sister nations. But this is the note of warning which, with all respect, I will put forward. We have done so well upon lines which are not so very clearly defined that it must be with the very greatest caution that we and our sister nations should approach any written Constitution—because I am afraid it must really come to that—which, by the mere fact that it is written and set, will lead undoubtedly to very great difficulties which have in the past been avoided owing to the fact that our relations were, I will not say ill-defined, but of so particularly fluid a nature as they have been. I am sure the whole question will be approached with the greatest desire to develop with, I am sure, all the caution that our experience of the past has taught us.
Let me briefly say how much I and any other Member echoes the words which my hon. Friend has spoken of recognition, so far as words can recognise, although words fail us in the endeavour to recognise, the splendid joint services which were rendered by the Dominions beyond the seas, and also by our Crown Colonies, in the terrible War from which we have emerged. It is quite safe to say that without their efforts in the early days of the War no man can say what would have happened. Disaster which was following so swift upon us might easily have overtaken us, and the results might have been irrevocable, but the fact that they came in so speedily, with such enthusiasm and with such power, has been a contribution of which only historians of perhaps fifty years hence can adequately tell the tale— and not only in Europe and in the nearer East, but such a campaign as was carried on by General Botha in South-West Africa. I have no pretensions to any military knowledge, but I have heard it stated by those well qualified to judge that that campaign of General Botha's in South-West Africa will bear comparison with any campaign, either in strategy or the administrative work in its execution, which has been carried out in this world War from which we have just emerged Turning from that to another point upon which my hon. Friend touched, and that will lead me to what I have to say equally with regard to Rhodesia—the question of the mandated territories under the League of Nations. It will require, I am certain, great care, great breadth of mind, and wide generosity in handling those territories which may be mandated to us. What, after all, has been the distinguishing characteristic of our country in its dealings with what we may call subject populations? It has been the fact that, although they were subject populations and territories, we always regarded ourselves as trustees. That was the real distinction between the British Empire and the Roman Empire or the Spanish Empire, and the fact that these other Empires looked upon possessions scattered over the world far distant from their Imperial centre as assets to be exploited rather than as trusts to be sacredly carried out, led sooner or later to their downfall, and that idea, that Roman and Spanish idea, was quite clearly the idea in the extension of the Colonial Empire of Germany, and her fate overtook her in return for her ambition and selfishness nearer home, but clearly the same thing would have overtaken her, because she had the same idea, and I am not at all certain that a very material factor in;he world opprobrium which fell upon the German Empire in the last four or five years was not this fact, that her Colonial administration was marked by selfish adherence to mere material German interests, with little or no regard to the welfare of the territories over which she sought to exercise control We all listened with the deepest interest to what my hon. and gallant Friend had to say as to the sterilisation of development not only of the Dominions beyond the seas, but also of our Crown Colonies. What a lesson it is as to the devastating effects of war ! War is never limited in its effects to the immediate countries concerned. You cannot go to any part of our Empire, self-governing or governed more or less directly by us, without seeing evidences of the devastation of war. The development of our Crown Colonies and of our Dominions certainly has been retarded, and it will mean a loss of nearly twenty years. I am sure that is not an exaggeration. Five years have gone, and it only requires four times five to make twenty years. There is only one method of making a fresh start, and that is by severe, devoted, personal and national economy. It is the only way. There is no royal road to reconstruction except through self-sacrifice, and I hope we all, with our sister nations and those who are responsible for the administration of our Colonies, will realise that. There is no hope for the future except by strict attention, to a policy of reconstruction based upon sound finance, and sound finance only comes through the application of honesty and self-denial in all our individual dealings.
The decision of the Sub-committee of the Privy Council under the chairmanship of Lord Sumner set at rest once and for all the question of the ownership of the un-unalienated lands, which amount to about that the Chartered Company holds these unalienated lands which amount to about 73,000,000 acres out of about 90,000,000 acres odd. They hold them as agents on behalf of the British Crown. That carries with it trusteeship for the natives. Some very eloquent words were spoken by my hon. and gallant Friend when, practically, he made the claim that the record of this country in regard to native races was one which gives us almost a moral leadership in the dealings of conquering peoples with native races. I should be very glad to think that is so, and let us hope that it is, but there are some very black chapters in our dealings with conquered territories and with native races, and I am not sure that there are not some discreditable chapters in our attitude towards the native races even in Rhodesia. I gladly say that I have now come to the conclusion that that great and complex character, Cecil Rhodes, was substantially animated by great and noble Imperial ideas—on the whole that is my opinion, for what it may be worth—but his career was accompanied by very blustering developments and his entourage was marked by the presence of some men whose characters will not bear the same investigation and the same light of history.
My hon. and gallant Friend told us that the Chartered Company is a very different thing from the East India Company. The Chartered Company has been always regarded in this country as a very big and successful commercial undertaking. Our minds revert to the vast Stock Exchange transactions that have taken place in regard to its shares, and the idea that people rushed in to buy and sell shares in n company which was founded largely on a philanthropic basis is not the idea of the people of this country. With regard to very many of its acts, it did not live up to many of the splendid conditions and expressive works in its own character. I do not for a moment compare it with the old John Company. I only express the hope, whatever may be its future, that it will live up much more closely to its charter, with its clauses of trusteeship, and, if it does not, then it will be the duty of the Government to see that it does. What is the position of the natives at the present moment? With the exception of those who have acquired land by purchase or by some such transaction, not a single, native owns a foot of the land in which he lives. That being the case, and the revenues of the country and the future development of its natural riches depending upon the labour of its natives, surely this country, with the League of Nations shedding its new ray upon a world sadly needing enlightenment, will see that this territory which, after all, is being mandated to us owing to the circumstances of the past, is administered in a spirit of trusteeship not only for the white settlers, but also for the natives.
The Government have set up a Commission of Inquiry to ascertain what compensation is to be given to the Chartered Company in respect of "necessary and proper administrative expenditure" since its initiation. I do not quite remember the terms of reference, but I suppose they are very wide. I should like to ask my hon. and gallant Friend one or two questions. Is it left to the Commission to decide whether the expenses incurred by the Chartered Company in the Matabele War were "necessary and proper administrative expenses"? I take that as an instance. If it is so found by the Commission, is the power of this House to express a difference of opinion absolutely unimpaired, or is their Report going to be adopted by the Government in its entirety and pressed upon the House with the weight of their majority? If so, we may take the document when it comes as almost literally inspired. We and Members sitting behind the Government Benches may protest, but if it is taken up by the Government in that way we know, of course, what will happen. It will be placed on the Statute Book, and that will be the end of the whole thing. Are we going to be allowed full and free opportunity of discussing the findings of the Commission, and of expressing agreement or disagreement with those findings? I understand that some disagreement is expressed as to the constitution of the Commission, and as to whether ft should be composed of only three members, in every one of whom I personally have great confidence, namely, Lord Cave, Lord Chalmers, and Sir William Peat. There it is, very limited in numbers and high in the character of its personnel. Still it is not representative of the House of Commons. It is going out to South Africa to take evidence on the spot, and, whatever its findings, the House of Commons should have full opportunity of expressing its opinion on its findings in whole or in part. I do not know whether the Commission is going to conduct the whole of its proceedings in South Africa in public or in private, or whether there will be wide powers of representation of the interests involved. The natives should, I think, have full opportunities of representation. That was discussed, if I remember rightly, before the Special Committee of the Privy Council, and I think Lord Sumner and his colleagues took a wise and broad view and admitted it. I hope the Commission will exercise the same broad and generous outlook with regard to the representations that may be laid before them by those who speak on behalf of the natives. I should like also to ask my hon. and gallant Friend whether the Commission will take account of the assets already in the hands of the Chartered Company or of those to whom they have given Grants— that is to say, will a valuation be made of the land which has been alienated by the Chartered Company or is in their hands, so that, while we are informed as to any debts which the Commission may find to be due to the Chartered Company, we may also have some idea of what the assets are worth which they now hold?
I will conclude, as I began, by expressing our great pleasure at having the hon. and gallant Gentleman here for the first time in the capacity of Steward of the House of Commons as regards our great Dominions beyond the seas and our Crown Colonies. We wish him, as well as we can from this side of the House, a very happy tenure of office, although perhaps not quite so long as he might desire.
I should like to associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in regard to the feeling of satisfaction with at any rate some parts of the speech we have just had from the hon. and gallant Member who represents the Colonial Office in this House. With a great deal of what he said regarding the men who form part of our Colonial Administration, one, of course, entirely agrees. We know that these men have given years of devoted service, often under trying conditions, and anybody who has any knowledge of the nature of their work will share the appreciation of it which has been expressed. At the same time, we are glad to hear from the hon. and gallant Member that, whilst pre-war standards may have been satisfactory up to a point in Colonial administration, he feels—and I take it that he is expressing the opinion of the Colonial Office and of the Government—that pre-war standards will not do for the days and years that lie immediately ahead.
I should like to deal specifically with the question of the British South Africa Company and the claim that they are now making upon the Imperial Exchequer. 1 should like to say, first of all, that 1 regret very much that the Leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson), is not present to-night. The Motion to reduce the Vote stands in his name, and I know that he did desire to take part in this Debate, but, unfortunately, he is indisposed, and therefore cannot do so. I know that he has given this question considerable thought, and would have voiced with much greater authority than I can hope to do the point of view of the Labour party. We have been urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to practice the most rigid economy. I imagine that there will be general agreement amongst all sections of the House as to the wisdom of that advice, and as to the supreme necessity at this time, in our own interests and in the interests of our Colonies and of other parts of the world, of exereising the most rigid economy that is possible. It is because we believe that that the Labour party placed upon the Question Paper in. April last, and has since repeated on two or three occasions, a question relating to the claim that is being made by the British South Africa Company. What is it that we hear from the hon, and gallant Gentleman? It is a statement of the policy that the Government have adopted with regard to the setting up of this Commission and the agreement that has ap-
parently been arrived at that the Commission's decisions shall be accepted as final. I would like to remind the House of the words used by the Leader of the House on the 16th April last, when he answered the Leader of the Labour party as to the claim that was made, and as to whether full opportunity would be given to this House to discuss that claim in all its bearings. The Leader of the House replied:
This claim clearly demands the closest scrutiny, and the Government will not commit themselves to any payment without the sanction of the House of Commons.
After that, other questions were asked, and yesterday the question was repeated whether the recommendations of Lord Cave's Commission as to the amount to be paid to the Chartered Company would be binding. The answer given then, and repeated to-night, was in the affirmative. We are, apparently, to have an opportunity of discussing the final findings of Lord Cave's Commission, but we are to have no voice whatever in any modification of that decision or in any reduction or increase of the amount to be paid that this House may wish to suggest. As a matter of fact, our power is, for all practical purposes, going to be taken entirely from us. I suggest that the statement made yesterday and repeated to day is in flat contradiction of the statement made by the Leader of the House on the 16th April last. Certainly there was implicit in that statement the idea that this House would have a full opportunity of going thoroughly into the merits of that claim. A Commission has been established, and I agree with what has been said regarding the character of the gentlemen who have been selected for the work—regarding their supreme fitness for the task they have in hand. But I would respectfully suggest that, seeing that the British taxpayer is to be asked to foot this Bill, it is very desirable that this House should be represented on such a Commission. We are here in the interests of the British taxpayer, and yet a Commission has been appointed which, although its members may have all the qualifications that are claimed for them, can hardly be said to be representative of those who have finally to pay the bill. I have noticed, too, some rather interesting developments during recent days. Just recently the annual meeting was held of the British South Africa Company, and in the newspaper report of that meeting we are told that
when this Commission goes to Rhodesia it will be accompanied by a member of the board. A member of the board will be in Rhodesia during the inquiry to watch over the presentation of the company's case, and he will have the assistance of the Attorney-General (Mr. Tredgold), who is fully conversant with all the legal questions involved. That little sentence does suggest that, although the Commission may go out with the best intentions in the world, there is evidently going to be an effort made to surround them with an atmosphere, to say nothing more, highly favourable to the case of the Chartered Company. I submit that, from any point of view, that is by no means desirable. I would like just to ask what really is this claim that we are being asked to meet? It has grown from £1,250,000 in 1898 to between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000 as a provisional amount at the present time.
I would like the House to examine very briefly some of the details of this claim, which, as I have said, has grown very curiously since it was first made in 1898. Then its amount was £1,250,000; to-day, according to the statement of the Leader of the House in April, it is somewhere between £7,000,000 and £8,000,000, and we have been told, by the writer of a recent article in the "Times," that the ultimate amount of that claim will be nearer £18,000,000. Whatever its amount, apparently it has to be met by the British taxpayer. It is rather interesting to note that a year ago, at the annual meeting of the company, the chairman's statment included the following remark:
It is important to note that our claim has to be met directly by the Imperial Government, and not by the people of Rhodesia. [Cheers]
I think we can quite understand the reason for those cheers. The statement goes on:
We are accordingly assured of a very solvent debtor.
Whether the British public, when they come into full possession of the facts, will share that view, is another matter. When we look into the details of this claim, we see that it is rather curiously made up. I notice that it includes the cost of the Matabele War of 1893. It includes administrative deficits up to November, 1917, of £3,728,000. It includes also a number of charges against the War. It includes 4 per
cent. interest on, say, £5,000,000 for fifteen years, and further deficits. That, of course, is the larger claim of £18,000,000 to which reference has already been made. But the point I want to emphasise is this, that the claim of the company includes the cost of two wars—two wars which, I believe there is general agreement, were unnecessary. I want to ask this House whether, reasonably, the cost of the Matabele War and the £2,500,000 cost of the Mashona War can be properly regarded as administrative charges? I want to know whether the British taxpayer should be compelled to pay for enterprises as to which there was certainly little agreement in this country at the time they were embarked upon. I read here that Lord Ripon, for the Imperial Government, so late as 26th August, 1893, cabled
I should certainly prohibit any offensive movement in the interest of the South Africa Company.
Twelve days earlier Dr. Starr Jameson had signed a secret agreement—no longer a secret agreement, I imagine, as most Members, no doubt, have a copy of it—to invade Matabeleland, setting forth the terms of service for the members of the force, including—to quote the words of the agreement—" half the loot."
I do suggest—and I am sure this suggestion should be agreed to by all sections of this House—that before this claim can be even considered it has got to be very carefully investigated indeed. I suggest that that investigation should be carried out by the most competent and the most independent firm of chartered accountants that can be secured. As a matter of business efficiency, apart from any other consideration, I think we are entitled to that. So far as the Rhodesians themselves are concerned—and they live under the beneficent rule of the South Africa Company—they apparently have no intention of doing anything to meet this claim. I have already quoted the statement of the chairman of the company, and it would be quite possible, were it necessary, to quote the opinion of Rhodesians on the spot. With regard to the matter of loot to which I have referred, it is important to bear in mind that the loot captured by the company in 1893 included from 40,000 to 70,000 head of stock, and the question does arise as to whether, in ariving at the figure of the cost of the Matabele War, these assets were taken into consideration. That is only one more argument, I submit, in favour of the most thorough investigation that can possibly be given to this very complicated question, and, so far as the Labour party is concerned, we feel that not only should the character of the Commission be different from what it is, not only should this House be represented on that Commission, but we also feel that the most careful investigation should be persisted in be fore a single penny-piece be taken from the British taxpayers to finance a commercial concern that, apparently, has been rather unwisely administered, to say the least.
There is, however, another side to this Rhodesian question, to which brief reference was made by the hon. and gallant-Gentleman who spoke first, and that is the treatment of the natives. He quite rightly said that our first duty iii Rhodesia, and in countries like it, is most obviously to the people who inherit the land. He repeated what has frequently been repeated in this House—and I only wish it had always been acted upon by some who have gone oversea—that it was not our intention or desire to exploit these people. I have in my hand a pamphlet that I imagine has been sent to every Member of this House. I notice it bears on the back the names of men well known in the public life of our country, and one or two who arc distinguished Members of the House of Commons. If the statements contained in this pamphlet, are true—if these statements are substantially true—I say that here we have a record of commercial criminality and of bad administration that it would indeed be very difficult to parallel. I would like to suggest that the terms of reference under which this Commission is going to work should be wider, so as to take in the whole question of administration in that country, and especially in so far as that affects the life of the nation. To take one or two sentences in this pamphlet:
The fact presented is that no single native of the Mashona and Matabele and kindred tribes owns, either personally or through membership of his tribe, a foot of land, a spring of water, a sacred graveyard, a patch of garden, or even a plot on which the native hut is erected.
I say if that statement is true, this is obviously a case for very, very serious and close investigation, and for reformation as well. On the last page of this pamphlet we are told that, whilst this company could have its case prepared out of public funds,
and the natives themselves were compelled through taxation to pay for preparing the case for the white settlers, they were not allowed to contribute towards funds to prepare their own case. If that statement is also true, it is high time we had an investigation of a very thorough kind. I do not want to go on quoting that pamphlet. 1 only hope it has been read by Members of the House who have received it, and I submit that the very closest investigation should be made into the allegations that are contained in it. I have in my hand the photograph of a certificate of registration supplied to the natives of Rhodesia. It is rather difficult to believe that certificates of this character—at all events framed as this particular one is—do exist in the- twentieth century and under the Union Jack. We have here the phrase, "For the protection of the employer," and we have the phrase, "In case of desertion."
But the very phrases upon that permit are of a character quite out of harmony, I believe and hope, with our methods of government, and I suggest that we will shortly need in this Empire of ours a new Wilberforce to combat the tendency towards what might be described by many people, not as ordinary working conditions, but as very real slavery. I do not believe that this method of administering a country like Rhodesia is one that would commend itself for a single moment to the public of this country were they aware of the actual facts, and I believe—again, I say if the statements that have been made are true— I believe that the continuance of such a state of affairs will disgrace our national honour and lower our national prestige. Therefore, I would repeat that, having regard to the serious charges that have been made, the terms of reference of this Commission should be wide enough to include the most thorough investigation into the case. I should like to refer briefly to the case of the natives of South Africa. In South Africa we have, I believe, some- where about 3,500,000 native people, and about 1,500,000 whites. Prior, to the Act of Union, prior to the South African War, the natives of that country enjoyed privileges equally with whites, but since—
I certainly meant my words to be understood as referring only to what then was a British Colony. I know that so far as the Transvaal and all parts under Dutch control were concerned, the natives had no privileges at all. As a. matter of fact, that remark will really emphasise what I want to say next. Since the Act of Union there has grown up, as ail familiar with South Africa knew must inevitably happen, a considerable Boer ascendancy in all political matters. The result of that ascendancy is that the Boer point of view, so far as the native is concerned, is unduly emphasised, and from the moment of the passing of the Act of Union and the coming into existence of the-new South Africa, there has been a definite tendency to eliminate and destroy the rights of the natives. The natives feel this very strongly. They have petitioned this Government, so far without success. They have applied to the Colonial Office. The Colonial Secretary tells them that that is a question that cannot be dealt with here; they must fight their case out in South Africa. I want to ask how it is possible for the natives of South Africa to fight their case out in that country when in that country they are denied all constitutional rights? Those people consequently look to the Imperial Government, and I submit that this is a question in which the Imperial Government should exercise every power they have got in order to restore to the natives of that country the conditions which existed before the Act of Union, and in order to let them recognise that, so far as British rule is concerned, it is our desire that all classes and all colours s' hall live equally and freely together, enjoying common rights.
I would, therefore, urge the Colonial Office to do everything in their power to remedy a state of affairs which is a die-grace to the Government of South Africa, and I cannot but believe that any representations made by the Imperial Government to South Africa would have some effect. At all events, I do think that, inasmuch as the natives in the British part of South Africa before the Act of Union enjoyed conditions of freedom and equality with the whites, it is our duty, an obligation rests upon us, to see that they enjoy no less privileges than they did then. It is a difficult question. One is not blind to the very, very complex character of the problem with which we have to deal. I would like to suggest to the Colonial Office —Ido not know whether or not it is a practical proposition—that an attempt should be made to bring about an exhaustive study of the native question in South Africt, if possible in conjunction with the Union Government, and the investigation might be, say, pretty much on the lines of the investigation which is now being conducted into Indian affairs. I do not know how far it would be possible to follow that line, but this is a question for which a certain primary responsibility rests upon the Imperial Government. It is because I feel this question of the treatment of the natives, which, after all, is one of supreme importance not only for our good name, but also in the interests of the maintenance of stability within the Empire —because, I say, I believe that, 1 offer the suggestion I have just made.
Before I deal with the point that has been dealt with by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in regard to South Africa, I should like to express my appreciation of the wide survey which has been given by my hon. and gallant Friend who represents the Colonial Office here, and more particularly for the lead he has set to all Colonial administrators in holding aloft a standard— a standard which is high and new. Towards the end of his speech he referred to the remarkable development which has taken place during the War and during the Peace Conference of our Imperial organisation. I am very glad, in one way, that he put that first in the survey of the Crown Colonies and the Protectorates for which he is more directly responsible. I hope it means, in his own mind at any rate, that he contemplates the separation at an early date of the Dominions Department of the Colonial Office, and the handing of it over to some other Department altogether. The Colonial Office have quite enough to do without undertaking the very responsible task of the development and administration of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates. I hope that before many years are passed that we shall see the Dominions Department out of the hands of the hon. and gallant Gentleman altogether, and more directly under the Prime Minister. Take the question which was referred to by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—the very important native question in the Union of South Africa. I do not think he exaggerated at all. I think the evils there are very great indeed. It is extremely difficult for the Colonial Office— which is hardly in a position, or perhaps is not in a position, to have the necessary weight behind it—to make an effective representation to the Dominion Governments and urge them to act in this matter; whereas if the Dominions Department were transferred to the Prime Minister it would have behind it the weight of authority of the Prime Minister in making any such representations. They would, I think, be received in quite a different manner by, say, the Dominion Government of South Africa, who would feel that, they were not on a level with the Crown Colonies and Protectorates, but that they were being addressed as equals; therefore, they would be more ready to listen to the representations put forward by this country in the interests of the native population.
Having said that in general, I want to come, to the question which has been referred to by the Leader of the Liberal party and by the hon. Member who has just sat down—Rhodesia. I am sorry that my hon. Friend who sits beside me and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for one of the Divisions of Worcestershire have put their names to a pamphlet which has been issued to Members of this House, and which, to my mind, exaggerates, if it does not altogether misrepresent, the truth of the situation in regard to the natives in Rhodesia. I can only speak in this matter—I have nothing to do with the Chartered Company—as one who has visited Rhodesia—as one who has seen the natives in the country, has seen the white settlers, and travelled in both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, in Matabeleland, and Mashonaland. I assure the House that things in Rhodesia, as regards the treatment of the natives, arc immeasurably better than they are in any other part, certainly than in any part of the Union of South Africa, and, to my mind, considerably above the level of what they are in British East Africa. On investigation it will, I think, be found that the Chartered Company's treatment of the native population—certainly since 1893—has been most creditable.
I want to refer at the outset to the question of the land. The right hon. Gentle man on the Front Opposition Bench said that the natives of Rhodesia, numbering 800,000, had no land. I have seen the magnificent native reserves. I have seen them and their land in Rhodesia being cultivated in their own way with their own flocks and herds. Apart, however, from the evidence of my own eyes, we have the evidence of a recent and very important impartial Imperial Commission on the subject. This phamphlet of Mr. Harris's must not obscure the fact that the Imperial Commission had nothing to do with the company, although one member of the Commission held office under the company. The Commission consisted, in addition to that man, of two of the most noted Imperial Native Commissioners— namely, the present Resident Commissioner of Uganda and the present Resident Commissioner of Basutoland, both directly under the Imperial Government. These formed the Native Reserve Commission in 1915. They issued a very important. Report on this very question. What was their finding? Their finding was that the original term of the charter, which made it incumbent upon the British South Africa Company to set aside sufficient native reserves had been amply fulfilled, and that there was 1,000,000 acres in excess of the immediate requirements laid aside for native reserves. That is a very important fact. I must say—and I want to be quite fair—that, in addition, the Commission recommended that certain alterations should be made in the delimitation of these reserves. I understand—and I hope to hear a reply from the Colonial Secretary on the point—that the Government have accepted these findings. I am perfectly certain that the Chartered Company is willing and anxious to carry out at the earliest possible moment those rearrangements of the native reserves recommended by that Imperial Commission. The real misconception at the root of Mr. Harris's pamphlet, which has been circulated to Members of this House, is the whole case which he tried to make out on the basis of the private ownership of land. Why, take the natives of Southern Rhodesia. Except where they have been in contact with the white settlers, they have not got the slightest conception of private ownership in land. Take the situation in Matabeleland before the Matabele War. That, if ever there was, was a military Socialistic State. Even the cattle belonged to Lobengula. The whole country belonged to Lobengula. As to the question of ownership, everything was held by the body of warriors which, in comparatively recent times, came up from Zululand, killed off the native population, and asserted themselves as a military aristocracy, or, rather, cleared off everybody, and became a militarist power in the western part of Southern Rhodesia. The Matabele were a very fine, warlike people. They had many of the virtues of the savage as well as many of his shortcomings. Their principal shortcoming was that they invariably raided all their neighbours, killed off the men, took all the women and cattle, and left the country in a pretty depopulated state. There is no doubt there is a case to be made out for the Matabele War which has not been put by my hon. Friend who has just sat down.
There is no doubt that for many years it had been the practice of the Matabeles on every possible opportunity to raid the Mashonas, who were much inferior in stature and physique, and who were then under our protection, and whose country was then being developed by our enterprise. They looked to us to protect them. The warlike Matabele were held together on a war basis. They were a constant menace to the peaceful development of civilisation in that part of Africa, or anything near it. I think that for the final clearing out of the Matabele abundant justification has been made. I have sat under Lobengula's tree on a little rounded hill outside Buluwayo. Then, I suppose, it was surrounded by very small patches of cultivation, by a few kraals, and by a small number of cattle. Within a mile of that kraal you have now got a British railway junction and a town inhabited by a population well into four figures. The place is laid out with new water-places. Citrus fruit is growing, and there are all the signs of modern development and civilisation. The Matabele, instead of being a gentleman who killed his fellow men, is prevented from carrying out that practice. He discharges many functions, from that of a cultivator of the soil to a rickshaw runner, and various other occupations of the kind. The Mashonas are now largely developed and are increasing in numbers, and their herds are increasing. There is another side to the question to that which has been put by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I am positive that the more this- land question is investigated the more you will find that the Chartered Company, against which there seems to be a prejudice merely because it is the Chartered Company, and because it is a financial company, its administration, considering its difficulties and its great task, has been of a remarkably high order, and reflecting great credit upon the British pioneers who have gone out under the auspices of that company, and have developed the gold mines and other things.
I will tell the House, from my own experience, that there is no better system of schools in the world than the few created by the Chartered Company in South Africa. They are some of the best in any continent. You get all kinds of people attending them, and very good they are. I was enormously impressed by the speed and the energy of the development I saw-going on in Rhodesia. I have been in German East Africa and other places, and what struck me was that you do not see cringing natives but they were really getting a good chance. I think 1 ought in justification of the Chartered Company to remind the House that as the hon Member quoted Lord Ripon he, after the Matabele War, completely exonerated in a letter Dr. Jameson from any responsibility for what has been made so much of in Mr. Harris's pamphlet.
Every Imperial investigation into the conduct of the Chartered Company has vindicated the conduct of that company. I want the House to realise that in the case of the Chartered Company there is a system of diarchy, the commercial and the administrative side. I know nothing about the commercial side, and I am not a business man. 1 do not own any shares in any company, and therefore I am not qualified to judge as to how the commercial undertakings of this company have been managed, but from what I have seen on the administrative side I am confident that the administration of the Chartered Company will come out well in any investigation. I will quote Lord Selborne's view which was given when he was High Commissioner in 1906:
The shareholders have embarked an enormous capital on which they have not yet received a penny dividend, yet without their assistance, backing the imagination of Mr. Cecil J. Rhodes, the civilisation of Southern Rhodesia would not have existed, and the territory would probably have been lost to British South Africa, The people of Southern Rhodesia have had an extraordinary share of trials; they have had to pass through the ordeal
of no less than three wars and of two periods of cattle disease of exceptional virulence, while with the rest of South Africa they have suffered from recurring years of drought. They have lived too close to the scene of action to appreciate, as I Can, going to Southern Rhodesia for the first time, the marvellous results of these sixteen years of self-sacrifice- and work. Sixteen years ago Mashonaland and thirteen years ago Matabeleland were absolutely uncivilised countries. To-day they reproduce on a small scale exactly the same sense of civilised and progressive industry in township, in farm, and in mine, as is to be found in the Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange River Colony, or the Transvaal. These results strike the newcomer as little short of marvellous, and the credit for these results must be divided between the shareholders of the British South Africa Company and the people of Southern Rhodesia.
That is the tribute of a High, Commissioner which ought to weigh with this House. I have risen to defend the action of the British South Africa Company in regard to their treatment of the native, and I am glad that this House is showing, and I hope will continue to show, a deep interest in the progressive welfare of the natives of Africa. This is a thing we have to watch very carefully in East Africa particularly. Throughout the whole of the "Dark Continent the native problem is giving a good deal of anxiety, and rightly so, to all thinking men. The native problem has to be handled sympathetically, and I am perfectly certain that mere commercial and trade considerations are not enough nowadays in dealing with African development, because we have to develop the latent resources in such a manner that it will not be to the moral disadvantage either of the native or white settlers.
I am perfectly confident that unless we are constantly making a great effort to raise the level of black civilisation the white civilisation in contact with it will go down and deteriorate. Unless the Colonial Office and all the agents of the Government are constantly setting a standard to the white settler and constantly reminding him of the great responsibilities of every white who is in contact with black races, that there will be a demoralisation of the white race, and there will be no real advancement or progress. The black will progress on very different lines to the white. The whole problem does deserve consideration and study. Some of the work the British Native Commissioners has been very good, and I will give as an instance Northern Rhodesia and the Easternparts of Cape Colony, which deserve the study of everybody throughout Africa. This is a difficult problem requir- ing careful study, and we must be careful how we handle it. We may raise up a great war of racial feeling if we are not careful. Hitherto, in many places, I am glad to think that the black race and the white race have shown that mutual respect for each other which alone can be the ground upon which mutual co-operation is to take place.
There is a growing tendency to regard the native of Africa merely as a means for the development of commercial enterprises, but that is absolutely fatal. If in the rightful desire for commercial development you lose sight of the enormous moral responsibility you will make a mistake. Take German East Africa, which we understand comes under the mandate of this country. There you see a population of seven and a half million blacks. If you use these people in a mere commercial manner and not to assist in the development of their country without realising the great moral responsibility, and bringing elements of education—not necessarily Western education—to those natives, that will be a wrong policy. It is often the fashion to laugh at missionaries. I never laugh at them here. The missionaries have done a great deal, but unless something of the missionary spirit is behind the service of the Crown in dealing with the African natives, unless there is that sense of moral responsibility, I am afraid that looking over years in the future we may be raising up a great problem in Africa which may prove very difficult to handle. It is one of the greatest problems the Colonial Office have before them. I am particularly glad to hear the note that was struck by the Under-Secretary this afternoon, in which he set a higher standard than the pre-war standard. I hope that will always be so in our administration in Africa.
Mr. G. MURRAY:
I desired to take part in the Debate this afternoon with special reference to the question of Rhodesia and the various questions which have been raised in regard to the natives. I lived in that country some years and I administered a section of the Transvaal as a Commissioner. At the same time, it is not my intention to do so, because I wish to take she House to another part of the Empire which is hardly so much developed as South Africa, and which requires the special consideration of the Colonial Office to-day. Before doing so, I think it has given me the opportunity of saying how fortunate I believe the country is in having Lord Milner at the head of the Colonial Office to-day. I served under him for five or six years in South Africa, and I had a very full opportunity of observing the work that he did and the immense good which he achieved for South Africa. I will mention only this one fact, that his policy after the war in the Transvaal especially was to promote agriculture, which he believed in as the backbone of the prosperity of that country; and he raised revenues through railway rates and other unpopular methods in order to set up an agricultural department in the Transvaal which was unrivalled then and, I think, has been unrivalled ever since. As a result of that, a spirit of emulation was established in Cape Colony, Natal, and other British States in South Africa during the ten years preceding the outbreak of this last great War, with the result that the agricultural exports and production in South Africa have doubled themselves.
I should also like to congratulate the Under-Secretary for the Colonies upon the very eloquent and able speech which he has delivered this afternoon. He carried us to many countries and over many subjects, and he showed by that speech that he has a great grasp of what is necessary to develop the Empire, and a great grasp not only of the direct problems, but of the more abstract problems, like health and education, which have to be solved. I believe that under the guidance of Lord Milner and the present Under-Secretary for the Colonies our Colonial policy will be based on a broad and practical spirit.
The part of the Empire to which I wish to take the Committee this afternoon is British West India. British West India is some 2,000 miles from here. It consists of a chain of islands which reach in a semicircular form from Jamaica to Trinidad and on to British Guiana. It comprises a very large area. There are many problems in connection with these islands which it would not be possible for me to attempt to deal with in this Debate; in fact, I could not deal with one-eighth of the problems which concern these places. I would like to mention particularly, with regard to the islands themselves, that perhaps the most important matters which concern them at present are, first of all, the steamship services from the United Kingdom and from Canada, and, secondly, the cable service, which has been referred to in this House at Question Time during the last two or three weeks. These are matters which are of special importance to the West Indies at the present moment; and in connection with the cable service, I do think, from the point of view of promoting British trade, it is extremely important that as soon as possible the charges for cables between the United Kingdom and the British West Indies, and between Canada and those Colonies, should be so reduced as to make them as cheap, if not cheaper, than cables to the United States. In South America we have this very large territory of British Guiana. It is the only British Colony in South America, and it is, therefore, our special duty to do all we can to promote its development in order to indicate to the South American Republics that we believe in the possibilities of South America, and that we do not consider the South American Republics are able to do more for their countries than we can do for British Guiana.
British Guiana, I believe, is a great deal larger than Uruguay, although the population of the latter place, and the trade also, is four or five times larger than that of British Guiana. What is the reason that British Guiana has not been developed as it should have been? Here is a huge country, 90,000 square miles in ex tent, with only some 300 square miles of it developed for the production of rice, sugar, and other tropical produce. This huge hinterland of 90,000 square miles includes 70,000 square miles of magnificent forests of hard and soft wood, including the hard wood which was utilised in connection with the construction of the Panama Canal. It has huge waterways with a sufficient volume of water to give all the power that is necessary for every kind of industry that can be developed in the country. In the olden days I believe British Guiana was the El Dorado of Sir Walter Raleigh. We know that diamonds and gold are there, we know that bauxite is there, and here is this magnificent territory, with all these wondrous properties, with only its fringe on the coast line developed! I am not going to suggest that the Colonial Office or that the Colonial authorities in British Guiana have not attempted in one way or another in past years to develop this Colony. There have been many schemes with this object, but they have always remained on paper.
Just before the War the Imperial Government and the Colonial Office took this matter seriously in hand, in conjunction with the Colonial Governor and the Colonial authorities, and they devised a scheme for a railway which was to start from the capital town of British Guiana, Georgetown, a place with 50,000 inhabitants, and was to be taken right through to the Brazilian border, a distance of 300 miles, with the object of developing the timber property, the gold and silver mines, and so on. But the trouble in British Guiana is, and that trouble will remain until some definite steps are taken, that there is a very small population compared with the size of the country. It is a population of about 320,000, composed partly of East Indians, and the remainder of Negroes and Chinamen, with a comparatively few Whites. It is perfectly obvious that with this small population it would not be possible to develop this huge territory unless the Imperial Government came forward with special assistance towards that end. The point arose, supposing that the Imperial Government does give assistance—suppose it conies forward with a loan at easy rates of interest—what control will it have over the expenditure of the Colony? I should mention that the Constitution of the Colony consists of a combined Court. That Court has power over the finances of the Colony, and any matter that arises out of those finances has to be submitted to that Court, which would have almost complete control over it. For a year or two before the War broke out a controversy raged round this question of Constitution because the Imperial Government suggested, and, I think, very rightly, that if they were to come forward and make loans to the British Guiana Government, either for the purpose of developing the railways or for the purpose of improving the harbour in Georgetown, they should have a great deal more control over that expenditure than it was possible to have through the present Constitution or with the advice of the Government of the Colony. I contend that the whole basis of the trouble centres round the small number of the population of the Colony—320,000, the great majority of them taking 2s. or 3s. a day as their taxable limit. It does not matter what you do with regard to the Constitution; you will ultimately, if the people of the Colony have to assist in a large degree in the development of the Colony, have to come back to this point, What is the number of the population of the Colony and what is their taxable capacity? If that is the case, in view of the very strong objection which I feel would still be taken when this scheme of development arises afresh, would it not be wiser to devise some scheme whereby the Constitution of the Colony were left untouched, in so far as that part of it is concerned in which the greatest development has taken place and concerning which the combined Court has most of its work to do.
A very reasonable solution of this question would be to cut off the strip of British Guiana which is already developed—1,000 or 2,000 square miles—and to leave that as the Colony of British Guiana, ruled, as at present, through a Colonial Government, including the Council and the combined Court, and that the Imperial Government should themselves set up, at the back of this developed strip, a High Commission; that the Imperial Government should have full powers over this High Commission; that all this vast territory of some 90,000 square miles, with all its possibilities, should, just as Mr. Chamberlain did when he put through that railway through British East Africa to Uganda, be taken over by the Imperial Government and developed to the very best measure that is possible. I believe that is a feasible scheme, and 1 believe it is a reasonable solution. I believe, further, that that solution would not find great opposition, if any at all, in the Colony of British Guiana today, because I do not suggest it as an eternal solution, but as a temporary measure which would go on for such number of years as might be necessary to develop that huge territory. It would not be requisite to set up a different administration altogether. That territory might be administered through the Governor of British Guiana, with the help of the Executive Council, which has unofficial members on it, to keep a sort of liaison between the Colony of British Guiana and the new High Commission. I think if that were done it would untie the hands of the Imperial Government, it would free the hands of the Colonial Government from the responsibility which they know is theirs, but which they are unable to face because they have not got the money, they have not got the population, their taxable capacity is limited—it would do all this, and I put it forward not as a new proposal, but as one that has been made before, but which I believe appears to-day in the practical arena.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the question of the machinery of reconstruction which he hopes to set up in various Colonies and Protectorates for which we are responsible. I welcome his remarks because, from my knowledge of those places, I agree with him that it is just as necessary to reconstruct in health, education, general development, and so on, in those places as it is in this country. But as I listened to him I could not help feeling that, perhaps due to a sense of modesty, he had not referred to what ought to be the fountain-head of reconstruction of the Colonies and Protectorates. I refer to the Colonial Office. As one who has served for some twenty years under the Colonial Office, I do not wish to be thought to have any desire to attack that Office or to say anything which would hurt their feelings, because I had, and I hope I still have, a number of friends in that Office. My association has been so close with its work that it would be impossible for me to regard it with any other feeling than one of the greatest respect and regard. But at the same time, even friends may be allowed to criticise friends, and I feel that the Colonial Office is out of gear, and is not sufficiently modern for the requirements of the present day. I admit that during the past ten or fifteen years much has been done to modernise and to bring up to date the machinery of the Colonial Office, but I believe, in these days of reconstruction, a great deal remains to be done. I have been very glad to read speeches made by Lord Milner, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in which he has foreshadowed the separation of the Dominions Department of the Colonial Office from the Colonial Office. I believe in that way by cutting off this limb—by cutting off a limb we very often strengthen the rest of the body—it would leave the way clear and open for a greater concentration upon the very great problems of development and otherwise which concern our Crown Colonies and Protectorates. Today the Colonial Office- is understaffed and overworked.
I am glad that my hon. Friend agrees with me. I have a deliberate reason for making this statement. I make it from my own knowledge and experience, having worked in the Colonial Office for two years. Any office which is understaffed and overworked cannot conduct its duties properly, because it is not possible for the heads of the Department, the principal clerks and others to give sufficient time to the greater problems that ought to be and have to be dealt with all the time. Bundles of paper rush through the Office—I am speaking now of my own experience—from morning till night, going up to the principal clerks, who have to give attention to small details instead of the large problems. They go on rushing through and rushing through and there seems no relief. What we require in the Colonial Office is, first of all, more expenditure on staff. 1 say this almost under my breath, because 1 fully realise that economy must be the order of the day. But there is such a thing as false economy. The expenditure of £2,000 or £3,000 a year extra in providing more clerks would relieve the congestion and enable the principal clerks to give more attention to the larger problems. The result of the present system has been that you have the Colonial Office divided into separate Departments, and it is only occasionally, owing to the stress of work, that the heads of the various Departments—when I speak of Departments in this connection I mean one Department representing the African Colonies, another Department representing the West Indian Colonies, another representing Fiji, and so on—are able to meet and discuss the various problems that are pressing in different parts of the Empire, and to attempt to co-ordinate the policy.
I suggest for the consideration of the Under-Secretary that if it were possible it could or might be done by the formation of Committees within the Colonial Office: Committees formed of principal desks who would discuss weekly or fortnightly or at whatever period was most convenient, the different important problems affecting the particular Department with which they are specially concerned. If such Committees were set up much good would accrue to the Colonies. I would further like to see committees formed of business people concerned in operations in the different Colonies to act in an advisory capacity to the Colonial Office. I do not suggest that it would be possible—in fact, I know that it would not be possible—on questions of policy to take the decision of these Advisory Committees. Our policy must be directed and guided by the Secretary of State, responsible to this House, but I do believe that such Advisory Committees would be able to give a great deal of sound and excellent advice in connection with questions especially affecting develop- ment with regard to agriculture, shipping, harbours, railways, and so on. I put forward this proposal in the hope that it may be given consideration. I cannot pass from this subject without saying that we ought to get that spirit inculcated into the development of our Colonies and Protectorates which has shown itself in the Dominions for many years. the Dominions have always shown that they do not recognise difficulties and that they believe in vigorous and prompt action. That is the spirit which ought to permeate the Colonial Office, and the Colonial authorities. I know it permeates in a larger degree than either many settlers and others who have gone overseas to take up their abode.
Reverting to the question or British Guiana, I am convinced that the most important problem with which we have to deal there is the question of population. No scheme of development with regard to railways, harbours, or anything else can possibly be of avail there unless it runs concurrently or is accompanied by a scheme for the further colonisation of that Colony. The Under-Secretary, in his admirable speech, has recognised that something is necessary in this regard, and I urge that every step should be taken by means of approaching the India Office or any other country which is likely to be able to provide population for this huge undeveloped territory, because unless that is done any 6cheme that can be devised will be quite futile. What objection can there be in India, for instance, to a scheme which cut out the old indenture system as we have known it, though in the West Indies that indenture system has been exceedingly well carried out and has done a great deal of good? A tribute to this effect was paid by a Commission consisting of an eminent Civil servant and an eminent native of India who visited the West-Indies about four or five years ago. That system has been of great assistance in the West Indies? It has been administered to the best advantage and everything was done for the good of the Indians who were brought over. But I understand that this indenture system is doomed. Therefore we have to face the facts as they are. As a substitute, I believe that it would be possible, by means of a colonisation scheme, of bringing whole families across—I will not say how many—to colonise that huge territory without in any way hurting the feelings of India or upsetting the prejudices which they have formed upon this subject. In conclusion, may I say that we have a much greater responsibility now towards our Colonies and Protectorates than we had before the War by reason of the help which they have given us during the War, the great sacrifices they have made, and the manner in which they have ranged themselves at our side.
I hope that the Under-Secretary will allow me to thank him heartily for that portion of his admirable speech which he devoted to the need of education. A better system of education is, indeed, a crying need of the tropical Colonies. Some years ago I drew the attention of the Colonial Secretary to the need of a better system of Colonial education. It was too much to expect the Government to pay attention to that in the middle of a great war, but I am glad that, now that Peace has come, the Government are going to take the matter up, because there is urgent need for a university system of education, of scientific investigations and of better instructors, particularly in agricultural education, both British and native. But I wish most earnestly to emphasise that though you may improve your education system and your railway system as much as you like, yet you will never get the highest production and the greatest contentment in the Empire unless you recognise the right of this native to security of tenure in his land. I was particularly pleased to hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Captain Ormsby-Gore) said on this question. Security of tenure is the very keystone, not only of loyalty and contentment, but also of commercial prosperity. So long as you treat the native merely as a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, as a person destined to labour merely for the white man, so long as you deny him equal privileges with the white, so long will you have discontent and disloyalty, and so long will you omit the means of obtaining the highest amount of produce from your Colonial territories.
What are the most prosperous portions of tropical and South Africa? Is not your export of cocoa from the Gold Coast enormous? The producers of this enormous output of cocoa are the native producers. Natives are the owners and cultivators of their own land. It is not plantations, but it is the smallholders that are the cheapest producers. Take again Basuto-land, which is the most prosperous and financially the strongest portion of South Africa. They never have a deficit and they are now in a position to lend money to other places. There is nothing more splendid than the way in which the natives have come to our assistance in this War, and there is nothing more pathetic than the way in which they place their faith in all the splendid announcements of ideals which we have made from time to time during the War. They really have believed that we fought this War for liberty, and for the weak and small nations. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware that what is going on in the mind of the black worker is what has been going on in the mind of the white worker. The white worker is tired of being treated as a mere cog in the wheel. He is asking the fullest development both spiritually and morally. The black worker is doing exactly the same thing.
That brings me to the question of the treatment of the natives of Rhodesia. I have got no particular vendetta against the Chartered Company. I am not sure that I have not got some shares in the company myself, though as they do not pay a dividend it does not matter much whether I have or not, but I do not think that my hon. Friend who spoke will deny the fact that whereas in days gone by the natives had security for their own private tenure they now have no security whatever. On unalienated lands they are merely there on sufferance at the present moment. They may be evicted out of their ancestral lands at any moment. In fact, I am not sure that Commissioners are not going round warning them that they will be turned out. I am also not sure that the Government at the present moment are not preparing an edict to evict them. It is idle to tell me that the natives in those conditions are being governed in the best possible way. Neither can it be asserted that in the reserves they have security of tenure. Only a few years ago the reserves were cut down by 6,000,000 acres. What guarantee have these natives of Rhodesia that the reserves will not be again cut down? My hon. Friend said that was perfectly true when he stated that the natives in Rhodesia were a good deal better off than the native under the Union Government, and than those in British East Africa. That is not saying very much The natives in the Union territory are most shamefully misgoverned. It is true that they are given reserves, but whereas 5,000,000 natives are given only 13 per cent. of the land, 87 per cent. of the land is given to the whites, who number only one and a half millions. I am informed that these natives are working under a system which is more or less veiled slavery. They are subject to the law of passes. If they wish to leave an employer they have to get from him a pass, and, of course, they are entirely subject to his will and caprice and sense of fairness. If an employer wishes to keep his servant on the land, he has only to refuse him a licence. If they migrate to the towns they are met by a threat to take away from them all the right of engaging in trade or holding property. If a white man strikes, he gets an increase in wages, but if a black man strikes with the object of increasing his 6d. or 8d. per day, he is fined or imprisoned.
One cannot say that things are in a satisfactory state as far as the natives are concerned. Of course it is a delicate subject. My hon. Friend may tell me that we have no right to interfere, but you will never persuade the natives of that; you will never persuade them that His Majesty the King and the Imperial Government and Imperial Parliament have not the power to get them justice. They point out that the Indian Government can get at least an improvement in the conditions of the Indian, and they ask why the Imperial Government cannot get an improvement in their conditions. An hon. Gentleman opposite made the very good suggestion that there should be a joint commission to inquire into the condition of the natives. I would urge the necessity of that very strongly. It is a very favourable opportunity for interfering on the part of the natives. I would strongly object to a single inch of territory being handed over to the Union Government unless they set their house in order.
I am not sure whether British East Africa is not governed a great deal too much in the interests of the white and too little in the interests of the native. I should like to know whether it is not a fact that no native has any right to an inch of land in British East Africa except along a strip ten miles from the sea. He is allowed only a small garden—not enough land to keep himself. The object of that is to make him go out and earn wages, in order to provide the white settler with an adequate supply of cheap labour. I am not surprised to hear that there is extreme discontent in British East Africa among the natives. The resident magistrates, I am told, are expected to act as veiled recruiting officers. They go to the local chiefs and tell them they have to provide so much labour. That is an entirely wrong position for a magistrate to hold. He ought not to be made the servant of the white settler and a sort of recruiting officer for labour.
Those are the points which I wish to place before my hon. Friend. I am glad to think that we have in him a sincere friend of the native fellow members of the British Empire, and I am sure that we may rely on him to do his best to make their conditions as prosperous as possible and to give them the most favourable conditions for loyalty.
In the first place,. I want to associate myself with previous speakers in congratulating the hon. Member (Lieut.-Colonel Amery) on the interesting and instructive speech he delivered. The speakers have dealt with South Africa, Rhodesia, and some parts of India. I want to call attention to Gibraltar. Probably the hon. Member is aware that among the population of Gibraltar there is great discontent. Some time ago I introduced to the hon. Gentleman a deputation of the workmen. from Gibraltar. I have had some experience in the trade union movement; I have taken deputations with me to meet employers; but I am sure that the hon. Member will agree with me that he never had a deputation more intelligent, or one which it could state its case better, than those workmen did on that occasion-. Their grievance is that they are controlled by the military. They have no local representative Government there, and that is causing a great amount of discontent. We say in this country that taxation and representation go together. If that is so in this country and in the Dominions, I cannot see why it cannot be extended to these people in Gibraltar. They have no system of education. I do not know whether they have a Cowper-Temple Clause, as in this country, or whether they have a religious controversy. I understood that was confined to Wales and Ireland. In Gibraltar I find the children go to school in the morning, and every half-hour they get a religious service or a religious prayer. If children object to those services they are permitted to go out and play cricket and football in the intervals during the school hours. The population has to contribute to keep up this system. I also find here. according to a circular, that the people there have to pay heavily for drinking-water. These people have no representative on the local authority, and this is carried through by a sanitary committee and by the naval and military people. Surely if the workmen there are of the same type as the workmen who composed the deputation to which I have referred, the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that they are able to control or govern their own destiny. I hope that the Colonial Office will see to it that some kind of representative Government is going to foe extended to this small population.
Another thing that struck me was this. You send engineers from this country to Gibraltar, and the trade union rate of wages is fixed in this country. You also extend to them all the laws of this country so far as Workmen's Compensation and other matters are concerned. If one of those is injured in an accident at work he receives his 25s. exactly the same as in this country. A native of Gibraltar working on the same spot who meets with an accident has to live on charity. Surely you ought to insure those workmen in exactly the same way as you compel employers in this country to insure their workmen. If one of the men from this country is killed his widow receives £300, but the widow of the native workman nothing at all. Surely those people ought to receive better treatment than that. I hope from the very high standard of the hon. Gentleman's speech that he will give those people an opportunity of developing their social, moral, and intellectual faculties and a chance to share the gains and honours of advancing civilisation. The hon Gentleman has struck a very high note, and I hope that the spirit of his remarks will be extended to the people of Gibraltar.
There is one other matter to which I desire to refer. The Labour party of this country has received a communication from the Australian Labour party—it is a delicate question, and I will put it as briefly and as nicely as I can—complaining about the Governor-General, Sir E. M. Ferguson showing partisanship in the administration of affairs in Australia. This resolution was not sent from a trade
union branch meeting or a meeting of a co-operative society, but by the National Labour Party of Australia. A question was put to the Colonial Office by one of my colleagues on Thursday, 3rd July, and the answer we received was:
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The answer to the last two parts is in the negative.
Surely that is not an answer that will satisfy the National Labour Party when they have a grievance against the Governor-General of Australia. I do hope, seeing that the hon. Gentleman has got some information in reference to this matter, that he will give us some explanation, when replying, as to the complaint that the Australian Labour Party has sent across here, so that we will be able to give them some definite reply. I must say that the Labour party here resent that reply, and the Australian Labour Party feel quite indignant about it. They think that, as a strong party in Australia, they deserve better treatment, especially after the comradeship that has been shown between their people and our people during the War; and we want to cement that good feeling and preserve it in the future. Therefore, I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some satisfactory reply, so that we can send it back to our colleagues.
This Colonial Office Vote is of peculiar importance this year. It is the first time that we have had, in my Parliamentary experience, a Conservative Administration in this country in charge of the Colonial Office. During the last fourteen years we have had a Liberal Administration, which has, on the whole, dealt with the Crown Colonies of the British Empire on liberal and enlightened lines, and we are all naturally nervous now lest there should be a change. of policy. I did not gather from the portion of the speech of the Under-Secretary which I heard that he was quite clear on the point which I wish to make. Hitherto we have tried to administer the Crown Colonies, particularly in Africa, for the advantage of the natives of the territory and in their interest. I do not say that we have always followed that policy, but certainly of late years every question that has come up has been judged in the Colonial Office on these lines as to whether the suggestion was really in the interests of the natives or not. Now, especially after this very expensive War, there is a temptation on the part of the Colonial Office and on the part of capitalists of this country to look upon our Crown Colonies in Africa from a somewhat different point of view, and from the point of view of how much raw material and how much dividends we can get out of them. That point of view is diametrically opposed to the principles on which the Colonial Office has been carried on in recent years. I take, as an example, Nigeria. It is the latest of the Crown Colonies. It has a large Mahomedan population, but it gave this country no trouble during the War, and, on the contrary, provided some excellent troops for work in East Africa, and also supplied us with very valuable war material. In Nigeria and to a certain extent on the Gold Coast the natives, cultivating the land for themselves, have supplied an ever-increasing export trade of cocoa and of oil from the coconut-oil trees. That has all been done as a native industry worked by the natives for the interests of the natives. In Nigeria we have gone so far as to prevent any white man acquiring land in the Colony at all, so that there shall be no interference with the natives' rights to the land. The country has increased in prosperity and in revenue under that administration. Nigeria, which ten years ago used to receive very large Grants every year from this country to make both ends meet, amounting, I believe, to £100,000 a year, is now a self-paying proposition, and the country itself meets all its expenses. The people there all have their own piece of land and cultivate it in perfect peace and comfort, and that system is one which we wish to see, not only in Nigeria, but in each of the other Crown Colonies as well.
If we look at the government of those countries purely from the point of view of the natives, what we want to see is an independent people on their own land, whether held communally or individually, supplying us with the products of their toil. The new doctrine that has already started to creep in is that the native should not produce for himself but for a master. All through the ages there have been attempts to make the black people work for white masters. They tried first of all chattel slavery, and then the conscience of the world revolted against that and chattel slavery was put down, and they tried indentured labour, and only recently, I will not call them atrocities, but the cruelties and injustices associated with indentured labour so changed public opinion in this country and in India that indentured labour also has become a thing of the past over the greater part of the, British Empire. Then, seeing that indentured labour was no longer available to provide labour for the exploiters, they tried the poll tax, taxing natives so that they had to work in order to find the money to pay the tax. All these methods have been tried, but the best method, as-has been discovered recently, is to take the land away from the natives under the guise of sales by the chiefs of tribes to white exploiters. The chief is easily got round. A bottle of whisky does it in many cases, or the suave tongue of a lawyer and cash down does it in other cases, and the chief parts with the land, which is not properly his land, but the land of the tribe. That is done, and some company for growing coconut palms acquires the estate, and all the natives who used to live on that land have perforce to become labourers for that company. That is what has taken place very largely on the Gold Coast and in Sierra Leone, and indeed in nearly all the Colonies of France, Germany, and elsewhere. It is very simple to expropriate the native, and then the native has to become a labourer at any wage you may choose to offer him.
It is true that we have not always preserved the rights of the natives. The Noble Lord opposite gave the case or British East Africa. I have many good friends in British East Africa, and it did not seem to me that the native of East Africa was at all a cringing native. What struck me most about the country was that the black man expected you to shake hands with him, which is certainly not the case in many British Colonies that I know of, but, although the native has a certain amount of self-respect, and although the white man respects the native, there is an enormous pressure to deprive the natives of their Reserves. If the natives are left with the Reserves they have at present, they have sufficient to cultivate and support themselves, but with the result, particularly after the very heavy death-rate of this War, that there is not enough labour for the white plantations, and the cure is obvious to the eyes of all the white inhabitants of British East Africa. They say, "There is a labour shortage, and we cannot get our plantations cultivated, at least not at the old wage that we used to pay, and, therefore, we must cut down the native Reserves, so that the natives will have to come and work." It is all perfectly simple if you look at it from the point of view of the exploiter, but the Colonial Office in the past has looked at it from the point of view of the native and has said, "it is not our business to provide labour, but to see that the natives have sufficient Reserves left to support them and their families," and we want to see that, even with a Conservative Administration at the Colonial Office, the interests of natives are still looked after, although pressure is brought to bear by all those who own shares or plantations in East Africa in order to get cheaper labour on the plantations. The same refers, of course, to Rhodesia and South Africa,. Indeed, as the Noble Lord opposite said, in South Africa the position of the black man is worse than it is in any Colony of the British Crown. Indeed, I think the Government should dissociate themselves in some sort of way from any responsibility for the only very thinly veiled slavery that is maintained under the Union Government of South Africa to-day. The land there is being rapidly taken away from the natives. The Commission of white men, with interests all on one side, allocate so much land to the natives and so much land to the whites. The natives, with an overwhelming majority of population— 5,000,000 to 1,500,000—they have allowed 13 per cent. of the land, and the whites they have allowed 87 per cent, of the land, and the 13 per cent. is the bush land, which is very difficult to cultivate and expensive to clear.
But we are not responsible for the government of South Africa. We washed our hands of that when we gave them self-government, and, except for Basutoland and Bechuanaland, the natives have only an appeal to the Union Government, and I do not see that anything we can do, beyond expressing our opinion as Englishmen as to the way in which the natives are enslaved in that country, can be of very great service; but in Rhodesia we have the problem still before us in a peculiarly acute state at the present moment. The Government has appointed a Commission to consider what compensation is due to the Chartered Company for their government of Rhodesia during the past twenty-five or thirty years, and this Commission, we are informed, will name a figure which the Government will feel bound to pay. When they have paid that, Rhodesia will cease to be under the Chartered Company, and will become either a Crown Colony or annexed to the Union of South Africa. It is of the utmost importance that, before we surrender that country to the Union of South Africa, we should safeguard far more fully than we have in the case of the natives of South Africa the interests of the black people in that country. It is absolutely essential, for the Reserves that have been mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Captain Ormsby-Gore) as being a native charter are absolutely at the mercy of the Chartered Company whenever the Chartered Company decides to cut down those Reserves. It is absolutely essential that these Reserves should be preserved for the natives themselves. Every pressure will be brought to bear upon the Government to leave the question of these Reserves to the South African Government. Every white settler in that country, human nature being what it is, is almost bound to be in favour of further curtailment of those Reserves. Not only is land put upon the market in that way at a cheap price, which white settlers can then buy, but also the very curtailment of those native Reserves throws the natives on to the labour market and cuts down the rate of wages which the white settlers have to pay. Therefore every influence on the spot will be used to cut down those Reserves, and it is more the duty of the Colonial Office to look at the question from the old traditional point of view of the interests of the natives first, and not in the interests of the prosperity and development of the country. Prosperity and development of the country very often means forced labour, and that men who were content to do little are forced to do much. We do not want to force anybody to work who is able to support himself and his family without doing more than he cares to do. It is all very well to talk about teaching men the dignity of labour, but, when that lesson is taught by the people who are going to benefit from that labour, I think we want to look at it very closely before we allow ourselves to be carried away by that sort of argument. What is the position in relation to the Chartered Company at the present time? The Chartered Company puts in n claim for £7,000,000 of our money. Of course, now a sum of £7,000,000 seems a mere trifle. We spend £100,000,000 in encouraging civil war in Russia, or £00,000,000 or £80,000,000 on building-houses at a loss. We think nothing of a million or two one way or another now. But still, £7,000,000 of our money in order to buy out the shareholders in the Chartered Company seems to me a proposition which will require some explanation to the electors of this country, not only at by-elections, but at the next General Election. I think it will be found very difficult to explain why the taxpayer is forced to pay these millions in order to buy out the Chartered Company, which, after all, has not been famed in the past for the method and the manner in which it has governed Rhodesia. The hon. and gallant Member opposite went back to the Matabele War. When the Matabele War was started, what the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think, called the "Victoria incident" occurred in 1893. Dr. Jameson, who organised this expedition against Lobengula, recruited his army in this way, and this is the way in which the liability was built up which we are now asked to liquidate. Each member who joined the force was to be entitled to mark out a farm of 300 morgen (that is about 6,000 acres) in any part of Matabeleland No occupation was to be required, but a quit rent was to be. charged on each farm of 10s. per annum—not 10s. per acre but 10s. for a farm of 6,000 acres. Clause 5 of this excellent Agreement, which was entered into by the Chartered Company with every man who joined that force, conferred the right at any time to purchase farms from the members at the rate of £3 per morgen and compensation for all improvements, and they were given to understand that those farms would be paid for. Any member of the force was to be entitled to fifteen claims on the reef and five alluvial claims, the protection works to be 30 ft. of shaft within six months, and so on. Then Clause 7, which is the most delightful of all, was to the effect that the loot should be divided, one-half going to the B.S.A., and the remainder to the officers and men in equal shares. This was the Army which was going to fight the Matabele, as we were told by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, in order to protect the Mashona. I cannot help thinking that there were more solid considerations behind that expedition. But because there were those solid considerations given in 1893, I do not see why the British elector should now be called upon to liquidate the promise made by Dr. Jameson so long ago as that. I feel that it is putting an unfair charge upon the British taxpayer that he should have to meet claims of that sort, which are all lumped into this £7,000,000. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, going into most interesting biographical details, told us that he owned no shares in any company. That would account for his not appreciating the very important fact that the British South Africa Company has to keep its administration account and its commercial account separate. Knowing full well that this claim was to be presented, they managed very skilfully to interweave those accounts in such a way that it would require the genius of a Solomon to make out whether a given expenditure was on commercial account or whether it was on administrative account. During the War, for instance, they spent probably £100,000 or more on roads—in connection with the War. Are those commercial or are they administration? They helped from a development point of view as well as from an administrative point of view. How is it possible to distinguish between the items in a commercial account and the items in an administration account? The British North Borneo Company, which is a somewhat similar company, only has, naturally, one account, with administration and commercial items running into one, and then it is possible to audit the accounts and see where you are; but with these two rival accounts running side by side, run by directors whose natural interest it is to confuse the issue in order to enhance the amount claimed from the British public, I think hon. Members will see that there may be, in this £7,000,000 which we are asked to pay, items which upon no possible ground ought to be paid by the British public. To be told, as we arc, that when this Commission of Lord Cave's comes to a decision, however many millions it decides that we are to pay, we shall have to pay that money without the House of Commons being consulted, seems to be not only flouting Parliament but to be absolutely contrary to the intentions and wishes of ninety-nine out of every 100 taxpayers in this country. If this sum, or any sum, has to be paid, let it be paid by South Africa or someone who is nearer to the spot. We are not responsible for the losses made by the Chartered Company, nor to the shareholders who put their money into a gambling counter like that and then expect to avoid all loss by putting the burden on the back of the British Exchequer. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite said that the native reserves are well protected and that the Chartered Company had the interests of the natives at heart. He told us about the Commission that went to inquire into those reserves. He knows probably, as well as I do that the Chartered Company were asked by the Colonial Office to nominate one of their native Commissioners who had the natives' interest at heart. They refused, and nominated the man who had been the chief in the agitation for the reduction of the reserves. The other two independent men, one from Uganda and the other, I think, from Basutoland, were old officials of the Chartered Company, and had the same interest. What can you expect from a Commission like that? It took no native evidence whatever, and it naturally decided, as a Noble Lord said, that the reserves should be cut down by 6,000,000 acres. A certain number of natives were deprived of their land without a penny of compensation, and were either forced to go into other already restricted reserves or to emigrate elsewhere, and go, as they probably did, on to the labour market and work for us. I say that a company which operates on those lines, without any cheek from the Colonial Office here, is not a body which can be fairly trusted either with the interests of the natives as a whole or with the good name of the English people, and still less with running up a bill which we have to pay. I do hope that the Colonial Office will remember right through that our good reputation throughout the world depends entirely on the fact that we have tried, although with many failures, to run our Crown Colonies in the interests of the native inhabitants. If we continue on those lines we shall be of some use in the League of Nations and in guiding other people in the same direction.
We shall be able to keep up the high standards that satisfied our ancestors in the past. If, on the other hand, we are going to try to use our ownership of the Crown Colonies all over Africa and elsewhere, Guiana for instance, as a means of increasing the wealth and prosperity of England, as a means of increasing the shares in the various companies which deal in these Colonies and in many of which I am myself interested. [Laughter.] Yes, I take an interest in the countries in which I have investments, but 1 do not want to exploit the blacks in order to increase my dividends—if we are going to measure the success of our Colonial administration by seeing a rise in the price of the shares of the British South Africa Corporation or an enormous increase in the exports of tin from Nigeria or of copper from Rhodesia, then we may add to the wealth of England, but we shall destroy the good name of our Colonial administration.
I have had the honour of living in one of these remote countries and of reading with considerable interest the Debates that take place from time to time in this House, and I must say that living under different conditions certainly induces a different state of mind. It may be that the free air of this country breeds a greater desire for freedom, and that we realise it to a greater degree than it can be realised elsewhere. Certain of the ordinary expressions that find favour in this House do not always find the tame degree of favour when read on the other side of the water. My hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down (Colonel Wedgwood) has had an opportunity of living in these countries and of coining into contact with the natives whom he so much desires to benefit. I wonder whether his opinions and feelings were precisely the same when he lived in those countries as they are at the present moment. I should hardly think so. I am sure that he is in deep earnest in his desire to benefit the native peoples. I have lived with these natives and worked with them for nearly forty years. I know the South African native very well and like him very much. I have the kindest feelings with regard to him.
I should like to say one or two words with regard to South Africa and the Commission that is now going out. I am wondering what will be the ultimate result of the Commission's work. I should like to ask whether it is the intention of the Government in any way to facilitate the transfer of Rhodesia to the Union of South Africa. I was in South Africa when the celebrations took place on the occasion of the inauguration of the Union, and I know quite well the feelings of the South Africans. On that particular occasion they had an allegorical figure pointing to the North. Their progress is in that direction. Both General Smuts and General Botha have already made the necessary arrangements, and you have now an opportunity of making something in the nature of a bargain so far as the protection of the native is concerned. The Union of South Africa has not treated the natives as they ought to be treated. 1 know quite well that there are difficulties and great difficulties, but since these people persist in increasing in numbers, and they will persist in. increasing in numbers, you have to find some solution of the problem of how to deal with them. They are not always going to be kept as helots or under-dogs. You must make some provision for their expansion; they desire to progress.
I think it is possible that their progression can take place alongside European progression though not in the same manner. It will have to be in an entirely different manner. The Undersecretary of State for the Colonies touched the right spot when he spoke of the progress and emancipation of the natives as taking place on an agricultural basis. It is in agriculture and agriculture alone that there is any hope of the progress and improvement of the native races in South Africa. A good many well-meaning people, including the Noble Lord opposite (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck), who wants to inaugurate universities and all that kind of thing, wish to go a little bit faster than the native mind is capable of proceeding. I have known a native whose father was a barbarian who took the highest degrees of his year in a university. T know that the native is capable of great things, but you must think of the question as a whole, and you must elevate the natives in the mass. It does not do to pick out isolated instances and educate him to a degree which renders him altogether unfit to associate with the tribe from which he sprang, because the white people will not have him.
No, I make no such assertion; but you must be careful in your method of progression. A good many institutions have been set up among the native peoples, and they have given them a good education and a trade. What has been the result? Their own people have not made sufficient progress to require the products of trade, whether boots, shoes, clothing, or houses. They build their own houses, and they do not need any boots. Their clothes consist of a blanket. Consequently, they neither warn, bootmakers, tailors, nor house-builders. The man who has been taught a trade of this description is, therefore, brought in conflict with European labour. European labour will not have him, and, having no-market for his products among his own. people, he drifts back again, a discontented man. 1 believe the regeneration of the people can be effected on an agricultural basis if you will make provision for them on the land, but it means a great deal more than providing them with the-ownership of the land. In many instances-it requires irrigation. In other instances it requires communication, railways, and markets. It is no use growing stuff unless you produce a markes for it, and herein lies the difficulty. My hon. and gallant Friend protests against the exploitation of the natives. You have got to do one of two things—either leave the natives alone or, if you come into contact with them, you have to bring them somewhat into line with European civilisation. There you are met with your difficulties. It is no use standing on a pedestal and saying, "We will not exploit the natives; we will not use their labour."' The very first thing the Colonists want is labour, and you never get enough of it. I have had a good many years' experience and never been in a position to turn away labour. I have always wanted a little more. After all, the labour employed by the Colonist is not quite the slavery that has been described by hon. Gentlemen in this House. I should like to say in this connection that, so far as my experience of labour is concerned, the price I paid for labour was very considerably higher than the price paid for labour in the agricultural districts in England, both in the quantity of money and in other adjuncts is the way of food and shelter. As to the wages ten years ago in Africa paid to the natives engaged on railway work and in mines, I do not know in any case where they were the miserable rates of a few pence per day. The wages there were higher than the wages paid to agricultural labourers in this country, and I believe it is very considerably better to-day than it was ten years ago, so that there was no great exploitation in that respect.
But, coming back to the position of the native, I do agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite that he must have an opportunity of making progress. He cannot be kept down. How is that progress to be effected? You must educate him. He must have a system of education that must be provided for him, and he must have an opportunity of something in the nature of representation. He had that opportunity under the old Cape Colonial Government, and in the Union of South Africa this House of Commons gave his rights away. You permitted those rights to be taken from him. It is no use grumbling now. You might have preserved his rights if you had fought for them, but you let them go, and now to-day he is in a position of having no representation of any description. I know quite well the white man who lives in South Africa with his wife and family realises that he has to live with these people. It is a trouble to him. Their number is greatly in excess of his own, and he is always possessed of very considerable fear. In that connection may I compliment the Colonial Office on the steps they are taking to prevent the surplus arms from this country reaching savage or partially civilised people? That is a step in the right direction, and another step in the right direction, also communicated by the Under-Secretary, is the partial prohibition of the importation of liquor. If he would make that prohibition absolute, he would do a great deal more than by putting 17s. 6d. on a gallon.
Perhaps my hon. Friend did not understand me. We have made it absolute so far as our Colonies are concerned, but the international agreement between ourselves and the French fixes a minimum duty of 17s. 6d. We are prepared to go beyond that and to make prohibition absolute.
I hope he will make it absolute, because, if it is not made absolute, it is an encouragement to unscrupulous traders to sell liquor diluted with most pernicious mixtures, and the native, once he has a taste for it, will not let it go. But it is more dangerous to put a high duty upon it than to make it free, because the liquor is so much worse. At any rate, I do congratulate the Colonial Office on the steps they are taking in this direction. I was greatly interested in the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. I congratulate him upon that statement. I congratulate him and the country on the Noble Lord who is at the head of the Colonial Office. I am not concerned whether the Noble Lord is a Unionist, Conservative, or Liberal. I have had opportunities of judging of his capacity and knowledge, and I am quite safe in assert- ing that, with the direction of the Colonial Office in his hands, and assisted by my hon. and gallant Friend opposite, we need have no fear of any retrograde movement in the administration of that office.
I certainly cannot complain of the very kind and sympathetic reception of what I had to say, and I only hope I may succeed in giving an adequate and a more or less connected answer to the very many interesting points which have been raised in this discussion. I should like to begin by expressing my appreciation of the remarks which have just fallen from the hon. Member for the Holland Division (Mr. Royce)—remarks informed by practical knowledge and shrewd common sense, and by an understanding of the difficulties of the very complex problem which arises when white and native civilisation come in touch with each other, as they inevitably must in the development of the world. I should like to begin by dealing with the question of Rhodesia, which has been raised by a large number of Members. I think it is necessary to point out, first of all, exactly what the situation is with which the Government and this Committee, is faced. It struck me, in listening to a great many of the speeches made by hon. Members, that they were under the impression that the Chartered Company were asking us to take them over or to pay the bill they have run up, and were coming to us for compensation, and that we, instead of deciding for ourselves, were leaving the matter blindly to a Commission. That is not the position. If the Chartered Company had come a year or two ago to the Colonial Office or to this House to ask to be taken-over, we should undoubtedly have endeavoured to make the very hardest bargain we could in the interest of the taxpayer of the country, and undoubtedly it would have been open to the House to raise any and every question that seemed fit to the House with regard to the reasons why the Chartered Company had not been successful financially, why it had administrative deficits, and why they wanted us to make good those deficits. But, of course, that is not the question.
The question with which we are confronted is this: The issue was brought before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as to whom the land of Rhodesia belonged. The result of their findings was that it belonged, not to the parties who in the first instance raised the issue, that is the Chartered Company, or the Rhodesian settlers, but that as a matter of fact the land was the property of the Crown, and that the Chartered Company's occupancy was not that of a commercial venture in land, but that of an administrative agent of His Majesty's Government. Therefore, they were entitled as an agent to have the actual deficit and loss made up by the principal whose agent they had been throughout. This was the legal finding of the highest Tribunal of the Empire, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. If it had been a matter purely of legal interpretation, one might have gone to the Law Officers of the Crown. But to find out exactly what that decision involves in pounds, shillings, and pence, you must get the opinion, not only of eminent lawyers who have to keep in mind the legal aspect of the findings of the Commission, but also of eminent experts on the financial, actuarial, and accounting sides of the question. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland said that the most important thing was a careful investigation, and that the investigators should be men whose standing was unimpeachable as accountants. I do not think any standing could be higher in this respect than that of Sir William Peat, the third member of the Commission. It seems to me entirely beside the point, and a misunderstanding of the situation to make the suggestion which both the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal party, have made, namely, that the House of Commons should be represented on a Commission whose only object is to interpret the conclusions of the Judicial Committee. That confusion was again shown by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, who suggested that the Commission should go further and inquire into the question of the administration of the Chartered Company. If that were the question at issue I should certainly wish Members of this House to sit upon that Commission and to consider the policy under which that administration has been carried out. That is not the case. The issue is how to translate into actual cash terms the findings of the Privy Council. I believe, from that point of view, the Commission we have chosen is the very best we can possibly secure. The Government are absolutely prepared to trust the judgment of that Commission as to what has been the proper and necessary expenditure of the Chartered Company in accordance with the findings of the Privy Council.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked me one or two specific questions in regard to the Commission, which I had better answer in the order which they were put. He inquired if it would be left to the Commission to decide whether the expenditure of the Matabele War was necessary and proper expenditure. These expenses were actually in the statement of claim put in by the Chartered Company. Obviously a Commission which has to examine statements of claim by the Chartered Company ought to consider, and will consider, whether the Matabele War expenditure was proper and necessary. As to his second question I hope, not without success, I have endeavoured to make matters clear. The Government is prepared to accept the assessment of the Commission as a correct and final interpretation in terms of money of the Privy Council judgment. But the whole question as to what action is to be taken, whether this House decides upon the policy of indemnification, and what has to be the future of these various matters, will have to have the fullest discussion before this House is asked to vote any sum of money. I think the answer I gave yesterday to the Leader of the Labour Party perfectly reasonable in this connection. The Report of the Commission will, of course, be laid before Parliament to enable the fullest discussion to take place. I am also asked whether the meetings of the Commission will be in public or in private. The procedure is for the Commission to decide, but I understand that certainly the evidence which is given and taken upon the spot in Southern Rhodesia will be evidence taken and given in public. Another question has been put as to the representations to the Commission on behalf of the natives. Telegrams have already been sent to the High Commissioner in South Africa telling him to inform the elected members of the Legislative Council in Rhodesia of the appointment of the Commission, and to give full publicity to the matter, so as to enable all parties interested in any way to see that their representations are heard.
Yes, Sir. I am aware, at any rate, that the cost of the Aborigines Protection Society before the Privy Council was contributed by their friends, but I do not see that that necessarily involves the payment either by the Chartered Company or the Imperial Government of witnesses who may individually appear to represent their views to the Commission. Then there was the further question as to whether the Commission will take account of the land which the Company are now developing in their commercial capacity, or of the lands which they have alienated. I certainly assume that all receipts by the Company for lands which they have alienated will be taken into account, as well as the value of the lands which the Company are now developing in their commercial capacity.
I should like to say one or two things as to the general question of the position of the natives in Rhodesia, and as to the attack which has been made upon the administration of the Chartered Company, in that rather lurid and, I think, highly inaccurate appeal which has been circulated to hon. Members. That attack is largely made up of an attempt to revive the controversies of more than twenty-five years ago which turned on the original acquisition of Rhodesia by the Chartered Company. Those matters were discussed very fully at the time, and I do not think any verdict we could arrive at by reopening those discussions would differ very much from the verdict of Lord Ripon, who in 1894 expressed his sincere satisfaction that the result of the inquiry had been to exonerate Dr. Jameson and the officers of the Chartered Company generally from the serious charges made against them. If we are, however, to go back to the history of this question, it is quite right to remind the Committee of what the position was before the Chartered: Company. The appeal is full of references to the "ancestral" lands of which it alleges the natives now no longer own a foot, even for the purposes of a burying ground. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition even spoke of lands which they had occupied for hundreds, if not thousands of years! What are the facts? The Matabele invaded the country that is now Southern Rhodesia even in oar own lifetime. I have-talked myself to village headmen about. their own recollection of that invasion. They were defeated by the Boers, who found them ravaging and plundering the country which afterwards became the Transvaal, and drove them across the Limpopo. Here they camped and made their headquarters among the weaker Mashona tribes, and harried and raided and subjected them to tribute as it seemed good to them. It may have been a happy position for the Matabele warriors. But certainly the position of the great majority of the inhabitants of that country was anything but a happy one. They had no security of tenure either in their lands, their cattle, their wives, or their lives. It is quite true that the expedition which in the end broke the Matabele power, was induced to do so, among other reasons, by the offer of farms, of mining rights, of a share in the looted cattle. Those were the inducements which were required to get the force together. 1 admit that it would have been very much better if the Imperial Government itself had been willing to extend its responsibility by putting an end to the misrule of the Matabele, I think Mr. Rhodes took the best instrument near to his hand by the formation of the Chartered Company to bring about results which he desired, not for the sake of gain, but for the sake of Imperial security.
But I would remind the House that no sooner had those events taken place and the whole thing been inquired into than the Imperial Government did take very effective steps to look after the interests of the natives. I remember that Sir Marshal Clarke was appointed especially to watch over the interests of the natives, and from that date the general control of the work of the native Commissioners has been under the closest supervision of the Imperial Government, through the Imperial High Commissioner in South Africa. My hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken when he says that there is no check upon the treatment of the natives.
There has been supervision, and the Chartered Company has in all these matters been acting as the agent, and the closely supervised agent, of the Imperial Government. Take the question of the land. The Commission which inquired into that subject was appointed by the High Commissioner, and two out of the three were members of the Imperial Civil Service serving in the Chartered Company, and they were responsible to the Imperial Government.
One of them, the present Governor of Uganda, was at one time administrator of North-Eastern Rhodesia. The other, Major Garraway, may have been with the Chartered Company at some time or other for all I know. But if so, it was an incident in a long career of Imperial service, in Bechuanaland, on the High Commissioner's staff at Pretoria, and as administrator of Basutoland. I know that administration has won the highest praise of those who are anxious to safeguard the welfare of the natives. In any case it would be an entire mistake to say that the natives in Rhodesia have been expropriated and own not a foot of land. Outside the reserves they have the right to acquire land and have, I believe, done so in some instances. As regards the reserves they are in the same position as the natives in Nigeria or other parts where we have not countenanced the establishment of individual ownership of land and have recognised communal tenure of land. These reserves, which are very large in extent, were subject to alteration only in the sense that if a Commission appointed by the Imperial Commissioner after full consideration of all the interests involved thought there should be some modification, that might be sanctioned by the Government. As a matter of fact it is not the intention of His Majesty's Government that these reserves, now comprising nearly 20,000,000 acres—a reduction not of 6,000,000 but of 1,000,000 acres on their former area—shall be varied or diminished in the future, at any rate if the needs of the native population remain what they are to-day.
In the possible transfer of Rhodesia to the Union the interests of the natives would certainly have to be safeguarded and considered by the Government. In this connection I will say that the whole question of what form the government of Rhodesia shall take in the future when and if the Chartered Company terminates is a matter in which we must be guided by the opinion of the people themselves. The Imperial Government have to take, as far as the natives are concerned, the initiative in safeguarding and protecting their interests. But as far as the interests of the white people are concerned, as to the conditions under which they may wish to join the Union, or live under some other form of government, the Colonial Office will naturally have regard to their views.
There has been a good deal of criticism of the position of the natives under the South African Union. It is very difficult for me to say anything on that subject, as also it must be difficult for the House. But there has been something said by more than one hon. Member that I am bound to correct. It has been assorted that the rights enjoyed by the natives in the old British Colonies before the Union have been abolished, superseded and done away with. That is not the case. The only right enjoyed by the natives in the Cape Colony before the Union that can be regarded as modified is this that before the Union they had a right not only to vote for the Cape Parliament but, if elected, to sit in it. They now have the right to vote for the Union Parliament, but not to sit in it, but they retain the right to sit in the Cape Provincial Assembly.
Yes, I myself received a deputation and heard their full case. I am bound to tell this House what I told that deputation, that having set up the principle of responsible self-government in South Africa we are bound by it. My hon. Friend said, in a tone of regret, that the Boer point of view has tended to predominate in the administration of native affairs in South Africa. All I can say is that I put against that the statement of the Leader of the Opposition who singled out the giving of wholly responsible self-government to South Africa as the most successful vindication of British principles of liberty. You have to take the thing as a whole. We have set up in South Africa responsible self-government. Some of us may hold different views as to the many difficult problems arising out of the presence, side by side of a white community and a large native community with very limited political rights, and in some parts with no rights at all. But I might mention that the grievances which the natives voiced to me with the greatest indignation were grievances arising not out of the action of the Union Government but out of the action of organised white labour in South Africa which refuses to allow the natives to take part in skilled work. I do not see how we can, consistently with the broad principles which govern the British Empire, interfere in an issue of that sort. There must be a certain measure of faith in these matters. We may feel that were we in the place of those entrusted with the direction of these matters, we could solve these problems better than they do, and more quickly. That is as may be. We must trust in the same principles of liberty which in this country have seen one class after another which had no power, no vote, no social advantages, gradually rising up to a better and- a stronger position. We must hope that in South Africa, too, in the same way those principles will in the end lead to a solution of the very difficult problem of the relations between the races.
They interceded, but the most successful intervention was that of an individual Indian, Mr. Gandhi, who by his own personality, his persistence and his courage got much farther in the solution of the problem of the Indians in the Transvaal than any official representations could have done. To come to the general question of the natives in our Colonies, the essence of our principle of government in the vast areas under our charge is to govern in the interest of the native inhabitants and for their welfare, and in particular with regard to the question of labour, the solution which we look to is that of interesting the native in the possibility of working his own land for his own benefit as an independent cultivator. I am entirely with my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) on that. But there is the suspicion in his mind that we wish to develop these countries for the benefit of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. Our object in bringing about development is to raise the condition of the inhabitants and provide opportunities for a better and a higher scale of living. We want reconstruction in regard to health, in regard to liquor, in regard to education, in regard to all the things which will make those countries hotter worth living in for their inhabitants. But in doing so there is undoubtedly an overflow of benefit and wealth and opportunity for the people of this country. I do not see how you can create wealth and prosperity in one part of the Empire without creating it in another, and I am not prepared to accept in the least the doctrine that there is a diametric opposition in governing in the interest of the natives, and attempting to develop the country from the Imperial point of view. It you build 100 miles of railway in Nigeria that is directly in the interest of the natives. I defy you to build that railway and to benefit the natives without bringing further opportunities of trade for the people of this country, a free flow of materials to this country, and in all probability a free flow of goods from this country for the natives to purchase.
I cannot pass over the very interesting speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Murray). The causes of the neglect of the West Indies are not' difficult to understand. The area of the Colonies is small in most cases. They are scattered. Under our principle of leaving each particular Colony to look after itself it is not easy to get development. The hon. Member quoted British Guiana, and compared it with Uruguay. I quite agree that British Guiana is just as rich as Uruguay, but I would draw the hon. Member's attention to certain differences which are reasons against easy development, and which offer an explanation why British Guiana has not been developed before, in Uruguay you have open country, but in British Guiana, immediately behind the coast, you have dense forests, primeval forests.
I was thinking of Uruguay, not Paraguay, but in either case you are dealing with open country, easily opened up for cultivation or stock-raising. In British Guiana you get a long way inland before you get to the open Savannah country, and you have to face immense cost in cutting down timber. In Uruguay you are on the estuary of the greatest river for navigation. Even in Paraguay you are within easy access of some of the biggest steamers. In British Guiana it is true that we have very fine rivers, but they tumble over cataracts fairly close to the coast, and navigation has not been established. In order to develop British Guiana properly you need large capital and initiative, which has hitherto not been within the scope of a small Colony of 300.000 inhabitants. My hon. Friend (Mr. G. Murray) made a vary interesting suggestion when he advised the Colonial Office to separate the undeveloped interior of British Guiana from the little coastal strip, which should continue to be governed as at present, and that in the undeveloped interior the Imperial Government should set up a High Commission, with Imperial funds or private funds, for the purpose of developing that part of the country, leaving the Colony to carry on its own local work as in the past. It is a suggestion well worthy of consideration. I agree entirely that in the West Indies we want a progressive policy of development, of railway building, etc. All these things require a great deal of capital, and I do not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's coadjutor (Mr. Baldwin) would by any means smile upon any suggestion from me that we should have a few extra millions for British Guiana. But we shall have to find eventually from public or private sources capital to develop any part of the Empire which is not developed as it should be, and the country would be well repaid. After all, the development of the Empire in the long run, as is true of the Government of the Empire, cannot rest only on the shoulders of the people of this country. It must be a common task for all the self-governing Dominions. I hope the time is rapidly approaching, and it is approaching, when Canada will take a continually increasing interest in the economic development and welfare of the West Indies. She has already done a good deal through the mutual preferential tariff, which has been in existence for some years, through the development of shipping lines, and through the interest which Canadian capital has begun to take in the West Indies. I only hope that that interest will go on increasing and that Canada will take an ever-increasing share in developing and helping forward not only the West Indies but every part of the dependent Empire, which at present is so largely dependent on this country alone not only for its Government but also for its economic development.
Before I close I would like to answer some other points that have been raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Mon-mouth (Mr. Griffiths) raised very interesting and very difficult questions as to the position of the inhabitants of Gibraltar. I met the deputation of Gibraltar workmen which he introduced. They stated their case very ably. I would not for a moment suggest that they were not representative of a population which is in the matter of quality a people capable of self-government. But we are confronted with the difficulty of a population of less than 20,000, who live not merely adjacent to but actually inside a fortress, which is closed at sunset every day and into which there is no ingress and from which there is no egress during the night. It has practically no water of its own. Therefore it requires most careful measures to secure any drinking water in the ease of a siege. One of the complaints of the deputation was that drinking water costs them 2½d. a gallon. The only water that can be got from pumps or wells in Gibraltar itself is brackish. That is the water which they get free or for a minimum charge for washing purposes. The only drinking water is got by means of an elaborate system of corrugated iron roofs from which it is collected. It is the absolute standby for the garrison, and it is as essential that the garrison should have control of the water as to have control of its ammunition. That is one of the difficulties of entrusting the water supply of the place to a locally elected body. I agree with my hon. Friend that certainly, when it comes to measures of social reform, in dealing with such things as workmen's compensation and education, where you have got a little European community which for overwhelming military reasons you cannot treat as a self-governing community, you are, at any rate, under a very serious obligation to try and bring it up as nearly as you can to your own level in this country: and since that deputation has been received the Secretary of State has communicated with the Governor with a view to seeing what can be done to introduce a more efficient system of education and also to deal with the question of workmen's compensation and other similar questions.
Another point which the hon. Member raised was the question of the protest of the Australian Labour party with regard to the action of the Governor-General, and he suggested that the Australian Labour party was very much disappointed by the answer which I gave in this House, indicating that the Secretary of State would not be able to take action in the matter. If there is one principle of self-government which is universally admitted to be necessary for the effective co-operation of all parts of the British Empire, it is that one Government of the Empire, in dealing with another part of the Empire, does accept the Government of the day as expressing the view of the nation and cannot go behind the back of the Government of the day to deal with the Opposition. 1 mean it is impossible for His Majesty's Government to carry on negotiations, as regards, for instance, native questions in South Africa or in any of the Dominions, with anybody but the Government of the day, and it seems to me that that principle must remain. We can deal only with constituted Governments. If another Government should be returned, and that Government, as a Government, likes to make representations to us on any subject, then, naturally, we shall be bound to listen to those representations and to consider them.
I am afraid that, one way or another, I have taken up a good deal of the time of the Committee this evening. I know I cannot satisfy entirely all the different critics of the administration of the Colonial Office. I remember, in passing, that I never answered the criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray) on the deficiencies of the Colonial Office itself. I hope I may be allowed, at any rate for to-night, to pass over those deficiencies, if they exist. I admit frankly the shortage of staff and the overwork of the officials in that Office. Perhaps I may be allowed to pass them over for the occasion, and perhaps also to deal with that particular criticism again, if the prayers of the Leader of the Opposition be not fulfilled, and I am still in the same place a year hence.
In thanking the hon. Gentleman for his most interesting speech, which we all appreciated, there are two things I want to mention. One is, did I understand, in reference to the Cave Commission, that they would be willing to take evidence in this country?
They will be willing to take evidence if there is any offered to them. I think the hon. Member made a rather important statement with regard to the natives in Rhodesia. I understood that he said quite definitely that in any transactions which may in future take place with regard to Rhodesia the position of the natives with regard to their land would be safeguarded and secured. That is a quite important statement, and very satisfactory to those Members of the House who are interested in that question. I take note of that statement, and, of course, we shall be certain that it will be faithfully carried out when the time comes.
I would like to add my small meed of praise for the very interesting speech which the hon. Gentleman made. I want to say a word or two about the inhabitants, of Gibraltar. I was one of the garrison there, and I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman's plea that, because Gibraltar is a fortress, therefore the inhabitants cannot be given any measure of local self-government for absolutely local needs. Without in any way interfering with the safety of the fortress, the British workmen in Gibraltar and the native-born Spanish working classes could be given some say in the purely local matters of the fortress. At present they complain that they are badly exploited by the commercial classes which have control of the markets and the commercial arrangements of the port, and that they have no say or means of repre- seating their grievances to the Governor. They say that the Governor pays more attention and lends a more sympathetic ear to the rich commercial men than to the poor working man of British or native descent. I do ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to reconsider this matter, because I am convinced that a measure of local self-government would be healthy, would make them contented, and would raise our prestige in Gibraltar, especially in the eyes of the inhabitants of Spain, and we must remember that the Andalusians are rather advanced in politics. I would also refer to the position of Malta. When we had driven out the Andalusian garrison we promised the Maltese that their customs and institutions would be preserved. We all know that there has been trouble and discontent there, but I hope that the Constitution will be re-established as soon as possible, and I am sure that Malta will be as loyal as it has been for a hundred years.