Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £30, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for certain services connected with Colonial Affairs for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1943, namely:
|Civil Estimates, 1942.|
|Class II., Vote 7, Colonial Office||£10|
|Class II., Vote 8, Colonial and Middle Eastern Services||£10|
|Class II., Vote 9, Development and Welfare (Colonies, etc.)||£10|
An Under-Secretary in charge of the Estimates of his Department is always in an anxious and delicate situation. If I may suitably adapt a well-known phrase, like the legitimate wife throughout the ages he enjoys responsibility without power. My difficulties are, I think, increased rather than diminished by the fact that there has been no Debate on the Colonial Office since June, 1939. How short the interval in terms of months. How vast the valley that divides us from those years in terms of events. Since that Debate the impact of war has fallen upon the Colonial Empire, and I think the Committee will expect me to make some reference to the losses that we have sustained—cruel, but I dare aver, not mortal blows.
Meanwhile, I have fortified my memory by reading some of those Debates of former years, and I find that there is a kind of common form which it is expected that the Minister should follow. He has to tell the Committee that there are 55 territories, 60,000,000 people of different races, religions, civilisations, in different stages of development and so on. He describes the events of the year, singling out the more important developments, such as the foundation of a college, the building of a railway or the formation of a committee. He is always in the same dilemma. If he pitches his tale too high, he is accused of complacency; if he pitches it too low, he bores the Committee. After the Secretary of State has spoken. Members contribute in their divergent ways their meed of criticism or praise and my own memory of these Debates is that Members who stayed behind, usually stayed to contribute criticism. How different from those days are the vast and stirring events of three years of war. How puny seemed the problems then. How tremendous now.
I have said that we have had grievous losses of our territories. We have lost Hong Kong, the Straits Settlements, the Malay States, North Borneo, Sarawak, and now the march of war has taken in its devouring stride some of the smaller islands of the Pacific once renowned for beauty and for peace. Those places have been lost to us by military defeat. But it is not unnatural that, at the same time, such cruel disasters should have brought in their train criticisms of civil governments and of civilian populations. Who is to blame? Who is wrong? Whose head is to be put upon a charger? Those are the cries that naturally arise among people when things go wrong. But for my part I do not think the Committee will expect me to deal with those matters in detail. I" do not think we should prejudge issues on which the evidence is still very lacking. We did not train the populations of the Far' East for war. That is true. I wonder what would have been said had we done so. But do not let us forget that we brought to these territories peace, progress and prosperity, and at any rate, at this critical moment of the war, let us prefer to learn and apply the lessons, rather than to seek expiatory victims. What are these lessons? There are, of course, strategic and military lessons which do not come within my ambit. Then there is the task of the Colonial Office and the Colonial Governments themselves, which I can describe in a single sentence. It is the mobilisation of all the potential resources of the Colonial Empire, both of men and of materials, for purposes of war. Here, at any rate, I can assure the Committee there is no danger of complacency in my office in regard to that task. We know the tremendous size of our need and the character "of the difficulties.
Let me first take materials. The loss of the Far Eastern possessions of the British Empire and of our Allies has meant an immediate loss of supply on an important scale. The present difficulties and dangers of the Indian Ocean threaten a potential loss of supply, or at any rate a serious interruption. We have lost 60 per cent. of the tin production of the world, 90 per cent. of the rubber production and a large proportion of wolfram, lead and other minerals. We have lost important sources of food supplies in sugar, tea, rice and oilseeds, and we are threatened with further interference with sources of supply. Therefore, we need to increase Colonial production for war pur-poses on an immense scale. We have to develop the mineral production. We have to push up the production of meat, hides, palm oil, groundnuts, and all the rest. Everywhere we must increase. In hardly any categories do. we dare slow up. Indeed, what might be alleviation proves only too often to be additional burdens. Added to the burden of increasing the production of what we most need, we have also to buy production which we may not need and cannot ship but must purchase for the good life and prosperity of the local inhabitants. Examples of such production are the citrus in Palestine, cocoa in West Africa and bananas in some of the West Indian Colonies.
How can the Colonies best help? I think in three main ways. First, there is the stimulation of exports. We have agreed upon an export programme with our main customers, namely, the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Supply and our American Allies. We have worked it out in detail. We have priorities arranged. Our supplies go to the United Kingdom, to the Middle East and to the United States, and in this programme we have the co-operation of our Belgian Allies and of the Free French. We employ a different technique for different purposes. As an example, we have set up the West African Produce Control Board, to which I made some reference in answer to a Question to-day. This has been developed out of the original Cocoa Control Board. It will arrange a steady and consistent buying and price policy for West Africa.
It will deal not only with cocoa but with oilseeds, groundnuts and other commodities. It will fix the appropriate prices at which shippers, acting as its agents, shall buy from African producers and the prices to be paid by agreement with our main customer, the Ministry of Food. As I have just said, it may be necessary, from time to time, to buy large quantities of produce which at the moment we cannot use or ship and to store it against further needs. The policy of the old Cocoa Board will thus be continued. As much cocoa as is required by the United Nations will be sold to them. The rest will be stored until it can be shipped. With regard to oil seeds of all kinds, the policy is to encourage production to the maximum, for we need all we can get.
I would like in passing to make some reference and pay a tribute to those engaged in the trade in West Africa. It has been a habit in the past to think that there is a necessary division of interest between the traders, the Government and the African people. I believe that to be altogether fallacious. I think all three can and should work together as partners in an enterprise which is for the benefit of West Africa generally. In all these new developments we have had every assistance from the "merchants, who are now acting as agents for the Board and assisting its operations in every way.
Now I want to say a word about rubber. Output in Ceylon, already running at a high level, has been intensified. Steps have been taken to obtain the maximum "possible production in East and West Africa. Neglected plantations are being revived. Abandoned areas of Ceara rubber, mainly situated in Tanganyika, are being exploited. Special officers are being appointed, and here we are able to get the assistance of some of the Malayan planters. All types of wild rubber both in East and West Africa are being tapped-. Prices are being fixed which we think sufficient to attract the maximum production. AH territories are co-operating energetic-ally in the drive for rubber, and I hope and believe that by all these energetic means we may help to fill the gap before the great production of synthetic rubber in the United States comes to help the joint war needs of the Allies.
Now as to minerals. Here we are the servants, and the Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production are the masters. We minister to their needs, and what a list of these there is. Bauxite, wolfram, tin, graphite, copper, zinc, mica, manganese, chrome, iron ore, industrial diamonds. And what vast territories they cover. The Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Ceylon, British Guiana, Cyprus—all these are helping in the world drive. The Committee will not expect me to give the figures of additional production, but I can assure them that the chief anxiety I have is not so much to increase by every means the productive power of the territories, but to secure the transport to convey it internally to the ports and from the ports and harbours when it has been obtained.
I have said that the first of the three main ways in which the Colonies can help is by stimulating increased production of all the things that we require. They can make their second main contribution by not importing. And the first item under this head with which I propose to deal is that of control of imports into the Colonies to stop unessentials. We had already instituted systems of import control, and we are now substituting for the old system of import licences what I would call the formation and formulation of a shipping programme for each territory. This, in fact, means the bulk purchase on Government account of such goods in order to make sure that they have the first claim on shipping space, using the import licensing system merely to control the import of innumerable small items of private need.
The second is to increase local food production. This is necessary not only in war, but was already being proceeded with before the war, for two main purposes—the improvement of the diet of the inhabitants of tropical areas, and the preservation and conservation of the soil by the substitution of mixed farming for the single export crop, which is so dangerous to soil fertility. The needs of war and, in many cases, the maintenance of large armies, have immensely stimulated these needs. Therefore, in West Africa we are concentrating chiefly upon rice, vegetables and dairy produce. Here the chief task of the Agricultural Departments is to give advice and guidance and to provide demonstration plots, seeds, etc., for the peasant farmer. In East Africa, we have both the white planter and the African peasant economy. We must help both. Here we are increas- ing wheat, maize, rye and other foodstuffs, as well as rice.
In the West Indies, where for so long agriculture has depended upon the production of a single export crop, sugar, and a large proportion of the people's requirements in the form of wheat, flour, meat, etc., has been imported, we are now trying to diversify agriculture both in large estates and in small holdings. Twenty-five per cent. of the estate lands in Barbados and some other territories are being compulsorily turned over from sugar to food production. The same thing is going on in British Guiana, Jamaica, and elsewhere. Suitable steps on similar lines are being taken in Mauritius, Ceylon and Palestine. Even in the rocky and barren territory of Aden, the cultivation of vegetables, fruit, and other crops has been promoted by the Agricultural Officer on a considerable scale for the benefit of the garrison and people of that vital outpost. In a word, to-day the farmer is the best shipbuilder. Every ton of food that can be grown in a Colony saves a ship to bring it. Every ton of food that can be moved from one Colony to a neighbouring Colony saves shipping. Every ton of food grown in East Africa and moved to the armies' of the Middle East saves the long haul round the Cape.
The third way in which we can help is by local manufacture and repair work. When the Eastern Group Conference was set up in Delhi in the autumn of 1940, Ceylon, Palestine and the East African Dependencies fell within the area with which it was concerned. They are making every possible effort to increase their resources for local manufacture, as are all the other Colonial territories. Our most important activities are, of course, centred in the Middle East, where the Middle Eastern Supply Centre is charged with looking after the supply and production of Cyprus, Palestine, and Aden. In Palestine, spare parts are being made and repairs carried out in the railway workshops and in other engineering shops for the Armies of the Middle East. Wherever possible, we have tried to stimulate production, and I may say, with some little personal knowledge of the difficulties, that we are finding the same difficulties as we have had in England and are trying to overcome them by the same enthusiasm and effort.
In order to help in the three ways I have explained—the increase of Colonial exports, the avoidance of the use of shipping, and the development of our engineering and repair work—we must have imports into the Colonies. We cannot increase our exports without having some increase in our imports, and those take two major forms. First, we must increase the imports of consumption goods. We must have more cotton piece goods for Africa if we are to have more production from Africa. Colonial peoples want things, not money. Englishmen must have fewer shirts in order that West Africans may have more cotton piece goods. That is the only way in which to get our additional production. We are getting a very good response when we go to the Board of Trade for our allocation.
But, secondly, we must import capital goods. If we get increased production, we have to move it, and we have got to increase the roads, the railways, the internal transport facilities, in nearly every territory. As the House knows, it is not easy in this time of war to buy locomotives and railway wagons off the peg. The capacity of the great engine and wagon-building firms is now allocated to other purposes. We have somehow or other, in the familiar way in which one can somehow drive along a difficult road, to get additional production, and by simplification, modifications of type, standardisation of pattern, obtain what we need. Here we get great support and assistance from the authorities, and the' Ministry of Supply in particular. As regards roads there is the great problem of building up our road transport, and it is not easy nowadays to get lorries. But I hope that somehow or other we shall scrounge them off somebody to the extent we need. There is, then, the humbler-form of transport—the bicycle. Bicycles are badly needed in this country for munitions workers and other workers. But still more are wanted in the Colonies, where they are needed not only to take workers to and from their work, but also to take produce to the market. Many hon. Members, I know, have had the opportunity of visiting Nigeria and will have seen men on bicycles bringing in petrol tins their contribution of palm oil to the receiving centres. The bicycle is an important part of transport. Therefore, We have to fight with whoever allocates bicycles—the Board of Trade, I think—to get our fair share of bicycles.
As for external transport—harbours, cranes, the development of the movement out of the territories—there are, indeed, problems to be faced. Hon. Members will be aware of the criticism that comes particularly from casual visitors. I know of one harbour which is now moving in a single day an amount of exports equivalent to what normally in peace-time it moved in a month. We have further developments to make. Here we have to co-operate and work with the Admiralty and the Ministry of War Transport. All this means careful working out of import and export programmes. It means system, order, an immense degree of detailed control, combined with an enthusiastic and unrelenting pressure.
By consumption goods I meant cotton piece goods for daily consumption by the people. By capital goods I meant locomotives, wagons, and so on, for transport development. But apart from the claims of production, there are other very great claims upon the manpower of the Colonies, We have the Fighting Services, the Labour Corps, the Home Guards and irregular troops. Civil Defence and so on. Let me say something of the Fighting Services. The King's African Rifles, the Royal West African Frontier Force, and the Northern Rhodesia Regiment: their exploits in the East African campaigns which destroyed the Italian Empire are too well known to need further tribute from me. They were not subsidiaries, they were the main participants in those campaigns. These Regiments, like the British Army, have been multiplied many times over in strength since the outbreak of war. The Malta Regiment and the King's Own Malta Artillery have shared with the Imperial Garrison the proud distinction of this historic siege.
Perhaps I may be allowed here to pay once more my tribute to the people of Malta. What a shining example of all the qualities most needed in dark days they have shown. The Ceylon Defence Force, the Mauritius Territorial Force, the Cyprus Volunteer Force, and similar Forces in St. Helena, the Falkland Islands, Fiji and Tonga are all proud of their record, and with good reason. The West Indies have sent large numbers of recruits to the Royal Air Force, and to the skilled trades in the Army. In Palestine, Palestinians, both Jews and Arabs, are serving with His Majesty's Forces, in the Palestinian companies of the Buffs and the Royal Artillery, in the Royal Air Force and many other units. For the Labour Corps, large numbers have been recruited from West and East Africa as well as from other Colonies, and they are performing splendid service. Home Guards and Irregulars are being formed in many of our Colonies.
I am sorry to interrupt the thread of my right hon. Friend's discourse and I know that this is not a matter within the official competence of his Department, but can he mention the splendid war record of these indigenous inhabitants of Africa—the Southern Rhodesian African Regiment and the Basuto Labour Corps in Libya for example?
I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his interruption if it has cleared up any possible doubt of gratitude on the part of the Government. I am merely dealing with the territories which fall within the province of my noble Friend. As I was saying. Home Guards and Irregulars are being formed in many of our Colonies. We are starting where the need seems greatest and the danger most menacing. I welcome this method of associating our people directly with their own defence, and, should the necessity arise, they will develop the skill and resourcefulness of the Russian partisans. I think that I should say a word on Civil Defence. The new Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office is Sir George Gater, and what he does not know about Civil Defence is not worth knowing. We are relying on him, and I want to thank my old chief, the Minister of Home Security, for the help which he has given us in every possible way in obtaining the necessary materials we need. We are, therefore, trying with all the means in our power to meet the needs of the Army and of Defence in its broader sense. We have had to use for this purpose the same methods adapted as used in this country.
Naturally, We have special problems in each territory which have to be taken into account. We have not hesitated to apply conscription to Europeans and local inhabitants where it seemed desirable to do so. But, of course, we are finding that, if we are to perform all these duties and provide the man-power necessary, we have to have a balanced system of organised man-power as we have developed it in England. Hon. Members will know that in this work we have had to take powers, some of which have been criticised in this House. Whether for military service or for production needs, the war is paramount, and we have to do distasteful things. We have to introduce, as we have in England, all kinds of measures foreign to our normal administration. I defend them unhesitatingly on the only ground on which they can be defended—the over-whelming, insatiable, devouring demands of war.
What is the machinery for all this effort? How can it be sustained, and how will it be achieved? First, there is the loyal spirit of the Colonial peoples. No machinery will be of any use without their acceptance of sacrifice, without their steady loyalty, and without their devotion to our cause. Without that, all these efforts would be in vain. I could tell the Committee of instance after instance, not only of gifts in money and kind, but also of pathetic, touching incidents of individuals desiring to help. These offers include, for instance, that of one chief and his three sons who proposed they should be dropped by parachute on Berlin to slay Hitler with bows and arrows, ambitious, but, alas, an impracticable plan.
Against this background of enthusiasm we have tried to build an efficient organisation in London and in the Colonies themselves. In London, the Colonial Office has been extended, particularly its Economic Department, and I should like to pay special tribute to the staff of this Department—we too have our "boys in the back room." Their task is immense. They are working day and night, and we have had to expand both personnel and accommodation. For our expansion in personnel, the Treasury helps us, and for our expansion in accommodation we help ourselves—the Ministry of Works and Buildings also help us with this. To house this new Department we have had our first territorial gain since the black days of war. The Colonial Office has occupied the old Scottish Office. This, indeed, is a portent. It is contrary to nature. It is like a small cloud no bigger than a man's hand, and I trust it is an augury of things to come. I should like also to felicitate the local Governments in the various Colonies, and the staffs of those Governments, many of whom have had to be released for service in the Army. Those left behind have had a greatly increased amount of work to do, often in unhealthy climates, with little or no opportunity for leave, and separated for years from their wives and children. One sometimes hears criticism—to my mind often mean and ungenerous criticism—of the Colonial Civil Service. From what I have been able to see in a few months, they have shown the greatest devotion during these difficult times, and have been working in the interests of the Colonies they serve. Under the stress of war, they have responded magnificently to the demands made upon them.
Now let me turn to organisation. In East Africa we have the East African Governors' Conference, comprising the Governors of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika and the British Resident, Zanzibar, together with the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The G.O.C.-in-Chief East Africa attends its meetings. The Chairman is the Governor of Kenya. The Conference Secretariat, which is in permanent session at Nairobi, is, in fact, the focus where the common East African war effort is now coordinated. It conducts the affairs of the East African War Supplies Board and the Civil Supplies Board. Each Dependency has its own supply organisation, and these attempt to co-ordinate inter-territorially what each can give and what each needs, and the Supply Boards exercise a general control over the despatch of East African produce to the Middle East.
Then we have the West African Governors' Conference. This is presided over by the Governor of Nigeria, and here again the potential resources and the needs of the four territories are co-ordinated. This Conference, which has responded ably to the calls made under the new stress of war, is now being reinforced, as the Committee knows, by a Cabinet Minister resident in West Africa. A statement has already been made describing in detail Lord Swinton's directive and functions. I should like to add my tribute to his patriotism in under-taking this task, and to say how fortunate we are to have secured for this position a man of his wide experience and long record of public service. The West African Governors' Conference has attached to it already a Supply Centre covering the four territories. It has a Secretariat which maintains liaison with West African merchants and the Ministries interested in African problems. We are now to have a Regional Shipping Control Committee in Lagos, under the chairmanship of an officer of the Ministry of War Transport. The Supply Centre operates through local boards in each of the four Colonies, with a view to increasing the production upon which our hopes are set. In Palestine, the Supply Centre operates under the Middle Eastern Supply Centre, and the Governments of Palestine, Cyprus and Aden keep in close touch with the Middle East Supply Centre on all economic matters.
Mobilisation of the potential resources of the Colonial Empire, both of men and materials, for the purposes of war, as I said at the beginning, is our task. I have tried to describe—at too great length, I fear, but the subject is a very great one—what we are doing to achieve it. If hon. Members can suggest new ways, new means, new ideas, my noble Friend and I will accept them with readiness and gratitude. The problems that we have to face are new ones. In their solution we may well make mistakes. We may tread on many toes, and we shall certainly break eggs to make our omelette. We have not unlimited time to plan and think and study. We must act. Our task reminds me of the old story of the town council and the bridge. The town council after long discussion decided to build a bridge and passed the following resolution: "Resolved, that we shall build the bridge. Resolved, that the materials of the old bridge shall be used in the new bridge. Resolved, that the old bridge shall remain while the new bridge is being built." I say the same of ours. Some task!
I feel that I must, after my attempt to describe our short-term needs, say something of the future. In the midst of the hurly burly of war it is refreshing: and stimulating to lift one's eyes occasionally to a further horizon. It is not for me to put forward a new Imperial policy. I can only give the Committee a few impressions formed in a very short tenure of office, with little respite from other pressing and urgent duties. The conception of Empire has had many different forms and. has passed through many different stages. There have been the, early explorers, dating from the Phoenicians in ancient times to the French, Dutch, English and Portuguese adventurers of the Renaissance. The explorer and the trader, sometimes alas the slave trader, have gone hand in hand. Then the phase has changed. The missionary—never let us forget what we owe to the missionary—the trader and settler, and then the chartered company under the genius of men like Rhodes and Goldie, have been the pioneers. In this phase the chartered company performed the rudimentary functions of government. What Mary Kingsley called the legitimate trader takes the place of the slave trader, and a new era begins. Time passes. The responsibilities of government, ever growing, can no longer be sustained by chartered companies. Government assumes them, and the functions of the Government and the trader separate. Perhaps the last great man to give dynamic conception to this new Imperial theme was Joseph Chamberlain. It was he who put before the country the conception of developing this great inheritance. By degrees this conception of development has become one of development in the paramount interests of the people of the many widely differing territories which go to make up the whole.
This view, the product of the strong strain of idealism and humanitarianism running through British thought, has been expressed in practical form in the policy of the British Government. It is accepted and endorsed by public opinion. in the meantime, following the setting-up of law and order in the Colonies, the opening-up of communications, internal and external, the discovery and development of new raw materials, trade and commerce, it comes about that all these divergent interests which grow up in the Colonies have to be reconciled. The indigenous population, alongside them the administrator, the missionary, the trader, the planter, the settler and the immigrant population from other territories, all these varying elements must be welded together into a coherent whole. All must form members of a single body, material and spiritual. The Empires of the past have died because they could not change with the times. They were rigid. They conformed to a fixed pattern. By contrast our Empire has had the great quality of adaptation. By that it lives.
There is, however, a frequently expressed theory that the Colonies, when they have grown to full stature, will drop off like ripe fruit. It is based upon an analogy which, to my mind, is quite fallacious and has done great harm. It is the common analogy between nations and families. It is said that children necessarily grow up, wish to start upon their own, and therefore separate them-selves from their parents. But this is a false comparison. Among men, parents necessarily age, wither, decay and die by the mere efflux of time. The sons look forward necessarily to stepping into their fathers' responsibilities. But this is not true of nations. There is no need for them to decay, and therefore the relationships between a mother country and other countries may not be the short ties of a generation but may be of a lasting character. It is true that nations themselves may decline. Perhaps before the war some pessimists might have said that of our country. Who can say it now? Is this country growing old like a stag-headed oak? Does the sap run stagnant now? Are there no young shoots left? If any man takes so petulant and depressing a view, I will tell him. the remedy. Let him seek, if he is so fortunate as to be admitted to it, the finest company in all the world, the boys in blue with wings. on their breasts. The war has shown us certain inescapable facts, of which we will learn the lesson. Self-government without security means nothing. Independence without defence is vain. The future of the world is in larger organisations and not in breaking up into a large number of small countries. It is in the light of these events that we should think of our future relationship with the Colonies as a permanent and not a transitory thing.
The governing principle of the Colonial Empire should, therefore, be the principle of partnership between the various elements composing it. Out of partnership come understanding and friendship. Within the fabric of the Commonwealth lies the future of the Colonial territories. According to different needs and different conditions there will be the greatest divergence of local responsibility, but, however far these may be developed, there are broad Imperial problems which only admit of corporate resolution. Trade, currency and monetary questions, defence, transport by sea, land and air—all these are Imperial questions. Capital development itself, on which the future of the territories depends, must be thought of as a whole.
I am enunciating a conception of policy which is based upon the impressions that I have formed after a comparatively short tenure of office. In general terms it has the support of my noble Friend, with whom I have consulted before making it.
The right hon. Gentleman used the word "partnership," but the present relation between the Colonies and the Mother Country is not one of partnership. It is subordination, and the Colonies have not equality of government economically or politically. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean equal partnership?
Not at all. Perhaps in the hon. Gentleman's own relations there have been junior and senior partners. What I was trying to convey was that this was an organisation that should not be broken up but should continue in a spirit of partnership.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will develop that theme when he speaks and allow me to develop my theme. The Colonies depend upon capital development. Before the passing of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act there was too much tendency to think of each Colony as a separate financial proposition instead of thinking of the show as a whole. Some Colonies are poor and some rich. The estate must be considered as a whole. We want no depressed areas in the Colonial Empire. A start has been made in the West Indies with the appointment of Sir Frank Stockdale as Comptroller of Development and Welfare. This was one of the most fruitful results of Lord Moyne's Commission. Many proposals are being already carried out, even in war. Here another sort of co-operation in the field of advice and research is being brought about by our close relations with our Allies the United States in the Anglo-American Caribbean Conference.
What more can we do at this stage of the war? I think there are two things we can do. We can make changes or prepare for changes in the organisation of the Colonial Service with two chief aims. First, we should seek increasing opportunities for the people of the Colonies to fill posts in the public service of their own countries. The organisation of the Civil Services, and, more than that, the whole structure of the educational system in the Colonies must be so devised that the peoples will be able to acquire the qualifications for service and the desire to serve. That is our first aim. But however much development there may be in this direction, the Colonies will still need help from outside. Few of them have or are likely to have for some time so large a reservoir of highly qualified expert technicians in administration, in science, in agriculture, in mining and so on to be able to supply all their own needs. Therefore, our second aim is to have a mobile force of such experts at the command of the Secretary of State to be posted wherever in the Colonial Empire they are most needed at a particular time. Of course, we have this to some extent now, but it is hampered by purely financial considerations. The mobility of the Colonial Civil Service is strained by these considerations because the poorer Colonies may need the best men but may not be in a position to pay the salaries for their services. Therefore, the unification of the Colonial Service which has been going on gradually since 1930 is now to be taken a step further. The last Secretary of State, Lord Moyne, had initiated a plan to achieve this purpose. The present Secretary of State is working out these proposals in consultation with the Colonial Governors. We shall then come to the House with a request for the necessary financial provision, and I hope that we shall be generously met.
There is a second thing we can do. Our development policy must be thought of as a coherent whole and not in single compartments. The Secretary of State has the advantage of a number of advisory committees on a number of technical subjects. We have recently added to these the Colonial Labour Advisory Committee. I am much indebted to the Trades Union Congress for helping me to get two such good members as Mr. J. Hallsworth and Mr. A. Dalgleish, both of whom have considerable knowledge of international labour problems; and to the British Employers' Confederation for finding us Sir John Forbes Watson and Mr. C. W. Murray. We have also the advantage of Sir Frederick Leggett, the Chief Industrial Commissioner of the' Ministry of Labour. The healthy development of trade unionism on sound lines is one of the most urgent needs of many of the Colonies. During the last few months experienced trade unionists have gone from this country as colonial labour officers. Six men have been appointed to British Guiana, Trinidad, Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and Palestine. With the help of the Minister of Labour we have now seconded for service in the Colonial Labour service 12 of his experienced officers.
In addition to the technical Advisory Committee, we have Lord Hailey's unique gifts at our service. Post-war problems of all kinds affecting the territories are his daily task. With the help of eminent scientists he will advise on the organisation of research work over the whole field, and he has £500,000 a year to do it with. In addition, we must direct research not merely to nutrition, education and so on, but also to practical economic ends. I think it was Lord Swinton who stated once that sometimes there was not sufficient contact between the officers engaged on the spot in connection with forestry, agriculture, minerals and so on and the actual users of the products. Therefore, the practical application of science to industry is a form of specialised research which will be pursued and the slogan of it will be "the application of scientific research to market needs." That is the best way in which we can help to promote ultimately the increased prosperity of the peoples in the Colonies.
Most important of all, we have the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. In the long run the standard of living and the expenditure on social services in the Colonies will depend on the economic prosperity of those Colonies. This means for the moment one thing. It means the promotion of long-term capital investment. The problem is too big for private investment alone. We need large-scale public investment on public needs. This should be accompanied by private investment publicly guided as well as by ordinary private investment as an adjunct and ancillary. The recent history of Palestine shows what can be done by capital investment on an ambitious scale. At present the only immediate return from investment in many Colonies has been the mineral resources. If the Colonies, and especially Africa, are to be raised to play their proper part in the world, we must have long-term capital investment which will not be expected to be profitable for the first years or even generations. The Colonial Development and Welfare Act gives us the instrument for long-term planning. Unless the plans are prepared now, they will not be ready for the period after the war. There is a long delay between the preparation of a plan and its execution. Schemes have to be drawn up, blue prints have to be made, and before the contracts are placed there is a great interval. We want, therefore, to prepare now our list of plans and of priorities, so that we can, probably competing in a very crowded post-war market for capital development all over the world, be ready to put forward on behalf of all the Colonies our demand for a fair share of reconstruction work.
It is to this Act and the machinery accompanying it rather than to any new body that we should perhaps look for assistance. This Act will help to preserve continuity of policy. In administering it the Secretary of State for the time being will no doubt wish to fortify himself with advice from experts, and in choosing advisers he will be in a position to balance the claims of ripe experience and age with the claims of youth and enterprise. He will not look only to retired pro-consuls; the machinery must have room for young, active and even untried men. In this field, in fact, it will be already filling the place for which it has been suggested that a Colonial Council should be created. Nor must we neglect among our investments the development of local products, local markets and secondary industries. I should like in passing to mention the experiments at Achimota College. The ancient handicrafts of West Africa are being revived and the potter and the weaver re-established. These efforts are expected to do two things—to meet war needs and to make a contribution to postwar economy. At the same time we have to work out, in conformity with plans now being discussed in many quarters, how we can fit our commodity control systems into whatever become the world systems after the war. At any rate, in the West African Products Control Board, made for war, though I am not making a statement of policy, I think we have an instrument the value of which will not be lost.
The Colonies are poor. Why are they poor? Because of capitalist exploitation or because of insufficient capital? Because they are too much governed, or too little governed? Because we interfere too much, or too little? Because there are too many white planters and settlers, or too few? Because there are too many European traders, or not enough? No. They are poor because they are just beginning. They are four or five centuries behind. Our job is to move them, to hustle them, across this great interval of time as rapidly as we can.
I had mainly in mind Africa itself, many parts of which were not opened to human discovery until two generations ago, and I say that their real trouble is that they are, as it were, in the Middle Ages. To bridge this great gulf we must hold out to them the hand of friendship, of comradeship and of faith. We can devise new systems of government, new mechanisms of administration—that is necessary; but we shall not do the job by these means alone. We shall do it only in the way that all big jobs are done, by vigour, decision, imagination, ruthless and overriding zeal.
The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground: yea, I have a goodly heritage.
The right hon. Gentleman at the outset of his speech likened his position to that of the legitimate wife who needed responsibility without power. All I have to say about that is that wherever the power lies, he has not neglected his responsibility in the short time that he has been at the Colonial Office, and I should like to congratulate him on what he has achieved in that short time as well as upon his most magnificent speech. The right hon. Gentleman told us, and it is a fact, that there has been no Debate on the Colonial Office Estimates in this House since June, 1939. That is a serious reflection upon this House of Commons and its vigilance, and the only excuse that I and some of my colleagues can make for not demanding a Debate earlier is that for two and a half years we have been on active service.
There have been, but this is the first Debate on the Colonial Estimates since June, 1939. For three years the story of the Colonial Empire has not been told in this House, and yet what a wonderful story it is. Even with the loss of Hong Kong, the Straits Settlements, Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak, which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, we still have some 50 territories and some 50,000,000 people for whom we are responsible. The right hon. Gentleman, in his reference to the loss of these Pacific territories, has asked us not to pre-judge the issue or try to cast blame upon any individual. I am prepared for my part to accept that advice. I think it would be very unfortunate if this Debate developed into an inquest without our being fully informed on the whole of the facts and having all the information before us. And yet there are lessons to be learned from these losses, and what the Committee would wish to know is whether those lessons are being learned by those responsible for the Colonial Empire and whether they are being applied to what remains.
The right hon. Gentleman divided his responsibilities into three spheres: the strategic or military sphere, Colonial Governments and the Colonial Office. He did not deal adequately with the strategic side, because he said, it is a military problem. I am convinced that if there had been closer liaison between those responsible for the Colonial Empire in the past and the military authorities, we should not have had that vast concentration of essential commodities such as rubber and tin in the Malaya Peninsula, and the curtailment of the production of those commodities in other parts of the Colonial Empire. I remember on a visit to Ceylon some years ago seeing planters, on the instructions of the Government, tearing up enormous rubber estates and planting very inferior teas. Those estates were going through a difficult financial time owing to the vagaries of the Stock Market, but the fact remains that those lands were suitable for rubber production but not suitable for the tea which took its place. What would we not give to-day to have that rubber production in Ceylon? What would we not give to have rubber production in the East African Colonies? That shows that the question of balanced production and Defence were not considered by the Colonial Office in the past. There has not been sufficient liaison between the military and the strategic side and the production side of the Colonial Empire. That is one of the lessons which we should learn from the loss of those Pacific territories.
As far as the Colonial Governments are concerned, the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned various methods of dealing with his immediate problems, which is the mobilisation of all the resources of the Colonial Empire for war purposes, and he has mentioned as his machinery various committees and councils. He mentioned, for instance, the East African Governors' Conference and the West African Governors' Conference. The East African Governors' Conference, representing Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, has been in existence now for a very long time. Whatever functions these Conferences may have performed in the past, and however useful they may be, they are not suitable for war purposes. They are not in a position to make decisions on the spot, because they have no statutory or executive powers or responsibilities. In regard to the Governors' Conference in West Africa, the Colonial Office has seen the necessity for appointing Lord Swinton to co-ordinate their work and to take decisions on the spot. He is a man of great ability, and I con- gratulate the Colonial Office upon finding a Minister of such ability to take on. the job. Is it the intention of the Colonial Office to take similar measures concerning' the East African Colonies? Surely they are of equal importance. What about Palestine, Ceylon, Cyprus; and what about the West Indies? Is any coordination taking place there, and who are the men on fee spot to take decisions and put them into practice? These matters very much concern me and others at the present time. We have had a great deal of experience of committees and conferences, but certainly I have very little faith in their influence or their effectiveness excepting as a means of collecting information and making recommendations.
At a later stage I shall make some suggestions, but in the meantime I would make some reference to another sphere of influence, and that is the Colonial Office itself. The Minister mentioned that the economic side of the Colonial Office has been greatly extended, but he did not tell us very much more about it. I want to know what men have been brought in from outside to build up a war organisation and what their experience of trade, industry, shipping, supply and native questions and other war problems have been. The Minister mentioned his back room boys. Who are they? What are they doing in the back room, and how long have they been there? What concerns many of us to-day is the fact that most of the staff of the Colonial Office have been in these back rooms far too long and have little practical knowledge of the Colonial Empire. Upon occasions there has been an attempt to make an interchange of Colonial civil servants between the Colonial Office, and the Colonies, but I do not think it has gone very far or nearly far enough.
I have travelled, a great deal about the Colonial Empire. I have visited every British Colony in the last 25 years, and in the outposts of the Colonial Empire I have seen some of the finest brains and material and the keenest young men anywhere in the world. I have seen some who were left to rot there throughout the whole of their careers in the Colonial Civil Service, never being given a chance of promotion or brought home to recuperate, in spate of the fact that many of them had been out in tropical climates far too long. Some suffered from malaria and were in no condition to administer their posts. That is a serious reflection upon the policy of the Colonial Office in the past. I want to see young men who enter the Colonial Office have an opportunity to serve both at home and. abroad. They must certainly get practical experience in the Colonial Empire, and come home here for a period to direct the Colonial Office at home, making use of the knowledge and experience that they have acquired at first hand.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the mobilisation of men and materials in the Colonial Empire for war purposes was his short-term policy. He mentioned very many commodities of which the Government are short at the present time and of which it was hoped to stimulate production. It was a very formidable list, and requires the utmost effort on behalf of the native people and administrators on the spot. What steps have been taken by the Colonial Office to deal with native problems? Without serious steps to look into such questions as the health, housing and nutrition of native peoples, it will not be possible to stimulate production very much. In the West Indies to-day, in spite of the urgency that exists, one cannot get more than 20 or 25 hours' work per week out of the natives, the reason being that they have not the stamina or physique to do more, in spite of increased wages. I think it will be found that the same applies in many of our other Colonies. The standard of living and the physical fitness and health of the natives are so low that the natives cannot put in what we consider to be a full week's work. This position must be tackled seriously at once. Some incentive must be provided for a native to work. I hope that that side of the problem is being watched.
The Minister said that the Colonies are poor, I do not agree. The British Colonial Empire is rich beyond the dreams of avarice. The surface of the productive capacity and the riches of the Colonial Empire has only been scratched. If the Ministers tells us that the people of the Colonial Empire are poor and their standards of living, housing and health are poor, I thoroughly agree with him; but whose fault is it? The reason is that successive British Governments have been poor landlords. I want to know what the present Government are doing to put things right. I shall have a suggestion to make, I do not think that the machinery which the Minister said he was using for war purposes is sufficient. I do not think it is adequate or proper machinery. There are far too many councils, committees and other bodies without executive responsibility or power and they have no means of putting any of their recommendations into practice. We know what generally happens to the reports of committees and commissions. The archives of the Colonial Office are stuffed with them—if the Paper Controller has not taken them away. I know of one or two of them which are signed by myself, but I have never yet heard of any action being taken on them. The Minister mentioned another body, an additional committee, being set up to-day. This is not the right machinery to get the utmost productivity out of the Colonial Empire, in war-time or in peace. What is wanted is men on the spot with executive powers and responsibilities, who are not afraid to take decisions.
I wish to make a suggestion, which I am afraid you may think is merely to set up another commission, but which is something more than that. To co-ordinate the work of the committees and commissions which have already been set up_ and the right hon. Gentleman has not mentioned half of them; I could tell him of a great many more—I want to suggest that he should set up a Colonial Development Board. What should be the composition and functions of this Board? In The first place, it should be a statutory body, under the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It should have a full-time chairman and secretary and should deal with such questions as strategy, and as all the Services are involved it should have a representative of the Secretariat of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. There should be a full-time member for each of the following: economy and finance, health, education and housing, and all the Supply Departments. In addition, the Board should have power to co-opt business men from outside to serve on subcommittees to deal with questions of production, both for home and export, and also with imports, communications, ports, roads, railways, air and river transport. It should have someone responsible for electricity, irrigation and power. It should be directly responsible to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and its functions should be to co- ordinate and consolidate the work of all the various committees. It should take over the Colonial Department fund to which reference has been made, and with which the right hon. Gentleman seems to be quite satisfied, and should take over the spending of the money allocated to that body.
I hope the Government will consider this proposal which is put forward by myself and some of my colleagues very seriously, because I think it is essential to have such a body in order to deal with the problems facing the Colonial Office at the present time as well as with a future Colonial policy for the Empire. The right hon. Gentleman himself has told us of the necessity for a Colonial policy. What is the long-term policy which he mentioned? For many years I have been trying to find out the long-term policy of the Colonial Office, but so far without success. The policy of the Colonial Office up to now has been nothing but makeshifts and expedients, and now that we have young men like the right hon. Gentleman and his chief at the Colonial Office there is a wonderful opportunity for them to show statesmanship, something which has been lacking in the Colonial Office since the days of Joseph Chamberlain. What a wonderful field they have, and what a marvellous opportunity, not only to evolve a policy but to put it into practice. There may be a great many excuses for not evolving a long-term Colonial policy at the present time because of the urgency of the war situation, but the time for a policy is now and the time for putting it into practice is immediately after the war is over.
How is that to be done? We all know that a great deal of money is involved. The sum of £5,000,000 a year given to the Colonial Welfare and Development Board is a mere fleabite compared with what is required for the development of the Colonial Empire. In that connection I have a suggestion to offer. I suggest that the £5,000,000 a year should be used to pay the interest on a far greater loan of two or three hundred million pounds, which would really provide an opportunity of doing something. That loan-could be raised and extended over a long period of time, and by using the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund in that way the problems confronting us in the Colonial Empire could be tackled. They are of such magnitude at present that £50,000,000 spread over a period of 10 years is an infinitesimal sum and absolutely useless. What has happened in the past is that the people responsible for Colonial development found at the end of a year they had not even evolved a scheme or got anything worked out, and the money has gone back to the Treasury. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that that does not happen now.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider these proposals very seriously. We cannot afford to waste time; the sands are running out, and we want a new conception of Empire. When this war is over the Colonial Empire will have a new conception of itself. The last war brought from the Dominions new demands for their place in the sun which eventually led to the Statute of Westminster, giving them complete and absolute self-government. The end of this war will lead to demands from the Colonial Empire, or from some parts of it, for greater responsibility and a greater voice in their-own affairs'. What are we to say to these people unless we can assure them that we are tackling their problems very seriously and intend to fulfil to the utmost the trusteeship placed in the British Government? I hope that the Government will take these proposals to heart and will evolve a policy which they can put into practice at the earliest opportunity. If they do not do so, the future will take its revenge and retribution will be severe.
Like the previous speaker, I should like to extend my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman who addressed the Committee on behalf of the Government. I have listened in this House for many years to speeches on the Colonial problem and the Colonial Empire, but I am prepared to say that I have never listened with greater satisfaction and pleasure than I have on this occasion, because the right hon. Gentleman has shown a real understanding of the problem. He has shown wide views and has made it quite clear that we are entering upon a new era in Colonial administration. I am not one of those who throw stones at our Colonial administration in the past, but there can be no doubt that the frequent changes which have been made in late years, both as regards the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary, have not brought about a policy which has had any real continuity. In the Debates which have taken place in the House on India and other places lately it has been pointed out that it would be a useful thing if the Governors of Colonies remained there for at least five years. I am not suggesting that Secretaries of State and Under-Secretaries at the Colonial Office should remain there for that period of time, but the too frequent changes which have taken place have been detrimental to continuity of policy.
When, six months ago, I last spoke in this House on the subject of the Colonies I suggested that there should be appointed, with powers similar to those exercised at the time by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in Singapore and the present Minister of Production in Cairo, a Minister of State in West Africa to co-ordinate the vast problems affecting the war which were facing us. I am glad to see that this has now been put into practice by the Members of this House and the other House who are presiding now over our Colonial Empire, and I am pleased to see that Lord Swinton has been appointed. I think it is a useful appointment and that a man who has been Colonial Secretary should carry out the duties particularly well and satisfactorily. The only thing that worries me is that I wonder whether the terms of his jurisdiction are sufficient, whether he will have enough liberty of action. His will be an immense job. The Colonial territories over which he is to preside have a population of over 26,000,000 inhabitants, nearly half the population of the whole Colonial Empire, and the importance of Nigeria and the other West African Colonies at the present time, when we have lost the Empire in the East for the time being, has been clearly emphasised, and has been made quite patent by the speech, of the right hon. Gentleman. But in answer to Questions the other day he rather circumscribed the powers of Lord Swinton.
I do not see how a Cabinet Minister can be responsible through another Cabinet Minister for his actions. If you want the greyhound to catch the hare, you must take him off the leash. I hope that in his administrative powers he will be able to take quick and urgent decisions, so important, especially in war-time. Among the questions he will have to deal with, as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, is the question of man-power for the Army. To my mind that is a very important question, and at the present time, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, a magnificent part is being played by the native regiments of Africa, whether from the East or from the West. They may well be called upon to play a greater part still. But I believe that in the recruiting of these forces, although they have shown wonderful patriotism, courage and loyalty, the full extent of the resources in Africa has not been taken into consideration. I do not know whether sufficient appeals have been made to the chiefs and to the sons of the chiefs. Of course, it is quite understandable that these young men will not be prepared to go into these regiments as privates when they hold these great positions and such influence in their countries. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he and his chief should get into touch with the War Office and that they should set up in West Africa a military college to which these young chiefs and sons of chiefs could go, as well as any other capable young men among the natives of these countries, where they can acquire military knowledge, where they can acquire the capacity to lead men, and from where they can go back as officers to their regiments. They will then be able to exercise their great influence, and I think it would be all to the good.
In an article published yesterday in "The Times" the importance of the native chiefs was made quite clear, and that it would be a very good thing if they could be given greater influence in the Army. Such a college as I have suggested would also have a very happy influence inasmuch as it would bring together men from all parts of the Dependencies and would help to-knit together the whole of this great Continent. Men of all races and from different parts of Africa would come there, and it would foster a feeling of unity. In many Debates in this House and in another place we have heard and advocated that there should be a separate Colonial administration for Africa. The appointment of Lord Swinton may be a forerunner of this. He will work in co-ordination with the Governor's Conference, and I hope that the influence he will bring to bear will create a desire for federation.
I should like to say a word about the white colonists in Africa and in other parts of the Empire. In a Question the other day to the right hon. Gentleman animadversions were thrown on them. I, am glad to say that he took up the cudgels on their behalf, and that he did so to-day. He is right to say that if it had not been for the attention and sacrifices on the spot and in this country by those interested in the economic development of the Colonies, perhaps we should be suffering very much more than we are to-day. We would not have to-day the tin mines functioning in Nigeria, and we should not have their equipment. The men who look after these mines, the men who spend their lives there, either as foremen or managers, and the men here who put in the money are responsible for the fact that to-day, although 60 per cent. of the tin in the world has been taken from us, we can still rely on mining tin in Nigeria which, at the present time, is of such vital importance. A Question was asked the other day on the subject of compulsory man-power. Certainly I am thoroughly against compulsory labour, as is every man in this House, and every Englishman, but we are up against a terrible enemy, and compulsion in necessary for all of us. We have to increase our supplies at the present time.
The right hon. Gentleman knows well what are the deficiencies in our equipment. When he was appointed to this high office I thought it was a fortunate thing that he had come from the Ministry of Supply and would realise what were the requirements of this country in war-time. If we have now to put into practice compulsory labour in the mines of Nigeria, I feel sure that we are doing it with the greatest reluctance. I hope that he will stick to what he said the other day in his assurance that the greatest care will be taken that the men concerned are well looked after, properly paid for their services, properly housed and properly fed. Those are duties which are incumbent upon us. I am not going to follow the hon. gentleman who the other day criticised this policy on purely ideological grounds, because it would resound to the profit of certain individuals, on the spot and in this country. It is owing to those people that we can to-day employ native labour, and it is because of their sacrifices that we can indulge in the hope that our resources in tin and other materials will not be absolutely destroyed, as were those in Malaya and elsewhere.
The right hon. Gentleman did not limit himself in his speech entirely to what it was proposed to do for the war. I certainly think that because of the war the utilisation of man-power and supplies in the Colonies is of great urgency, but I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman looked to the future, and did so with what I may term Liberal eyes. As early as December, 1939, this country realised that it was of the utmost importance that some understanding should be reached with other countries, to enable exchanges to be made between the products of our own Colonies and those from elsewhere. The Anglo-French Agreement was then drawn up. Its aim was to pool all raw material resources of the two countries and to establish monetary stability between them, to enable war purchases to be made. Do not let us forget the clamour which was raised before the war by Hitler and his confederates about free access to raw materials. Of course this was camouflage, but there is an answer to it. There must be a fair distribution of Colonial products throughout the world. "Unless something is done after the war to solve that problem, the cry will be raised again, either from that quarter or from another quarter. The Anglo-French Agreement, which I believe worked quite well until the collapse of France, was thought by those who framed it likely to lead to a more general system of economic collaboration. It was thought that it might lead to the formation of some sort of club of which the member nations Would have facilities to purchase raw materials from each other. It meant an elaborate network of credit, currency, and adjustments, but it was thought that it would put countries without Colonies in a position of equality with those which possessed them. I am not prepared to advocate that scheme: I only mention that quite early on it was thought necessary to create such an organism.
The Anglo-French Agreement was based on exchange control and fixed parities. Such controls are shackling us at present—and it is necessary that they should. They will last long after the war, I fear. The expansion of Colonial trade, will take place within the ambit of these controls. It will require all the planning talents of the right hon. Gentleman to establish a system of international trade for the Colonies through these controls. Already, I believe, we have accumulated vast supplies of material for distribution after the war to the hungry countries of Europe and to China. But that will be only a temporary measure. The resources of the Colonies must be prepared for far greater expansion. The task of the Colonial Office, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, is to find sources of production which will compensate for our losses in the Far East. His policy-is a policy of expansion, but the postwar policy must be one of far greater expansion still. To achieve that will mean a different policy, of specialisation. At present we are gathering our supplies from wherever we can. After the war we shall have to specialise in the Colonies, as elsewhere. This cannot be done without a broad exchange of goods and of services. Specialisation means, better conditions not only for the individual but for countries at large as well. In order to achieve that, there must be freedom of exchange for raw materials, as well as for-finished goods. Let us hope, for the sake of the welfare of the universe, of our own country, and particularly for the happiness of the Colonies, that not only we but others as well will have realised this truth when peace at last lays her healing hand on the bleeding brows of the world.
Together with the last two speakers, I should like to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman, not only for the matter of his speech, but for the spirit which animated it. War brings changes of circumstance and of outlook; but it does more: it speeds up tendencies already in existence, and brings them to quicker fruition. In the midst of the sorrows, privations, and sufferings of war, it is possible to foster and stimulate the best of what we may call the inevitable developments of this world. It is as a signatory of the Motion on the Order Paper, asking for the establishment of a Colonial Development Board, that I rise to plead for it. I believe it is necessary to create such a Board to coordinate policy and foster the enthusiasm which animated the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.
But let me first deal with two other matters. There has been criticism, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) said, about the compulsory powers taken in Nigeria over manpower. I agree that these powers must be taken. We should bear in mind that similar legislation governs labour in this country in war. When we judge these we must do so to judge them justly against the background of the loss of our Far Eastern possessions, particularly Malaya, and realise the extent to which we must replace the loss of natural resources and supplies. Before the war the Nigerian mines supplied 6,000 tons of tin per annum under the International Tin Agreement, compared with 37,000 tons supplied by Malaya—in other words, approximately 15 per cent. It follows from that, in view of the existence of the International Tin Agreement, that the Nigerian production, freed from any restriction, is capable of a great excess of production over and above that figure. If one mentions these figures one realises how important the Nigerian tin production is to us to-day.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain Macdonald mentioned the gallantry of the West African Regiments in this war. If we remember that gallantry, surely, then, we cannot believe that their brothers, friends and cousins in Nigeria will misunderstand the compulsory powers we have been forced to take. When we think of the German massacres of the Herreros in South-West Africa before the last war, those of us who have travelled in Tanganyika and know the German record towards the natives in that territory and the treatment of the natives in the former German Cameroons surely must realise what treatment the Africans could expect if Hitler were to win this war. The Germans of to-day regard them as sub-humans. If we realise it, surely it is in our power to make the Africans of Nigeria realise it too. It was because we know what that German attitude has been in the past and is to-day that some of us before the war, in addition to other considerations, both moral and military, were fortified in our resolution in opposing the propaganda which was widely disseminated at that time of transferring part of the Colonial Empire to Germany. If those in authority in Nigeria have done their job properly, there will be no misunderstanding of what we have done in that Colony, and there will be no grievance. If the people of the West African territories come through the convulsion of this war without any greater inconvenience than that surely they will be more fortunate than many Europeans. What a hue and cry would there not have been, if the right hon. Gentleman and His Majesty's Government had failed to mobilise the potential resources in men and material which we need. It is not difficult to imagine the perfervid protestations made by certain hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House. The same arguments apply to what has been done by the Government in the East African territories in order to save shipping and to produce the greatest amount of food and so feed our armies in the Middle East. That position has been gone into in great detail in another place and I will only, therefore, remind the Committee that what has been done in East Africa was unanimously agreed to by a committee, the members of which included the Labour Commissioner and Archdeacon Owen, who is so well known as the champion of the native cause.
The right hon. Gentleman, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight, spoke of the need of greater State investment in the Colonial Empire, and my hon. and gallant Friend said that we must consider future State investment not in terms of a few millions but in terms of hundreds of millions. I believe that that is so. Lord Moyne has said in another place that we shall have to replan Colonial economics in production and commodities. But can you do that unless you have an instrument through which to work out plans and carry through such ideas? I do not believe that that is possible without the establishment of a Colonial Development Board. This is no new idea. The Royal Commission which reported in 1917, under the chairmanship of Lord D' Abernon, on the natural resources of the Empire and which, I admit, deals largely with the Dominions and Dominion territory, put forward a more ambitious suggestion, but, nevertheless, a similar suggestion. That Commission emphasised the influence a wise investment of British capital could have on the development of natural resources. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of private investment publicly guided. I hope that in future measures will be taken to ensure that private investment in the British Empire rather than in speculations in foreign countries will be encouraged. But to-day British capital will have to be directed, and should be directed, towards the multiplication of resources, in particular, raw materials both of economic and military importance. The right hon. Gentleman said that we can devise new mechanisms of administration and new instruments of government, and here is an opportunity to devise such an instrument. How can you fulfil these ideas and take the action which you desire unless you are provided with accurate information and have a medium through which you can act?
The Royal Commission of 1917 suggested that the Imperial Development Board, which I am not now proposing, but a Colonial Development Board, should have four principal functions. The Commissions suggested, firstly, that it should promote new sources of supply, secondly, that it should promote measures for the prevention of waste, thirdly, that it should investigate the possibility of finding substitutes, and fourthly, it mentioned scientific research. Such a Board should and could survey the relations between our requirements and our production. It would stimulate the production of those commodities which we most needed in time of war. It would advise and guide the Colonial Office in this matter. The war only emphasises and underlines our needs of a permanent institution which will smooth the path of development, remove causes of delay and will result in speedy and effective action. It is for these reasons that I urge the establishment of a Colonial Development Board.
Criticism of the past is perhaps too easy to be of any advantage or of any avail, but I welcomed the statement of the right hon. Gentleman when he said that Malayan planters were to-day investigating the possibilities of increasing rubber production in West Africa. A case came to my notice a few days ago. It is a plantation at Tiko, near Mount Victoria, in the British Cameroons, of some 5,000 acres where there are mature rubber trees in the third year of bearing to-day. This was German-owned property before the war, and to-day a civil servant-with no practical knowledge and no previous experience of either the planting of rubber or of the planting of bananas keeps an eye not only upon this particular plantation, but upon all the confiscated German plantations in the British Cameroons. This particular plantation has a turnover of £200,000 a year. With rubber scarcer: than gold such a plantation should be looked after not by a civil servant without experience, but by men who could manage it expertly. I suggest, therefore, for the consideration of the Government that, if they have not already done so, Malayan planters should be sent out there to see what they can do and see how far they can replace the banana plantations by the planting of rubber. That is only a single instance, but I think it shows that there is both scope and need for the establishment of the Colonial Development Board, for which I am pleading to-day and which, in the words of the Royal Commission of 1917, would "Watch for every opportunity and be alive to every possibility." It is impossible to exaggerate the influence and significance which such a board would have. It would be concerned with economics, and, that being so, I would like to put forward one other suggestion, namely, that there should be Dominion representation upon it.
Again, upon this matter and in connection with the problem of research the Royal Commission of 1917 states:
The technical departments of the Dominions are better equipped than those of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates for investigation and research. They have officers for assaying minerals, analysing substances and testing material and their equipment in this respect is being constantly strengthened.
Those of us who have travelled in the Dominions, Colonies and Protectorates know that that is true. Such a Board and the establishment of Dominion representation upon it would have many advantages. May I briefly enumerate some of them? We know that in many parts of the Dominions the climate approximates more closely to that of the Colonies. Dominion minds are, therefore, more accustomed to deal with the kind of problems that arise as a result of that analogy. They are familiar with the problems which are connected with the opening up of new territories and new countries. They know the importance of building roads and understand perhaps more fully than we do the connection between building roads and the growth of new trades. The staff of such a Board, in my submission, should be not so much civil servants as men of public responsibility and particularly men with intimate knowedge of the Colonial Empire. In another place Lord Hailey and a former Secretary of State for the
Colonies, Lord Harlech, have both emphasised what we in this Committee know only too well—that the civil servants of the Colonial Empire have very often considered that their job of administration is their sole duty, or at any rate their main function. The weakest sign of our Colonial administration has been that much has had to deal with economics and development.
I believe, therefore, that a Colonial Development Board would not only assist the Government materially, but would electrify development, not only after the war but now, in the middle of the war. Dominion representation upon it would increase Dominion interest in the Colonies which would be beneficial to the Colonies after the war since it would increase the trade between the Dominions and Colonies and so give the Colonies what they need—a steady market and greater security. That tendency has already begun. I believe that if we could invite Dominion participation and interest, particularly in the economic side of the Colonial Empire, the Colonies would benefit immeasurably. Let me give a single instance. Someone mentioned in the Debate the dependence of the Gold Coast on cocoa. But Gambia is dependent on ground nuts, and we know how dependent the West Indies are on sugar. How many of us really believe that that over-dependence on a single market could ever have taken place if the Dominions had had any say whatever in the development of these Colonies? The most noticeable thing about the Dominions' use of tariffs in the past has been the very ingenious way in which they have created secondary industries and used them to diversify trade. It is the lack of diversity which is the fault in many Colonies. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) once said that the future direction of trade lies in the marriage of the products of the temperate and the tropical zones. If we could foster Dominion interest in the Colonies, great benefit would ensue. I believe that this is an inevitable if at present slow development, and that unless the Dominions are invited to participate in the economic side of the Colonial Empire the result must be misunderstanding of our actions, aims and purposes in the Colonies and must lead to friction whereas, if we invite co-operation in the economic field, it will give us the benefit of that co-operation and at the same time remove misunderstanding. Finally it would encourage Dominion capital to go into the Colonies for the development of their natural resources rather than into foreign countries.
I wish to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary on what he said on the subject of permanent partnership between ourselves and the Colonial Empire and on the subject of the unification of the Civil Service. Partnership, to be a happy-one, must depend upon knowledge, and that brings me to education upon which. I should like to say a few words. Like the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), I had the privilege of serving on the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies for three years. Unfortunately, during the last two years, I was unable to attend, as I volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force, but during the year I did attend it became perfectly clear to me that what was said in another place last month is only too true—that our education, particularly in African Colonies, is too literary and too classical. In the Gold Coast, I think it was, Africans were taught to act the great Greek tragedies if not the comedies of Aristophanes but not so much hygiene or how to grow crops. I submit that much greater stress should be laid on the practical scientific and agricultural side of education. Our teaching should include not only the ethical, spiritual and moral side, but we should do our utmost to develop secondary industries and the ancient traditional craftsmanship of West Africa. We should teach Africans to develop to their utmost their natural resources. Nothing could be more deplorable than to see what many of us have seen with our own eyes, even in Uganda, the ideal gradually growing up in the minds of the natives that the finest possible life is to become a typist in a country where there is very little to type. Such a policy, whether in Uganda or Sierra Leone, must lead to the creation of discontented and redundant Africans. By teaching that, we are doing them no service. Surely our aim must be to try and teach the West African to be a good African, and not a bad European, to teach him to develop along his own traditional lines rather than to become a poor imitation of the European.
Most Members have read "New Imperial Ideals," that great constructive work by Robert Stokes, who develops in it the noble future that could be built up in West African territories. Finally, I would like to add that I think there should be teaching of English on a far greater scale than at present and that we should try to identify the natives not only with the country in which they were born, bred and live but with this Empire of ours. If we could make them feel that they are citizens of our Empire we would not get an article such as that which appeared in "The Times" yesterday written by a West African who speaks of the need to remove the misconception that this is a white man's war.