Colonial Affairs.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 4th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon if I have made a mistake. I was under the impression that the return to 30th June was of moneys paid, which was a sum of £250,000, whereas in another place I have seen that, under the Act, public schemes amounted to £800,000. I found it difficult to reconcile the two figures. The point I desire to make to my right hon. Friend is that in this House we are very much at a loss in arriving at any real comprehension of the meaning of the figures so far given. When for instance the 83 schemes in the West Indies are broken up into a dozen categories we do not know the relation of these individual schemes to any broad policy of social and economic development. It is on that sort of thing we would like to be informed by a report, so that we could get a more intelligent and comprehensive view of how the Colonial Development and Welfare Act is working.

I appreciate that, fundamentally, all this talk about social development is economic but I put it to the House that the resources of the Colonies are their own. We have acknowledged the paramountcy of their interests, yet on us falls the responsibility of rapidly creating the conditions under which the people can stand on their own feet, of associating them with other areas for economic and political needs, and of moving on to their de-colonisation both in status and in stature.

I should have liked time to have spoken about Colonial administration—the machine at the Colonial Office, and the general administrative machine in the Colonies. As regards the former, may I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the Colonial Office might open its doors a little more widely to its own people when they visit London from their posts overseas? There is room for a little more consultation. Sometimes Departments might call for reports, might get the "low down" from some of the junior officials who have been engaged in Colonial administration. Sometimes the Colonial Office might give them a warmer welcome for their views and ideas, than they have been accustomed to give up to now. The second point I make in regard to Colonial administration is this. I want to see more Africans and others brought into the administration of their own territories, but I would ask that the more imaginative, more go-ahead members of the European administrative staffs should have greater opportunities than are now permitted to them. We do not want a Colonial service made up of men who are continuously playing for safety. It would help sometimes if we could bring in on the secretariats some men who have had experience in the districts, out in the field, and who are facing problems in an imaginative and fresh way. I hope that that side of administrative work will not be disregarded.

I hope finally that my former request to the Colonial Secretary will be given some attention. If it is the aim of the Govern-men to work out its policy on the lines of past declarations, I hope we may be informed what these declarations are, and that we may get a White Paper on them. I hope also that a greater interest in Colonial problems will be engendered in this House by the creation of some suitable machinery for considering Colonial policy. The time is long overdue for some joint Parliamentary Committee for this purpose. I hope that in this House, with our great responsibilities, going forward as we are into a new world where increasing demands will be made on us, may have the facilities, the machinery and the opportunity of dealing with Colonial problems with understanding. Nothing can contribute more to that end than the creation of proper Parliamentary machinery.