Colonial Affairs.

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

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Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

I will come to that in a moment. I assure my hon. Friend that the figures for African battalions are much bigger than he indicated, although I cannot give the figures. It is not a question of the number of regiments, but a number of battalions are raised belonging to a certain regiment, and the multiplication of battalions is on a much higher scale than might have been indicated by the figures he had in mind. Nevertheless, the life of these countries has to be taken into account. Where a peasant population lives it is not so easy to remove great masses of men as in a highly developed country, where a machine will take the place of men. It would be monstrous to attempt to raise from Nigeria anything like the proportion of the population for the Army that you can raise from a highly developed European country, because if you did so it would be impossible to keep the people alive. There are many other services that those people can render, in food production and so on, which it is important to maintain. But I recognise the spirit in which his speech was made. We welcome it. He represents, quite rightly, the anxious desire of the peoples of Africa to be associated in every way with the war.