I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:
And welcome in particular the declaration in the Gracious Speech that His Majesty's Government desire to do their utmost to raise the standards and improve the conditions of the peoples in the Colonies, but humbly regret that no mention is made of specific measures, including the establishment of a Colonial Development Board, to give practical effect to this declaration without delay.
My first task is a pleasant one. It is to congratulate my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westmorland (Colonel Stanley) very warmly on his return to the Treasury Bench. He has already held many great offices with distinction, and he can rest content that he takes up this new and very important post with the good-will of his friends on these Benches, and, I believe, in all parts of the House. It is no derogation from the sincerity of what I have just said to add that I regret the change that has been made in this great office at the present time. Lord Cranborne had been in this office for a comparatively short time, but he has shown much grasp and constructive imagination. We are well aware from the admirable statements which have been made in this House by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State that theirs was likely to be a fruitful political partnership, and I, like many other Members, regret that it has been found necessary in the public interest to break up that partnership at a critical moment like this. Nevertheless, I wish my right
hon. and gallant Friend all success in the office. Great things are expected of him, and I am sure he will not disappoint us. He will know that this Amendment is not moved in order to endanger the life of the Government, as is the case with some Amendments to the Address. The object of this Amendment is to get a statement of the detailed intentions of the Government in dealing with the Colonial problem at the present moment—a Colonial problem which is not only of great importance to us and to the Colonial peoples concerned, but which is of great importance in the international field at the present time.
What is required? I am sure that we do not require any more in the way of charters or general declarations of principle. Really in the matter of principle we know pretty well where we stand. I am, therefore, not going to argue about the abstract principles with which these charters and declarations generally deal. I shall not discuss, for instance, the necessity for the government of backward peoples by advanced peoples, or with the question of whether it would be better done by national Governments or by some kind of international authority. My own views upon both these questions of principle are absolutely clear. I agree with the principle stated 20 years ago in the Covenant of the League of Nations, that the government of backward peoples, where they are unable to stand alone in the strenuous conditions of the modern world, should be entrusted to more advanced peoples. That is the only course possible in their own interests and in the interests of the world. I am also convinced that it can best be done by the sovereign nations who already know these peoples and who are known by them and who have had the experience, and should not be entrusted to an international authority.
Other people hold other views on this subject—I believe that different views are held upon the subject in this House—and I am sure that further argument about abstract principles is not going to help us at the present turn of events. Such argument is really interminable. It gets you nowhere. Whether it be argument across the Floor of the House or argument from the rooftops across the Atlantic, it does not reduce the practical difficulties; on the contrary, it aggravates them. The only thing to do in a delicate, and, I think, a dangerous situation at the present time, when great differences of opinion might develop between the two great peoples and systems upon whom more than upon any other the future of the world depends, is to stop wrangling about general principles, and in a phrase which will be familiar to all Americans, "Get down to cases," get down to the actual problems that we have to solve. In order to do that I suggest that we should set up, at once and without delay, the machinery necessary for investigating these problems and arriving at an agreed policy upon them.
The problems are vast and very varied, and the ordinary machinery, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree, for discussion between the Governments, through diplomatic channels and so on, is slow, cumbrous and inadequate. The only way of making practical progress towards agreement is to organise inquiry by geographical groups. These problems fall into certain broad geographical groups. There is the group of Eastern and Pacific problems which have a character of their own; there are the African problems which have a character of their own, and there are the West Indian and Caribbean and Atlantic problems, which also have a character of their own. It is no good trying to discuss all these different groups of problems, so widely various in character, through some sort of central machinery which attempts to handle them together as a whole. It would be far better to create at once a separate representative conference for each, with all the nations interested represented on it, for discussing these problems by geographical groups. I cannot help believing that procedure of that kind would be aceptable to the other nations concerned and particularly to the United States of America; and I would urge upon the Government the absolute necessity for studying these problems, for setting up the machinery for their study and for arriving at an agreed policy about them now and at once. If it is not done at once, it will be too late. If it is left to the Armistice, we shall have crowds of problems thrust upon us, as they were thrown upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in Paris 23 years ago. We ought to learn from the difficulties which arose then how important it is to get down to these things which you can study and get agreement upon in advance if only you take time by the forelock and set up the necessary machinery without delay.
There is a great deal to be said about all three of the principal groups which I have mentioned, but I would like to deal more particularly with the problems of Africa. I spent some years of my life in Africa, and I am more familiar with Africa perhaps than with the rest of the problems of the Colonial Empire, although I have visited most parts of the Colonial Empire at some time or other. There are certain cardinal features in the African problem at the present time which must be considered. I put first the fact that the African peoples at the moment are keenly expectant and aroused. The African peoples throughout the course of this war have helped us magnificently in the actual conduct of the war. No one can praise too highly the war effort of all parts of the African Colonial Empire. They have volunteered in far greater numbers than could be trained or equipped. They have not only served with great efficiency and gallantry in many theatres, but they have also pressed financial gifts, comforts and all sorts of contributions upon their local governments. Bodies like local native councils, chiefs and even individual herdsmen have brought in their offerings to help in the cause of victory for the United Nations. More than that, in Africa, I think it is true to say, nothing has made so deep an impression upon the African mind as Hitler's dictum in. "Mein Kampf" that it would be a sin against man and his Creator to educate Africans to such professions as teaching or the law or to raise them to any kind of advanced participation in civilised life. That statement of Hitler's, which certainly represents his honest belief, has been broadcast by us all over the Empire. It has bitten very deep, but it has also produced an anxious inquiry as to what is the alternative that we offer ourselves. All through Africa the people who think—and these are an increasing number all the time—are asking, "What are we to expect from the victory which we are doing our best to bring about?"
I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree that this awareness in Africa is met halfway by a great surge of feeling in this country and throughout the freedom-loving world. There is a strong desire to honour our obligations to the full, a new and deeper consciousness of what we owe to these people at the present time. One finds that on every side, and I think that it carries with it a much wider public than that which supported Wilberforce after the Napoleonic wars. After the Napoleonic wars there was, as hon. Members know, a great surge of humanitarian feeling, led by Wilberforce and others, which produced the emancipation of the slaves and, ultimately, the abolition of the slave trade. But that movement was, in a sense, negative. It aimed at emancipation and nothing else. It did not attempt to show what was to happen to the slaves when they were emancipated. It was apparently thought that the fact of freedom was sufficient and that Nature would do the rest Now by contrast we are deeply conscious of a continuous duty. It is not negative but positive, and I think we have moved on from the idea of trusteeship, which, in itself, was a great advance, to a more constructive idea still—the idea of partnership with these peoples. That is the relation which I believe we want to see expressed in the policy which is pursued towards our African fellow subjects.
But how to give reality to this ideal? The moment you begin to apply the principles you have in mind, to give expression to the feeling which is so deep, you begin to reach controversy, which may do great harm to the peoples concerned. Examination of these problems will, I think, show that any response to the African appeal—an inarticulate, vague appeal, if you like—is bound to depend upon one feature more than anything else, namely, revenue. Anybody who has been responsible for government in Africa knows how at every turn in that Continent, the greater part of which is poor and has a sparse population, progress is held up by the fact that revenue is very small, that the possibility of getting capital from outside is very limited, and that you cannot finance social services, education, better means of transport, housing and all the things we would like to give at the present moment without committing yourself to a scale of taxation which is more than the population can bear. That is your problem at every turn. I have often read statements of enthusiasts in Africa that we ought to do this or that. Many of these people came to see me when I was in Kenya, and they always seemed to think that the revenue which is necessary to do all this would somehow fall like manna from heaven. But revenue does not fall like manna from heaven. It depends upon the production of wealth, and not only upon that but upon a profitable market for your produce, either in the place of production or elsewhere.
I see opposite me the father of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and I am reminded of a conversation which has just come back into my mind. It was made by M. Clemenceau when he came back from India after he had left office. I remember that he told my right hon. Friend about what he thought of our Government in India, and said that our administration there was remarkable. "What you have set up there is an achievement which perhaps could not have been done by any other race," he said, "and the purity of your system of justice in that country is almost miraculous." I said to him, "Surely, M. Clemenceau, that is not all the comment you have to make. Your comments are usually more incisive than that." His reply was, "It is true. I do not think you have done enough to enable the people of India to afford all the benefits you have conferred upon them up to date." That, I think, is a true comment about India, because in our administration of India we have been so frightened of exploitation that we have undoubtedly delayed the development of Indian wealth. On some occasions Indian development of wealth was delayed in the interest of manufacturers in this country—the history of the Lancashire cotton industry is not too good in this respect. But generally speaking delay has been through honest fear of exploitation and of what would be said about it in this House.
Certainly that danger exists strongly in Africa at the present time. You cannot raise social standards without producing wealth, and the most marked sign of that is the advancement of the West African Colonies as compared with the East African. The West African Colonies have advanced because they possess natural jungle crops which can be gathered without much labour and sold in the world market at a good price. So revenue poured in, with the result that great improvements were possible. In the rest of Africa no such thing is possible. The production of wealth, the increase of revenue, means the application of thought, enterprise, capital and labour. It means a contribution to the bringing out of Africa's potential wealth which can only be made by people commanding great resources and having considerable influence over what is done in the markets of the world. If it is true that revenue has to be produced and that the population of Africa is very sparse in comparison with Africa's potential wealth, you are driven to the conclusion—as I believe all who have studied this question impartially have found—that without immigration on a considerable scale Africa will not make much advance. That case was stated—and I expect Members have read it—with great lucidity by Field Marshal Smuts many years ago. I think it was in 1929, in the Rhodes lectures which he delivered at Oxford at that time.
The fact that population is necessary must be faced. We have made experiments with Asiatic populations, but none of them has been very successful, and I think the House will agree that if population is to be introduced, it had much better be a European population, the best population, trained in our own ways of thought, that can be found to go. The House will realise that this raises a great problem in Africa. It is a question which agitates the United States of America certainly as much as ourselves. They have it within their own boundaries. It is the profoundly difficult problem of the relations between the black and the white races when they have to live together in the same society. The United States have that problem right at home. It is in their midst, and we must face it in East Africa, although not, I think, in West Africa. We already have it in South, Central and East Africa. White settlement has moved up the central spine of Africa, where the greatest potential wealth is to be found and the climate is favourable, like mercury up a tube. More is needed; more will go. If you are to make Africa a place of more advanced social life, a place where greater opportunity abounds, you must face the fact that the European population will rapidly increase and that you will be compelled to show much more realism than you have hitherto shown in facing the problem of black and white. The last time the House gave its mind to that subject was when the Joint Select Committee was appointed, I think in 1930, to deal with the East African territories. The Report of that Joint Select Committee was not a very inspiring one, and its recommendations certainly were not constructive—most of them were not even clear. We cannot go oh fiddling with this subject as we have fiddled with it in the past.
I take it for granted that in any discussions of this problem which take place—and it is vital to the main cardinal problems in Africa which have to be answered—the Union of South Africa will be asked to participate and that, of course, the settlers' opinion in our own Colonies will also be sought. The greatest representative of the European race in Africa is Field Marshal Smuts, and it is really inconceivable that he or his representatives should not play a very considerable part in the discussion of policy for the African Continent. Let the House consider what we owe to Field Marshal Smuts and to his influence in his own country in this war. If it had not been for him the Union would have been neutral, like Eire, and the fact that the Union was brought into the war as a full partner from the very start is a service to the United Nations which I do not believe has been fully appreciated yet. The South African people have given most valuable troops to the African theatres, but the greatest service of all is the fact that South Africa has been available to us as a base and not, like Eire, denied to us as a base. If South Africa had been neutral, do hon. Members suppose that we should be holding India or even Egypt at the present time? I take it, then, that the Union of South Africa, under its great leader and Prime Minister, will play a part. But I hope that in the House and in the country we shall not accept the co-operation of our own European people in Africa as a distasteful necessity. I hope we shall welcome it and ask for it, and meet it ungrudgingly with a whole heart. The peace of Africa depends enormously on the spirit in which now and henceforth this problem is met.
There are two lessons from history in this matter which we ought not to forget. The first is that watertight compartments on these difficult questions of the relations of black and white are really impossible. The United States tried it. They tried to have one half of a great Union running one way and another half running on entirely different principles. The re- sult was a terrible civil war. It is not impossible that bad handling of this problem would, in the end, produce the same consequences in Africa, for remember that when people are thinking not only of their own future but of the future of their children, they can become very intolerant of attempted dictation from without. But quite apart from that, there is the fact that dictation or indifference produces lack of sympathy and breeds extremism. After the Napoleonic wars, as I said just now, a great humanitarian wave swept over us and was applied to Africa. It was, indeed, necessary and right, but it was applied with extraordinary little consideration for or understanding of the people on the spot. Again and again, if you look at the way in which we did these things, you have a great dear to lament. What was the result? It was the beginning of movements which entirely alienated the Dutch and led to the great trek, which led to hatred between the Dutch and British Governments, hatred building up throughout the century, until at the end of the century came, as always, the inevitable result, war. I hope, therefore, we shall realise that dictation or indifference or hostility breed extremism, whereas if you go to meet these people with understanding and with consideration you will get moderation in return.
Fortunately, the machinery for dealing with this complex African problem already exists to some extent. It has been set up in the war. One most vital improvement has been made in the war, one for which I strove, as my right hon. Friend knows, very hard during the years of peace. We have now the West African Colonies grouped under a Minister of State, so that consultation is very much easier with that group. The same process has been carried on, not quite so far but fairly effectively, in East Africa, where the Governor of Kenya is in some respect a High Commissioner. There are great advantages to be derived from the combination of these territories for war purposes, but that combination will be equally necessary for the tasks of peace. One of the assurances I should like to have from the Government is that there is no intention whatever of undoing what has been set up in the war, but that all this grouping of the Colonies that have common interests and are contiguous will be made permanent. You must add to that British group in Africa, which already exists, for the purposes of the study which I have in mind, the other African Colonial Powers. You must add Belgium, you must add Portugal, I think; Portugal not only has problems but creates problems in Africa at the present moment. I do not think it is undiplomatic to say that. I presume now that you will add France. All the Powers with responsibilities in Africa should be asked to co-operate. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Egypt?"] Egypt has no responsibilities outside her own boundaries. The Government should get this study undertaken now and set up the necessary machinery at once. It is urgently needed in the case of Africa and, I think they will agree, it is equally urgent in Malaya, where obviously the future is extremely obscure, and in the Caribbean, where completely new international problems have been created by action taken during the war.
In setting up this machinery, there is no doubt that we must have, to the utmost degree to which we can secure it, the co-operation of the United States. The United States already are directly involved in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. They are fighting now in North Africa with us, and, indeed, the North African campaign is under United States command. The co-operation of the United States will be as necessary for the future of Africa as it will be for the future of Malaya or the Caribbean Colonies. Why? In the first place, for that elementary need of all societies which are counting on progress, that is, security and peace. We guaranteed the peace of the Colonial Empire for a hundred years at the British taxpayers' sole cost; but there is no Power in the world to-day which can guarantee single-handed the peace of any hemisphere or continent. Peace in Europe and in all the other continents is therefore going to depend upon international combination of a solid kind. The United Nations must form the core, and they will need the participation of the United States. It will also be necessary for economic development. The command of the United States over the economic future of all Colonial territories is bound to be very great. Without their help we should find it extremely difficult to do anything to secure the economic welfare of the territories for which we are responsible, and we therefore need their help. But the greatest need as between the British Empire and the United States, if you can get it, is moral unity. We failed to get it after the last war. The schism between their country and ours is more responsible than any other single cause for where we find ourselves at present. If we could have kept their co-operation, things in Europe would have been extremely different.
To take an economic case, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs will remember how fatal it was that the United States withdrew from the Commission set up to deal with reparations from Germany. Her position in that body was intended to be most influential, almost arbitral. The machinery had been set up on the understanding that the United States would play their part. When they did not come in, the machinery broke down, and everyone knows how much is due to the failure of the reparations machinery to work. We must therefore endeavour to keep the closest possible understanding with the United States. The Americans must decide for themselves their own duties and their own interests, but I am sure they will not arrive at just conclusions on the matter by an exchange of broadcasts across the Atlantic. The only way to deal with it is to get down to the problems on the spot and set up representative machinery for that purpose which the democracies can trust.
Finally, I would say a word on our system in this country and the way in which it is likely to respond to the needs of the moment and the needs of the future in the Colonial sphere. The Imperial responsibilities of this country are at present entrusted to three Departments, under three Secretaries of State—the Dominions Office, the India Office and the Colonial Office. As to the India Office, a very considerable change in that sphere certainly lies no great distance ahead. I feel that changes are also necessary in regard to the other two Departments, from the point of view of the Colonial Empire. The present system, under which a clear-cut line is drawn between the Commonwealth and the Colonial Empire, is, I think, a misleading one. It cuts across many realities; it misrepresents the ideals by which we are inspired. It gives countenance to the slanderous but damaging charge that we are administering two different kinds of Empire at once; that the Commonwealth is a new dispensation, like the New Testament, and the Colonial Empire a perpetuation of a reactionary Old Testament dispensation from which the Commonwealth has emerged. That is an excessively dangerous and unreal view of our Imperial ideals.
There is another objection to the present arrangement. The Dominions themselves are great Colonial Powers. Most of them have dependencies of their own. But, quite apart from that, they are all very deeply interested in what is done in certain groups of Colonies, and we ought to face the implications of that fact and also the reality of what is meant by any true conception of a Commonwealth. A Commonwealth does not mean a group of nations looking at each other in a friendly manner. It means the acceptance of a joint responsibility because there is a fundamental, common ideal and interest. If the Commonwealth is to be a reality, let us remember that it is not this country which should administer, on the one hand, the Commonwealth and, on the other, the Colonial Empire. It is the Commonwealth which, as a Commonwealth, should administer the Colonial Empire and all other Imperial responsibilities. That is a fact which, if the Commonwealth is to remain a reality, must be faced. I remember discussing this, after he had retired from office, with the late Sir Robert Borden when I was in Canada after the war, and he said that in his opinion it would have to be recognised that the joint responsibilities and the relations with each other of the members of the great nations of the Commonwealth were the supreme business of every Commonwealth Government, different in kind from any other. He therefore thought these relations should be recognised as Prime Minister's business. As a matter of fact, all important business between the Dominions and this Government is even now conducted between Prime Ministers. Sir Robert Borden, of course, admitted that the burden on Prime Ministers is very great, and he agreed that in this country there must be a Dominions Department. Nevertheless, he thought the principle ought to be accepted that the central relations of the Commonwealth were Prime Ministers' business in this, just as in all the other Dominions, and that our machinery should make provision for that. His own idea—I think I am entitled to quote it—was that in dealing with central Commonwealth relations in this country, if the Prime Minister himself could not find the time, the most suitable Minister would foe the Lord President of the Council, because the Privy Council is one of the links of Empire, all His Majesty's Ministers in all parts of the Empire being members of the Privy Council. Whether that idea is accepted or not, there must be a Department dealing with Dominion affairs to handle the ordinary run of Commonwealth business, so that only really important correspondence has to fall on the Prime Minister. It may be accident, but it is interesting, that the present Secretary of State for the Dominions is also Deputy Prime Minister.
So much for the relations of the Dominions inter se. They are also, I repeat, Colonial Powers and they should henceforth be more closely associated with the administration and government of the Colonial Empire. I believe that to be absolutely vital at the present time. The way in which we deal departmentally with our Imperial responsibilities therefore requires reconsideration, and I hope that our Imperial responsibilities in the Colonial sphere will now be sorted out and dealt with more or less in accordance with the three groups for which I have suggested that special machinery should be set up. I believe it desirable that we should have a separate Department dealing with each of these three groups. For the moment this would involve a redistribution of responsibility between the three Secretaries of State; but if our system of Government develops still further and we adopt the recommendations made long ago by the Haldane Committee on our system of government, then there should be three subordinate Ministers and Departments under a superior Cabinet Minister, who would deal with the whole range of our Imperial responsibilities.
I am sure that some reorganisation of that kind is desirable. It would assist the House to shoulder its grave responsibilities in this matter. The record of the House—and I do not think it is the fault of the House—in regard to the Colonial Empire has not been very good. In the five years before the war there were only nine Debates on Colonial affairs. Four of these were Debates on the Estimates, when hon. Members get up and ask questions and put points covering a vast field in a very short time, and the Minister responsible says he will inquire or gives answers. For a whole year that is the end of the Colonial Empire so far as the House is concerned. There were four other Debates, but they were all on Palestine, which happened to excite the House at that time. There was, in addition, a general Debate on a Private Members' day, for which my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) had the good fortune to get a place in the Ballot. That was the whole of the discussion on the Colonial Empire in five years. The Colonial Empire contains 75,000,000 people, all dependent ultimately on this House. I do not wish to disparage the importance of Scotland. But think of the attention we gave to the 5,000,000 people in Scotland compared with the attention we gave to the 75,000,000 in the Colonial Empire who are dependent on this House!
I think, too, that from the point of view of the Executive the system has been unfortunate. We have had seven Colonial Secretaries in seven years. My right hon. Friend is the seventh. Whatever the capacity of right hon. Gentlemen who occupy that office, they cannot possibly do justice to it on terms like that. It is an unfortunate thing to create the impression in the Colonial Empire, as we certainly do, that this office is treated as a counter in the ordinary processes of English politics, and that, when changes are made, they are prompted by the convenience of politics in this country and not by the convenience and welfare of the many millions at stake. It would be an advantage to the House if this grouping system were adopted and the House were able in that way to discuss the problems of the Colonial Empire in better order and more frequently.
It is often said, and particularly said in the United States, that the reason that we have not done anything recently for the Colonial Empire is that we are indifferent and played out. That idea is to some extent spread by foolish propaganda which makes a deal of noise though it carries little weight. Certainly the idea is widespread that in regard to its Imperial responsibilities this great nation is played out. I admit a great lack of education in our democracy on Imperial questions. I hope that that will be put right, but even with the present low state of education on Imperial questions I should not be afraid of putting to the people of this country the question whether or not we should stand by our Imperial responsibilities. I am certain that they are still in temper, spirit and mind a deeply conscientious Imperial people and that there is only one answer which would be made. But we must bring our organisation up to date. The great advantage of our Constitution has been its adaptability to changed circumstances. Let us then fit it once again to the times and prove that our democracy possesses in as great a degree as ever before the ancient creative virtue of our race.
I beg to second the Amendment which has been so ably and eloquently dealt with by the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), who has given the Government and the House a great deal of food for thought and, I hope, for action. No one can speak with greater knowledge and experience on these subjects than the hon. Member. For a long period, ever since he was one of Lord Milner's brilliant young men in Africa, he has achieved much good work, as a writer, as an administrator and as an advocate in the interests of our Colonial and Imperial affairs. He has made another contribution to-day, which is well worthy of the consideration of the Government and the House.
It was a matter of great satisfaction to me to see in the Gracious Speech mention that the question of Colonial development was to play an important part in the legislation of the Government during the present Session. Some of us have been pressing for such a declaration for some time, and we had great hopes that when that declaration was made and when this Debate took place the Secretary of State for the Colonies, through his able Under-Secretary, would be in a position to make a pronouncement of his policy for Colonial development. We hoped that he would be able to give a reply to certain suggestions and proposals which were put forward in the last Debate on this subject. It was somewhat of a shock, however, to those of us who were working in close touch with the late Minister on these subjects to find that he was no longer in his place and that the question of making a statement on future Colonial policy was handed over to somebody else who has assumed that office. Like my hon. Friend who spoke before me, I have the greatest respect and admiration for the brilliance of the newly appointed Secretary of State, and it is no derogation of his abilities to say that it is very unfair to us and to him, and certainly to the House, that he should be called upon so suddenly to reply to the Debate, because it has not been possible for him at 24 hours' notice to get any knowledge or experience of his new office. However, if he has entrusted to the Under-Secretary the duty of replying, I hope also that he has given him latitude to deal with the problems which we have been dealing with together for a considerable time, and that he will be able to give us some pronouncement on Colonial policy. Otherwise, I am afraid this Debate will be a barren one and a disappointment to many persons in this House.
At this stage I want to register a protest with my hon. Friend at the manner in which the Prime Minister—like successive Prime Ministers—has dealt with this question of the appointment of a Colonial Secretary. I was one of those in the House for a number of years who thought that the Colonies were not getting sufficient attention or the support which they deserved, and who pressed for the setting-up of a separate Ministry, divorcing the Colonial Office from the Dominions Office. Since that change was made there has been nothing but a succession of Ministers and Under-Secretaries in that office, and none of them has been long enough there to get sufficient knowledge of his subject to formulate a policy. The result is that there is no long-term policy, in fact I do not know whether there is any definite policy at all for Colonial administration. To my mind the frequent changes in this office make it all the more important that the suggestion put forward by myself and some of my colleagues in the last Debate for the setting up of a Colonial Development Board to plan Colonial policy should be put in hand right away. It is impossible for Ministers, however willing they may be, and certainly not for the Under-Secretary, who has to deal with questions of supply and to answer questions in this House, to deal during the war with the problems of future Colonial administration and reconstruction. Therefore, it is essential that we should have a body outside the Parliamentary sphere free to devote its full time to this problem and to formulate a policy.
A great many committees and bodies have been set up to deal with local domestic problems of post-war reconstruction. We have a Ministry dealing with post-war reconstruction, town and country planning committees, reconstruction commit-tees, also committees dealing with social problems—the Beveridge Committee, for instance. They are all dealing with matters of post-war reconstruction at home, but so far we have had no indication that a similar body is to be set up to deal with questions of Colonial post-war policy. That is why I ask the Government to set up this Colonial Development Board as soon as possible and to let them get on with their work. We have reason to-day to expect a United Nations' victory within a reasonable time, and it is very important, as was said elsewhere, that we should not be "caught by the peace" but have plans and proposals ready to put into operation when it comes. Otherwise, we shall have to answer to a good deal of criticism, some of which is already filtering through, on the way we administer our Colonies. I do not accept all that criticism. I think a great deal of it is unjustified and is due to ignorance, and also to the fact that the Colonial Office itself has been so backward in educating both the British public and the world at large on what is our Colonial policy, what are our ideals and all that we have done in the way of Colonial development in the past.
I return to the proposals which I mentioned in the last Debate and which are contained in our Amendment, which include the setting up of a Colonial Development Board. What should be the personnel and functions of this Board? In my view it should be a statutory body and it should be responsible to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Someone has suggested that there should be a separate Department of the Colonial Office, called a planning department; others have suggested that there should be at the Colonial Office a separate Minister to deal with planning, an extra Under-Secretary. I have no objection to either of those suggestions provided a Board is set up first. It should have a full-time chairman and secretariat to deal with such questions as defence—and therefore it should have a representative of the Chiefs of Staff Committee to consult, because a great many mistakes have been made in that direction—it should have a full time member for questions of finance, health, housing and education, and it should have a representative of the Supply Departments. It should also have power to co-opt at any time experienced technicians or engineers, business men or anybody else who would be able to assist, to serve on sub-committees dealing with questions of production for home and export, communications and power. In addition to these permanent members and co-opted members the Colonial peoples themselves should have representation, and also the Dominions if they agree.
The functions of the Board should be to co-ordinate and consolidate the work of the many committees which the Colonial Secretary has already set up and to formulate a long term-policy. It should take over the administration of the Colonial Development Fund. At present that Fund has a grant of some £5,500,000 a year for ten years, but unfortunately, as has already been pointed out, in wartime, owing to shipping and supply difficulties, it has been impossible to spend the money and it is reverting to the Treasury. Most of the money voted for that purpose has reverted to the Treasury, and of course that is inevitable during war-time, but what is the use of voting money unless it is to be used? I am going to make a suggestion, which I have already offered, as to how that money should be utilised. It is obvious to anybody who has considered the question of Colonial development that £5,000,000 a year over a period of ten years is only a drop in the ocean, a flea bite, compared with what must be spent after the war on any policy or any broad measure of Colonial development. There are, as has been mentioned, about 40 different administrations looking after 65,000,000 people, and the last war caused a gap in Colonial development which has never been filled up, though we were beginning to overtake the lag when this war started. Now there is another gap of three or four years when nothing can be done in that direction, and a great deal of money must be spent. My suggestion, which I know has the support of people who understand these problems, is that the Colonial Development Fund should be set aside to guarantee the in- terest upon a loan large enough to cover the amount required by the Colonial Development Board in any schemes they may wish to carry out. It will be a very large sum indeed I have seen mentioned the sum of £500,000,000, but it will certainly be a sum in the hundreds of millions, if we are to make any impression at all, and it is absolutely essential that we should have some means of guaranteeing a loan after the war. Making use of the Colonial Development Fund, is, I think, the best way. I urge both Ministers to give serious consideration to the problem and to make an announcement upon it to-day if possible. During the last Debate, about six months ago, the right hon. Gentleman promised that he would refer the matter to his right hon. Friend and would make a statement on it at an early date. Up to now he has not done so. I hope that he will do so to-day. Otherwise, I hope he will tell us what proposals he intends to put forward in its place.
Reference has been made to criticisms that are being made to-day from the other side of the Atlantic, as well as from people at home, about the manner in which we are administering our Colonial Empire. I am afraid that some of those criticisms are based upon the poisonous propaganda put out by Dr. Goebbels and which, I am afraid, has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by people not too kindly disposed towards us in America and in other places. A great deal of it is due to ignorance of the facts. I want to know what the Colonial Office are doing, by means of propaganda, textbooks, bluebooks, or education, to try to dispel the misunderstanding that exists at the present time on the other side of the Atlantic and in this country. I believe the Colonial Office have been very backward in this matter of education and information by means of textbooks for schools, pamphlets or bluebooks to keep the country and the world informed of their activities. Although I think more should have been done, I maintain that we have nothing to be ashamed of in our administration of our Colonial Empire. Taking the whole of our administrative record over the last century, by and large, one can say that we have no reason to be ashamed and every reason to be proud.
The charges that are made should be answered. The first charge is that Britain—chiefly Britain, although other nations also possess Colonies—have always used their Colonies for exploitation and for their own enrichment. Nothing could be farther from the truth than that statement. Britain and the Government of the United Kingdom have poured far more wealth into their Colonies than ever they got out of them. No revenue has ever been accepted from any British Colony by the British Exchequer. Although great wealth has been poured into the Colonies and grants-in-aid have been provided for practically every Colony in the Empire at one time or another, to help them to balance their Budgets, when they have found themselves in a position to pay their way, they have not subscribed one penny towards the British Exchequer, and they have never been asked to do so. That is the answer to one of the charges made by the propagandists.
The next charge I will consider is that we have prevented other countries from obtaining raw material in our Colonial Empire. That, again, is absolutely untrue. No British Colony has at any time put an embargo upon any kind of export of raw materials or goods. On the other hand, although the British Government at one time had millions of unemployed in this country, they never compelled any British Colony to buy from Britain, in spite of the existence of a preference. Statistics show that although Colonies with preferences have increased their purchases from the Mother country, their purchases from other countries have doubled or trebled. That is the answer to the charge that we have denied to other countries access to our raw materials. A League of Nations Committee on Raw Materials has confirmed this fact.
Why are not these things made known by broadcast and other means, so that people will be able to answer these charges when they are made? The fact that to-day all our Colonies, the free Dominions and India are fighting shoulder to shoulder with us in the war for the preservation of democracy and for freedom should be ample evidence of the faith and confidence that they have in us, and that we shall fulfil our trust to them in the future.
In the first place, I wish to associate myself with the observations of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment and with those of the Seconder. I would express my own regret at the changes which have recently taken place in regard to the administration of our Colonial Office. I say that, not in disparagement of the new Colonial Secretary, but because I am sure that rapid and numerous changes do not make for a stable policy or a good policy in our Colonial administration. I think I am correct in saying that since the last war we have had no fewer than 18 Colonial Secretaries and, in this Parliament, five or six, an average of very little more than a year each. I am sure we all must agree that the short space of 12 months is not enough time to allow any Minister to get a grasp of the problems which face us in our Colonies. Having said that, I wish to say that I was somewhat disappointed in the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, in that he set out by deprecating the occupying of time or the wasting of time in these days with regard to academic declarations about charters, either Atlantic, I suppose, or otherwise, so far as the Colonies are concerned, and urged that the right thing to do was to get down to concrete remedies for the ills which we know exist in the Colonies. Apart from a general passage in his speech in which he referred to the possibilities of co-operative action in Africa, of course, in the East and West, with Portugal, Belgium and France, I did not find any concrete proposals whatever.
But the hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded the Amendment has made some kind of concrete proposal. That concrete proposal is that there should be set up a Colonial Development Board, and the purpose of that is to meet the passage in the Gracious Speech in which these words are used:
My Government desire to do their utmost to raise the standards and to improve the conditions of My Peoples in the Colonies, who are playing their full part in the united war effort.
That is the expressed desire in the King's Speech, to raise the standards and improve the conditions of our Colonial peoples. The question occurs to me that if there is to be a board set up to achieve that purpose, with which, of course, we are all in agreement, what kind of a board
is it to be? My hon. and gallant Friend has said that he visualises a statutory board, but as to what powers, financial or otherwise, that board would have, I did not quite gather that it was made very clear. If the Colonial Development Board visualised in this proposal, which is to be a statutory body, consists, as I gather, of business men, of experts, of scientists, of perhaps experienced Colonial administrators also, the thing that strikes me is as to what would be its immediate purpose. Will it be to develop our Colonies on the lines of commercial enterprise with a view to encouraging vested interests to provide capital and utilise the natural resources of the Colonies for their mainly commercial and private purposes? If that is the kind of board that is visualised, I do not think it is the kind of concrete remedy that is in keeping with the times or which would meet the problems we have to face.
On the other hand, if the proposer has in mind that it is to be a board of a purely disinterested character, existing and functioning solely for the purpose of developing the Colonies for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Colonies, there is something to be said for that. But I would rather like to submit to the House that that purpose can be achieved in a much more direct, representative and democratic manner than the setting-up of such a board as has been briefly outlined by the Seconder of the Amendment. I wish in just a few words to submit that the first thing which might be done, and which ought to be done, now that we are alive to the necessity of facing the issues in the Colonies which the war has accentuated, is that we should ask the Government not to set up a Colonial Development Board such as has been suggested to-day, but that they should create a Standing Parliamentary Committee, consisting of representatives of both Houses of Parliament and of all parties, meeting with the Colonial Under-Secretary or Secretary of State, or some other special Minister, and functioning regularly, systematically, surveying the Colonial situation and keeping this House, which after all is responsible for the remedies to be applied, in close touch with the developments and the possibilities of any schemes that might be applied.
In that connection I would also suggest that perhaps, if the Government should see their way to the setting-up of such a Standing Parliamentary Committee, there might be a new and additional Minister. There would be scope and great opportunity for an additional Minister to be in charge of Colonial reconstruction, functioning with the Standing Committee of both Houses of Parliament, surveying the situation, exploring problems, surveying the remedies which could be applied. That would be one of the best steps we could take. There have been Commissions sent out by this House to nearly all our Colonies over the last 40 years. These Commissions have reported. They have spent sometimes many months investigating some special Colonial problem which had arisen, and their Reports have been issued to Parliament. But over the 40 years very little indeed has come out of those Reports. Commission after Commission has been reporting over the last 30 years, at least, on social conditions in the Colonies—housing, health, education, and so on—and the Reports are pigeonholed in the Colonial Office, and very little has been done. Why? It may be, of of course, that the Colonial Office or the Secretary of State was either not sufficiently concerned to find a remedy, or they were too busy to attend to them.
It is for that reason that I stress the importance of this House accepting responsibility by the creation of a Standing Parliamentary Committee, which could keep in constant touch with Colonial problems. Such a Committee could have its regular meetings and its expert advisers. It could have sub-committees, such as were referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend who seconded the Amendment. This idea of a Standing Parliamentary Committee for colonial affairs is not new; it has been ventilated many times in the last eight or nine years. In 1938 the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain, expressed a great sympathy with the idea, and gave a kind of half-promise that this demand from Members on all sides of the House would be taken into very serious consideration; but still, in 1942, nothing has come of it. I suggest that the Under-Secretary should bring this matter again before his chief, and that, in view of the problems which are arising now and which will arise after the war, very serious consideration should be given to the matter. Other Parliaments have had such committees. France always had a committee surveying French Colonial affairs. I have referred to the Reports which have been made on Colonial conditions. The last was the Report of the Royal Commission which went to investigate conditions in Jamaica in 1939. It did not issue a full Report, but it did issue some Report, after the war had broken out, and it made recommendations. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Squadron-Leader Macdonald) spoke of everything being lovely in the Colonial garden.
I accept the hon. and gallant Member's explanation; but he did say that we had every reason to be proud of what had been done in our Colonial administration. I do not want to disparage what we have done in the Colonial sphere. I agree that a great deal has been done by Governments from time to time. I accept what the hon. and gallant Member said about other countries having access to our Colonial products, and it is quite true that this country has made no profit out of the Colonies. But what about certain individuals, who have had the monopoly of those resources—sugar, bananas, oil, and, in Africa, metals and so on? Have not individuals made immense profits out of those Colonial resources, by the utilisation of the natural conditions and the labour which were there available? As to the necessity of getting down to real remedies for the problems, may I quote a passage from the American journal "Time"? The Jamaica correspondent of that journal wrote, in September of this year, that fear of starvation and long-smouldering resentment at economic servility and past exploitation have made the natives in the slumlands of Spanish Town and another town close to Kingstown restless. On the fringe of Kingstown there were now 9,000 unemployed labourers who refused to go on after a taste of the high wages paid in the United States naval bases.
He said that 1,300 night vigilantes had been ordered out to patrol the streets at night with clubs and revolvers, and Canadian and United States troops were ordered out. The marching troops were a tacit warning that Jamaican police were backed by armed force. That is an indication of conditions in our Colonies to-day. What are we doing to meet a situation of that kind? In 1940 we passed the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. As has been said, very little of that money has been spent. There was £1,000,000 due to the West Indies in 1940–41, and another £1,000,000 due in 1941–42; and I think less than £1,000,000 has been spent up to date on welfare in the West Indies. Of the £10,000,000 which the Colonial Welfare Act provided in 1940, £8,000,000 has not yet been spent. Surely there is some slackness and lack of will to meet the situation. One of the first steps would be to get this House into close touch with the position by setting up a Parliamentary Committee in order that they might give attention to these problems.
I want to touch upon one other topic only. In the reconstruction work which has now to be faced in our Colonial dependencies, there is something more to be done than merely finding the money, although that is very important. The economic problems are fundamental, and the situation has to be tackled side by side with the fact that we have to give our Colonial subjects a realisation that they too have to be partners and have to play a part in that reconstruction. We have to state our attitude both before the end of the war and after the war in regard to the future government of the Colonies. Are we to be content to be sneered at and continue to rule our great Colonies from Whitehall? Are not the natives of these Colonies to have the rights for which we stand as democrats to develop their own countries and to realise that they are their own countries? In the West Indies alone we have no fewer than 27 Colonies, and we have had most of them for periods varying from 200 to 300 years. They have been in our continuous rule, and not one of them has self-government to-day. In not one of them can the people say that they rule or have any responsible part. They cannot appoint the Governor or the Colonial Secretary; these are appointments that are made in Whitehall. But that kind of thing has to come to an end, and we have to recognise their right, as responsible citizens in their own country, to play their full part in the post-war new world which we are visualising.
It is not good enough for a Minister of the Government to say, as he said the other day—I refer to Lord Croft—that we are going to lift them into partnership, and into partnership in our own wisdom, in our own good time, and into full self-expression. They want to know why they cannot have self-expression now and not in our own good time. It is for the Prime Minister to say, in the atmosphere which has come out of this war and as a result of the obligation we have entered upon with other nations, that the whole world shall be open for all to play their part. For him to say that what we have we shall hold, is disturbing to our Allies. It is criticised in America. Wendell Willkie has said that his idea of the Atlantic Charter applies not only to European and American countries but to all countries in every part of the world. I appeal to the Under-Secretary to press upon his Minister that the least that can be done is for some form of Colonial charter to be announced at an early date, so that the native people will know that, when the war is over, they can go forward as full partners, playing their part in the building of the new world to which we are all looking forward after the war.
I do not suggest that it is possible for us to accord to or to establish complete self-government in all our Colonies. In a large number of them, in the West Indian Colonies and the West African Colonies on the coasts, in the large towns of 70,000 people, you could establish pretty well complete self-government. As far as the African Colonies are concerned, in the hinterland where the natives are more backward it is not a possible proposition, but at least we could get a drive on towards democratising as far as possible the various forms of native rule and organisation in those backward Colonies and also provide at the same time for Nigeria, Kenya, and all the Colonies to be able to send their coloured representatives to a legislative council or assembly to take part in the legislative work for the future. I put that forward as a suggestion. The world is looking for a sincere declaration that we are now prepared to play our part and to democratise our Colonies.
Like all the speakers who have spoken on this Amendment, I wish to open my speech by giving my congratulations to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has now taken over the onerous function of the Colonies. I also want to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary, who is still acting as his coadjutor in his present position. He has given the House, on the occasions he has spoken, a very clear and masterly lead on the development of the Colonies, and I hope he will continue in his office and that there will be shown some continuity of policy. I do not wish to impugn in any way the new Secretary of State—I am certain he will carry out his duties with distinction and every success—but it is hard on any man to take over at the present time the direction of Colonial affairs without having been in touch with the trend of public opinion and work in the Colonial Office at the present time. I also want to thank the hon. Gentlemen who moved and seconded the Amendment for bringing the Colonial question once more before the House, and that, I think, on the only occasion, speaking of my fairly considerable experience of Parliamentary duties, on the Debate on the Address.
The main proposal which has been put forward is one for the Development Board. I welcome discussion on this, although I gather that opinions on it are widely divergent. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Squadron-Leader Macdonald) put forward a proposal for a statutory committee comprising many members, but, so far as I could make out, very few Members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) put forward a proposal for a body entirely composed of Members of the two Houses. Both these proposals are new departures from our ancient Parliamentary tradition, and I much regret the comparison that was put forward by the hon. Member in bringing forth the example of the French Parliament, which used these commissions extensively thereby creating great dissensions and being rendered utterly ineffective. If a body of this kind was set up in this country—and I do not deprecate the setting-up of such a body—I hope it will not be a body with such wide and large powers. I think it may be useful as an advisory body to the Colonial Office, but I do not think we should destroy the work which is being carried on by that great Government Department.
I agree that a change of Ministers does rather throw the direction of our Colonial policy into the hands of the officials of the Colonial Office, which makes it rather bureaucratic, and I think it would be a good thing if a check was put on that by a committee of Members of the two Houses. The origin of the idea of this committee was really the Development Fund which was set up a few years ago. However, this Fund, as has been pointed out, has rather too narrow a scope, and I think that if a board of Members of this House was set up to control only expenditure by this small body, it would be only a small thing for it to do. It requires a much wider outlook, because the Colonial question is one which has interested the world very greatly during the last 10 years. To the rest of the world the Colonial question is really one of distribution and not merely production, a point which, I think, was omitted by the Mover of the Amendment. It is useless, I suggest, to stress increased production in our Colonies without having a scheme of distribution.
Let me stress the importance of tropical produce to the world. In our history tropical produce has always been in demand. Indeed, King Solomon sent his men to Africa and Asia to bring back spices, gold, precious stones, rare timbers, ebony and ivory, and it was a period of great prosperity. The Roman Empire in its most prosperous time made much use of tropical and sub-tropical produce, and we know that throughout mediaeval times and during the Renaissance Argosies laden with spices and dyes came from the East and the African coast. Late in the 19th century and at the beginning of this century great prosperity was shown by increased trade and the increased importation into Europe of tropical produce from the Colonies. If we want an index of the prosperity of civilisation or of an era, we shall find it in the extent to which it has made us of its tropical produce. To-day, the improvement in our civilisation has created needs which were quite unknown in previous ages, and these needs, as we know, have been principally created by the advance of science and by mechanical efficiency which have revolutionised ideas of scale and tempo of life. Many of these resources and much of the products required to supply these needs are to be found within the Colonial areas of the world. The importance of Colonial produce to-day was clearly exemplified last Tuesday week in this House, when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare indicated how important the products of North Africa, which were now denied to Germany and France, were to those two countries before the American landings in Algiers and North Africa. Even from that small part of the world that small addition to France's resources showed how necessary and important were the tropical and subtropical products to the industrial and mechanical life of a nation, not only in war-time but in peace.
When the clamour was raised a few years before the war by other countries which were called "The have-nots" they did not desire only and mainly the responsibility of Colonial administration. What they wanted was control of Colonial areas in order to obtain tropical products and also military and strategic positions. After the war the problem of non-Colonial Powers will not have changed, and this problem will have to be solved if we hope for peaceful, prosperous international relations. Therefore, I welcome in this respect the words spoken the other day by the Deputy Prime Minister, when he said that we would endeavour to make the products of the Colonies accessible to all the world. If we approach this question of Colonial development from this end, not only shall we be laying one of the most important foundation stones of world peace and prosperity, but we shall also be conferring the largest measure of benefit on the Colonies themselves. Our aim for the Colonies has always been to lead them towards adult status, an aim which singularly agrees with that of America, as shown in a letter in "The Times" to-day, signed by the most eminent Colonial administrator of our day and the most responsible authority on Colonial affairs to-day, Lord Lugard. But political advancement is not possible without economic independence. By that I mean freedom from outside help and control, independence of charitable and semi-charitable measures. Political independence can be achieved only by economically developed countries carrying on a mutually beneficial exchange of goods with other countries.
The Colonies may well find their opportunity of such advancement in the needs of the world after the war, just as, I submit, the post-war world may find its salvation in the resources of the Colonies. The problem of distribution was great before the war, but it will be far greater when the world lays down its arms. The post-war world will not be like the one we knew before the war, a world of leisure and wealth and order. It will be an impoverished world; there will be a state of affairs unparalleled since the days of the Thirty Years' War—destruction and disorganisation in Europe, China, Malaya, New Guinea, the Dutch Colonies—in every area where fighting is taking place. After the war, industries are bound to be at a standstill, and it will take years to regenerate them and begin production again. During that time, these countries will be in desperate need of commodities of all sorts, and in addition their Exchequers will be empty and they will have no produce of their own to give in return for the goods they wish to obtain. In pre-war years, as we know, the main obstacles to trade were artificial, such as tariff walls and quotas. Those of us who sat on the Colonial and Empire Marketing Boards, set up in 1937 by Lord Harlech, know that those were the difficulties we encountered in trying to establish the trade of the Colonies. Let us hope the war will at least sweep away these barriers. But the barrier of impoverishment will remain.
It is imperative that some machinery should be set up—a board, a council or a department of the Colonial Office—to devise some means of helping the Colonies to sell their produce. Since this is an international problem of the first magnitude, it is important that any body set up should work in the closest co-operation with similar bodies and organisations in other countries. It is very important that there should be-co-operation between the Colonial Powers producing similar commodities in order to co-ordinate both production and distribution. A splendid example of inter-Colonial co-operation is now to be found in West Africa. There the Free French, the Free Belgians and ourselves are co-operating together from an economic point of view, and now, to increase the orbit, as far as trade and industry are concerned, the great Dependency of Dakar has been added.
But this is only a beginning. Every opportunity must be taken of extending the field of co-operation. All the Colonial territories of the world, except those of Spain and Portugal, are now within the orbit of the United Nations. The Colonial Powers alone cannot set the wheels of trade and industry turning. Britain and the United States must take the lead. Only the other day, Mr. Roosevelt gave his assurance that the United States will do this, not as a work of philanthropy, but, he said, for the benefit of its own pocket book, its own safety and its own future security from attack. It is essential that we should co-operate with the United States; it will be costly, but it must be done. Certainly, the idea of planning is one which is repugnant to many of us, but these are exceptional conditions in which we live and we shall have to face exceptional circumstances after the war. The law of supply and demand may well have broken down. Colossal tasks will face us. The only choice may be between muddling along and planning, until the world is rehabilitated and the economic machine is once more functioning normally. I think planning will have to be adopted in some measure. As Sir William Beveridge urged the other day, some regard must be paid to this in internal matters.
Machinery will have to be set up for financing the vast development machines which will be necessary in the Colonies. Perhaps there may be Government utility companies or corporations, or money may be lent by private bodies under guarantee, or under international auspices. There could be provision for repayment as productivity is increased. A report has been issued lately in America by the American Committee on African Affairs, which is well known as an enlightened body. Its members are educators, missionaries, and students of Africa. They suggest that the principle of Lease-lend should be applied to the development of public work in Africa. I hope this suggestion will be adopted, not only as regards public works, but also as regards economic development, such as the checking of soil erosion, the opening of communications, mineral development, and so on. America is already well mixed up with us in the West Indies and in West Africa, and I hope this mixing up will continue.
With regard to international administration, a matter which is so often raised, I think one word is sufficient. We cannot at the present time consider the appointment of German or Italian administrators in our Colonies, or in any Colonies, after the years of Nazi and Fascist education to which they have been submitted. If we are to exclude our enemies and their satellites from Colonial administration, we shall create a position very similar to that created by the guilt clause in the Versailles Treaty. It is unnecessary to do that. We need not have a body of international administrators. We are quite capable of administering our Colonies ourselves. To discuss this matter at the present time is pointless and useless. I do not know what may happen in 30 or 40 years' time, but it is doubtful whether in our lifetime we can consider allowing our present enemies to look after the natives whose care has been entrusted to us. But we look forward to co-operation with the United States of America.
Mr. Winant a few weeks ago spoke of the wide divergence of view between the United States and ourselves. Everything should be done to close that gap. Ignorance in America, however, is quite excusable when we think how widespread it is here. Little instruction is given in Colonial affairs in our schools and universities, and this ignorance produces irresponsibility, as we have seen even in the House. Hon. Members will recall a speech only a few days ago by a Member on the other side of the Gangway, who said that if Members thought we were going through this in order to keep their Malayan swamps they were greatly mistaken. He seemed not to have known that Malaya, with the development that it has had in the last 30 or 40 years, has become a great productive region. He did not seem to know that it was flourishing, that it had a loyal people and that the standard of living of the natives had been very much improved. He did not know that the inhabitants of the country had given treasure to this country and spent large sums in order to prosecute the war. Hardly any of our Colonies have been more generous and more forthcoming in support of the war than these loyal Malayans. [Interruption.] I gather that the hon. Member of whom I am speaking was not the only ignorant Member in the House.
That is a perfect red herring drawn across my path, and I am not going to trouble to answer. It is completely irrelevant to what I am saying. I much regret that the hon. Member did not realise all this. Perhaps hon. Members are making these interjections because they think their speeches and interjections are of no importance and have no results, but they have an effect. They are printed in the American Press, and they misguide American opinion. Mr. Willkie, who has shown his interest in the development and reconstruction of Europe and has always been a friend of ours ever since we have been in difficulties with Germany, the other day cast animadversions on a remark by the Prime Minister that what we have we hold. This is all the more serious because he has been such a good friend. Only yesterday in Toronto I believe he advocated a better understanding between our two nations, not only during but after the war. His first speech, however, need not be taken too seriously, because we all remember that just before the Americans landed in Algeria he thought it wise and useful to prod the American generals into greater action. He may have done this not merely with the idea of prodding the American generals but of chloroforming the generals in enemy countries. On this occasion he may also have been flying a kite in order to make his Republican friends lift their eyes to heaven.
A year ago I urged on the Colonial Office the necessity of a representative in the United States. The then Under-Secretary announced that an official of this sort had been appointed in order to encourage the export of Colonial products to America. I consider that this official should have far wider functions and
should be on a level with the representatives of the Dominions in order to represent the interests of the Colonial peoples, especially at present, when we are sending such a spate of produce from our Colonies to America. If there was such an official, speeches like that of Mr. Willkie could not be made. Another great friend of ours who has always helped us, Senator Pepper, added his condiment to the political salad. He said he wondered if the Prime Minister would have had the temerity to speak that sentence into the ears of a dying soldier or sailor. What a misguided remark. After all, the Prime Minister, when he made that very pregnant statement, meant that we should hold fast by our duties and responsibilities. Let us remember that he is the same man who, after Dunkirk, said we had to stand by our responsibilities and duties. He is the same man who, nearly 40 years ago, stood by General Smuts and Botha and helped them to draw up the Constitution of South Africa, which gave her freedom and independence. I should like to read a few lines from a speech the Prime Minister made in 1937, when he said:
In all the coalitions or leagues of nations we have led in successive centuries against tyranny or military over-lordship, we have always hitherto succeeded because our cause was inseparable from the cause of freedom and progress. The British Empire marches, and can only march, with the larger hopes of mankind.
Such is the Empire which he does not wish to liquidate. Before America was forced into the war by the events at Pearl Harbour this country fought a successful and distinguished campaign in Ethiopia, which liberated that country and opened up the Red Sea. Were it not for that campaign, it is very doubtful whether the present African undertaking could have been carried out, whether General Montgomery could have had his victories and whether General Eisenhower could lead that great host at present in Algeria.
That great company which fought in Abyssinia with General Cunningham were men from many parts of Africa. The report of the campaign showed what a magnificent part they played. These men were descended from families who were savages in the jungle only a generation or two ago. To-day they are educated and civilised. They fought with us on terms of equality with our own men. They have become part and parcel of a civilised community of nations and of the British Empire. They were splendid soldiers whether giving orders or obeying them, and they died as they lived in the field on terms of absolute equality with men of this country. All these men were volunteers. None were drafted. When they were killed or wounded they made their sacrifice freely. They made it as much for their own country, for their own Africa, as they did for the America of Mr. Willkie and Senator Pepper. They laid down their lives as much for the sake of the new world as for that of the old.
The measures which have been proposed by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment and to some extent by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) will be of no avail if the Empire is to be liquidated after the war. I should like to consider whether it is in fact standing in such danger. Is the British Empire likely to liquidate itself? All indications point the other way. Nothing binds so firmly as freedom, and if one moves about the Colonies, one finds the people more fiercely proud of being British than we are ourselves. That remark by the Jamaican negro to the Frenchman who had jostled him, "I think you forget, sir, that we defeated you at Waterloo," is typical of the spirit we find all over the Colonies. The splendid telegram sent in 1940 by Sir Sikander Hyat Khan, the Prime Minister of the Punjab, to the Government of this country, "Tell the British people that if there is any trouble in the Middle East, I will raise them a million volunteers without any pressure from the Government or any other Englishman," is also typical of the same spirit. There is the true India, not that imaginary land where chota peg drinking pukka sahibs exploit Indians for British profit. Although the Empire has a few murky pages in its history, it has never been just a convenient capitalist frame for exploitation, as some hon. Members sometimes suggest to us in this House. From the formation of the merchant adventurers in 1553 until the East India Company found its responsibilities too great for it, big business played a major part in building up the Empire. Since then, rather than exploiting it too much, it has not supported it enough. The sparse population of many of our Colonies, the few people that edge the Australian Saucer and the then life line of Canada, have not offered sufficient opportunities to big business out for quick profits rather than enduring interests. I think that in future we shall have to turn it back towards the Empire, harnessing it perhaps to modern schemes of immigration. Free peoples do like to trade with each other.
Does our Whitehall administration tend to liquidate the Empire? It is powerful, as the Proposer and Seconder have pointed out, owing to frequent changes of Ministers. We know that it has tended to irritate the Empire from time to time, and that it is reluctant to relinquish any power it may have achieved. We may have trouble with it in this country on that account after the war, but not so the Empire. The Colonies are equal, and we were taught such a lesson in liquidation by the loss of the American Colonies in 1783 by a muddling, meddling Whitehall bureaucracy, no administration is likely to forget. Since then the process of converting the Colonies into Dominions may have tarried, but the system of local government by local men in distant dependencies has been practised by Whitehall in a manner no other Empire can boast. Herr Hitler, of course, longs to divide our Empire, and the Gracious Speech has reminded us that our enemies yet remain powerful.
Both the German Empire and the British Empire have been built up on the instalment system, the one by instalments of autocracy and aggression and the other by instalments of freedom, and our loosely ruled Empire has always been a festering irritation to super-efficient Germany. Yet every gesture they have made, every blow they have aimed, the fusion of Germany into a great military Power in 1871, the annexation of the Pacific Islands in 1900, the last war and now this one, have increased the strength which our Empire draws from unity. It must annoy Hitler quite a lot to think that it was Germany which originated the British Empire, for it was the Hanseatic League which drove our merchant adventurers to explore the seas by trying to run England as a sheep farm for Germany. Perhaps that is why Hitler, when he has defeated us, intends to try the same game again.
Thus the wheel does a full turn over four centuries and rather than being broken on it, the British Empire is strengthened immeasurably. Yet strangely enough the war aims of Germany and the war aims of some of our American friends seem to converge over our unfortunate British Empire. One thing that we are not fighting for, say the editors of "Life," is to hold the British Empire together. We have guaranteed the Empires of France, Spain, Holland and Portugal, but we have not guaranteed British possessions. May I, as one who has spent several Thanksgiving days in America, and who is the proud owner of a small American property, give a back bencher's views on these pretensions? American school books are full, naturally enough, of the unjust treatment of young Colonies by the Mother Country, which led to the War of Independence. Those earliest impressions so influence some Americans that the word "possession" gives just as false an impression to them of the British Empire as the word "Imperial" gives to some of us.
It is a pity that we have failed to hang a truer picture on the American line. It is a pity that in the past we have not explained to the Americans that, as the Seconder of the Amendment has mentioned, there is no export duty on any commodity out of any Colony, and that thus long ago we put one provision of the Atlantic Charter into effect. Let us tell them now and of how very early in the history of Canada we gave such equal civil and religious rights to the French settlers as most of the minorities of Europe are still longing for; of how when we had conquered Mysore we restored an ancient dynasty which rules to this day; of how we run India with about 50,000 white troops, one good-humoured British soldier to every 7,000 Indians; of how we run our whole Colonial Africa of 40,000,000 natives with no white regiment at all to back up authority; of how the only thing that is shameful about our Empire are those people in this country who picture it to the world as a creature of blood and iron. After those tense months in 1940, when we stood alone against giant foes, it is wonderfully inspiring now to fight shoulder to shoulder with American warriors, but I would ask those editors and their friends not to presume on help that they may incidentally give to the British Empire. After all, after we had settled our ancient quarrel, the British Navy was for many decades the first line of defence of the Monroe doctrine, and they should admit that they still owe a little help to our own particular Monroe doctrine. America, an Empire in herself, stretching from the temperate zone almost to the tropics, is rich in all manner of natural wealth and possesses about 14 acres of land for each of her citizens. Britain, with what remains of her natural resources after 1,000 years of use, has only got about one acre of land for each of her citizens and can only remain a first-class Power as the motherland and centre of younger nations. The last thing surely that our Allies can want is to see us decline to a small, unimportant little land floating off the coast of Europe.
No one is more entitled to stand up for the Empire than the present Prime Minister. Talking to the Conference of British Premiers 20 years ago he said:
There is one ideal that the British Empire can set before itself. There should be no barrier of race, colour or creed which should prevent any man reaching the station he is fitted for.
Since then, whether he has carried all the guns of Cabinet rank or has operated as a powerful privateer from the corner seat below the Gangway, he has fought for that principle. He is not the man to be rattled by public opinion, Allied or otherwise, into an unsatisfactory course of action. He has said, that our Colonial people are neither cattle to be sold nor slaves to be dispersed, and having observed the unholy mess of the last 20 years of uneconomic self-determination, and the simple but unpromising experiment in international control at Tangier, he is not going lightly to hand over our people to less practised hands. We shall welcome American co-operation in the development of our Empire, as we have already welcomed it in the Caribbean, but it must remain the responsibility of the Commonwealth people. After all, it is the common people, to use the fashionable phrase, who have forged and fed the Empire since its inception. Those adventurers of Elizabethan days, some of them ancestral constituents of mine, were just the same captains, mates and men as those who adventure everything to bring us food and munitions to-day Those thousands of families who left England to escape persecution in the 17th century, and to look for wealth after the Napoleonic wars, were the same sort of people who to-day grumble at our restrictions and ask for
more money for better work. That is why the whole Empire is full of MacDonalds, Joneses and Smiths, and why Empire kinship is a kinship of the common people. Why is it, then, that such a minority of our people seem to take an interest in the British Empire? There are possibly several reasons. Undoubtedly the cutthroat competition of the early 1900's, extending to Imperial trade, gave rise to the suspicion that the Empire was really a capitalist convenience. Undoubtedly the difficulties of emigration in recent times has dulled memories of kinship.
Undoubtedly the tendency to bracket the Empire with the Conservative party has played its part. But the Empire was never more needed than it is to-day, and therefore the question of making people realise what it means is an urgent one. To this small country the strains and stresses of peace may be more severe than those of war. We must export or starve, and to export against the new self-sufficiency of other nations, including the Dominions, will not be too easy. What the Empire will want, however, is the best men, and we shall have them, men hardened in the crucible of war and to whom adventure has become second nature. Given a readiness on the part of the Empire to take whole families, including the older members, we ought to be able to work out modern schemes of immigration which will be of profit to all. I hope that plans are being worked out on those lines. My right hon. Friend who presides over the Board of Education presides over a Department which has given less value for money than almost any other branch of our administration. I hope that among his other reforms he will teach the relations between the Empire and our own people as regularly as algebra and arithmetic.
I would finally suggest to one or two of my colleagues, particularly the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan)—I am sorry he is not here now, but I tried to find him—that they might learn a little bit more about the Empire. Americans have some excuse for misunderstanding it, but hon. Members of this House have none. In his speech on the Address the other day the hon. Member made remarks about the Empire which must have pleased Hitler quite a lot. These Englishmen, he would say, will one day foul their own nest once too often. The hon. Gentleman, like so many others not serving, claimed to know what the Services were fighting for. I have commanded a good many hundreds of men over the last two years, all of whom have been able to come and see me off the record for an hour every week, and I can assure the hon. Member that 99 men out of 100 are fighting to preserve the Empire rather than to destroy it. He also said that he represented the common people; so do I, and so do we all. I suggest to him that if he does his level best to undermine that organisation which makes England what she is and to break up the only League of Nations that has ever worked, he represents them rather indifferently. All of us have a grave responsibility towards the Empire. The Union Jack stands for great things and looks just as well behind a Labour platform as it does behind a Conservative platform. Let us assume that responsibility.
I will join with hon. Members to-day who have made reference to the return to the Government bench of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Colonial Secretary, and extend my congratulations to him. I will not comment upon the frequent changes that have taken place at the Colonial Office, because that might be deemed to be a criticism of the exalted personage who is responsible for those changes. I also have moved from one side of the House to the other, and I should not show that I have any concern in the rapid changes that sometimes take place in one Department after another. I join also in congratulating my right hon. Friend who is to reply to-day. He has been in his office for a longer period, and he has almost endeared himself—if that is the right word in politics—to the House by the way in which he has made his appearance here and dealt with the public business of his Department.
I would first say a word to my hon. Friend behind me. I offer him a word of advice too. These are difficult times, and when we think aloud we must be careful to go to some secluded place to give vent to all our disquiet, particularly of a domestic or family character. In this House, while we speak very freely about our problems and while we criticise, as I have to do even to-day, we ought not to supply material for further propaganda abroad, from either side of this House. Things were said in this House a few weeks ago. I do not think they helped German propaganda, but they may do so if they are repeated every time this House meets and if people rise up to express disapproval or condemnation of their colleagues in this House. After all, we are an Assembly unique in the world, and there is here represented a greater variety of experience, interest, outlook, training and environment than in any Parliament in the history of the world. You cannot expect everybody to be alike. This House would not be enriched if everybody spoke with the same accent, looked through the same glasses and saw everything from the same point of view.
Some hon. Members may not be altogether enamoured of the Empire, but I confess to a pride in what our people have done in building up this association, a community which is not racial and which transcends racialism. It is an approach towards a world community which is in the process of being amalgamated. It has to receive the attention of the craftsmen in community building, and it must derive considerable impetus and drive from the events of the day. The crisis of mankind in general affects each and every part of the British Commonwealth of Nations and affects their relations with the rest of the world. It would be wrong to assume that we must hold on to old things, old ideas and old relationships. The world is changing, and we, too, must conform to the gradually evolving different shape of things to be in the world.
To-day we were to be invited to discuss an Amendment. I confess my disappointment. We have not discussed that Amendment. I think the Mover of it said that he hoped we would not spend much time in discussing abstract policies, but he did nothing else. They were all abstractions. He reminded me of the man who could not see the wood for the trees. He entirely lost sight of the importance of mankind involved in these problems, and he paid too close an attention to separate pieces of administrative machinery or of policy, which may be all right in their place; but too many of them were pushed before us to-day to enable full use to be made of the right hon. Member's experience and knowledge. I do not see why this Amendment was worded in this way. It was not necessary to have an Amendment on the Order Paper welcoming the desire of the Government to improve the conditions of people in the Colonies. Indeed, I do not know whether it is in Order to do so. There was familiar method, however, in his presenting the Amendment in that form, which was the generous coating of sugary sentiment coming before the pill.
The pill was something quite different. The proposal that we are discussing is to establish a statutory body, the relation of which to Parliament appears very vague and uncertain, from what has been said, and with unprecedented power, outside the scope of ordinary bodies set up by this House. Its power would rival, or would even dominate, the power of the Colonial Office itself.
That is why I complain that that was not said to-day. This thing has not been set out properly. It is all delightfully vague. You can make it mean anything, from the speeches to-day, or mean nothing. I do not think to-day has been well spent. The hon. and gallant Member who last spoke could have said it all in Totnes without an Amendment to the Address. He could have said it in any hall in his constituency or anywhere else, and it would have been quite in order, but in this Debate it was not too helpful. All I could get from the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Squadron-Leader Macdonald) was that he was acknowledging the goodness, of the Government in placing at the disposal of the Colonial Office and administration a sum of £5,500,000 a year for the next 10 years—£55,000,000—and was complaining that that sum was not being spent for the purpose for which it had been granted by this House.
He said that if it is not used, if it is not spent up, the machinery to spend it is not in existence. He proposed that we should drop the idea and use the £5,500,000 to guarantee the interest on some loan to be used somewhere for something. He proposes to convert this grant, which is intended for the welfare, improvement and advancement of the people of the Colonies, to a guarantee for interest on a loan to be used by the people not directly, in my opinion, answerable to the House, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is. You cannot sub-contract an Empire, and you cannot transfer your responsibilities. If this House is tired of its responsibilities, it has no right to hold the Empire.
This proposal is not really as imperialistic as it is capitalistic and financial. The things we want done can be done by the Colonial Office aided by an Advisory Committee. They have already gone part of the way. They have appointed a committee, but they have not appointed the larger committee which has been promised. I think there is to be a statement made to the House at an early date on that point. I am not quite sure where we stand in that regard, but no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will answer the House in his own way and in his own time. We all welcome the expressed desire of the Government to promote the advancement of the people of the Colonies, and we also welcome the statement that the response of all the people in all the territories to the war effort has been so gratifying. I do not take the view that that must be due to the kindness and extreme generosity with which they have been treated. We have to take account of the moral resources of mankind. People who are not treated justly sometimes rally to the support of large causes.
These people have come to us nobly serving in uniform, many have served also without. They have shared the burden of patrolling the seas and maintaining the sea routes with our people. In the port where I live I see them coming in in large numbers, men who have come from the West Indies and West Africa, these dark-skinned brothers of ours. I have always been very proud to see them come-in and make themselves at home among us. But do not let us assume that they do it because they must do it out of gratitude and have no grievances. That would be a wrong interpretation. They have their grievances. I would like the hon. Member to talk to a few of them. But their grievances do not prevent them from serving, risking their lives; they lose their lives as readily as white men. They have grievances and will speak to one about them, of grievances in the City of London and even in the town in which I live.
In this war there is something greater than ordinary individual experiences. There are men in humble circumstances in this country who have recognised that here is a menace to the progress of mankind, that here is a threat to liberty and to personality. In this war there are millions of people who have been stirred to the depths of their mind and personality and they are fighting. The majority of the people in the world, Chinese, Africans and Indians, the coloured people—two-thirds of the anti-Axis forces are either Africans or Chinese or Indians—are men not of our colour, not of our outlook on life, not even, for the large part, citizens of the British Empire, but still they fight the Axis.
I would not stress the response of the peoples of the Empire as being because we have been so good to them. They have not been mollicoddled. They have suffered hardship and indignities. I do not say that that is the final stamp of un-worthiness in respect either of ourselves in this House or the people to which we belong. These injustices have existed all through the ages of mankind, but it is certainty our business here to-day, if we are to help in the making of a new world, to try to put our house in order as far as we can so as to go with a clean record towards our own people to engage in the building-up of new world conditions where there shall be no distinction of colour and race. That is the ideal. It is promised in the Charters already published, and I hope it will be more clearly and expressly approached in that larger and more universal Charter which will come at the end of this war when we come to the building of the new world.
I think that the way to solve our Colonial problems is to proceed on the lines we have mapped out. If we have £5,500,000 not being used, then the machinery is wrong. It may be said that we have too many irons in the fire in wartime. I do not think that we have too many irons but that there is too little fire of enthusiasm for the development of the Empire, or we should have used this £5,500,000. Let us kindle that fire of enthusiasm and obligation and see that the resources of this House and the resources of the Colonial Service shall be used to the full extent. I do not think that £5,500,000 a year is enough. General Smuts, a very great man who does know Africa, said, I think, 12 or 14 years ago, that Africa must always be the black man's country. The population of Africa is about 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 people. We shall get far less than we could out of our association with that dark Continent unless we nurse and build up the man-power of that Continent.
The man-power of Africa will not be adequate for the large schemes of expansion of which Africa is capable unless the Africans are very much better looked after than they have been. We have to build social services, health services, and education and to improve both the quality and number of the man-power units at our disposal. White men, General Smuts, I think, said, are not racially suited for hard work in that Continent; the black man is superior, I think he said, for the work to be done there for some considerable time. He may be right in saying the white man cannot do certain kinds of work in tropical climates as well as black men can. The rough pioneering work must be done by men who are accustomed to the climate where they are to carry out their duties. If Africa is to be developed, it must have sufficient man-power and must not only have quantity but quality. We must build that man-power up. We must take up less of the African's time away from his home. He must spend less of his time travelling aimlessly hundreds of miles to his work because of the primitive way in which we still organise the man-power resources of that country. There is enormous scope for this kind of work in Africa. Until we have spent this £5,500,000 let us not start another hare and leave the hare we are already following, and perhaps lose both because of the uncertainty of our chase. We are also faced with international problems affecting the Empire.
Something has been said to-day about the West Indies. I myself have had the privilege of travelling a good deal in our so-called Empire. I worked in Canada nearly 40 years ago as a coalminer, and I have seen Australia and New Zealand and parts of Africa, too; and I have never had occasion to be ashamed of being connected with this family of nations. I know people who do not share my views. I came through Singapore just two years ago, after the war had started. I flew across from Australia, and spent a few hours at Singapore. I confess that it was the one place in the world where I thought the white men were not doing their job. I was there far too short a time to regard myself as an authority, but it looked to me as if they were too soft, and were just enjoying themselves. That was the only place in which I noticed that sort of thing. There is no excuse for any alienation between ourselves and the Malay people. They should have been on good terms with us. They were allowed a good deal of autonomy in their native States, and under their own rulers, but there appeared to be stupid class distinctions, which seemed to me to have destroyed the opportunity for good feeling in Malaya.
The West Indies are one of the oldest of our settlements. The population there are not the aborigines. They went there as slaves, taken in our ships. They were taken there by Drake and other heroes, and I confess I am proud of my family connection with those Cornish buccaneering toughs, who went there, across the ocean, in 30-ton boats. [Interruption.] They were brave men—that is why I am proud of them—but they were mistaken in their trade. They took the population there, and we have been responsible for them ever since. Someone has said that there are MacDonalds and Smiths and Joneses there. Yes, I am told that there are even some Joneses who are coloured men. We have all been joined in that idea of claiming to own men, and to whip, drive, and compel men; and it is all wrong. The idea that the islanders of the Caribbean Sea will always be inferior, and will never qualify for self-government, is entirely wrong. There is a belief in this country that if you are a real man and a clean man you play cricket. Well, the Jamaicans play cricket as well as we do. That is proof of the excellence of their character, proof of their willingness and capacity to play the game fairly. We do not play the game even now. I hope that the Secretary of State, coming with his new broom, will join his assiduous companion on that bench and set these things in order without delay. There is hunger in Jamaica; there is a creeping economic depression; there is mass unemployment; there are imprisonments, because of rebellious spirits. It is a good thing that there are rebellious spirits, but those people are held to be guilty of all kinds of seditious purposes, because of the economic hardships of the country in which they live, largely caused by the war, but partly by the failure of generosity on our part. We have held those islands for 200 or 300 years. We should have done better there.
We have our problems with America over the Caribbean Sea. We know that changes have taken place by consent between those two Allies. When peace comes there will be further changes of sovereign relations in respect of those islands and other countries, and I wonder whether we cannot make some start in setting up a self-governing federation in the Caribbean Sea. Could it not be begun by the Secretary of State; or could he not prepare the way for the acceptance of that idea of self-government in the West Indies? Then could we not think of a West African Federation. The hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) referred to geographical groups. Let us study the possibility of bringing those groups together to add to their respective economic strengths, so that they can build up a joint standard of achievement which will bring them to a higher economic and political level. Those are some of the points to which I would like the Minister to pay attention.
Something has been said about the investment of capital in these Colonies of ours for the benefit of the native populations. I know that there is very great exploitation, and very scant reward to men employed in manual work by people who have no interest at all in our African Colonies except to extract the largest possible share of the production for their own use. I understand that in the Gold Coast the value of gold production is about £3,000,000 a year, and that the wages paid for the production of that gold are less; than 10 per cent. of the value of the gold. You can go from one African Colony to another to examine the results of mineral exploitation. The value of mineral production in Northern Rhodesia is over £12,000,000 a year, and the wages paid are less than £500,000 a year. The proportion paid to the labourer is far too small. He does not get enough for himself; he does not get enough for the family to which he belongs, or for the larger community with which he shares his responsibilities. Exploitation is impoverishing Africa, for the benefit of a few manipulators of shares in this country. It is our business in this House to see that those people are better looked after. This problem is really a human problem.
If it is not that, it is nothing. Because of superior knowledge, science, technical organisation and political sagacity we claim trusteeship. Let is be a trusteeship,—I would not differ from that—but a trustee does not waste and dissipate the inheritance for which he is responsible. He does not squander it as we have done. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues and to the House, I do not think that I or anyone else has done justice to the subject. We should come back to these Colonial problems with our minds prepared with more progressive and far better ideas for organising the resources, the material and man-power in these countries, first of all for the benefit of the people of the Colonies to whom we do lip service to-day. When they are prosperous and produce more generously, they will take more from us as we take more from them, and we shall be adding to the prosperity and happiness of the people for whom we are trustees.
We have just listened to a somewhat impassioned speech in many directions. The hon. Member began with what I think commands the approval of a large number of Members of this House—deprecating what I might call washing our dirty linen in public and giving material for Dr. Goebbels and Lord Haw-Haw. I regret to think that the major part of his subsequent speech was extremely helpful to Dr. Goebbels. [Interruption.] That is my view. We have been discussing the policies of the Colonial Empire. It is only fair and right to point out that when this vital matter—of vital interest not only to this country but indeed to the whole world—is discussed, the attendance of the House is perhaps not what might be expected from the representatives of a great Empire. I notice that in particular on the Front Bench opposite, whether it is an Opposition bench or not, the attendance is extremely sparse, Hon. Members cannot deny that. A large part of this Debate so far has been devoted more or less to the material side of the Colonies, that is to say, practically to exploitation for the benefit of the people in this country or the companies concerned. The fact really is that the history of the government and administration of our Colonies is by no means so black a page in our own history as many people, not only in this House but in the country, assume that it is.
The other day we were subjected to a considerable attack from across the Atlantic. That was largely based on ignorance. The question is whether we have any right to attack the people on the other side for their ignorance on the ground that we ourselves are very intimately acquainted with the problems of the Colonies and have taken a very great interest in them. It is not unfair to point out that for three years the Colonial Estimates were not debated in this House, and certainly on the last occasion when they were you could have counted the House out at any minute. The attendance to-day is larger, but it is not such as to convince the people in the United States that we are really serious in our interest in the Colonial Empire. It has been suggested that we ought to do more about teaching the story of the Empire and our achievements in the Empire in our schools and in our universities. I should be—theoretically I am—in very cordial agreement with that, but the President of the Board of Education might find some difficulty in making room in the curricula. I would point out the claims that are made from various sides, all of them justified in themselves, on our children. They have to learn something presumably about their own country in which they live. It is now suggested that they should have special hours in the week devoted to the United States of North America. It has been suggested—perhaps some hon. Members may not know it—that they ought to have special hours devoted to the history of Scandinavia. It has been suggested that special hours should be devoted to South America. What is going to happen to the unfortunate child? I do not think that it is possible to do that, but I would make the suggestion that it would be useful if films of the British Empire could be produced in large quantities and that they could be shown every week for an hour in our schools and subsequently in our universities. Then what may happen? The child wishes to be interested and is shown the films. Later on, when he is earning his living and gets spare time, he may say that he is interested in films dealing with a particular part of the Empire. Where is he to go? We have at present a number of Imperial and Colonial societies. We have the Imperial Institute, but to the average man that Institute is looked upon as some sort of highbrow concern of which he knows very little, and I do not think he will be liable to go there to derive instruction or benefit unless—and I put this to the right hon. Gentleman—some steps are taken to broadcast and to let it be known what the Imperial Institute could do, or alternatively, to set up some other kind of institute where the young people after their school and/or university could easily go and get the information they required about the particular Colonies in which they were interested.
The lamentable fact is that the people of these Islands really know very little about the Empire. One hon. Member talked just now about the coloured men who are fighting for us and said that they had their grievances. I think that is probably the greatest tribute we could pay to the administration of our Colonies. The people of these Islands have always had their grievances, and we have always expressed them freely. These coloured men do the same. But I think the hon. Member will admit that the real fact is that they are fighting loyally, gallantly and efficiently on our side, and all honour to them. When all is said and done, that in itself must be a tribute to our Colonial administration. We have brought these Colonies up to a certain point, but now they are demanding something more; they are reaching the adult age, and we have to provide greater educational facilities for them.
That is where the British Council, of which I am chairman, comes in. We are already exploring the ground in the West Indies, West Africa and East Africa and we have institutes in Malta, Cyprus and all over the Middle East, notably in Malta, where the institute has been carried on throughout this war in spite of all the bombing that has taken place, carried on with great gallantry and great persistence, for which the people of the island are most grateful. Here is a suggestion. The British Council was originally formed in order to project the British Empire to foreign countries and to make its outlook on life better known. Certain Members of this House asked about the Colonies, and we looked into that, with the result that the British Council is now starting work in the Colonies. But these things cannot be done for nothing, and if we are to develop an interest among ourselves in the Colonies and an interest in this country in the Colonies, it means a considerable expenditure of money and that we must have the man-power available. There are terrific demands on man and woman-power in this country at the moment, but, even so, I think a few dozen or a few hundred people could be spared for this great moral, spiritual and educational effort. I think suitable men would be better employed in this direction than on shouldering rifles or throwing bombs. We have to have imagination; we have to realise that the spiritual values are of vital importance not only in wartime but even more so in peace-time.
We talk about post-war planning. Are we thinking of post-war planning in the Colonies and in the Empire? Surely, the Dominions should, and indeed must, be brought in. I would like the British Council ultimately to develop into a British Empire Council, so that we could draw our men from the whole British Empire—the Dominions, India, and the Colonies. Those are things that we have to consider. At present we are all rather adrift. We must take a greater spiritual and educational interest in the Empire. There is one more thing I wish to say, in conclusion. I would like to ask my right hon. Friend who is to wind up the Debate whether the Government have considered what is to happen about the Mandated Territories. It is inconceivable that they should be handed back to the Germans, the Japanese and the Italians. It is a difficult proposition, but certainly, it is one with which we shall have to deal, and I suggest it is time we began to think about those territories now, obviously consulting the United States of America with regard to them.
I think that a good many hon. Members were rather disappointed that the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) did not elaborate more fully the actual terms of his Amendment. Since that time the Debate has wandered fairly widely over the whole field of Colonial affairs, not without some value, I am sure; but I must confess that I would have liked the hon. Member for Altrincham to have told us a little more clearly what was in his mind and how the proposal in his Amendment could benefit not merely the British Empire but the human beings who happen to live within it. Before passing to other matters, I would like to refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Sir M. Robertson), who seemed to deprecate the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) and to suggest that my hon. Friend was rather washing dirty linen in public to the advantage of Dr. Goebbels. I suggest it would be of far greater advantage to Dr. Goebbels if one were to pretend to have no dirty linen to wash.
I suggest that although there are some hon. Members who do not like references to the dark spots within the Empire, it is well appreciated, not only by Dr. Goebbels but by the whole thinking world, that those dark spots exist, and for us to pretend that they do not, or to romanticise what has been in some cases a process of exploitation, is to perform a very grave disservice to British humanity. The hon. Member for Altrincham argued that we are not now dealing with abstract principles but dealing empirically with matters as they really are in order to try to find out what needs to be done. Although to many people that may seem attractive, I maintain that it is quite impossible to divorce our acts from our principles. Even if we are not completely conscious of those principles, they are operative within our subconscious minds. If a person is building a house, he has to know what kind of house he is going to build, for otherwise he will merely build a shanty or an edifice that will collapse at the first gust of wind. Therefore, when we consider the British Empire at the present time, and the Colonial Empire in particular, it is not enough to say "Let us get on with the job, find out what is needed and then try to meet the need."
Surely, our job is to have some principle beforehand which will enable us to do the job in a particular way. I do not think it is enough merely to take for granted the principles and the policies which have prevailed heretofore. In fact, it is rather amusing to notice how many Members criticise those of us who have a particular point of view and who are generally described as being to the Left, These hon. Members argue that we are entering into a world of controversy and that we should be like them and not be controversial at all. In fact, even the alleged non-controversial attitude in itself takes for granted certain assumptions which we wish to challenge, and the opener of the Debate did so himself. He took for granted that the historic British Imperialist policy need not be challenged and that all we had to do was to see how it could be applied in this juncture of our affairs.
Similarly he and others emphasised the sentiment that we are proud of the British Empire and that there is nothing in it that we need regret. I agree that there is much in our British history of which we can be proud, but it is sheer self-righteousness and hypocrisy to blind our eyes to the fact that there is much of which we should be completely ashamed. One hon. Member referred romantically to Sir Francis Drake and other Elizabethan heroes. I am aware that they have frequently been quoted as inspiring Elizabethan Christians, but we know that in fact they were often slave traders of the most unscrupulous and ruthless character. [Interruption.] As a matter of fact Drake was associated with the slave trade and derived considerable benefit from it. Everyone knows that British history has frequently been written according to the desires of those who have an Imperialistic outlook on life. We all have certain prejudices or principles and it is not alone the facts as they are, but our interpretation of them which matters. The interpretation of Imperialism from a romantic standpoint is not necessarily the truth.
A good many of us recognise that an objective survey of British Imperial history shows that those human beings who built up the British Empire were actuated by very mixed motives. No one can doubt that. War and conquest have been among the ways in which the British Empire has been created. Equally adventure and enterprise have played their part. And again, settlement and purchase have played their part. Far be it from me to assume that I am better than anyone else. I, too, am a creature of mixed motives. All I am pleading for is that we should be honest and not romanticise facts which, whatever their origin, we now know are reprehensible. We shall gain and not lose if we frankly admit that, instead of pretending we have no dirty linen and are all the time dressed in white angelic sheets.
The next point I would like to make is this. There is an assumption in some minds that the British Empire exists as a kind of Imperialist Estate. There was a Member of this House in the last Debate on Colonial matters who used that very phrase, and I think it is fairly symbolic of the minds of quite a number of people. They approach the Colonies primarily from the standpoint of ownership, as an estate from which they may derive benefit. Incidentally the inhabitants of the Colonies may benefit just as the poor man was supposed to benefit from the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. But our chief concern is how they are to bring advantage to us, and the glib way in which so many speak of the Colonies like that, is unfortunately far too frequent to-day. So long as it remains frequent, it will prevent us from doing justice to the 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 people who are under our Colonial flag. If the various portions of our Colonial Empire had had no economic or strategic advantage to give us, it is most unlikely that we should ever have settled in them or have secured them for our Empire. There was, for instance, a certain attractiveness about the West Coast of Africa which took us there, with other rival Powers, in the first place. There was economic attractiveness which led us to transport condemned slaves to the islands of the Caribbean Sea and then to develop plantations. We are not in any of those parts of the world for philanthropic reasons, although I do not deny that philanthropic factors entered later. Our first motive, however, was economic.
That is no peculiarity of the British race. It may be true, as Mark Twain said on a celebrated occasion, that the Biblical phrase, "The meek shall inherit the earth," referred to the English because we had obviously done so. That, however, was a typical American reflection on ourselves. In any case, the factors of domination and exploitation are, I submit, even to my friends on this side, at the heart of our Imperialism rather than the factor of commonwealth. Those factors are by no means our own peculiarity. They are common to a greater or less degree to ourselves and indeed even the black races themselves. In Africa and elsewhere black people in the past have exploited their own fellow citizens or neighbours. Therefore, we do well to recognise that the tendency or impulse in us all to exploit and dominate, is a human characteristic. That does not mean that it is right, for if life has any significance at all it lies precisely in the fact that whatever may have been our origin we judge man not by what he has been but what he can become. If that be so, we take an ethical standpoint and should ask ourselves whether we are committed still to support and defend principles which historically have had a significance, but which, judged from any ethical standard, are self-condemned.
That is why I suggest that there is not enough enlightenment in the proposal made by the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment. He proposes in all good faith that there should be a Colonial Development Board. He does so because he recognises that the areas which are now called colonies have not been sufficiently developed. I agree with him completely that if we are to see any considerable social progress on the part of Colonial peoples in Africa or the Caribbean Sea or elsewhere there must be much more economic development than has taken place up to now. That development should be for the benefit both of the inhabitants there and of the whole wide world. But the point is, How are we going to do it? It is well to appreciate that the economic advantage of the Colonial Empire as such has, I am afraid, often been grossly overrated. In my estimate the direct normal interest derived from British investments in the Colonial Empire as such, as distinct from the Dominions on the one hand or India on the other, is probably not more than £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, at the outside. That in itself indicates that even from a capitalist standard development has not proceeded very far.
It is true that there are other advantages, the advantage, for instance, that a large number of people have settled in those areas, many of whom draw from them very substantial salaries. Perhaps altogether some 80,000 are to-day, or in normal times, receiving salaries in some portion of the Colonial Empire, strictly speaking. That is an advantage to us, besides which there are certain indirect advantages. On the other hand, what have the Colonial peoples got out of it? It is true that they have gained something. They have gained a few schools, a few hospitals, a few roads. They can now buy cheap bicycles and domestic articles. But what is that compared with their actual needs? I do not suppose that more than 15 to 20 per cent., at the outside, of the black inhabitants of our Colonial Empire have any semblance of education. Compare that with what has been achieved in the Soviet Union. I say that not as one who blindly worships all things Bolshevist. Nevertheless, in 25 years or thereabouts Russia has dissolved illiteracy, and if she can do it we could have done it had there been real purpose and intention in the matter.
I thoroughly appreciate that, and am not necessarily saying that we should copy the methods of Russia; but if that can be achieved under Communism we who live under our own democracy ought to prove that we can do just as well, and we could do so provided we recognise that it would be to the interest of the British people, and, indeed, of the human race, if we invested money in the Colonies, not on a capitalistic basis but on a Government basis. Some slight step has been taken in that direction. The £5,000,000 set on one side for Colonial development is a sign of gathering wisdom, but if we are to proceed along those lines we must not expect returns right away. We should have a long-term investment policy which would enable us to pour into our Colonies much greater sums than now. We should invest Government money for Government and social purposes, in the belief that ultimately it will give a tremendous reward to humanity, as I am sure it would. At first the reward would take a more human form—better education, better hospitals, better political intelligence. That, in turn, I am positive, would further enrich those countries economically, and both the peoples in the Colonies and ourselves ultimately would gain. Therefore, with the alleged purpose of the Colonial Development Board I am in agreement, but I do not believe this is the method by which it should be achieved.
In fact, I am afraid that I must confess to a certain suspicion of it, because however this Colonial Development Board is to be linked up with the Government I am afraid there would be greater encouragement to the exploitation of the Colonial areas under the auspices of big business, and I want to avoid that. Whilst I am entirely in agreement with the Amendment so far as economic development of the Colonies is concerned, I submit that this would be achieved far better by this Government and this House realising their responsibilities and determining, even though it cost us money here, to pour our own British Government money into the Colonies, first because it would be ethically sound and secondly because, economically it would in the end pay all concerned.
My final word, therefore, is to plead that, at an early date, we should have a statement of what the Government's policy is to be. I suggest it at a very early date for the benefit of the Colonial peoples, who most certainly are awakening at the present time in a way which has never occurred before. We should tell them exactly what our intentions are so that they can look forward to the implementation of those intentions when the war ends. In the forefront, I would most emphatically assert that the essential contents of the Atlantic Charter, especially point 3, shall be progressively applied to them. If it is alleged that some of them are unfit for self-government, let us not assume that they are intrinsically inferior to ourselves. Anthropologists have done their best to find out whether there is an intrinsic inferiority on the part of Colonial peoples, and as yet have found no clear proof of it whatsoever. After all, we were barbarians 2,000 years ago, and some of us still are, I am afraid. We have had to grow. The apparent incapacity of the early British, and of the even more barbaric Anglo-Saxons, has dissolved, in the course of centuries. I am sure that the same principle will apply to Africa.
I am sure that Rudolph Dunbar, Paul Robeson, and Booker Washington are but symbols of the tremendous capacity of the peoples who come from Africa. Let us not put that all on one side and assume that we are the "herrenvolk" who are for all time to dominate the African people. We should have faith in them and set ourselves to the task of realising that capacity, so that the black people and the white people together may co-operate for the good of us all. Lord Hailey in his "African Survey" said:
The political future which British policy has assigned to the African Colonies must be understood to be that of self-government, based on representative institutions.
He said that; let us implement it. Of course, it was referred to in the Atlantic Charter, but I very much regret that the Prime Minister and others have, from that time onwards and since the signing of the Charter, seemed to belittle the inner content of it. We must hasten to emphasise the fact that the essence of the Atlantic Charter applies to all people, wherever they may be.
If I might put this matter in another way, I would say that we should concentrate on wide educational expansion. I believe we should try to cultivate the home market of the Colonies and make them less reliant upon overseas trade. We should preserve the utmost civil liberty. I also believe that there should be the grouping to which the Mover of the Amendment referred, although I prefer to call it free federation. I believe the time is ripe when we should seriously consider federating the Caribbean islands and the East and West African Colonies. If that were done on the principle of real, and complete self-government, and we held out that criterion to which we should work, there would be a wonderful response from these people, which would be of tremendous benefit not only to ourselves but to the whole of mankind. The real question which confronts us now is, Do we or do we not believe that the black peoples are to be exploited or, on the other hand, that they must co-operate with us? If they are to co-operate with us, however backward some may seem to be, we must bend ourselves in service to them so that on a basis of equality with ourselves we can all prove to the world that democracy is a necessity of human fulfilment.
I hope my hon. Friend who has just spoken will not think me discourteous if I do not follow in any detail the rather discursive series of arguments which he put before us. I shall not join in the controversy which he mentioned about the denigration or the whitewashing of Drake or other Elizabethan worthies, but one or two observations, among a great many with which I agreed, seemed to me a little strange. He said that it was not possible to divorce our acts from our principles, but I should have thought that one of the great troubles of mankind was that they were continually doing so. I believe in the doctrine of original sin, but he appears to believe in the doctrine of the perfectivity of man. He went on to say that facts do not matter, but only the interpretation of facts. That doctrine, Sir, would explain very many strange and misleading things which you hear in the course of our Debates.
I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend does not mean to be unfair. I merely wish to say that what I said was that it was not only facts that mattered but their interpretation.
I did not wish to be unfair. I only wished to tease my hon. Friend a little. The House will, I am sure, absolve me of any undue egotism, and my right hon. Friend the new Colonial Secretary, I know, will acquit me of any disloyalty to himself if I say frankly that this is for me a somewhat melancholy occasion. It has been my fortune during the last two and a half years to serve four Ministers, the present Home Secretary, the present Minister of Supply, Lord Beaverbrook, and Lord Cranborne. This is a rather remarkable experience. It would be difficult to imagine four men of such great but varied qualities. Like the Colonial Empire, the most striking thing about them is their diversity. It so happened that with the first three I had no previous acquaintance when I took office under them, but I like to feel that I have formed with them lasting friendships. With Lord Cranborne I have had a long and intimate personal friendship which has lasted now for more than 30 years, both through shadow and sunshine, unclouded and unbroken, and I am therefore naturally sorry that our partnership has come to an end. I think my Noble Friend can claim that during his tenure, although short, he has left his mark upon the Colonial Office. He brought to it that combination of great charm of manner and absolute inflexibility of decision, which is his peculiar gift. And with his natural modesty, no one would be more surprised than Lord Cranborne at the tributes which have been paid to his work at the Colonial Office. They are certainly deserved.
If we are unfortunate in losing Lord Cranborne, we are lucky in his successor. It may be unusual, but I hope I am not transgressing the ordinary reticences if I say to my right hon. and gallant Friend that his return to high office is welcomed by Members of all parties in this House. He brings to the Colonial Office talents of a very high order. Would he think it impertinent of me to express the hope that his tenure of this post will be a long one, because I think it must be recognised that there is a widespread feeling both in this House, as expressed in the Debate to-day, and in the country and in the Colonial Empire, that continuity of office and policy are greatly to be desired? I said that my right hon. and gallant Friend brought great talents—considerable political experience, a flexible and resourceful mind, and rapidity of thought and decision. But I know the House will recognise that, however rapid a worker he might be, he could hardly be expected to cover the important questions raised in this Amendment in the space of time between kissing hands on Tuesday and to-day. It is for this reason that he has asked me to wind up the Debate on his behalf.
From a purely Parliamentary point of view, recent events have somewhat simplified my task. My noble Friend had been just over nine months in office. He might reasonably have been expected to be about to produce a policy. I had rather hoped to have played the part of midwife, but my right hon. and gallant Friend has not been nine days in office, and therefore any progeny so rapidly delivered would have the imputation of illegitimacy. Nevertheless, this Debate, although no longer a suitable occasion for any pronouncement of policy, has given us all [Interruption]—not all, but I hope that my hon. Friend will join us at a later date—an opportunity for an agreeable, intellectual exercise. I clearly cannot commit my right hon. and gallant Friend to any decision. Perhaps the best thing I can do, therefore, is to make some general observations and reflections, based on my experience of the Colonial Office. Like the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he is discussing the banking system, I shall be speaking merely in my personal capacity. Ex cathedra statements will follow in due course from my right hon. and gallant Friend, but nothing that I shall say will be binding on the faithful.
I welcome this Debate very much. In the first place, it has given the House the opportunity of listening to a speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) which was one of the most interesting and thoughtful I have ever had the opportunity of listening to in this House. It was based on long experience, great knowledge, and enthusiasm, and it delighted the House. It enabled my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Squadron-Leader Macdonald) to give us again, in a short and very practical contribution, the result of his long interest in and experience of Colonial affairs. At any rate, the main subject of this Debate is not controversial. Colonial development is not controversial. There are, of course, questions of private enterprise and Government enterprise, and how far both should be used; and I think that most of us will agree that a combination of all will be necessary for the full development of the Colonial Empire. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) lays more weight on one, and other Members more weight on another; but the main object is the same, the well-being of the Colonial people. The machinery must be effective for the immediate purpose, and it must be conducive to what I conceive to be the ultimate purpose— that is, as well as the material improvement to increase the association of the Colonial people with and their concern in the management of their own affairs.
There are always two tendencies, centripetal and centrifugal, one aiming at greater centralisation and the other at devolution. The believers in one say, "Let us have a great panjandrum"—or, as my hon. Friend says, a panjandrum in commission—and the other extreme say that each of 50 or 60 territories should operate independently without any central control. The extreme of centralisation is to centralise everything in London. It may take either the form of a Board such as is described in this Amendment or it may take other forms. I would like to recall exactly what my hon. Friend meant by this new Development Board. He said, the last time we debated the subject:
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 sub-committees 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th June, 1942; cols. 2027–8, Vol. 380.]
With that the hon. Gentleman seemed satisfied. I can only say, "Some problem; some board." This Board does not seem to differ very much from the Colonial Office itself or even in some respects from the War Cabinet.
I am not a constitutional pundit. The hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), in a most interesting speech in which he was good enough to say some kind things about myself, and therefore I thought it a still better speech, stated the difficulties. There are constitutional difficulties. I would not myself reject on these pedantic grounds something that was likely to work. I realise that such an organisation would preserve continuity of policy. That is an important point; yet I cannot help wondering whether any Colonial Secretary, any even of these transient figures, these dim phantoms which flit across the Colonial stage, would be prepared to accept such a shadowy kind of plan left to them by this Board. I am in doubt whether there would not be a duplication of effort all through between the Colonial Office and the functions of the Board.
The next plan is to have a Parliamentary Committee. That is the plan which was put forward in the Debate last time by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones), the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey). It was developed to-day by the Member for Dewsbury in an interesting speech and supported by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild). The same difficulty seems to arise, although perhaps not in so acute a form. If the Parliamentary Committee is executive, then it is taking away the constitutional powers and duties of the Colonial Secretary. If it is advisory, I am still inclined to feel that we do better with the specialised Advisory Committees such as those on education, labour, medical questions and agriculture, which, as everybody knows, are an important part of the Colonial Office machinery on which many Members of Parliament, I am glad to say, are willing to serve and help us.
The third method is one of more centralisation in the Colonial Office itself, strengthened in every way possible to perform its task and in particular by the two Committees contemplated at the time of the passing of the Colonial Welfare and Development Act. The first of these two Committees was to control the allocation of money for research purposes. That, as the hon. Member for Gower said, has been appointed under Lord Hailey as Chairman. It is supported by a Committee to deal with applied research rather than pure research under Lord Hankey's chairmanship. The second of these—the Committee of which he asked me to say something to-day—was to be appointed to co-ordinate and approve the schemes under the Colonial Welfare and Development Act. At present it has not been thought advisable to appoint it quite as originally contemplated, because the scope of such schemes is necessarily limited by war conditions, but my right hon. and gallant Friend will review and consider his policy in the light of the arguments addressed to-day. I still feel that whether we are centralised at the Colonial Office or in a Board or Parliamentary Committee or anything else, I shall expect the drive to come from individuals rather than committees. Lord Beaverbrook used to say that committees take the punch out of war. I do not go so far as that, but committees can become a dangerous piece of modern organisation. Though they have their uses, assuming them to be technical or a panel of experts for a particular purpose, they can be methods of avoiding action rather than of promoting action.
Nevertheless, if the Colonial Office has to undertake its responsibility, if must, of course, be organised for that purpose, and it has to conceive of the Department as being divided into the two functions of the day-to-day current policy and the forward planning, assisted by appropriate experts whom they can bring in to help. In the economic department, for instance, with which I have been specially concerned, the first job has been to look after war supplies, production and the movement of production in and out of the Colonies. That pant of the job has been organised efficiently with a fine team of men to do their job. The other half of it must be to forward the work of planning of all the problems which have been raised to-day. Then there is planning of the future, plans which we can afterwards put into effect.
It is quite true that a fourth suggestion has been made. It is that there should be appointed in every Ministry an additional Parliamentary Secretary. I observe that there was a particularly favourable response to this suggestion in some quarters of the House. I am naturally flattered by the assumption that the appointment of another Parliamentary Secretary would be a cure for all the ills to which human flesh is heir. They are, indeed, a very fine team of men. There is absolutely no task which they cannot satisfactorily perform, but I am not absolutely convinced, although I am ready to be convinced, of the truth of the proposition even if each new member of this admittedly respectable class was provided with the assistance of another committee.
All these are centralising methods. There is the extreme decentralising plan. That is, that each Government should be wholly responsible for its own territory, that all schemes should be worked out by local governments and that full responsibility should rest upon them. There would be an advantage in that there would be local interest and pride in the development of their own territories. After all, we do not share the horrible Nazi conception; we do not, like Hitler, regard the coloured people as sub-human. They are people very much like ourselves. It is true that some of them live in a still primitive society, but things are moving quickly. They have made more advance in a generation than our ancestors made in 1,000 years. How would we accept the idea that all development of these Islands was to be centrally planned by a body of wise men sitting 2,000 or 3,000 miles away? However well it was done, we would rather have some hand in it ourselves. It is true that the Colonial Governments are to a great extent controlled by Europeans, but the Colonial peoples are becoming more and more associated with them, either directly or indirectly, and, therefore, there is, to my mind, a great advantage in associating local knowledge and local opinion with this forward economic planning with welfare and development. But the disadvantage of its being done entirely locally is that there may not be sufficient drive, knowledge and enthusiasm.
That brings me to the main part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham who moved the Amendment. He suggested that we should use the principle of regional grouping which combined, or attempted to combine, the advantages of centralisation and devolution. Incidentally, this is the universal problem of organisation, and we found it in supply and production just as we are finding it here. I do not intend, under my formula, to deal with the regional proposal from the political point of view—
I think the hon. Gentleman would admit that it would be very improper for me and unfair to my right hon. and gallant Friend who has just taken over his great responsibility. Moreover, many of the questions raised by the Mover of the Amendment, as he would be the first to admit, raise very wide and delicate problems far beyond the range of the Colonial Office. I think that the conception of regional grouping, as he described it, has a great future, but admittedly it involves the solution of many problems of a very delicate kind, both in Africa and the West Indies. But in the field of welfare and economic development, which we are supposed to be discussing to-day, regionalism can be applied without the fear of these pitfalls, and, therefore, we aim at and favour the extension of this principle. It is really the system which has been developed in the West Indies.
My hon. Friend then asked what has been the result of the West Indian Report. Might I describe to the House for a few minutes the functions of Sir Frank Stockdale, the Controller? As a result of that report the Controller was appointed. Sir Frank Stockdale was the first to be chosen. He had had long experience in the Colonial service, both at home and abroad. In particular, he possessed a wide technical knowledge of agricultural questions. He is charged with a double duty. First, he is provided with a body of experts to undertake a constant review of the needs of the West Indies. For this purpose he has an agricultural, a medical, a labour, a social welfare and an economic adviser. Those who are most acquainted with the work of these gentlemen will, I think, be the first to pay a very high tribute to what they have already done. Then, armed with this advice, he is able to communicate directly with the Governors of each Colony in the area with regard to matters of general administration and the schemes that may be promoted under the Act. He is also in direct communication with the Secretary of State, and the schemes put forward for the various Colonies in the area are submitted on his authority and in consultation with him. This machinery, in other words, is a kind of projection of the Colonial Office into the region or area. Like many other developments in our history, it has been experimental, but I am convinced that upon these lines lies an idea which is capable of considerable extension and of great value. Up to now, in spite of all the difficulties of transport and material, we have been able to promote approved schemes for the West Indies up to the expenditure of about £1,500,000.
But his functions are far more than that. His advice and knowledge make available to all the local Governments the most modern developments of scientific knowledge and economic thought. He is able to place at their disposal and fortify their deliberations with a body of expert opinion which would not readily be available to them in any other way. The same regional organisation has grown up for the purposes of war both in East Africa and West Africa. For the purposes of war, we have organised the Governors' Conferences in East Africa and West Africa, and under them, the Supply Boards and all the machinery for war production, and so on; and I should be certainly very unwilling to see that experiment disappear into the void after the war without leaving something behind upon which we can build. The advantage of these methods in the economic and development field is that, as I said, we can build upon them without immediately raising some of the far more delicate and difficult matters the importance of which, I know, my hon. Friend would be the first to appreciate. Therefore, I venture to take, as a kind of method of getting a compromise between these two extremes, the idea which he has put forward and which I would like to say we are now very largely operating.
Before I come to some further observations I would like to make, there are some matters with which I think I ought to deal concerning the matter of propaganda. They were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely, the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight, and by the hon. and gallant Member for Totnes (Lieut.-Colonel Rayner), in his very interesting speech, the very fine, manly speech we have learned to expect from him. It was also raised by the hon. Member for Gower, who very well kept the balance in this very difficult matter of propaganda—first, about what we should say to each other, and then about what should we say about each other to other people. He kept that balance, I thought, very well. Most of his speech consisted of the sound, progressive ideas which I should have expected him to put forward. As for propaganda to our own people, my right hon. Friend the Member of Mitcham (Sir M. Robertson) reminded us that, if we are to get the teaching in the schools that we need, we have to add continually to the already crowded syllabus, and my experience, drawn from a very different field, is that, however many books people may read or buy, unless they are put down in the syllabus for the local examination they will not be very widely used. Nevertheless, I think our Public Relations Department, which in most offices is accused of being too active—only in the Colonial Office are we reproved for not spending sufficient money and increasing our activities—is doing under very difficult circumstances a very good job. We are trying to get going films and propaganda of the kind that my hon. Friend would like, and I think we shall be able to secure satisfactory results from the work that we have been preparing in recent months.
When it comes to propaganda abroad, I am not an expert upon that. I still believe in the old-fashioned view that honest deeds and good purposes will be the best propaganda in the long run. Like the Prime Minister, I have the advantage of being able to claim that I am born of an American mother, and I know something of America. I do not think we ought to be too sensitive about everything they say of us. They say some very dreadful things about each other. Every country has different points of view, differently expressed. I prefer what I should call the principle of Lend-Lease to the principle of Luce—"Life." I do not think we could do better—in many respects we should do worse—than to leave our defence in the hands of some of our friends, and we have very good friends. I never heard a better expression of the general problems that lie before the Empire than in a leading article in "The Washington Post" some days ago. It ended with a sentence which seemed to me profoundly wise and true. It was in answer to some attack made upon this country. It said:
The problem of the Colonies is far too complicated to be solved either by a single pattern or by high minded clichés and humanitarian day dreams, and can be solved only by marrying idealism to reality.
There are a great many questions which we have to deal with in our forward plan-
ning. On the last occasion on which I addressed the House I confined myself to problems which had been brought upon us by the war. In some parts of the Empire we have had to give every possible effort to the increase of war production. In other parts our main anxiety has been to preserve a
I would like to take what has been perhaps the most difficult problem of all from the point of view of maintaining the economic life, employment and health of the people—the problem of the West Indies. It is common knowledge that during the past year the situation has been dominated by the intensive U-boat warfare. The House will not expect me, for security reasons, to go in detail into all the plans taken to deal with it, but I can assure Members that at a very early stage plans were made for the best possible use of merchant tonnage for the establishment of strategic supplies and reserves. So far as the Eastern Caribbean is concerned, the whole inter-island schooner and steamer transport is operated as a single whole. We have had a difficult spring and summer, but for my part I feel that our worst anxieties are over. With regard to employment and food, the situation has necessarily been bad because of the violent disturbance of the normal economic life of the islands. We have taken steps to deal with it on a wide basis. Nearly £1,500,000 has been spent on schemes under the Welfare Act, and another £1,500,000 has been given by the Treasury to support the banana industry, partly to keep the industry alive and partly to provide schemes of local foodstuffs production. We have taken steps to make it compulsory in the West Indies to set aside portions of the land for food production. In Trinidad alone 10,000 acres are under food production, and swamp reclamation as an unemployment scheme has been undertaken in Jamaica and Trinidad. We are making an examination of it in British Guiana. Rice production is being pushed on wherever it can be done, but that is not easy, because swamp rice production on any large scale is a comparatively new project. In British Guiana we are making the first of a big series of drainage schemes which we hope will revolutionise rice growing in that Colony. Many other schemes are going ahead. I have been asked whether we could promote schemes for processing and preserving foodstuffs, but that requires plant and storage. Nevertheless, in this direction we have not been altogether unsuccessful, by a combination of cajolery and pressure upon the Supply Ministries. Immense efforts have been made by the Departments and by the Governments on the spot to deal with these difficulties.
When we come to the future we have, of course, to deal with planning. I have tried to describe the machinery which I think is best adapted to it—the organisation of the Colonial Office, expert opinion, regional devolution, and bringing in the local interests and enthusiasts, but there are a great many difficult problems, and it is not so easy in the Colonial Empire to lay down hard and fast plans, because there are so many unknown factors. For instance, what will be the conditions of the post-war world? What will be the state of international currencies? Will there be currency agreements between countries, and how many parts of the world will they cover? What will be the commodity situation? Will there be some attempt to equate production and demand of raw materials and commodities throughout the world on an international basis, or will there be a purely laisser faire competitive price-cutting organisation of the world as regards primary products? Will there be an old system or will there be a new system? Shall we be in a period of expansion when the problem in the Colonies will be to increase capital development and facilities for dealing with the problem of an expanding demand for primary production, or in a deflationary period when it will be more important to increase production in local smaller industries and the interchange of productions between the Colonies themselves? All those questions have to be considered, and, without somewhat guessing at them we have, perhaps, to make alternative plans having regard to different possibilities. But I think I should remind the House that not all the effort of the war will be lost. Take the provision of facili- ties such as railways, roads, harbours and docks. A good many of them have been provided not out of the Colonial Welfare Development Fund but out of funds charged to the general war account. There will be a great deal of fresh capital equipment in Africa after the war is over which is not charged to that particular Fund. In dealing with all these problems there is a good field of work, there is plenty of work to do.
Apart from these economic and development schemes we have to consider, as I see it, the possibility of increased co-operative arrangements in Colonial production. I agree with what was said by my hon. Friend who has studied the methods of the French, the Russians and the Chinese about the extraordinary developments they have achieved by the use of some of these co-operative methods in recent years. We have to consider welfare schemes in their broadest sense—medical schemes and preventive medicine as well as curative. As regards education, nothing is more important than that there should be a real attack, a mass attack, upon illiteracy. This must be pressed forward, and vocational education must be carried forward with the same degree of importance as purely literary education. There is a great deal to be done in the realm of social welfare, for boys' clubs, dramatic societies, for all the measures which can impart to a people a sense of culture in life. And then, of course, there is the application of modern scientific research, both pure research and applied research, to great regional problems such as locust control—an acute problem—the tsetse fly and soil erosion. All these are efforts which we must develop with this machinery.
Therefore, although I am afraid that what I have said may not, as regards the machinery that we have to adopt, greatly commend itself to all hon. Members, I hope that I have shown them that if we do not take a particular method, it is not because of any unwillingness to proceed rapidly with our task. The tasks that I have described are great ones, great and inspiring. If I have stressed the material side of them, it is not because I am not aware of the spiritual side. I realise as well as other Members the rapidly changing situation. I fully understand that a new political consciousness is being awakened in many of our Colonies which cannot be restrained but which must be developed upon sound lines. So great is the variety and diversity of the problems that I do not think that one standardised policy can be laid down equally applicable to all territories. But the great achievements of Colonial administrators in the past have deserved and have won the confidence of the people. It is for us to build upon those foundations.
There will be divergent views about the exact machinery to be employed. There can be no difference of view about the things to be done and the broad methods to be used. Those are two-fold: The steady and continuous association of Colonial peoples with their own welfare and development and a powerful and sustained effort by all concerned, from the highest to the humblest of officials at home and on the spot, in unremitting and enthusiastic co-operation in this high endeavour. The spur, the drive, the energy, the sense of urgency, the spirit of romance, the glamour of this great adventure—they can be set only by the Colonial Secretary himself. I am persuaded that my right hon. and gallant Friend has the quality and determination to give this lead, and I say, Let us wish him "God Speed" in his task.