Clause 7. — (Local interests to be consulted.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th January 1948.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles , Down

On a point of Order. Is it not proposed to call the Amendment in my name to page 5, line 3, after "territory," insert "and the prevention of soil erosion"?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I am sorry to say that Mr. Speaker has had to rule the Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member out of Order. It was not on the correct page in the Bill.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Smiles , Down

Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Would you allow me to move the same Amendment on Clause 8 on the same page, to insert after (b): "and the prevention of soil erosion" as a manuscript Amendment?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

Quite obviously with the best will in the world I cannot agree to the course the hon. and gallant Member proposes without an opportunity to consider the Amendment which would, I think, still be out of Order. I am sorry, but I am afraid that I cannot accept it. Mr. Strachey.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee

I beg to move, in page 5, line 8, at the end, to insert: A committee appointed for the purposes of this Subsection shall, unless it appears to the Corporation to be impracticable, include persons having knowledge of the circumstances and requirements of the inhabitants of the territory obtained by their being or having been themselves inhabitants thereof or residents therein. This is a very simple Amendment and one which we hope goes some way at any rate to meet points made quite strongly by some of my hon. Friends with the sympathy of the whole Committee upstairs. We are seeking to ensure that in their activities these Corporations are guided and aided to the very maximum degree possible by all the local knowledge at their disposal or which can be brought to their disposal. There is absolutely no difference about the purpose for which we do that. The Advisory Committees which are set up for this purpose should be as broad as we can make them and that is why we suggest the addition of these words.

This was the best form of words which the Parliamentary draftsmen could find to meet the useful suggestions made upstairs. We did not want to go as far in our form of words as my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) wishes to go, in her Amendment on the Order Paper to the Amendment we are discussing, namely, in line 1, to leave out from "shall," to "include," in line 2. She wanted to make it mandatory on the Corporations to include in these committees persons who were inhabitants of or who were native to the particular territory in which the scheme was operating. We thought that a little too narrow because, for example, the best man obtainable for an advisory committee on the groundnut scheme might not be a native of Tanganyika itself; he might have been born in Uganda or Kenya or one of the other East African territories. So we did not want to put down a residential qualification, like a county cricketer, but with my hon. Friend's purpose we are in the strongest sympathy, and we hope that this Amendment will go some way at any rate to meet her very legitimate point.

Photo of Mrs Leah Manning Mrs Leah Manning , Epping

Of course the Minister's Amendment goes some way towards meeting the points raised by myself and other hon. Members in Committee, but it certainly does not go all the way. A great deal of time was spent on Second Reading and upstairs on the attitude which native labour will take towards these new Corporations. We have been led to expect from hon. Members on both sides of the House, who seem to be well acquainted with the psychology of native labour, that their minds will be filled with dark, primeval suspicions as to the effect of the Corporations and that, through agitation or otherwise, they will be led to believe that the Corporations and this work are entirely for the good of the housewives and users of this country and not at all for their benefit. I do not agree altogether with that point of view, but if it exists, then without any peradventure we should take every step possible to remove those suspicions from the minds of the native people.

I have not understood why those suspicions should only exist when it is a question of the Ministry of Food carrying out the work and why they should not exist when the Colonial Office do it. However, I accept the word of hon. Members opposite, who understand the Colonial mind better than I do, that it might be the case and, therefore, I am anxious that we should not leave discretion in the hands of Ministers on this question in Clause 7, which says that committees shall be set up to make inquiries into the conditions in which these Corporations should operate. I object to that. I think the people who live in the areas should be placed on them. I do not understand what the Minister meant when he said that perhaps somebody living in Uganda would know something more about the groundnut scheme. I was under the impression that the committees which are to operate under the two safeguarding Clauses, 7 and 8, are intended to look after the welfare of the natives, not the groundnut scheme and how it should operate.

8.15 p.m.

The point is, who is to safeguard the welfare of these native people? If we are to overcome the suspicions which we understand are being engendered in their minds, if there is to be come opposition to the agitation which I understand will take place, we have to do everything we can, by propaganda in this country and by showing native labour in the Colonies, that we are prepared to let them do their own jobs as far as they possibly can. I do not deny that agitation. I think it is already taking place in this country, and that we do not have to go to Africa to find that people of ill will are already saying that the work of the Corporation under this Bill is not at all for the benefit of the Colonies, but only for the benefit of this country.

While I do not want to send the Cabinet out, as an hon. Friend behind me wanted to do, letting the second eleven carry on—although I suppose they would do the job very well—I feel we should let the native labour administer its own affairs as far as possible in regard to education, welfare and health, and that there should be committees which give the fullest possible advice to the Corporation and to the Colonial Office on these questions. Therefore, although I am glad the Minister has gone as far as he has, I am not altogether satisfied about his discretionary powers. I think the committees should be set up under Clause 7 and, under Clause 8, the people who live in the areas should be there to protect the interests of the native labour and to give all necessary advice.

Amendment agreed to.