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

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mrs Leah Manning Mrs Leah Manning , Epping 12:00 am, 20th January 1948

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.