Central African Federation

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th March 1952.

Alert me about debates like this

3.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I beg to move, to leave out "£918,376,000," and to insert "£918,375,900."

I move this reduction because there are some questions on the proposals relating to the Central African Federation which I propose to put to the Minister, and whether we shall divide later on will depend upon his answers.

The question of the federation of the three Central African territories—Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—has been discussed over very many years and has always proved to be a very controversial question. In 1938, a Royal Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Bledisloe, after a very full consideration of all the aspects of this very difficult problem, came to the conclusion that no scheme of closer political association put before them could be recommended. They rejected all the schemes that were put forward, in particular a scheme for the amalgamation of the three territories.

They did, however, express the view that in the future development of all these three territories there was a very strong case for seeking to ensure in some way their closer association in all matters of common interest to them and, in particular, in their economic development. They therefore urged that those responsible for the government of those three territories should devise some machinery by which and through which co-operation in economic development might be ensured.

Eventually, some years after that recommendation had been made, the Central African Council was set up in order to ensure that in all matters of common interest and in the promotion of the economic development of the three territories there should be the closest possible co-operation. I think that all of us who have given thought to this problem are of one mind upon one thing at least; that is, that the future prosperity of these territories will be enhanced if we can ensure that their economic co-operation is as close as ever we can possibly make it.

Those who visit the territories get immediate examples which make a very strong impression. For example, there is the very important copper industry in Northern Rhodesia which depends entirely for its coal supplies upon coal found in the neighbouring territory of Southern Rhodesia at the Wankie Colliery, over 300 miles away. There is a great river which now forms the boundary between Northern and Southern Rhodesia—the Zambesi—and schemes are already beeing mooted to use the resources of that river in order to develop hydro power.

In these territories, as elsewhere in Africa, there is a very urgent need for greater economic development in order to meet the problem of the populations, which continue to increase at a steady rate. I think it is common ground that the economic co-operation of these three territories is to be desired, and that it is essential that the closest and most efficient possible machinery shall be devised to ensure that co-operation.

It was my view that much more could have been done to make the Central African Council a more effective machinery by which this co-operation might be ensured, and I did urge more than once upon those responsible in Central Africa that in the neighbouring territories of East Africa there was the example of the High Commission which, in recent years, has proved itself an effective instrument by which and through which to ensure co-operation throughout all these three great territories of East Africa.

However, it was continuously urged from Central Africa and, in particular, from Southern Rhodesia, that the Central African Council was not as effective an instrument of co-operation as the urgent need of the territories made necessary. Beyond the economic arguments, it was urged upon me that there were at that time, 1950—and I think there are now—urgent reasons for ensuring not only the closer economic association of these territories but their closer political association.

I want to say a word about these political reasons that were urged upon me. I am sure they have been urged upon the present Colonial Secretary and all those who have discussed this problem in Central Africa or in this country. I will try to use measured tones. So far, we have all talked about this with bated breath. I think the time has come to speak rather more frankly about it. The right hon. Gentleman, in the statement which he made to the House last November, used precisely the words that I have used. I am going to quote that statement because it is in the same terms as those used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and myself in this House. Indeed, they are the terms which have been used outside this country—in Central Africa. The right hon. Gentleman was referring to the Conference of officials and their report, to which we shall return in the course of this debate. …the Conference expressed grave concern at the dangers which would flow from any weakening or dilution of the British connection and British traditions and principles in the three territories and agreed that they should be so strengthened as to ensure that they should continue to prevail."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st Nov., 1951; Vol. 494, c. 393.] That is the political reason why it was urged that, in present-day circumstances, it was desirable to ensure, not only close economic co-operation but a closer political association of these three territories, and the Conference of officials expressed the view that this was one of the urgent reasons why it was desirable.

What is this urgent political reason? It is that there is a fear which is widespread among more than one of the races or communities in Central Africa that, unless there is created and sustained in these three territories a stronger political association, looking to this country for its inspiration, maintaining our traditions and maintaining our principles, in the not-too-distant future other ideas, other principles, and other traditions might prevail. These are the traditions and ideas which come from the Union of South Africa.

I think the House and the country ought to know that the policy of Apartheid is casting a sinister shadow over Africa. I thought a lot before I said that, but it is time we said it and it is time we realised it. Indeed, in conversations I had with people representing all the races in Central Africa, most of them in private, these people urged upon me the necessity of bringing home to our own country a realisation of this danger.

The danger arises from two facts which the House and the country ought to know. First, there is the fact that the composition of the while population in the Rhodesias is changing. It is perhaps best illustrated by the figures of immigration into Northern Rhodesia. From the end of the war, in 1945, to the end of 1950, I was told by officers of the Government of Northern Rhodesia, immigration into Northern Rhodesia was in these proportions: for every 100 immigrants who came from the United Kingdom, 174 came from the Union. These 174 are not all Afrikaners; and all the Afrikaners are not nationalists; but there is concern about the fact that if that trend continues—and the same trend, although not to the same degree, is to be observed in Southern Rhodesia—then the composition of the while population will change.

Even more important and more dangerous than that is the fact that it is known to everyone that, for some time, well-organised African nationalist propaganda has been growing in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia. The last manifestation of this was the formation—it so happened that it was announced on the eve of the Conference at Victoria Falls—in Southern Rhodesia of a political party under the name of Democratic Party—a name which deceives no one, for it is an Afrikaner Nationalist Party. It is growing in its influence. Indeed, I think we ought to know this, too, because it is an important matter to which my right hon. Friend and I gave a good deal of time and thought and consideration: it is widely believed—I put it no higher than that; I cannot—in the Rhodesias that nationalist propaganda in the Rhodesias is subsidised fom unofficial organisations south of the Limpopo.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I said, from unofficial sources; from parties and Press. As a result, it was urged very strongly that if this tendency was to be resisted, it was essential to ensure that there should be a closer political association of these three territories. In 1950, during discussions with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, and after consultation with others, it was decided that we should set up a Conference of officials further to examine this problem of the closer political association of the three territories, and that the officials should be entrusted with the task of seeking to frame proposals which could go before all those concerned for consideration.

It was understood by myself and by the then Government, and by the Governments in Central Africa, that none of us would be committed in advance to any proposals which might emerge from this Conference of officials. The London Conference produced a report in which they unanimously recommended a scheme and a plan for federation, which they outlined in some considerable detail. I do not propose today to deal with those detailed proposals in the report, for more than one reason. The first reason is that I want to concentrate the debate this afternoon upon other matters which have transpired subsequent to the Victoria Falls Conference, because it is those matters which have led us to move a reduction of the Vote and to put certain questions to the Government.

Moreover, I hope that before any final conclusions are reached upon this matter, the House will have an adequate opportunity of considering this report in all its details. I will make only this reference, if I may—because this is relevant to something which I propose to ask the Secretary of State later: what the Conference of officials sought to do was to formulate proposals for the closer political association of these three territories, whilst ensuring that, under any scheme which might be brought into operation, there would be adequate safeguards for Africans and African interests and, something even more important, that when the scheme was brought into operation there would be sufficient power over the Federal Government vested in Her Majesty's Government and this House to ensure that African interests were preserved and protected.

That is the essence of this scheme. They proposed that this should be ensured in two ways. First of all, they proposed that in the division of functions between the Federal Government and the territorial Governments, all these matters which most intimately affect the daily lives of Africans should remain within the prerogative and absolute sovereignty of the territorial Governments, and that the Federal Government should have no voice, no authority, no right to intervene or interfere in this arrangement.

The second proposal was one for a rather novel constitutional device—that there should be set up an African Affairs Board and that any legislation proposed by the Federal Government should be submitted to the African Affairs Board, who would examine its provisions from the standpoint of its possible effect upon the interests of the Africans. If the African Affairs Board were satisfied that the legislation might injuriously affect African interests, they could hold it up for reference to Her Majesty's Government, which means, finally, to this House.

It was also proposed that in the Federal Government there should be a Minister for African Interests who would be appointed, not by the Prime Minister but after consultation with the Secretary of State—and the report left it open whether the Secretary of State should be the Secretary of State for the Colonies or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. This Minister would be appointed after consultation with the Secretary of State and could not be dismissed except with the consent of the Secretary of State. He would, therefore, be a member of the Cabinet, owing allegiance, not to the Prime Minister, but to the Secretary of State, to this House and to this country. That was a novel device. I am sure hon. Members will already have read with very great interest the letter of Margery Perham in "The Times" today, which raises the important problem whether any device can, indeed, ensure effective control over native affairs once the substance of power has been transferred to the white community.

That report was published and I announced that the Labour Government, whilst not committing themselves to acceptance or rejection of any of the detailed proposals, submitted it for the consideration of all concerned as a constructive approach to this problem. I am sure that all of us who have read the report will desire to pay our full mead of praise to the officials who sought to do a very difficult job, and who, obviously gave a good deal of thought to the problem.

When I announced that the report was to be published and that we commended it as a constructive approach, and did not, at that time, desire to commit ourselves to any of the detailed proposals, I also indicated that, before the Government of which I was a member would pronounce upon the detailed proposals, we thought it was desirable—indeed, more than desirable, essential—that there should be the fullest possible consultation with the opinion of all sections in Central Africa, and, in particular, with the Africans for whom we have special responsibilities.

I also announced that the consultations would take place in Central Africa; that my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick and I would visit Central Africa; and that in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland I would consult with organised representatives of those two communities, and that my right hon. Friend would visit Southern Rhodesia and also have consultations; and that, at the end of those consultations, we would both attend the Conference at Victoria Falls, further to discuss the proposals, it being understood that the Conference at Victoria Falls was not designed to arrive at decisions but to have further discussions and to clarify issues.

I want briefly to report to the House upon the Conference, and also upon the discussions that I had. My right hon. Friend hopes to speak later in the debate, and, if he does, he will indicate what his experiences were in Southern Rhodesia.

In Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland one could not help every day being impressed by the fact that here were two territories which bore the impress of two great men from our country—two great men of the 19th Century; an impress, very often, of influences which are in conflict—two traditions which it is very difficult to reconcile. I have sometimes said to my friends about this problem that it is expressed as a problem of how to reconcile Cecil Rhodes with David Livingstone—the Empire builder with the liberator. I confess—and open confession is good for the soul—that, nurtured as I have been in Nonconformity and Radicalism, my heart warms more to the Livingstone tradition than to the other.

But there it is. One finds this everywhere, in Nyasaland particularly and in parts of Northern Rhodesia, where Africans talk about David Livingstone as being still alive. Let me urge this upon the House, for it is important: his influence, his spirit, is still alive; and in that country, to many hundreds of thousands of Africans, this is the country of David Livingstone: and if in our policy we do not express the spirit of David Livingstone, it may have a very bad effect indeed on our relations with the Africans in those territories.

I had over 100 meetings in three weeks, most of them with Africans. My meetings were with provincial councils, with the Protectorate Council in both countries, and with the very important Congress Party, which is growing in influence—a factor of which we must take note. I had very full discussions with them. I want at this stage to say something which, I think, is important. It is not only important that I should say it, but it is important that it should be realised in this House and in this country and by our kinsmen in Central Africa.

It is sometimes said that it is no good discussing a problem of this complexity and this difficulty with Africans; that they cannot understand it, that it is beyond them. That is not only untrue: it is dangerous. I discussed it with Africans, and I was very deeply impressed by the discussions I had with them. I was deeply impressed by the way they put their case. Indeed, my right hon. Friend and I, at the Conference at Victoria Falls, at which there were African representatives from the two northern territories, were deeply im pressed by their dignified behaviour and by the way they put their case. It is, I think, essential for us all to realise that the Africans are growing up.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

On a point of order. I ask for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. While we agree that the spirit of David Livingstone would be beneficial, may I ask whether to say so in relation to that territory is in order, and whether this Motion can possibly be in order, in view of the fact that, under our constitutional arrangements, it may involve agreement with a self-governing community, a partner in the Commonwealth, and that this may denote some lessening of its existing powers?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The Motion before the House is a Vote, reported from the Committee of Supply, to which an Amendment has been moved to reduce the amount. This speech is quite in order.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

At the close of those discussions, to which I have made only brief reference, we held the Conference at Victoria Falls. Before I deal with some of the findings of that Conference, I should like to say a word about the composition of the Conference, particularly in one respect, for I hope that this will be again considered before any future conference is held.

It was arranged between myself, as Secretary of State for the Colonies at that time, and the Governments in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, that representatives of African organisations, nominated and chosen by themselves, should attend as parts of the delegations from those two northern territories at the Conference at Victoria Falls. Before the Conference took place, my right hon. Friend and I made it known to Southern Rhodesia, which is a self-governing Colony—and, therefore, we observed all the proprieties—that in our view, since we were arranging to ensure that there would be representatives of the Africans from the two northern territories, it was desirable that representatives of the Africans from Southern Rhodesia should attend as well. It was a very great pity that they did not.

After all—I say this with all respect, but it is part of the problem—the total white electorate in Southern Rhodesia is less than the number of electors whom I represent in this House; but there are millions of Africans—at varying stages of development, we know. The Africans from Southern Rhodesia are in varying stages of development as are the Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, and yet representatives of the Africans of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland attended the Conference; and I think everyone who attended the Conference will agree that it was good that we had those representatives there. I would again suggest that if any further conference is held, this should again be urged. I see that the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations is here. His chief would be the responsible Minister to whom to put this suggestion.

Let me point this out to hon. Members. One of the problems here is that there is a fear in the two northern territories that, if they federate, the policy which is pursued within Southern Rhodesia will be pursued in the two northern territories; therefore, when they see the difference between the two policies highlighted and emphasised, this fear deepens. That is what happened immediately we got to Victoria Falls. The first minute of the Conference at Victoria Falls emphasised the essential difference between Southern Rhodesia's policy of political advance towards Africans and the policy of the two northern territories. There were Africans representing their own people of the two northern territories and no Africans representing the Africans of Southern Rhodesia. I hope that will be considered.

Now I come to the Conference and its discussions. It will be clear from the communiqué issued at the close of the Conference that, after five days' full discussion, we did not reach the stage of discussing the detailed proposals in the London report—if I may refer to it in those short terms—for the simple reason that no really good, useful purpose could be served by discussing the detailed proposals unless there was first of all agreement about the principle. At that time, the Africans in Nyasaland were completely opposed even to the principle of federation, and the Africans in Northern Rhodesia expressed the view, with which I will deal later and make a proposal, that they would be prepared to consider federation on the basis of the London proposals if something else were done first. To that I will return.

At the Conference the whole time was taken up with reasons why the Africans were opposed even in principle to federation. I should like to make these known to the House, because it is very important that we should understand them. If hon. Members will look at the communiqué, paragraph 11 (3), they will find that there is, first of all, their fear that any scheme of federation would take away their Protectorate status, which might have very serious consequences for them. Moreover, the insistence of Africans in the two northern territories that the Protectorate should be preserved is related to another fear—which was put to me at the meetings—that federation might be the thin end of the wedge, and that, once they accepted federation, in a short time there would be such fundamental changes in it as to convert it into amalgamation.

Moreover, there were fears which had been aroused by speeches that had been made from time to time, particularly in the Rhodesias, attacking Colonial Office rules. If one section of the community attacks Colonial Office rule, then it is natural that the Africans should regard Colonial Office rule as being their protection. They urged that they were all deeply apprehensive that any plan of federation which involved eventually an expansion into amalgamation would result in their losing their Protectorate status, with all the security which they attach to the protection of Her Majesty's Government.

We considered that very fully—we had to do so, because they put it very frankly and fully—and eventually I will call the attention of the House to what was decided, because the recommendation of the Conference on this is of the utmost importance. It is embodied in paragraph 11 (1) of the communiqué issued at the end of the Conference. It stated: The Protectorate status of the two northern territories would be accepted and preserved. The next words are of very great importance— This therefore excludes any consideration now or in the future of amalgamation of the three territories unless a majority of the inhabitants of all three territories desire it. I emphasise the word "inhabitants," for that means all the people who live there, including the Africans, which means, therefore, that amalgamation of the territories could not be considered now or in the future unless the Africans desire it.

Their second fear was the fear of losing their land. I am sure that hon. Members will realise this attachment to the land and the fear of it being taken away, the fear of becoming exiles, the fear of being driven away. No one can understand the problem of the peasants of the world, whether in Llanelly or in Nyasaland or anywhere else, without realising this attachment to the land and the fear of losing it. This was put forward at their meeting. This fear is very deep-seated, and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House and the Colonial Secretary realise, as I do, that this is a fear which we must understand, respect and safeguard.

It was, therefore, agreed at the Victoria Falls Conference that in any proposals for federation that might be considered now or in the future, land and land settlement questions would remain the prerogative of the territorial Governments, and that means, in relation to the two northern territories—Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—that the existing Land Settlement Ordinances should be preserved, and that on all these questions the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies should remain completely unimpaired.

I come to the third fear that was expressed. It was the fear that if a plan of federation were adopted and brought into operation, the political advancement of the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland would be retarded, and, indeed, it might mean the end of their political advancement. They expressed themselves very fully and very clearly. It is important to us to realise that this desire for political advancement is of enormous importance.

In my short tenure of the very important, interesting and exciting office of Secretary of State for the Colonies, in my brief visits to a few of the Colonies in East and Central Africa and in the Far East, and in my day-to-day contacts with the representatives of all these territories who came to see me, there were ever-growing signs of nationhood among the black and yellow peoples, and what we call very often the peoples of the backward countries of the world. This is very important.

As I see it, our greatest task—indeed, the greatest task of statesmanship in the years that lie ahead—is to seek in partnership to harness this nationalism to constructive tasks. If it is not so harnessed, it can become a force to destroy us all. Therefore, how important it is to understand it and harness it! We cannot harness it unless we give it its place, and we cannot give it its place unless we ensure continuous political advancement in all these countries. That is very important, and fears that they would lose that were widely expressed to me at every meeting I attended.

At the Conference at Victoria Falls, most of the discussion centred round these fears, and the only conclusions that we arrived at were those embodied in paragraph 11, to which I have referred. Something else emerged at those meetings. Perhaps in the context of the discussion on federation in the existing situation, the most important thing that emerged was a declaration which is contained in paragraph 7 of the communiqué, and the proposals from the representatives of Africans from Northern Rhodesia which are referred to in paragraph 6 of the communiqué.

In paragraph 7 we see that the only policy—I emphasise that—which can succeed in the conditions of Central Africa is the policy of economic and political partnership between Europeans and Africans. Let us be perfectly clear what we mean. Once we accept the policy of partnership, every doctrine and practice of racial superiority must go. I am not saying that they can go overnight—many of them are very deep-rooted—but it means that we shall work towards their elimination. Once we accept partnership, let us be clear about the thing. The partnership might begin as a relationship of senior and junior partners, but eventually it must develop into an equal partnership. The important thing all the time is that there should be a trend towards that. We all accepted that at the Conference.

Because we accepted that, the proposal made by the representatives of the Africans of Northern Rhodesia assumed even greater importance than it would have done otherwise. There were three representatives of the Africans of Northern Rhodesia. One of them was Mr. John Moffatt, who is deeply respected by the Africans, and they themselves asked that Mr. Moffatt should be one of their representatives. The proposal was put by Mr. Moffatt for them after consultation with representative African organisations before they came to the Conference. The terms of the proposal were as follows: The representatives of African interests in Northern Rhodesia explained that Africans would be willing to consider the question of federation on the basis of the Report of the London Conference of officials after the policy of partnership in Northern Rhodesia had been defined and, as so defined, put into progressive operation. I believe that the proposal was one of the most important things to emerge from the Conference, as I shall indicate when I come to speak of events since the Conference. Then the Conference adjourned, and we remitted the matter back.

My right hon. Friend and I were convinced then—we expressed that conviction; it will be found in the communiqué—and are convinced now that federation of these three territories is desirable in principle. The problem is how to achieve it with the willing consent of the Africans. It is desirable for economic reasons. We ourselves became convinced in the end that it is desirable and that it may be urgent, although it is difficult to say what the degree of urgency is; but no one can go to those territories without being aware of the political feeling to which I referred earlier.

I now wish to discuss the events after the Conference. I shall put a number of questions to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I hope he will be able to reply to them. If the replies are satisfactory, we shall not divide the House, but if they are unsatisfactory we shall have to reconsider the position, because we believe that this matter is of very great importance at this time.

I now go back to the proposal of the African representatives of Northern Rhodesia. At the close of the Conference, my right hon. Friend and I urged the importance of this matter upon everyone, upon the Africans, the representatives of the Europeans, the Governors and the officials. We both said, "The proposal by the African representatives of Northern Rhodesia is of the utmost importance. They have offered to enter into discussions to seek to arrive at an agreed definition of partnership and a common programme for its implementation."

We urged everyone to take steps immediately to begin the discussion. That was the opportunity to do so, the kind of opportunity which, if missed, can be missed for ever. I wonder whether it has been missed. I wonder whether we have missed the one big chance which we had at the Conference, which I urged should be taken at once. I ask the Colonial Secretary why steps were not taken immediately in Central Africa to begin these discussions. Why were not the representatives of the Europeans and the Africans brought together? One of the problems and dangers is that they will grow up as two nations. They have grown up separately and have now met after having had no contact of any kind.

At Victoria Falls both sides came together and discussed the problem, and at the end the African representatives said that they were willing to go back to Northern Rhodesia to discuss the matter of partnership. They wanted "partnership" to be defined. They wanted it to be more than a word; they wanted it to be a policy. They said that they wanted the policy defined and they wanted a programme which would embody a plan to develop policy towards equal partnership economically, socially, and politically. Why were steps not taken? I shall return to that subject before I conclude.

There is a second matter to which I wish to make only a brief reference. It is very unfortunate that since the Conference at Victoria Falls some speeches have been made by political leaders in Southern Rhodesia. In this matter I speak for my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick and myself. This is the first public statement I have made on the subject since the Conference last September. I have deliberately refrained from making any public statement about it until we could discuss it in this House and until I could express my views to the House.

I wish our example had been followed. Personal references do not matter anyhow, but what do matter, because they affect our whole relationship, are the unfortunate references to the Africans who attended the Conference, and I must reply to them. There was a reference to "swollen heads." What a stupid thing to say! What an unfortunate thing to say! [HON. MEMBERS: "Whose speech was it?"] It was the speech of Sir Godfrey Huggins. Another speech about the Africans was as unfortunate as it was untrue. They behaved with real dignity during the Conference, in the discussions and outside, as did all the representatives at the Conference.

Another reference was very unfortunate. When we use words we ought to realise what their use may mean to other people. There was a reference to the fact that, as there had been a change of Government in this country, a "more realistic attitude" would be taken towards this question. What does this mean? What do hon. Members think it means to an African? What do hon. Members think it means to the people whom we met in the Conference? [An HON. MEMBER: "What does it mean to the whites?"] What does it mean to everybody? That speech was a very unfortunate one.

Nobody in this country made any references to this subject, and I commend hon. Members on both sides of the House on the way in which they have exercised restraint and on having spoken about the matter in public, if at all, in measured terms. That goes for every hon. Member of every party in the House.

I want also to refer to the recent talks in London. If there was one definite conclusion which I thought we had all reached at Victoria Falls—my right hon. Friend and I, representatives of Southern Rhodesia, the European and African representatives and the Governors—it was that in future we must avoid like the plague giving even the appearance of discussing this matter in the absence of the Africans. This is of immense importance. Therefore, when it was announced that Sir Godfrey Huggins was coming over here for consultations about Central African problems and questions were asked about it, I urged the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter. I asked the Government to take steps to indicate to Sir Godfrey Huggins that to have discussions at this time would have very unfortunate effects.

It was not only Sir Godfrey Huggins who came to see the right hon. Gentleman. Two Governors also came. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to ask the Governors of any territory to come to London for consultations with him; but it is known—indeed, it has been announced—that the consultations that took place in London were consultations between the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Sir Godfrey Huggins and the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

We must realise how this conference appears to Africans. I know that it was announced that they were consultations, but to the Africans they appear as a conference, a conference held to discuss federation, with the Africans shut out. Two or three years ago there was an unofficial conference of Europeans at Victoria Falls to discuss amalgamation, and that coloured the whole outlook of the Africans towards this subject. It was, therefore, unfortunate that these consultations should have taken place recently.

Here is a question which I want to put to the Secretary of State arising out of those consultations: What proposals, if any, were put forward by Sir Godfrey Huggins on behalf of Southern Rhodesia? What proposals, if any, or suggestions were put forward by the Governors, for both of whom we have the highest regard and respect? What was discussed? Even more important, what was agreed?

It may be that no agreement was arrived at except the date of the conference. It think I ought to tell the right hon. Gentleman that it is rumoured in Central Africa that at these recent discussions terms were discussed for—and I use the words which a correspondent of mine in Central Africa used—"rushing federation through quickly." I have made two visits to these African territories and, like others of my friends, I have maintained a correspondence with some of the people I met out there. That is what one of these correspondents said to me.

There was one decision at those talks which makes Africans feel that some such plan was arrived at. At Victoria Falls, at a fully representative Conference at which both Europeans and Africans were present, it was arranged that discussions should take place in the light of the conclusions of the Victoria Falls Con ference, and it was hoped that the Conference would be able to re-assemble in the middle of next year. Indeed, we talked about, but did not fix on, July as being a suitable time. The Africans agreed with the decision of the Victoria Falls Conference. They agreed that the Conference should be assembled in the middle of this year, in July. That was decided in their presence, with their consent, and all of us agreed with it unanimously.

In the setting of that decision, let us look at the decision to hold the conference in April. Who made that decision? Her Majesty's Government; Sir Godfrey Huggins: the Governors. The Africans were not consulted. Why could they not have been consulted? I do not know what are the reasons for picking April instead of July, but the Africans were not consulted and they are saying, "Here is a conference which is now being rushed forward, to be held in April, without consulting us, after discussions between the Secretary of State, Sir Godfrey Huggins, and two Governors. Why April? Why this rushing?"

This impression may be wrong, but that is why we pressed for a debate at once. It is very important.

Last week the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) put a number of Written Questions to the Secretary of State, in which he asked him whether he was aware of the feeling in Central Africa. This feeling is becoming dangerous. The Africans have been holding conferences and conversations. They have appointed committees of action and they have been discussing industrial action. They fear that this April conference, brought forward three months without their agreement, without their consent and without their being consulted, is not in their interests. There is an opportunity for the Government to send a message to these people to show them that they are wrong.

One of the problems with which I was particularly concerned was this problem of racial relationships in Central Africa. I know of the relationship of the white and the black miners. The European Mine Workers' Union and the African Mine Workers' Union have sent delegations of good will to this country. They have been the guests of my own union, the National Union of Mine Workers, who have sent, and I hope will again send, delegations of good will to Central Africa. I believe that the contacts that these two unions and my union have had will do much to help solve the problem with which we are faced in Central Africa. Now there is talk of strikes and of action because the conference has been brought forward. They think it hag been designed to rush federation through.

That is why I suggest with all seriousness that the April conference should be postponed. I do not do so for any partisan reason, because the most important thing at the moment is for this House unanimously to send a message to Central Africa and to the Africans to remove their fears. This April conference has now become associated in their minds with those fears. It seems to me that the best thing that could be done would be to postpone it and let the discussions go on. I put this forward quite honestly and sincerely.

I hope we shall get from the Colonial Secretary an announcement that the conference is to be postponed, and I hope we shall also get a clear statement from him that this conference is not designed or intended to rush federation or to impose federation upon the Africans against their wishes. That is of the utmost importance.

There is one final thing I would urge, because I think it is the most important problem of all, and that is the problem of partnership. I was privileged to visit East Africa and Central Africa during my term of office. In both those places I found the same problem. In Tanganyika, in Kenya, to a lesser extent in Uganda, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and to a lesser extent in Southern Rhodesia there is the problem of multi-racial communities. Their future prosperity and well-being depends upon whether those races can work together in agreement as partners in economic, social and political matters, so that they can merge together.

In Kenya I found the racial tension rather alarming. I asked representatives of all three races—European, African and Indian—to meet me, and I said, "I wish to make a suggestion to you. Indeed, I make more than a suggestion. I beg you to come together, as representatives of your communities on the Legislative Council, in order to hammer out in agreement your future economic and political advancement." If they do not agree on this, what then?

I heard the same thing in Tanganyika, which the Secretary of State has visited. If I may, I commend very warmly, not merely the proposals but the spirit of the proposals made by the Legislative Council in Tanganyika, representing the three races, who have said that they want now to ensure that in the Legislative Council representation of the three races shall be equal. If there is equal representation, that will ease the tension. I hope that in Central Africa, too, there will be discussions, and that out of them will come agreement.

If we do not accept partnership fully, seek to define it by agreement and resolve to implement it and to work it out, I urge the House to consider what is the alternative? Racial conflicts, racial fears, racial antagonism and catastrophe. That is the alternative. The time has gone when we can make decisions and, having made decisions, impose them. They must now be made by discussion and agreement. There are immense possibilities in the development of these three territories. There is so much to be gained for all of them by closer economic association and by closer political association: but it can be done only with the agreement of all of them.

I urge the Colonial Secretary, for the reasons I have given, to assure us on the points I have put on behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends. We believe that by asking for these assurances we are serving the best interests of the people of Central Africa and of this country.

4.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

This debate differs from many in which we are engaged at other times because we are not this afternoon discussing matters of principle. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Or we are not disagreeing on matters of principle. The right hon. Member for Lanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who I understand will take part in the debate later on, are both agreed upon the principle of federation. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Llanelly, in very eloquent words, has re-affirmed, as I knew he would, his belief that federa tion will bring great advantages to these territories.

In passing, we should not forget that it was the two right hon. Gentlemen who now face me who took the initial steps on the road towards federation after, as the right hon. Gentleman said, it had been a matter of discussion for many years. After the official report was published—what he calls the London Report—they are both on record as saying that they regarded it as a constructive approach; and later, when the final communiqué of the Victoria Falls Conference was published, both right hon. Gentlemen agreed with the principle of federation. That is what I was saying; we are not disagreed on the principle of federation. Her Majesty's present advisers take exactly the same view on this matter.

I assure those hon. Gentlemen who appeared just now to dissent from me, that I do not seek to minimise these matters. What we are doing is engaging upon a debate on other subjects, in the main: namely, the time-table of conferences, the course, sequence and progress of consultation, and, more particularly, of consultation with African opinion. I do not wish to minimise such a subject in any way, because negotiations, in my painfully long experience of them, are often more a matter of atmosphere and confidence than they are of the actual subjects and problems which are being tackled. He would indeed be an inexpert negotiator who neglected at any time the importance of creating the right atmosphere in which the negotiations were to take place and devoted himself solely to their substance.

When matters of principle and of conviction are concerned, I hope I may be regarded as a very obstinate man, because in those matters I think that obstinacy is not far away from virtue. But when it comes to a matter of time-tables and machinery, obstinacy on these subjects is, I think, very nearly a vice; and if it is not a vice, it is at least stupidity.

I remember it was said of a politician not very long ago by a friend of mine that he was one of the ablest men in the art of politics that he knew, because, he said, he could make the French Revolution sound commonplace. No critics of the right hon. Gentleman, if there are any, would ever say that he had this power of making great events sound commonplace. He has the power of making quite small events sound as if they were major matters of policy. [Interruption.] I am not being critical. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are much too touchy. I may not be doing it very well, but I am trying to pay a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence, and I am very surprised that some of his hon. Friends should dissent from that. I only say that he has lifted this matter, which looked to me very largely a matter of mechanics, on to another plane.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Surely the matter is not a small one. Surely it is a matter of the utmost importance.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I shall come to this later. The hon. and learned Gentleman must contain himself for a little longer. Later in my speech I shall be able to reassure, not only the right hon. Gentleman, but those behind him, upon the point which preoccupies them at this moment. A large part of his speech was devoted, if I may say so, to an interesting historical survey leading up to the present situation, but in the last quarter of an hour of his speech he did express some anxieties which I am anxious to allay, and I shall address myself mainly to those in the course of my remarks.

Before I spend a few moments on federation, as such, I should like to say that I am genuinely anxious, as far as I can consistent with my responsibilities, not to be obstinate over these matters but to carry the right hon. Gentleman and his supporters with me. I might put it this way. On the principle of federation they have carried me with them, and I hope that on the working out of it I may be able to carry them with me.

I do not propose to spend very much time—the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with it much better than I could—upon the reasons which have impelled both the last Government and Her Majesty's present advisers to support a federal scheme for these three territories. These reasons, as the right hon. Gentleman said, are both political and economic. He developed the reasons for political federation at greater length than I need do now, but I reiterate that, in our belief, British political and constitutional ideas in these countries will redound to the greatest advantage of both Africans and Europeans. I will not develop that point further.

Economically the inter-dependence of the three territories scarcely requires much argument. A single port serves all three. The railway system requires much more unification. There is a need for Nyasaland labour in Northern and Southern Rhodesia—a matter of great importance. Coal, as the right hon. Gentleman said, from Wankie, in Southern Rhodesia, is required for the copper mines of Northern Rhodesia, where they are now rather short of coal.

The common concern of all three is for the development of Nyasaland, which is the least forward of the three territories. It is most important. We wish to see it carried on with the help of the other two territories and sustained by the advantages which would accrue from the development of some combination of the three. There is the development of hydroelectric power from the Zambesi, which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

This is only a sketch, but there are massive economic reasons for federation. All these points are common ground between Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition. It is true that in theory these economic advantages might be gained by measures other than political, but I think the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me that practically and in fact that is not so—or it has not been proved to be so. The story of the work of the Central African Council hears this out. It has not been able to carry on an economic policy of that kind in face of the political obstacles and difficulties.

Against this political and economic background the right hon. Gentleman has this afternoon, as on other occasions, very, rightly and justly explained the four main anxieties which are now affecting the minds of Africans. At the risk of repetition, I must go over them again.

First, as he expresses it, federation is the thin end of the wedge for amalgamation. Secondly, Protectorate status in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia would be lost in federation. Thirdly, through federation they would lose their land. Fourthly, the political advancement of Africans, particularly in the Northern Territories, would be retarded by federation.

Let me say frankly that I cannot accept that as a statement of their anxieties and, equally frankly, that the very core of policy on these matters must be to provide safeguards on all those points. Indeed, on some of them, safeguards must be written into the Constitution. Amalgamation and loss of Protectorate status, for example, are entirely unacceptable from the point of view of Her Majesty's Government. We do not believe in tearing up treaties. We have made it clear that there must be proper constitutional safeguards against the loss, and, more than that, even against the erosion of Protectorate status.

We are bound to preserve Protectorate status, and the constitution must be framed in such a way that neither amalgamation nor loss of Protectorate status can come about without the consent of Her Majesty's Government. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, that means without the consent of the House. On these points we believe that exactly the present position must be preserved. The only way in which these two territories could lose their Protectorate status would be if Her Majesty's Government were to break or abrogate the treaties; so that we must regard the safeguards in this matter as going the whole way.

Security of land tenure is one of the most vital matters involved. This must be under-written by making it a matter exclusively in the sphere of territorial government and not a federal one. Upon this matter we can give assurance that the present position—that is to say that these are matters for the territorial government,—can be fully secured and safeguarded. Lastly—and here is a matter which cannot only be covered by words in the Constitution—the political advancement of Africans in the Northern Territories must be, and must be seen to be, safeguarded. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this question is closely allied to the subject of partnership, to which he devoted eloquent words towards the end of his remarks, and about which I shall have something to say at the conclusion of mine.

I now turn to the matter of consultation and the time-tables of conferences, and so on, but before I do so I must explain that the conversations in January and February between the two Governors, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and myself as Secretary of State, were in no sense a conference. We were concerned in making the agenda for the conference in April. The conversations were confidential but they were binding on no one. The objections and criticisms which are now being received will mark the next stage, and they will come to light in the agenda and the work of the April conference.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that in these private consultations between himself and the Governors of the three territories the agenda of the conference was decided without any consultation with African representatives?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

Yes, if the hon. Gentleman likes to put it that way. The conversations were concerned with forming the agenda.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

If the hon. Gentleman will kindly allow me to finish this argument, it may be that he will agree with me, but I should like to develop it. It appeared to me, and I say quite frankly that it still appears to me, that the need for such conversations was fully realised at the time of the Victoria Falls Conference. In fact, in paragraph 5 of the communiqué which was issued after that conference, with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman, I am sure—I do not want to make any small points, but this is part of the reason—these words are used: It has become evident that further discussion within each territory"— and these are the operative words— and exchanges of views between the four Governments will be necessary, and the Conference has therefore adjourned.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Mr. J. Griffiths rose

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman could help me. I have been at some pains to find out about this matter. I say quite frankly that that passage was read by myself and by those who were at the conference to mean exactly what it says, namely, a conference between the four Governments, and I read it as such now.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

The right hon. Gentleman is quoting from the communiqué?

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

No doubt he appreciates that in the communiqué arrangements were made for discussions in the territories and for consultation, and for the conference to be resumed in the middle of the next year. The position is, whatever the right hon. Gentleman might call it—and I am not saying this after the event because I told him in the House before he began—that these consultations have appeared to the Africans to be a conference, particularly because of the fact that the two Governors were called over. In their view, it became a conference of the three territories.

Let us get this point clear. We adjourned the conference last September to the middle of the next year. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when this conference re-assembles, the agenda will be the same as that which we were discussing. I press the right hon. Gentleman on this point. He says that the conversations about the agenda were private. If that were stated in the House it would confirm some of the worst fears. When he says that an agenda was arranged, I ask him: What is that agenda? The point is very important.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

There are two points, and about the first one I must be absolutely clear. I do not think in any way that the right hon. Gentleman has met my point. The communiqué says in absolutely unequivocal terms—and that was recognised and signed by the right hon. Gentleman—that exchanges of views between the four Governments would be necessary. What were the conversations in January and February other than an exchange of views between the four Governments? [Interruption.] Please let me answer the point. That is absolutely clear. I read these words at that time very carefully, and they mean the same to me now as they did, even after the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to by-pass them or explain them.

The other matter is that of the agenda. I do not think there is anything secret about that. Everybody knows that in holding any conference there must be an agenda, and it will certainly come to light in full before the conference is convened and at the time when deputations from the African bodies are in London.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

Are we to understand that the agenda will be finally arranged as a result of the conference which the right hon. Gentleman had with the Governors and without consultation with the African representatives?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to get on with the narrative, he will find most of his points answered as I continue.

Now I want to explain what I believe is the main cause of difference, or apparent difference, between the right hon. Gentleman and myself. He said and supported it with all his oratorical gifts, that the ante-dating of the July conference to April had had a very bad effect upon African opinion—

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

—and led not only it but, I think, also himself to suppose that federation is to be railroaded through and that an atmosphere of suspicion and lack of confidence had been created by the mere fact of ante-dating. The right hon. Gentleman drew a rather frightening picture of action committees being formed or industrial threats being made in the Copper Belt, and so forth. I hope very much that these fears will prove exaggerated. Of course, they could not be entertained merely by looking at the documents concerned, because the communiqué foreshadowed a conference about the middle of next year, and April is about the middle of next year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]

It is just as much the middle of next year as July, which was the date generally favoured. However, I do not want to argue whether the right hon. Gentleman is making too much of his fears and of the bad atmosphere because I do not want to join issue upon that and I am only anxious to meet him.

The April conference was and still is designed to bring within the framework of a constitutional document, perhaps even a draft constitution, many points. I cannot for a moment accept the suggestion that those points can be regarded as details or that any point in the constitution is a detail. I think any point in the constitution is a major matter.

Therefore, the April conference is designed to bring within the framework of a constitutional document or a draft constitution all those points raised in the officials' Report and in their amendments, so that public opinion may be focused upon a definite scheme and not upon a scheme which they do not know and which might emerge from the general lines of the conclusions in the officials' Report.

I go as far as to say with great sincerity that a great deal of the anxieties and uncertainties which surround public opinion today arise merely because there is not a definite scheme before it. I address this remark more to African opinion than to hon. Members opposite: that if Africans had the opportunity of studying the actual safeguards which we urge should be embodied in the constitution, and were to study them in an atmosphere of calm, they would see that the four anxieties to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and which I have reiterated, would prove to be groundless.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Is the right hon. Gentleman referring to the safeguards in the officials' proposals or some new safeguards worked out in the discussions with the Governors?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The safeguards I am thinking of are those which should allay the anxieties on these four points.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

Some are contained in the officials' Report, many of them have not been worked out. I might mention, however, the division of federal and provincial functions, which is still far from complete, and concurrent legislation. Those are matters which vitally concern the safeguarding of African interests.

I am saying that the April conference is designed to form a definite scheme. While I defend my action about the April conference, I am not obstinate or dogmatic enough to say that it is necessarily right or that the right hon. Gentleman is necessarily wrong. I only say that there is a very good reason for it, namely, that if one requires an informed public opinion upon a matter of this importance it can only be formed upon a definite scheme.

At present, there is no definite scheme. If there is not a definite scheme, it is only too easy to take counsel of your fears and to erect bogeys or pursue will-o'-the-wisps, or whatever metaphor is used. The idea was that the April conference should produce a definite draft, and it was and is to try to publish a White Paper. Let me turn aside here to say who is to come and what consultation is to take place.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I ask him two questions? First, may I again urge him to reconsider his first answer and his refusal to make public what agenda has been agreed? That is of great importance. Second, I now gather that the right hon. Gentleman is coming to the conclusion of the discussion—

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

—and I wonder whether he is going to deal with what has been decided. Was anything except the agenda discussed at that conference?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I am always ready to give way, but I think it will be for the convenience of the right hon. Gentleman if I finish this section of my speech and then invite him to put questions.

May I turn aside from the main matter to say who is to come and what consultation is to take place? I asked the Governors of both Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to approach the African Representative Council and the African Protectorate Council to meet the Colonial Ministers, myself and my colleagues, in London before the April conference began—that is, 10 days, or longer if they so wish, before the conference is ready to assemble.

I have received an acceptance from the African Protectorate Council and I have some grounds for hoping that the African Representative Council will also accept the invitation. However, I must make it quite clear to hon. Members opposite that what they have accepted is an invitation to consultations with myself and my colleagues in the Colonial Office. They have not yet accepted any invitation to take part in the conference itself. That invitation has been extended to them and it is still open. It is as well to repeat my earnest hope that they will stay and take part in the conference and play their part in producing a definite scheme. Therefore, if my hopes are realised, the conference will consist of the representatives of those two bodies, representatives of the three Governments and, naturally, Her Majesty's Government in the persons of my colleague and myself and, in particular, my right hon. and noble Friend.

I should here interpolate a remark about the African bodies I have mentioned. I believe that the right hon. Member who was my predecessor regards the African Representative Council and the African Protectorate Council as the effective constitutional bodies to be invited to play an official part in the conference—

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman agrees, because I want to clear away as much misunderstanding as possible. They are fully representative of African opinion throughout their respective territories. They are elected in each case by the provincial councils which, in their turn, are chosen by a number of local councils both in rural and urban areas.

I think this is the part of my remarks which perhaps goes some way to reassuring the right hon. Gentleman. When the April conference was made part of the machinery of consultation in this matter, I had always thought that it might be necessary to have a further conference before we proceeded either to ratification or to abandonment of the scheme. I have always thought that that might be necessary.

But I tell the House quite frankly that I should prefer not to have committed myself to the necessity for a further conference until my colleagues and I and others had formed a judgment upon the results of the April conference and had taken, so to speak, the temperature of the proceedings. However, from what the right hon. Gentleman has said this afternoon, it would be as well if I definitely went further, and I propose to do so.

I propose to pledge Her Majesty's Government to invite the three Governments to take part in a further and final conference before the matter of ratification or abandonment of the scheme is put to the Governments concerned. The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has already told me this morning that he would be prepared to accept such an invitation if it were made to his Government. I should hope, but I do not want to take a final decision on it, that it will be possible to convene the final conference at the end of July.

Perhaps, therefore, I may sum up my new proposals, and I now acknowledge that they have become pledges. The proposals are that the matter should be taken in two stages—instead of one. The original proposal, sponsored by the right hon. Gentleman, was to hold one conference in July. My proposal is to hold two conferences, one in April, which will produce a definite scheme—I think that that is urgently necessary if informed public opinion is to get to work—and one, perhaps, in July—I hope, not later—which would produce a final result.

To clear up any possible misunderstanding, I should explain what will be the position of the four Governments concerned between the April conference and what I may call the July conference. The four Governments will be bound by the White Paper—that is to say, provided agreement is reached in April—containing the draft scheme, and they will not be able unilaterally to depart from that scheme. That will be the position up to what I call the July conference. It will at that time be open to the four Governments, acting in concert at that final conference, to introduce such amendments as a further study of the subject and public opinion may warrant during the interim period.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

There is one point on which I am not clear. The right hon. Gentleman said that the other three Governments—four Governments in all—would be invited to a conference in July. Does he intend that Africans shall be invited, too? He did not say so specifically.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I beg pardon. That goes without saying. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) draws some doubts upon my sincerity.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

I was merely repeating the right hon. Gentleman's remarks for someone on these benches. I was not in the least meaning to doubt his sincerity.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

As the hon. Member comes from a part of the world which is very dear to my heart, I am glad to accept his explanation.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

What "goes without saying"? The exchange across the Table between the Minister and my right hon. Friend was of such a confidential character that Members over here did not hear what the discussion was about.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The right hon. Member asked me whether Africans would be invited to the July conference. I said that it went without saying. In case the hon. and learned Member wants me to say, I repeat that not only are invitations open to them to the April conference, but that a fortiori they are open for the July conference.

There is one matter I have omitted from the right hon. Gentleman's intervention: that is, the agenda. I say straightaway that it is the officials' Report plus modifications, most of which, but not all of them, have been received. They were to have been in London by 1st March. That is the agenda.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

I want to press this further, because this is important. At the Victoria Falls Conference, we had no agenda as such. We had the report of the conference, we had considered the report, and we considered the report of their discussions with everybody concerned. I gather now that there has been agreement that at the April conference there will be an agenda and that it will contain the London proposals plus modifications. Whose modifications? I am sorry to delay the House, but this is of very great importance and goes to the core of the consultations.

As the communiqué of the Victoria Falls Conference says, we discussed the principle and we discussed the African fears; we did not discuss the details. It was laid down in the communiqué that the Government of Southern Rhodesia wanted it reported that they had reservations about details. Others had them also, and it was recorded that other parties would have reservations.

If the April conference agenda is to include proposals for modifications of these proposals, is the invitation to submit those modifications for the April conference to be made to the Africans also? That is very important. I have a shrewd idea of the modifications proposed by Southern Rhodesia, and I do not want to discuss them now. If the agenda is to be open to modifications to the London proposals, will those invitations to submit modifications be made to the Africans, the Europeans and everybody else concerned?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

Certainly. The agenda is not as informal as that of the Victoria Falls Conference. The right hon. Member must begin to grasp that the conversations in London followed exactly what he himself endorsed in the communiqué of the Victoria Falls Conference. It was acknowledged that further consultations between the four Governments were necessary. That is exactly what has taken place. Anybody can produce any modifications they like upon the agenda. I hope I have dealt with that subject finally and fully. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman will know that I have entirely met his point.

I was dealing with the position of the three Governments in the interim period, and I think there was an interruption with which I have not dealt.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

I am sorry to interrupt. The right hon. Gentleman has talked about modifications and is leaving that part of his speech. He has given the Governors an opportunity of introducing modifications. Is it possible that the Africans have had no opportunity of introducing any modifications and that they will come to the April conference to consider, not only the drafting of a scheme, but the modifications that the Governors will introduce, without having any opportunity of suggesting modifications themselves?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

It would be much easier if the hon. and learned Member listened occasionally. I made it perfectly clear that an invitation had been extended to the representatives of both these African bodies to come to London, if they so wish, 10 days or more before the April conference is convened. It is during that period when anything which may have come to light, and which I asked should be in London by 1st March, could be put forward to be considered before the conference is convened. That could not be clearer.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

That is a little late from the African point of view.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I do not think so.

There remain three important matters on which I must touch. First, an anxiety has often been expressed to me about the methods being used to explain the scheme to Africans; second—and the right hon. Gentleman touched upon this—there is the question of native policy generally, and that of Southern Rhodesia in particular; and third, there is the subject of partnership. I will deal first with the least important of these, although it is, of course, important: the explanation of schemes to the Africans and the methods employed.

The Secretaries for Native Affairs and Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council representing African interests have had a series of meetings with African leaders. District Commissioners have explained these matters fully at meetings of local African governing bodies and other African societies. I emphasise—this also picks up something I said earlier—that the Government spokesmen have been very greatly handicapped because the scheme—this is not a criticism, but something which has evolved—has not yet reached a final form.

Many of the anxieties about safeguards arise because those safeguards are not yet to be seen in a draft constitution. They are only hidden away—"enshrined" is the word which was used in another connection—in a long official report. Many of the anxieties arise from the very fact that public opinion is asked to form itself upon a document which does not exist. That is the justification for the April conference. We hope that this disability will, or should, be overcome by the April conference.

I now turn to the matter of native policy. A comprehensive study was made last year of the native policy of the three territories. It was presented to Parliament in a White Paper, Cmd. 8235. I think I should quote the officials' conclusions about that report. They were reached by a body of men including many who were closely familiar with these problems and whose impartiality cannot be called into question. Command 8233 was a very interesting report in many respects. They said: we believe these differences"— that is, between the three territories— although important, relate largely to method and timing and that the ultimate objective of all three Governments is broadly the same, namely, the economic social and political advancement of the Africans in partnership with the Europeans.We do not believe that the differences in native policy which still exist can now be regarded as a valid argument against closer association, provided that a suitable scheme can be devised. On the contrary, we think that there would be positive advantages in closer association from the point of view of native policy. I am not quoting those words particularly for the benefit of hon. Members, but I am saying that the authors of that report included not only senior official advisers of His late Majesty's Government, but also leading official advisers of all three Central African Governments and in each case the Secretary for Native Affairs, that is to say, the person charged in each country with the special duty of looking after the interests of the African inhabitants.

I think these conclusions are worth studying—I am not talking of hon. Members—by those outside the House, those uninformed critics who are inclined to level charges, based largely on prejudice and hearsay rather than on a knowledge of facts, against the Southern Rhodesian Government.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

While the right hon. Gentleman is quoting from that document, will he again refer to Command 8233 in which equally informed people have set out the amazing differences which still exist between the treatment of the Africans in Southern Rhodesia and in Northern Rhodesia?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I will reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The reason I quoted Command 8235 was that I thought he was expressing the other point of view and I wished to show that this is not quite so black and white as they make out. Here is a quite contrary opinion. I only read out the words; there may be other opinions. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was very critical of Southern Rhodesian policy in this respect and I thought, to give it balance, that it would be as well to quote another view.

I come to the last subject, the one which the right hon. Member for Llanelly discussed at some length—and rightly—the matter of partnership. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised, as he has often done before, and I take this opportunity of agreeing with him, that in the circumstances of Central Africa only a working agreement between the races can serve the true purposes of any of them. Although many safeguards of political advancement can be written into the very constitution that is to deal with protective status and amalgamation and safeguards against amalgamations, there are some clearly which cannot and it is to cover this uncovered field that the matter of partnership assumes such importance.

As the House knows, in December, 1951—the right hon. Gentleman asked about this point—the African Representative Council declined to take part in discussions which were to draw up a preliminary definition of partnership. That was unfortunate and, accordingly, there was no alternative but for the Governor to draw up a definition himself and there have been interchanges on the matter. He is now doing so and it will not be long before he is ready to discuss the document with all concerned. I do not think I need emphasise the importance of this definition. I pick up what I said earlier in my speech—that this matter of partnership was closely bound up with the fourth anxiety of Africans—that federation may impair or impede the political and constitutional advance of the inhabitants of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in particular.

I think that is as far as I can profitably carry my remarks this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will wind up and answer any questions hon. Members may raise. I feel sure that in our discussions here we shall all have regard to the gravity of these issues because they are really great matters of policy both to Africans and to Britons. There is no disagreement about that. It is remarkable that all parties, or the majority of all parties, agree that federation will confer great advantages. Without wishing in any sense to assume the role either of pedagogue or censor, I hope that in the discussion the House will try to clear the waters of counsel and not to muddy them with the stick of controversy.

I wish to conclude by reminding the House of the story—I hope I am not reaching my anecdotage—about a small child heard in pronouncing the Lord's Prayer to make an emendation and say, "My will be done"—a very human alteration. On the other hand, I confess that the old French text: We are their leaders provided that we follow them does not figure prominently on the walls of Her Majesty's present advisers nor, for that matter, does the child's, "My will be done." Doubtless between the two the golden thread of statesmanship runs and I hope that we may find it and follow it together.

5.17 p.m.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

With one sentence that the right hon. Gentleman uttered towards the end of his speech I am quite sure everyone in this House will agree, namely, the gravity of the matter being discussed today. We are discussing the present position and the future of six million people. Surely that is a matter which calls for our closest attention.

The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that there were no differences between the policy of Her Majesty's Government today and that of their predecessors with regard to the need for federation. They have both implied that federation may bring about, or will bring about, economic development which will be of considerable advantage to everyone in those three territories and that that situation will be of considerable advantage throughout Africa. I want to emphasise that economic advantages are not the only advantages, are not necessarily, either, the most important and certainly not the paramount advantages we have to consider today. In statement after statement this has occurred, that federation is needed for the advancement, economically, socially and politically, of the people who occupy these territories and it is upon those other two points that I have very considerable doubts—the political and social advantages that will ensue from mere federation.

I say at once that I was pleased to hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). With everything that he said today I found myself in complete agreement. I only wish he had been firmer while occupying office and as firm as he is now on this side of the House, especially in his reference to the causes of the urgency with which this is now being pressed upon us. Hitherto we have only found in the various White Papers issued the statement that there was urgency, that the matter must be dealt with very quickly and promptly. The right hon. Gentleman called the attention of the House to this today when, speaking from his knowledge and experience and from the fact that he occupied the position of Secretary of State for Colonies only a few months ago, he said that the urgency is caused by what is happening in South Africa. I am glad that he has been so forthcoming in regard to that.

If the House will pardon a personal reference, the first speech I ever made in public was when I was a boy, and it was in defence of people whose freedom was, I thought, then being threatened. Because I made that speech I was called, in those days, a pro-Boer. [An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. and learned Gentleman was not the only one."] Thank goodness I was not the only one. When making that speech I was not only abused but physically ill-treated.

Little did I then think that the freedom that I as a boy felt was being taken away from those people, and the freedom that was restored to them by the Liberal Government of 1906, and again of 1910 by the formation of the Union of South Africa, would be used by the people to whom we had given their freedom to take away freedom from others who occupied that territory and had as much right to freedom as they had. Not only throughout South Africa and South-West Africa but throughout Central Africa there is a fear that the Africans who are now outside the Union may be brought within the Union and dealt with as the Africans within the Union are being dealt with.

It is a remarkable tribute to the people of this country, and especially to the House of Commons, that the Africans throughout every part of Africa rely upon the word of this country, the toleration of the people of this country, upon their sense of justice and fairness, and have confidence in them and have always turned towards them for protection. It was for that reason that the people of Bechuanaland not only put themselves under the protection of the then Government but, in order to make the matter far clearer and sounder in their view, actually sent representatives over here who insisted on seeing and did see—Her Majesty Queen Victoria, saying "We can trust you and those of whom you are the leader."

So it is today in those territories that are the subject of today's debate that the Africans in all three countries have a confidence in this country and the feeling that they can always be protected by this country. It is a wonderful tribute to us and our predecessors.

Turning to the matter which is before us today, the right hon. Member for Llanelly emphasised the need to consult African opinion. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has said, "Yes, quite right, they must be consulted. I have now arranged that 10 days before the conference begins here in April African representatives sent by the African Council are to be over here, where they will spend some time, and I can get their opinion." I only wish that that action had been taken far earlier.

Why is it that African opinion was not consulted? There was first the Bledisloe Conference, or the Committee over which Lord Bledisloe presided, in 1938. So far as I know, there was not a single African representative on that body, which reported against federation largely because of the different approaches by the Governments—the different treatment of Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland compared with that which Africans were receiving in Southern Rhodesia. These, they said, were incompatible, and they did not see how they could be brought together.

Then the late Government decided that they would hold inquiries. They have published the result of those inquiries. But who held them? Excellent men of great experience, who had been in Africa and were working in Africa, but not one of them was an African. All these reports about a federation have been drawn up by non-Africans to deal with six million Africans and their future, whereas we are dealing only with 169,000 Europeans all told.

But not one African was consulted. Is it surprising, therefore, that when the two right hon. Gentlemen went out to Central Africa, the Africans of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland first said that they would not even attend the Conference at Victoria Falls? They were against the whole thing, root and branch. It was due to the then Secretary of State for the Colonies that they attended, but when they did so they were opposed to federation.

Nyasaland was so much opposed to it that her African representatives would not even consider it. Those of Northern Rhodesia said "We would consider it if only we could be satisfied about what is the meaning of true partnership. In what sense is this phrase being used? Shall we ever be treated equally with the Europeans, or not? It is easy enough to bandy the word "partnership" about but the situation in which 99.9 per cent. is in the hands of one race and only 1 of 1 per cent. in the hands of the other might be called legally a partnership."

No wonder these people are anxious as to what is the meaning of the word. What is even more significant is that in the self-governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia the Africans have not even been consulted. They were not even allowed to attend the Conference at Victoria Falls. How does one expect confidence to be instilled in the African when there is treatment of that kind? How can it be expected, when he has now seen what is happening in South Africa, where about 87 per cent. of the land has been given to the Europeans, of whom there are about two million, and 13 per cent. of the land has been reserved for the Africans, of whom there are six million? And they were promised equal treatment by this House.

Even under the Act framing the Union of South Africa, safeguards were included to protect the African. What happened? They have been flouted. Not only are the Government and the people of this country flouted so is the United Nations, and so is the International Court. The matter is put before the Court at The Hague, where a decision is reached. The Government of South Africa say "We do not mind that decision, it has nothing to do with us, we are above the law."

A decision is arrived at in Paris by the United Nations, and it sends a request that it would like to see the representatives of the Africans of South-West Africa. What happens? The Union of South Africa say "We are greater than the United Nations. We do not intend to be troubled by little legalisms of that kind. We shall not allow these people to go."

What they have to realise is that news of that is travelling throughout the whole of Africa. All Africa is awake today. We cannot maltreat an African in one part of the country without other Africans knowing about it. We talk about a united Europe. What will happen if we so stir up these people in Africa that they say "We are also now a united Africa," whether it be in Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Central Africa or South Africa"? That is why it is so essential that the Africans should be carried completely with us in every step.

We talk about their political and social future. See what is happening now. The right hon. Gentleman referred to one quotation in one annex and I referred to an annex contained in another Command Paper where the differences are set out.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

May I interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman? I think that earlier, when he interrupted me, he said that I quoted from Command Paper 8235 and that had I quoted from Command Paper 8233 I should have got an entirely contrary view. I see in looking through that very annex: There are, nevertheless, a number of differences, some of them important, as for instance in the political sphere in central Government…though they are essentially of timing or method of approach. I think that the attention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman should be called to those particular words.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

Yes. In this Command Paper 8233, on page 28, is set out in Annex II a reference to paragraph 17 of the report and the differences in the actual treatment meted out to the Africans in Southern Rhodesia as compared with the Africans in Northern Rhodesia. For example, take subparagraph (d) in page 29: Native Authorities and Councils are well established in the Northern territories and have wide powers in local administration as well as financial and other responsibilities. In Southern Rhodesia, by statute, they have similar powers and responsibilities, but their general development has been less rapid and they have not progressed so far in their use of these powers and responsibilities. There is a world of difference between the approach of Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland as set out in some other paragraphs. It is said with regard to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland that the object is to train the African in taking responsibility as early as possible; let him join in local councils and local administration, and even in the administration of justice—that is the way in which we can bring him along with us to take part in the government of the country.

But in Southern Rhodesian they take the other view. They say, "No, we must educate first and take a long time over that education; and it is only a long time afterwards that the man can be admitted into the council." The Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia has gone so far as to say that he cannot even see the African coming into the Southern Rhodesia Legislature in under 25 years.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is always so scrupulously fair in controversy that I feel I must again draw his attention to the fact that both the Command Papers 8233 and 8235 admit that there are some differences and both are quite definite that they are matters more of method and timing. I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is always very fair, and I think he should state, when drawing attention to some paragraph about local administration and the fact that they had not progressed so far, that that paragraph is preceded by the words I have just quoted, and he should re-quote.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

But I am right in stating the details of the differences. The details are actually stated. All that is contained in that paragraph is a general statement which this very annex sets out.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The words which I have read are part of the annex.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

One does not read one without the other.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to make a remark of that kind. He read one without the other and I had to interrupt him and quote the other. I do not think he is entitled to make or justified in making that remark. I quote further: In the northern territories Native courts have extensive criminal and civil jurisdiction. In Southern Rhodesia their powers are at present limited to civil matters only and exclude divorce.In the northern territories African trade unions are legally recognised and given guidance. In Southern Rhodesia they cannot be registered though they are in practice given a limited de facto recognition. Their courts, the administration of justice, local councils, trade unions—these are vitally important matters in which there is a fundamental difference between the treatment in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman read paragraph (l) of the same annex?

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

In Southern Rhodesia professional and technical departments of the Division of Native Affairs have been established to provide separate services for Africans. In the northern territories there are no separate departments dealing exclusively with African affairs (except that in Northern Rhodesia there is an African Education Department"—

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

I am sorry, it was paragraph (1) which I wished the right hon. and learned Gentleman to read.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

I thought that was the one. It is the very last one: The Southern Rhodesia Government spends considerably more per head of the African population on such African services as health, education, irrigation and soil conservation… Well, quite right; but I would much prefer to take part in seeing how that money was being spent than in getting it for somebody else who was spending it effectively, especially if that somebody else were getting it from me and my kind. The 29,000 in Southern Rhodesia are the only ones who can vote—[Interruption.]—the only ones who do vote. Even the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia said that no African can go into the Legislature in under 25 years.

Then my attention is called to the fact that they spend more per head of the African population on African services. That is the whole difference between us. What I am anxious about is that African opinion should be consulted, that African opinion should be respected, and that any change should be made only with their consent. Anything done for their economic benefit is all to the good, but what I am anxious about is their political and social development on their own lines.

I hope the conference will be a success. One is anxious about the Africans of this area and what will be the repercussions in other areas. But I implore the Government and the Opposition—in fact all of us—not to take any step against the wishes of the Africans themselves and force upon them something which they think is politically or socially wrong or which they do not desire. If we are to succeed in Africa, we must carry these people with us.

5.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jocelyn Simon Mr Jocelyn Simon , Middlesbrough West

In rising to address this House for the first time I am very conscious how much I stand in need of the customary indulgence. On an occasion like this, one cannot help recollecting that this House was the nursery of most of the civil and political liberty that exists in the world today—and certainly that part which is most stable and secure. One remembers, too, that very many hon. Members who are here today sustained my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the supreme battle for freedom which this country has waged, and found an opportunity during that time to set aside two days for debating the welfare of the refugees on the Isle of Man. I am sure that it is in that spirit and in that tradition that we all approach the problem which we are debating this evening.

The constituency which has returned me to Parliament, the forebears of those who elected me, raised on the banks of the Tees great industrial enterprises. Their descendants, my electors, are today second to none in the world in skill and craftsmanship, and their products have gone all over the world, to bring incalculable blessings. But it is the emphasis and the onset of that technical civilisation on a world which the march of time has very largely left behind which raises the problems which we are debating this evening.

All of us in this House, I believe, are at one in wishing to see federation come about, if it possibly and decently can. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary have both dealt cogently with the benefits which will ensue. I need not rehearse the economic benefits, but we should remember that the economic benefits will, in turn, bring political benefits. The rate of political advance depends very much on the rate of economic advance, because, as the wealth of the country increases, so can educational facilities be increased, and more and more natives of Africa be enabled to play their part in public life. Therefore, in my submisson, it would be quite wrong to dismiss economic advantage as not also implying political advantage.

There is one other matter which provides another reason why federation is highly desirable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly emphasised, in very moving terms, as it seemed to me, the urgent need of partnership between the races in Africa. Unless such a partnership can come about, there is only one possible result, and that is disaster. In a space like that, with difficulties of communication, unless the races can reconcile their differences, great dangers are bound to arise. And it is because I firmly believe that federation can mitigate those dangers and promote the partnership of the races that I wholeheartedly support this scheme.

There is one further point. I think it would be wrong to look on the problem as if there were only two possibilities, either a federation or each of the component parts—the three territories, or the two northern territories—pursuing their own political advance under the ægis of the Colonial Office. I do not think that is so. It seems to me that, if federation did not come about, there would be a danger of Southern Rhodesia looking southwards instead of northwards. I firmly believe that, if that happened, it would be very much to the disadvantage of the Africans, whose welfare we have primarily at heart, because they are the ones who can least help themselves. That, I suggest, is an additional reason why we should do all we can to promote federation.

I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend say that he disclaimed any idea of railroading these proposals through, but we should be failing in our duty if we said anything which encouraged any resistance by African opinion to these proposals, believing as we do quite firmly that the proposals are for the benefit of the Africans. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will try his utmost to carry African opinion with him, and that he will push forward with federation, so that we may hope to see arising from these three territories a Central African Dominion which will be a beacon of liberty and brotherhood in the heart of the Dark Continent.

5.46 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

This is the first time that I have had the privilege—a privilege which I think every hon. Member would like to have—of being able to congratulate an hon. Member on his maiden speech. I think that all of us, after listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) will agree that he has talent as a speaker. I find also that he has talent as an officer in Her Majesty's Army, in which he has, I believe, served with great distinction, and led combined operations with tanks for the first time in the history of this country. I feel sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will have an equally distinguished part in the operations of this House in the future.

We are today discussing a matter of immense importance, but the Secretary of State struck me as being a little bit doubtful as to how important it was. The right hon. Gentleman said that there were no great differences between us, and that we were discussing matters of mechanics and small events. I submit that we are discussing anything but small events and matters of mechanics, but something on which there are great and deep differences of opinion between Members in this House.

In order to make quite certain of the line which the right hon. Gentleman himself takes, I should like to ask two questions of the Minister of State, in the absence of the Secretary of State. First of all, as I am not yet clear on this point, is it intended to put pressure upon the Africans to agree to these proposals, or to any other proposals? That is the first question. The second one is this: Is it proposed to agree to any proposals, or to carry out any scheme, without the agreement of Africans? These are vital matters on which we should have an answer before we can know where we stand.

I would remind the House that Sir Godfrey Huggins made his view very clear on this point when he said: I think I would need first to persuade the Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to abandon their hostility to a scheme of federation"— he recognised their hostility— and I would be prepared to push federation through, whether the Africans"— that is, in Southern Rhodesiasupported it or not. Those are the views of Sir Godfrey Huggins, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. Are they the views of the Secretary of State for the Colonies? I am quite ready to give way if the Minister of State will answer, but, if he will not answer, I can only suppose that they are the views of the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

The right hon. Gentleman must understand nothing of the kind. In accordance with the usual practice, this debate will be wound up by my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. It would be contrary to the usual practice if I attempted to make a speech in the middle of it. My hon. and learned Friend will answer at the end.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

That is quite all right, so long as the Under-Secretary answers these questions, which I am sure he will.

What are these proposals? I think that, if the proposals that were drawn up by the official conference—I am not talking about the Conference at Victoria Falls, but the Conference of officials, which met originally—were carried out, it would be a disaster for the whole future of Africa, and I propose to explain why.

The first thing we notice in these proposals is that all subjects of special interest to Africans would be left to each individual Government. On the face of it, that sounds all right, but what are "subjects of special interest to Africans"? Africans are ordinary human beings and they are interested in all subjects connected with their country in exactly the same way as British people. I know that a great many of them are not educated yet, but we are envisaging a period during which they will become more and more educated, and we are envisaging, I hope, a period in which every African will take an interest in every part of the development of his country.

Let me take some of the things which it is now proposed will be left to the Central Government as being, apparently, of no particular interest to Africans. Higher education. Is that of no interest to Africans? One could easily have a system of education under which the colour bar could be established. Is that possibility not of interest to Africans? Then there is economic planning and general industrial development. Is that not of interest to them? Again, there is town planning. If a town were planned in the wrong way it might quite easily give rise to a system of Apartheid. Is that of no interest to the Africans? Immigration. Is that not of interest to them? Defence. Surely, that is of interest to them.

All those things are to be placed under the Central Government as being matters of less interest to Africans. I shall be told—and quite rightly—that safeguards are provided so that Africans can, in fact, have some say even indirectly in the matters handed over to the Federal Government. I should like to examine those safeguards. Are they adequate? They are to be carried out by a man who will be called, I think, the Minister for African Interests. What is going to be the position of this man? It would seem to me to be a quite intolerable position. It is proposed that he should be appointed by the Governor-General of this new federation and that at the same time he should be subject to the Secretary of State either of the Colonies or of Commonwealth Relations in this country. He will be appointed with the approval of the Secretary of State and liable to report to him and to get from him his ruling on matters of policy.

Whatever Minister in any Cabinet could possibly survive under those conditions? He will have a dual loyalty, a loyalty to the people who appointed him and a loyalty to the Secretary of State in this country to whom he will be responsible. It is an intolerable position, and goes beyond the system of collective responsibility. Indeed, it goes quite against it, and I consider that it is so unworkable that the Minister would himself before very long disappear because his position would be quite untenable.

It may be said that that is just my own private view, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred to the admirable letter from Miss Margery Perham in "The Times" to-day which exactly bears out that point. She says: In Tuesday's debate in the House of Commons upon federation in central Africa there is one lesson from history which should be remembered. It is the inability of a British Government to retain any effective control over native affairs once the substance of power has been transferred to the white community. That is exactly what these proposals will do. They will transfer the substance of power to the white community, and after that it will be impossible for the British Government to exercise any adequate control over those affairs whatsoever. In that connection my point is somewhat reinforced, I think, by the success which Southern Rhodesia has had in getting round the safeguards imposed at the time that she was granted Dominion status. The safeguards were imposed so as to make quite certain that the Africans always had fair representation in Parliament and a right to vote, and to ensure that there would be no racial discrimination in the system of the franchise.

Southern Rhodesia has managed to get out of that very successfully without introducing racial discrimination as such by so raising the necessary finance which anyone must have before getting a vote as to make it practically impossible for every African to vote. I submit that in the same way the safeguards suggested in these proposals would, in due course, be got rid of, and that it would not take very long either.

I come now to the third point. A certain franchise system is suggested in these proposals. What is that system? It is that 170,000 white people shall have 28 representatives and that 6 million black people shall have nine representatives. These figures are entirely inadequate from the point of view of black representation, and what troubles me very seriously is that I do not think there is any opportunity for altering those proportions when once the Government have been established.

There will be these representatives, so many black and so many white, sitting together, and so far as I can see only if they all agree—and the majority of them being white representatives and a very large number being from Southern Rhodesia presumably they will not so agree—is there any possibility of that proportion being altered in any way. Therefore, it would be a permanent proportion.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

My right hon. Friend will have read the officials' report. I want to be quite fair and point out that this is one of the matters upon which they said they made no proposals because they thought it should be considered not by them but by someone else. They made no recommendation upon it, but left it for later consideration.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

I am very glad that my right hon. Friend has made that point. I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not attacking officials, but a report which is being made public, and which naturally we are entitled to discuss. I know some of those officials, and I have a great admiration for them and do not wish to attack them in any way at all.

Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire

The right hon. Gentleman is now saying what he has, in fact, been inferring. He is attacking the report, but the report was commended to Parliament by the late Colonial Secretary' at the time when the right hon. Gentleman himself was Minister of State for Colonial Affairs.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

No. The officials' report was commended as a basis for discussion only, and my right hon. Friend made it abundantly clear over and over again that he was in no way committed to it. This is the first opportunity we have had in this House of discussing that report, and I am taking that opportunity to express my views on it, as I think I am entitled to do.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

Does the right hon. Gentleman regard the officials' report as a constructive approach?

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

Yes, it is a constructive approach, but I disagree with many parts of the construction. I would not agree to the carrying out of the proposals in that report.

We have heard from various hon. Members of the need for federation. While I would agree that federation may be desirable, I do not think the need is anything like so urgent as some have made it out to be. For instance, let me take some of the points with which it is said the federation will deal. Railways are already owned by the Joint Government Board. The air services are run by what the report calls "an efficient network." As regards Customs, there is already a Customs convention for the free interchange between Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Bechuanaland of Northern and Southern Rhodesian products. Again, it is possible to have agreement about road transport and electrification without federation, and also about Posts and Telegraphs in the same way.

As for defence, I cannot believe there is a different defence policy now between those three territories. In fact, it is quite obvious that they have the same defence policy and that they have worked it out in conjunction with each other. All these things are already being carried out without federation and there is not therefore quite the urgency some hon. Members would have us believe there is.

One of the points particularly stressed by those who said that federation is urgent is the need to tackle the problem of immigration, which I admit is very serious indeed, and particularly the immigration of large numbers of people from across the Limpopo River. That problem has, however, already been tackled satisfactorily by the Southern Rhodesia Government who have introduced legislation to deal with it. I do not know what the position is now but when the late Government left Office the Northern Rhodesia Government were about to introduce legislation which I gather was to be of a somewhat similar character. Under present conditions there is nothing whatever to stop them introducing such legislation.

The Central African Council has been in existence for some considerable time and throughout its existence the Southern Rhodesia Government did everything it could to make it difficult for the Council to work. And they are the Government who state now that federation is so necessary. In fact, the Cabinet of Southern Rhodesia said to Mr. Creech Jones at the time—and I have his authority for saying so—that they opposed it as an encroachment upon their sovereignty.

They opposed even this Council, which was seeking to form some kind of cooperation between the territories, as an encroachment upon their sovereignty. Why is it that they do not oppose federation as a further encroachment? It is only because they expect to secure the major power under that federation.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North

Would the right hon. Gentleman substantiate in what respect the Southern Rhodesia Government did its best to make central federation a failure?

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

On various occasions recommendations were made by this Council and time again when the recommendations came back to the various Parliaments it was the Southern Rhodesian Parliament who said they would have nothing to do with them, and it was the other Parliaments who agreed with them. Southern Rhodesia expressed their view that they did not like the Council and that it was no benefit to them but rather that it derogated from their sovereignty.

These proposals will hand over power to a small white minority. Let us see what the people themselves—the white minority—say. Mr. Welenski, the leader of the unofficial white representatives on the Council in Northern Rhodesia said in 1950: I am a bitter opponent of the Colonial Office and it is my intention to break that stranglehold on our country. Again, he said: Our best chance of breaking with the Colonial Office lies in federation. Put those things together and what is the object of federation? It is to break the "stranglehold" of the Colonial Office on Northern Rhodesia. Does the Minister of State for the Colonies or his right hon. Friend like the attitude of a man whose aim is to break what he calls the "stranglehold" of the Colonial Office upon the territories?

It may be said, "Why should anybody worry about giving this power to the white population there? They are fine people." Many of them are indeed very fine people. They have gone out at great cost to themselves and have built up businesses, farms or some other kind of enterprise and have done very fine work. But no set of men on earth are fine enough to be given such power as it is proposed these people should be given over another race among whom they live and work.

If we agreed to these proposals we would betray the trust placed in us by millions of Africans in Central Africa, and at the same time we should arouse the fears of many millions more in East Africa who see exactly the same fate in store for them. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party referred to the action taken by the Liberal Government in 1909. They were great men and they made a great experiment—to give the white South Africans freedom to rule over very large numbers of their black fellow-countrymen.

If they could have seen what we see in South Africa today, I think they would have hesitated very long before they made that experiment. Let us learn from their experience that one cannot create a great new democracy by placing 6 million black people under the rule of 200,000 whites. That way lies misery, frustration and despair.

Photo of Mr William Coldrick Mr William Coldrick , Bristol North East

Before my right hon. Friend concludes, may I say that his argument seems to be addressed against placing any black people under the control of the whites? In so far as they are under the control of the Colonial Office and the Colonial Office in this country is manned by white people, is it his suggestion that we should eliminate all responsibility for their control?

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

My hon. Friend should have noted that I said, "among whom, they live and work," and that is very different.

6.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Reading North

I do not intend to follow the remarks of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in detail, because I am sure many hon. Members, would believe that that is precisely the sort of speech which could do no possible good for the furtherance of federation either in its present form or in an, improved form. If we are to believe that the Minister responsible for these matters in the last Government was as keen on the conception of federation as he has, always made perfectly clear inside and outside this House that he is, I am sure he would regret the terms of the right hon. Gentleman's speech and the way these proposals were attacked before there has been an opportunity even of discussing them.

I should like, however, to make two comments on the specific remarks made by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich on the present state of affairs in Southern Rhodesia. I feel qualified to do that because, if I am not the only hon. Member, I must be one of the few, who has ever lived in that part of the world, as opposed to making a short stay. I have also had the opportunity of taking a legal degree in Southern Rhodesia, including its constitution, and at the moment I am qualified as a barrister in both countries, here and there.

Two remarks made by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich have very little accuracy. One referred to the fact that the Southern Rhodesian Government had deliberately jerrymandered the opportunity of increasing the native vote by putting in a property qualification. But that form of qualification has been in practice over a wide area of the world for a very long time and was not some sinister move on the part of the Rhodesian Government in particular. Moreover, although under that qualification there are between 4,000 and 5,000 Africans entitled to vote, only 800 of those have taken the trouble to register their votes.

One other point which was made' was the querying of the safeguard which is available, at the moment, for native affairs, under the present Southern Rhodesian relationship with this country. It has been made clear that the criticism is that, simply because at no time has the Governor had to use his veto, the Southern Rhodesian Government have always managed to by-pass any restrictions on their activities. Anybody living in that country knows that constitutionally the scheme is working so well, and has done so for so long, precisely because the responsible Ministers there consult the Governor before any legislation is brought in, to avoid the necessity of any great constitutional issue arising.

Having dealt with those two points briefly, because I thought they should be on record in that form, I should like to mention a rather more serious aspect of this whole discussion. A great deal has been said outside this House as well as inside—and more will be said later today, no doubt—defending the interests of the Africans as opposed to the so-called imperialist desires of the white population. We have heard very little, so far, about the interests of the European population and there has been very little defence to the unfortunate attacks made on them. In certain sections of the Press, unfortunately, there has been plenty of evidence in this direction.

I just want to mention the lengths to which this criticism of our fellow countrymen in the Rhodesias has gone, to show precisely what effect that will have on the future of that country and the future of federation. I have here, for example, a quotation from the "New Statesman" of 23rd June last year: Such is the attitude of the great majority of the settlers in all three territories that Federal Union would certainly be used by them to reduce the Africans of the two Protectorates"— that is, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesiato the status of hopeless servitude which the Africans of Southern Rhodesia now occupy. That sort of remark is one that has been made again and again, and it is hardly surprising that there is growing up a very strong defensive feeling among Europeans in Southern Rhodesia against the conception of federation. All the spate of words used so far has been about the effect of federation on African affairs. Let me assure hon. Members opposite that there is fear on the European side in Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia whether federation is right for them. The fear is not present on one side only; the other side has equal, if not greater, doubts.

It is not only a matter of actively attacking Europeans in that country. A lack of trust has also been shown in speeches in this House which has equally damaged the chances of federation being accepted by Europeans. I am afraid I have not been in this House long enough to know the constituency of the hon. Member who last interrupted, but I think the point he made was a very good one. Why should it be thought that because our fellow countrymen go out to live in Central Africa they should have less integrity and less moral values than we who sit in this House today? Far too much has been said suggesting that the moment they go to live in Central Africa they become some form of outsized Fascist.

It is particularly unfair for hon. Members here and the Press to attack our fellow countrymen because, as things have worked out in our imperial development, so many of our fellow countrymen living abroad have been disfranchised and have no chance of having their views directly represented in this House.

With regard to the various criticisms made about the conditions alleged to exist in the Rhodesias—particularly Southern Rhodesia—it is noteworthy that there is such a constant immigration into Southern Rhodesia, into this alleged "hopeless servitude," by thousands of natives every year from the other two "Paradise" territories under the control of the Colonial Office, that it is absurd to suggest that there is a great deal of difference in the conditions of the natives in these countries.

Unless we are to disbelieve the report of the Conference of officials which has been mentioned this afternoon, I think all Members who have read that report would agree that, although there are differences between the policies in the three countries, it is fair to say that it was generally accepted that the ultimate objective of all is the political and economic advancement of the Africans, in partnership with the Europeans.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

Can the hon. Member tell us why many sections of the white population are opposed to federation?

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Reading North

I was going to deal with that later in the course of my remarks, but I will deal with it now. The European section of the community is in a state of doubt about federation at the moment precisely because they believe that their interests will be affected to their own detriment when compared with the African population.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Reading North

By whatever scheme of federation is brought in. Hon. Members opposite are prepared to believe that there are genuine doubts among the natives about the outcome of federation, and it is surely only fair in the interests of the Europeans to say that they have similar doubts about the effect it will have on their interests.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

I want to know why they have doubts. One can see why the natives have doubts, because of the Land Tenure Act and the Franchise Act, but why should the whites have any fears?

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Reading North

I will try to answer that shortly. As has been said again and again, there is a majority of Africans in these territories. On the West African coast there is an example of a completely African form of Government developing, and if any similar project came into being in Central Africa it would seriously threaten the national interests of our fellow countrymen who earn their livings there and who have staked their whole interests on a partnership conception in Southern Rhodesia, as opposed to the creation of a purely black form of republic. If anybody here were to be a member of a very small minority, I think he would agree that it is natural that that minority could have fears about the safeguarding of its interests in the future. It is not a novel conception that a minority has anxieties about its future.

If it is really true that federation is going to be for the benefit of the natives in the long run, economically, socially, and politically—and that does seem to be the view of most hon. Members on both sides of the House or we should not have gone so far either under this or the late Government—we should consider very carefully what is the best way to further that end, and not to obstruct it. If a plebiscite were held—and it will have to be held in Southern Rhodesia under that country's constitution before federation is possible—I am not at all sure that one would find the overwhelming acceptance of the idea that is believed to be present.

There would also be some doubt as to the advisability of continuing to express a lack of trust in the European representatives of these countries. Let us contemplate what will happen if federation does not go through, due to obstruction, from whatever quarter it may come. It really would not be possible to return to the status quo as it was before these proposals were put forward. The clock will not go back, and we can be quite sure that if, in the long run, federation is blocked and that union with the British Dominion or some relationship between the British territories in that part of the world is not encouraged, some other unity will come in another way. I suggest to those hon. Members here who have a dislike for native policies being pursued further to the South and who yet seek to obstruct federation, that if they were to live in that part of the world they would realise that they are doing precisely the opposite of what their aim should be.

There is already a minority trend in Southern Rhodesia towards foresaking the idea of unity with the North. It is only a small minority now. Any form of opposition, of blocking all other means of progress, and of trying to put the clock back would certainly encourage the strength of that minority; with what result to the native population of that country I leave hon. Members opposite to imagine.

In that connection, it is worth mentioning that the idea of a union between the Rhodesias and the Union of South Africa is present in many minds in that part of the world at the moment, and I should like here to quote the wording of a Private Member's Motion which was submitted to the House of Assembly in South Africa on 18th January this year. It has not yet been debated, but its movers are members of the United Party and not Nationalists. The Motion says: In the opinion of this House a greater union of South Africa embracing Southern and Northern Rhodesia has become a matter of urgency for the security of the white civilisation of the African Continent, and we therefore call upon the Government to negotiate with these two Northern Territories with a view to joining the Union in the formation of a greater Union of Southern States in Africa. I ask hon. Members who, by their speeches or in any other way, may be against federation whether that is really the drift in that part of the world which they wish to encourage.

We have heard quite a bit about the benefits which would come from the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland joining a federation, but less of the disadvantages which would follow if for one reason or another unity southwards rather than northwards were to be encouraged. In that connection, I should like to mention the repercussions on the great Bechuanaland Protectorate if, in such an eventuality, it were completely landlocked from all contact with genuine British colonial interests. Other proposals have been bruited abroad in that part of the world, including suggestions for amalgamation between Southern and Northern Rhodesia only, and also simply for economic or other amalgamation between just the copper belt of Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. To my mind, all these proposals would seriously harm not only British interests in that part of the world, but also native interests.

As a very new Member, I do not wish to appear to preach on this, but this is a serious matter, and we all have a duty to consider this thing very carefully before we do what may end up by spoiling what is, to my mind, one of the greatest experimental conceptions of British imperial development that history has yet seen. So far we have seen various ways in which the Commonwealth has developed, but we have never yet succeeded in getting a genuine partnership between a substantial number of European races living in a country and the native inhabitants.

In this proposed federation we have a chance to achieve something which we have not yet been able to achieve elsewhere; we have a chance to set up a partnership way of life between the two races, which would be in marked and advantageous contrast with the white nationalism in the South or the black nationalism in the Western States of Africa at the moment.

6.24 p.m.

Photo of Sir Leslie Plummer Sir Leslie Plummer , Deptford

In rising to address this House on the first occasion, I do so in the hope that it will accord me its customary indulgence, and that it will bear with me in what is, after all, always a difficult task. It has been suggested this afternoon that before any of us speak on the subject of Central African federation we should have qualifications for so speaking. May I say that I have three qualifications: first, I represent constituents whose forebears built the ship with which Drake went out and started an Empire; second, I am a colonial—and one of the few colonials in this House of Commons; and third, I am a Member of the House of Commons. I submit that those three are sufficient qualifications for my addressing myself to this subject.

The suggestion has been made this afternoon by the Colonial Secretary, by inference, that we should do our part in promoting confidence among the African people themselves in their approach to federation. I would suggest that the job of this House of Commons is to approach federation with a lack of confidence, for this reason. Africa is the last remaining territory in the world where uncontrolled and practically uninspected exploitation of the indigenous population can take place, and is taking place.

Nevertheless, from the Cape to Cairo the African is emerging from a grim short life of disease, squalor and abysmal poverty to something better. Unfortunately, in this emergence—this painful emergence—there are clashes, emotional struggles and threats. I am sure that all Members of the House will have read of the resolution passed by the Northern Rhodesian Congress last Wednesday in opening a mass campaign against federation, expressed in terms that are menacing and in accents that do not bode a reasonably happy time for the protagonists of federation.

This emergence from poverty is and has been meeting the opposition of the organised white populations in Africa. It is equally true that there are some Europeans who have given counsel and guidance to Africans, but the opponents of this emergence of the Africans argue that the African people racially are not capable of exercising the necessary tolerance and restraint. Well, they are not doing so badly at the moment in Nigeria and on the Gold Coast. I submit that the truth of the situation is that many of the white people in Africa are showing that they do not possess the tolerance, sympathy, understanding and spirit of compromise that must be necessary to democratic and progressive government.

I said that Africa offers an almost unique opportunity for exploitation. I am not alone in thinking that, for in the first nine months of last year thousands of people trooped into these African territories which we are discussing for the purpose of making a living there. Seven or eight thousand British-born immigrants went into that country; but at the same time over 10,000 South African immigrants went into the Rhodesias. Some of those are refugees from Dr. Malan. Some of them are people who have learned the hard way that, whereas a few years ago a Briton could not get a job in the Union unless he could speak both English and Afrikaans, today if he can speak English he can neither get a job nor hold it. It is because of that that many of the people in South Africa are leaving the Union without regret, and are only too happy to shake the dust of its soil from their feet.

But many of the others are what I described as "Sudeten" South Africans: that is, people who are leaving South Africa to emigrate to the Northern countries with a definite political purpose, and that purpose is to carry into the Rhodesias the very systems of economic discrimination and restriction which are practised south of the Limpopo They will find as a common experience that the exploitation in the Rhodesias is not as great as it is in South Africa—but it is still very considerable. The wretched pass system exists in Southern Rhodesia; every urban South Rhodesian African labourer has to carry three passes if he is in work. In Northern Rhodesia, four or five passes are required in certain circumstances. This perpetuation of the pass system, this discrimination against the Queen's subjects in the Rhodesias, is to be deplored. In the last 20 years there have been 1,675 exemptions. That is an average of 80 exemptions from the pass system each year for nearly 3,500,000 people.

In Southern Rhodesia there is no legal provision for the recognition of African trade unions. It is perfectly true that there is no bar to the establishment of an African trade union, but the Southern Rhodesians say that any agreement signed between an employer and an African trade union for the purpose of governing wages or conditions is not enforceable in a court of law. Southern Rhodesia argues that the Africans are not yet capable of organising and managing trade unions, but, on the other hand, it refuses them admission to white trade unions. Sir Godfrey Huggins put the situation more clearly than I possibly can, when he said: There is no legal colour bar in the trades, but, in practice, the native is not working in skilled and semi-skilled trades as he is not yet worth the wages fixed. We have a native labour board which fixes conditions of service in the major towns. These measures do not apply outside the European towns, and on the mines and farms in the rural areas anyone can offer his services for the pay he desires or can get. The situation in Northern Rhodesia is that white employers and white workers alike, I regret to say, bar the African from all but a very small list of skilled and semi-skilled occupations, and the Government themselves restrict to a tiny degree the amount of money they are prepared to spend on African skilled trades education. In the year 1950 the Government Mines and Labour Department, which spent that year £80,000, spent only £6,000 on African trade testing. Only three trade testers were employed for the whole country, two for the building trade, and one for the mechanical trade. In that year they refused absolutely to spend the money that was necessary for the building of an African training centre.

In Northern Rhodesia's primary industry there is not any pretence of there being a situation where the African can make his way. Northern Rhodesians say that there shall be equal pay, and equal pay works this way. If one wants to employ an artisan one has to pay the same money whether he is a white man or whether he is a black man, but by restricting entry into the skilled trades, there is a scarcity of competent black artisans, and, in those circumstances, although there may be equality of pay, there is not an equal chance of obtaining that equal pay.

As I say, in the copper mines that theory does not run. In November, 1950, the last date for which I have the figures, the rate for an underground African miner was 75s. 11d. a month. Whether that was the pay he desired or not, I do not know, but that is certainly the wage he got—75s. 11d. a month. The white miner working underground in exactly the same mine got £100 a month.

We have had some discussion tonight about the electoral rôle in Southern Rhodesia. A few years ago, to get on that one had to have property worth £150 a year or an income of £100. That barrier has today been raised to £500 and £240 respectively, and I may say this, that there are few people living in my constituency of Deptford who would be able to qualify if that property qualification were required here.

It is no defence of this to say that conditions are worse in South Africa. Michael Scott has described the situation with great clarity in his magnificent work, "Shadow over Africa." He has described the 12-pass system—the fact that in South Africa in certain circumstances the urban African has to have a residential permit, a labour permit, a permit to be out after 11 o'clock at night, a permit to seek work, a permit to be in a proclaimed area for domestic reasons, a visitors permit, a permit for registration as a voter—and finally—and this is a caricature of the pass system—a pass to exempt him from carrying a pass.

Under this system a million men are prosecuted a year, a tenth of the African population of the Union, 85 per cent. successfully, for having the wrong pass at the wrong time or in the wrong manner, or for not having any pass at all. The legal position of the African in the Union today is that any policeman can arrest any African at any time of the day or night on any street and take him before a competent prosecutor with every chance the prosecution being successful. Legal discrimination of this kind has been extended to industry itself. The formation of trade unions is virtually banned, and the situation there is that an African is free to get a job at the wages he desires or the wages that he can get.

Immigrants into Central Africa from South Africa have brought in with them this system of racial and economic discrimination, and are regarding the climate of federation, as proposed by Sir Godfrey Huggins and the rest, as favourable to the transplanting of these ideas of how the African people shall live.

Henry Ford once said, "You cannot build a motor in any language but English." Of course, it was nonsense; but this is true, as many of my colleagues know who had the honour as I had of working on the Overseas Food Corporation and on the groundnut scheme—which proved it to be true—that in Ki Swahili one could teach simple Africans—some described them as straight out of the trees—to be quite reasonably good semiskilled workers, excellent repetition workers, in a few months, and that one could teach them to be first class hospital orderlies, and could teach them to be excellent tractor drivers and lorry drivers, also, after a few months' training.

The lesson we learned then, when training these people, was that, if we train the Africans with tolerance, sympathy and understanding, in exchange for whips and blows, and a constant feeling of frustration, we can turn them into men capable of producing the sort of wealth, vegetable and mineral, that the world—and the Africans themselves—are looking for.

I believe that the approach to the African problem, and to this terrible menace that hangs over the whole of Africa, with the exception of Tanganyika, and, to a less extent, Kenya, should be the economic development of the country, and, therefore, I ask, when we look at federation, that we should say, "How is this going to help the African to this freer economic position, to this better standard of life, which is his by right. and which he can get?"

We have got to reckon, too, that without some of the things we have now the development of those countries is impossible—without coal, iron, steel, without cement, fertilisers, technicians—without all these Africa will go on wallowing in her primeval slime of poverty. We have to face the fact, and have to be prepared to give up these things—or be able to get them by international action, and if we can get them, and direct them into Africa, and concentrate on the economic future of the African people, then the political settlement, will, in my view, follow easily.

6.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

I have been in this House for some years, but I think that this is the first occasion upon which I have risen to speak following a maiden speech, and I welcome this opportunity of being able to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who has just spoken. I think that the hon. Member started with a pretty wit when he remarked that one of the three reasons why he claimed a right to speak here upon this matter was that he is a Member of the House of Commons. I think that possibly when he speaks to us on other occasions, the hon. Member will find that his speeches are fairly considerably interrupted, but that, of course, is a tribute to the interest and to the cut and thrust of debate, to which the late Mr. Speaker Fitzroy referred, which he will provoke. Altogether, I am sure that we shall look forward to listening to him on many future occasions.

The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale), who was Minister of State for Colonial Affairs in the last Government, surprised me because he complained that the Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia made a speech in which he avowed as his object the getting rid of the stranglehold of Whitehall. By inference the right hon. Gentleman apparently wants to maintain the stranglehold of Whitehall on a young and growing country. He should have lived in the days of Lord North. If that is his attitude and the policy he would like to pursue, we shall only end with the same result that happened when this country tried to maintain for too long a stranglehold upon the American Colonies.

I do not wish to detain the House for very long, but there are one or two things which need to be said. In opening the debate the ex-Colonial Secretary said that there were one or two things which needed to be said. I think that the right hon. Gentleman said them with very great force and courage, and that he put forward the political case for federation in no uncertain terms. I think that when one adds to that the undoubted economic reasons which exist for federation, there really can be very little doubt upon either side of the House that the right policy is to promote federation of the three territories.

It so happened that during the Recess I paid a short visit to Southern Rhodesia. I think that perhaps one of the worst things that anyone can do is to pay a short visit to a country and, on coming back, to think and to tell everybody that he knows all about it. I propose to do no such thing. I should like to give to the House some impressions which I gained and merely to report some conversations which I had with Europeans living and working in Southern Rhodesia. They will bear out very much of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett), who lived for some time in Rhodesia.

We hear upon all sides that we have today a growing sense of nationhood, and the ex-Colonial Secretary referred to the growing sense of nationhood of the African races in that continent. Do not let us forget that that great sense of nationhood has also manifested itself in the white population there, and I think that is a thing which is very often forgotten; and that goes for our people—and by our people, I mean Rhodesian-born people and those of us, Englishmen, Scotsmen, and so on who have gone out to settle in Rhodesia and in the other territories.

What is the sort of thing they said to me? I am talking about conversations with young men who have gone out there tobacco planting and the rest, and I am not merely expressing the views of such elderly politicians as one happens to meet out there. This is the sort of thing they were saying, "We have to live there. We are developing the country; not the politicians at home. We know something about the problems. Indeed, if the increased native population were left to itself now, it would soon be starving. They know nothing about soil erosion or many of the modern processes which have to be undertaken to grow enough food in this country; let alone development." They go on to say, "We know the natives and we know the extent of their development." Let me quote Command Paper 8233, which has been quoted in several speeches in this debate. At the top of page 29, it talks about the policy in Southern Rhodesia. It says: Policy in Southern Rhodesia holds that in order to fit the African to take his place in the community as a full partner"— mark you— with citizens of a more ancient civilisation it is first necessary to make him the equal of his future partner in health, material well being and education. That is the basis of native policy in Southern Rhodesia.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Does one assist that objective by preventing them from getting skilled and semi-skilled jobs?

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

They do not in point of fact. Those who are capable are advanced to skilled and semi-skilled jobs. In the various parts of the country I visited, the number who can even be trained to be capable of tractor driving, and so on, is not as great as in the part where the hon. Member for Deptford gained his experience. They vary from one place to another.

Photo of Mrs Eirene White Mrs Eirene White , Flintshire East

Would the hon. Gentleman advocate that the franchise in this country should be withheld from working-class people here until they are equal in material well-being and education to the best educated and wealthiest people in the land?

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

The African in Southern Rhodesia gets the vote when he has got a very reasonable wage. The figures which have already been quoted show that out of some thousands who are entitled to it, only some hundreds are taking advantage of it.

I will return to the point of what our blood brothers are saying out there. Hon. Members opposite dwell so much on the African point of view that they think that there is no other. I want to stress what I have found out there about the growing sense of resentment of the white population at what is happening here, and the results which that resentment will have when they are confronted with the policies pursued over the last few years. They say, "We have to go on living there and we know that the native problem is not solved, and unless it is solved in the right way our great-grandchildren will not survive there.

They also say, "We who are living here and developing the country and living with the people, whose proclaimed policy is that we must advance them in equal partnership with ourselves, know more how to do this than the politicians sitting at home in Whitehall." There was resentment at the attitude taken by the right hon. Gentleman who held office in the last Government, and they say that if the stranglehold of Whitehall is maintained we shall drive the African Colonies into the south and into the Union, which is the last place to which hon. Gentlemen opposite want them to go. That, in my short visit and the talks which I had, was the impression with which I came home.

I welcome what my right hon. Friend said today, that is, that he is hurrying along the process by which it is hoped that federation may be brought about with, we hope, the consent of all. I wish him well in the steps that he is taking, because, in the interests of Africa, of ourselves, of the natives and of keeping this central part of Africa as a free member of the Commonwealth, the federation proposal is the one which should go through.

6.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Coldrick Mr William Coldrick , Bristol North East

At the risk of incurring the wrath of those who say, "another person who has had a very short visit to a colony," I must make it clear that as a member of a delegation which spent a month in these territories, I am not posing as an authority. However, I feel it is essential that one should place before the House impressions gained during such a tour.

I believe hon. Members can render a great disservice to the whole of Central Africa in general and the African people in particular by indiscreet speeches. It is an easy thing to get a completely distorted view of the kind of people who are engaged in discussing federation. My colleagues on the delegation will readily agree that, whether it was in Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland or Southern Rhodesia, we met the conception that a Fabian is a kind of vile, long-haired villain who is constantly resorting to carping criticism and obstructing the general social development of the economy. [Interruption.] That view was expressed on a thousand occasions. I am not arguing the rights or the wrongs of it.

Photo of Mr William Coldrick Mr William Coldrick , Bristol North East

If hon. Members are so touchy about this that they do not want to know other people's impressions they might at least restrain themselves and state their opinions, which I have not the slightest doubt they will do in the most vociferous way, when the opportunity presents itself. I find that their dogmatism is in inverse ratio to their knowledge of the subject. I was not suggesting for a moment that a Fabian was such a person. I am a member of the Fabian Society, and I was rather tickled that these people expressed that view.

Photo of Mr William Coldrick Mr William Coldrick , Bristol North East

I cannot enumerate all the trade union organisations, trade conventions and so forth that I met. I am merely attempting to indicate that if we speak to the white people out there—I thought I made it clear that they were the white people—we can tell them that their impression of the Fabian is distorted.

On the other hand, let us be candid. Any hon. Member who does not profess to be a colonial expert would, if he listened to some of the discourses which are delivered, conceive the impression that every white person in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland is a villain who is not interested in anything except the exploitation of the natives. I am suggesting that it is advisable for us to be moderate in our language and factual in our observations on this subject.

Three things are badly needed before any effective development of the territory can take place. There must of necessity be an enormous expansion of transport. Anyone can see at a glance that industrial and agricultural development follows the rail or the road and it is obviously impossible to develop industry or agriculture until one has the means of transporting the products of industry and agriculture.

It becomes immediately evident that water is a precious commodity throughout the whole of the territory. The provision of water is essential, not merely for Northern Rhodesia but also for Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend the former Colonial Secretary drew attention to fuel and power requirements. In reply to some of the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), I should like to point out that what has to be considered is not whether each territory individually can develop with these facilities but whether development can be more expeditious and efficient under a centralised government.

Unless we are to embark as the British Government upon the economic development of that territory with capital provided through the Government, let us be realistic and face the fact that if the money has to be raised in the market one is much more likely to obtain favourable terms if one has a central government backed by the resources of the whole federation instead of the three territorial governments.

It is clear that the welfare of the people depends upon the wealth available to the whole of the community. Consequently, just as we lament the fact that we cannot afford this and that, in the last analysis the provision of hospitals, schools, colleges, and so on will depend upon the degree of economic development throughout the whole territory.

I believe that the people who are rendering the greatest assistance to the African are not those who merely talk about the Africans but those who teach them new techniques in production. If there went out to Africa people who knew how to teach the Africans to cooperate in producing things for themselves, such persons would render infinitely more service to the African people than do those who merely talk in an idealistic strain about what they would like to do but show no ability to do it.

I and another member of the delegation went to a place near Birchenough Bridge. It is true that the standard of living there was appallingly low. However, we found there a person who might generally be regarded as one who was out there to exploit the natives, but he was teaching them the art of soil conservation and irrigation to enable them to increase their crops. The results of this one cooperative experiment demonstrated that the African peasant could increase his output by 15 times the original amount if he adopted the right methods.

I am confident that if people of good will would go among the Africans and teach them how to grow and make things so that they could acquire our know-how and skill, we should do much to raise their economic and social level and to eliminate the colour bars which operate at present. For that reason I believe that federation is very desirable.

However, my colleagues on the delegation will agree that the white people invariably raised the question: What will be your attitude towards African opinion? I want to make it abundantly clear to the House that in the case of Nyasaland particularly—it is also largely true of Northern Rhodesia—the white people are very anxious that we should have no consultation whatsoever with the African. I think my colleagues and I made it abundantly clear that we would be no party to the imposition of these things upon them without consultation.

On the other hand, one has to have regard to the simple fact that it would be unrealistic to imagine that we have got to depend upon the complete cooperation of the Africans to bring in federation. If we think that we may as well drop the proposals, because I am fully persuaded that the African people, though misguided, are going to fight these proposals as bitterly as it is possible to fight them. Consequently, I do not see much hope of winning their consent and co-operation.

It may be possible to persuade them to keep an open mind on the subject, but, generally speaking, without considering the proposals, they are instinctively opposed to them. This House ought to grasp the significance of this fact.

We would be labouring under a great illusion if we imagined, of course, that a refusal to adopt the proposals of federation is going to bring benefit to the African population. It has already been indicated that the alternative to federation is infinitely worse than federation itself. I have no doubt that the people in Southern Rhodesia, who are exercising a great deal of authority, have quite as much affinity with the people in the Union of South Africa as they have with a lot of people in Great Britain.

If we adopted the attitude of some people in this debate, and created the impression that the white people out there can do no good we will be creating a bitter feeling against the Colonial Office itself. Let us have no doubts on the subject, the people are blaming the Colonial Office more than they are blaming anybody else for a great deal of the trouble which they are experiencing. The danger that I see is Southern Rhodesia gravitating into the Union, and if that happens then me people of Northern Rhodesia would follow within a short space of time. In such circumstances the plight of the African people would be infinitely worse than under federation.

I would appeal to hon. Members to recognise that they are rendering no great service to the African people, sincere though they may be, if they offer as an alternative to federation the development of some complete co-operation between the ordinary Africans in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. I have been amazed to discover that a lot of the figures quoted today about exploitation apply more to Northern Rhodesia than they do actually to Southern Rhodesia.

I have no sympathy with the attitude of white people in Northern or Southern Rhodesia who decline to give an African person the opportunity of performing work in accordance with his own ability. Let us realise that that tendency operates not merely in Southern Rhodesia but in Northern Rhodesia, and we must face up to the fact that our colleagues in the trade union movement—I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly knows this quite well—particularly in the copper belt about which things have been quoted, are the greatest opponents of the ordinary African performing work which he is competent to do.

I do not want to divulge any secrets I learned in consultations with white workmen in the copper belts, but when I went down a mine and discussed these matters, one of them was candid enough to admit to me that he did not believe that he should hold a job at £100 per month unless he was very much more competent than many other people who were Africans and who could do the work if given the opportunity. These abuses a re operative in Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia, and I do not mind confessing, when I visited some of the locations in Southern Rhodesia, particularly those at Umtali and compared them with the best locations there were whether on the copper belt or any other place, I would much prefer to live in the location in Southern Rhodesia than in those in Northern Rhodesia. Let us try to look at this thing in a realistic spirit, and if we do so then it would be possible to get some degree of co-operation.

A question was put as to why it was that Southern Rhodesia does not want to come into the Union. Mr. Davonport, the Minister of Mines in Southern Rhodesia—and it is as well to recognise this—said that under the proposed constitution they were to have 35 members. It was suggested that three should be Africans from Southern Rhodesia, three from Northern Rhodesia and three from Nyasaland. Seeing that all members from Nyasaland would be nominated members, it would mean that 13 out of 35 would virtually be nominated members or members specifically there to safeguard the African interests.

He quite logically argued that if there were to be 13 concerned with African interests and groups on the other side of eight or nine from one party and eight or nine from another—I am glad to say there are two Labour members of the Legislative Council of Southern Rhodesia now—and there was the slightest difference the nominated members would take the decision in the Council.

I do not blind myself to the fact that these people can see weaknesses in federation, and we should not be facing the facts if we were to imagine for a single moment that Southern Rhodesia is wholeheartedly in favour of these proposals. I sincerely hope it will be possible to bring in federation, but I hope that in an attempt to bring it about we shall bring the African people together and get them to realise that we want to write into it sufficient safeguards to ensure that their economic and social development will be expedited rather than retarded by the proposals.

7.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederic Harris Mr Frederic Harris , Croydon North

I am pleased to think that I now have the opportunity to take part in this extremely important debate. I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick) in detail, but I should like to compliment him on what was undoubtedly a very interesting contribution and join with him in expressing the hope that no one, by unfortunate expressions, will do anything to prejudice the important decisions which we are trying to reach.

I can fairly claim that I am a frequent visitor to the great Continent of Africa and I know how far-reaching will be the effect of words spoken in this debate, not only in Central Africa but also much further afield. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that we should weigh our words very carefully today.

If I may, I should like to refer to the speech by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), because he gave us a very interesting discourse on the history which has brought us to this stage of the negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman said he would make his comments in measured terms. Every right hon. and hon. Member will agree that he kept his comments to measured terms. We are jointly trying to achieve the very proper and justifiable objective of federation of Central Africa.

On the other hand, I thought the right hon. Gentleman was making rather heavy weather when he spoke about the discussions in this country between the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the other two Governors. I could not follow his view that it was unwise to have such obvious discussions here, because I believe that they may have a beneficial effect in the days ahead.

I am sure most hon. Members will recognise that my hon. Friend the Secretary of State has given very full answers to the points made. One of my hon. Friends referred to the fact that these decisions will seriously affect not only the Africans in Central Africa but also the British there; and I agree with him. From time to time, many of us tend to forget that the British people in those countries are often second and third generations of British people in Africa. It would indeed be unfortunate if we did not recognise that all the decisions which follow from this debate will have just as grave an effect upon our own blood brothers in Central Africa as upon the Africans themselves.

There cannot be one hon. Member who has the slightest doubt that in the years to come the Empire and Commonwealth must be the salvation of this country. This is no time to go into the details of the Empire, but anyone who studies the circumstances of this country knows that our future would indeed be short-lived without support and co-operation from the Empire. It must be the wish of every right hon. and hon. Gentleman to see that the right decision is reached about the federation of Central Africa so that it fits into the framework of the great help which we shall need from the Empire and Commonwealth in the future.

I must admit that I was confused by the remarks made by the former Minister of State, the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale). I could not tell from his argument whether he was arguing for or against federation, although I gathered, at the end, that apparently he had decided to come down against federation.

Enough has already been said by the right hon. Member for Llanelly and by my right hon. Friend about the benefits of federation. The economic benefits which federation will bring must be obvious to us all. Behind them, moreover, lies the ultimate danger of what might eventually happen, not perhaps in the early stages but in the years to come, if federation is not achieved. The difficulty which we must face is that of trying to make clear to the Africans the benefits which federation will mean to them by comparison with what the failure to federate may mean in times ahead.

Undoubtedly, federation will be of inestimable value to the future of Central Africa—and when I say that, I sincerely believe it will be of inestimable value to the Africans themselves. The success of such a federation will obviously be felt in all other parts of Africa, too, if not throughout much of the Empire as a whole. It should, therefore, be the majority view of hon. Members that our objective must be to try to see that federation is eventually achieved. Obviously, it must be achieved with the utmost possible co-operation of all concerned. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East, quite rightly touched on the difficulties involved, particularly in persuading the Africans to understand the benefits which federation will bring to them.

Mention has been made of partnership. Of course, the desire of all of us is to see that the aims of partnership are advanced, but in trying to bring people together we must recognise that it is even difficult to bring together the Africans themselves. Often one tribe is against another, and the result is to make it difficult to bring together even those representing the Africans.

The truth is that it is wrong for anyone to pretend that we can get a proper representative opinion from the Africans today. In my submission, it is almost impossible at the moment to obtain it even in this country in local government. It is almost a miracle to get one person out of every two to go to the polls in this country to cast his vote for his representatives on the local authorities.

One could easily claim, therefore, that many of our councils sometimes do not give a properly representative view of the people. If that is the difficulty in this country, we must surely recognise that it is even more difficult to get a considered, representative opinion of the Africans. It is necessary to live in Africa and to take part in their various activities to recognise the extreme difficulty of getting a representative African opinion.

We must be frank about this. A few Africans, who have obtained advanced education and who, in some cases, have advanced by their own personal endeavours, claim to be able to speak on behalf of large sections of the African community. In fact, they have no mandate to do so; and in many cases they attempt to do so without having had any consultation with the African people. The difficulty of getting this considered African opinion must, therefore, be recognised by us all.

It is true to say that the mere fact that the British are in Africa today enables the Africans to be better protected and better looked after, in the majority of cases, than they would be by their own representatives. I have discussed this with many Africans from time to time, and they believe that, with the British there, they can look for fairness and justice which they could not expect if the British were not in Africa, for in that case they might easily be at the mercy of people who would take advantage of them. Anybody who has tried to get businesses going out there, as I have tried to do, in partnership with Africans will remember how the finances have disappeared into a few pockets. We know that it is very difficult to expect at an early stage that just a few Africans will be able to act on behalf of all the African races.

I would sum up my speech by saying that I sincerely believe that it is almost impossible to obtain the truest African opinion which we shall need to see federation through. If we feel, as we rightly do, that federation is of benefit to the races in Central Africa, we must get the Africans to realise how valuable federation will be to them; and this must not be by-passed by any irresponsible voices who might talk against the benefits of federation. Our Government officials in Central Africa could do more to put our case to the Africans by taking the chiefs of tribes into their confidence in a more detailed way. Once the African knows the truth, the risk of his not wishing to support federation would be largely removed, particularly when he realises the safeguards that will protect him.

I have often felt that it is a great pity that colonial affairs in the House of Commons cannot be kept on the plane where we try to keep our foreign affairs. If we could discuss these matters frankly on both sides above party politics and party argument, it would be for the benefit of all concerned. We must recognise that everything we say is of such importance that every word carries its weight across the seas.

There is probably a large measure of understanding among right-thinking persons in this House who know Africa that federation for Central Africa is the wise and proper thing. We do not want it to be thought that this House is anything but in full support of federation. I have had the privilege of travelling to Africa in the company of Ministers and of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and I have always been convinced from their discussions in regard to federation that they desire to see federation in Central Africa.

Our aim, therefore, must be to see how federation can be accomplished. We have managed in today's debate to keep out of the party argument that so often arises in this House, and I believe that we have come jointly to the decision that federation is essential to the future of Central Africa. Let us, by tactful and careful handling of the situation, obtain the support of all the peoples of Central Africa, letting them feel that they can play their part in achieving the realisation of this very great object, federation in Central Africa, at the earliest opportunity.

7.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

In the debate today it has been recognised on both sides of the House that we are discussing a very grave issue which may determine the future of nations over a great part of Africa. In my view, we are discussing something deeper than a political structure or an economic pattern. I believe that in Africa today is being decided the most fundamental of all human issues: whether human beings of different races are equal, or whether human beings of one particular race are superior to another.

The first of these views has been expressed in a classical phrase in the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations: All persons are born equal in human dignity and rights. The second of these views is now being expressed in the practice in certain parts of Africa where, because human beings are of a different colour or pigment than white Europeans, they are regarded as inferior. The fundamental issue we are discussing tonight is whether proposals should be applied in Central Africa which will encourage the idea of equality or encourage the idea of superiority and inferiority.

It has been urged from both sides of the House that federation is desirable in order to prevent the practices from the South African Union extending into Central and other parts of Africa. I admit at once there is a case for federation on that basis. It can be said that unless Northern and Southern Rhodesia are brought into a Central African Federation, their tendency will be to seek union with South Africa. There is one certain way of preventing Southern and Northern Rhodesia from joining the South African Union, and it is to give the African peoples of Southern and Northern Rhodesia political rights. If those political rights are given to them, the majority, we can be quite certain that those territories will never unite with the South African Union.

Why is it that the African people in these three South African territories are so determinedly in opposition to federation? It is because, in their view, this federation, instead of preventing the spread of inequality in the African Continent, will encourage it. They see already in Southern Rhodesia, and to a considerable extent in Northern Rhodesia, the very practices which we deplore in the South African Union.

They see in those territories the African reserved to certain areas. They see in those territories the African regarded as an inferior human being, who must not ride in the same railway carriage or travel in the same bus as a European. They see in those territories the African worker not regarded as an employee in a legal sense, so that he has no protection for his conditions of work. They see in those territories a domination by the white race over the African race which they fear may be extended still further to Northern Rhodesia and also to Nyasaland if federation takes place. It is for those reasons that there is an absolute unanimity of opinion among the African population of these three territories against the proposal for federation.

I want to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and of the Minister of Commonwealth Relations to the fact that they cannot point to a single African organisation in Nyasaland, Northern or Southern Rhodesia, either official or unofficial, which has not declared its opposition to the proposal for federation. In Nyasaland there is the African National Congress which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has recognised as already influential and as a growing force.

Then there is the African Protectorate Council. Let it be remembered that both the African Protectorate Council in Nyasaland and the African Representative Council in Northern Rhodesia are composed of carefully screened Africans who are satisfactory and acceptable to the British administration. But even those screened Councils have declared their opposition to federation in the clearest terms.

In Northern Rhodesia there are two large movements of the Africans. First, there is the African Congress and, secondly, there is the trade union movement, largely led by the miners whose representatives we were so glad to welcome to this country within the last month. Both those movements, the Congress and the trade union movement, not only declared against federation but have now decided to form mass action committees to resist it.

In Southern Rhodesia, where the Government have not even permitted the Africans to be represented in these discussions on federation, there are three representative voices of the African people. The first is the Bantu Conference, which is a parallel to the African Congress in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia. That has declared against federation. There is the trade union movement, the I.C.U., which has declared against federation. Perhaps what is most remarkable, when in Southern Rhodesia a chiefs council was organised, composed of men who, it was thought, would be obedient to the government there, even that council declared against federation.

Therefore, this House has to face the fact that if we impose federation upon Central Africa, it will be against the unanimous opinion of the African people as declared in all the organisations, official or unofficial, which now exist in those three territories.

When we examine these proposals we have no reason to wonder that there is this opposition on the part of the African people. Take the suggestion of a federal legislature which is made in the report of the officials' Conference. There are two objections to it. I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick), suggesting that this legislature might mean that the elected representatives of Southern Rhodesia would not be able to sustain their view. In that proposed federal legislature Southern Rhodesia, with 2,100,000 people, is to have 17 representatives out of 32—

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

No, the facts of the hon. Gentleman are wrong.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

When the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me and thought I was saying he was insincere, I corrected him at once and he accepted that correction. I tell the right hon. Gentleman, and I shall say it more strongly before I have concluded my speech, that he must recognise that those who have different points of view from him are just as sincere in the expression of those viewpoints as he is.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The hon. Member is exaggerating. He said 32 and I corrected him by saying 35. He said that was a mistake in arithmetic. It is not a mistake in arithmetic but a mistake of fact. He must not get excited.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

Very well, now the right hon. Gentleman and myself are equal. He became excited when he misunderstood what I said, and now he says I have become excited over what he said. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that it is all very well speaking from that Dispatch Box in the way he has done but if immediately he resumes his seat he adopts an attitude which dismisses the sincerity of what he said at that Box, we cannot pay serious attention to it.

I was saying that in the proposed federal legislature Southern Rhodesia has 17 members, Northern Rhodesia 11 members, Nyasaland, with a larger population than both, only seven members. Nyasaland has a population of 2,350,000, Southern Rhodesia 2,100,000, Northern Rhodesia 1,960,000.

That is not the only criticism of the composition of that legislature. The Africans are to have in it nine representatives for a population of 5,979,000 while the Europeans are to have 26 representatives for a population of 169,000. Worse than that, of the nine African representatives only four are to be Africans. The other five are to be Europeans selected by the European Governments. When Africans are faced with a proposal like that for a Federal Parliament, there is every reason why they should be doubtful whether they would benefit under the Federal proposal.

I am leaving on one side, because other speakers have dealt with the subject, the question of the functions of the Federal Parliament, which in my view will again and again intervene in matters which are African interests. I shall leave on one side also the questions of safeguards for the Africans, because they have been fully discussed; but there is one matter which I put very strongly to the right hon. Gentleman, and upon his answer to it will depend the vote of many Members tonight.

Is it the intention of the Government to impose federation upon Central Africa against the wishes of the African people? If that is the intention of the Government, votes will be given in the House against the right hon. Gentleman. If he makes that mistake, he will be the worst enemy to the good relations of British and African people ever to have sat upon the benches opposite.

There are six million Africans in Central Africa. By such a step as that we should be converting them from a rather touching faith and loyalty which they had in Britain as their protector, into disillusioned and antagonistic peoples. But we should do more than that. There would be not merely the six million people of the Central African countries. There is growing up in Africa a sense of solidarity between the peoples of one country and another, and we shall be losing for the good will of this country 60 million Africans whose desire is to co-operate with us but who have now reached the stage of human dignity and self-respect in which they will not be prepared to accept the intolerable proposals which have been embodied in the federal scheme.

Lord North lost this country the British Colonies. If the right hon. Gentleman attempts to push this scheme through against the wishes of the African people, he will lose us the co-operation of the African Colonies.

7.44 p.m.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Preston North

The first time I ever had the pleasure of hearing the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) was when, as a schoolboy more than 20 years ago, I sat in the Gallery and listened to him speaking on India. I was struck, on that occasion, by his great gift of eloquence and his evident sincerity. The second time I heard him speak was in the first debate to which I listened as a Member of the House, and on that occasion I was profoundly impressed by what I may call the one-sidedness of his argumentation. Tonight, I have been impressed by both these characteristics of the hon. Member. I hope he will allow me to pay tribute to his eloquence, and that he will forgive me if I decline the heavy task of trying to correct the balance of his argument.

I want, at the outset, to declare an interest, in that I am associated with a company which has substantial assets in Central Africa. My reason for speaking tonight, however, is that I was one of the four Members of the House who went out to Central Africa during the Recess and had some opportunity of investigating the problem of federation on the spot.

The four of us who went out were a fairly representative cross-section of the House. We had our differences, as can be imagined, between the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin), who defends agricultural interests on this side, in matters of British agriculture. But it is a remarkable fact that the four of us were able, after a very short tour, to reach a unanimous conclusion in favour of federation; and, no doubt, some hon. Members will have read the report in which we set out that conclusion.

In that tour, we had the opportunity, as had had the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who opened the debate, of meeting a number of representatives both of the European and of the African communities. I was struck by what I might call the deep conservatism—not in a political, but in a deeper, sense—of the African peoples. They are against change of almost any kind, and I am told on good authority that when the political authority in Southern Rhodesia was transferred from the Chartered Company to the Imperial Government, there was great resistance on the part of the Africans to this change.

The right hon. Member said that the Africans are growing up. That is quite true—their development is rapid; but we must not exaggerate the speed at which it is going. During the tour I made a practice of asking servants in the houses where we stayed, porters who carried our luggage and the drivers of motor cars, what they thought of federation. I did not meet a single one who had even heard of it at that time.

The Africans are growing up, but one must not mistake adolescence for maturity. In case any of us should be tempted to make that mistake, it may be well to recall the tragic fate which recently overtook Senator Victor Biakabada a former colleague of some of us in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, who represented the Ivory Coast in the French Senate. At the last general election, as hon. Members will know, Senator Biakabada was eaten by his constituents when canvassing!

I want to take up two brief points from the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly. In the first, there seemed to me to be a slight contradiction in his argument as he presented it. He told us—I think it is true, and I do not dispute it—that the Africans have a deep, a touching faith in the Colonial Office and in its power to protect them. What I find harder to believe is that the mass of thinking Africans were seriously worried at the fact that there were consultations here between Sir Godfrey Huggins and representatives of that Colonial Office—that is to say, the two Governors of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia.

There is another point in the right hon. Member's speech which needs a little clearing up. He spoke of the proposals that were made at the Victoria Falls Conference for elucidating the meaning of partnership in Northern Rhodesia, and he expressed regret that more had not been done to give effect to those proposals since the Conference. I agree wholeheartedly with the right hon. Member, but in case some hon. Members have missed the point it is important to understand that Mr. John Moffatt, who made this proposal, has apparently been disowned by the Africans on whose behalf he spoke at the Victoria Falls Conference.

We are facing a great revolution in Africa, one of the greatest in the history of the world. The ordinary African has been taken from the bush and, in many cases, has been put into the copper mines. He has undergone an evolution greater than that which we in this country have passed through in the last 2,000 years. The African in the bush was living in conditions more primitive than those of the early Briton before Julius Caesar came to this country. The African in the copper mine is living a life not very different from that of the miners in this country in the early part of this century.

All this revolution involves inevitably tremendous problems of adjustment, enormous problems of health reflected in many endemic diseases, hookworm, malaria, and the rest of them. A great offensive has been launched to improve these problems, but it costs money. It is the same with food and diet. This demands more effective cultivation of the soil which involves the instruction of the African and the provision of proper farm implements. That, again, costs money.

Above all, there is education and the building of schools. All these things cost money. Economics are the key to the social, political and cultural advance of the African people, and, if federation will help in the economic advancement of these territories, it will be making its contribution to their social and political advance.

The anxieties of many hon. Members in connection with this scheme of federation arise from the dislike which many of us feel at the existence of the colour bar. I think it true to say that in the Central African Colonies, in Southern Rhodesia in particular, the colour bar falls between the most developed African and the least developed European. It falls between the African whose cultural level is at its highest, who might conceivably hold the skilled job, the clerical post and the adminstrative post, and the European lowest in the scale economically. It is that which makes it such a bitter problem and such a difficult one to overcome; particularly difficult to overcome in countries which are administered so far as the European population are concerned—and I am speaking of Southern Rhodesia—by Parliamentary democratic decision.

I do not believe however that the situation in respect of the colour bar is getting worse. I do not think there is any real danger of an Apartheid as we have it in South Africa. Most of what I saw in Southern Rhodesia encouraged me to believe that the whole tendency is progressive and not reactionary. The fine secondary school built at Goromonzi is a most impressive sight. Another tremendous work is the building of hospitals in Southern Rhodesia; far finer I must say than anything I saw in Northern Rhodesia. But, of course, the maintenance of this progressive trend depends on the British element remaining strong among the European population.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly, who opened the debate, made much of the danger of immigration from the south and I do not quarrel with him over that. The only difference I would like to make is one of approach to the problem. I deprecate a negative approach to this problem of immigration. I do not think we should give the impression that we want to keep any of the Queen's subjects out of any part of her Dominions. What we should do is to show, by encouragement of this Central African federation, that we are creating conditions in which economic development will go forward quicker and encourage more people from this country to go out there and settle in the Rhodesias.

More than one hon. Member has drawn attention to some of the difficulties in the proposals put forward for federation. The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), the former Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, spoke of the difficulty of the proposed Minister for Native Affairs. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick), spoke of the difficulties which might confront the Federation Parliament as a result of the officially nominated representation from Nyasaland. I hope that the Government will find it possible to meet the Southern Rhodesian Government to some extent upon these two issues. If they do, I equally hope that the Southern Rhodesian Government, on their side, will make concessions to opinion in this country, more particularly in respect of official recognition of African trade unions and perhaps some larger African representation in their own local Parliament.

It is a difficult problem to know which way to take this whole scheme of federation, from which side to consider it if one is to reach a conclusion and a decision. I think it was Lord Lugard who laid it down that we had a dual mandate in the Colonies. He said we had two mandates. The first was to develop their resources in the interests of this country, of the Commonwealth as a whole and of the world. The second mandate was to develop them in the interests of their own inhabitants.

We have to look beyond the local problem to some extent in endeavouring to arrive at a conclusion in this matter. We have to look even beyond the purely continental African problem. Many of us talk about the importance of preserving the influence of Britain in the modern world and making our influence felt in the councils of the world, throwing in our weight towards peace and lessening international tension, and so on. Our capacity to do that depends upon the Commonwealth being strong and, if the federation of Central Africa will help to strengthen the Commonwealth, it will help us to discharge our duty in the world as a whole.

Let us also consider the second mandate. I have no doubt, and I think it is stated freely in all parts of the House that the federation of Central Africa would foster the economic development of these territories and it would thus redound to the advantage of the Africans themselves. The question is: Will it enhance or diminish their progress to social and political advancement? I rather gathered that the right hon. Mem ber for Llanelly shared the anxiety of Africans that their political advancement might be retarded. Perhaps I am unduly influenced in this by what might be considered a Marxist approach to the problem, but I feel that in the end it is economics which will decide.

Once we get the process of industrialisation beginning, inevitably education spreads, and once we teach people to think we cannot turn off that process of thinking like one can turn off a tap. Knowledge will spread. Political power will spread with industrial organisation; and, as both of these factors spread, inevitably the political and social influence of the African people will increase; far more, indeed, than they can increase by any process of fostering it deliberately by the Colonial Office or any paternal Government.

It is perhaps going a long way to say this, but I think that taking a broad view it is not untrue to say that the attempt to preserve the status quo by introducing a system of Apartheid is far more dangerous in the long run to the white population than to the African population. The African population may suffer some frustration from Apartheid but it will grow, socially and politically, whatever is done to encourage or impede it. I do not think, therefore, even taking the grimmest interpretation of this situation, that the introduction of federation can seriously retard African development in any way.

The right hon. Member for Llanelly said that the decision when it is taken must come by agreement with the Africans. In saying that he raised a very important point. It is, of course, absolutely essential that the Africans should have the whole scheme explained to them carefully and should be consulted at every step. The only question I would ask is whether it is altogether fair to leave the decision to them.

It has never been suggested by the present Government or the former Government that the Africans of Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland should be given the vote in their own local affairs. It has never been suggested that we should entrust to them to decide quite ordinary small problems of local politics. Yet is it to be asked that they should take the decision in a matter of such far-reaching importance to them?

The responsibility really lies in this House. If one has a son, one could ask him whether he would like to go to this school or that, but one would have to take the decision oneself. This scheme of federation may be right or wrong. I believe it to be right, but it is for this House of Commons to make up its mind whether it is right or wrong. We cannot shirk the responsibility by saying that this is to be done only by agreement.

I should have thought that we were faced with an inevitable process of economic development of Central Africa leading to an increasing white population—a white population which is still predominantly British—increasingly insistent in its demand for a greater measure of self-government. We can guide that development, but we cannot stop it, any more than we could have stopped it in the days of the revolt of the American Colonies. What we have to try to find is a compromise between the extremism of the Gold Coast and the extremism of the South Africans.

Is it possible to find it? It is something that has not been found as yet, but I should have thought that there was one hope, and that it was in the political genius of the British people, and particularly those British people living in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, who are the same people, by and large, as we are ourselves. There is a geat fund of loyalty towards this country over there. They are still very full of all the liberal principles in which we have been brought up in this country. They have confidence in us. Let us have confidence in them. It may, after all, be the last chance.

8.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Reid Mr Thomas Reid , Swindon

I wish to be as brief as possible, and I am not going to follow the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and others about South Africa.

I wish to say that I do not like the South African system, and that I sincerely hope that it will not spread to the rest of Africa. I wish to suggest to the people in Southern Rhodesia, especially the white people, and to the black people in the other two territories, that the South African system in the days to come may well extend to their territories. If they will take this fine suggestion of having federation of their territories, then there is the possibility of avoiding a situation which none of us, on both sides of the House, wants to see come about in the future.

I regret very much that the suggestion made after the Victoria Falls Conference for a discussion on partnership between all the races concerned did not take place. The Colonial Secretary told us today why it did not take place, but all I can say is that I regret that it did not. The best way to initiate procedure on a tangled problem like this is to have a discussion on the spot with the people to be ruled, and, unfortunately, that did not take place.

I am glad to learn from the Colonial Secretary today that he has invited the African people concerned, who did not discuss partnership on the spot, with others, to come to London before the conference in April to discuss the subject of partnership here. I think that is absolutely necessary, in view of the fact that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the Governors of the other two territories were invited when the coloured people were not invited at the same time. I hope that the new suggestion of bringing African delegates here will be successful.

The Colonial Secretary himself said there was difficulty in dealing with the suggestion because there was no definite text. I quite understand that difficulty, but there is another difficulty in having a text before this partnership system was discussed at length. The hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) quite rightly said that the natives of South Africa are very conservative people. They have been for years resisting, in one way or another, the impact of white civilisation upon them. When a text of a proposal comes out, their first natural reaction is to reject it and find every possible fault with it. That is the disadvantage of having a text before we discuss the principles of partnership. There are difficulties either way, but, in the present stage, as things now are, I quite agree that it is necessary to have a text.

It has been said from various parts of the House that, up to date, there has been practically complete African opposition to this proposed federation. I have for many years lived and worked with coloured people, and I cannot remember an instance in my life when a new idea was brought forward, especially by white Government officials, which was not resisted at the outset I will give examples.

In a big city in the East, the proposal was introduced to have a drainage system both for rain water and sewage and the uproar was immense. The word went round that the European Government was introducing a new system which would spread the plague all over the city, and huge processions were formed in which the people shouted, "We do not want the water scheme; it will bring the plague."

I will give another example. I was mixed up in it myself. The methods of washing clothes were, to say the least, insanitary, so the corporation of the big city introduced a wonderful system of cleaning the clothes by washing them, not in the elaborate laundries of the West, but with a combination of the native system brought up to sanitary standards. The authorities thought that it might go through, and the first laundry was built. There was a strike and the washermen were out on strike for six months. At last, they repented and terms were made, the laundry was re-opened and began to work. I remember saying to a member of the council on the day on which the row was settled, "I bet you that before the end of the year we shall have requests for laundries from all over the city," and it turned out to be correct.

I would therefore ask my hon. Friends not to be alarmed by the fact that there is opposition to this system at first. It is the usual course of events when a white Government makes propositions to coloured peoples.

Now, I want to address my remarks to those people in Africa who will be called upon to make the decision in this matter, not only the Africans, but also the whites in Southern Rhodesia. There are extremists in both parties, and I ask them to reflect on this. It is obvious from today's debate that the majority of hon. Members in this House are in favour of this system of federation. We may differ on the details, but most, if not all, of us are in favour of it.

I would ask our good friends overseas who are British subjects or British protected persons what is to happen if they, whites or blacks, turn this system down. Whatever Government was in power, when they reached a deadlock between the people in those territories and the Government at home, the proposition to the Government at home would be "We do not want this system. Do nothing without our permission, but do whatever we want."

Can that go on indefinitely? That deadlock should be avoided by a compromise between this Government and the peoples concerned in Africa and in the other territories concerned. It will be disastrous for everyone concerned in Southern Rhodesia and the other territories if this scheme does not now go through.

I will give an historical instance of the same sort of thing. During the period of office of the Labour Government, we sent a committee to India to try to settle the row between the Hindus and the Moslems. I know that country very well, and that committee put forward a solution which was wise, reasonable and sensible from every point of view, namely, federation of the whole of India.

I know there were difficulties and that people feared there would be Hindu-Moslem tension, but I knew, on the other hand, that if there was partition of India blood would flow as it did, and that there would be an appalling disaster. The Labour Government proposed a solution and did everything possible to get the Hindus and Moslems to agree to a federation of India. That was rejected. The only thing left for the British Government to do was to quit. They had to quit. They had failed. Their suggestions were rejected. I pray to God that the people concerned with these three territories will not adopt the same attitude as that adopted by the people of India just because the former are divided on racial lines instead of on religious lines.

This is one of the most important matters that has come before this House. It affects not only these territories, but the whole of Africa. This proposal has been endorsed by practically every Member of this House, and it is useless for the Africans or the white people there to say that we are their enemies. We are not we only want a reasonable settlement of this question in the interests, above all, of the people directly concerned.

I want to address a few other remarks to the people who might reject this solution. The day of small States is over, and I would ask the people of Africa not to be too parochial and to reflect that this problem of theirs affects not merely the three States concerned, but other States in the world. The populations of these States are extremely small, and they are utterly unable to defend themselves. Are they, white or black, going to quarrel with the British Government who have defended them and thus bring about a deadlock?

Economically, it would be an immense advantage to have these three territories united in a federation. Owing to the rapid growth of population in these territories there is the danger of famine in years to come. That being so, we want to produce the food and other wealth required to raise the economic standard of these countries and that can best be done by federation.

As I say, the day of the small State is over. We had a recent example of this in the Commonwealth itself. It was the case of Newfoundland. One party strongly opposed going in with Canada which was able to provide enormous capital for the development of Newfoundland. They preferred to be first in a little Iberian village than to be second in Rome. The federation came about and there was great progress in Newfoundland thereafter. That territory has lost nothing by becoming a part of the Dominion of Canada. Therefore, I ask our fellow subjects in Africa to pause and think what would be the result if they rejected this scheme.

As regards political advancement, it Is up to the parties concerned to see that the prerequisites of that are embodied in the constitution. We do not know the text of the constitution proposed. The Colonial Secretary is getting it framed, but it is before it is actually framed that all the people concerned should see that there are clauses in it which enable them to progress politically. I would tell my friends in Central Africa that if they are going to run these three territories on racial lines they are on the high road to disaster. If, on the other hand, they combine and work together, then political advancement can come much more quickly provided the constitution is properly drafted.

I do not want to draft the constitution here today, although I have had some experience of such drafting, but I would mention one thing. The colour bar which exists in South Africa must not, of course, appear. There is no legal colour bar in Southern Rhodesia, although it is idle to assert that it does not in fact exist. There is a property qualification for the franchise which excludes most Africans. I think the idea that only those who have a stake in the country may vote is completely unsound. The people with a stake in the country are generally well able to protect themselves. Such a system is antiquated and out of date. I hope that no such system will be established under this new constitution, at least not in the two northern territories.

In my opinion, there should be no colour bar about the franchise. It may have to be limited owing to the ignorance of some of the people, but the test must then be education. If that is the test, then any native will have the same right as any European of entering the legislature. That would be the best safeguard of all for the native people. Once people get the vote they gradually learn how to protect their interests.

Cecil Rhodes, whose name was mentioned today, laid down the maxim of equal rights for all civilised men. So the test for the franchise should be education, not property. There should be no colour bar of any description in the two northern territories, and I would advise my African friends to see to that when the constitution is being drafted. I suggest to people who want to work on the racial band wagon that it is no use.

In the case of Ceylon, we had the problem of the Tamils and the Singhalese and of two or three other races as well. It was predicted that they would not work together. There was also a lot of religious feeling and language difficulty among them. The constitution rejected communal elections, and allowed everyone to vote freely in geographical units. The result is that some of the Ministers are Tamils, some are Singhalese, and others, again, belong to other races. That is the only way of finding a solution.

Central African countries are different from the Gold Coast where Europeans cannot settle down and rear families because the climate is against their doing so. But in these three countries the Europeans can bring up families and do physical work. It is no use anyone saying they have got to quit. They have gone there and developed the country, and they have a perfect right to be there. So have the Indians and the native people of the country. They have all got to live together. But they cannot live together in harmony or prosperity if they go on practising racial politics.

I suggest to my friends in South Africa, both white and coloured, that they should not throw away the opportunity which is going to be put before them by the Colonial Secretary before fully considering all its implications. This matter is too serious for emotional hysterics. I certainly hope that the scheme will go through and that it will be an example to the whole of Africa of how people of different races can live and work together in harmony.

8.20 p.m.

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

This is not a new subject for me, because for the last quarter of a century, ever since I visited Central Africa, it has been obvious to me that one day a closer integration of these three territories, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, should come about. I have expressed that view on more than one occasion in this House and it is very gratifying for me today, after so long a time, to find so much accord on both sides of the House on this subject.

It was obvious to me that it must come about, for one of these territories alone could not carry out the social, political and economic development necessary to maintain a growing population. When we restored law and order in these territories and set up the British way of life and government, it was obvious that steps should be taken immediately to bring about as rapid an economic development as possible because the population was bound to increase. That is exactly what has happened. Having restored law and order and established health services in these territories, we find a very rapidly growing native population and a growing European population too, but with economic development not proceeding as rapidly as it should be.

It is obvious, therefore, that these three territories, whose interests are complementary, should be developed together. Southern Rhodesia has a beautiful climate with ample mineral resources and not enough capital to produce the required developments in irrigation schemes, hydro-electric schemes, railways, hospitals and schools. Transport has already been mentioned as a matter of vital interest to Southern Rhodesia. More than anything else, the lack of transport has held up development in Central Africa.

Northern Rhodesia has a virile population, too, who are proud of their country and are anxious to establish a British and Christian way of life. They, too, are hampered by lack of capital to develop their natural resources and to provide transport, irrigation, hydro-electric schemes and social services.

Last of all there is little Nyasaland, which is the most backward of the three. That backwardness has been largely responsible for the fact that this House has not taken sufficient interest in that territory in the past and has not encouraged its development.

It is vitally important, therefore, that these territories which are complementary and interdependent should form some kind of integration. There is more accord in this House than I have ever seen before on this subject, in spite of one or two discordant notes, especially from the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), who always tries to throw a spanner into the works. He gives no support at all to these proposals, but I hope he will be proved to be wrong.

A great deal has been said about African opinion. What is African opinion and what is it based upon? The only opinion worth listening to at all is informed and representative opinion. What does the African opinion we have discussed today represent and how far is it informed? I contend that the Victoria Falls Conference broke down because enough time and trouble was not taken by the then Government to inform African chiefs and people in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia of the nature of the proposals.

Until some definite constitution is put before these people it is impossible for them to have an informed opinion. That is why I think the Colonial Secretary is absolutely right in holding this conference as soon as possible and in having a conference with Africans first so that they shall be told what the proposals are. Let them then form their judgment and do not let us have introduced sentiments like those of the hon. Member who represents the backward races of Eton and Slough and who seems to have his spiritual home in cuckoo land.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

Representative Africans are coming over here before the contemplated April conference. If they hear the proposals and turn them down, will the hon. Member dismiss them as unrepresentative?

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

Not at all, if they are representative. But first of all we must examine their bona fides. No doubt they will be inquired into by the Secretary of State to see whether they are representative people. I am pretty sure that when they see the proposals as suggested here today and when all their fears about their future status are allayed, they will accept them.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

And if they are not accepted?

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

If they are not, then we shall still have to go forward with these proposals. It is the duty and responsibility of this House to govern the territories or to get out. I am convinced that in that case Southern Rhodesia will probably demand Dominion status outright or will join the Union.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

What the hon. Member is saying seems contradictory. Does he not realise that the most fundamental, urgent and essential feature of this problem is to secure and maintain the confidence of the African people themselves?

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

Yes. That is why, as I said, the late Government, having agreed on principle to these proposals, should have taken more trouble to explain what the proposals were both to white and coloured Africans. That did not happen, and that is why the Victoria Falls Conference failed. The same thing must not happen again.

We must have definite proposals, and they must be in such form that they can be understood, and opportunities must be given to the people who represent African opinion. It must be remembered that there are two African opinions and, if one goes out there to work—and I commend some hon. Members to go—one gets opinions on both sides. There is the opinion of the white African settler which is given in no uncertain terms, as one hon. Member told us tonight, that they thought that certain people in this House who talk about Africa did not know the first thing about it.

I can assure hon. Members that these white Africans have just as much right as anybody else to be in Africa, because they have been there in some cases for three or four generations and it is their only home. They are the people who have developed the country. It is only 50 or 60 years ago that Africans were slaughtering and eating each other. Progress in that part of the world has been more rapid than anywhere else.

The white settler who has been out there since 1914—who settled there just after the First World War—and a great many who were there before, some of them for two or three generations, resent very much being ignored when opinions about Central Africa are canvassed. They feel very strongly about it, and their views about this House and certain people in it they do not hesitate to express. They do not hesitate to express the view that unless federation is brought about in Central Africa other means will be found of breaking away from Whitehall.

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

They can go into the Union or demand complete Dominion status, and they will do that. That is what we must avoid, and that is the thing which I do not think anybody in this House would desire.

I do urge the right hon. Gentleman to press on with these proposals to frame his constitution and bring the people responsible for carrying it out into contact at the earliest possible moment so as to arrive at the stage—I hope it will be soon—when he can set up a Royal Commission composed of all parties in this House to frame a constitution. I am convinced that if we lose this opportunity to bring about federation of Central Africa it will never occur again, and that would be greatly to the discredit of this House and disastrous for our territories in Central Africa.

8.34 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

I am very glad to have been called, if only because I am one of those Fabian crackpots with long hair who have been so described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick), and the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald). We on this side of the House have been chided both by our colleagues and by hon. Members opposite for defending and putting the point of view of the African people. Who is there to speak for the Africans but hon. Members of this House? I wish we had some African Members in this House, though I hope they would escape the fate which the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), mentioned when he said that the French Member for the Ivory Coast had been eaten by his constituents a short while ago.

There are many on the benches opposite who can speak for white settlers in Kenya, Nyasaland and other territories so I think it is in order for people on this side of the House, including the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) to speak up on behalf of these 60 million people in the dark Continent of Africa.

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

Does the hon. Member mean to insinuate that hon. Members on this side of the House have no interest at all in Africans?

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

They have a lot of interest in the Africans, but it is not quite the same interest as we have on this side of the House.

There is a much more serious thing than that, the importance of which I think it is impossible to exaggerate. Apart, perhaps, from the problem of the relations of the Soviet Union with the Western world, there is no other question so important as the subject of colour in Africa. It is a fact that the Africans are lined up solidly against this scheme of federation—at least as they know it at the moment. In the final analysis, the only test of fitness for any post in African affairs should be that of character and ability and, perhaps, a sense of respon sibility to take on that post. That is the only test for fitness for office, whether it be for the post of Director of Health in Nigeria or the Inspector of Works in Nyasaland, whatever be the colour of his skin.

I know that this is a counsel of perfection and that we cannot expect the elimination of the colour bar for some time. The Africans in Nyasaland and elsewhere are lined up solidly against the federation proposals as they know them. What is the reason? Apparently they are adamant in this matter. Why, as we have been told tonight, are they actively contemplating industrial action in the Copper Belt of Northern Rhodesia? Before I come to that, let me say that, having listened over a period of months to the arguments for federation, both by the predecessor of the Colonial Secretary and by many others, I am in favour of federation if we can carry the Africans with us.

I believe it would be excellent for all concerned to have a viable unit. This is a land-locked territory without one port on the coast. Its communications need to be opened up and it needs economic exploitation on a colossal scale. Wankie coal must be married to copper in the North. We want these things, but we must carry the native population with us in this matter.

I want to emphasise what other Secretaries of State have emphasised: that is, that there must be an economic and political partnership between Europeans and Africans; because this is the only policy under which federation can be brought about in the condition of Central Africa. Any scheme of closer association would have to give effect to that principle. How does one define partnership? I find it impossible and I should hate to attempt to define it. I would sooner speak of co-operation, and if we speak of co-operation instead of partnership, in what form is it acceptable to the Africans?

When one speaks to them when they come over here—the miners' leaders and many others—have talked to us in this House and outside—they say that all members should enjoy full political and economic equality. They should take part in the life of their country unrestricted by questions of race. What prospect is there of this being acceptable to the Europeans? When I look at the happenings of the last 28 years, in places like Salisbury and Buluwayo and elsewhere, I see a long series of enactments effected by European Parliaments which do not lead me to think that this is the kind of political climate in which one will find Europeans accepting this definiton.

If one takes one of the Amendments to the Representation of the People Act of 1950; it has been said earlier tonight that there are not many constituents of hon. Members of this House who can find what the African has to find in Southern Rhodesia. The African has to have £500 worth of real estate or assets, plus an income of £250 a year. That is a lot to expect of an African in Southern Rhodesia.

There are other examples—land tenure and many others. I would not call this Apartheid, but, clearly, there is a colour bar and to my mind there is definite evidence of a policy of racial segregation. If that is not Apartheid, it is well on the way towards it and will go further on the journey, if the immigration figures over the last year or two, with the immigration of Afrikaaners, persist.

Some years ago, Sir Godfrey Huggins spoke about removing Africans from the common electoral roll. Perhaps the Commonwealth Relations Office spoke to him, and certainly the 1950 Act gave the Africans some privileges, even although the qualifications are to my mind heavy and onerous. This is one way of restricting the number of Africans who get on to the common roll. It seems queer that any well-wisher of the Africans should desire to extend the number under Sir Godfrey Huggins from one and a half million Africans to six million Africans. White leaders like Sir Godfrey Huggins pay lip service to partnership, but they are opposed to it when it becomes inconvenient. A similar situation exists in Northern Rhodesia. We have unofficial members of the Executive Council who form literally, and in the event actually, a cabinet in a responsible Government.

We have had earlier quotations from the speeches of the leader of the un-officials, Mr. Welensky—and I will not give them again—but I should like to give the answer to them as made by the leader of the Africans, and as reported in the "Northern Rhodesia News" of 19th April, 1950. This was a speech of Mr. Gordon Lewanika, who is President of the North Rhodesian African Congress—and this is the outlook not merely of 19,000 miners in the African Copper Workers' Union but probably of one and a half million behind him. The quotation reads: In his speech Mr. Welensky revealed his immigration policy in order to expedite self-government in Northern Rhodesia. Mr. Welensky, of course, means self-government for the Whites only…He fears that when Africans are educated and civilised enough the Colonial Office would hand over the government of the country into their hands, therefore, he wants to take us by surprise and unconditionally before we reach maturity…We do not care about the great wealth that the desired self-government may bring to Northern Rhodesia. What we mind most is the ownership of our land, not wealth or the erection of several skyscrapers and paved glittering roads all over Northern Rhodesia. We are satisfied with and have great faith in the Colonial Office Rule. That is an African speaking. That was not a white man speaking and describing the Colonial Office as a stranglehold upon their white activities.

I hope I have been fair in quoting from the context. Certainly, I have been fair to Mr. Welensky, because he has made many other speeches on the same theme and on the same lines. Is it any wonder that Africans view with suspicions proposals which would place them under the domination of gentlemen like Sir Godfrey Huggins and Mr. Welensky? They are not tempted by constitutional safeguards, nor by economic advantages. They wish to live their own lives, or as much of their own lives as they can, in their own country and on their own land.

As the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight told us, Nyasaland is the most resolute of all. They have something like 2½ million Africans and 3,000 whites.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

They may be civil servants. I do not see how any Government can impose federation upon 21 million Africans in a land where there are only 3,000 whites, if the Africans are opposed to such federation. Nor can it be imposed in Northern Rhodesia, where the figures are something like these: 1,600,000 Africans, 32,000 Europeans and 2,800 Asiatics. Here the Africans oppose federation just as resolutely. Equally, I feel we must not impose it upon them.

May I here quote from another famous leader, Sir Miles Thomas. I have here the "Southern Rhodesia News Letter" for 16th January this year, and I will read what Sir Miles says about federation—and I echo and I support every word he says, with the substitution of only one word: Clearly, federation is an economic necessity. Once a broad principle of this sort is recognised it would be a tragedy if mere political considerations were allowed to be major obstacles. The mineral wealth of Northern Rhodesia can be allied to agricultural potentiality and the secondary industries of Southern Rhodesia, and these together with the virility and enterprising outlook of the people would provide a promising future. The sooner federation comes about the better for all concerned and the more effective will be the efforts against the attempted infiltration of Communist ideologies in the Central African territories. I would change only one word; it should be not "Communist" but "Fascist." I believe that the danger is not Communist infiltration, but Fascist infiltration from the South over the Limpopo into the Southern Rhodesian territories. The danger, I feel, is from the South; it is not from Moscow, it is from Johannesburg. I speak advisedly tonight. The atmosphere in Africa is not merely charged and surcharged; it is supercharged with emotion, because the shadow of Malan is not merely over Southern Rhodesia, but it extends much further north to Nairobi and even beyond the Nile Valley.

I could quote from Mr. Foster Dulles speaking about the Union, when he spoke about the keg of dynamite which would perhaps blow up the African society. I could quote many authorities about the danger of this Fascist infiltration into Southern Rhodesia.

Is Central Africa much better than the Union? People say it is very much better, but may I make one comment? I have spent much of my time in education. When I look at Central Africa, it is a shocking thing to me to find that in 50 years of British Government or domination not one African has been in a major post in the Civil Service. There are Africans in important posts in West Africa, in Nigeria and on the Gold Coast, but we have not a major post in Central Africa filled by an African. It is because of the mixed society—the plural society. I would say that the fact that there are whites in East and Central Africa has meant that the development of the African peoples has been held back, as compared with that in West Africa, where there is a predominantly black society.

We have heard talk tonight about the intelligentsia and of the people who actually speak on behalf of the Africans. We have heard talk as though there were just a few people on the stage, and shadowy masses of people who will never appear—never be developed. I think there are many more than 19,000 miners in the Copper Belt—many more than that; and if anyone wishes to have some idea of the urgency of the situation, let him look at the editorial of the "Manchester Guardian" yesterday. Lord Curzon once said that people prefer to govern themselves badly than have other people govern them, however well.

My last point is this. We have heard a great deal tonight from the benches opposite, and even from these benches, about the giving of federation to Central Africa, and it is almost a form of political blackmail that we have heard from benches on both sides of the House. It is this: "If you do not give self-government or federation to these three territories in Central Africa, they will hive off or fall off or go south to the Union and join South Africa."

Is it quite so simple as that? If Sir Godfrey Huggins and the white leaders do not desire to have Afrikaaners, they can quite simply—because they have almost Dominion status—make immigration laws to keep out the Afrikaaners—quite easily. Very soon, with the consent of this Government and this House, they could achieve full Dominion status. They have that almost now.

Time is getting late in this matter. It is almost 12 o'clock now. The clock has almost struck, and I feel that a full statement should be made by the Government that talks between Africans and Europeans regarding partnership will be begun at the earliest possible moment. I think they should not have this conference in April, but hold fast to the original resolution that we had, that the conference be held in July.

I beg of them not to go headlong into this particular action they contemplate, and to pay particular attention to the views of these coloured peoples in Africa. I beg them not to force federation upon those African peoples, as seems to be the view expressed so often tonight by hon. Members on the benches opposite.

8.53 p.m.

Photo of Mr Cuthbert Alport Mr Cuthbert Alport , Colchester

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) and, before him, the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) have not realised that the logical consequence of the policy and point of view which they have expressed is to condemn the Africans to permanent inferiority to the Europeans, because there is no shadow of doubt that, however much we may talk about education and social progress for Africans, there can be no education in the real sense of the term, and no social progress, unless that can be provided against a background of economic strength.

Personally, I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Rugby saying that, while he agreed with the economic advantages that would come from federation, he was not prepared to press them upon his African friends unless they themselves were prepared to accept them.

Earlier in the debate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) put two names before the House; names which, even today, create a sense of inspiration, and a memory of two great lives—Rhodes and Livingstone. Let us not forget that it was Livingstone himself who, first of all, invited this country to undertake white European settlement in Africa and to apply the resources of this country to the improvement of the conditions of life of the people.

I am quite certain that if today the two men who played such a great part in the founding of British Central Africa were alive—Rhodes and Livingstone—both of them would be in favour of this project of federation. I think that it is the only way in which we can ensure, not only for the Europeans in Central Africa but also for the Africans as well, improvement of the standard of living, without which the ideals of the great Christian missionary movements in African history and the whole of the principles and hopes of British colonial policy for Africa could not be brought to fruition.

It seems to me that there is a clear issue before the House. It is whether we in this Parliament are to take the responsibility for making a decision which we are entitled to make as trustees for the African people. It is not right for hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that we are not entitled to make a decision without first getting the consent of the Africans.

We must consult them, that is perfectly true, but we are under an obligation to act in good faith; and if it is the view of the House that federation is an advantage to Central Africa, then surely we are under a moral obligation to make that decision and to stand by the consequences. I have no doubt that if we fail to make that decision we shall be betraying the trust which the Africans have placed in us over the last 50 years.

It is no good our trying to push off our responsibilities on to African shoulders. It is no good the hon. Member for Rugby telling the House that the Africans are perfectly happy to go on in their own primeval way. If we had asked the Africans 50 years ago, they would have said that they preferred beyond anything, if they were Matabele or Masai, to go on with the old slave raiding and tribal warfare of the past. That is surely not the sort of considerations that we in this Imperial House of Commons can accept in dealing with this matter.

Therefore, in the short time in which I have an opportunity of intervening in this debate, I should like to try to the best of my ability to assure those hon. Members who have been here today that unless we in this House are prepared to undertake the responsibility which the history of our people places on our shoulders at the present time, the burden of the failure and of the poverty and despair which will face Africa, and from which we have in so short a time at any rate partially rescued her, will rest very heavily on the shoulders of the people of Britain and no less on the shoulders of the hon. Members here who came to an adverse decision on this matter.

8.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) that it would be very hard to exaggerate the importance of the subject we have been debating today. It is about a very great British responsibility, and I feel that I must, therefore, say that I believe it was a great pity that Sir Godfrey Huggins thought it necessary to make some disparaging remarks about the capacity of most of the Members of this House to discuss this sort of thing. I am a friend of Sir Godfrey, who is a very outspoken man, and I am sure that he will not mind my saying that I think that that was a very unfortunate thing to say, and I hope that he regrets having said it.

We certainly have a very high duty to fulfil in this House in this matter, and we have shown in this debate that the House is fully capable of discussing this important matter in the way in which it ought to be discussed. We have had, incidentally, two very good maiden speeches from either side of the House, one from the hon. and learned Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Simon) and the other from my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), who spoke from his own experience.

To start with a word or two about my own attitude, I think this is an extremely difficult and complex problem. It is very hard in itself. It is a problem in which all the problems of Africa meet, and anything that one does or says can have repercussions all over that difficult and dangerous continent.

I have always approached, and still approach, the problem with a certain humility. It is very hard indeed to be certain that anything that one believes in this matter is bound to be right. I certainly agree with the principle of federation and the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that this is quite clear from the Victoria Falls communiqué to which I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) put our names.

As I shall try to show, I think it is very important indeed that we do the sort of things which make federation possible. One cannot, of course, believe in a principle in the air. There are a number of absolute conditions which go with the acceptance of the principle of federation in one's own mind, and the first is that we must carry the co-operation and the good will of all communities and people concerned.

Secondly, it follows that in any schemes we must have absolutely firm and clear guarantees on African rights and interests. Thirdly, we must have very wide and careful handling of these problems, particularly from the British Government of the day. I have had very grave doubts about the handling of this problem by Her Majesty's present advisers—naturally, I do not have any doubts about the previous Government—and my doubts have not been allayed, but rather have been increased by what was said by the Minister this afternoon.

I want to say a word about the main reasons why I am in favour of the principle of federation. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) that economic considerations, although they are very important, are not the decisive considerations in this connection. The main reason that predisposes me to accept and support the principle of federation is set out in the communiqué issued after the Victoria Falls Conference, where it refers to the great importance of maintaining and strengthening the British connection, traditions and principles. It is very important to point out that that is a part of the communiqué on which the African delegates and all others were agreed.

It seems to me that, in the context with which we are dealing, the maintenance of the British connection, traditions and principles is absolutely essential to the success of the policy towards Africans in which we believe. The two things are completely tied up together. If the British connection were weakened, or replaced, the whole of the policy towards Africans in which we believe would be entirely undone. I do not believe—and this is what convinces me that federation is right in principle—that we can permanently maintain the British connection and traditions in the whole of this area without federation. It is a great error to assume that the British connection will continue there by itself regardless of what we do.

In this matter the position of Southern Rhodesia is absolutely central to the problems that we have to face. It is not, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) said, just a question of immigration. Although immigration is very important—my right hon. Friend gave some very disturbing figures—it is not the decisive matter. The really decisive matter is that Southern Rhodesia is not a permanently viable unit on its own. It cannot stand on its own indefinitely, independently of everything else. It is not big enough or rich enough and it is land-locked, and in the end—it may not be such a long time off—it will have to join a bigger unit either to the north or to the south, for there are no other alternatives.

No one who has recently been to Southern Rhodesia, as I have, can doubt that this is a danger, but I do not think it is an immediate danger, for the British connection is very strong in Southern Rhodesia. However, there is also a strong and growing undercurrent of feeling in Southern Rhodesia that it is not large enough and that it will be compelled to join a bigger group one way or the other.

It is not by any means only the Afrikaans element in Southern Rhodesia that desires a movement to the south and joining with the Union of South Africa. There are many British in Southern Rhodesia who have the same view or fears about it; certainly very many Africans in Southern Rhodesia are alarmed at the prospect, which they take as a serious one, of Southern Rhodesia going sooner or later southwards and becoming part of the Union of South Africa. Which way Southern Rhodesia goes, whether it goes north or south, may shape the whole future of Central Africa, and it may determine the survival of the British connection and interest in Central Africa and the policies towards Africans that go with it.

If the southern frontier of British Central Africa becomes the Zambesi instead of the Limpopo, it would involve a major shift of power and a balance of policies in the heart of the Continent of Africa, and I would not be quite sure that we could hold the southern frontier of British Central Africa at the Zambesi, so that our connections, traditions and principles, to use the words in the Victoria Falls communiqué, would be in danger in the whole of this area.

I do not think that this is the only factor to take into account, but I say that it is an essential factor to bear in, mind. It is the one in this very complex technical problem that has weighed very heavily with me in helping me to decide that the principle of federation is the right policy, but to complete this argument I must be frank and say something with which some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House will not agree. What I am saying depends on the recognition that the Southern Rhodesians' native policy is not only different from our policy in the territories to the north, as it certainly is, but it is also different from the native policies to the south in the Union of South Africa. I base that on a number of arguments, some of which seem to me to be decisive.

When I was last in Southern Rhodesia, I met a great many Africans at meetings and in private calls, and I found that many of them were aware of the danger that Southern Rhodesia might go into. South Africa. All, without exception, were against it on the ground that the native policies were quite different. They were not supporting the policy towards. Africans in Southern Rhodesia, but they were clear that the policies were quite different and were far worse in the Union. I agree with the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) that what I am saying remains true only as long as the British connection and influence prevail in Southern Rhodesia.

I do not want to go into the economic arguments which a number of hon. Members have talked about. I think that the economic arguments in favour of federation are very strong indeed. I only want to deal with one aspect, which relates to what I have been saying about the economic problem; that is, that whereas these territories at the moment are very prosperous, they have a very precarious economy. I think it is especially true of Southern Rhodesia, and because of the office which I held in the late Government I know more about it. The prosperity and economy of Southern Rhodesia depends on very few crops and products indeed. Tobacco, chrome and asbestos are the three. It is a very narrow and unreal basis for an economy, for an economy with few crops is very susceptible to the effects of a slump.

What alarms me about the situation from the economic point of view is that if there were a slump it would un doubtedly greatly increase the chances of Southern Rhodesia going southward, if it had not already gone in that direction. It would have behind it the tremendous desire to find a better based market to which it could attach itself in time of slump. It would affect perhaps only one crop or product, but it would affect practically everybody in the country, and reduce them from the prosperity they now enjoy to a poverty which most of them have never known in Southern Rhodesia. Therefore, I would conclude from that one economic aspect of the problem that it would be a mistake to regard the problem as static. The problem, moving into the future, can create changes in the economic position, such as slumps in certain types of produce, which would have a great effect in changing the general political situation.

Because of these reasons, and of other reasons with which I will not weary the House, I am in favour in principle of federation, but because I am very fearful of the consequences of failure, which would be very grave, I have been extremely disturbed by today's debate. The Government have given the impression that they have greatly increased the already very great difficulties that attach themselves to this problem. I must say that they have shown a very grave failure—the right hon. Gentleman has shown it today in what he has said to us—to take the vital factor of African opinion into proper account.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly described to the House the way in which the very solid African opposition in the Northern Territories and in Southern Rhodesia views these proposals of federation and the very dangerous situation that exists, at any rate in the Copper Belt. In this situation—whatever view one may take about whether this House must decide or they must decide—all must agree that we should carry African opinion with us if we possibly can.

At such a moment as this, the problem needs very sympathetic and very wise handling, to find ways by which disturbed African opinion can be reassured. This debate offered a very great chance to the Government to send a message to Africa which would have given reassurance to the Africans in the doubts which they have entertained as the result of certain actions in recent months.

It did not seem to me that the right hon. Gentleman was appreciating the real nature and importance of African opinion. It is quite true that African opinion on these matters is not always reasonable, as we interpret the word "reasonable." Some of the Africans, many of them—I found it so out there, talking to them—will not look at the proposals and are unaware of safeguards of great importance that exist in the proposals. I agree with Mr. Moffatt, a very great friend of the Africans, that it would be much in their own interest for them to make more positive proposals in this whole field of federation.

We have to accept things as they are. These fears may not be reasonable or logically defended, but they are real. They spring from fears, doubts and suspicions connected with land and all sorts of things that are not really, as we see them, immediately connected with the problem in hand but they are real. We say that this reality must be taken seriously. It is no good saying that it is not reasonable or logical. The position of my right hon. Friends and myself is that we must carry African opinion with us if we are to go forward with federation. That is the essential point of departure.

Our complaint is that the right hon. Gentleman has done, and has tonight said, things that create a suspicion, rightly or wrongly, in African minds, and creates it as a reality, that there is a white man's plot to railroad this federation scheme through. Now I will produce the reasons why I hold that view.

First, let me deal with what we seem to have agreed to call the April conference. I think it was a great blunder to advance the date of the conference from July to April. At the Victoria Falls Conference it was agreed by all, including all the African delegates there, to have it in mid-summer and we all understood that meant July or August. Having had agreement on this, to change it without consulting Africans, and as far as one can discover without informing any Africans, must create the impression that there is something up. It is calculated to create the impression that there is a deliberate rushing of policy remembering that East Africans are very suspicious of the thing being hurried through.

The right hon. Gentleman said he needed the April conference in order to get a detailed plan, so that public opinion could be focused on a definite scheme, and that in its absence all sorts of rumours and ideas would get about. I can certainly see the force of that argument and I can see why it appeals to the right hon. Gentleman, but it seems to me to show a wrong approach to the entire problem of the attitude of the Africans in this matter. The details of a definite scheme cannot be treated alone and in isolation. One cannot discuss this constitution in isolation from many other things if we are to treat the problem of federation as a real one.

The principle of federation must be accepted before details can be discussed. It is a perfectly sensible position that we and many Africans take, namely, that before getting down to details there must be an agreement on principle. The right hon. Gentleman is really putting this the wrong way up. It is no good saying that we must get detailed plans and not worry about the principle, because one cannot discuss detailed plans until there is an agreement on principle.

There is something else which is important. The Africans will not consider discussion or acceptance of the principle of federation, it is clearly stated in the communiqué, without some tangible signs of advance in their present political and social status. Therefore, the question of getting precise plans cannot be separated from the question of concrete steps of advance. Concrete advances are now an inseparable part of the problem of getting the principle of federation accepted. Those things cannot be divided up into watertight compartments or into periods of July, April, and so forth.

Perhaps I should say a word about what I think ought to be done in the way of concrete steps. I do not want to interfere in any way in the internal affairs of Southern Rhodesia, but all of us have to play our part if these ideas are to be accepted. It should be said that a great contribution to the acceptance by Africans of federation would be a lowering of the qualification for admission to the common roll in Southern Rhodesia. I agree with what the hon. Member for Preston, North, said about the good results that would flow from the official recognition of trade unions.

When, however, we come to territories where we are ourselves responsible, it is important that in Northern Rhodesia there should be progress in these partnership talks. My right hon. Friend and I attached great importance to them when we were out at Victoria Falls. We regarded it as an essential part of the strategy of winning voluntary and free agreement to the principle of federation.

I must say that, listening to the right hon. Gentleman, I had the feeling that great dilatoriness was shown over this. He told us that Africans refused to enter the talks, but that was three months after the end of the Victoria Falls Conference. My right hon. Friend and I left behind us the clear impression that we regarded this as a matter of great urgency in which there should be no delay.

What happened in those three months? It seems to me that there can have been nothing like the proper initiative that ought to have been taken, showing, again, a complete failure to understand the real importance of African opinion and the real inter-connection of the various parts of this problem if we are to get agreement on federation.

I say that the whole concept in the first place of the April conference was a wrong one. The whole idea behind it was based on the view that the Government could separate the getting of a detailed plan from all the other problems that go with it, and it seems to me that it will make the right hon. Gentleman's own plans more difficult to achieve. We on this side of the House are very glad that the African Protectorate Council are coming over for discussions with the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman who is to reply can tell us how many are coming, but if that is difficult to ascertain, perhaps we can be told later by means of an answer to a Question.

Of course, we all join with the right hon. Gentleman in hoping that the Africans from Northern Rhodesia will accept the invitation and will come and talk with him. But the holding of a conference in April, a few days, perhaps, after these gentlemen from Africa arrive, will make it more difficult to achieve a successful outcome of the talks he is to have with them.

The essential point which the Minister will be discussing with them is whether they will agree to come to the April conference, and if that conference is already fixed for a week or a few days after they are here, it will make it more difficult for him to achieve success in what for anyone would be a very difficult undertaking. There would be advantage in having more time to play with, and a postponement of the April conference to July would improve the chances of the Minister having successful talks with the Africans from Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say now, and whatever he may bring in at other conferences like the July conference, there is no doubt that the advancing of the date to April in the first place acquired a real and symbolical importance. It became a symptom of an attitude of disregard of African opinion. Not only was it so regarded by Africans, but it is so regarded by the Labour Party here.

The right hon. Gentleman has already conceded our point on this by now adding a July conference. He does not want to retract—I know how difficult it is to retract from positions one has taken up in public—but by adding a July conference he has, in effect, admitted the justification of our arguments about the April conference. Incidentally, I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether these conferences in April and July will be held whether or not the Africans attend them.

The right hon. Gentleman also now has involved himself in an extremely complicated time-table, including both April and July and with Africans arriving just before the April conference. I still do not think that the harm of advancing the date of the conference to April has been undone by having another conference in July and leaving the April conference where it is. I press the Government to go the whole way, to accept the logic that has led them to having a July conference, and to abandon the April conference and go back to the one in July which was originally foreseen in the Victoria Falls communiqué.

Now I come to what I regard as the most important point of all: the confer ence with the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and the Governors of the two Colonies. We are greatly disturbed, not only by the fact of the conference, as my right hon. Friend said and for the reasons he gave, but by what the Minister himself said during the debate.

I might just deal with the argument in which he tried to involve us in his own guilt. About the conference itself he used a rather technical argument. He said it was in no sense a conference. But the essential thing is that it looked like a conference. It looked like a conference to us and it certainly looked like a conference to the Africans. It looked like a white man's conference from which the Africans were being excluded and that was an extremely foolish impression to create.

The right hon. Gentleman quoted part of paragraph 5 of the Victoria Falls communiqué to us, where we said that there ought to be exchanges of views between the Governors. But my main point is there are many ways of exchanging views between Governors; all sorts of ways. We are continually exchanging views between Governors in the Commonwealth. We do not have to have conferences, and it was not in our minds when we put our names to this communiqué that there should be this sort of white man's conference, or so it could be represented, which we were completely convinced would be a complete mistake.

If the right hon. Gentleman was determined to have a conference instead of all the other ways by which opinions could be exchanged, he could have had the Africans there. Two of the Governors concerned are his own Governors, taking his own orders, and he cannot shelter behind his own Governors.

The thing which worries us is the very alarming words used by the right hon. Gentleman today when my right hon. Friend asked him about what happened at this conference. He talked about fixing the agenda in private and about discussions of modifications in the plan. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that those words will cause very great alarm in Africa, as, indeed, they cause alarm to us. It means a departure from the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend and by both of us in the discussions of the conference that the plan would not be discussed without the presence of the Africans. If there were discussions of modifications in the plan, those undertakings have been abandoned—

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

The undertaking given by my right hon. Friend and myself has been abandoned if there was a discussion of the plan. We said there would not be a discussion on details of the plan in the absence of the Africans.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I must put the right hon. Gentleman right on this point. It is perfectly clear in the communiqué that any suggested modifications should be communicated to Her Majesty's Government by 1st March. Those modifications will then have to be discussed with the African delegation and at the April conference. That is perfectly clear.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will find any reference to 1st March in this communiqué from beginning to end. I think he must be referring to another document.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I am referring to a communiqué asking for discussions of the plan.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

I am talking about what the right hon. Gentleman said at that Despatch Box. He talked about discussions and modifications in the plan and perhaps he will explain what he—

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely at sea about this matter. After the discussions to which he is now referring, a communiqué was issued asking the Governors concerned to let Her Majesty's Government know in London of any modifications they wished to be discussed at the April Conference. Those modifications have not even been received up to date. That will form the discussion at the conference in April.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

The right hon. Gentleman said earlier today that the conference itself discussed modifications of the plan—

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

I think that when we come to read HANSARD we shall see it there. We all made a note of it, because the words struck us as being very important indeed.

In any case, surely the right hon. Gentleman does not deny that he used these words, or words like this, about fixing the agenda in private. It is words of that sort which create so much alarm. There is already suspicion about this conference and if the right hon. Gentleman does not treat the suspicions of the Africans as rather important factors in this consideration, he is not dealing seriously with this matter.

It has raised grave doubts, and whether or not the constitutional safeguards in the officials' Report are to be whittled away or not, I must tell the right hon. Gentleman this: it was very significant that the right hon. Gentleman, while he spoke about Protectorate status, and so forth—and I was very glad to hear his words on that subject—did not say a single word about the African Affairs Board or the Minister for African Interests. The general impression created on all these things was that there was a discussion at this conference about the whittling away of very important safeguards in the officials' Report.

I know, and everybody knows, the Southern Rhodesian view on this matter, and we have to realise that acceptance of this would constitute a sacrifice by Southern Rhodesia. It would mean entering into a federation with fewer powers than Southern Rhodesia now possesses, but I hope that Southern Rhodesia will not be responsible for rejecting the main plan of the officials. We ourselves—and I must say this to the right hon. Gentleman—regard it as absolutely essential that these constitutional safeguards, or something equally effective, shall be preserved, and that there shall be no whittling away of those safeguards.

I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that we would be completely opposed to any scheme that comes out of this which involves the whittling away of these very important constitutional safeguards. This whole action is so opposed to what we did when we were in power, it is so damaging to the hopes of getting agreement on the principle of federation, in which we believe, and is so symptomatic of a wrong and dangerous approach to the whole problem, and, certainly, so opposed to what we would have done were we in power, that we feel that we have no alternative but to divide the House.

9.32 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

I would like to start by adding my meed of praise for the two maiden speeches which contributed so usefully and so interestingly to this debate. I should also like to start by reminding the House of the course of the debate as it unfolded itself. I am addressing myself mainly to the arguments put forward from the other side, because it is these with which I wish to deal.

There were two streams of comment on the proposals for closer association. The first was exemplified by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the hon. Members for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) and Bristol, North-East (Mr. Coldrick), who started from the premise that they were in favour of the broad lines of the federation proposal, though they were not committed to any particular details. Like the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), they were in favour of federation because of the economic and political advantages. The right hon. Member for Llanelly pointed out the urgent need, as he put it, for various political reasons, why the federation of the Central African territories should be achieved, and he asked my right hon. Friend two questions, to which I will refer in a moment or two.

The other stream of comment was exemplified by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), and the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. J. Dugdale), who, in effect, opposed federation as contained in these proposals. They were opposed to the proposal for federation because they said it would give a white minority the possibility of tyranny over millions of Africans. I think the position of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) was in between the two. He reminded us of some of the historical past, but I believe that he is in favour of federation for the Central African territories, and I also believe that—

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

With the consent of the Africans themselves, willingly and freely given.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

I appreciate that, and I hope to satisfy the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the course we are now taking is designed to secure that consent.

I would also like to appeal to the two right hon. Gentleman who spoke, one at the beginning and at the other end of this debate, to consider these facts. If they divide today, they are making Central African federation very difficult indeed. I think the right hon. Member for Smethwick would answer, "That is your fault for taking the course you are now taking."

I know the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite are keen on federation. They said so today and they said so before. They said they regarded the proposals of the officials as a constructive approach, and, therefore, I am going to appeal to them to follow me through the steps taken to see whether the course we are now pursuing will not give an extra chance of getting African opinion on our side.

I will go straight to the points which have been raised by the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because I think they are the nub of this discussion. I hope other hon. Gentlemen will forgive me if I do not follow them into the particular points they have raised, but I have very little time and I know that it is on this particular point that hon. Members opposite will want an answer. I am hoping that if they think the case put forward is the right one they might withdraw their decision to divide. They want the best chance to be given to Central African federation, and if they came to the conclusion that the matter has been decided on grounds which they perhaps have misunderstood, especially if a Division of the House would impede federation, then I am sure they would not let pride or the appearance of having to go back on what they have said interfere with the reversal of their decision to divide.

What has happened is this—and one has to go into a little bit of detail. At the Victoria Falls Conference a communiqué was issued which said that the next conference would be in July. The House will remember that the right hon. Member for Llanelly said, quite rightly, that the details of the officials' Report had not been considered in detail at the Victoria Falls Conference. Therefore, if the timetable envisaged by the Victoria Falls Conference had been followed, we would have found that the first discussion on the officials' Report would have been at the conference in July. I think that must be right because that was the next conference envisaged by the Victoria Falls meeting.

It was also known to the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite that all three Governments had various modifications, amendments and qualifications they wanted to put forward about details. It is also known to them that if the timetable envisaged by the Victoria Falls Conference had been kept, then those modifications and amendments would have been heard for the first time at a conference in July.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

The whole of this argument is based upon the idea that the conference decided that the meeting which we hoped would re-assemble in July would be the last one. We said nothing of the kind; we only said it would be the next one.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

As a result of the course which the Government propose to follow at the conference to be held in April, there will be an opportunity for those modifications to be discussed with African opinion. At that conference, the Africans can put forward any modifications and amendments they wish. They can submit them to my right hon. Friend when the deputation comes to see him a few days before the conference, they can put them forward in April and again at the conference which is going to take place after that.

Where I must part company from the right hon. Member for Smethwick is on the point that it is really an unreal distinction to say that we must first discuss the principle of federation and not look at the details. That is an unreal position. One cannot decide whether federation is or is not acceptable—I speak now from the Africans' point of view—until one knows what safeguards are written into the constitution, how the Africans are to be protected, which subjects are to be reserved and which are not.

The conference in July, 1952, will be all the more useful because there will be a definite scheme at the end, in the sense that it will be in black and white and will embody the modifications, if any, accepted and agreed upon by the three Governments. It will be a better scheme to put forward before the July conference and a more definite scheme than the right hon. Member for Lanelly could have put forward at the next conference following the Victoria Falls Conference. Additional work has been done on it and African opinion has had opportunity to express itself. And the Governments have had the opportunity of putting forward their studied modifications.

It is impossible for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that it would be a better conference in July, 1952, if these modifications, if any, were not embodied in the new scheme, that it would be a better conference if African opinion had not had the opportunity of expressing itself and that it would be a better conference if Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland had not had an opportunity of putting forward modifications. I appeal to hon. Members opposite. The July, 1952, conference must be better and more useful as a result—

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

Would not the April conference be a much better conference if the Africans had been consulted about the change of date? That is one reason why they are so suspicious.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

No, because I view the July conference as embodying all the Africans could expect from the Victoria Falls Conference plus something more. They will have the April conference and will have the opportunity of coming over in a deputation, which I understand will be composed of about the same number as were at the Victoria Falls.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

The African representatives have not yet agreed to come to the April conference but only to consultations. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman give us an undertaking that if they decline to attend the conference, the conference will not be held?

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

No. We are not facing defeat at the moment. We are pursuing a forward, dynamic policy which is to invite the Africans over as a deputation and to talk to them and, if it is necessary, to try and persuade them to stay at the conference.

It was argued from the Front Bench opposite that the principle of federation must be separated from the details of federation, but that is not what the Victoria Falls Conference envisaged. They had the proposals of the officials' Report in black and white—and a very formidable document it was. That was to be considered at the adjourned Victoria Falls Conference in 1952, so that all the April conference does is to try and make an improvement, in the sense of getting a more definite scheme with modifications and amendments suggested by the Governments and agreed by them.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Unless he is returning to it later, I think that on this question of modification the hon. Gentleman is missing a thing which quite frankly is the biggest thing that disturbs us and which has finally made us decide to divide the House. It is that at the Victoria Falls Conference everything considered was considered with the Africans present. The Secretary of State has told us today that at the recent conference to which Africans were not invited, modifications were considered in their absence. That is a complete departure from the Victoria Falls Conference.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

First of all, we can only stick to our view, and I should have thought that to any impartial observer it is correct that these discussions were between Governments. Paragraph 5 of the Victoria Falls Conference communiqué has been mentioned in this debate. That paragraph envisaged discussion between Governments.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

This is very important. When we discuss Governments in Central Africa we should remember the vital distinction and remember that two of the Governments are Governments for which the Secretary of State for the Colonies is responsible. I said in Central Africa, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, that we would not discuss this plan in the absence of the Africans.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

I do not think that can be correct. I do not object to the right hon. Gentleman interrupting. He knows that I am trying to persuade him, and if he were persuaded he would rescind his decision; otherwise there would be no point in his interrupting me and no point in having this debate. In paragraph 5 he says that there should be an exchange of views between the four Governments We thought the best way to exchange views on this matter was to get the four Governments together so that their views could be exchanged. That is all that has happened.

The Victoria Falls communiqué said: It has become evident that further discussion within each territory and exchanges of views between the four Governments will be necessary, and the Conference has therefore adjourned. There was certainly no hint anywhere there that that would be regarded as a conference and that at that conference Africans would have to be present. There is no need for the right hon. Gentleman to be at all suspicious or frightened about these discussions. The agenda is at large but it is, in effect, an adjourned Victoria Falls Conference at which the whole subject of federation will be at large; at which the Africans can put forward any modifications they wish, and to which the four Governments will have sent a pre-notice of their amendments and modifications which they want to put forward to the Colonial Office by 1st March.

Is that a sufficient reason to do the harm which a Division of this House, at this time, must do? Is it a justification for that, even assuming that the right hon. Gentleman were right and that I was completely wrong? Let us assume that. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite actually think there should be a closer association of these territories and that there should be a federation? Do they really think that because the Colonial Secretary says that an agenda has been fixed and because the discussions between the Governments were not attended by Africans, at this stage they should solidify and emphasise the opposition of the Africans by saying that the House ought to divide on this? Surely, if their criticisms were true, they should still wait and see and hope that we will achieve federation.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

I am sorry, but I cannot give way. It is late, and I do attach great importance to making this point. I have cast away the comments I wanted to make on the hon. Gentleman's speech because of the importance of trying to persuade the right hon. Gentleman that this is not a reason, at this time, to undo the splendid work which his Government had begun. They were the architects of federation. They said that the proposals of the officials were a constructive approach. It is still a constructive approach, and in our submission—though I do not ask them to agree with it—it will be the more constructive, therefore, when the modifications and amendments of the Governments have been annexed to it, so that there will be a very adequate consideration of all free African opinion.

The April conference can only improve the officials' Report, as I have said before. There is nothing sinister about the agenda.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

There is no way of publishing it, because it is not fixed. The agenda is what was before the Victoria Falls Conference, namely, the whole question of federation, plus the amendments and modifications of the four Governments.

Photo of Mr John Paton Mr John Paton , Norwich North

Why the secrecy about it?

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

There is no secrecy, I assure the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr John Paton Mr John Paton , Norwich North

The right hon. Gentleman said there was.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

I am trying to be sincere about this. There is no secrecy; it was all indicated in the communiqué after the discussions with the two Governors and Sir Godfrey Huggins. It was stated that these gentlemen should inform Her Majesty's Government and each other before 1st March of any modifications they wanted. The next sentence in the communiqué says that a full conference should be held to consider any modifications suggested. There is the agenda, plus any modifications suggested by the Africans, who could put them in writing and give them to my right hon. Friend to put before the conference, even if they did not go there. There is no need for this suspicion.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

Is that all they discussed when they stayed here all that time?

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

They were the ordinary governmental discussions which were envisaged at Victoria Falls. We were carrying out the time-table of our predecessors, but we thought we were improving on it. Even if hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree with me, will they not hold their hands before they take an irrevocable step? Even if it is our fault—let us put it this way—cannot we agree, as a British Parliament in the United Kingdom, that harm would be done to the cause of federation by dividing?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

The point with which most of us are concerned is that the Minister said today that the July conference would be held and would be the final conference. We have been unable to get an assurance from the Government that they will not impose federation against African opinion. We want to know if it is their decision that the final conference in July will impose federation even if the Africans do not want it.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

The point is that we have a definite programme. We do not know what would be meant by African opinion. Even if hon. Gentlemen opposite are right, would it not be better for them to wait until nearer the time and then to vote against it? Even if we were wrong, and even if it is our fault, the harm which will be done by a Division is far greater than is justified by the desire to register disapproval of a certain course today. The right hon. Member for Llanelly has the cause of federation very much at heart. As I have said, he started it. He wanted federation, for economic and political reasons. Has he no feeling in his heart—

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Certainly I have. I did not first say this today I said it in April to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House. I complain because I think the Government have gone the wrong way about it by holding these discussions and because they once more put the Africans outside—and that has been the bane of all these things in the past and is so today.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I do not agree with him, because these were regarded as ordinary discussions envisaged by paragraph 5, but even assuming that he is right, does he want to prove he is right today by dividing the House? Will he not suspend his judgment? Will he not give a chance to the conference—

Photo of Mr John Paton Mr John Paton , Norwich North

Give us the assurance!

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

Will he not give this conference in April a chance to succeed and to try to get African opinion to take the right view? Will he not give them a chance to solve the problem? I make a serious appeal to him to suspend judgment between April and July. After July, I shall say, "All right; if you condemn our actions, if you think we were wrong, then vote against us because you will not be doing any harm in Central Africa." But even if hon. Gentlemen opposite are right, then at least let them act on the assumption that they will give the wrong view a chance of succeeding in Central Africa.

What will be the effect in Central Africa of almost half the House of Commons dividing against the Government on this issue? What will they think the Division was about—because one side said these were discussions and the other side regarded them as a conference?

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

What will be the effect of the Government not giving a pledge?

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman also consider what may be the effect in Africa if the Africans realise that this will not be forced upon them against their will, but will be granted only if they are a consenting party?

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

Yes, but, as I say, it is impossible to go into negotiations by giving one side a veto. It is impossible to go into negotiations if one announces that, if a few people coming into them announce opposition, the whole thing will be dropped. That would be very wrong, too. That would be betraying the cause of the Africans in Central Africa.

We have to deal with the situation as it arises. We have got to judge whether there is some African opinion, and how much, and which way it is, and what it represents. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken recognise the position of the Africans. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that the effect of a Division tonight will be to put back the cause of Central African federation, because the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite have regarded the

small area of the dispute tonight—it is on an important subject, but it is in a small area—as more important than setting against that the effect of a Division in the House on this occasion.

The Government, it is clear, are not imposing this on the Africans, because they have got a deputation coming over; they are soliciting African opinion; and they are inviting Africans to a conference, and giving them the opportunity to make modifications and amendments. This is not railroading African opinion. [An HON. MEMBER: "Suppose they disagree."] It depends who disagrees, and how many. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Hon. Gentlemen say "Ah," but if one person disagreed it would not kill the whole scheme. It is a matter of observation when it happens. Inevitably, when we are trying to get African opinion, we must do this in the orderly way of having the time-table. The right hon. Gentleman himself at Victoria Falls envisaged that the next conference would not be a final one, and at that conference one step forward would have been taken, we hope.

I do submit to the House, as I have said on several occasions in my speech, I am afraid—I apologise for having made a plea on only one particular point, but it was an important one, and one, obviously, that hon. Gentlemen attach importance to—that a Division tonight, even if hon. Gentlemen opposite were right, even if we were wrong, would be setting the dispute tonight in too great a compass; that they will, by dividing, put back the cause of Central African federation. I am very sorry indeed for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they are trying to kill their own child, and I know how difficult it must be for them. I regret this. I do appeal, even at the last minute, to the right hon. Gentleman to think again.

Question put, "That '£918,376,000' stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 238.

Division No. 35.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Baxter, A. B.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Beach, Maj. Hicks
Alport, C. J. M.Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Baldock, Lt.-Cdr. J. M.Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)
Amery, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Baldwin, A. E.Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Banks, Col. C.Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)
Arbuthnot, JohnBarber, A. P. L.Bennett, William (Woodside)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Barlow, Sir JohnBevins, J. R. (Toxteth)
Birch, NigelHiggs, J. M. C.Partridge, E.
Bishop, F. P.Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Black, C. W.Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Perkins, W. R. D.
Bossom, A. C.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPeyton, J. W. W.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Hirst, GeoffreyPickthorn, K. W. M.
Boyle, Sir EdwardHolland-Martin, C. J.Pilkington, Capt. R. A
Braine, B. R.Hollis, M. C.Pitman, I. J.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Hope, Lord JohnPowell, J. Enoch
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Brooman-White, R. C.Horobin, I. M.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorenceRaikes, H. V.
Bullard, D. G.Howard, Greville (St. Ives)Rayner, Brig. R.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Redmayne, M.
Burden, F. F. A.Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Remnant, Hon. P.
Butcher, H. W.Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hurd, A. R.Robertson, Sir David
Cary, Sir RobertHutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Robson-Brown, W.
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Roper, Sir Harold
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.Jennings, R.Russell, R. S.
Cole, NormanJohnson, Eric (Blackley)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Colegate, W. A.Jones, A. (Hall Green)Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertKaberry, D.Scott, R. Donald
Cooper-Key, E. M.Keeling, Sir EdwardScott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Shepherd, William
Cranborne, ViscountLambert, Hon. G.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. C. F.Lambton, ViscountSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Legge-Bourke Maj. E. A. H.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Crouch, R. F.Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)Snadden, W. McN.
Crowder, John E. (Finchley)Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Spearman, A. C. M.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Linstead, H. N.Speir, R. M.
Cuthbert, W. N.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Stevens, G. P.
Davidson, ViscountessLockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Deedes, W. F.Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Digby, S. WingfieldLow, A. R. W.Storey, S.
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McALucas, P. B. (Brentford)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Donner, P. W.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Studholme, H. G.
Doughty, C. J. A.McAdden, S. J.Summers, G. S.
Drayson, G. B.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Sutcliffe, H.
Drewe, C.Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T.(Richmond)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.McKibbin, A. J.Teeling, W.
Duthie, W. S.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Maclay, Hon. JohnThomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Erroll, F. J.Maclean, FitzroyThompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Fell, A.MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Finlay, GraemeMacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Thorneycroft, Rt Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Fisher, NigelMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)Tilney, John
Fletcher, Walter (Bury)Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Touche, G. C.
Fort, R.Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.Turton, R. H.
Foster, JohnMarkham, Maj. S. F.Vane, W. M. F.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Marples, A. E.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Gammans, L. D.Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Garner-Evans, E. H.Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)Walker-Smith, D. C.
George, Rt. Hon. Maj. C. LloydMaudling, R.Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Godber, J. B.Maydon, Ltd.-Cmdr. S. L. CWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Medlicott, Brig. F.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Gough, C. F. H.Mellor, Sir JohnWatkinson, H. A.
Gower, H. R.Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterWebbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Graham, Sir FergusMorrison, John (Salisbury)Wellwood, W.
Gridley, Sir ArnoldNabarro, G. D. N.White, Baker (Canterbury)
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Nicholls, HarmarWilliams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Harden, J. R. E.Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Hare, Hon. J. H.Nield, Basil (Chester)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Nugent, G. R. H.Wills, G.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Nutting, AnthonyWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Oakshott, H. D.Wood, Hon. R.
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Odey, G. W.York, C.
Hay, JohnO'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)
Heald, Sir LionelOrmsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Heath, EdwardOrr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith and
Henderson, John (Cathcart)Osborne, C.Mr. Dennis Vosper.
NOES
Acland, Sir RichardHall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Paton, J.
Albu, A. H.Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)Peart, T. F.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Hamilton, W. W.Plummer, Sir Leslie
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Hannan, W.Popplewell, E.
Awbery, S. S.Hargreaves, A.Porter, G.
Ayles, W. H.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Bacon, Miss AliceHastings, S.Price, Phillips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Balfour, A.Hayman, F. H.Proctor, W. T.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Pryde, D. J.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Reeves, J.
Bence, C. R.Herbison, Miss M.Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Benson, G.Hewitson, Capt. M.Rhodes, H.
Beswick, F.Hobson, C. R.Richards, R.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Holman, P.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Bing, G. H. C.Holt, A. F.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Blackburn, F.Houghton, DouglasRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Blenkinsop, A.Hoy, J H.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Blyton, W. R.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Boardman, H.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Ross, William
Bottomley, Rt. Hon A. G.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Royle, C.
Bowden, H. W.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Bowen, E. R.Hynd, H (Accrington)Shackleton, E. A. A.
Bowles, F. G.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Short, E. W.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethIrvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Shurmer, P. L. E.
Brockway, A. F.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Janner, B.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Slater, J.
Burke, W. A.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Burton, Miss F. E.Johnson, James (Rugby)Sorensen, R. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Callaghan, L. J.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S)Steele, T.
Carmichael, J.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Keenan, W.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Champion, A. J.Kenyon, C.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Chapman, W. D.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Chetwynd, G. R.King, Dr. H. M.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Clunie, J.Kinley, J.Swingler, S. T.
Cocks, F. S.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Sylvester, G. O.
Collick, P. H.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Cook, T. F.Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Corbet, Mrs FredaLever, Leslie (Ardwick)Taylor, Rt. Hon Robert (Morpeth)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Lewis, ArthurThomas, David (Aberdare)
Crossman, R. H. S.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Daines, P.Logan, D. G.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Longden, Fred (Small Health)Thurtle, Ernest
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)MacColl, J. E.Timmons, J.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)McGovern, J.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)McInnes, J.Viant, S. P.
Davies, Harold (Leek)McKay, John (Wallsend)Wade, D. W.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)McLeavy, F.Wallace, H. W.
de Freitas, GeoffreyMcNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Watkins, T. E.
Deer, G.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Weitzman, D.
Delargy, H. J.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Dodds, N. N.Manuel, A. C.Wells, William (Walsall)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon John (W. Bromwich)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.West, D. G.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Mayhew, C. P.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Edelman, M.Mellish, R. J.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Edwards, John (Brighouse)Mikardo, IanWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Monslow, W.Wigg, George
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Morley, R.Wilkins, W. A.
Ewart, R.Morris, Percy (Swansea W.)Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Fernyhough, E.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Fienburgh, W.Mort, D. L.Williams, David (Neath)
Finch, H. J.Moyle, A.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Mulley, F. W.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Foot, M. M.Murray, J. D.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Forman, J. C.Nally, W.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Freeman, John (Watford)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.O'Brien, T.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Gibson, C. W.Oldfield, W. H.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Glanville, JamesOliver, G. H.Wyatt, W. L.
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Orbach, M.Yates, V. F.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Oswald, T.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)Padley, W. E.
Grey, C. F.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Pannell, CharlesMr. Arthur Pearson and
Grimond, J.Pargiter, G. A.Mr. Horace E. Holmes.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Parker, J.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That a sum, not exceeding £918,376,000, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the Civil and Revenue Departments and for the Ministry of Defence for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1953.