I beg to move,
That this House approves the proposals on Central African Federation as set out in Command Papers Nos. 8753 and 8754.
I am sure that the House will recognise the importance of the issue which is before it today. The Government present this scheme to the House as a great political conception. By it we, the British, are seeking to build a society founded upon partnership between the races that inhabit Central Africa. Most of us are agreed that no future lies in a Central Africa entirely and always dominated by one race or another. We have here in this scheme a wider vision, and we believe that the present scheme provides a framework within which the idea of partnership, and the British views about the relations of the races, can take root and grow.
What is sometimes forgotten is that if nothing were done the consequences might be much more serious and much more dangerous than is generally foreseen. There is a tendency to think that if we did nothing, and rejected or delayed federation, everything would remain as it is, and that further opportunities would present themselves. In fact, rejection or delay would lead to dangerous forces being unleashed. The handful—they are no more—of European extremists would be encouraged to advocate the policy of European domination, and, on the other hand, African extremists who now oppose federation would imagine that this rejection or deferment paved the way for African nationalism and for a wholly African Government within the next year or so.
If the underlying policy of either of those two extreme groups is examined and analysed it will be seen that both are, in essentials, aimed at keeping the races apart. That is why I believe that to be against federation today is to be reactionary. I suggest, too, that the history of our century should have taught us, in a world of large Powers, the danger of small units looking outside themselves for a large part of their subsistence, and outside themselves for, perhaps, all the means of their defence.
The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price), in an admirable article in the "Manchester Guardian" yesterday, discussed the need for capital in these Territories. He summed up the matter by saying that schemes must serve a wide area and a viable economic unit. His actual words were, I think:
Nyasaland by itself could not qualify as such, but Nyasaland and the two Rhodesias might.
Furthermore, I must remind hon. Members that, if progress is to be measured by social services, then it would be true to say that progress depends to a large extent upon taxable capacity.
The policy at which we aim in this scheme is far-seeing. It is to foster a partnership of the races upon which a great and prosperous State will grow. The political and economic advancement of all its inhabitants can be secured only by the races working together, and to federate, I suggest, is to try to bring them together. That is why I claim that to be a federationist is to be a progressive.
I remember saying, when I came into office, when I first had the opportunity of reading the papers about Central African federation, that at least we should run into no political troubles in the House of Commons, because both parties appeared to be overwhelmingly in favour of federation in principle; I am not saying of this scheme or any other scheme; but both parties appeared to be wedded to it in principle. That sort of forecast only shows how difficult it is to wear the mantle of a prophet with honour. But the phophesy was not made without substantial grounds.
The principle of federation had been endorsed in the most categorical terms by the two Secretaries of State in the Labour Government who were concerned, namely, the ex-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the ex-Secretary of State for the Colonies. They were apparently supported by the overwhelming majority of their party, but if the Labour Party, I say frankly, were committed to the principle of federation, they were at that time commending a different scheme from that which the House is debating today. I, nevertheless, thought at that time that if their scheme were not materially altered, particularly with regard to the safeguards for Africans, that if its main features were preserved, including the same proportions of African representation in the Federal Assembly, and so forth, we could count upon the support of hon. Members opposite.
It is clear to me, I am sorry to say— and I must say—that since the present Government came into office the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and some of his hon. Friends have been sedulously trying to find reasons for opposing or killing the scheme of which they were themselves so largely the authors. The first attack sought to show that the present Government were rushing the scheme through without enough consultation. Well, that is a matter of opinion. I still think that we were right to hold the first Ministerial Conference when we did and to get the main lines of the scheme into definite shape. How else could the scheme be considered? Because constitutions are particular and precise matters and are concerned with more than the general lines of policy which they enshrine.
I claim—I want to make this absolutely clear—that since our White Paper first appeared several improvements upon the previous scheme have been introduced, and the result has been that, though the right hon. Gentleman and some of his right hon. and hon. Friends in their Amendment talk about the inadequacy of the safeguards—I think they can be shown to be massive and they are, at any rate, much greater than they were —they have in reality been driven back on to the emotional appeal, back to the sole remaining objection to which they can now cling, namely, that the scheme is to be "imposed" upon the Africans. The word "imposition," I suggest, shows a profound misunderstanding of the issues involved—misunderstanding of the meaning of a protecting Power and of Protectorate status. I shall address myself to this subject a little later in my remarks.
I propose to divide what I have to say under four main headings: first, the nature of federation; secondly, its economic effects; then some explanation of how the present scheme differs from previous schemes; and, finally, I shall deal with the matter of so-called imposition, and the course of African public opinion, and touch upon the course that, I believe, the Government are called to steer today.
The term "federation" is a very loosely used term, and in many parts of the world it describes constitutions which differ from one another very materially, but the form of federation which we are now discussing is one in which the surrender of sovereignty by the three constituent Territories to the Federal Government is strictly limited and circumscribed. The Protectorate status of Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia is specifically preserved. All matters which touch the daily life of Africans remain within the jurisdiction of the Territorial Governments and not of the Federal Government.
The main categories which fall within the federal sphere of responsibilities are these. The first category is external affairs and defence. The second, fiscal, which gives the Federal Government power to raise taxes centrally and to redistribute the revenue in accordance with the need of the three constituent Territories in proportions which have been agreed by the three Territorial Governments. Customs and Excise duties are a federal subject, and a Customs Union will be an essential part of the federation when it is formed. The third set-up is a Federal Supreme Court, on which I need not dwell. The fourth category concerns a number of common governmental services—posts, telegraphs, telephones and wireless, railways, shipping, aviation, agricultural research, and so forth—which become federal.
I am not, of course, suggesting to the House that there are not other matters of importance in which sovereignty has been surrendered by the Territorial Governments to the Central Government, such as higher education, including higher education of Africans, weights and measures, currency, coinage and legal tender. These are central services. I think that it is obvious that they are so, and I do not think that they are controversial. I emphasise to the House the unusually wide powers of legislation which are left in the hands of the Territorial Governments. All matters of land, land tenure, and, in fact, all those subjects which concern the daily life of the African, are left precisely where they are now, with the Territorial Governments, and outside the responsibilities of the federal power.
The imprecision in the word "federal" has, of course, been used by controversialists who oppose federation for other reasons, as a shield or cloak to hide quite inaccurate and tendentious statements. The House will have noticed in the Press phrases from correspondents like, "Handing over the North Territories to the domination of the white settlers in Southern Rhodesia." But such statements are wildly inaccurate, indeed, I might say that they are almost hysterical to any dispassionate student of the scheme.
In fact, when federation has been established, I doubt whether the African in the fields or in the villages or in the bush will be aware that any change has taken place for some time. He will see the same district commissioner, the same agricultural officer; he will remain in undisputed possession of the same land, go to the same courts for the redress of his claims or the settlement of his wrongs. After some time has elapsed, of course, he will begin to feel the economic benefits which flow from federation, and the more backward the territory in which he lives, perhaps the more striking will be the benefits to his standard of living.
At the same time, nothing in federation, I assert, can impair his prospects of political advancement, which remain in the first instance the responsibility of the Territorial Government, but he will find, by federation, open to him a wider field for political advancement than he could ever have looked forward to when these Territories were separated. He can look forward, too, to the central authority improving the general health and standards of education throughout the Territories.
This, I think, leads me naturally into the economic argument, which I can discuss in a few sentences. Without federation we cannot expect development of the communications to take the first instance, the roads and the railways and access to the ports to be laid out upon the most efficient or economical lines. The pattern of development over these three Territories must be looked at as a whole, and now.
Secondly, we cannot expect to see the water power of the Zambesi harnessed and distributed to the best advantage unless it is dealt with by all three Territories on a common plan. In our own country we have the example always before us of the benefits of the grid system. When we are starting in these great developing countries, it is highly desirable to start the supply of one of the vital sources of energy and motive power to industry in the most economical way, so as to have available the proper amount to meet their needs in all the four quarters of the federation.
Lastly, we must recognise the economic inter-dependence and the individual lack of balance of the three Territories as they now are. Thus, the Northern Rhodesia copper fields rely for their coal upon the Wankei colliery in Southern Rhodesia. Nyasaland is over-populated and the poorest of the three Territories, and it has for long been accustomed to send its surplus labour to earn its living in the two other Territories. No one here has, I think, ever challenged the economic argument.
Before I pass from it to a discussion of the federal instrument, I must deal with an objection posed recently by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who has asked why political federation is necessary to the successful co-ordination of the three economies. I think he stated it from the beginning of the conference. I should like to meet that argument. I should say that economic federation or integration without political federation is bound to be at the best half-hearted. It is possible under some conditions, for example in the East African Territories, to have a partial success, but here in Central Africa we have three Territories at very widely differing stages of development.
We have the great problem of a modern industry, like copper mining, suddenly super-imposed upon an agricultural economy in Northern Rhodesia. We have an economy in Southern Rhodesia which is in a more advanced stage, with more diversity, but still largely based on agriculture but with modern industries as well, and we have in Nyasaland a much more primitive economy, depending entirely upon agriculture and the export of labour. To bring all these divergent elements together and to make the best of the common assets, to fill the deficiencies of one Territory with the surpluses of the other, so to speak, requires something stronger than a commission. Commissions can only deal with such matters as, for example, the supply of power by negotiations, by reaching compromise and agreement and accommodation between the three sovereign Territories as they exist now.
A central Government provides in these matters just that necessary authority to drive the schemes forward to the best advantage. If proof of the justice of this argument were required, I think it could be found in the comparative failure of the Central African Council, not from any fault or lack of energy of its own, but from the very nature of the conditions with which it has had to deal.
I believe that without political federation, economic developments are bound to be wasteful. We have witnessed in Europe more than once since the war the difficulties which attend even partial economic integration without political federation. Page 5 of the Report of the Conference on Federation sums this matter up in words which I do not think I can better. It says:
No one of these Territories can be expected to subordinate its own interests to those of another Territory for which it has no responsibility and with which it is not politically associated.
I now turn to the draft of the constitutional instrument. Before I discuss the main ways in which it differs from previous schemes, I should like to stress again to the House that the subject of political advancement in the three Territories of Africans remains unchanged in this scheme. I do not propose, of course, to go through the whole scheme, but only to discuss shortly the differences which distinguish it from the original scheme, published under the auspices of the previous Government, and the next scheme which was the result of the first Ministerial Conference in 1952.
The first subject to which I feel I should address myself is the African Affairs Board. Its original composition and functions were, as the House well knows, an unusual—indeed, an unprecedented—constitutional device or expedient. It provided for a Minister of African Affairs supported by an African Affairs Board. The Minister was to be a member of the Cabinet not subject to any of the rules affecting his colleagues. He was not to be chosen by any democratic process or election and represented no constituency, but was to be nominated by the Governor-General with the approval of the Secretary of State.
He was insulated from the changes and chances of a general election. He was subject to none of the rules and was immune to and aloof from the influences which affected them. He was entirely removed from the theory and practice of collective responsibility upon which alone, we in this House think, Cabinet government can be carried on. He alone would not have to seek re-election if the Government were defeated. It was for these reasons that he became rather disrespectfully known as the cuckoo Minister. Her Majesty's present Government rejected this exotic device. They thought, and still think, it would have made executive Government in the federation impossible and, consequently, would have provided no safeguard for Africans but rather a continual rub or source of friction.
In the next scheme propounded after the first Ministerial Conference in London, the African Affairs Board was divorced from the life of the Legislature or, to borrow a term more often used in universities, it was designed as an extramural body and its members were to be drawn from outside the Legislature. The extra-mural body was, I think, also open to some objections. First, it was claimed, with some justice, by Opposition speakers, and notably by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), that the functions of the African Affairs Board had become largely or almost entirely negative, that, owing to the rejection on other grounds of the cuckoo Minister, the African Affairs Board could take no part in the function or daily life of the House and that they could only certify and arrest legislation which was already framed. I believe there was some force in those arguments.
There was also the feeling that the African Affairs Board as then constituted would have something to do only on comparatively rare occasions when they were able to show or to claim that legislation discriminatory to Africans was before the Legislature. In other words, the extra-mural body would have remained in a state of honourable vegetation for a large part of its life, and, as the House will agree, such bodies are very vulnerable to public opinion.
The last point is the simplest of all, and that is that in these developing countries, which are almost in the infancy of their political institutions, it is difficult to find enough suitable men to fill all the key positions. I cannot imagine why we did not think of the system which we now propose at the first Ministerial meeting, because I have no doubt that the present scheme is by far the most workable and most workmanlike set-up.
First, it brings the African Affairs Board within the life of the Legislature. Next, the members of the African Affairs Board are drawn from those who have directly or indirectly been elected to represent African interests. Lastly, and above all, the African Affairs Board now has a forum, the floor of the House. Its objections to legislation, either forming or formed, are public and will be able to have such influence upon public opinion as the force of the arguments would warrant. It saves finding more men in circumstances in which they are difficult to find, and it also ensures that if the members are not engaged upon their statutory duties, they can take a full part in the life and discussions of the Legislature.
Before leaving the African Affairs Board, it is necessary to remind the House that if the Board certify a Bill as discriminatory against Africans, it has to be referred to the Secretary of State in London for the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure. It is against such a background that phrases like "handing over the natives of the Northern Territories to white domination" appear to me to be so wildly inaccurate. Nor can I describe the author of the Labour Party "Talking Points" of 14th March, 1953, as anything but utterly irresponsible. He dismisses the carefully thought-out and elaborate scheme of safeguards, which has been added to since the first scheme, in these words:
The intended safeguards for African interests are almost all removed.
A greater travesty of the truth would be difficult to find. I emphasise again to the House that no power vested in the African Affairs Board under the first scheme commended by the Labour Government has been altered in any respect whatsoever. So much for the African Affairs Board.
I now wish to emphasise and underline three principal matters in which the present scheme differs from the original scheme presented by the Labour Party. They are important to African safeguards. First, the Constitution cannot be changed unless a two-thirds majority in the Federal Legislature. Even then, changes in the Constitution have to come home, so to speak, and, if there are objections by any Government or by any Territorial Legislature or by the African Affairs Board, the Orders in Council have to be laid upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament for 40 days and be subject to the negative Resolution procedure. This was a new safeguard against constitutional change which was not in the original scheme, and from the African point of view it is certainly an added safeguard. I draw the attention of the House to this improvement.
The argument is often advanced—I do not see the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), who very often argues in this sense, in her place—that, by making constitutional changes difficult, we tend to perpetuate the exact proportion between those elected to represent African interests and those elected to represent non-sectional interests, if I may use that term; in other words, we tend to fix it at nine African members against 26 others in a Federal Assembly of 35 members.
Such a conception of the working of the Federal Parliament and Government is completely uninstructed. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that the Federal Parliament will resolve itself into two blocks of black and white. That is something which we should all agree to try to avoid, and I should think that the Federal Parliament would take the same view of its responsibilities. In all these matters we must look, and I think we can look with complete confidence, to the Legislature voting in the federal interest and not in the sectional interest.
It is an insult to the new Legislature to imagine that on every matter of policy every hon. Member will vote on a constituency ticket. Nothing in the records of these Territories or in any recent colonial history in other parts of the world would enable such an assumption to be made. Our fellow countrymen, if represented in the Legislature, will not vote on matters of policy solely upon their own interests any more than any hon. Member of this House votes on a matter of policy solely upon a constituency ticket; or if he does he is a very rare bird in our cage.
There is another improvement. It was pointed out, particularly by some Europeans representing African interests, that if in the early stages of federation a Bill which appeared to threaten African interests were printed and presented and discussed in the House and afterwards stopped, as it would be by the workings of the African Affairs Board, an unfortunate psychological effect would be produced upon the majority of Africans who are, and are likely to remain for a long time, ignorant of the balance of the Constitution, as, indeed, are the public in almost any country.
The Europeans said that if such a Bill was even discussed the Africans might feel that they had been tricked. Therefore, we have now introduced into the scheme a provision which freezes, so to speak, the federal list of responsibilities for 10 years. In other words, the Federal Government cannot acquire further powers than those laid down in the scheme for 10 years. No Bill can even be printed, because it would be out of order, which seeks to vary the responsibilities of the Federal or Territorial Governments during these preliminary 10 years unless the legislatures of all three Territories in the federation are in agreement.
I stress again that everything which concerns land and the day-to-day life of the African remains the responsibility of the Territorial Government; that is to say, were it now lies. Finally, we are humble enough to believe that no constitutional instrument framed by mortal hands can prove perfect against the changing and dynamic forces of developing countries, developing as these are from primitive societies into new and modern shapes. One of the most persuasive advocates of some opportunities of looking again at the Constitution was the right hon. Member for Smethwick.
At the last conference we found that the view was widely held that there should be another conference of all five Governments—the three Territorial Governments, the Federal Government and Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom—to review the working of the Constitution not earlier than the seventh or later than the tenth year from when it comes into force. We have acted accordingly and incorporated these ideas in the scheme. I emphasise that this conference is not to decide whether federation has succeeded or failed, or whether it should be abolished or continued. Nothing of the sort; it is a conference to make such alterations in the detailed working of the Constitution as experience of its work has shown to be necessary during this decade, the first decade in its life.
When this conference takes place, supposing either the British Government or African representatives want a change by which there should be further African representation, could such a change come about without the agreement of the white populations of both countries, or is it quite impossible for that to come about?
Any changes in the Constitution would have to go through the constitutional machinery which I have outlined. There is no means by which it is possible to protect people from changes in the Constitution without introducing some rigidity into the scheme. I give that to the hon. Member, but I shall have to deal with that point more a little later on. We hope that this opportunity for review of the working of the Constitution seven years after it has started will import that degree of flexibility which we think desirable. I hope that after the intervention of the hon. Member this opportunity of review will do a great deal to relieve the anxieties of those who were doubtful about the scheme since its inception. I commend these proposals particularly to the House as an improvement.
There are other changes of lesser importance. Some unjustified fears were entertained that if the Federal Govern- ment were given—as they must be given —power to acquire land for public purposes, for instance the laying of a pipe-line, erecting a line of telegraph poles or pylons, they might use those powers in defiance of safeguards written all through the Constitution concerning the inviolability of African land. We therefore introduced into the new document a proviso by which it is unlawful for the Federal Government to acquire land compulsorily for European settlement and they must be able to show that the land is required for public purposes. Even when they do show that they are still—so far as Native Trust or Native Reserve lands are concerned—subject to the provisions of the relevant Orders in Council. Unless the Federal Government had some such powers we might reach the anomalous position in which the African would be deprived of such services as electric light or telephones by the rigidity of the scheme.
Before leaving the constitutional instrument, I should say that the present scheme embodies what I feel is the brilliant work of the three committees appointed to deal with finance, federal judicature and public services. I am sure the House would not wish me to go into those matters in detail. They are very clearly set forth in the White Paper. I want to draw the attention of the House to page 39:
Eligibility For Employment In The Service Of The Federal Government.
The clause rectifies an omission from the first scheme and I think it should receive general endorsement from this House. The House will be familiar with the general lines of the clause. It says that no one should be ineligible for federal public service by reason solely of race or colour.
One other word is necessary to dismiss some false deductions which I notice have been drawn from the chapter concerning finance. The distribution of the proceeds of tax on income follows exactly today's pattern after the transfer to the federation of certain services; for example, defence and the relief of the Territories of a corresponding liability. There has been some suggestion that the federation can spend their revenues so to speak on themselves. Of course such a statement is a complete misunderstanding of the scheme which, first of all, divides the expense of the various services between the four Governments. With the exception of the actual cost of Federal Government and the Government enclave and buildings, all the revenues spent by the federation will be for the benefit of the three constituent Territories.
I am about to leave discussion of the constitution instrument, I daresay the House will be relieved to hear. I claim it to be in every respect a vast improvement on the first tentative scheme and a further improvement on the detailed scheme, which was the child of the first conference. Let me record, with the deepest sincerity, that I believe it is a thorough, comprehensive and liberal document and that, as far as human foresight can see, it provides a means by which a partnership between the races can be established and sustained.
I now turn to the last part of my speech. The House will remember that I said that the opponents of federation had been driven by force of logic and by the wide sweep and liberal provisions of this scheme to cling to one last argument, which is that it should not be imposed upon Africa in the present state of opinion. Before discussing this, a word is clearly necessary about the present state of African opinion.
There is a wide measure of opposition amongst the vocal educated Africans. This opposition has largely been worked up by the Congress Party in the Territories and the Congress Party is a handful of men. They have used all the powers of misrepresentation which are so much more helpful in a primitive and largely illiterate society, to damn the federal scheme. There has been widespread intimidation and those African chiefs and headmen who favour the scheme have been fearful of coming out in its support. Morever, some prefabricated views, that is views prefabricated in this country, have been exported from here to Africa, and have been served up and returned to this country as if they were of indigenous origin—in other words, a re-export of the same opinion.
The House would wish me to give some summary of the present state of African opinion as far as we can judge it and as far as we are advised as a Government. I have received telegrams from the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Governor of Northern Rhodesia describes African opinion as still uninformed regarding federation, despite the continuous and sincere efforts of officers to explain details of the scheme. The Governor emphasises—
I know no way in which the scheme can be explained in detail to Africans except by using the Government officers. They have been accustomed all through the life of these Territories to helping the Africans in matters such as agriculture, health and so forth and it was the natural instrument, for which I make no apology whatever.
The Governor emphasises that the intrinsic difficulties of the subject are very great—anybody who studies constitutional instruments will see that—and that they are far beyond the mental grasp of the great majority of Africans. He again emphasises how wild have been the misrepresentations of the scheme put about by the Congress. I have one or two of them here, and it might interest the House if I read them out. Mr. Chinyana says:
At the back of federation is the wish to get our land.
Mr. Chisenga, on 5th August, said:
Federation means white domination and slavery.
The Bemba Superior Native Authority says:
The Federal Government will grasp land from the territorial Governments to account for the immigrants….
[Interruption.] I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not followed the very prolonged argument that I put to the House to show that land is inviolable under the Constitution and remains so under the territorial Government. The hon. Gentleman's comments are unworthy of this vast subject. The quotation goes on:
The African will surely lose his land.
In this matter of extremist African opinion which, of course, is tied up with extremist European opinion, would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say whether he considers the opinions of Sir Godfrey Huggins to be extreme or not? The reason I ask the question is that there is evidence at our disposal to justify the extreme disquiet felt.
The Governor of Nyasaland reports in the same general sense as the Governor of Northern Rhodesia. In that territory the avowed object of Congress is to bring about self-government by Africans, and Africans alone, within five years. This would mean setting back most if the economic hopes which we entertain in that Territory.
The Governor's summary is that Congress elements, which include a high proportion of the educated classes, are unshakably opposed to federation, that the chiefs are divided, roughly half are dominated by the Congress Party, and the other half are wavering, with a good proportion believing in federation, but fearful of coming into the open.
The last thing that I want to do is to raise any controversy this afternoon about the methods by which this subject of federation has been handled by our predecessors. I must, however, point out the dangers which attend the kind of methods which were pursued. The Africans, on a complicated question like federation, have been accustomed for the British Government to make up their mind where African interests lay, and where the interests of the party lay, and to act accordingly.
There are dangers in proceeding to canvass, without leadership and without a clear statement, these large numbers of Africans, especially when in some of the languages there is no equivalent word for "federation" at all. No one of liberal tendencies would deny the good intentions which underlay wholesale canvassing of this matter, but if such canvassing is coupled with the implication, either expressed or unexpressed, that if there is any opposition the scheme will be dropped, the canvassing becomes a positive hindrance, and not an advantage.
Be that as it may, these methods allowed the Congress to wrest the initiative and leadership from the Government and, as I have already said, the Congress consists of only a very few people. It left them an open field to tell the Africans that if they shouted enough against federation, then Her Majesty's Government would drop the scheme. I say, however, that the word "imposition" is misplaced; it misunderstands the nature of a protecting Power and of Protectorate status.
Both sides of the House have pledged themselves to preserve the Protectorate status of the Northern Territories under the protection of Her Majesty. That pledge we have honoured to the full in this scheme. By what possible means can a protecting Power be said to be a protecting Power if it is to be turned aside from what it considers to be in the best interest of the population of the Protectorate by a minority, and a minority it certainly is, however it is calculated?
A protecting Power's duties and responsibilities cannot be dismissed or laid aside just because there is some opposition. Once it was known that a few voices raised against the scheme were sufficient to stop it, or any other scheme, then, indeed, the duties of Government would become easy, the office of Secretary of State an ignoble sinecure. Few things happen in any Government without some opposition. If it only governs if all agree, a boneless debating society would take its place if a few voices deterred it from action.
Amalgamation is a solution which we have definitely rejected, and that has been made perfectly clear. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Protectorate status of these Territories is preserved.
The hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West, whose article in the "Manchester Guardian" I have read, used a striking phrase yesterday. He said it was our duty to defend the African from some of his own leaders, and I may perhaps say from some of the leaders in the popular Press as well.
Lastly, I must condemn out of hand the kind of spirit which appears to pervade the ranks of some of our countrymen who are opposed to federation. They seem to regard the word "British" as synonymous with reaction. This is to insult our great colonial record of which we have every reason to be proud. That point of view is to ignore the fact that the present scheme, with increased African representation and safeguards for African interests, has been created and promoted not by the Africans, but by the British themselves.
If we are to have agreement this afternoon, nobody would be more satisfied than myself. The hon. Member says not by our party. I should rejoice to think that it represents the combined wisdom of the whole House of Commons, and that this evening we shall see the opinion reflected in the Division Lobby.
There is nothing partisan about this at all. These are liberal proposals; they are not the creatures of African pressure. They have been informed by an enlightened vision of how the races should work together, and I abhor the tendency which I notice in this controversy to suppose that whatever is left in the hands of our fellow British subjects of the Crown will be left in hands which will arrest and throw back the course of progress. Nothing in our record deserves this humiliating argument.
I ask the House to approve the scheme and to believe that this is a turning point in the history of Africa. If we follow this scheme, I believe that it will solve the question of partnership between the races. To reject or defer it now is to resign our responsibilities as a colonial Power; it is to sink into inglorious inaction and to hope that, contrary to every lesson of history in these matters, inaction will lead to peace. It will not; it will lead to discord.
If we shirk our duty now, I say that history will pronounce a stern judgment on those who were turned aside from the principles accepted by the two great political parties in this House by the clamour of a small minority. I ask the House to accept the scheme, and to back it with humanity and forbearance, and above all with the unique experience with which centuries of the practices of Parliamentary government and a long history of Parliamentary institutions and reforms have endowed the British nation
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
while recognising the advantages which may be expected to accrue from the federation of the three Central African Territories, cannot approve the Federation Scheme in the form contained in Command Papers Nos. 8753 and 8754, which does not contain adequate safeguards for African interests, and opposes the imposition of the scheme against the will of the African people.
I join with the Colonial Secretary in saying that the decision we have to make upon this matter is one of the most important, and in its consequences may be one of the most momentous, that this House has ever made.
When we cast our votes tonight we shall, in effect, be making two decisions. First, we shall be approving this scheme for Central African federation, as embodied in the White Papers, in its entirety, without any possibility or opportunity of amending it in the slightest degree. Secondly, we shall be endorsing the decision of the Government in association with the representatives of the Central African Governments, as outlined in the Report of the last Conference, to carry through this scheme as it is notwithstanding that it is known that there is opposition among the Africans to the scheme. Our information is that that opposition is practically universal and unanimous.
We shall, therefore, be voting tonight, not only for ourselves, not only for our constituencies, and not only for our country, but for millions of Africans whose voices we are, for it is quite clear now that this matter will be decided by a referendum in Southern Rhodesia, by a vote in the Legislative Councils in the two Northern Protectorates, and by a vote in this House. The Africans, in the referendum and in the Legislative Councils, are a tiny voice and a tiny minority. That places upon us the grave responsibility to examine this scheme with the utmost care and to weigh all the considerations before we cast our votes.
Let me at once join with the Colonial Secretary in saying that in many of these Colonial Territories their economic advancement in the future depends upon linking them up in closer association. Many of them are small units. I do not want to delve into history, but we all know that in Africa—to go no further than the continent we are for the moment concerned with—the boundaries between these Territories and the size of these Territories are simply the result of the Imperial carve-up of the 19th century. Many of them are far too small to sustain themselves in the future.
All I am saying is that it is an artificial creation of the 19th century. [Interruption.] I listened patiently to the Colonial Secretary, but if I am to be interrupted perhaps hon. Gentlemen will rise and do so now. If not, perhaps I might be permitted to continue and to be listened to in the manner in which, as I am sure he will agree, the Colonial Secretary was listened to on what is a very important subject indeed.
We all recognise as a matter of fact that this is not the only proposal for federation which is now being considered in the British Empire. There is no argument about the other; there is no controversy about it. We shall not have a debate about it. We shall not be anxious and worried about it. In a few weeks' time there will be a conference to consider the federation of the British West Indies. There, too, there is indeed a very strong case for federating them for economic reasons and for their economic advancement. But there we shall be discussing the federation of territories that enjoy equal status, and territories that are so fortunate in being comparatively free from any racial problem.
Here, however, we realised from the very beginning that this was a federation of a different character, and because it was of a different character I want to indicate to the House the steps we took from the very beginning. When we entered upon the consideration of this question in 1950 I made a statement in the House on 8th November, in the course of which I gave two undertakings to which I direct attention. I gave these undertakings for myself; I gave them for the Government of which I was privileged to be a Member; and by those undertakings I stand today.
The first undertaking was that in any scheme that would fall to be considered full account would be taken of the special—and I emphasise this—responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government towards Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The second undertaking I gave was that we would consult African opinion, and that full account would be taken of it before any change affecting African interests was considered and decided.
These undertakings were clearly understood by the committee—if I may call it that—the conference of officials and expert people from our own Government in this country and from the Central African Governments whom we asked to examine this problem. If hon. Members will read paragraph 35 of their Report, published in 1951, it will be realised that they too, from the very beginning, were aware that in this case federation would be impossible except by consent.
I remind the House that this Report was signed, not only by officials from this country, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, but also by officials from Southern Rhodesia. This is what they said in paragraph 35:
We have constantly borne in mind that whatever is proposed must be designed not only to promote the well-being of the Territories and their inhabitants, but also to be acceptable to the inhabitants and to the Governments and Legislatures concerned.
It was clear, therefore, that from the very beginning the consideration was on the basis that what we had to do was to design a constitution which would meet all those demands, and which would be acceptable to the inhabitants of the Territories.
It was realised from the beginning that this would be a federation of unequals, which makes it almost an unprecedented attempt at federation. The three Territories would not enjoy the same status. Southern Rhodesia is a self-governing Colony. The two Northern Territories are Protectorates. It was clear from the beginning in these discussions that Southern Rhodesia would not enter into federation unless her status was preserved within the Federal Constitution. That was clear.
It was equally clear that we would not enter into federation on behalf of the two Northern Territories unless the Protectorate status of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was preserved, adequate safeguards were provided for the Africans and their interests, and effective powers were left in the hands of Her Majesty's Government to enable them to fulfil their special responsibilities towards the Africans. The problem was to design a federal scheme that reconciled all those demands.
The original scheme endeavoured to provide such safeguards. Let me begin by a statement about Southern Rhodesia. I want to draw the attention of the House to the very important point that since that early conference to consider the Officials' Report there have been other conferences, and that no one has suggested for a moment that the safeguards for Southern Rhodesia should be changed. They remain exactly what they were. Let us see what they are.
First, it was understood, and it is now embodied in the scheme, that the status of Southern Rhodesia as a self-governing Colony was to be protected in the Preamble. Secondly, it was to be further protected by the dominant position accorded to Southern Rhodesia in the Federal Government. She has only a third of the population of these three Territories, but she has nearly half the members in the Legislative Council. On what grounds? Not on grounds of population, nor on grounds of wealth; but on the ground that it was essential to give her that position so that her status should be preserved.
These safeguards for Southern Rhodesia have remained unchanged and are not diminished in the slightest degree in the scheme which we have before us. When we consider the safeguards provided for the Africans, we find there have been changes. It is my considered view that those safeguards have been steadily weakened until they have now reached the stage in which they are inadequate to protect African interests. I propose to examine this situation, because it is the centre of controversy. I hope that the House will bear with me in what is a rather dull subject, particularly for a Celt. I will give details of the Constitution, and they are important because changes have been made.
I come, first, to the safeguards for Africans in the Preamble, and to the Protectorate status of the two Northern Territories, preserved in the Preamble. On that point I would ask only one question: Is the Preamble to be an integral part of the Constitution? That is a matter of some importance. It need not be, but is it to be? Any safeguards in the Preamble will be worthless unless they are enshrined in the Constitution. I hope that the Minister will make that perfectly clear in his reply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Now."] Many other hon. Members want to speak and I do not want us to go on interrupting each other. Other hon. Members can take up that point. Control of land and the political advancement of the Africans is also safeguarded in the Preamble.
I will ask the Colonial Secretary two questions. Does the wording of the Preamble make it clear, as agreed at the Victoria Falls Conference, that in no circumstances can there be any amalgamation of the three Territories unless it is agreed to by the inhabitants of the three Territories? I gather that it is. The second question is in reference to protection in the Preamble for the political advancement of the Africans in the two Northern Territories. It is understood that it is essential in this scheme that the political advancement of the Africans there should be the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and of the people in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, without anybody intervening. In other words, it was to be our responsibility—that of the Colonial Secretary— and of the people in those two Territories and it was to remain unchanged in any way. In paragraph 38 of the Report of the Conference on Federation there are these words:
As regards amendments of the territorial constitutions the existing machinery and the responsibility of Her Majesty's Ministers in the United Kingdom remain unchanged"—
these are the words to which I draw attention—
but Her Majesty's Ministers would, naturally, seek the views of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty.
Why? If the political advancement of the Africans in the two Northern Territories is to remain, what right has any Federal Government to intervene? Why should they be consulted? It is clear that paragraph 38, which is not only in the draft scheme but is in the Report, is based upon an understanding that after federation comes into existence, and before there can be the advancement of Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the views of the Federal Government will be asked. I hope that my questions will be answered.
I proceed to discuss the other safeguards for African interests. There are changes in these safeguards I begin with the most important one, the Minister for African Interests. I will recall, because it is essential to the background, what was proposed. There was to be a Minister for African Interests drawn from among nine members appointed to represent Africans on the Federal Legislature. He was to be appointed by the Governor-General with the approval of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He could be dismissed only in like fashion. He would have a seat in the Cabinet and would have certain powers. He could hold up executive action proposed to be taken by the Federal Government if, in his view, it would be detrimental to African interests. Such action would be postponed and held up for reference to the Secretary of State, for his approval. The proposed Minister was also to have the right to initiate proposals for the advancement of Africans and he would preside over the African Affairs Board.
The present scheme contains no such provision; nor does it provide for African representation in the Federal Cabinet. Let me ask the House to consider this very carefully. Let me repeat: there is not a single colonial Constitution that I know of which does not provide for representation in the Executive of the indigenous peoples. At the beginning, it is representation of the Africans by a European chosen for that purpose. Later, his place is taken by an African. It is in that way that our colonial constitutions have evolved and are evolving towards democratic self-government. At every stage there is provision that the people themselves shall be represented in the Executive and in the Cabinet. This is the first Constitution without that provision.
It has been argued before as to whether the provision for a Minister appointed in this rather novel constitutional way was the best provision that could be made— incidentally, we have not all been of one mind about this in our party. I still think it was, because by it the Secretary of State and Her Majesty's Government would have a representative in the Cabinet answerable to them.
He would be independent of the Federal Cabinet in that respect and, therefore, if the entire Cabinet resigned he would be the nominee of the Secretary of State—in a sense he would be the protectorate power in the Cabinet. That was the whole idea. When we discussed this matter last July I said there was a second alternative, which was to make provision in the Constitution that the Africans should be represented in the Cabinet anyhow. There was nothing novel about that suggestion. The Constitution provides that there shall be nine members who represent Africans in the Legislature. Surely in a constitution which makes that provision it is logical to make provision that they shall be represented in the Cabinet?
Now I want to call the attention of the House to something that happened recently. Contrast the Constitution in this respect with the new Constitution for the Sudan. Not long ago the Foreign Secrerary told us about the agreement with the Egyptian Government about the new Sudan Constitution, saying:
… the Constitution to which the Egyptian Government have agreed provides for about a quarter of the seats in each of the Houses of the new Parliament to go to Southern representatives and for not less than two Southern Ministers in the new Cabinet."— [OFFICIAL REPORT. 12th February, 1953; Vol. 511, c. 607.]
We understand that this was one of the points on which the Government insisted, namely, that a certain number of members from the Southern Sudan must sit in the
new Parliament and that at least two Ministers from the Southern Sudan must sit in the new Cabinet. Large numbers of people in the Sudan are Africans, their kinsmen are over the border in Uganda and Her Majesty's Government, which have insisted that in the Sudan Constitution there must be Africans in the Cabinet, have dropped the only representative proposed for Central Africa in the Federal Cabinet.
Now I come to the African Affairs Board. Here, also, there have been changes which weaken the safeguards for Africans. The Minister was to have been the chairman of the board, but there is no longer to be a Minister. The board was to be an independent body with its members drawn from the Territories. It is now absorbed into the Federal Legislature as one of its standing committees. One consequence of this is that the proposal in the original Report that the three secretaries for native affairs in the three Territories should be members of the African Affairs Board has been dropped.
This may seem to be a small matter to some people, but it cannot be a small matter to anybody conversant with colonial administration. These secretaries for native affairs are the important link between the Government and Africans. They have important constitutional functions and powers. They preside in the two Northern Territories over the representative councils and, with these two officials on the board, there was a further safeguard for African interests. Now they are dropped.
Furthermore, the powers of the board are limited. I shall leave this point to my hon. Friends to develop, and to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice), who is to speak later. The original proposal laid it down that both the Minister and the African Affairs Board would have the right to object to, and to veto, any executive action and any legislative action if the Minister or the board thought such action or such legislation was detrimental to African interests. That has been changed. The word "detrimental" has gone and the word "differential" has been put in its place. Why? In other words, it is possible to conceive of legislation or of action that would be detri- mental to African interests without of necessity being differential.
I say, therefore, that this change of word may be a change of real substance and will weaken further the protection of the Africans.
We have had no explanation yet as to why it was changed, and I say that the changing of it narrows the powers of the board.
Further—this is not a big point but it needs to be made—the powers of the Governor-General to override the Board are widened from those in the first proposals.
It is our view that these changes will seriously weaken the safeguards for the Africans. It is our conviction that they will diminish the hold which Her Majesty's Government will have upon the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament. We believe it will result in the substance of power being handed over to the Federal Government and the Federal Legislature without effective checks in the hands of Her Majesty's Government as would have been provided in a much better way in the original proposals.
Now I come to a matter to which I am sorry to have to refer. I thought a great deal about whether I would do so or not. I said earlier that the provisions for safeguarding the status of Southern Rhodesia, which she insisted upon, remain undiminished but changed. I do not quarrel with that because it is essential to maintain our status, but I do complain that from the beginning she has sought to weaken the provisions for safeguarding Africans while retaining all the safeguards for herself. It is well known that all these changes were proposed in the first instance by Southern Rhodesia not by Her Majesty's Government— [HON. MEMBERS: "They were."] Was the dropping of the Minister proposed by Her Majesty's Government?
Then I understand that Her Majesty's Government take full responsibility for all the changes that have been made and, as I understand now, it was they who suggested that the Africans should be deprived of their only representatives in the Cabinet. All I can say is that if these changes have been made by Her Majesty's Government, it deepens my resolve to ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote as we shall tonight in the Lobby. However, there are the safeguards, seriously weakened as they are.
What I regret to say that I do not find is the will and the spirit to work them. I know perfectly well that any constitutional safeguards, be they strong or weak, depend for their effectiveness upon an agreement to observe them in the spirit and in the letter. I at once say that Her Majesty's Government and Ministers would seek to do that, but that is not true elsewhere. Even now, after the January Conference, after all these changes have been made and now that we have this truncated scheme—and remember that from the very beginning they said that the Minister in Southern Rhodesia, the African Affairs Board and all these things must go—there is in their public and semi-public declarations no readiness to say, "We will work it."
I should like to make one or two quotations on this point. The first are from a speech made by Mr. J. M. Greenfield, Q.C., M.P., Minister of Internal Affairs in the Southern Rhodesian Government and a delegate to all the conferences, including the last. The speech was made at a meeting of Southern Rhodesian civil servants on 23rd October, 1952, and is published in the Civil Service Association's magazine. "The Record," for December, 1952. These are the extracts from Mr. Greenfield's speech:
I think that will make it clear that one of the principal reasons for having this federation at all is to get as much power as possible out of the hands of people far away in London.
Here is the second quotation:
I think we can go forward with this federation in the firm conviction that we are not likely to get much interference from the Secretary of State … and in the unlikely event of our getting that interference, then we are powerful enough to make ourselves prevail over him.
His third quotation has relevance to the provisions which the Secretary of State explained about the review of the Constitution. As hon. Members will know, there is provision for 26 elected Members. Obviously, this has been discussed, and this is what Mr. Greenfield says. This is not one of the white extremists; this is not Charles Olley. This is a responsible Minister, a moderate man. I met him. I respect his ability and his capacity, but when I read this —I am not afraid of using the word again—it shocked me more when it came from him. This is what he said:
I cannot say that the common voters roll will persist and I cannot speculate as to what would happen if it were allowed to continue indefinitely … but it seems likely that if the common voters roll were retained and it became apparent that by means of the common voters roll Africans were being elected among those 26 people … then a move would be made to change the Constitution so as to reduce the number of representatives chosen to represent African interests.
I know that. What I am deeply concerned about is that one of the responsible Ministers who agreed to the African Affairs Board talks of how it can be over-ridden and overcome.
I started to consider this idea in 1950. Here are three Territories that have so much to gain if they come closer together. I join in what the Colonial Secretary has said about this great area, with its potential power and its tremendous problem of communications. I began it, and I thought I could visualise the building in Central Africa of a federation based on racial partnership and racial co-operation.
I know the difficulties, particularly that Southern Rhodesia had the right—I do not quarrel with it—to maintain her status as a self-governing Colony; we recognised that. We asked her to recognise that we have responsibilities for these African people that we could not surrender and that, therefore, the Constitution had to provide for safeguards by which both her constitutional status and the position of the African people and their future could be preserved.
We have kept faith with her; she has not kept faith with us. I regret to say that, but I believe I am entitled to say it and ought to say it. For those reasons we think that these safeguards are inadequate to protect the Africans in Central Africa and that the power which is left to Her Majesty's Government is not sufficient to be effective to intervene.
There is one other thing with which I should like the Minister to deal. In reply to an interjection from this side, the Colonial Secretary said that one of the provisions, which we welcome, is for a review in seven or 10 years' time. As I understand it, it is a provision by which there can be a review of the Constitution, but there can be no change in its racial composition.
I am sorry if there has been any misunderstanding about this. Any part of the Constitution can come under review at that conference. The only proviso I made was the object of the conference not to cancel federation after it had been in being for seven or 10 years, but any part of the working of the Constitution, including the racial representation, can come under the review of that conference.
But the Constitution provides that no change can take place in the Constitution without a two-thirds vote of the Members of the Federal Legislature as at present constituted. Let me, therefore, put the question in this way: Can the conference in seven or 10 years' time consider a change in the racial composition without the necessity of having to carry it by a two-thirds majority in the Federal Legislature?
I do not think there is much in dispute. The five Governments concerned are coming to the conference. We cannot assume it, but on the assumption that they reach agreement they will have no difficulty in altering the Constitution to that effect. If there are disagreements among the Governments, it cannot be carried except by a two-thirds majority.
The net effect of that is that within the federal sphere there can now be no further advancement of the Africans in numbers in the Legislature or in the Cabinet without the agreement of the Central African Territories—that is quite clear.
Let me, therefore, put this to the House. It means that within the two Northern Territories we can secure political advancement for the Africans, although we have undertaken in the Report to consult the Federal Government before we carry it through; but within the structure of the Federal Legislature, and more so in the Federal Cabinet, there can be no further advancement for Africans within this Territory without the consent of those who are in authority in the Federal Parliament and Government.
I cannot give way.
Now that the House has got that clear, we are fully seized of the fact that we are handing over the substance of power over six million people for whom we are responsible, not for seven years or 10 years but until such time as the minority in Central Africa have agreed to any advancement.
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman on a point of fact. He said that we are handing over power. I must again emphasise the fact that the daily lives of the Africans remain where they are. We must make that proviso.
Let me say I accept that proviso at once. But it is absolutely clear to me that there is included the power to control the political advancement of the African. Let me put it this way. In this Federal Legislature 26 members will represent Europeans; nine will represent the Africans. The Europeans have got a two-thirds majority. In seven or 10 years' time can Her Majesty's Government insist upon the political advancement of the Africans in those Territories without the consent of these 26 members or the two-thirds majority of the new Legislature?
The right hon. Gentleman is a little confused on this matter. In the Territories full political advancement lies exactly where it is now. In the field of federal responsibility the right hon. Gentleman would be correct, but the federal responsibilities are strictly circumscribed.
Let me say at once that I know they are circumscribed. I am not arguing that or denying it. All I am saying is that in the territorial Governments of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland we retain our rights, but in the Federal Constitution our rights to secure that there will be a bigger proportion of Africans in the Federal Legislature is no longer ours. That is why I say that our power for the advancement of the Africans within the Federal Constitution is now surrendered. That is quite clear.
This is the Constitution we are to carry through. I am not going to presume to pit my knowledge and experience, which is very brief and very superficial against those who have greater experience, as to what the consequences in Africa will be in carrying this scheme through. I do not expect the House to accept my views, but what I am going to ask the House to do is to listen to a quotation, which I am afraid is rather long, but which is from a speech made by someone who has a right to speak with deep knowledge of what may happen in Africa.
I am going to quote from a speech made in the Northern Rhodesian Parliament by Mr. John Moffat, who was appointed by successive Secretaries of State, including myself, to represent Africans on the Executive Council in Northern Rhodesia. No one can go to Central Africa without realising that Moffat's name has become parts of its tradition, and is in the tradition of Livingstone, of religion, of the Church and of the great Dr. Moffat, who was among the first to go to Africa. Speaking in a debate, Mr. John Moffat used these words.
Yes, it is. The date is about the middle of last year, in July. I should have it here. I have a copy of the HANSARD outside, and I will provide the right hon. Gentleman with that copy from which this quotation is taken. Here is the quotation:
There are now advanced Africans who, on their own merits, have forged far ahead of their fellows in the economic sphere. They are absorbing European culture. They have already passed many Europeans in educational qualifications. If these men are at any time to be treated as inferior because they are African, if they are to be denied any particular job because they are African, if any barrier of any kind is to be set in their way because they are African, then inevitably they will band together because they are African, and that is the danger I wish particularly to emphasise.
Hon. Members may be wondering what all this has to do with Federation. It has a great deal to do with it, because, for the first time in our history, Africans are banding together in opposition to this proposal and for the prime reason that they are African. If that is so then I do wish to plead with hon. Members that there is here a moral issue that far transcends even so enormously important a matter as Federation.
I am not so stupid as to suggest that if Federation is forced through there will be inevitably a permanent cleavage on racial lines for racial reasons. It is even possible that if Federation is administered with full regard to the rights and advancement of the African people a great number of them will come to accept it. That is possible, but what is certain is that for the first time a major issue will have been settled on this racial basis. An issue that the African people will lose because the Europeans have the power to force it through…. We shall have given ammunition to that element in the African population which is already preaching the doctrine that racialism is the only salvation for the Africans in Central Africa. These persons will never forget this matter, nor will they ever forgive you.
He ends with these words:
The majority may vote for Federation. I think it will, but I shall have discharged my duty as I see it if I have managed to convey even to a limited degree, the price we shall have to pay. The price may be well worth while, but none of us will know until it is too late.
Let us ask tonight what is the price we have to pay. This is the last thing I will say to the House on the subject. It may be said that we ought not to debate and divide upon this issue. There have been appeals in the last few weeks from many quarters to the Government not to go on with this at this moment when racial tension is rising in Africa.
African nationalism is developing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Do we, with our history in Europe, think that we can stop the rise of the national spirit?
Yes, to guide it and help it.
Do not let us think that we are helping it by calling it extremism and by speaking of it with contempt. I will not quote it, but hon. Members will remember what was said about educated Africans by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia in this country some time ago: that even if they have a university degree their background is all wrong. It was not long since that that was said about the party to which I belong.
These Africans are the leaders of tomorrow, and if we make enemies of them now it will be bad for Africa and bad for us. I want to make friends with them. I want to help them; they need help. I want us to guide them. But to help or to guide them we must not at any time speak about them in contemptuous tones. I ask the House to realise—I wish it were not so—that Dr. Malan has pushed forward African nationalism by a generation. Perhaps it has happened too quickly; but there it is.
There is tension and the Government have been asked to pause. They have been appealed to not to carry on with this scheme now while there is the racial tension which at present exists in Africa. That was the essence of the appeal made by religious denominations and by the Trades Union Congress to the Government to postpone this for a year; to seek to build up racial co-operation.
Last December, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, accompanied by six other members of the National Executive of our party, waited on the Secretary of State for the Colonies and his colleagues in the Cabinet. We had a private interview. I think I am entitled to ask the House, and the public, and the Press, to listen to this before they charge us with being irresponsible in holding this debate. We privately urged the Government to take more time; to seek to find proposals which would carry wider agreement than the present ones. We appealed to them, the T.U.C. have appealed to them and I am sure it is the desire of a large proportion of the people of this country.
I wish the Government would now listen to those appeals, because the nation is very worried and anxious about this matter. If we go on with this federation —which could be a fine thing—while this racial tension exists we shall be building a house on a volcano. That is why I have joined with the Executive of our party, for whom I speak, in asking the Government to postpone this scheme; to take time; to think again; not to act now, because the risks are too great. Who knows what price we may have to pay?
All these appeals have been made and the Government have rejected them. Because they have rejected them we have no alternative but to do what I beg my right hon. and hon. Friends to do tonight —to vote for our Amendment in the Division Lobby.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has spoken with a deep emotion which makes an appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the House. But what I found difficulty in following was the point to which his argument led us. What is his argument? That there is tension; let us delay; we are in danger of building a house on a volcano—let us build it there next year; the nation is worried—let us go on for another year or more in this state of worry.
If the right hon. Gentleman had been able to adduce one argument to show that the position would be improved by delay, I would be all in favour of delay. But does his argument lead towards that? I do not think so. That is the difficulty in which the House finds itself. Certainly we carry an enormous responsibility this afternoon. We are sitting as a legislature for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, are the Speaker of that anomalous Chamber which has come into existence ad hoc for this afternoon.
We have a great responsibility of which we cannot divest ourselves. Are we by delay to improve the position? I do not think so. I am sure that one argument brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies will be universally accepted; that this matter does not stand still. If this proposal is defeated we do not return to the status quo. The danger we are in is that, by merely failing to focus the issue, we consider we are improving the situation. That is the policy of the ostrich, and it has never got the ostrich very far.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is putting two points together. My right hon. Friend suggested that at least we should try to consult and get African opinion, and endeavour to go into this with unanimity—if we are going into it at all. That was his point and the point contained in the letter to "The Times" this morning. It is the argument which has been put again and again.
I will do my utmost to be as brief as possible, for a number of hon. Members—many of them with much greater experience that myself —are anxious to speak. I have had a certain amount of experience, both in West Africa and in East Africa. I have also some reason to speak, because perhaps the uneasiness about these proposals is greater in my part of the country than any other. But I do not wish to detain the House, as I would do were I to fall into argument with the hon. Member across the Floor of the House.
I say that surely the danger we fear will not be removed by delay. When he says let us wait to get unanimity, what is the hope of getting unanimity by delay? Has delay been advantageous so far? I can see no evidence of it. The actual tension has increased. The division between the two sides of the House has grown. We have not come closer together. Are we to suppose that matters will improve if now, because we cannot think of what to do, we decide we will not do anything at all?
The argument hinges on two great points, the economic advantages and the political danger. About the economic advantages none of us is divided. The Territories would come together to their mutual advantage. The copper of the North and the coal of the South and the labour of Nyasaland could be more closely united than they are, with great advantage.
As for the great schemes, the Zambesi Scheme for instance, we have seen in North America the whole of the great project for the St. Lawrence waterway held up for a generation because of a conflict between two sovereign Powers; while great schemes like the Tennessee Valley reconstruction, or the Colorado Hydro-Electric Scheme, or the Mussel Shoals Scheme, are put through without difficulty, because there was single political direction.
Admittedly there will be economic advantages. But of course the difficulty of a quarrel between the Africans and the Europeans, or shall we say between black and white, transcends altogether the economic advantages which may arise from the political and economic federation of these Territories. Unless we are to secure a happy relationship of the races within that area all economic advantage will be a will o' the wisp. Greater economic progress there may well be, but more terrible will be the catastrophe which will eventually overwhelm the Territories.
I am sure that the right hon. Member for Llanelly said one thing which appealed to hon. Members on both sides of the House. This is not the only attempt at federation going on just now. I must say, though, that he gave an odd example when he mentioned the West Indies. Century upon century had gone, before federation became a piece of practical politics in the West Indies, and it was built on the most terrible relations between the races. Who are the West Indies populated by but by Africans brought there as slaves? Yet all this disappeared. Under what? Under the leadership of the same white people whom the right hon. Gentleman says cannot be trusted to make progress in East Africa.
The franchise in some of the West Indian Islands has not been altered since the days of Charles II until very recently. It was not a very liberal period. The franchise was not widely extended, but it has been possible for progress to be made in those areas. I am certain that it is possible for progress to be made in the area we are discussing today as well.
There is another great experiment which the right hon. Gentleman knows well—the experiment of West Africa. It is not merely the experiment in the Gold Coast for which I make no apology whatever. I have always been one of its most wholehearted champions. I suppose that I am one of the very few people in the world who holds at the same time a degree of education from one of the African colleges in West Africa and from the University of South Africa. I fear that if either heard about the other, they would deprive me of their degree.
But the Gold Coast experiment is not the only one. There is the great Nigerian experiment where the Eastern, Western and Northern Provinces have been brought together—under British leadership. That was done under the leadership of the same people in race, education and upbringing to whom we look to make the progress here. I saw the Legislature of Western Province come into existence. I heard the first Speaker read the bidding Prayer; the old words composed by a former Speaker of this House; and most appropriate they were, even when delivered in that far-away and exotic territory.
I saw the European, the white man, vote there along with the black man, without the necessity for a European Affairs Board to look after anybody's interests. These great changes have been made with good will. It is not impossible that changes can be made with good will here also. It will be difficult. It will be desperately difficult. There is the problem of the settler, the man who is carving his farm out of the bush and making progress not merely as a transient figure but as someone who intends to live there —he and his children after him.
In these circumstances people do make vehement speeches. Who talks to us of vehement speeches?—a Welshman. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly has made some vehement speeches in his time.
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that in my part of the country we can make some very vehement speeches indeed, not merely at election time but at other times as well. When we come to talk about nationalism there is a certain effervescence, let us put it no higher than that, in my part of the country just now which we should regard as most serious if it occurred in certain parts of Africa.
I am doing my utmost to put a rein upon my tongue. If I am invited to move into these realms, I will overstep my time limit. Vehement speeches are inevitable when a man's vital interests are affected. They are inevitable when the African's land is affected. Let us also recognise it when the European's wife and family are affected. The settler who fears the assault of the men with the long knives will not consider his words in the same way as we are able to do in this House thousands of miles away where we can speak in safety. Let us have some sympathy for these men and understanding of the nervous tension and strain under which they are working.
We firmly believe that progress can be made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly quoted a name famous in Scotland and famous in Africa, the name of Moffat of the family of the disciple and follower of Livingstone. I have spoken to him. I think that he was the first white man born North of the Zambesi. He has said that if we press and hold down the African there will be a terrible reaction. But if we do not, then there is no reason to suppose that we shall continue to have this tension. It is not a matter of one party or section only, for the right hon. Gentleman who knows that the most dangerous thing in Northern Rhodesia is the rigid attitude being taken up by skilled European labour against the advance even by a hair's breadth of skilled Africans in that field.
These men have been addressed by the right hon. Gentleman and moderation has been urged. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would be the last to suppose that these men would be for ever adamant and rigid against the slightest advance towards the recognition of skill in African labour in mining and elsewhere. We have here many problems which must be solved. The Industrial Revolution is coming upon Africa in addition to the social and political revolution of our time. These matters will not wait until we in this House discuss on this side and that and consider whether now is the time, whether it will be better a year hence, or whether we should decide then that there should be yet further delay before attempting to bring about uniformity and common law between the two peoples.
We must go forward. The proposal in the White Paper is certainly not one to which we can all give our unquestioning assent. These proposals will require careful attention and supervision. We remain wholly responsible, as the Secretary of State said, for the enormous range of subjects reserved to the Provincial Legislatures; but those being handed over to the central Legislature are also most important. I would say that the gist and the hope of the White Paper is in its last paragraph, where it says that there shall be a review. It states:
… there will be convened a conference consisting of delegations from the Federation, from each of the three Territories and from the United Kingdom, chosen by their respective Governments for the purpose of reviewing the Federal Constitution.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly put great stress upon that, and rightly so. He would have had it go further. In that I think that I would agree with him. I should prefer that it should say that at the end of 10 years there should be an assembly which should be more of the nature of a constituent assembly than an assembly fettered and limited by the present precise provisions of the White Paper. I throw that out as a suggestion. But I am sure that only by working the Constitution will the Constitution be tested. It is in the spirit in which it is administered and not in the letter that it will be successful or that it will fail.
It is impossible to write into the letter of a White Paper or a Constitution safeguards against all the possible malevolence of man. That is utterly out of the question, but by working experiment, by coming and going between the various partners—there are Asians as well as Africans to consider—by consultation between the African administration and the home administration here, it will be possible in 10 years' time to see whether we have brought about something which has succeeded or failed.
Then will be the time for a radical reconsideration of the matter. Then will be the time for a full and authoritative review. We cannot do it by jerking on the bit every time the horse throws up its head. There has been reference to the desirability of a power of veto. That was an anomalous word to use in respect of progress. That was the only power of the tribune of the people under the old Roman constitution. It has been translated into an absolute deadlock stop against any kind of progress in an institution which we all hoped would succeed —the United Nations. Is the word "veto" such an auspicious word that we should bring it into this new Constitution? I think not. I think we had better try to bring those responsible for these affairs into the general run of the workings of the Constitution. If we do that, it will enable them to play a vital part, whatever provisions we write into it.
Let us review the matter in 10 years' time with a much wider field of consideration than that which is proposed in this White Paper, but let us get on now with the job. Let us see whether, in fact. our power of constitution-making has failed, which I do not believe, whether the power of organisation which has brought civilisation to so many parts of the world has deserted us, which I do not believe. Let us take a chance here, because this is the only time that we shall have to do it. If we hold back now, we shall find that we not only have failed to improve our position, we shall have made it immeasurably more difficult and the whole situation immeasurably worse, when next we come to try to tackle it.
This is one of the most important debates that this House has ever held, a debate deciding not just the future of our own country but the future of many millions of people who have not the right to decide it for themselves. It is important that we should realise what it is that we are discussing, and I do not think that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), who has just spoken, did realise it altogether.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said, "Let us do this now, and, in 10 years' time, let us see what is to be done about it," but what we have elicited today from the Secretary of State was what many of us feared was, in fact, the case—that, in 10 years' time, there will be nothing whatever that we can do about it. We can suggest that something can be done, we can make proposals, talk about it and make speeches, but the final word will rest with the white members of the Legislative Councils in the three Territories concerned. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head, but he is disagreeing with his right hon. Friend, because that is what the Colonial Secretary said, and that is what is disturbing us so profoundly today—that we are being asked to come to a decision which, of its nature, must be irrevocable.
What is the issue with which we are faced? We are asked today to decide whether we shall hand over the destinies of 6 million Africans to 300,000 Europeans, and whether we shall hand them over for ever. That is the short issue. What are the reasons? The first reason suggested in favour of federation is the economic reason. The Secretary of State told us that there were very strong economic reasons, and I agree that it may be desirable economically that these Territories should join together, but these economic reasons can be, and indeed have been, grossly exaggerated.
For instance, the right hon. Gentleman talked of transport and electricity. Already, there is every possible co-ordination of transport, and I can see no reason why there should not be co-ordination of electricity, if it is necessary. There could be co-ordination between the copper mines in Northern Rhodesia and the Wankie Colliery in Southern Rhodesia. There is nothing to prevent that co-operation—to prevent, for instance, a railway being built to bring the coal from Southern Rhodesia to the copper mines. All these things can be done to-day, but the point is that there are some people who are not primarily interested in their being done—some people in both Southern and Northern Rhodesia who are using the economic pretext as a reason for giving them political power. Although I would agree that there may be some economic advan- tages, I would say that no improvement of economic conditions can justify a moral wrong being done, and this is a grave moral wrong that is to be done.
The second reason that is given us is that if this is not done Southern Rhodesia will join the Union of South Africa. It is a very curious reason that this Southern Rhodesia, to whom we want to hand over so much of the destinies of the people of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, if not given these responsibilities, will go over willingly to the Union of South Africa and absorb the policy of Dr. Malan. If they are really so near to Dr. Malan as that, are they then suitable people to whom we should hand over the destinies of Africans?
I think that is the argument advanced by the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in support of the federation proposals.
It is certainly the argument brought forward by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Maybe it is brought forward by my right hon. Friend, but we are still a free party, whatever they may be, and, if we choose to differ, we can do so. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many of you?"] I would like now, in this connection, to quote from something which I do not know whether hon. Members opposite have seen—something that appeared in a Southern Rhodesian newspaper not long ago. The "Central African Post" said:
Mr. G. F. M. Van Eeden, Member of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia, has written a booklet which is being sent to 10,000 Afrikaans families throughout the two Rhodesias, in which he describes Federation as a step towards an eventual United States of Southern Africa, incorporating the Union of South Africa as being his highest wish. If Federation became a fact, he thinks that a union between Federation and the Union would be more acceptable from the Union's point of view than a link with Southern Rhodesia alone.
There is no certainty whatever that, by simply agreeing to federation, Southern Rhodesia may be kept out of the Union; there are, in fact, powerful forces that, if federation comes about, may make it more likely that Southern Rhodesia, or even the whole federation, will join the Union.
I want to deal next with the political party broadcast which the Secretary of State gave recently. We have all known the Secretary of State for some time, and we have thought of him as an eminent businessman; some have thought of him as an eminent statesman, but never before has anybody thought of him as an eminent crusader; yet that is what he says he is today. For what is he a crusader? He is a crusader for partnership. "This is not a struggle between black and white," he says. "Those in favour of federation are in favour of federation and in favour of partnership." I wonder whether that is altogether true.
Let us see what Sir Godfrey Huggins had to say, remembering that he was referred to by the Secretary of State as a great, liberal-minded man. Sir Godfrey Huggins said:
We Europeans are the only people fit to be in control of federation.
Is that partnership, when one side controls and the other side does not? It is not my idea of partnership, nor is it the idea of those who sit on this side of the House. It is pure dictatorship. It is not partnership, but it is, in fact, what is practised today in Southern Rhodesia. It is simply carrying out the principles practised under Sir Godfrey Huggin's own Government.
What are these principles? Are they partnership? Ask any of the Africans who cannot vote because they are deliberately kept out by the money qualifications, which are steadily raised in Southern Rhodesia whenever it is found that Africans may be too numerous as voters. Ask any African who is forced to carry a pass wherever he goes —a pass which Europeans do not have to carry—what he thinks about partnership.
Ask the African who is not allowed to go into hotels and restaurants. Ask the African who has to go into a separate queue even when he goes to buy stamps in the Post Office and has to enter by a separate door. Ask him what he thinks about partnership, this great ideal to which the Secretary of State pays tribute and for which he has become a crusader.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would like to be a partner under those conditions and have to pass through a separate door. Would he like to be a partner and have to keep out of hotels? The right hon. Gentleman laughs because he knows it is not possible for that to happen to him. He knows that we are proposing to set up a white-dominated country in which that could not happen to him. Let him imagine for a moment, if he can, what the feelings of the African would be under those conditions of partnership.
But that is not all. In this crusade the right hon. Gentleman says that we must
build an enduring home for the British idea of Government, for the British idea of how races should live together.
That sounds very nice, but I should like to quote from the presidential address of the President of the African National Congress, delivered in Lusaka last August. He said these very moving words about the British way of life:
The British Government tell us that they desire to see a British way of life established in Central Africa. I happen to have experienced the British way of life, and all that I can say is that there is no comparison between the British way of life and the Rhodesian way of life. The British way of life is a way of life for free men and women and that of Southern Rhodesia is savage and stupid.
That is a description given by an African who himself may have to suffer under this Rhodesian way of life if the right hon. Gentleman's proposals are carried forward.
I want to deal for a short time with safeguards. The Secretary of State has emphasised the great importance of safeguards. I would join with him in emphasising their importance, but, again, I should like to quote Sir Godfrey Huggins. He said that the African Affairs Board was:
rather like Gilbert and Sullivan without the music…. If it was found to be serving no useful purpose we could get rid of it.
That was what he said in Salisbury. He also said something much stronger. He said:
If Southern Rhodesians can get the agreement of elected members of the legislature in Northern Rhodesia, there is nothing the United Kingdom can do to stop us … Britain nowadays is not even in a position to employ economic sanctions.
Those are the words of this great "liberal" leader of Southern Rhodesia. Those are the kind of words that he uses in Southern Rhodesia, not those that he uses in England.
I happened to have a letter a few days ago from a friend of mine in Southern Rhodesia whom I had not seen for many years. The Secretary of State smiles and seems to think that it is very funny that one should write to someone from Southern Rhodesia. Quite frankly, I expected the letter to be one of abuse. [Laughter.] Certainly. I do not expect that I am particularly loved by some of the right hon. Gentleman's friends and Sir Godfrey Huggins's friends in Southern Rhodesia. My friend wrote:
Sir Godfrey Huggins speaks with two voices. Out here, he says once we get federation we can disregard African safeguards and go our own way. In England, he pretends to be interested in African advancement. This is dishonest and unfair to the African who deserves straight dealing.
Sir Godfrey Huggins has stated his views about the safeguards and what he thinks is their value. I ask the Secretary of State whether he attaches perhaps a little more importance to safeguards than does Sir Godfrey Huggins. Do the Government agree with Sir Godfrey Huggins, or will they operate the safeguards to the full? When we on this side of the House become the Government, we will see that these safeguards are operated to the full.
There is to be a Federal Civil Service. We will see that in that service, using the African Affairs Board to the utmost, Africans are not debarred from the highest posts, even in control of Europeans. It is very important that it should be known by the people of Southern Rhodesia before they vote that there may well be a possibility—more than a possibility, a probability—that some Africans, even though they may be only a few, may reach a position in the Civil Service in which they will be in control not only of the Northern Rhodesians and the people of Nyasaland, but of whites in Southern Rhodesia.
It is important that it should be realised in the Rhodesias that when we come into power we shall, at the earliest possible moment, see whether it will be possible to alter the laws by which there is an industrial colour bar in Northern Rhodesia and whether the Dalgleish Report can be Implemented.
The Colonial Secretary said the other day that it was not a question of waiting until the Greek kalends until we on this side of the House came into power. I gather that what he meant was that the present Government might do this themselves. It is important that the people of Southern Rhodesia should realise that the whole of the colour bar in Northern Rhodesia may be removed and that when it is removed it may have greater effect on Southern Rhodesia if there is federation than if there is not federation. It is important that the people there should vote with their eyes open and should realise this fact fully.
Let us think of the effect that the decision to federate will have upon Africans. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has referred to it in eloquent terms. Let us remember the effect that it will have on those people who, during the past six years, have seen Britain leading the way in helping the Africans to stand on their own feet and speak for themselves. Let us think of what has been done in the Gold Coast. I do not know whether all hon. Members on the other side of the House approve of what was done there, but I will give the Colonial Secretary every credit for the fact that, having found what was done in the Gold Coast, he took still further steps along the lines which we on this side of the House had started. He carried them a step further by making Mr. Nkrumah not only leader of the Government but Prime Minister of the country. That shows that even hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are convinced, as we are, that it is vital to do everything we can to help the Africans to help themselves and to help them to build their own Governments.
What will be the thoughts of a man like Mr. Nkrumah and of people in Nigeria, where another great constitution is starting on its way, when they see this federation? I am sure that they will feel that they have been betrayed and that all the good will which we have built up during the past years will be lost. They will find it very difficult indeed to believe in the word of a British Government if the scheme goes through and their own fellow Africans in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are betrayed.
But what about the people in this country? I have never seen such strong feeling roused as has been roused by this proposal, in the most unexpected places in the country. It is not just an ordinary party matter. This matter is discussed on platforms where there are prominent people of every party and people representing not only political parties but the Churches. Why do the Churches feel so strongly about this? What makes them feel that this issue is of such vital importance?
Many years ago our missionaries went out to Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. They were led by David Livingstone and they gave their pledged word that the people of those countries would be protected by the British Government—they and their children and grandchildren. They feel that their pledge is in danger. I ask that today, before it is too late, we make quite sure that the pledge that those men gave is kept. It cannot be kept if the federation scheme goes through. If the federation scheme is withdrawn, then and then only can it be kept, and only then will the Africans trust in us as they trusted those missionaries before.
I listened closely from the beginning to the end of the speech of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), and, in the most charitable mood that I could adopt, I could not find one word which I did not consider grossly mischievous. That kind of speech can only cause trouble, and I cannot see the point of an approach of that kind to the problem which we are facing today. There was not one constructive suggestion as to what should happen if this scheme does not go through.
I am afraid that those remarks apply also to the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). His speech contained many narrow points, but no constructive suggestion as to why the scheme should not go through. That speech served no more constructive purpose than did the speech of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich.
I make no apology for speaking this afternoon, although I am conscious that I am not an expert on African affairs. As the right hon. Member for West Bromwich has said, this issue has roused the strongest feelings throughout the country among people who have no direct experience of Africa, any more than I have. It is extremely important that we should try to reduce the issue to the simplest proportions possible. After all, even in this House of Commons, which is to make a decision this evening, there must be a great many hon. Members like myself who cannot claim to be experts, but we are the people who are to make our decision.
The main suggestion that has appeared in the correspondence that I have received on this subject—I believe that it is also the substance of the view of the independent Liberal Party as expressed in various meetings in the country—has been; even if this federation scheme is good, should it be imposed against the apparent wishes of a section of the people who are to be affected by the scheme? That, of course, is an important point of principle.
But there is, I believe, an even more important point of principle and a point of view which is held equally sincerely by equally liberal thinkers which should be expressed. That is, that if after careful consideration of a scheme of this kind one believes that a course of action is right in itself, that it corresponds to the needs of a given stage of colonial development and that it provides a real opportunity for the balanced advancement of the best interests of all the inhabitants of the Territories involved, then it becomes an absolutely clear duty to support such a scheme. It cannot be just a question of whether all those who might be affected have agreed.
We know—I am not going to argue it now—how extremely difficult it is to get a balanced opinion of what really are the views of Africans on the scheme. One can argue that indefinitely. But if we ate convinced that this scheme is right, there is just as great a principle involved in supporting it as there could possibly be in taking the other view. It seems to me to be little short of tragic, on an issue which worries so many people in this country, quite apart from people in Africa, that the Labour Party, which carries such a heavy responsibility for this scheme and which initiated the discussions which led to the formulation of the scheme, should now fail to see through the work which they started, and, what is more, when they know perfectly well that a division of opinion in this House can have the most serious and far-reaching effects.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly tried to describe why he has changed his mind from the attitude he adopted on the earlier scheme. Surely, every one of the points that he made in discussing the safeguards were very small. He was stretching his imagination to find what would go wrong. Let us take, for instance, the question of the revision of the constitution in 10 years' time. Why must it be assumed that all the European members should necessarily take a different view from that of the African members at that time? That is the basic assumption of a great deal that has been said by hon. Members opposite so far. Ft is not a warrantable assumption.
Consider the missionaries who went out to Africa with the highest motives. It was not only the missionaries who went out with high motives. A great many settlers, traders and others have gone out with the highest possible motives. It is really intolerable that this debate should proceed on the assumption that because there are more European members in the Assembly than African members, therefore the solid European vote will go against African interests. It is not a tolerable assumption.
No, by no means. That is one of the assumptions which is causing such trouble throughout the country. People are told these things, but they are not true. Certain missionaries I know and people for whom I have a great respect have taken that view, but, for example, I think I am right in saying that the assumption of the right hon. Member for Llanelly about Mr. Moffat's attitude is not correct. He made a very telling quotation, but what is Mr. Moffat's position now?
I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that Mr. Moffat believes that federation is acceptable. I admit that the right hon. Gentleman's speech was very moving, but it was very dangerous.
I should like, briefly, to recapitulate the facts of the situation. They are basically simple. For years past it has been recognised that a closer association of these Territories is urgent. Secondly, all the experts—we have not heard a lot about them today—are agreed that the economic development of the three Territories cannot be effective as separate units. There is no dispute about that. Thirdly, if there is no economic development fairly quickly there will be the gravest risk of economic stagnation and then what hope will there be for the social or political advancement of the native population, above all in the two Northern Territories?
There is substantial agreement that something needs to be done. Amalgamation has been considered and, in my opinion, very properly turned down. The loose form of association which was touched upon by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich has not produced effective results. The Central African Council do not seem to have been able to achieve any results. There remains this proposed Federal Scheme, and I should think that the only possible justification for turning it down would be either that it was judged to be inadequate in its economic and political purposes or that the safeguards were not sufficient to make us happy about the future of the African population. I accept the fact that the latter would be a very valid reason.
The difficulty is that one could draft any Constitution for this purpose, the safeguards in which would be debatable ad infinitum and ad nauseam. It is not possible to put on paper a clear set of rules dealing with every possible contingency that might arise in years to come or with what may be the intentions of those who will ultimately govern these Territories. If our colonial policy means anything we know that ultimately the government of these Territories will be by representatives of those who live in the Territories.
If the intentions are not right now, or go wrong in the future, there is little hope for any real progress. If the fears expressed by hon. Members opposite have any justification the dangers, I would suggest, will be very much greater if this scheme does not go through, because all the conditions and the atmosphere which have led to these fears in the minds not only of Africans but people in this country and elsewhere are being produced in a period when the worst form of nationalism exists. If we postpone the application of this proposal I cannot see how we are doing anything but giving the worst type of propagandists the opportunity to do their very devilish worst. That is what postponement can mean.
I do not generally get worked up on a subject such as this, but the implications of what happens in Central Africa are so great, not only for the future of Africans but for people in many other parts of the world, that it should be with a feeling of the utmost responsibility that any hon. or right hon. Member opposite goes into the Division Lobby to vote against this scheme this evening.
If we could only get united action in the House of Commons on this matter, that in itself would be far more important than any details of any scheme. If we cannot get that united action I would say to those who break the unity on this all-important matter that they should realise exactly what they are doing.
I want to make four things quite clear at the outset. First, I recognise that it is quite possible to hold most sincerely deeply different views on this subject. On this point I differ from hon. Members—on both sides of the House—who are friends of mine and for whose views and sincerity I have the greatest respect. Secondly, I do not believe in white or black domination; I believe in partnership. Thirdly, I am not opposed to federation as such. Fourthly, I do not consider that the consent of the African is an essential sine qua non in operating such a scheme as this, but I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that it is becoming more and more difficult to dispense with consent and less and less desirable to do so.
To my mind, the question of consent is of importance in the sense that we are proposing to dispense with African consent. In so far as we do that, we must exercise our discretion in the interests of the Africans. The white people in Southern Rhodesia are having a plebiscite. The Africans are not haying a plebiscite; they are not being given any such opportunity of expressing their view upon this Federal Constitution. It is we who have to exercise their discretion today. To the extent that we dispense with consent we have to decide in the interests of the Africans.
The principle which should govern African interests is extremely well put in the Baxter Report, which came down in favour of federation. It said that
… in any scheme of closer association certain conditions must be fulfilled,
and it includes in those conditions these words:
… until their partnership with Europeans becomes fully effective, there must be adequate provision in the Constitution for African welfare and advancement.
First, there must be African advancement; secondly, there must be provision for that advancement in the Constitution; and, thirdly, that provision must be secured in such a way that it endures until partnership becomes fully effective.
In my view, this Federal Scheme completely fails to meet those requirements. I propose to consider this matter, as constitutional matters must be considered, in a "particular and precise" way, as was indicated by the Secretary of State. What are the particular and precise provisions of this scheme? My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly referred to the office of Minister of African Affairs, which was mentioned in the Baxter Report. I do not propose to spend any time on that question because my right hon. Friend dealt with it very fully. But it is clearly a tremendous omission to leave out of the Cabinet the Minister for African Affairs who was recommended for inclusion in the Baxter Report. As my right hon. Friend said, when safeguards for African interests are being provided, it is an exceptional action to omit that office from the very body which deals with executive and administrative matters of the utmost importance which do not come before the legislature.
Now I come to the present board and its composition. Out of 35 members in the legislature there are six Africans. There are six persons on the African Affairs Board. Those six consist of three Europeans and three Africans, but those three Africans are not elected exclusively by their fellow Africans. They are also elected by the three Europeans who represent African interests. It is not a purely African vote.
I would further point out—and I ask the Minister to follow this a little carefully, because there is some difference of opinion on this matter—that the Chairman of the African Affairs Board is one of its six constituent members, and he cannot throw his casting vote as he likes. He has to throw his casting vote, to quote the words of the scheme:
… in such a manner as to leave the Board another opportunity of deciding the same question.
As I read that, it means that the board cannot come to a decision by a casting vote given in favour of that decision, because the question must be kept open, not for the decision of the Secretary of State but for the decision of the Board.
It means, therefore, that we cannot have a decision of the board at all unless at least one European votes in favour of it. If I have made any mistake about that, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to deal with it fully, not simply by giving a cursory answer, but by saying precisely how he reaches his conclusion from the words in the scheme and whether Sir Godfrey Huggins understands it in precisely the same sense as the Minister does, if he differs from my construction of this part of the scheme.
This is important, for here we have an African Affairs Board in which, in the last analysis as I read it, the decisive voice is not with the Africans at all but is with the Europeans on the board. I recognise the reasons why the Europeans are appointed, but what we do not have here is the opportunity for Africans to voice a purely African attitude upon any questions which come before them. In other words, there is nowhere in this Constitution a provision for a purely African point of view to reach the Secretary of State.
May I turn next to the powers of the board? As time is limited, I will deal only with one—the most important—of these extremely limited powers. It is the power to reserve a differentiating Measure for the assent of Her Majesty instead of the assent of the Governor-General. As my right hon. Friend has pointed out, the words in the Baxter Report are not "a differentiating Measure" but "a detrimental Measure." I should like to dwell a little on what I consider the significant difference between the two.
A provision similar to this appears in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution, and I should like to read what it says. It provides for reserving Measures for Her Majesty's pleasure—Measures
whereby natives may be subject or made liable to any conditions, disabilities or restrictions to which persons of European descent are not also subject or made liable.
I should like to emphasise that in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution there is a provision that Measures are reserved whereby natives "may" be subjected to differential legislation. We cannot say that Africans "may" be subjected to differential legislation unless we look not merely at the face of the legislation but at its operation and its practical application, so that the Southern Rhodesian Constitution covers not only legislation which is differential on the face of it but legislation which, it is recognised, might be differential when it is put into operation.
Let me come to the proposal in this scheme. The corresponding words here are,
a Bill or instrument by which Africans are subjected or made liable to any conditions, restrictions or disabilities disadvantageous to them to which Europeans are not also subjected or made liable, or a Bill or instrument which will in its practical application have such an effect.
I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the words "which will in its practical application have such an effect" do no more than that which is already covered by the Southern Rhodesian Constitution. They are inserted into the Federal Scheme and Constitution only because of the substitution of "are subjected" for the words "may be subjected." In the scheme the word is "are" compared with "may" in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution.
In other words, on an analysis of the Clause in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution corresponding to the Clause in this Constitution, we find that the Clause in this Constitution is the stiffer of the two. What is the practical effect of that? It is that we can consider how this is going to work by considering how, in fact, it has worked under the Southern Rhodesian Constitution.
The franchise was raised under the Southern Rhodesian Constitution with the result that numbers of Africans who would otherwise come within the franchise were excluded from it. That was not a differentiating Measure because, of course, it applied to Europeans as well as to Africans. It was not a "differentiating" Measure but it was a Measure which was "detrimental" to Africans. The Secretary of State scoffs at my right hon. Friend and says he cannot understand the distinction which my right hon. Friend draws between differentiating and detrimental. Let him examine the Southern Rhodesian Constitution and the effect of raising the franchise.
Nor does it stop there. Let us consider what is happening in South Africa. We know that Acts have been passed in South Africa amending the criminal law and dealing with public safety—two harsh Measures which have been condemned by everybody in every political party in this country. They would not be differentiating Measures, for the white trade unionists in South Africa are suffering under them. They are not racial, differentiating Measures; they are detrimental Measures—Measures which in effect and in intention harshly suppress the opposition to the Malan programme. And yet they could not be stopped under the scheme which this Government now bring before the House.
Finally, on this question of the African Board, there is a provision that the request to reserve for Her Majesty's pleasure will be ineffective if the Governor-General is satisfied, upon a representation made by the Prime Minister, that it is essential in the public interest that the Bill should be brought into immediate operation. Let us expand that a little. Supposing the Prime Minister says to the Governor-General, "We are rather nervous about the position and we want a Public Safety Act or some differentiating Measure." Will the Governor-General stand up to him and say, "No"? If not, it comes into immediate operation.
It is true that the Governor-General must then send on the Bill with the recommendation of the African Affairs Board—if he has it—to the Secretary of State. But it is an extraordinary omission in a Federal Scheme of this kind that there is no express provision of any kind that the Secretary of State must veto the Bill if he comes to the conclusion that it ought to be vetoed. There is no such provision at all. The scheme relies simply on the general provisions for assent which are included in the scheme.
It is a most significant omission, and I would conclude that in a scheme of this kind, when no express provision of that sort is made, the Secretary of State would have no more power over the Bill than he would in the case of any other Bill covered by the scheme.
That brings me to the arrangement about assents in general, and Her Majesty's Assent in particular. First of all, assent, of course, would be exercised by the Secretary of State. I should like to know what Secretary of State is going to exercise this assent. Is it going to be the Colonial Secretary, or is it going to be the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations? Can the right hon. Gentleman say? Has a decision been made? Does he know yet? Does Sir Godfrey Huggins know? Has any assurance been given? We should like to know. Nothing is said about it either in the Federal Scheme itself or in the Report on the scheme. They are strangely silent on the vital question of which Secretary of State is to function as the Secretary of State within the scheme.
It is of vital importance for this reason. The Colonial Secretary is at the head of an office with a very great tradition, of which everybody in the House may be proud, in colonial administration. The whole tradition of the Colonial Office is to look after the native, to see to the native's interests, to exercise trusteeship. The whole tradition of the Office for Commonwealth Relations is not that at all. I am not blaming the Commonwealth Relations Office. Not at all. It is just not its tradition, not its function. The function of the Commonwealth Relations Office is to avoid friction in the Commonwealth, to avoid friction, for instance, with South Africa.
Therefore, it is vitally important to know whether this assent is going to be exercised by the Secretary of State for the Colonies or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Is, in other words, the assent to be exercised in accordance with conscience or in accordance with expediency? Because that is the difference which lies in the choice between the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in this vital matter.
There are two paragraphs in the Constitution which deal with assents—two general paragraphs. One says that the Governor-General can assent or reserve for Her Majesty's pleasure any Bill which comes up; and the second says that Her Majesty can within 12 months disallow any law. That looks satisfactory on paper, but precisely these two same provisions are in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution, and I understand that, although these provisions have been in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution for some 30 years, they have never been exercised at all. I should like to know if that information is correct. If they have been exercised, I should like to know how often they have been exercised, and when.
Is it proposed to operate these two provisions in the Federal Scheme differently from the way in which they have been operated in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution? Is it proposed that they should be operated more effectively, so that, in respect of those matters which are now within the Southern Rhodesian Constitution, they could be subject to an effective veto by Her Majesty's Government which they do not undergo at the moment? If not, it means that in all these matters which are within the central federation organisation, in all those subjects within that organisation, we hand over everything in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia to the settlers without any right of veto upon them at all—without any effective right of veto upon them at all. We cannot. How can we, in those circumstances, in the interests of the Africans, advise the Africans that they should lean upon those broken reeds? We cannot do that We cannot do it.
The list of subjects handed over from the territorial Governments to the Federal Government was rather belittled by the Secretary of State. It is a large list in which 43 subjects are handed over to the exclusive control of the central organisation, and there are an additional 32 in which the central organisation is given authority at the same time concurrently with the territorial legislatures, so that where there is a conflict between a territorial legislature and the central Legislature, then the central Legislature is to prevail. In other words, we do not have merely 43 subjects handed over to the central Legislature. We have 43 plus 32, which, if my mathematics are correct, makes 75, in which the central Legislature is given predominant powers, and they include, of course, things which affect the daily lives of Africans.
Take defence alone, which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. There lies the possibility of conscription, of national service, with arrangements that people shall work on the land as national service. After all, even in this country miners were tied to the mines, agricultural workers were tied to agriculture—even in this country. It is a matter which affects the daily lives of Africans and is of immense importance to the Africans throughout the three Territories. I disagree that these are not matters which affect the daily lives of Africans.
Assuming, however, that the right hon. Gentleman is right, let him consider the position. Assume that he is right that African affairs are limited to the territorial Governments. Where does that consideration lead? What he is doing is to put under the central Legislature affairs which are of predominant interest to the whites and affect the whole of the Territories, and put in a separate government African matters which affect Africans. In other words, he is setting up a governmental system that segregates African affairs from affairs of general and particular European importance. That is a dangerous road to tread, unless there is ample provision within the Federal Constitution for ensuring African advancement. I believe that with that provision we should accept it; that it is a desirable and right and proper thing to do; but without that provision it has dangers of which, I hope, we are all aware.
Would my hon. and learned Friend not agree that the questions of land services, schools, hospitals, trade unions, tribal customs, are still in the hands of the Government here?
Certainly. In the hands of the territorial Governments, certainly. I am not saying there are not items which are of importance to the Africans left to them. That is implicit and recognised in what I said. It is only by the fact that these matters are segregated in that way in the Territories that it is possible for me to point out the danger there is, unless there is an adequate safeguard for African advancement within the Constitution.
This Constitution can be amended. I will only say this about that as it is admitted already, I understand, by the Colonial Secretary. This Constitution cannot be amended except by a two thirds majority in a Legislature in which six out of 35 are Africans, in which nine only out of 35 represent African interests. There are limitations on the powers of Amendment, but not one of these limitations breaks in on the requirement that there must be a two thirds majority. In other words, once this House parts with control over the central federal organisation it puts it, now and for ever, in the hands of the White settlers in those areas. It is replied that a conference is going to be held. A conference can be held for a review of the Constitution—a conference representing the Government of the United Kingdom, the territorial Governments and the Federal Government, but there is no provision in the scheme at all for direct African representation at that conference.
If it is held, it does not follow that the review will be agreed. If the review is agreed, it cannot be put into operation through this constitutional machinery except with the two thirds majority. In other words, there is no guarantee—at the most only a hope—in the provision for a review at the end of the 10-year period. The Preamble recognises that all this is merely a stepping stone to full Dominion status; apparently a requirement inserted in the Preamble for the first time on the instance of Sir Godfrey Huggins.
Let us summarise the position. First, the Constitution cannot be amended in the interests of the Africans without local settlers support, because of the requirements of the two-thirds majority. Secondly, the Constitution can be amended in a sense which will be detrimental to the Africans without local African support. Thirdly, the United Kingdom cannot ensure African advancement within the Central Federal Constitution, and, fourthly, the United Kingdom cannot, if unfortunately it were to develop, under this Constitution prevent a considerable growth of racial repression by executive action and even by legislation. Over a large area of government we are here handing over to the local white population decisions in African affairs, and I am surprised, on an analysis of this situation, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs should have taken objection to that statement apparently being made in the Press or elsewhere.
This scheme is not carrying out our trust to the Africans; it is abandoning it. It is abandoning it on the ground of economic interests. Economic arguments are the arguments put forward. Life is not just economics. "Economic man" died with laissez faire. What men are concerned about more than their economic well-being is their status as human beings. We cannot even have a successful economy based upon racial distinction and upon colour bars.
I should have thought that after the ghastly experience of the last century it would have been accepted as an axiom of Government that social and political progress should go hand in hand with economic progress. If we do not do that, we shall have repression: we are inviting trouble, and we are inviting Communism and other hostile things of that kind which everyone in this House deplores. We should maintain effective control in Africa until partnership is becoming actually put into operation.
I do not myself believe that there is any original sin about the Dutch in South Africa. I do not believe that there is anything inherent in the Dutch which makes them behave as the Malan Government are behaving in South Africa. I believe that this is a product of fear. When there is a small white population in a large black area the more isolated they become the more fearful they become. I believe that it is only possible to have liberal leaders, which, fortunately, we have in Kenya, because when we have an abominable eruption like Mau Mau in Kenya the settlers have behind them all the forces and powers of this country. Mr. Van Eeden, an Afrikaner Rhodesian, has advocated this scheme on the ground that it will lead to union with South Africa. I do not believe that this Central African federation can stand on its own feet without very serious dangers.
We have had very great experience in Commonwealth and colonial administration and development, and ever since the days of Warren Hastings we have had in this country a conception of trusteeship. I am sure that no one would willingly turn his back upon that conception. What we are doing here is, in the name of commerce, abandoning that conception, and, at the same time, we are trying to persuade ourselves that we are fulfilling it.
Because of India, Pakistan and Ceylon and because of the whole development of our colonial history and trusteeship, we hold a position now which no other country can hold. We hold the bridge between the white and the coloured peoples of the world—an honourable position—a crucial position—and we are in danger of abandoning our world political responsibility for a local economic advantage. Abandon it and we shall regret it; we shall repent it; we shall feel shame for it; and we shall work out our penance for it through the years and perhaps through innocent generations.
May I deal with one point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised earlier in the afternoon? It has to do with the casting vote, and I think that I can satisfy him. He will probably take it from me that in the April conference of 1952, Note 33, there was a provision, or a Note, that the Chairman's casting vote, if it is necessary, should be given in favour of keeping the subject under discussion. That is in the draft Federal Scheme of 1952, page 25, Note 33.
The intention was that the words in the Federal Scheme, which he quoted, should do the same thing. If there is any doubt about it in the actual drafting—I am only giving a suggestion not a firm commitment—we might say: vote in such a manner as would enable further consideration to be given to the matter. That, of course, would meet the point.
We are having today a very important debate which will have far-reaching effects, not only on Africans, but on white settlers and, indeed, on the British people at home, too. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are differences of opinion on this very important subject.
It is a tradition of the Labour Party that it has always striven to protect those who are the least able to protect themselves. That was one of the reasons which first attracted me to the Labour Party some 25 years ago. Therefore, on this issue tonight there is some difference of opinion even between Members of my own party.
What we are really concerned about, I think, is primarily to serve the interests of the Africans themselves, and I must say that, after very long prolonged and anxious thought on this question and after many conversations with black and white natives of Africa, I am convinced that it is in the best interests of the Africans themselves that federation should take place. Primarily, it would ensure the improvement of the standards of living of the African peoples, for we should have a viable economy in that part of Central Africa. After all, it can be said that freedom is a by-product of prosperity. That was true even of the development of our own country. Therefore, I shall certainly not vote against the Government this evening.
It would have been far better if the debate had not taken place until after the plebiscite in Southern Rhodesia on 9th April, because, whichever way the issue is decided this evening, we shall be blamed. If the principles of federation as outlined in the White Paper are carried, we shall be blamed by the white Africans who are against federation. On the other hand, if those principles are defeated, we shall be blamed by those who are in favour of federation. We cannot escape the fact that the Imperial House of Parliament will be accused of influencing the result.
The main reason for my support is that federation will ensure a viable economic unit in that part of Africa. They will get prosperity, individually and collectively, in precisely the same way as the federation, as it were, of England, Scotland and Wales brought prosperity to each of those three countries. None of these Territories—Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—can stand economically by itself. That was brought out clearly by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). The Southern Rhodesian coal is essential for the smelting of the Northern Rhodesian copper, and both countries are in urgent need of capital for their development.
It was interesting to note that when a loan was floated in the City of London by the Southern Rhodesia Government two months ago, 70 per cent. of it was left on the hands of the underwriters. That proved that until the political future of these three Territories is settled, and until there is some assurance that there will be a viable unit in Central Africa, the capital which is essential for their development will not readily be provided. It is not only a matter of the coal and copper being developed respectively in Southern and Northern Rhodesia; there are known to be considerable deposits of mica and chrome in those countries, and capital, whether public or private, is urgently needed.
The second reason I support the principles of federation is that I am afraid that Southern Rhodesia will go into the Union if it does not take place. I am frightened of Malan. What will happen to the future of the Africans if Malanism comes into Southern Rhodesia? For this reason, I am very concerned about the rights and welfare of the Africans. It so happens, probably more by the accident of geography than for any other reason, that the economic outlets of Southern Rhodesia are all to the south. Most of the roads and railways run into the Union. Therefore, if Southern Rhodesia were unable to exist as a viable economic unit, and particularly if there happened to be a slump, I have not the slightest doubt that Southern Rhodesia would rapidly tend to become a fifth province of the Union.
It is interesting to note who are against federation. First of all, the reactionary white settlers in Southern Rhodesia are against federation, and certainly the Afrikaners are against it. We have even that strange alliance that has happened before in recent history. Communists in Northern Rhodesia, led by Mr. Zukas, a Latvian displaced person, and the more Fascist elements among the whites in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, are forming a united front to prevent federation taking place.
I am stating what are my views on the issue at the moment and, for the benefit of my hon. Friend, they have not changed.
Economic dependence of a country has a habit of quickly settling differences about political affiliations. I am convinced that if federation does not take place there will be a very grave danger of our having Malanism not only in Southern Rhodesia but right up to the Belgian Congo. What should we do if that happened? We could not prevent it happening by force. Nobody would suggest that we should fight the Boer War all over again. Therefore, we must take the necessary steps which are open to us to prevent such a thing happening as Malanism going right through the Rhodesias.
Strangely enough, the opponents of federation agree that it is eminently desirable politically and economically, but they jib at imposing it. But all colonial government is an imposition, wherever it takes place. If we accept that principle, we might as well renounce all our trusteeships in every one of our colonial possessions. That follows logically from the beliefs of those who regard federation as an imposition. Every form of government is an imposition. I regard Her Majesty's present Government as a very irksome imposition.
However, that is not a sufficient reason for not going forward with the scheme when we know it to be in the real interest of the Africans themselves. We have not persisted with colonial government since the end of the war except in countries which are backward. I am no white reactionary. We gave freedom to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, but they were far more advanced in every way than the primitive people in Southern and Northern Rhodesia.
It has been said that we should consult African opinion. How should we do that? The only people we can consult are the small minority who have had a European education. Most Africans in the two countries belong to nomadic tribes and, indeed, few of the tribes are indigenous to those parts of Africa. The Colonial Secretary said that there was no word for "federation" in any of their languages. Millions of Africans are not as far advanced as were the ancient Britons. They know nothing of working copper and food and nothing about building. It is absolutely impossible to consult them.
As I have said, the only people we can consult are the Africans who have had a European education. What does that mean? It means that we are handing over the potential constitutional rights of millions of Africans to a small self-appointed caucus; that is how I see the position. I would far rather trust the Colonial Office, even under the present Government, for the welfare of these Africans than I would trust these people. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] An hon. Member asks why I should trust the Colonial Office, but surely the whole opposition to the scheme of federation is that the Territories of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should remain under the ægis of the Colonial Office. My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. Morgan) should read the federation scheme.
I have heard of and studied federation from when I was a boy of six. In the West Indies I have fought for it as most publicists have, but we have not got it yet. It has been shelved time and time again.
I am sorry if I misinterpreted the remarks of my hon. Friend, but I certainly thought that he was one who opposed the federation scheme.
It has been said that all African opinion is against it. I, for one, do not believe that to be the truth. I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary, or whoever replies to the debate, if it is not a fact that, so far as the Matabele are concerned, they are in favour of federation. They are the most advanced tribe and the only indigenous tribe in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, and as far as I understand they have declared in favour of federation.
What about white African opinion? Quite a large percentage of what are often wrongly termed "white settlers" in Northern and Southern Rhodesia are indigenous, more so than even the Africans there, to the second and third generations; they have developed that country and have to be considered. That is recognised on both sides of the House, because a plebiscite is to take place to find out their views. I do not think it would be agreed that all the white settlers in Southern Rhodesia are reactionary. I have here a short quotation from Lord Ogmore, who was speaking on this question outside Parliament after a visit to Northern and Southern Rhodesia. He said:
I thought it a great tribute to the people who have gone out there that they had spent so much thought, time and money on helping their African fellow citizens, but to hear those same people castigated by persons who have never been nearer to Africa than Southend really makes one feel upset.
We get proof from the Africans themselves that they are not so reactionary as they are often painted. These blacks, who are alleged to be ill-treated, travel thousands of miles on foot from Nyasaland to Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia to work in the copper mines and other industries. It is entirely wrong to assume that every white settler out there has a Bible in one hand and a bottle of whisky in the other. Many of them have done an excellent job and tribute has been paid, not only by the Colonial Secretary today, but even by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
I think this debate has been well worth while for one reason and one reason alone, in that it has brought out the very essential powers which are retained by the Colonial Office. I make no excuse for repeating them—land and land rights, schools, health, forestry, travel, Customs, pass laws, trade unions, black and white police and the political advancement of the Africans—are all powers still retained by the Colonial Office. In fact, there is nothing to prevent there being a black majority in Nyasaland or a black majority in Northern Rhodesia under the scheme. Far too little attention has been paid to that matter.
I believe that federation is a good thing for ourselves. If we are to become more independent of the United States, if we are to have more elbow room between the United States and the Soviet Union, it is essential that we should have a prosperous Commonwealth. It is vital and important that we should develop latent mineral resources which are known to exist in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. It is essential that that be done reasonably quickly if we are to ensure that people in this country continue to enjoy two meals a day. To that section of my party who are always pleading the desirability of a third force—in which I share—I say that the only way in which to get a real and effective third force is by federation of these three countries.
Finally, I believe in securing the economic advancement and well-being of the Africans—that is my prime reason— because it is not only opponents of federation who are concerned for African well-being. I believe it would ensure the economic advantage of the white people there, also. It would ensure the future of all those countries and ensure the future well-being of our own homeland.
There is a cliché often used in this House when an hon. Member says, "I do not propose to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down," but I should like to say to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson)—for whom I have a high regard —that if it will not embarrass him too much I do propose to follow him in what he has said. Indeed, I do so to such an extent that I find I can cut out quite large portions of the speech I intended to make because he has said what I wanted to say in more eloquent terms than I could use.
I turn to the speech with which the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) opened for the Opposition in what the hon. Member for Keighley has already said is a very important debate. Here we are discussing the future of a large slice of one of the greatest continents of the world, and it is a matter to which people have given a great deal of thought and deep consideration. In listening to the speech of the right hon. Member, I was distressed that he should come to the conclusion that he has to divide the House on what I thought were such slender excuses. I shall take up one or two of them, because I do not want to say that lightheartedly. I shall pick out some of them from the rapid notes I took when the right hon. Member was speaking, and I hope he will correct me if I have not got them correctly.
Referring to the fact that under the proposed scheme of federation the two Northern Territories retain their Protectorate status and that Her Majesty's Government are in the position of being able to govern the political progress of the natives, the right hon. Member quoted from the White Paper which said that Her Majesty's Government would consult the federation. He took umbrage at that and made a great point of it as if it were in some way interfering with the Protectorate status of the Territories. He made a mountain out of a molehill. If we put it the other way, supposing that Her Majesty's Government were proposing advances in the native status and did not consult the Federal Government, what would hon. Members say then? They would say, "Fancy considering these things without consulting the Federal Government who have under their umbrella the African Affairs Board, the railways, and all the rest of it." It seems to me to be such a small point as to carry no weight at all.
Another thing which the right hon. Gentleman did was to compare what was being done in the Sudan with what was being done under these federation proposals. I suggest to him that one cannot compare the Sudan with Central Africa if only for the reason that one is a country with an indigenous white and black population, whereas in the other there is no white indigenous population at all. The problems are not the same, and I do not think it is a fair comparison.
I pass now to the extract quoted by the right hon. Gentleman from Dr. Moffat's speech. If I may say so without offence, I think it was a little ingenuous to quote that speech, with all the fervour and emotion of which the right hon. Gentleman is capable, without having ascertained whether the view expressed by Dr. Moffat a year ago was precisely the view which he holds today.
The right hon. Gentleman, in response to an interjection when my hon. Friend was speaking not many minutes ago, said that he had not ascertained Dr. Moffat's present view on federation.
I think the right hon. Gentleman should have made that clear and should have brought himself up to date, because I am informed that Dr. Moffat's views today are different from what they were.
I quoted Dr. Moffat's views from the OFFICIAL REPORT of that debate. If the hon. Gentleman says that Dr. Moffat has changed his views, can he tell the House what they are now?
I do not know, but I say that the right hon. Gentleman should not have made a definite statement before ascertaining the present views of Dr. Moffat.
Regarding these proposals, it seems to me that the chief thing we are discussing today is whether we are abdicating our responsibility by putting through federation against so-called African opinion. I believe that we are not abdicating our responsibility, but that we should be doing so if we bowed to the clamour of a small and organised opposition, and I will give my reasons for saying that.
First, we must remember that so far as the native population is concerned we are dealing with people who are hundreds of years behind us in political development. They will only advance faster than we did if they have our guiding hand. Otherwise, it will take them hundreds of years to advance.
It probably is, though not to quite the same extent as in these Territories. In any case, the Gold Coast is a country where only a black race is indigenous, whereas here we have a country where both black and white are indigenous. The problems are entirely different.
I think that, in principle, federation is approved by all sides of the House because it is believed that in federation lies the best chance for the progress of all races in those parts of Africa. I have not heard that view disputed from either side of the House. Therefore, believing that to be the case, and holding as we do the trusteeship for the future of those Territories, are we to put through federation or are we. as I say, to bow to the organised opposition on the part of so-called African opinion?
I suggest that if we do that we shall never have federation at all, and that we shall abandon the thing which we believe to be in the interest of the whole of the populations of these Territories. I would remind hon. Members that when the decision was taken to transfer the Government of these Territories from the Charter Company to the Colonial Office, African opinion was then violently opposed to the suggestion. But this country did not say, "We are going to leave the Charter Company in charge." We transferred the rule to the Colonial Office because we felt that was the right thing to do.
It would be interesting to speculate whether, if the Socialist Party had then had to make the choice, they would have transferred the Government of a country from private enterprise to the State, and to speculate whether if the inhabitants of the country had disagreed they would have adopted the policy which some of them are now adopting towards federation.
Perhaps it would be a good thing to consider how some of this opposition has come about. There was a very interesting letter in "The Times" a short while ago written by Sir Shenton Thomas which, I thought, brought out the point very well. The fact is that we started putting over federation on the wrong foot. For years, the African population have been accustomed to be told by the district commissioners and by this country what is considered good for them. They have always accepted it and found that what they have been told is true, and they have advanced accordingly.
But on this occasion a different technique was adopted. The district commissioners were not allowed, so to speak, to press federation. They were told to explain it, and the average native, who up to then had always been told what this country proposed to do in his interest, suddenly found that he was being consulted about the proposition. This awoke his suspicion and the African Congress got hold of it and have worked up prejudice and fear to the extent that, as we have already heard, many chiefs who approve federation dare not utter their approval.
That is how the position has been worked up. If we delay federation because of this atmosphere which has been created by the mishandling of the problem at the start we shall have to abandon it altogether. Indeed, we shall wait till kingdom come to get federation unless we grasp the nettle now.
One final point. It is far too readily assumed by many speakers opposite that the white settler is a bad man. Indeed, much resentment has been caused in the Territories by the sort of speeches that have been made over the last year or two by certain hon. Members opposite. I do not think it is too much to say that it has engendered a desire among the settlers to cut adrift from this country as soon as they can if that is the way they are going to be regarded in this House of Commons.
A year ago I received a letter from a white settler in Rhodesia, from which I will quote one or two extracts. In it he talked about the necessity for federation, and pointed out that unless there was European guidance everywhere the country would slip back. He said that the native attitude towards agriculture could be summed up in the phrase "erode, and pass on." He goes on:
Let me assure you, I am no Negrophobe. On the contrary, I like them and get on with them, and have good reason to suppose they like and trust us. Certainly they come to us with their troubles and ailments,
and he goes on to describe what his wife does in that connection. Then he says:
In conclusion, I suggest that federation is now a necessity. There are two alternatives: to be given federation on realistic terms or to take it.
That is the attitude. Then I think I must just read this:
It would be a pity if Lord North and Mr. Lyttelton—to whom no disrespect at all—had too much to talk about in heaven.
That brings out the point I wanted to make with regard to the feeling of the white settler in these Territories and some of the speeches made by hon. Members opposite.
I believe that we have reached the stage where we must grasp the nettle. For the reasons I have stated, I do not believe that any more talk about federation will get us any nearer the concurrence of this so-called African opinion. To use the old proverb, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I think that in the working of federation it will have to be shown—and will be shown, in my submission—to the African that once again this country has told him and has carried through what it believes is good for him.
We must trust our white blood brothers in Central Africa. And why, may I ask, should we not? There are many men there who have no less statesmanlike ideas and no less liberal ideas than those of us in this House. There is too much disposition continually to argue that those at the centre, in the Federal Governments, contain a preponderance of whites, always assuming that the whites are going to vote against African interest. I do not believe that for one moment. The only thing that will convince African opinion of the good of federation is to see that in its working it brings them the benefits we know it will bring. We shall not convince them in any other way. For that reason, I say that the Government are adopting the right course in saying that provided, and always provided, the plebiscite in Southern Rhodesia results in a majority for coming into the scheme, the Government should bring in the two Northern territories and form the federation.
However deeply the House may be divided on this issue, we are agreed upon one point, and that is that the effects of the decision taken tonight will be very far-reaching, and that a grave responsibility rests upon right hon. and hon. Members. I agree with the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) in his opening remarks on that subject, but I do not follow his later argument when he referred to the West Indies and other examples of an advance towards self-government. I think I am right in saying that in all the cases he quoted it was the result of colonial administration. It has not been our policy to create a federation first and then hope that an enlightened colonial policy would be pursued afterwards.
I appreciate this is a difficult decision to make. From time to time in this House we have to make decisions affecting the electors of the country, or a section of the electors, or the relationship between the people of this country and some other sovereign State. Tonight, however, we have to decide the future of six million people in Central Africa, of whom only 2½ per cent. are white-skinned.
We are also aware that it may have an effect, for good or ill, on the British Commonwealth, of which only 14 per cent. of the members are white-skinned. Therefore, it behoves us to try to consider this problem as impartially as possible and not merely through the eyes of the white man. In an article in the "Observer" on Sunday, 15th March, there appeared the following:
In the Coronation celebrations of this year we shall be reminded that Britain is great because she is the centre of a world-wide society, the Commonwealth. Of the 600 million people who acknowledge the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth, 550 million are not white-skinned; that is, 86 per cent.
It so happens that in this Coronation year we are asked to decide whether to found a new State within the Commonwealth—for that is what the proposal for a Central African federation means…. And it is no exaggeration to say that the outcome of this debate may fatefully influence the character and composition of the Commonwealth itself in the years to come.
The reason for this is to be found in the present state of Africa. If a major step is now taken which accelerates the spread of racial strife in that continent, the disintegrating effects of this will, sooner or later, be felt, not only throughout Africa but beyond it.
I cannot see how the spread of this racial strife can be averted by the adoption of this policy of federation. I hope that it will be overcome, but I believe that it will only be overcome by removing
the fear which exists, and by restoring the confidence of the coloured peoples in the British Crown. I had a number of conversations with the Nyasaland chiefs who came over to this country recently, and I was deeply disturbed at their disillusionment, at their disappointment with the official reception which they received. I am not blaming anyone. I am only conveying the impression I gained.
The third essential is that there should be greater evidence of the desire for partnership between the white and the coloured races. Fourthly, and I think this is of the greatest importance, we should make it absolutely clear that we are not departing from the trusts imposed on us when we accepted these protectorates. I do not go so far as to say that it is wrong for a trustee to act contrary to the wishes of the beneficiaries. That depends on circumstances.
If one follows that simile in the case of a private trust, if all the beneficiaries are of age and capable of deciding collectively and express a wish that the trustees should act in a particular way, there is an obligation on the trustees to observe their wishes. On the other hand, a trustee should be very careful not to act in a way contrary to the known wishes of the great majority of the beneficiaries.
But there are cases in which beneficiaries are under age, or not yet born, when it is the duty of the trustees to act according to their discretion within the limits of the trusts. But we cannot have it both ways. If we argue that the African people are not fit and ready to decide for themselves, it is surely essential that we should avoid any departure from the trusts imposed upon us. It must be one thing or the other. Either we observe their wishes or we do not depart from the trusts imposed upon us until the Africans are in a position to decide for themselves.
That seems to me the principle underlying this problem, and because I believe this proposal for a federal scheme to be a departure from the sacred trust undertaken by this country when it accepted these Protectorates, I think it would be wrong to support the policy advocated by Her Majesty's Government.
I think it right that we should consider and examine the Federal Scheme.
On 4th March of last year the Colonial Secretary said:
Many of the anxieties about safeguards arise because those safeguards are not yet to be seen in a draft constitution."—[OFFICIAL-REPORT, 4th March. 1952; Vol. 497, c. 241.]
Unfortunately, they are still anxieties now that we have this draft Constitution. I do not propose to go into the details, because I am aware of the time and the number of hon. Members wishing to speak, and of the points that have already been made.
I hope, however, that whoever winds up the debate will deal with the Preamble. It is true that in the Preamble there are certain words expressing the intention to protect the African people, particularly in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia. What will be the legal effects of this Preamble? Will it ultimately be written into the Constitution and will it have a legally binding effect?
If one examines the Preamble one finds in paragraph (e) reference to going forward with confidence towards the
attainment of full membership of the Commonwealth.
In that paragraph we find these words:
… when the inhabitants of the Territories so desire.
How are we to ascertain when the inhabitants of the Territories so desire? The Constitution as drawn gives very little opportunity for the Africans themselves to express their desire.
Reference has been made to the important matters which will be dealt with by the Federal Legislature. There is a "concurrent list" on page 12 of the document in which we find a list of the matters on which the territorial legislatures and Federal Legislature will be empowered to make laws, with the federal law prevailing in cases of inconsistency. The list includes: deportation, naturalisation, and migration between the Territories. It is a long list, and includes town planning. These are all matters which must affect the African people.
I have had a number of letters, as no doubt other hon. Members have, but I would like to quote from one. My correspondent is an ex-colonial Governor. He would not wish to be quoted as any greater authority on this matter than other ex-colonial Governors, but he has
had very considerable experience. I quote him as an example of one writing with a sense of responsibility, to make it clear that this opposition to federation is not simply the opinion of a few politicians or even of a few missionaries. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is his name?"] Sir Gordon Lethem. He says:
Federation may prove an efficient and strong machine, and far too strong for the Protectorate countries and those of the African communities to stand up to it. On the economic side it might not matter so much, and economic advance might go forward, but the new Federal Government has taken immense powers, going far beyond what seems to me largely federal in spirit.
Even in the case of the proposed territorial Constitution we find in the 1953 Report, on page 16:
As regards amendments of the territorial Constitutions, the existing machinery and the responsibility of Her Majesty's Ministers in the United Kingdom remain unchanged, but Her Majesty's Ministers would naturally seek the views of the Federal Government before advising Her Majesty.
The Federal Government is to be overwhelmingly European, 26 members out of 35. There has been a reference to the necessity for a two-thirds majority, but the Africans will have fewer than one-third.
I am quite willing to answer the right hon. Gentleman. Under the Constitution, the maximum number of Africans would be nine, unless some of the 26 elected members on the roll are Africans themselves.
In 1951, in Southern Rhodesia, the electoral law was altered, as hon. Members will know, increasing the qualifications. The chances of the Constitution being altered in favour of Africans is very remote. If it is altered it will require a two-thirds majority under the present Constitution. It is not unreasonable to assume, looking at it impartially, that there will be no Africans elected among the 26.
Four main arguments have been put forward for the policy of adopting this federal scheme. One is the economic argument. It is very difficult for us to say with certainty to what extent the economic policy will succeed. Secondly, is the argument that Southern Rhodesia may wish to join up with the Union if the federal scheme is not adopted? I am not at all sure that the white settlers of Rhodesia would wish that. On the other hand, if we took this step and forced federation through against the wishes of the Africans it might make it very difficult for us, to object to the absorption of Bechuanaland and Basutoland by the Union of South Africa in the near future.
It has been argued that racial strife will grow if we do not adopt federation, but it may increase as result of taking this step. There is the argument that this scheme must be adopted now or never, but I do not think that that argument is necessarily sound. In any case, that surely is not a sufficient argument upon which to base a policy which is wrong in principle. Perhaps I might quote once more from the letter which I have received. It states:
There is a lot of talk about partnership for the future, but no reality or safeguard for it in the future in the actual scheme as put forward.
One hon. Member said that positive proposals had not been put forward. As an illustration of a positive suggestion may I make this last quotation from the letter from Sir Gordon Lethem:
The sort of thing I should have liked to have seen there was the creation of a Central African Commission headed by someone of high standing…. This could have been created easily for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland even if Southern Rhodesia would not come in. The objective of the Commission would be to work for closer association of the Territories, economic advancement, and so on, and gradually, political association or federation, reporting, say, to Parliament and
the Colonial Legislatures, in, say, five years, and within that time something real might have been effected towards the elimination of racial discrimination and much more real African participation in the existing territorial Governments.
I recognise that there are limited spheres in which the territorial Legislatures will continue to function. Reference is made from time to time in the Report to the Secretary of State. Will it be the Colonial Secretary or will it be the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, because it makes a considerable difference? What I fear, as I said earlier, is that this step will involve the abandonment of all chance of an enlightened colonial policy towards these Territories. On grounds of expediency, I can see there is much to be said on both sides. It may be debatable as to which side the scale will come down, but, in principle, I cannot see any doubt at all.
In principle, I think that this policy is wrong and must therefore be condemned. As to what extent it will lead to an increase in racial conflict, I cannot say. Since the war we have tended to devote our attention to the conflict between the Soviet and the Western democracies but looming up all the time in the background, has been the appalling danger of racial conflict in Africa and elsewhere. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that unless we can find a means of checking the growth of racial strife it will sooner or later break the British Commonwealth.
This important debate turns on three points which have been dealt with by other speakers. The first is whether federation of these territories is a good thing. The second is whether this scheme for federation is a good scheme. The third, and the most difficult, is whether we are justified in supporting the introduction of this scheme at the present juncture.
My answer to the first question will be brief because I think it accords with the views of the majority of people who have spoken in the House. It must be the view of those who abide by the pledge made by successive Governments that our colonial policy is to guide the inhabitants of the Colonies towards responsible government in conditions which ensure for them a fair standard of living and freedom from aggression. It must be the view of all who abide by that pledge that federation of these three African Territories is a good thing.
Some form of economic association is believed on all sides to be a necessity if that fair standard of living is to be achieved and maintained. That association must be stronger than the present Central African Council, which has failed in its purpose because it has not had sufficient executive powers. On the other hand, it must be weaker than amalgamation because, to adopt amalgamation would, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, be abrogation of our very special responsibilities towards Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
I am not discussing amalgamation. I have turned it down as being impossible.
It seems to me, therefore, that between these two—loose association without power and amalgamation, both of which are ruled out—there remains only some form of federation. The question is whether this is the right way. Here again 1 answer, yes. I give that answer not only from study of the White Papers, but also from a certain study of the objections which were raised to the draft scheme for federation which preceded the present scheme.
Of the main objections made at that time, the present scheme has met most of them. The African Affairs Board now becomes a standing committee of the Federal Assembly and that enables the members of that Board to take an active and constructive part in African welfare. Safeguards have been added in the clauses of the Constitution itself, not merely in the Preamble, to ensure that the Territorial Governments retain their control over the lands in their Territories.
Doubts were expressed at the time of the draft scheme as to whether it fulfilled the pledge to which I have referred, namely, that our colonial policy is to guide the Colonies towards responsible self-government. Those doubts were expressed on two opposite scores. Some people said that the door was closed for ever on Dominion status. The present scheme specifically refutes that. Others said that the draft scheme would allow Dominion status to be achieved too quickly by the Europeans for the Africans to be ready for it. The fixing of the period of 10 years in which no change can be made, except under very special circumstances, seems to me to take away that objection. Lastly, people urged that there should be provision for a review of the Constitution at some specific future date, and that has been given in the scheme.
Would the hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt, because we have not had an answer to this fundamental point? Supposing that at the end of 10 years the five parties are called together, and supposing the Southern Rhodesians say that they will not agree to any alterations of any kind, sort or description, what happens? How is the scheme operated at all?
Several hon. Members have spoken of the dropping of the proposed African member of the Cabinet. I am not particularly impressed with the seriousness of that loss, because it seems to me that it was what one might call a paper conception. It would not have worked to have a cuckoo Minister, as my right hon. Friend called him, who goes on like part of the furniture from one Government to the next. I cannot believe that in practice it would work. I believe that as a result the new scheme is the right form of federation for these Territories. The scheme can, and will, work, given the good will of the people who are going to make it; but without good will no scheme could succeed.
The third question is whether we are justified in introducing the scheme now. It has been said that this is the point which perturbs a large number of people who, like myself, can give a wholehearted "Yes" to the first two questions. These doubts are natural and genuine. They are brought about by the very vocal African opposition to the scheme. People have genuine doubts whether, in the teeth of that opposition, we have the right to impose any scheme of federation. I firmly believe that we have not only the right, but the duty, to do so.
In the first place, delay would kill the scheme if this House fails to approve it; or if the scheme is not approved by the referendum next month in Southern Rhodesia, it will be impossible to resurrect it, at any rate for years to come. Southern Rhodesia cannot be expected to continue having referenda year after year, and conditions are never likely to be as favourable for a scheme of federation in Southern Rhodesia in the future as they are at the moment. I do not. of course, know whether the scheme will go through, but I believe that the present is its most favourable prospect.
Even if delay were possible, my belief is that it would be useless. It is no use trying to persuade by reason by far the majority of the Africans that the scheme would succeed, because the opposition of the less educated of them is based, not on reason, but on the instinctive dislike and distrust of change which many backward people have. The more forward and better educated people who oppose federation have made great play with that instinct. There is only one way to prove what we believe, to prove to the Africans that federation is advantageous to them, and that is to introduce it. That, I believe, is the answer.
We are proud of our trust for the Africans, and I, in my humble way, like the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), have had a certain experience of trusts. In my younger days I was a very small beneficiary of a trust, and I spent a great deal of time and trouble in trying to persuade my trustee that I knew better than he did what was good for me. I am glad to say that I was not successful. Since then, I have become a trustee for several trusts.
I have never thought it anything but my duty to listen to what the beneficiaries of those trusts might say, but not necessarily, and particularly when the beneficiaries were not of age, to act upon what they said. I have always thought that one should make one's judgment and act upon it in what one firmly believes to be the best interests of the beneficiary. Surely that is the only purpose that anyone has in making a trust.
A person makes a trust because he does not believe that the beneficiary knows what is best for himself or for his successors, and one chooses as a trustee the person who has that capacity. We as a nation have accepted the trusteeship for Africa, and we must be ready to judge and to abide by our judgment and to act upon it. We have at our disposal the most reliable advice for which one could ask. Our colonial history should give us great confidence. Our colonial administrators have never failed in their disinterested service to the peoples whom they govern.
This will not be the first time that we have acted in major matters against the wishes of the people whom we govern, but to their advantage. I am convinced that federation is to the advantage of the Africans and that it is, therefore, our duty as trustees to bring it into being.
I do not want to follow the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Holland-Martin) too far. I did not follow his analogy about trusteeship. I did not gather by whom we were appointed trustees, how we should appoint trustees, or what were the terms which the trusteeship imposed upon us; but in so far as we are responsible for the care and consideration of the interests of 6 million Africans, I do not think that the scheme follows out that claim or makes adequate provision.
We all agree that we are discussing a matter of great constitutional importance and on which it is eminently desirable that there should not be too much partisan controversy. I feel very strongly about this and could make a polemical speech upon it, but I am anxious not to do so. I am anxious to try to take a line which will not add any fuel to the fires of controversy, but some things one must say.
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, as I always do, with pleasure. His personal courtesy and consideration, combined with his early Victorian sentiments, always impresses me somewhat and gives me a genuine nostalgic pleasure for an age which had some very great advantages over us and some things that were very much worth while. I was rather sorry that for a moment or two in the middle of the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) the Minister should suddenly emerge for a brief period as the colonel from Poona; but he then relaxed again into his own kindly personality.
One or two statements—I might almost say excuses—are made generally in this debate. We have had one or two palliations of the difficulty that we face in taking a decision and thrusting it upon 6 million people without a single one of their voices having been raised in favour of it. It is said, "It will all come out in the wash." One hon. Member opposite said, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." But that is not true. The proof of the pudding is in the process of digestion, and it is in the process of digestion that we may find that something goes wrong as far as this thing is concerned.
It is said that it can all be put right somehow. Since the debate began, my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and everybody else has asked the simple question: How can it be put right? We are handing over the control of these three Territories to the people of Southern Rhodesia. There is no answer to that. The figures are there. There was an interruption to say that there might be Africans among the members—Africans in this country of the colour bar where they cannot even join the boy scouts. What is the use of talking about the possibility of Africans?
I am aware of precisely what has been said. If the hon. Gentleman wants quotations, he shall have them. When this scheme first came forward the Member for African Affairs spoke on the new electoral reform Bill in Southern Rhodesia. We have not heard a word about that and about the fact that the law was amended to the detriment of the Africans shortly before the scheme was put forward.
It was said by the Minister for Native Affairs that there would not be an African seat until there were 1,500 African votes in a constituency and that would not happen in his lifetime or in the lifetime of his children. If the hon. Member wants any more quotations I can refer to Sir Godfrey Huggins himself, the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, who is the person who for the moment will be in complete control. There is no misunderstanding about that. He has his 14 members as against eight for Northern Rhodesia and four for Nyasaland, with the addition of the nine…
I am suggesting what is mathematically obvious. If there are 35 members and 14 are elected members for Southern Rhodesia, that caucus can prevent a two-thirds majority because there are only 21 left and that does not provide a two-thirds majority.
Sir Godfrey Huggins himself said that if the African Affairs Board did not behave themselves they would do without them and finish them. It is said that there are provisions for their protection. Where are they? This is a statement made in a public speech by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. We are entitled to ask the Secretary of State what he did after that speech when he was in close conference with Sir Godfrey Huggins about these details, when they were engaged in these weeks of negotiation in London and in the argument about detail. It was about these that "The Times" correspondent reported that it was a battle by Southern Rhodesia to reduce even further the protection for the Africans. While that was going on. did not the right hon. Gentleman ask Sir Godfrey Huggins what he meant when he said that if the Native Affairs Board did not behave themselves they would do away with them?
Did not he know of that speech? Did not he make any reference to it? This debate has proceeded on a high level. I personally am sorry that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia is not present to hear it. He referred to what a sad thing it was that the great questions of the Empire should be legislated upon by people whose primary preoccupation was the drains of Shoreditch or of Ipswich, I forget which. I do not know whether the Secretary of State questioned him about any of these observations. They were widely reported. There is no question about them. I do not wish to conduct this great issue on a basis of personal controversy, but we are entitled to know about these matters. I accept the sneers from those hon. Members opposite who have made a professional. occupation of that type of activity.
I am trying very hard not to conduct the debate on the basis of personal controversy. I propose to pursue that attitude. I have spoken up and down the country on many occasions. I have addressed many meetings. I believe that I am in the position to speak with about as much knowledge of the state of opinion in this country on this matter as anyone. If anyone cares to quote one word I have said which has been acutely controversial—
I do not resent that interjection coming from the hon. Member. There is something in it. I do not think that I have made a single speech of an inflammatory nature on this matter or said anything designed other than to serve the interest of conciliation and in an effort to find some way out even now. The right hon. Gentleman must realise that this is a serious issue. I was interrupted when I was saying that there is a colour bar in both these countries. The point has been made by hon. Members opposite that even the white workmen have imposed a colour bar in the mines. We have been inundated with letters from people out there who have been deeply hurt by the colour bar.
It is a colour bar which means that, generally speaking, white and coloured people worship in different churches even if they belong to the same denomination, a colour bar which means that there are black boy scout troops and white boy scout troops, a colour bar which has seen the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia time after time denouncing African opinion and its manifestations. He referred to the visit of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly to Victoria Falls in terms in which he said that it became a mere welfare meeting for the natives and that after that they had more trouble in a few months than they had had in a few years before.
It just will not do to say that we can dismiss this wholly from our minds in considering whether we should pass these great powers on and delegate them in a way which clearly means that the power of veto rests in the caucus of Southern Rhodesia and rests there alone. I do not know what will be the effect on African opinion if a Bill is forced through this House and through another place and imposed. We are told time after time that there will be a locus poenitentiœ, that there will be a chance of amendment and that if things will not work we can put them right.
There are two points on that. The other day I read through the debates on the South Africa Bill. They were very great and impressive debates in which men like Keir Hardie and Ramsay MacDonald took part. On every side sincere speeches were made. There were speeches that held the keynote of sincerity. Everyone was saying the same thing from both sides of the House. They were saying that they grieved that they could not give any measure of democracy at that moment to the Africans. They grieved that they could not give them the vote. They said that they would like to do so but that the Africans had not advanced quite enough.
They said that after that scheme had gone through there was nothing to prevent their progress, nothing to deter their advancement, and that they would march forward one by one in company with their white fellows in South Africa. They were sons of the same God and they would march forward together. What is the answer to that? It is Malan and apartheid, and a wickedness of the type that we fought the last war to suppress. That was the end of that.
But it is said that there are some constitutional devices. It is said that there are some constitutional protections. It is said that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland remain Protectorates of the Crown while Southern Rhodesia, a self-governing Colony, comes into the field. It is said that the scheme abounds with the provision of special powers for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Time after time we have heard another argument put forward. It is the argument that if we do not do something about this there may be a closer alliance between Southern Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa. It is said that we may drive them in.
If they can walk out of this provision— out of their loyalty to the Crown—why cannot they walk out of their loyalty to this federation agreement any time they want? Why cannot they turn round and defy us? We are entitled to know what the answer is. I am willing to give way if any hon. Gentleman opposite can give me an answer.
If we set up a federation with power to control migration with a focus on the prosperity of the federated Territories, that provides a counter-attraction to the Union. Without that there is no hope of counter-attraction to the Union.
I am much obliged, but the hon. Gentleman has not followed my point. I am not surprised, and, in view of the fact that other people want to speak, I could hardly spend sufficient time in elaborating a point which is obvious to the rest of the House. If they have power to defy one agreement, then they can defy another, and the meaning of the hon. Gentleman's intervention is that, if Sir Godfrey Huggins gets all he wants. he will be good for the time being and will cause us no trouble, and this, of course, ties up with the appeal which we have had from the other side twice over already to "grasp the nettle," a quotation which has a most unfortunate connotation in international affairs, and a particularly unfortunate one in relation to the sort of matter we are discussing.
I always listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) with appreciation, but I must tell him that my appreciation was a little more tepid than usual today, because the sentiments he expressed about this matter were precisely the sentiments expressed by Tory hon. Members of this House 150 years ago, when our grandfathers were causing them much the same trouble in their demands for emancipation and wanting the vote, because what he was saying is what was said in every debate on the Reform Bill—"We should like to give it to you, but we cannot trust you with it, because you are not sufficiently intellectually developed."
The hon. Gentleman did not base his argument on that, but on the fact that Africans had hardly emerged into civilisation at all, and therefore, he is making an error.
The second thing we have to face is the assent of the African people. Just how can we get it? How have we always got it up to now? We get it in two ways. One is by commanding respect and confidence, and the other is by consultation with the chiefs. These are the two ways, and, today, the overwhelming number of the chiefs are against us. No one attempts to dispute that fact. [Interruption.] I cannot understand the mutter-ings of the hon. Gentleman, but if he wants to intervene, I will give way.
That is exactly the thing we must not do. This is a question of a new federation, and it is said that we shall appoint an officer who will explain, not their views, but ours. They are not to say what they honestly believe, but are to read the White Paper and say what the Government have said.
It has always been one of the fundamental duties of district officers, among other things, when there is a tribal reaction against the innoculation of animals, to try to explain what it means, but this is a question of very high policy, to which this House is asked to give its support, and, at one moment, a district officer may be employed by a Labour Government, and, a month or two later, by a Conservative Government, and if it is said that the man must alter his attitude the moment the Government changes and make some counter-explanation, the whole thing will be quite impossible.
We must understand the position at the moment. I am sorry to refer to this, but it must be referred to. Events in one part of Africa have a great deal to do with events in another today, and what has been happening in Kenya has been watched with apprehension in Nyasaland and the Sudan. I came back from Kenya some months ago, and I said that there was a tendency to underestimate the strength of this movement and the strength of African opinion, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite said it was a most unhelpful speech. What my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) and I prophesied when we came back has happened. In the absence of economic reforms, we have got something pretty near war, and the Lancashire Fusiliers are in action in Kenya.
I hope passionately that the right hon. Gentleman will not try to force this policy through without taking some further measures to get African opinion in favour of it. There was an important letter in "The Times" today, as, indeed, there have been in many issues of "The Times," and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must remember, that, in this matter, the opinion of the whole of the native Press has been against them, or, at any rate, the overwhelming majority of the native Press. The right hon. Gentleman referred today in disparaging terms to the popular Press, and I expect he means "The Times," "The Manchester Guardian," "The Observer" and so on. [Interruption.] I am sorry, I cannot hear it; hon. Gentlemen opposite just mutter, and they only prolong my speech without conveying any enlightenment to me or making it possible for me to reply.
Hon. Members have been quoting letters from the Territories today. I have a note from the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), who is in hospital, and to whose recovery I am sure the whole House will look forward. A note was passed into my hands only a few hours ago when this debate opened, and in it my hon. Friend said that he had had a letter this morning from the Bishop of Nyasaland, in which he says:
Undoubtedly feeling is running high and the Chiefs who have recently returned from
their fruitless mission to England are travelling up and down the country holding meetings in conjunction with the Congress Parly to describe their visit and to decide what is to be done. They disclaim any intention to adopt violent methods, such as that of the Mau Mau in Kenya, and I think—though with no sort of claim to know—that it is not likely that there will be much active disturbance if federation is imposed by force, at any rate, on a large scale. But what I do fear is something much more serious and lasting, namely, the loss of confidence by the Chiefs and generality of Africans in Nyasaland in the good will and good faith of the Government in Whitehall towards them. Hitherto, faith in Whitehall has been their sheet-anchor in any storm, but now, after having been openly rebuffed by the Secretary of State and refused access to the Queen—surely the crowning blunder in this tragic—it is tragic—story of mishandling— they may very well conclude that there is now no hope or help for them in any European, and the next step from that is Black versus White.
When I came back to this House on 13th or 14th November last, I was told that I was stirring up trouble, and it was this fear of black versus white to which I had referred in that speech, when I said that the time was coming when, if we did not take care, every coloured African would begin to distrust every European. That is the fear, and that is the fear we have to dispel.
I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to say what is to prevent and deter the postponement of this matter while fuller consideration is given to it. I plead with him to say where are the reasonable provisions of the safeguards for the Africans. Why cannot they be incorporated in the scheme? If it is intended that the African shall have a share in democracy, why not lay down here and now in the scheme the terms on which the African can qualify for a vote and make that permanent and let him see the chance and aspiration of democracy being presented to him? Why cannot it be done? The Colonial Secretary knows the answer. The answer is: Sir Godfrey Huggins. I do not trust Sir Godfrey Huggins, either in his political views or in his attitude to the Africans. The history of Southern Rhodesia is not a very good and inspiring history.
I am much obliged. I am a member of the Howard Penal Reform League, but I have not felt it necessary to serve five years in gaol to speak on prison reform. The hon. Member should remember the goings on about Shoreditch drains, and the incapacity of this House to govern at all. I have not forgotten that the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia tried to take part in the British General Election on this matter. He made a few observations about our lack of international leadership and lack of control in international affairs, during the course of the General Election, a few days after my right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) returned from Abadan. I have not forgotten that somewhat ill-timed and unjust comment.
What is to prevent some measure of safety being put into the scheme now and a reply being made to the appeal in the letter from the Bishop of Chichester published today? What is to prevent consultations taking place? What is to prevent the presentation to the African chiefs of both sides of this question impartially, decently, and tolerantly so that they can understand the pros and cons of this scheme?
We are told that it is now or never. No one has said why. We are told that unless we grasp the nettle at this moment the chance will leave our hands. Why? Who picked the date? This matter has dragged on now for many months. What is the objection to some postponement? I listened to the Colonial Secretary's reference in his speech to the advantages of federation with some sympathy. I have never opposed those arguments because they were precisely the arguments which I put forward in 1947 for a United Europe, in company with the present Prime Minister who appears to have abandoned that standpoint now that he is in office.
I believe in a federated world, and it is because of that that I fundamentally and passionately oppose the imposition of this scheme. Those who concern themselves with African and world affairs have felt that our policy must be diametrically opposed to that suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley. It is not for us to say that we shall only have two meals unless we develop the materials and resources of Africa. It is for us to say that the starving peoples of the world must have more food, that they must have a place in the sun, that President Truman's Fourth Point means something, that the real peace policy is a policy which will extirpate the causes of war, root them right out and lay down the foundations of peace.
I do not believe that one can found peace on the basis of economic rivalry or the colour bar. One can found it only on the basis that a human being is a human being wherever he is, that he has a right to aspiration to a better and fuller life, to communion with his fellows, to a freedom that this federation denies to him. He must have every right to the fellowship of the peoples of the world. That alone can be the foundation of peace.
I am sorry if I have erred on the controversial side. The hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) was quite right when he said that perhaps I have a mild tendency to be a little polemical in advancing my arguments. I appeal to the Colonial Secretary to think again. I appeal to him to consult the leaders of religious opinion who are equally concerned about this matter, the experts on Africa who have mostly expressed their views profoundly against this scheme, the African peoples' representatives who are hurt and broken and dismayed by the way that these proposals have come through. I appeal to him to come to the House again at the end of those consultations.
If he does that, I am certain that he will find on this side of the House no obstinate opposition to federation, no obstinate desire to frustrate the legitimate development of these Territories, but a desire solely to protect the interests of democracy there and to further its extension.
I have listened with great interest to the quiet, measured and objective speech of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I must say that when he told the House that it was our duty to ensure that distrust was not sown in Nyasaland in particular, those words seemed to come very oddly from him, because practically every word that he said, whether he meant it or not, will have the effect of spreading that feeling of distrust. That is a very great pity.
I am not saying that the Bishop of Nyasaland or anybody else is right or wrong; what I do say is that the people of Nyasaland, including many of the chiefs of Nyasaland, do not understand what the proposals for federation mean, and that is the greatest danger that we are up against. It is a danger which is being exploited in some quarters, and I hope that nothing will be said in this House which will add to that danger.
When I listened to the objections raised by hon. Members opposite to the detailed steps for setting up the machinery of federation, I thought of the vast quantity of midnight oil which must have been consumed in the course of their researches. I am sorry to say, however, that I cannot admire their selection of points in their endeavour to reveal the weakness in this structure of federation. If we are to have federation at all, a scheme has here been devised which is as good as we could possibly have. In fact, there has been drafted into this scheme every conceivable form of protection for the Africans which already exists under Colonial Office administration. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members to laugh. That is the case. The scheme contains everything which already exists in Colonial Office administration. Therefore, this scheme of federation has gone as far as any scheme can possibly go to protect African interests. If that was not so, I would vote against it without any hesitation.
There is, however, one very weak point, and that resides in the setting up of the African Affairs Board under the Federal Scheme. I am not saying that the African Affairs Board is weak as it is constituted under the Federal Scheme in Africa; I think it is strong, and I think it is wise to bring it into the general federal Parliamentary picture. But I am not at all happy about what is to happen when the African Affairs Board has dealt with a problem in Africa, has certified a measure to be detrimental and sends it home to the Secretary of State for consideration. Such procedure would necessitate a ruling and Parliamentary action to be taken by the Secretary of State. That cannot be avoided.
Many things which have been said in this debate have shown how necessary it is that such matters should be kept off the Floor of the House. I should hate to see the subject of Africa become an excuse for throwing more mud in party political controversy, and I am frightened that that is what would happen, when this African Affairs Board functions, if matters were sent by that Board to the Secretary of State for consideration. I am very much afraid that we should find it almost impossible to consider those matters on the Floor of the House without party politics creeping in to a degree which cannot possibly be good for the Africans or for Europeans in Africa.
If we are to have this African Affairs Board let us consider whether we cannot set up some machinery here which will be in constant touch with African affairs and will have some analogous being with the African Affairs Board in Africa. For many years some of us have been pressing for some form of standing committee or colonial council which would be able to advise this House and tell us that they had given meticulous examination to certain colonial problems.
I admit that there are all sorts of constitutional difficulties, but cannot we start the experiment now? We have an African Affairs Board in Africa. Cannot we have an African Standing Committee in this House, composed not only of hon. Members, but of those who are best fitted to advise the House on matters concerning the territories which would be under our consideration. If we had the courage to face up to that problem and attempt to solve it it would have at least one effect. Party feelings would be less likely to be aroused when matters directly concerning Africa were brought before this House. What a blessing that would be.
I must admit that I do not like the way in which this matter has been handled from start to finish by the Front Benches on either side of the House. I do not admit that it was necessary to condemn the Central African Council— which was in being only from 1945 to 1950—and say that it was no good, could not be any good, could never be of any use to anybody at all and had no function to perform. That was not necessary. Action was taken far too quickly; but from the moment it was taken and federation was suggested we could not look back, and for all his eloquence I think the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and those who advised him were very much to blame for allowing the matter to come to a head at that stage, at that time, and in the way it did. It started off a whole series of problems which might otherwise have been avoided.
There is one thing which I learnt above all others when I had the honour to serve in Africa on the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission in 1938-39. and that was that we cannot expect the African mind to move very quickly. The whole thesis running through our report was that if we were to have amalgamation or any form of closer association between these three Territories we had to prove to the African mind that certain advantages were to be gained. We had to make it quite clear that those advantages were tangible and practicable. The problem we were considering all the time was how that could be done before bringing the actual structure of closer association into effect.
It was because of those difficulties that we proposed in our report that two boards should be set up—one called a civil board and the other a development board—under a Central African Council. Were they ever set up? Of course not. A few months after we had reported war broke out. The Central African Council was not set up until 1945. Neither a development board nor a civil board was ever set up. The experiment was never tried.
Surely that was not very wise. Surely the experiments should at least have been tried. The experiments should have been to prove to the people what planning and what development was necessary and what services could be co-ordinated. While we were in the scheme together we could have proved that the scheme was going to work. Whatever machinery we chose—whether amalgamation or anything else—what we had to prove quite definitely was that it would be a good thing for them to join in.
But all these great opportunities were lost. They were opportunities not just of developing the economic potentiality of the Territories, of carrying out the vast development which we all know is possible. These were opportunities of teaching the African mind and training the African mind and showing that there were real advantages in closer association.
I will not weary the House, in the remaining few moments for which I shall speak, by quoting from my own note to the report. We all wrote notes. Mine was quite short. The whole point I tried to set out in the few lines there, and the whole point which we realised, was that we should never get closer association in a practical sense unless at the same time we got understanding between the people, understanding of the advantages which would accrue and a will to co-operate.
We have heard a lot today about fear in the African mind. In the past it has represented fear of the unknown, but the main fear in the African mind in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland today is not fear of the unknown but fear of the known. They fear what has happened in Southern Rhodesia. They fear the risk of what they think is present-day Southern Rhodesian African native policy being applied throughout the federal system. We in this House know that under the Federal Scheme it is impossible. We know that that policy could not be applied. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why? "] Hon. Members opposite may disagree with me, but they need not make those noises. Let them listen to what the Colonial Secretary said.
They know perfectly well that it would be impossible for the Southern Rhodesia native African policy to be applied, under the Federal Scheme, in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but the African in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland does not know that and he is still afraid. He is afraid that if the Federal Scheme is introduced the Southern Rhodesians will upset the apple cart.
It is still quite true that they consider that Southern Rhodesia is a good place in which to work, but a bad place in which to live. It is a white man's country, as one Nyasaland man told me after he had travelled many hundreds of miles through Africa with me. "It is good country for white people," he said. He; was one of those who left that rich country and returned to his own territory in Northern Nyasaland, where the people of his village, working on the side of a hill, were producing by contouring methods— incidentally, not taught them under instructions from the Colonial Office, but worked out by themselves.
Yet even these most progressive and certainly intelligent people of Nyasaland are terrified by the fear of Southern Rhodesian policy. They are afraid that the same sort of policy will be imposed upon them as exists in Southern Rhodesia today. They left that rich territory of Southern Rhodesia and walked hundreds of miles because they did not want to live under that sort of system.
They fear that the system may be imposed upon them, but it is not a justifiable fear—and that is why I deplore some of the things said by hon. Members opposite today.
I am sorry about that, but I am not in control of the debate.
If, on the introduction of this system of federation, should it be approved in Southern Rhodesia, it were found possible to introduce gradually a practical means of carrying out development without going the whole hog at once with federation I believe that a great deal of the trouble would be overcome and that a great deal of the explanations would be rendered unnecessary, and that a great deal of the district might be avoided, and no matter how fine a scheme of federation there may be on paper, if we lose the co-operation of the native Africans in Africa we may as well have no scheme at all, for it will never work in practice.
That is what we are up against. How are we to get the Africans to co-operate? I do not think myself that the Africans distrust the Britisher, the Europeans. They trust us, the English, the Scots and the Welsh. They do not distrust us as much as it is sometimes said they do. Indeed, it is one of the alarming and pathetic things that they have real trust, true trust in us, and not only in us, but in the Crown, and that is something of enormous worth.
That trust is something we cannot value in material terms. I do not think there is distrust, but I do think there is lack of understanding, and we in this country, and certainly both Front Benches in this House, I must say, are jointly responsible for having damaged our relations with the Africans and induced this lack of understanding.
It has been represented at times that federation will do too much, will help too much, that it will be the end of the story, that it is the answer for all time, and that after that everybody will work happily together. That is nonsense. I am always rather sorry to hear that sort of over-statement. It is made by the supporters of federation, and it is a great pity that it is. Is it not the end of the story. Is it not the final answer. This is the beginning only of a new story—or it should be; and unless it is treated as the beginning of a new story it will not continue or really work.
There is a great deal to be done at once, the moment we set up federation, the moment it is economically possible to do it. There is a lot to be done apart from the economic problems arising directly out of federation. I have said more than once in the last 12 or 15 years that I have been in this House that we have to face up to the problem of revaluing native labour, reassessing the value of African labour in Africa, and of making it possible for the Africans to carry greater and greater responsibility as they are able to earn more.
It is a problem that has been tackled by the Belgians on the Congo and by the Portuguese in Portuguese East Africa. We have not tackled it firmly enough in our Colonies. I believe that the tackling of this problem should be begun so that the Africans can be made ready to carry greater responsibility at a higher and higher level. Always there is someone who stands in the way, who says, "We have to be careful about this. We are dealing in commodities that go on world markets, and we have to be careful about a 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. rise in costs." Revalue African labour and we should save much money because African labour would not be wasted, but we have not had the courage to tackle the problem. We have to face up to it.
Federation is not the answer. It is the beginning of a new story. It is the first page of the new story, and we have to fill in the succeeding pages as quickly as we can, and so quickly that we have no time to look back at all. These are problems which we must face, for if we do not face them, no matter what the federal structure may be, no matter who the Governor-General may be, we shall most certainly be failing in our duty as trustees, we shall be failing to help to build up something fine in Africa, and, perhaps, finer than we have been able to build in any other part of the world. I am sorry to have had to say some of these hard things, but I think they need to be said. We have to get on with the job. I am perfectly certain about that.
The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Sir I. Orr-Ewing) will, I am sure, forgive me if I do not follow him in his remarks. I do that, not because I wish to be discourteous, but because it seems to me that a great deal of his argument was quite consistent with his engaging in ostentatious abstention when the voting comes this evening, and I would not like to say anything to modify his view, since if he listens during the course of the remaining debate, he may be in our Lobby.
I agree with him most emphatically that this is the beginning of a new chapter. It is certainly the beginning of a new chapter, and I am opposing the federation scheme in this form, and opposing the imposition of it, because I do not want to see the beginning of one of the most ghastly chapters in the history of our relationship with Africans. It is no good for the hon. Member to talk about having the good will of the Africans when we have such observations as this one, which is typical of many which have been made by the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia. On 29th January of this year, he said this:
There would be no Africans in a federal government. They are quite incapable of playing a full part. If you had studied them, you would realise how hopeless they are. They may even have a university degree but their background is all wrong.
It is no good for one of the most prominent figures in this now highly-controversial matter to make a public
statement of that sort, and, at the same time, for those who support his view to call for the support and the enthusiasm of Africans in carrying out this scheme. What they will rightly get is the resistance of Africans because statements of this sort are insolent and arrogant. They are the statements of a conqueror; they are not the statements of a trustee. We have heard from many hon. Members, in the course of the debate, statements to the effect that we must consider ourselves trustees, but not one of the hon. Members who has taken that view has followed it up to its logical conclusion.
If we are trustees, for whom are we trustees? Surely we are not trustees for the purpose of improving our own position. I have never known of a trustee worthy of the name who was there for the purpose of making a profit out of his trust. I have always thought that that was one of the vilest forms of breach of trust. If we are trustees, we are trustees for the Africans, and our policy should be directed to that end. Those who are arguing that we are trustees are arguing for African supremacy, whether they like it or not. There are only three possibilities—African supremacy, white supremacy, or partnership.
Partnership, if it is to have any value, is something which is conceded, something agreed, something based on consent. We cannot have a forced partnership. One cannot say to a person in respect of whom one stands in a fiduciary relationship that one will make him a partner. He may not want to become a partner. If, at the same time as being a trustee, one is making a profit out of the trust, then one is imperilling the argument which one has put forward to him suggesting that he should become a partner. He may prefer that we should be the junior partner if there is to be a partnership, and he may have very strong arguments to which he can resort.
It has been suggested by the Colonial Secretary, in opening the debate, that there is some difficulty about obtaining the consent of the Africans. I was very sorry indeed that he, in his great position, reverted to the debating society jibe which was implicit in his remark that the word "federation" was not to be found in the language of some of these Africans. That was a shocking thing to say. The implication was that they could not consent to anything. It was doubly shocking in that it came from the Government spokesman who was putting forward the Report, because the Government themselves recognise that in certain circumstances they must wait for consent.
On behalf of my right hon. Friend, I must explain that his point was that it is very difficult to differentiate in the African languages between "federation" and "amalgamation," or "union" and "unity," and it is not an easy thing to explain to Africans, as I myself know.
I am indebted to the right hon. Gentleman, but I was so well seized of the point that I intervened and asked the Colonial Secretary how his argument would apply in regard to "amalgamation." I intervened when the Colonial Secretary was making his opening speech, and I had strong reason for doing so. Although he was courteous enough to accept my intervention, the Colonial Secretary responded to it as a child might have done. He obviously did not appreciate the connection upon which the right hon. Gentleman has just seized at once. The connection carries rather serious inferences for the Government, inferences which throw grave doubt on the validity of the scheme.
When I was in Northern Rhodesia a few weeks ago I had an opportunity of speaking to many Africans about federation. Many of them did not know the first thing about it, just as there were many Europeans to whom I spoke who knew very little, and cared much less, about it. However, there were others who had certainly become seized of it and took perfectly reasonable objection to federation.
I accept without question that there is a considerable body of opinion in this country which is sincerely convinced that federation in this form is right and that it should be put forward in this form whether there is African consent or not, but, equally, there is a very large body of informed opinion in this country, consisting of people who understand the meaning of "federation" and the distinction between "federation" and "amalgamation," which is bitterly opposed to the scheme and the way in which it is being introduced. That is obvious from what has appeared in the Press in recent weeks
It is most astonishing and most objectionable that the Colonial Secretary should speak as if the persons who object to the scheme on its merits do not know the difference between the two words, when there is probably a greater body of informed opinion in this country opposed to the scheme than there is in favour of it.
Does the Colonial Secretary understand the difference between the two words? Let us see whether he does or not. His legal argument is based upon something which is very tenuous indeed. It is based upon what is almost a distinction without a difference. In relation to amalgamation the Report says:
Southern Rhodesia is a self-governing colony. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are protectorates. If the three Territories were to be amalgamated, they would all become merged in the new self-governing state. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland would thus lose their separate identity (which they would retain in a federation); and this would mean that His Majesty's Government would have to disregard obligations which by virtue of treaty and otherwise they have assumed towards the two Northern Territories. This they cannot do.
In other words, they recognise in relation to amalgamation that they must wait for the very consent which they say is valueless because it is so difficult to distinguish between "amalgamation" and "federation."
Let me read from the Preamble to the scheme, which confirms the view I put. Paragraph (d) says:
Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should continue, under the special protection of Her Majesty, to enjoy separate Governments for so long as their respective peoples so desire …
That does not distinguish between Europeans and Africans. "Their respective peoples" refers to the inhabitants of the Territories. It means that we must wait until we get that consent before we amalgamate. The Colonial Secretary is right in this view, but in taking this view he concedes that consent is necessary.
The economic arguments about federation are equally relevant to amalgamation. Obviously, if the object is to obtain one area under one control, what could be better than having a single state in that area? If we took only the economic arguments we should find an equally strong case for amalgamation. But the Government have rightly recognised that there is something more important than economic development; that here, if they did not have consent, they would be involved in a grave difficulty. It would be a very grave constitutional difficulty indeed, because if they went forward—and they know it—without the consent of the Africans to full amalgamation, they would be breaking the treaties and obligations to which they are referring and, therefore, would be imposing the rule of force and not the rule of law.
Their argument rests upon a distinction which they make, and which I do not accept in this instance, between amalgamation and the type of federation which they are proposing. I submit that it is a distinction without a difference, for the reason that the only objection to amalgamation which the Government would put forward is that there would be a transfer of sovereignty. I press this upon the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs; a transfer of sovereignty would be involved in amalgamation which would violate the treaties and obligations. That is recognised by the Government and, therefore, they would not have anything to do with that idea.
The only question we have to ask ourselves is this: Is the transfer of sovereignty which is involved in federation a sufficient invasion of the sovereign rights of the two Protectorates to justify consent being given by the Africans? If consent were necessary for the validity of amalgamation, and if we transferred a sufficient degree of sovereignty by federation proposals, it must follow that the legal objections to the validity of amalgamation would apply to the validity of the federation scheme, if it were done without consent.
I put this as strongly as I can to the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, who is to reply to the debate. Is he quite sure himself? Has he himself made the investigations? This is much too important a matter to feel that someone in the Department may have looked at it and to be satisfied with that. Has he satisfied himself when he has looked at these 75 items included in these lists that this is not really amalgamation in fact? It is amalgamation de facto and federation de jure. I submit as strongly as I can that if this is amalgamation de facto—we could have amalgamation and still retain the names of these Territories without there being any substance in their sovereignty—merely to put forward a very impressive looking list in justification of what we were doing, would not prevent our being involved in grave risk of doing something which constitutionally was invalid. If there is substance in that argument, as I submit there is—sufficient substance to put the Minister on inquiry —I say that he should carefully consider that before he proceeds further with this scheme.
The legal position might be made a little clearer if we were to add a fourth section to the Territoties of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. Suppose we were to find that arguments were so powerful that if we had a federation of South Africa and these three Territories the standard of living would rise considerably. "Good heavens," it would be said, "You can't do that without having consent. You must have the consent of South Africa to it because it is a Sovereign State. We must not interfere with her sovereignty. We can carry it through with her consent, but without her consent it is a matter of war. It is the rule of force we are putting into operation and not the rule of law." That interpretation would be absolutely right.
The only difference between that and the case that we are considering tonight is that the people in Northern Rhodesia who object to it cannot put an army into the field. They are not a sovereign State in the sense that South Africa is. In principle there is—apart from that—no distinction between the two. The people who object will fight with what weapons they have, not because they are brutal and" lawless but because they feel that the rule of force has been used against them, and not the rule of law.
The Government are in a very serious difficulty in relation to that position. They could get out of the difficulty quite easily provided they had consent. Consent is not an absolute principle which applies at all times to any petty invasion of sovereignty, but if we take what is virtually the operating and effective sovereignty away from the two Territories as is proposed here and create a third type of Government, a Federal Government, and give the 75 items of sovereignty over to that Government, it is highly probable, whatever safeguards or reservations we may make, that we shall put ourselves in the position of committing a lawless act under the cloak of a form of law. That is about the most dangerous thing that could be done in the present situation in these Territories.
As one of my hon. Friends said, far from that sort of conduct being a fulfilment of what has been called "our trust," it is the negation of our trust. I beg the Minister of State to deal with that point in replying to the debate. I believe he will deal with it. I think he is well seized of it, but it is most unfortunate that the Colonial Secretary did not appreciate the significance of this point or know what it was all about. If the Minister of State is satisfied on the matter, I hope that he will quote precedents for it. He is not proposing a confederation to the House but a federation. It is a very thin line of distinction indeed that he is drawing, and a very weak case upon which he is resting the legal validity of the action which he proposes.
For the sake of future relations in the Territories, I hope that this scheme will not go through. It is too easily assumed that the economic arguments preponderate and are decisive. In point of fact they are utterly dependent upon the full co-operation of the African population. Far from getting that co-operation the Government will, I fear, get the resistance of the Africans.
Before resuming my seat, I would remind the Minister of State that he has had from both sides of the House the suggestion that there might be danger, so far as South Africa is concerned. What greater danger could there be than for South Africa to be given a precedent such as this and to be told, before the whole world, that we consider that African opinion is valueless and useless and that Africans are absolutely hopeless, even when they have been educated in universities? Let that get into the South African mind—it is pretty certain that the South Africans have looked at it already—and we shall be creating a precedent for the danger which the Government seeks to avoid and will have done it with full knowledge and advisedly. I say this: like so many other things which this Government have done, it is so shocking and disgraceful that it is another reason for their resigning.
As my right hon. Friend will soon be replying to the debate, I hope that the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams) will not mind waiting for his answer, which will certainly be a much better one than I could give to the rather lyrical and very fine legal points which the hon. Gentleman has been raising in his speech.
This debate has shown one thing above everything else, that there is a great deal of uncertainty among all of us on both sides of the House as to what will be the consequences of the introduction of the scheme of federation. As far as I can see, there are likely to be four possible alternatives. There is the best and worst consequence of the introduction of federation and there is the best and worst consequence of its rejection.
As far as I can see, the best consequence of the introduction of federation would be a development of the pattern of an inter-racial society. That is the best we can hope for. At the worst, we can fear that there might be some increase in racial tension. On the other hand, if this scheme is rejected, at the best we can hope for a maintenance of the present rather unsatisfactory status quo, and the worst consequence of the rejection of federation would be that it would be represented, as we have heard already, as a triumph for extreme elements. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) will not object to my use of the word "extreme." Even in this House there is a difference between moderate and extreme opinion, and it seems to me that that would be one result of the rejection of federation at the present time.
We ought to bear in mind as a most important point the fact that the initiative of the right hon. Member for Llanelly in November, 1950, completely altered the situation and, particularly after the report of the officials the following March and the conference at Victoria Falls, the issue of the rejection or introduction of federation had then become a live issue. Although it is obvious that in this country there are many who oppose federation who also detest the possibility of domination either by Africans or by Europeans, moderate opinion in Africa has come to be associated with federation and extreme opinion with rejection. It does not seem to me that any useful contribution can be made to this debate by the use of immoderate language, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) was over-stepping the mark when he said that we should be promoting a gross moral wrong if we imposed federation.
On this question more than any other it is possible sincerely and conscientiously to hold two views. That was amply borne out by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson). There is general agreement on the economic benefits which would be likely to accrue from federation. In fact, in the words of the Amendment, the Opposition recognise the advantages which may be expected to accrue from it. Those who recognise the advantages must face the argument that one consequence of the rejection of the scheme of federation would be to put a brake on African social development, because, quite clearly, economic and social development in Central Africa must go together.
In March last year, when we debated federation, the right hon. Member for Llanelly pointed out that at Victoria Falls the Africans had been exercising their minds particularly on four points: the removal of their Protectorate status, the question of amalgamation, the question of land and the possible retarding of their political development. Mention has been made of the apparent safeguards contained on all these four points in the Preamble. I always thought that the Preamble had as much force as possible, but I certainly join with the right hon. Member for Llanelly and the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) in asking my right hon. Friend, when he replies, to underline that point and to say that the safeguards contained in the Preamble have the maximum amount of force.
A great deal of ground has been covered, but there remains the argument against the imposition of federation which appears to me to be the weightiest argument of all; that is, the argument stated by the right hon. Member for Llanelly that African opinion is unanimously opposed to federation. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, being a very fair person, looking again at that remark, would agree that there was a possible inaccuracy. It seems to most of us that if, for instance. Dr. Gallup took a poll of opinion in Central Africa, there would at least be a number of people who, if they were entirely free to answer, would say, "Don't know." That, therefore, cannot be entirely reconciled by the statement that African opinion is unanimous against federation. But the fact remains, and must be faced, that recently no single African opinion has been expressed in favour of federation.
In my opinion, looking back to the new start that was made by the right hon. Gentleman when he was Secretary of State, it was perfectly right that African opinion should be consulted at every stage, but I wish it had been made perfectly clear from the start that the ultimate decision whether or not federation should be introduced must rest in one quarter, and in one quarter alone: in Her Majesty's Government at the time.
We get into an impossible position if we try to divide the exercisers of power from the responsibility which has to be borne. We have all seen plenty of examples in other cases of difficulties where power is exercised without responsibility, and there are certainly equal difficulties if responsibility has to be borne without the possibility of exercising power.
Whether or not federation is introduced, Her Majesty's Government will be held responsible for the consequences of what follows. Therefore, it must be for this Government, and this Government alone, to take the decision for which in the years ahead they must bear the responsibility. Those, therefore, who say that federation must not be imposed on Africans who are unwilling for its imposition are, in fact, asking the Africans living in Central Africa to take a decision which properly falls to us in this House and to our Government to take. If we acted on this recommendation we should be handing over, into the hands of possibly a small minority of Africans in Central Africa, the power to take the decision for which we later would have to bear responsibility.
This is a most solemn moment. I do not suppose that there are many of us in the House tonight who can lay our hands on our hearts and say "Forward" or "Back" without some slight misgiving. None of us is quite certain of the consequences that will follow from federation. But after weighing the gains of federation—after trying to balance the hazards and dangers of the introduction of federation with the hazards and dangers of its rejection—I am completely convinced, first, that the decision must be taken by Her Majesty's Government, and by Her Majesty's Government alone, and, secondly, that its rejection would frustrate the attainment of a partnership to which I believe this scheme is the best if not the only road.
Most people who know anything about this subject will agree with the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) that failure to go ahead at this time would inevitably lead to a great intensification of racial tension. I claim no monopoly of wisdom or conscience in this matter. I have been trying to weigh it up since before I went to Africa in 1951, while I was there talking to thousands of Africans and since I have come back. There is no double headed penny in this matter. Risks are involved whether we go on or stand still.
On a balance of considerations, I am forced to the conclusion that the risks which would follow not pressing on would be greater than those if we take our courage in our hands and do what we know to be manifestly in the interests of the Africans themselves. I regret that this question of Central African federation has become a projection of United Kingdom politics, but I would not like my friends in Central Africa to believe that there is anything dog-in-the-manger about the attitude of my colleagues who differ from me on this subject. Their opposition springs from deep humanitarian instincts and a real desire to protect those who are least able to protect themselves.
I am opposed to the Amendment because I believe that the effect of its being carried would be the very opposite to that which its sponsors believe. There has been much talk tonight about the suspicion of the Africans. We on these benches bear a very heavy burden of responsibility far such misgiving, such suspicion, as there may be in the minds of the Africans at this moment. Central African federation is our child. We sponsored it, and must have known 'from the start that the African has always opposed every change, whether it was to his advantage or not. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) says "Except West Africa." Here, of course, a good deal of confusion arises.
For goodness' sake, let us not think that West Africa, the Gold Coast, India, Burma and Central Africa are all one. There is no analogy at all. West Africa is black Africa. The white man has no roots there. He went out there for Cadbury's and Unilevers and in the Colonial Service, but he did not stay there; he came back. Central Africa has 200,000 whites, running into the second and third generations. Home is not where you live but where you want to die, and these 200,000 whites will die in Central Africa, just as their forebears have lived there. Do not let us mix up the Gold Coast with Central Africa.
I would not say that they cannot change, but I would say that, in every change that has been proposed— changes which were envisaged as likely to bring great benefits to them—they have been in opposition. Indeed, when the power was taken away from the Charter Company and taken over by the Crown, they opposed that.
I must say that I am not happy about this Amendment. I shall not vote against it; I shall abstain, but I feel very strongly that a good deal of responsibility is ours. As Mr. Banda, the Secretary of the Nyasaland African Congress, said on 16th February, had the district and provincial officers recommended federation, instead of only explaining it, it is possible that the Africans would have accepted it. They had come, said Mr. Banda, to trust the district officers. They had had 50 years' service in telling the Africans what was good for them and what was bad for them, and yet, on this complex problem which is seriously agitating many educated people in this country, when the Africans said, "Is it a good thing or a bad thing?", the district and provincial officers were prevented from giving direct advice, except to say, "That is for you to decide." How can anyone be surprised at the amount of suspicion that has been aroused in the minds of the Africans by this sudden volte-face?
I think the House ought to be told in what circumstances this decision was taken. Was it on the advice of the Colonial Office? Was it on the advice of men who have had generations of experience of the Africans? Or was it a decision taken as a result of a pledge given in another part of Africa?
My right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) said that, if we went on, Nkrumah would feel betrayed. That seems to me to be an extraordinary statement.
I quoted in my speech today a statement I made on 8th November, 1950, in which I said that we had given an undertaking that, before we reached decisions, we would consult African opinion, and that, having consulted it, we would take it fully into account. That decision was taken on the responsibility of His Majesty's Government at that time, and was stated for the Government in the House by myself, and I accept full responsibility for it.
We said that we would consult African opinion. What we never said was that African opinion should be the final arbiter in this matter.
The justification for pressing on with federation rests upon the undeniable fact that without the economic development which federation alone will make possible African social and political advancement will be impossible. I believe that Central Africa can become the Ruhr valley of that vast continent. If it is to become that, the present trickle of capital will have to be turned into a flood. I believe that the industrialisation of Central Africa will bring great benefits to the Africans themselves.
There is a historical parallel and I was much impressed by the wisdom of a remark which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made at Delhi when he was addressing Members of both Houses of the Indian Parliament last month. I spoke to him about his statement this morning and told him that I probably would be quoting him. He said that the industrial revolution in England would have been much slower if the consent of the masses had had to be obtained. Indeed, he went on to say that had that consent been sought it would certainly not have been given.
I feel that we are not entitled to abdicate our responsibilities in this matter. Much has been said about the colour bar this afternoon, with which I entirely agree. I have seen in Africa things which were too absurd to bear examination. Partnership is the only way, a multi-racial society; but I do not think that one can dictate a shotgun marriage from London. Indeed, I believe that the centre of political gravity for Central Africa has shifted. It is no longer on the Thames; it is on the Zambesi. Therefore, I think that it would be a very bad thing indeed if there went out from the Labour Party tonight a unanimous vote of no confidence in our 200.000 kinsmen in those parts.
I say, quite frankly, that I hope that tonight there will be revealed as a result of the Division a strong bridgehead of good will and understanding with our Central African friends. I deplore the colour bar, though it springs from deep human instincts. I deplore racial discrimination, but that is not confined to Central Africa. We have had a recent example in Yorkshire. The National Union of Mineworkers negotiated a wages agreement in return for which Italians were to be allowed to go into the industry and help us to obtain the coal which we so sorely need. What followed? When the Italians had finished their training they were thrown out of the industry. They were not allowed to earn their living in it.
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but I must point out that they were thrown out of one pit in Yorkshire. This action was roundly condemned by the Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers, to which I am proud to belong. I condemn what was done on that occasion; but they were not thrown out of work, with the single exception which many of us condemned.
The important thing is that they were not allowed to work.
I am not recalling this incident to defend anything that is happening on the Copper Belt. But if trade union leaders and politicians in this enlightened England of ours are unable to prevent racial discrimination, how much more difficult the problem must be where the economic clash is more intense. Therefore, I say that this partnership of better racial relations cannot be dictated from London. The responsibility will have to be borne on the spot. I believe that the more responsibility borne by those on the spot, the greater the degree of partnership and the less racial discrimination there will be.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) has mentioned South Africa and the safeguards which did not turn out to be effective. But the entrenched clauses in these proposals are not to be administered and interpreted by Afrikaaners. That is the essential difference. They are to be interpreted and administered by our own people. Our own people do not suddenly become sadistic monsters when they get out to Central Africa. They are the same decent people as they are here.
I think it would be a terrible thing if the constant maligning of our Central African brethren by irresponsible elements in this country caused them to turn to the Union for sympathy and support. The essential argument I believe to be that without the economic development we shall not get that political and social advancement for the Africans which we all want. Therefore, it will all turn on this question of imposition.
I was interested to see some words of the editor of the "New Statesman and Nation," who is no Colonel Blimp in these matters. Writing in that publication under the heading "Means and ends in economic policy." on 14th March, he said:
The final test of the Tightness of a policy is to be sought not in its compliance with any abstract rule, but in its effects on human welfare.
Speaking earlier, his assistant editor, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossrnan) had gone very much further. Indeed, this is what he said, addressing the Fabian Society in the autumn of 1950:
The idea that you can take this parliamentary system and impose it on a backward
people is insane…. That sort of pattern cannot be imposed from outside, yet our programme for colonial peoples suggests that it could be…. The modernisation of a backward people, the sudden bringing it out of the Middle Ages into the twentieth century, cannot always take place under the preliminary forms of the Western World. It is a drastic surgical process in which almost certainly dictatorial forms of Government will often be used.
That is what my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East said in October, 1950—and I told him that I should be quoting him. To concede the right of veto to the Africans in this matter, which is so manifestly in their own interest, would be to put the cart of political democracy before the horse of better living standards. I do not think we should do that.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) said earlier, political democracy is a by-product of abundance, and although the last few years have seen a varied but, on the whole, consistent betterment for the Africans, much still remains to be done. The other day I was reading—as other hon. Members must have read—the report of a survey of an area in Nyasaland. The report said that half the women and two-fifths of the men suffered from syphilis; there was a tremendous amount of bilharzia and malaria, and the energetic were held back by the swarms of crippled, blind and mentally defective persons. Nyasaland is the Cinderella of these three Territories, and if they are not brought together in closer association through federation Nyasaland will remain the Cinderella.
We must press on; we should be failing in our duty if we did not do so. I do not think there will be any trouble. I talked to John Moffat, who has been quoted during this debate, and it was his opinion that there would be no trouble. He said, "I wish you would have a free vote in the House of Commons because I am quite sure that if you did and there were a substantial majority, or a respectable majority, there would be no trouble at all." There may have been constitutional difficulties about that. I suppose that if the Government consider this scheme to be necessary they have a duty to put it through; but that was what John Moffat said to me.
This is by far the most important matter to come before the House since the guns stopped firing. I do not like this Amendment. It stresses the advantages of federation and then opposes it on the ground that the consent of the Africans has not been obtained. Under a few verbal fig leaves, this is the language of surrender. In effect, it is saying that the British mission in Africa is finished. I do not believe that. On the whole, I think that we are entitled to hold up our heads over the way in which the African has been treated during the last two or three decades.
I was very sorry to hear the things that have been said tonight about Sir Godfrey Huggins. He is a very vigorous creature, living in a very vigorous part of the world. Their politics are rather more robust than ours, and he has been chucking his Afrikaaners a bone. Sir Godfrey enjoys no monopoly of political exuberance. I could quote three sentences from three prominent Members of my own Front Bench which did more to lose the last Election for the Labour Party than anything else; but I shall not do it I am still a comparatively young man and I want some sort of political future.
I do not accept that the British mission in Africa has ended, nor do I accept that the British mission anywhere else has ended. I hope that the Government will press on. I think the scheme is necessary both in the interests of pacification in Central Africa and the best interests of Africans and settlers alike and also in the best interests of United Kingdom citizens. I believe that in Central Africa we are being given another chance: to carve out of this great territory a new civilisation based on the best in both races and dedicated to the principle of equal rights for all civilised men.
We are drawing to the closing stages of a most momentous debate. The House may think it not inappropriate that I should rise to oppose the Government's Motion immediately after such a cogent speech in favour of it. I do not propose to canvass the question whether substantial economic or other advantages are likely to ensue from federation. They have frequently been enumerated—coal from the Wankie Colliery for the Copper Belt, harnessing the power of the Zambesi, or developing roads, and all the rest of it. Let it be assumed for the purpose of the argument between the two sides of the House that those substantial benefits are to be expected.
What really is it that divides the opinion which has been expressed on both sides of the House? The controversy has not been on the economic advantages. It has been this—whether the scheme in its present form, containing such safeguards as it contains at present for African interests, should or should not be imposed now or in the near future, as the Government intend, in the face of what we on this side of the House, at any rate with a few exceptions, believe to be unbroken and positive African hostility to it. That is the issue, and in order to form a judgment upon it we have to make up our minds about two things. Firstly, what are the safeguards? Are they adequate? Secondly, is there that complete and absolute hostility on the part of African opinion?
I think everyone who has spoken in the debate has done so with a full consciousness of the tremendously important issues involved. On our decision, wise or unwise as it may be, or as it may seem to the outside world to me, enormous issues depend. It may turn, one way or the other, the future of relationships between white and coloured people, and it is of the utmost important that we should try to decide this extremely difficult matter in an objective atmosphere. Everybody agrees about that. We must be objective in our approach.
We run the risk of being called irresponsible, and sincerely so called, if we refer to the colour bar, but, in looking at the situation, we must bear in mind that what we are dealing with is a small white population, of some 196,000, living in the midst of an African population of some 6 million. It is not my purpose to discuss whether the colour bar could have been avoided. But that it exists, and that it bruises African spirits, hurts African pride, and engenders constant and growing embitterment amongst Africans as they grow more and more conscious of their rights and their own individual nationalism cannot be gainsaid.
It is due to a number of things. It has that unpleasant intangible quality which hinges on social relationships and social contacts. Africans have to go into post offices through different entrances. They occupy separate accommodation in public vehicles. That is, perhaps, despite the law. The law itself in the Territories, particularly Southern Rhodesia, permits, and in a sense encourages, the existence of the colour bar. Under the Industrial Conciliation Act African trade unions are not recognised in Southern Rhodesia. Land segregation is responsible for a lot of it. The system of passes is disliked, and particularly resented in Southern Rhodesia.
I think the whole House will have been impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Sir I. Orr-Ewing). He speaks with particular experience as a member of the Bledisloe Commission, and he pointed out that there is this constant, gnawing fear on the part of Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia of Southern Rhodesian conditions being spread up to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Whether it is justified or not is beside the point. It is a fear, a very real and present fear, which actuates the African in his attitude in particular to a scheme of federation of this sort, and when one takes a realistic approach one must take account of the fact that there is this colour bar, that there is this strong resentment about it, that there is this anxiety on the part of Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia.
I think it was from that standpoint that the London conference of experts, bringing to the problem the experience and authority which they possess, started, because in preparing their report and formulating their report they in terms and explicitly stated that the major obstacle to federation was the hostility and opposition to federation on the part of the Africans in the Northern Territories. It is from that standpoint one has got to start.
It is no good saying airily that African opinion is unco-ordinated and that it is sporadic and that it is confined to a few intellectuals, and so on. There it is. The fact is, according to all the evidence, that there is that sullen feeling of dislike and suspicion about the proposals for closer association. Starting from that position, what did the London conference of experts propose? They recognised the difficulty. They carefully formulated what they thought was a scheme which might—they did not say would, but might —secure acceptance in the face of that open dislike of closer association on the part of so many of the African population.
I regret that I shall have to traverse some of the ground my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly traversed in his speech in reply to the Secretary of State. I do so because it is the kernel of the argument which actuates my hon. Friends as it does him and me in opposing the Government's Motion. The kernel of the argument is this. The London conference of experts held out no hopes that a scheme of federation would secure acceptance unless it possessed two features. One, they said, was representation for the Africans in the Federal Parliament; and the second was that there should be an African Minister and a completely independent African Board. Hon. Members may look at their copies of the report, and I challenge them to say that what I have said is not an accurate summary of what was said in that report.
They obviously attached the greatest importance to the position of the Minister. It was a curious constitutional device. It was certainly an innovation on constitutional practice. But there the Minister was. He was to be a member of the cabinet. He was to be irremovable except with the consent of the Secretary of State. He was to be a person, in other words, right at the very heart and centre of activity. He would know exactly what was going on, not merely in the legislative, but also in the executive and administrative fields, and because of his position he would quite obviously, even indeed without the African Board itself, be able to exercise an effective check throughout the whole apparatus of Government in so far as African interests were concerned.
There was to be an African Board over which he was to preside, and the combination of the two—the Minister and the African Board, among whose members were the three Secretaries for Native Affairs—were, in the conception of the London experts, the check to secure that African interests were amply protected, and protected not only in the legislative field but in the administrative field and the executive field, and more still because the Minister himself, as a member of the Cabinet, would be able to initiate measures which he thought might be of advantage and benefit to the Africans.
It was these features which their report in 1951 contained. I put it to the House that that is a fair reading of the report prepared by these experts with all the knowledge they have through their intimate contact with the Africans. It was these features which the experts regarded as the minimum necessary in order to secure a chance of acceptance by the Africans.
Then came the Victoria Falls Conference. It took place, as the House knows, in September, 1951. There were no African representatives from Southern Rhodesia. There were African representatives from Nyasaland and from Northern Rhodesia. The question one asks, in looking at the history of it, is whether the hopes of the experts who prepared the London Conference report had been justified even in this form in which they prepared the report. Even at that stage their hopes were disappointed. Even with that safeguard, the representatives from Nyasaland declared themselves against the scheme. The representatives from Northern Rhodesia took a half-way attitude.
They said that they would be prepared to consider federation, and that was a very half-hearted and tentative offer—to be prepared to consider it—upon the condition that the conception of partnership should be further explored and defined, and, not only that, but progressively put into operation. That was the condition which they put for even undertaking to look at the scheme of federation. So even at that stage, African opinion, with that safeguard, was not to be placated.
What happened? The Secretary of State failed to avail himself of that offer. It is not my purpose to attribute blame. Whether he could have made more of it if he had handled the matter more expeditiously, I do not know.
At any rate, as I said, that particular issue does not sway the argument one way or another. The offer came to nothing and it was withdrawn. The net result was that after the Victoria Falls Conference, even with that very effective and stringent safeguard for African interests, it was not acceptable to any section of African opinion in the three territories concerned.
That was the position in September, 1951. Then came the conference in April and May, 1952, at which the first draft of the actual constitution was prepared. When that draft came to light, the thing which one immediately noticed about it was that the Minister had gone. The Cabinet Minister, with his excelling position in the Cabinet, right at the heart of affairs, had been taken out of the scheme with a stroke of the pen. Whose suggestion that was, we did not know. We did not know, but it was suspected that it was largely because of Southern Rhodesian influence, but we are told now by the Minister of State that it was actually Her Majesty's Government which suggested that the Minister should be dropped. That was what we learned in the debate today. At any rate, he went.
What was substituted for him was, as we were told, an independent chairman to be appointed by the Governor-General with the consent of the United Kingdom Government. The Secretaries for Native Affairs also went, but still there remained an independent African Affairs Board consisting of seven members nominated by the Government of each territory outside the legislature. As I understood his argument, the Secretary of State today said that the disappearance of the Minister meant that the African Affairs Board was virtually stillborn, that it would have very little to do. That was not his view when he spoke in this House in July last year. He then said that he recognised that a most important change was the elimination of the Minister, but he also said:
I think that will improve the Board. The members of the Board will be elected from outside the legislatures of any of the Territories concerned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1952; Vol. 504, c. 792.]
In other words, what the Secretary of State was saying last July was, "Do not take the disappearance of the Minister too tragically. African opinion should not be too worried about that. True, he has gone, but there is in his place an independent chairman, and there is, after all, a completely independent Board." As I have just pointed out, the right hon. Gentleman has today resiled completely from that position. He said that, once
the Minister had gone, the Board was no good. Those two arguments are completely inconsistent. I do not know to which one he adheres.
What the right hon. Gentleman has said will be in HANSARD, and the real effect of his words will be seen when they are read in HANSARD tomorrow. Whatever the Secretary of State said, the effect was that when the Minister went all check and all control in the field of administrative and executive action completely disappeared from the scheme.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "That is absolutely untrue." That is no doubt the kind of way he addresses the Africans. I did not mean to say that, but as he calmly says, "That is absolutely untrue," I will say that a number of people think that it is very likely the case that he has been rather ham-handed in his treatment of the Africans. The Secretary of State called the Minister a cuckoo Minister. I am sure that was a phrase which was not particularly appreciated by African opinion. African opinion no doubt thought, as the London experts did, and as the Secretary of State himself obviously did when he talked about a most important change, that the Minister was important in that picture. However, the Secretary of State called him a cuckoo Minister.
The point I want to make is that, if one is looking at this sequence of events through African eyes, one starts with the London experts' scheme. When we come to the next stage in the proceedings we find that during the April-May Conference of 1952 the scheme had been radically changed in that the Minister had gone, but at that stage there was nevertheless still an independent African Board.
The next stage in the evolution of the scheme is the Conference which took place in January, 1953. There were then no African representatives. The whole scheme was reconsidered and its second draft form was produced at a conference which was attended only by Europeans. It may well be that the Africans ought to have been there, and no doubt it was in a sense their fault that they were not, but the fact is that they were not there and, in consequence, behind their backs the second draft of the scheme was produced, and it was produced not only without the Minister but without even an independent African Board. What has happened is that the board has become a standing committee of the Legislature which has no independent chairman, but the Chairman of the Board is appointed from its membership and its membership is appointed from the membership of the Legislature.
That is the sequence of events. That is what Africans see happening. They see a scheme which, in 1951, contained this feature which the experts quite obviously regarded as most important in order to protect their interests. They see that particular constitutional device gradually whittled away or, if the Secretary of State does not like that phrase, changed or transformed until now there is only an African Board which consists of a standing committee of the Legislature. Naturally that has aroused their suspicions. Naturally that is the sort of thing they regarded as progressive change against their interests. It is not as if there were a change first made against them and then in their favour, but change after change after change all made against the interests of the Africans.
The Secretary of State disagrees, but I have been recounting-pure fact. That is certainly how it must have looked, I should think, through African eyes. Africans watched it transferred, first from its London expert form, then into the form in which the first draft contained it and then into the form in which the second draft contained it. What would African opinion think? If that protective device was necessary in 1951, why was it not equally necessary in 1953?
Not all hon. Members on my side of the House wholly agree with the views I am expressing, but the whole question between the two sides of opinion in the House, the whole conflict is, is there this tense opposition on the part of Africans against the scheme in its present form? If there is, is it likely to be resolved and to disappear on closer acquaintance with the scheme, as I think the Secretary of State implied? We are living in a world of complete make-believe if we think that African opinion cannot be formed, that it cannot be organised and that it is something like a kind of mist we can blow away and not take into account. It has always been morally indefensible to take up that view in regard to African opinion: it is now not only morally indefensible, but in the highest degree inexpedient so to treat it.
How does the scheme emerge after these various changes have been made? It is a scheme in which there are 26 members elected under the existing electoral system and there are to be nine members representing Africans. It has been suggested that possibly among the 26 there may be African members. Fourteen of those 26 are to represent Southern Rhodesia, elected on a suffrage which, unless I am misinformed, has a property qualification which results in some 4,000 Africans being on the electoral roll and some 50,000 Europeans being on the electoral roll in a population of 129,000 Europeans and 1,960.000 Africans.
I ask the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, would he really like to wager that a single African will be returned at the first election, which is to be under the existing electoral system, at the next general election, or the election after that? The idea that an African will be returned—although of course everything is possible in this world—would be so slight that I should say that an African would be perfectly justified in saying that what has been set up under this scheme is a European-controlled legislature. He would say it was a European-controlled legislature which, so far as African interests in the federal sphere are concerned, is protected simply by a power of veto in the Secretary of State, which he may be called upon to exercise by an African Board which is really subservient to the legislature itself. I am not saying that that is no protection. I do not want to exaggerate—[Interruption.] The Secretary of State keeps on muttering. I am not saying that it is no protection. It is a protection, but the whole question is whether African opinion is reasonable or unreasonable in thinking that what was originally an effective protective device has been whittled down into a device which is now very nearly illusory.
The Secretary of State points out, per-factly rightly, that a great many topics are still within the province of the territorial Legislatures. That is pretty thin. I do not say that it is not an argument which has a good deal to commend it, but it is not a complete answer to the anxieties which we feel, nearly all of us, on this side of the House and which I have no doubt Africans feel who bring their minds to bear upon this topic.
Lawyers in this House are always acutely sensitive to their own deficiencies, and so I hesitate to call attention to the speech made by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas). He made a close, careful and reasoned analysis, and the point I am making is the point that he made. If one looks at the Exclusive List and the Concurrent List one sees that it is very far from the truth to suppose that all things which affect the daily lives of Africans are contained within the jurisdiction of the territorial Legislatures.
I am not talking about defence, which my hon. and learned Friend mentioned. Suppose one looks at citizenship, control of imports, control of exports and taxes. Will Africans not in the long run be affected by them? Take migration between the Territories, immigration and emigration from the federation, which is a Federal topic. When one bears in mind that the proportion of European immigrants into Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia is to a very large extent from South Africa—the figures are in a White Paper before the House—one realises that, from the point of view of the ordinary African, immigration may very acutely concern him. That is a Federal topic.
I put it to the House that it is a very incomplete picture of the situation to say that Africans really need not bother their heads because everything which can affect them in their daily lives is reserved to the territorial Legislatures. That is very far from being the case. A great many things which may not affect them next week or next year, but will affect them in the run of years, are necessarily within the province of the Federal Legislature. To say that everything which concerns the Africans is part of the territorial Legislatures' jurisdiction is almost to deny that federation is to take place at all. Naturally a great many of the most important topics which will affect all citizens of this federation have perforce to be put either into the Exclusive List or into the Concurrent List. That is the scheme which Africans are invited to accept.
It is a euphemism to say that they are "invited to accept." Some Government spokesmen and supporters have said that the Government are prepared, in spite of African opposition, to force this scheme upon them. It is to that that we object on this side of the House, with the few exceptions that I have referred to. We think that that is not only immoral but highly inexpedient. If it is the fact that Africans, by and large, throughout the broad masses of their six million population dislike it, suspect it and resent it, it is highly inexpedient at this stage, without more ado to try to force this scheme upon them.
It is obviously of the greatest importance to ascertain whether the Secretary of State's view is correct. I do not want to misreport it but I think I report it correctly as being that African opinion either does not exist or is artificially generated by terrorist tactics on the part of Congress. Whether that view is right, or the view of nearly all of us on this side of the House is right, that there is. in point of fact, an even more tense and deep dislike of the scheme, is the question.
I want for a moment or so to investigate whether there is ground for thinking as we do. I want to put certain pieces of evidence to the Minister of State and ask him whether he thinks that the evidence, as I deploy it, comes to nothing and should be wholly disregarded, or whether he feels bound to agree with the view I put forward that it makes a cogent case for thinking that those who believe that there is this universal feeling are right.
I am sure he has looked at the statement made by the Blantyre Mission Council, which is well informed as the result of its missionary contacts with the people of Africa itself. I want to read two sentences of a statement published in the "Nyasaland Times" of 9th October, I suppose of last year:
It is a complete misapprehension"—
I hope the Minister of State will note this:
to suppose that the opposition is confined to a politically minded minority. As missionaries we are surprised at the knowledge of the issues involved in Federation shown by ordinary Africans. Their opposition is not to details of the scheme, but to the whole principle and it is for this reason that they refuse to discuss details.
I put it to the House and to the Minister that this is weighty testimony and that it requires to be taken carefully into account. It is borne out by what in fact happened. The African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia and the Protectorate Council of Nyasaland, both as the House knows officially formed councils, have expressed themselves consistently in opposition to the Federal Scheme.
I want to supplement that reference by a quotation from the Secretary of State himself. I have already made one quotation from what he has said. The right hon. Gentleman recognises that those two councils are representative of African opinion. What he himself said of those two councils was this:
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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1952; Vol. 497, c. 237.]
If hon. Members want to see what African opinion thinks, let them look at the representative organs of it. We have two organs, recognised as such by the Secretary of State, both of which have opposed and do oppose federation. But it does not end there. The African members of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland have publicly expressed their opposition. Are
they representative or not? What more representative people could be found? They are in opposition. It goes further than that. In Nyasaland in November last year 100 chiefs met at Lilongwe under the chairmanship of Chief Mwase whom, no doubt, the Secretary of State knows well, a senior chief who has always been much respected and who has been an active co-operator with the Government in all matters. I am informed that they expressed themselves as against federation.
The majority of the chiefs in Northern Rhodesia, led by Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba have joined the African National Congress. The Secretary of State says, "Oh, the Congress simply consists of a few ebullient people who terrorise the rest." Are the majority of those chiefs terrorised by them? Is that his view. If it is, I would simply say that he puts it forward on the slender evidence of two telegrams which, if my memory serves me correctly, were the same telegrams as those he quoted in July last year.
I am mistaken, in that case. The right hon. Gentleman says that and, of course, I accept it from him at once.
Congress in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia have continually voiced their opposition to federation. The African Mineworkers' Union are opposed to it. and their leader, Mr. Katilunng, came with the Congress delegation from Northern Rhodesia last year to express opposition. I am simply piecing together the evidence that there is to show that the opposition to this scheme is universal and tensely felt.
In Southern Rhodesia, the African Congresses of Mashonaland and Mata-beleland have expressed their opposition. Mr. Savanhu and Mr. Nkomo, who came to London, opposed the scheme. Mr. Nkomo came to London in 1953 representing the Supreme Council in Southern Rhodesia, which itself is the representative organ of eight African organisations including the Southern Rhodesian trade union.
That is a mass of evidence, and I challenge the Minister of State to explain it away. If in the face of that, in the face of the views of the missionaries, in face of all those meetings and that constant series of expressions of adverse opinion, the right hon. Gentleman says that this opposition is purely or largely imaginary, he is flying in the face of facts and is following an extremely dangerous course if he proceeds upon the assumption that that opposition does not exist.
I must soon draw my remarks to a close, because I want the Minister of State to have every opportunity to reply. I must, however, put this to him. The very economic advantages that we expect from federation are unlikely to ensue if the scheme is cold-shouldered and, perhaps, even boycotted by millions of Africans because of their dislike of it.
We would be not doing our duty in this case—indeed, I do not think we have done so—if we considered this issue of federation simply in isolation. We have got to consider it in its wider context, and if we now, in the face of the evidence which I have deployed, force it upon the Africans, our relations with them and with the rest of the African Continent will be permanently deteriorated, great harm will be done, and what we decide tonight will not only be taken into account by Africans, in Africa, but will be taken into account by coloured people in India, and in the Far East and by coloured people everywhere.
I conclude with this earnest prayer to the Secretary of State and to the Minister of State. Why must they rush this thing through now? Why must they pursue what is inherently a highly dangerous course? It is a course which is fraught with all sorts of dangerous possibilities, and there is still time to pause and think. Many appeals have been made to the Government to do so, and I join this plea to the many appeals that have been made. I ask the Government not to proceed with this Motion, which is in the circumstances a highly dangerous and hazardous one.
When I was in Central Africa last autumn, I had the good fortune to be there at the same time as the Leader of the Opposition. I was not, unfortunately, able to see the right hon. Gentleman out there, but on his return he wrote an article in the
"Daily Herald," of 8th September, 1952, which I should like to quote. The right hon. Gentleman said:
The majority of Africans are opposed to federation. No doubt many do not understand the question and are influenced partly by their dislike of change.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the dislike of certain European sections in Southern Rhodesia for federation and their fear of African domination, and he said:
The mutual fears … are stimulated by extreme speeches on either side. Between these extremes are the advocates of federation. They are liberal-minded and look ahead, seeing the solution of the problem in a partnership between the two communities, though, obviously, for some time the European will be the senior partner. They argue that few Africans are fit for self-government today, but that in due course advance will come. They fear that the alternative to federation will be a growing estrangement between the races and a less liberal outlook by the Europeans.
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to refer to the dilemma with which he suggested we were confronted. He pointed out that it was
dangerous to carry through federation against the weight of African opinion.
On the other hand, he said the result of abandoning it might be serious and might injuriously affect racial relations. He went on:
It is the duty of us all, Europeans and Africans, to try to weigh up all the factors in the situation without prejudice and with as full a knowledge as we can obtain.
That is exactly what we have done, and having done so, Her Majesty's Government have resolved to go on with this scheme.
I should like to say, first, that every item of criticism which was raised in debate against the first federal scheme or which was raised with me by Africans during the many hours that I spent with them, every one of those, except that relating to the Minister for African Affairs—and that was never raised by Africans—has been met in the new proposals.
It was claimed that under the draft scheme of April last H.M. Government retained no initiative for future amendment of the constitution. Under Article 146 of the present scheme there is provision for a constitutional review within a stated period, to which my right hon. Friend has already referred, and in which H.M. Government will certainly play their full part.
A criticism was also advanced as to the method of selection of the chairman of the African Affairs Board and the impossibility of that Board making a constructive contribution to African welfare. Those points, too, have been met in the present scheme.
The present African Affairs Board is part and parcel of the Parliamentary life of the new federal Parliament itself. Here, I should like to quote Mr. Harry Nkumbula, the President of the African National Congress and his comments on the original African Affairs Board. I quote from a statement which he made on 26th June, 1952, at Mapoloto. He objected to the African Affairs Board as it was. He said that it could not possibly be a safeguard, because in the first place
members of the Board will not be elected by the people whose interest it shall protect. This means that the Board will not be answerable to the Africans. The members of the Board will be the Governor-General's stooges. It means also that should any member of this Board express a different opinion or conduct himself in a manner which does not conform with the wishes of the Governor-General, his membership shall be terminated.
He went on to say what kind of board he would like and it is precisely the kind of board we have introduced into the scheme.
Uneasiness has been expressed about safeguards for African land. When I went round the villages and the towns I found that was the most pressing anxiety among the Africans themselves. It was constantly expressed to me by chiefs and private individuals. I am satisfied that by including a reference to land in the Preamble of the new scheme and by providing that no native land can be taken for the purpose of settling immigrants, we shall relieve any doubts in the minds of Africans on this subject, except those who do not wish to hear.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) asked whether the Preamble was to be an integral part of the Constitution. It is an integral part of the Constitution. The Constitution itself will be brought into force by Order in Council but the Preamble as such is not legally binding. It is part of the Constitution, but it is not legally binding in the Constitution itself.
The Preamble, like the preamble in all treaties and constitutions, sets forth and deploys the arguments, and, of course, as such, forming a part of an Order in Council passed by Her Majesty the Queen, it will have a very strong and effective force.
It has also been urged that the previous scheme was only a back door to amalgamation. We have re-asserted the principle that the two Northern Territories shall remain Protectorates for as long as their respectives people so desire. That assertion which has been embodied in the scheme makes this risk out of the question. It was also suggested in the course of previous debates that there might be racial discrimination in the public services. This point again was raised with me by Africans, particularly in Nyasaland, where there are many Africans in the postal service and other public services. It has been fully covered by paragraph 112 of the present scheme.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly asked, in regard to paragraph 38 of the Conference Report [Cmd. 8753], why Her Majesty's Government should seek the views of the Federal Government with respect to changes which might be proposed in the territorial Constitutions. I think the answer to that is that it is only natural that we should discuss these matters together in the case of territories with respect to which there will be a joint authority. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the Sudan. Surely that was not a good analogy to take. The Sudan is to be entirely independent. There are no safeguards there. Her Majesty's Government will have no power to come in and exercise their control in any way.
It seemed to me that the attack which the right hon. Gentleman made on the present plan in support of the Amendment was partly on its form and partly on its imposition. He used the expression "universal opposition." During the course of a number of weeks, from direct inquiries myself in villages, townships and at meetings, as well as in conversations with dozens of district officers, provincial commissioners, secretaries for native affairs, and so on, I did my best to inform myself of the position. I think it may have changed, but I do not believe it has greatly changed since I was there.
Certainly, at that time a very large proportion of the population—I put it as high as 90 per cent.—had never heard of federation at all. Of the remaining 10 per cent., the majority were opposed to it. They were the literate, vocal Africans, and I agree that the majority of them were opposed to the scheme. However, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that a prerequisite was that full account should be taken of the special responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government towards Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, that consultation should take place with the Africans and that full account should be taken of their views, I should like to assure him that that has been done and that no effort has been spared to do that.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there were no representatives of what he described as the natives or aborigines in the Cabinet. He said he thought there was no colonial Constitution which did not include a representative of the aborigines on the Executive Council. I would only quote one example, of Nyasaland itself, where there is no African member on the Executive Council. Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman.
That is not correct in regard to Nyasaland, though it is so in most other places.
The changing of the word "detrimental" to "differentiating" was made quite deliberately with a view to making the position more clear. "Detrimental" can mean anything. One could say that Income Tax is detrimental to an individual. But when one uses the word "differentiating" one means something quite different, and when one goes on not only to say that it is a differentiating Measure but to explain that it means something which is disadvantageous to the Africans, and something to which the Europeans are not subjected—or is an instrument which will in its practical application have such an effect—it seems to me that one has gone to the very limit to try to provide effective safeguards for Africans in that field.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not the power to reserve under the corresponding provision in the Southern Rhodesian Constitution has ever been exercised over the 30 years in which it has been in force?
I shall come to that point.
As far as Southern Rhodesia is concerned the position has been that the Attorney-General of that country is obliged to certify a differentiating Measure, which is then referred to the Commonwealth Relations Office. It is referred privately, by dispatch, and, in general, every effort is made to avoid forcing the issue by settling the matter by exchange of views, so that when the Bill is finally presented to the Southern Rhodesian Parliament it is in a form which does not differentiate. In fact, the power has never had to be used.
But the position in regard to the Federal Government is entirely different, because here everything will be done in public. The report will be made by the African Affairs Board, first to the House and then to the Speaker. The whole thing will be public property, so that there will be opportunities for debating it not only in Central Africa but in this country —and not only in this House, but in the Press and elsewhere.
I thought the references which have been made to Ministers of Southern Rhodesia—and the selections of quotations—were unworthy of hon. Members opposite in their reflection on Ministers of a Territory which is very close to our hearts. I should like to quote from another speech of Sir Godfrey Huggins, which he made very shortly after the Common Roll of Africans had been introduced, enabling them to vote for Members of Parliament and which today, if they all registered, would enable no fewer than 7,000 of them to be put on the voters' roll. Only 450 have chosen to register. Sir Godfrey Huggins said:
We are anxious to build up this country on the basis of a partnership between the various races and not to use colour as a test of a man's ability and culture. We can only develop and help this country as partners. In the present state of development it is difficult
for some people to realise this and because of the stage of development of backward people it is not easy for outside observers to realise that we believe in such a policy and are attempting to carry it out.
That, from my knowledge of Sir Godfrey Huggins, represents his real views.
I thought, too, that the right hon. Gentleman's references to Mr. John Moffat's views, as expressed last July, were unfortunate, as he did not trouble to ascertain what were his up-to-date views, as expressed when he was in London attending the conference. In fact, everything that Mr. Moffat proposed at the conference, including some of the amendments which have now been embodied in this new scheme, were adopted. As far as I know, he went away satisfied with the Federal Scheme and determined to support it.
I have very little to say about the speech of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale). I think that the object of his speech was to make things as difficult as possible for everybody in Southern Rhodesia who is anxious to get the referendum through. He referred to handing over the six million Africans to the irresponsible minority—I think that is how he put it. I would point out that there are two million Africans in Southern Rhodesia who. many people seem to forget, will benefit from the safeguards of this scheme. I wonder how many hon. Members opposite, who are opposed to the scheme today, have thought about that fact?
The Minister for African Affairs has been mentioned several times, and I cannot do better than quote the original opinion of the right hon. Member for West Bromwich of this Minister. He said:
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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1952; Vol. 497, c. 255.]
Quite frankly, that is also the view of the Government.
The right hon. and learned Member for Neepsend (Sir F. Soskice) spoke of the economic advantages of the scheme and also of the African Affairs Board. He referred to the property qualification. I would point out to him that only the first election will be based on the existing law of the Northern and Southern Rhodesian constitutions. After that, it will be for the Federal Parliament themselves to decide their electoral laws. The franchise in Nyasaland will depend on the Government of Nyasaland itself for as long as it may determine. If, as he said, it is unlikely that Africans will be elected to the first Parliament, it is precisely for that reason that the safeguard of the African Affairs Board—the most powerful instrument which has ever been inserted into a constitution as a safeguard for any one group—has been included.
In the debate on 24th July, before I left for Africa, I undertook to report my personal, first-hand impressions of the state of mind of the Africans in the two Northern Territories after they had had time to study the White Paper. I went out there and I made it quite clear to them that I myself was convinced of the importance and urgency of federation. I said that in so far as there was opposition to the scheme, I hoped to be able to persuade them to change their minds. I very soon found that, as far as the literate Africans were concerned, I had arrived too late. From talks immediately on my arrival, I found that some Africans were impressed by what I had to tell them, some were prepared to accept the scheme and some were prepared to consider it on its merits.
But the organised propaganda of those who oppose federation was already such that I could have little hope that the effect of my words would reach many or would last very long. Though there are—and I still believe it—relatively few active propagandists, I found they often preceded me to a town, or arrived there the day after I left it, and they had had a free run too long. And that, coupled with the almost open intimidation which I found in many districts, and which, in some cases, was reported to me by the victims themselves, had had its effect among educated and vocal Africans. It had also had its effect upon chiefs by playing upon their fears of losing their land.
I must admit I met with some surprising exceptions. I met chiefs who were prepared to get up at a meeting and come out in favour of federation. I also met individuals prepared to do that, but in most cases they would come to me after a meeting and say, "We have listened with great interest to what was said. We believe in federation, but we would never dare to say so in public." One man told me, "If I were to support federation, I should never reach my village alive."
On the other hand, at the new and impressive secondary school at Munali outside Lusaka I was assured by two of the masters that among the older boys aged between 16 and 20 there was an almost equal division on the subject, although they all agreed that their parents, who had had less education, would have been against it. At the medical school in Nyasaland I was informed that all the 17 students were against the scheme, while all 15 members of the staff were for it.
What conclusions can one draw from those examples? Very little, I think, except this, that the vast proportion of Africans in both Territories understand nothing about federation, and, in many cases, know nothing about it. Those who oppose it do so for reasons almost entirely unconnected with federation. Had the word "federation" never been mentioned there would have been this same sort of opposition to the Northern Rhodesian Constitution as it stands today. Those who have read about it and have discussed it are still singularly ill-informed, and, in many cases, as I say, they are subject to violent and hostile propaganda.
It has often been asked, why cannot we put federation into cold storage while the education of the Africans takes place? That view has been expressed by many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen tonight. I can understand it and I respect it, but for the reasons given, I think so cogently, by my right hon. Friend earlier on, it is not a practicable proposition. The position in Central Africa is not static but dynamic If federation does not occur, someting else will take its place. Not only will it be a triumph for extremists both Black and White, but each in turn will seek to exploit their victory.
I do not suggest it would lead to a demand for annexation to the Union by Southern Rhodesia, but I do suggest that it will mean the encouragement of all those who are inclined to turn their backs on the idea of partnership. Once that tendency has asserted itself it will not be possible to check it or to put the clock back. In the Northern Territories it will involve the inauguration of a bitter campaign for an all-African Government which, with all its dangers, and, whatever its outcome, will only be fatal to the future prosperity and social development in those Territories. In short, the abandonment of federation would be not to decrease but to increase racial friction and, at the same time, to deprive the people of the possibility of attaining a higher standard of living for many years to come.
I do not say that we can afford to let things stand exactly as they are. No one could be satisfied with the introduction of a major scheme of this sort, of the importance of which everyone in this House is seized—no one could be satisfied with the introduction of a scheme if it is opposed by even a part of the inhabitants. The education of Africans must go on. Fortunately, federation will only take place by stages. For instance, it will be a year at least before the full machinery of government will be functioning. During that time I conceive it to be our duty through our officials and by every other means to continue our efforts to explain to the Africans what federation really means and what advantages it holds for them.
As the scheme unfolds itself and as the different stages—many of them imperceptible to the vast majority of Africans— occur, I am convinced that a great number will come to accept federation as part of their lives, almost without knowing it. They will see the advantages and their fears will disappear with, I believe, shattering effects upon the prestige of those politically-minded persons in Africa who have sought to mislead them.
Federation, in short, holds out the only hope of finding a solution to this problem of a multi-racial area in Africa where Africans, Europeans and Asians have made their homes and are going to stay. It is only by a policy of practical partnership that we can hope to settle race relations in those Territories. A great deal of nonsense has been talked about the colour bar, but with a great deal of what has been said this afternoon to the effect that the Government have not implemented the Dalgleish Report, I have no sympathy at all because that lay in other hands.
A great deal of play has been made about the fear of Africans of the racial policy of Southern Rhodesia. If hon. Members will examine the Command Paper 8235, June, 1951, they will find in fact that the racial policies of both Territories, although different in methods, have the same aims. My right hon. Friend has shown why it would be disastrous to abandon federation simply because a section of African opinion is opposed to it. The question has been posed as a moral issue, and I accept that challenge on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The two Northern Territories are Protectorates, and will remain so. As the Protecting Power, Britain has a moral duty to do what is in the long term interests of those Territories and their protection. It is not the duty merely of a parent towards his children, but of a trustee towards his beneficiaries.
The Africans of the Northern Territories cannot at the same time claim British protection and the right to decide all issues for themselves. If in years to come we were to abandon federation and if it were to end in chaos or disruption or the absorption of those Territories by influences from other parts of the world the ideas of which we do not approve, and Africans were to come to us and say—"Who was it who held the reins of power in 1953. We know we opposed federation then but you were the trustees and you were responsible"—we should know full well that we were to blame. We do not intend that that should happen; we know where our duty lies. So I ask hon. Members of this House, assuming that even at this late stage they will not abandon the idea of forcing a Division, to reject the Amendment and vote for the Motion.
|Division No. 123.]||AYES||[11.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Fort, R.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Foster, John||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Fraser, Sir lan (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Lyttelton, Rt Hon. O|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McAdden, S J.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||McCallum, Major D.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Gammans, L. D.||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Mackeson, Brig, H. R.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Glyn, Sir Ralph||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Godber, J. B.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Banks, Col. C.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Barber, Anthony||Gough, C. F. H.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Gower, H. R.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maitland, Comdr, J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Grimston, Sir, Robert (Westbury)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.|
|Harden, J. R. E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Markham, Major, S. F|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Harris, Frederic (Croyden, N.)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)|
|Black, C. W.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maude, Angus|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maudling, R.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S.L.C.|
|Boosom, A.C.||Harvey, lan (Harrow, E.)||Medlicott, Brig.F.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J.A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Head, Rt. Hon. A.H.||Mellor, Sir John|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Braithwaite, Ll.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Bromley Devenport, Lt.-Col. W.H.||Higgs, J.M.C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nabarro, G.O.N.|
|Brooman-White, R.C.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicholls, Harmer|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P.G.T.||Hirst, Geoffery||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nicolson, Nige (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Hollis, M.C.||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E.E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Noble, Cmdr. A.H.P.|
|Burden, F.F.A.||Hope, Lord John|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Nugent, G.R.H.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Channon, H.||Horobin, I.M.||Odey, G. W.|
|Churchill' Rt. Hon. W.S.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Orr, Capt. L.P.S|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Orr-Ewing,Charles lan (Hendon, N.)|
|Cole Norman||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir lan (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Osborne, C.|
|Conant, Maj R. J. E.||Hurd, A.R.||Partridge, E.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (llford, N.)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H.M.||Peyton, J. W.W.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Crouch R. F.||Jennings, R.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Jones, A (Hall Green)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kaberry, D.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|De la Bere, Sir Rupert||Keeling, Sir Edward||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerr, H. W.||Redmayne, M|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lambert, Hon. G||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambton, Viscount||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Donner, P. W.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Leather, E. H. C.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Drewe, C.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Lindsay, Martin||Russell, R. S.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Linstead, H. N.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Maj Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Savery, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Longden, Gilbert||Scott, R. Donald|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Studholme, H. G.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Shepherd, William||Summers, G. S.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Simon, J. E. S (Middlesbrough, W.)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Teeling, W.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wellwood, W.|
|Speir, R. M.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon. W.[...]||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Tilney, John||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Stevens, G. P.||Touche, Sir Gordon||Wills, G.|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Turner, H. F. L.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Turton, R. H.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||York, C.|
|Storey, S.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Vosper, D. F.||Sir Herbert Butcher and Mr. Heath.|
|Adams, Richard||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Albu, A. H.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Keenan, W.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Kenyon, C.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Fernyhough, E.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Fienburgh, W.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Finch, H. J.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Follick, M.||Lewis, Arthur|
|Baird, J.||Foot, M. M.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Balfour, A.||Forman, J. C.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Bartley, P.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Logan, D. G.|
|Bence, C. R.||Freeman, John (Watford)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||McGhee H. G|
|Beswick, F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||McGovern, J|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Gibson, C. W.||McInnes, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Glanville, James||McLeavy, F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Gooch, E. G.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||McNeil Rt. Hon. H.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Boardman, H.||Grey, C. F.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Grimond, J.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hale, Leslie||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mellish, R. J.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hamilton, W. W.||Messer, F.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hannan, W.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hargreaves, A.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Monslow, W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hastings, S.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hayman, F. H.||Morley, R.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Herbison, Miss M.||Mort. D. L.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moyle, A.|
|Clunie, J.||Holman, P.||Mulley, F. W.|
|Collick, P. H.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Murray, J. D.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Holt, A. F.||Nally, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Houghton, Douglas||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hoy, J. H.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||O'Brien, T.|
|Crossman, R. H S||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oldfield, W. H|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Orbach, M.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oswald, T.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Padley, W. E|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paget, R. T.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Deer, G.||Janner, B.||Pannell, Charles|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Parker, J.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Jeger, Dr Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Paton, J.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Peart, T. F.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Poole, C. C.|
|Edelman, M.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Popplewell, E.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Porter, G.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Weitzman, D.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Sparks, J. A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Steele, T.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Rankin, John||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||West, D. G.|
|Reeves, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Rhodes, H.||Stross, Dr. Barnett||White, Henry (Derbyshire N.E.)|
|Richards, R.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Swingler, S. T.||Wigg, George|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilcock, Group Capt C. A. S.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Wilkins, W. A|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Willey, F. T.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Ross, William||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Royle, C.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Short, E. W.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Shurmer, P. L. E.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Thornton, E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Timmons, J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Turner-Samuels, M||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Slater, J.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Yates, V. F.|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Viant, S. P.||Younger, Rt. Hon K|
|Snow, J. W.||Wade, D. W.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Wallace, H. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
Question put, and agreed to.