Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [30th November]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.—[Mr. J. N. Browne.]
I propose to deal with the problem of colonial development and the related problems of the Colombo Plan and of international aid for the underdeveloped countries of the world. There are political problems particular to the Colonial Territories of Kenya and Cyprus, and others which are very much in our minds, and to which we shall hope to devote some attention in the near future. But it is my desire today to concentrate attention upon the general problems to which I have referred.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) will seek to catch your eye, Sir, during the debate. I am sure that I speak for all right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House—and, in fact, I think from both sides of the House—when I voice a hearty welcome to my right hon. Friend. We shall in the future be fortunate, as we were in years gone by, in having the great advantage of his wise counsel on these important matters concerning our colonial responsibilities.
In the Gracious Speech we read:
My Ministers will promote the development of the Colonial Empire and for this purpose will prolong the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts and increase the funds available under them.
We are also told that the Government will continue to support the Colombo Plan, and they also reaffirm their belief
in the United Nations as an essential organisation to international concord. I shall be referring, in the course of my remarks, to some important aspects of the work of the United Nations.
In this House, and in the country, we have become all too familiar with the divisions in the world of this mid-20th century, and we are constantly preoccupied with the grave problem of how to ease international tension that threatens peace. We must not let our preoccupation with this aspect of the international problem blind us to the fact that there is emerging a division in the world that may be of even greater significance than the divisions with which we are so familiar today.
That is the division, which becomes ever sharper, between one-third of the peoples of the world, including the peoples of these islands, who enjoy a fair and on the whole, rising standard of life, and the two-thirds of the human family who are sunk in poverty, who are plagued with disease, and who have to battle against illiteracy. History and our own experience have taught us, in this Continent of Europe, that peace and stability can only be won and sustained in a society which is continually removing the disparities of wealth between its citizens, which is the root cause of instability and conflict within the nations. Equally, we shall never secure enduring peace in the world nor international concord while two-thirds of the human family are living a life that is reduced to the lowest level.
The peoples of those lands, about whose state and whose future we are continually becoming more deeply concerned, are held in the grip of poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance. About two or three years ago, a report was presented to the appropriate committee of the United Nations on the conditions that obtained in these hunger-stricken lands. One paragraph made a deep impression upon me when I read it, because it describes so very graphically the conditions in which these people live, and I should like to quote it.
It comes from the report of a commission which has made a widespread study of these poverty stricken lands, and whose members wrote the impressions of
what they had seen and heard whilst they were still fresh in their minds. The report said:
Millions of the people of the underdeveloped countries are dressed in rags—literally sleep on the ground—hauling their daily water in heavy clay pots, and tilling and harvesting their crops with hoe and sickle.
They added one other sentence which I thought was the most bald, graphic and challenging of all:
In these lands more than one-half of the children live in squalor and die in want.
I do not propose this morning to detail the facts which are now becoming well-known to all those—and I hope it includes all of us in this House—who are deeply concerned about these problems, but I should like to indicate, as a background to what I have to say about these problems, what are the salient facts about the conditions of life in those territories. First there is their poverty. It is difficult for us to imagine it. It has to be seen to be realised. It is not the kind of poverty that we think of when we speak of poverty in this land. It is not the kind of poverty that plagued my native land in the inter-war years, tragic as that was.
This is stark poverty, with famine always round the corner. The contrast between their poverty and the relative wealth of the developed countries, is, I think, brought out strikingly in the fact—and like so many of these facts we are grateful to the appropriate committee of the United Nations for them—that in the last year for which an estimate was made the average income per head of the population in those stricken lands, in which dwell two-thirds of the human race, was less than one-sixteenth of that of the people of the United States and less than one-tenth of the average income of the people of the United Kingdom.
Disease is rampant in all these territories. The best measurement of health or disease in any country, or indeed of any particular disease, is its effect on the children, and in particular the infantile mortality rate.
The countries are in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. I do not think I need to describe the countries because so much has been written about them that they can be identified.
I was saying one of the measurements of the health or ill-health of a people is the infantile mortality rate, and I think I can best express the contrast in this respect between our own country and the people of those lands by pointing to a bald, terrifying fact—that the chances of a child in any of those territories surviving until its first birthday is only one-fifth of the chance of a child in this country of ours. In those lands eight and nine out of every 10 in the population are illiterate. They cannot read or write, and in addition, all the work that has to be done is done against the background of a mass Of inertia that is bred by ignorance and illiteracy.
What makes these problems of vital urgency in our days is that they have to be seen, examined, and dealt with against the background of a development that makes them even more urgent. The first is that there is all over the world in these underdeveloped countries a rapid increase in population.
The report for 1953 of the section for the United Nations organisation which deals with this problem estimates that the world population is now increasing at a rate of 70,000 to 100,000 a day, or 30 million a year, and there is indeed deep concern, which I am sure we all feel, at the fact that in many of these lands the increase in the number of mouths to feed has outstripped the increase in the production of food. As a consequence, poverty is in danger of becoming more deeply-rooted and more catastrophic than it has been in the past.
The second problem of development which has to be remembered is that some of these territories have in the past been Colonial Territories, and some of them are still Colonial Territories, and many of them are territories which in one way or another have been effected by the impact of our industrial civilisation, and whose resources are developed with advantage—some advantage to them but with more advantage to us. In the past the Western world has profited by that, but we now find that all over these territories there is emerging a political consciousness. What is described as the growth of nationalism is becoming one of the most dynamic forces of our day and generation.
This dynamic force, harnessed, channelled, guided to constructive purposes, can give a tremendous impetus to the progress of these peoples and their lands. I speak for my party when I say that it is our desire that in all this we shall do everything we can to harness this great force so that eventually it will lead to the establishment of democratic nations. There is a demand for independence which we cannot resist; even to attempt to resist it would be to court disaster.
How important it is, therefore, that we, the developed countries, shall show that we are ready and anxious, not only to make efforts but, if necessary, to make sacrifices to harness our skill and resources to aid these people to rescue themselves from the grip of poverty, hunger, and disease in which they are now grimly held.
In this matter we in this House have a dual responsibility. We have a special responsibility for the 75 million people living in the Colonial Territories for whom we are the final arbiters, and for whom we have the final responsibility. In addition, we have a responsibility, which we share with the other nations, for the people who live in all those lands about which I have spoken.
As regards this dual responsibility, we welcome the indication in the Gracious Speech that we are to have a Bill during this Session to prolong the life of, and to increase the resources available under, the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. The two agencies through which we have sought to bring public aid to promote economic and social development in our Colonial Territories in the post-war years have been the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts and the Colonial Development Corporation.
Under those Acts we shall have provided, between 1946 and 1956, £14 million a year. Under the Colonial Development Corporation, set up in 1948, £7 million a year has been devoted to the establishment of industries and services in those territories. That makes a total of £21 million per annum provided under those two agencies during the past few years.
All of us with experience of their working will be agreed upon two things; first, that the Acts have proved to be a great success. I have just had the privilege of visiting East, Central, and West Africa and some territories in the other continents. Wherever I went I found evidence of the beneficial effect of the provisions of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. Further, the Colonial Development Corporation has had a chequered career. There have been successes, there have been failures. A great deal of political capital has been made out of the failures. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies and myself debating about that in this House. Probably, mistakes were made, but we must learn from the successes and from the failures, and we must never repeat our mistakes.
None of us should be under any illusion that we can engage in this work—either our own country, in our Colonial Territories, or the United Nations or any other agency in the other countries—unless we are prepared sometimes to experience failure. There are so many incalculables that if we want to make absolutely sure of success before we do anything we shall do nothing. I would rather risk failure, rather attempt too much too soon and have an occasional failure, than attempt too little too late and meet with final disaster.
I hope that in the new Bill provision will be made on more generous lines than in the past, because £14 million a year for the next five or 10 years will be inadequate to meet the need. I hope, therefore, that today the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some indication of the provisions. We understand that the final provisions will be in the Bill; indeed, I hope that they are not yet settled, because one reason why I was anxious to debate this aspect of the colonial problem today was that it would give an opportunity for the Secretary of State to learn the views of all hon. Members as to what should be the provisions in the Bill.
So, first, I hope that those provisions will be on a more generous scale. Secondly, I hope that the Government will give consideration to something which my right hon. Friends and hon. Friends and myself have been considering, namely, that when we review these provisions and agencies and determine their future, we should take the opportunity to reconsider, in the light of experience, the relationship between the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts and the Colonial Development Corporation.
When that Corporation was established some time after the Act setting it up had begun its beneficient work, it was hoped by the Government and by hon. Members of this House that the two agencies would develop as supplementary and complementary to each other. It was hoped that the plans designed under them would dovetail as far as possible so that, by supplementing and complementing each other, we should get the utmost advantage in development from the resources made available under the two agencies.
Those early hopes of close association and co-ordination have not been realised in practice, and both agencies have suffered. What is even more important, the Colonies have suffered. So I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to tell us today what are the future plans of the Government for the Colonial Development Corporation. The reason for setting it up was that it was accepted that future economic development in the Colonial Territories could not and ought not to be left entirely to private capital, although we recognise that private capital is essential to rapid economic development.
I hold very strongly that, while capital from outside which is invested in these territories is entitled to reasonable security, the people of the territories themselves are also entitled to ensure that invested capital from outside fulfils its social obligations, and it has not always done so. I speak for the whole of my party in this matter.
We believe that, while affording outside capital reasonable security, it is essential to build up a kind of International Labour Office code for private capital employed in the Colonial Territories, which must accept responsibility for seeing that the indigenous workers, with their skills and technical knowledge, shall have opportunities of serving their people with those particular skills in the industries which are established in their country.
Secondly, we believe it is absolutely essential that private companies which carry out operations in these territories should accept the full recognition of trade unions among the people, and should establish full conciliation machinery. None of us who has been into any town or any industry in these territories, and has seen the people who, in a very short time, have had to make this jump from the shamba to this new and terrifying environment, can fail to appreciate their problem.
There is a chapter about a somewhat comparable period in our history in J. L. Hammond's classic work on the Industrial Revolution, in which he describes the terrifying problems that met our own forebears when, in their tens of thousands, they moved to the countryside and the new towns, and to the mills. They are the same problems that we can see in these territories. Therefore, the trade unions are not only essential for the defence of the poor and the workers themselves, but also as a cementing organisation to provide some alternative to the discipline, ruthless as it may be, of the shamba, which these people miss when they go into the factories and the mines.
Thirdly, it is essential to lay down that, while private capital which is invested is given security for that investment in the Colonial Territories, a far greater proportion of the profits made shall be ploughed back in the development of the country than has been the case in the past. I come back to the fact that it is now recognised that we cannot and indeed ought not to leave this matter to private capital, but that there must be public investment.
It is, therefore, of very great importance that we should give consideration to the agency which we have used in the past in order to promote public enterprise. My view was that, while I hoped that the Corporation which established enterprises would be successful, its work, when it attained such success, would be handed over to the Government of the territory concerned, through the medium of such an agency as that which has been set up in Uganda. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to the economy of these territories that we should build up a public sector of industry. Some day, these territories will achieve independence; and political independence with foreign capital, over which the people have no control, may create a calamitous situation in the future.
I was deeply concerned to build up a public sector which would provide greater and greater power for the people themselves to develop the economic resources of their country. It seems to me that in the last few years—I suppose that the reason, or is it the excuse?, is the failure in Gambia and all the rest—the Development Corporation has departed very far from its original purpose. Let us be quite frank about this. It has now become almost a bank. I am thinking of the future, and I want to ask, what are the intentions of the Government?
Is the Corporation never to do anything unless it is in partnership, and often a junior partnership at that, with private capital? I should like to see the relationship between the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the Colonial Development Corporation reconsidered, because I think that these two bodies ought to work together in closer association, and that these wide responsibilities ought to be shared between them. We ought to consider how we can weave and integrate them together to use the resources which we are providing—£140 million in the one case, and £160 million in the other—of which, I think, £80 million is already committed, leaving £80 million still uncommitted, in the case of the Colonial Development Corporation.
We have a responsibility to see that the best use is made of these funds which we are making available, and I do not think that we are making the best use of it through these two separate agencies. I think it would be much better if we could integrate them and bring them closer together, and I hope the Secretary of State will give consideration to this suggestion. I hope that the Bill is not yet in its final form, so that some of these suggestions can be considered before it comes before this House.
I want now to say a few words about the work of these agencies. I have already paid a sincere tribute, one in which we all join, to the work of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, but one thing that has always bothered me a little is that, while I recognise that it has done a great deal, I have wondered whether it has done too much, and whether its resources and money have been so widely dispersed in so many different kinds of activities as not to make the full impact that they could make on the Colonial Territories, or the best contribution to their development.
I therefore wonder whether we ought not to give consideration to the future relationship of these agencies, and whether we ought not to have some priorities. I appreciate the difficulty of the problem here. The previous Secretary of State for the Colonies, now Viscount Chandos, said he had invited the Governors to submit proposals and plans for future development schemes. I wonder whether it would not serve a very good purpose if a conference was called of representatives of the Colonial Governments to discuss the future of these schemes before we finally decide.
I am going to be bold enough to make some suggestions on my own personal responsibility as to what I think ought to be some of the priorities of these two agencies in the future. Having regard to the background of rising populations, and it is true of all our Colonies—some of us have just had the privilege of going to East Africa, where, in 30 years' time the population will, we know, double—that in all these territories in the world that are now underdeveloped, and face great economic, social, and political problems, the first task is to increase food production as quickly as possible. Unless we do so, we may be defeated, because rising populations may undo all the good we have done in other directions.
Let us look at the contrast here. The average output per person in agriculture in all these areas, including our own Colonial Territories, which are largely based on peasant cultivation, is less than one-tenth of what it is in our own country. It has been estimated on very good authority that food production in our own territories in Africa and elsewhere can be doubled within a period of 10 years by doing four things. First, to institute a system of proper seed control in order to ensure that only the best is used; secondly, public control of pests and diseases; third, more fertilisers; and fourth, better water supplies.
I suggest that one of the best purposes to which we can put these resources which we make available from public funds would be to make a concerted attempt in the next five or 10 years to double the food production by making these four services available wherever we can.
I know that we have to overcome what I have described as inertia or ignorance—an unwillingness to accept new ideas—and how terrifying a problem it is, and how heartbreaking it can be to work all the time and feel these responsibilities. I would say, and my conviction on this is strengthened each time I go to any of these territories, that the cooperative is one of the best agencies, both as machinery for providing collectively for these peasant farmers, and for providing the four essentials I have mentioned, as well as the best kind of organisation to develop a community spirit—producer co-operatives and marketing co-operatives. These should be rapidly created in all these territories.
I consider that, in a plan for considering more food, real interest should be shown in the development of the cooperatives. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider this. If I may say so, no one has a greater respect for the Colonial Service generally than I have, but I think that in some of these specialised fields we ought to use the specialised knowledge that we have in this country, and I would urge the Secretary of State, in considering the promotion of co-operatives, which have a vital part to play in the future, to use, what I know are ready, the resources of our own co-operative movement at home.
I regard the Co-operative movement of this country, to which I have belonged for many years, and of which my father was one of the principal members in my village, as one of the greatest voluntary, democratic achievements in Western Europe. It is a great movement. I know that we are conscious of this, and I hope that that movement will be used.
I would put, as the second priority, education, and particularly stress the need for the development of community mass education and technical education. I have said before in this House that sometimes, when I talk to my friends in Africa, and elsewhere, I can see their doctors of 20 and 30 years hence, and their barristers—indeed, plenty of them, perhaps too many—of 20 or 30 years hence.
May I speak as an old artisan? The artisans are the backbone of the modern community, and the backbone of this Britain of ours. It is the artisans, the technicians, the workers who are really the centre, the backbone, and I hope that there will be real emphasis placed on the aspect of technical education. I am disturbed, when going to the universities in these territories, to find how few are taking up the study of agriculture and its problems. I would appeal to them to reflect that the greatest service they can render to their people in the next 20 or 30 years is to devote themselves to the study of agriculture.
The third priority is improvement in communications and the provision of power. These are essential in increasing the production of food and increasing every other kind of production. I believe that it is essential—perhaps I might put it in a more modified form—I believe that it would be a tremendous advantage if C.D.C. and C.D.W. were interwoven into a complementary agency, and over a period of five or 10 years their services, instead of being separate for many activities, were concentrated on the priorities. I come back to the suggestion that I think that there would be a very great advantage if there were a colonial conference at which this question, both of machinery and priorities, could be discussed and settled. I hope that consideration will be given to that.
I do not propose to speak in detail of the Colombo Plan. Some of my hon. and right hon. Friends will speak about it, and develop the points which I shall make, and others which I shall not have time to make. Therefore, I only ask the Government to make a statement today—either the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—and to tell us what plans there are for the future of the Colombo Plan.
The Colombo Plan was one of the brightest and most imaginative plans in this field that emerged at the end of the Second World War. It is working in an area in which this problem of population—and increasing population—and its impact on food resources is at its greatest. The figures which I have of the areas and countries in South-East Asia that are covered by the Colombo Plan show that at the present rate of increase in population, the population of these territories, which is now about 570 million, will have grown to 720 million by 1970.
I have heard it said that, imaginative as the Colombo Plan is, in a sense, all that it enables those areas to do, because of this increased population, is just to hold the fort and not slip back. Surely that is not big enough or good enough. I would ask the Government to indicate today what they propose to do about the Colombo Plan, and what are the future prospects.
I turn lastly to international plans and world plans for mutual aid, and in particular to the United Nations. I want to begin by expressing my conviction, which I hope is shared, and which I believe is very important, that in this field of bringing the resources of the world to the aid of two-thirds of the human family which live in the poverty-stricken lands, it is of supreme importance that the United Nations shall be the organisation which is used.
We know that we have been, since 1945, in some ways disappointed, and that our hopes have been disappointed in the United Nations. We have had in some fields, such as the defence of the Western world, to seek other agencies. I beg of this House to keep this one sphere as the sphere of the United Nations, and not to go outside it. I think that is essential if the United Nations is to live. If it does not live, then it will be a very bad day indeed for the world.
Secondly, in this field of bringing aid to the peoples in these territories, it is essential to remember the political consequences. If they believe that our aid to them is determined other than by considerations of helping them, that can be very dangerous. I have here a copy of HANSARD of yesterday. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, replied to the Question by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), who asked
to what extent Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is to be associated with the international Corporation to finance industrial projects in underdeveloped countries, the setting-up of which was recently announced by the United States Government.
There is a proposal for the United Nations organisation to promote economic development known as S.U.N.F.E.D.—the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development. We have been dragging our feet so far as that plan is concerned, and, if I may say so with respect, so has the United States. There is a plan and a programme which is to be reported upon. Two hundred and fifty million dollars are needed to begin it. What is 250 million dollars to our world in these days? Our Government have not found that sum, the United States have not found it and other Governments have not found it.
I regard it as being the best and the boldest plan so far to bring aid to these people through the United Nations, and to promote their economic development. I deeply deplore the fact that on that we have dragged our feet, and that we are so anxious to run into this new plan. I believe that, from every point of view, it is a 'profound mistake, and I ask the Government to consider it again.
I hope that we shall have a reply on the matter today, and if we do not, then I think that we shall have to return to the subject again. The Gracious Speech states:
My Government re-affirm their belief that the United Nations Organisation is essential to the furtherance of international concord. …
How is the United Nations organisation going to achieve that if we take every job out of its hands? It will be just a skeleton with a magnificent palace—a hollow edifice. This is the one field in which it is obviously the organisation which we should use and support. I hope, therefore, that today we shall be told the Government's attitude towards these organisations, and particularly towards S.U.N.F.E.D.
I wish to pay my tribute to the work done by so many men and women everywhere in the country to raise money for the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, in which we are all taking part. I wish that everyone in the country had a copy of the little pamphlet in which we are told:
Your 1s. gift to U.N.I.C.E.F. buys enough penicillin to cure one child of yaws.
If only our people saw a child suffering from yaws, the shillings would be forthcoming. Is it too much to ask that we
should give 50 million shillings to that Fund? For the last three years the Government's contribution has not amounted to more than 3d. per head of the population. Why not say 1s.?
We are, I think, 26th on the list of countries which contribute to that Fund. That is not a position which reflects much credit upon this House or upon the country, and I hope that the Government will reconsider the aid that they are giving in that direction.
As regards technical assistance, I was sorry to see that the expenditure required to meet the demand in that field has been cut from 43 million dollars in 1952 to 23 million dollars at the present time. I feel sure that it would be the desire of the people of this country to make a generous response to all these efforts to help to raise the standard of life of two-thirds of the people of the world.
Half a century ago, William James, the philosopher, said that the greatest problem of the world in those days was to find a moral equivalent for war. It is still the greatest problem in our day. It is a terrifyingly urgent problem, and I believe that through the United Nations we can find something of a moral equivalent for war by mobilising our resources to wage war on want, hunger and disease. In doing that, we shall be doing something to promote international concord and to establish world peace, and we shall also be promoting the best interests of our country, which depends so much on the world outside.
I hope that both in legislation and in administration concerning the Colonies, and as a partner in the United Nations, this country, in the years ahead, will not drag behind, but will take the lead in ideas, and will make its contribution to the solution of these problems, which, I am certain, is the desire of all the people of this country.
I am very glad that on the Gracious Speech we are today having a debate on colonial development. I am also very glad that the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) drew attention to the fact that in the Gracious Speech colonial development is given pride of place. I welcome today two right hon. Gentlemen who, I believe, are taking part in this debate, two pre-eminent predecessors of mine as Secretaries of State for the Colonies, and each with a very distinguished role in the sphere of colonial development.
We have all listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Llanelly who was, of course, the author of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1950. He has always been in the forefront in regard to mutual aid, whether under the Marshall Plan or the Colombo Plan, and he is universally regarded as one who attaches immense importance to our obligations, together with other civilised nations, for raising the standard of living in our dependent territories and elsewhere.
Broadly speaking, I agree with all that he has said in his most interesting speech, and I share his view for the need to make a major attack on world poverty. If, in the course of my remarks, I concentrate more on our own Colonial Territories and on our duties, achievements and obligations there, it is not because I do not recognise that we have obligations as good citizens of the world elsewhere, but because I feel that probably our best contribution is to do our duty in those territories which depend on us, and thus make a major contribution all round the world.
I welcome back to the House the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). Many of us have had long associations with him in colonial matters and know of the burning zeal and sincerity with which he approaches the problems of the Colonial Territories. Among the many very good examples which he left to any Secretary of State who succeeded him was his generally recognised readiness to learn by the experiences that come to all of us in the Colonial Office. I hope, too, to pick up some of the value of that contribution, as well as to learn in other ways.
The right hon. Gentleman made some very considerable contributions to colonial development and welfare in a wide variety of fields, and some of these I shall touch on in the course of my speech. In particular, I know that he must be taking especial pride in the development of the university colleges, for example at Ibadan, the West Indies and Makerere, because it fell to him to give the first substantial grant to Makerere from Colonial Development and Welfare funds.
The right hon. Gentleman must also take pride in the really impressive achievements in regard to housing development in Gibraltar, which is now well under way, the deep water quay at Sierra Leone, in which I know that he was particularly interested, road development in East Africa between Rhodesia and Uganda, power stations in Malaya, and, indeed, a host of other activities, to mention only a few.
In this field there are no party politics. We are all agreed, I think, that our prime duty is to play our own part as the mother country of a vast family of nations. Indeed, over a very wide field there is now general agreement on the broad trends of colonial policy. From time to time, we may, of course, have differences. The party to which I belong, for instance, is not very keen on timetables, but I will not develop that theme now.
Over the field as a whole there is a most welcome measure of agreement. We can all take pride in our achievements in the Colonial Empire, and we can also watch with interest and gratification the changing view of many people of other nations—not least the United States—where, in previous years, the word "colonialism" frequently carried with it a very unpleasant ring. There is a growing recognition that weakness in dependent territories may well invite aggression; that the path to self-government is a slow and often painful one, and that not all declarations of independence really pave the way for democracy. There has been some painful experience of the effect of the vacuums which exist in the world, and a growing doubt that if the British people relinquish their heritage it would be passed into cleaner hands, or that mankind would be better served.
I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House are deeply anxious to encourage among the colonial peoples that informed and disinterested leadership without which the mass of the people in the Colonies will certainly lose heavily by any shift of political power from us to politicians in the territories. I recognise, as does the right hon. Gentleman, the need to guide and direct the natural desire of human beings to be their own masters, and not to run counter to it. We may even have to do what one of the greatest of all governors recognised as being necessary, and sacrifice some efficiency in order to promote contentment, although we cannot, as honest trustees, afford to sacrifice too much.
In all these matters I believe that we share the view that a special problem also exists in regard to the many people of our own race who have made their homes in the Colonial Territories. Many perplexing problems, but also great opportunities, lie before these people. Some of them have lived in Colonial Territories for two or three generations or even longer, and they look upon themselves, quite rightly, as being as much a part of the national life as the people of any other race.
I try, as I know the right hon. Gentleman did, to bring confidence to these people. Careless language in this House or elsewhere; the passing on of gossip or speculation as fact; the suggestion that single acts of irresponsible conduct on the part of some Europeans really represent the considered view of our race as a whole—all these things have the most disturbing effect, not only upon the British people and citizens of the British race who are living in the Colonies, but also upon their reactions to the other races among whom they live.
As the late Lord Delamere said 30 years ago, when speaking of British stock in Kenya:
If we are to improve the position of the African races generally and permanently our own people must be freed from fear for their own future as far as is humanly possible.
He also said:
Fear is the curse of so many policies and the father of so many narrow and selfish counsels.
The emphasis in this debate has rightly been laid upon economic development. I would commend to hon. Members—most of them will have read it—the 1953–54 Report upon the Colonial Territories, Cmd. 9169, which was presented to Parliament in May of this year. In this Report we see another great chapter in what is surely the most romantic and rewarding work in the world. Through the Report we can share what George Meredith once called
the rapture of the Forward View,
and see the possibilities that lie before our people in the discharge of their obligations. I think we can also agree with a distinguished former Member of this House—Lord Samuel—who said:
The future is more worth working for than the present, because there is so much more of it.
We are now dealing with the future.
I said that the Report was published in May, but it has not yet been debated in the House, although it must be remembered that there has been the long interruption of the Summer Recess. I think that both my right hon. colleagues who have been Secretaries of State would agree with me that Lord Milner was a wise man when, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, he said that he had to operate under
… a system which does not separate the local and the Imperial, the great and the small, and under which the pressure of day to day work prevents Ministers giving continuous thought and study to the vital, being eternally distracted by the local and the temporary.
If that was true then, how much more true it is now. That is why debates on the Address, with no special Motion or element of censure involved, enable us to look at the vital and not be distracted by the local and the temporary.
The right hon. Gentleman asked many questions relating to vital problems. I shall do my best to answer them, and any that I leave undealt with will be dealt with by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I may say that no one is more qualified than he to speak of the work of the Specialised Agencies, to which the right hon. Gentleman rightly attaches importance. I welcome help from all. I am learning as I go along. I welcome the co-operation of the cooperative movement in matters affecting any of the Colonial Territories. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Cooperative movement had much to offer, and I can say that it would certainly be knocking at an open door if it came to me with any proposals of practical aid. I should also like to say how grateful we all are to the Trades Union Congress for the enlightened way in which it is viewing its own responsibilities in the colonial field.
While I am on this subject I can say that all of us, whether we are Government supporters or members of the Opposition, now come to these Parliamentary debates much better equipped with information than we used to be. One of the prime sources of that information is the admirable work which has been done under successive Governments by Sir William MacLean, and the memoranda with which he keeps hon. Members on both sides of the House fully up to date with the developing situation.
The first questions which the right hon. Gentleman asked me dealt with the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, and the Government's intentions with regard to the forthcoming Bill. As the House knows, there has been universal agreement, at first to the institution and now to the continuance of this Fund. I remember very well when the Act of 1940 was introduced. As I mentioned in. 1945, the original Act of 1940 was introduced into the House at the very darkest moments of the Second World War. It was brought into the House at a time when the enemy were at the Channel ports and invasion was daily expected.
It was the very first Act of the wartime Coalition Government, and it was definitely an act of faith; for the whole project depended upon our assurance that we were going to triumph in the end. Then came the 1945 Act, followed by the Act for which the right hon. Gentleman was responsible. These two Acts provided, as he said, £140 million over a 10-year period, from 1946 to 1956. Nearly all this money has now been earmarked for specific purposes, and £90 million of it has actually been spent.
The Colonies were asked to draw up 10-year programmes showing their development proposals by broad categories. They were also asked to give their own priorities and sources of finance—including, of course, their own. All parties, I think, have throughout been anxious that the Colonies should be encouraged to use their own resources, because, if there is to be any reality in political development, it must, as far as it is possible, carry with it growing economic independence.
I think we are also all agreed that priority will have to be given to projects which will strengthen in the greatest way the Colonies' own economy, and so enable them to bear the cost of the undoubtedly necessary heavy social expenditure. Experience has shown that a 10-year period has been too long for necessary planning and forecasting to be done in a realistic way, and five years now appears to be a better term.
There were difficulties, particularly in the earlier days, over staff and supplies. Shortages lasted longer than the authors of the 1945 Act expected. That is certainly not surprising, but the rate of expenditure on colonial development has been rising steadily, and is now running at about £110 million a year. That is not an exact figure; these figures are bound to be rough. There is now involved in the process of colonial development a sum of about £500 million. That figure excludes a number of major projects. For example, it excludes the £50 million for the proposed expansion of East African harbours and railways, about which hon. Members know a lot; it also excludes all the work of the statutory corporations and other public bodies.
Of this £500 million now engaged in colonial development, about half is coming from the local resources of the territories themselves, about one-third from external loans, and about one-sixth from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund. The importance of Colonial Development and Welfare money varies, of course, according to the situation of the individual Colony, but the total amount now being spent has risen very significantly from £6 million in 1948–49 to the current rate of £14 million a year. I think that the rate in this year will be more, and next year it will be more still. I shall, at an early date—and I shall come to this a little later—hope to introduce the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill, which will carry out the undertaking given in the Gracious Speech.
On what has this money gone? As I said, it has always been the hope of us all that the bulk of the money should go to that economic development which will promote the future resources of the countries concerned. Certain Colonies have decided to use colonial development and welfare money on health and education, and to use their local funds for revenue-paying projects. This, I think, is why a very high proportion of the money has gone on what are generally classified as social services. The figure there is some 43 per cent., which is about £53 or £54 million. Ten per cent, has gone on research, 5·6 per cent. on surveys and censuses; nearly 20 per cent. on economic expenditure—mainly agriculture, and 15·5 per cent. on communications.
As I have said, the relative help this money brings to different Colonies varies according to their situation. In some territories, for example the Gold Coast, they have very large surplus balances available for development. In others, such as Northern Rhodesia or Singapore, material prosperity in recent years has given them funds and colonial development money, though valuable, has not been vital. In a larger group—Nigeria, Tanganyika, Jamaica, Nyasaland, Cyprus, and North Borneo—colonial development money represents something between one-third and one-half of all the money they are devoting to development. Apart from that, it has had the advantage of enabling them to concentrate their loan finances on economic work, which helps them to meet the servicing charges.
But the largest group of Colonies—not in size, but in numbers—consists of those which are either under-developed or poor in natural resources. For a great part of their development, sometimes for all of it, they depend on colonial development and welfare money. Such territories, as hon. Members will know, are the Leeward and Windward Islands. British Honduras, the Aden Protectorate, Somaliland, the Solomon Islands, St. Helena, and the Seychelles.
Not Brunei in that category. I may say that the example shown by Brunei, in recently making a substantial loan of about £6 million or £7 million to Malaya, is a very good illustration of mutual self-help within the British Colonial Empire. It is an example which, I hope, may be followed by other territories. If I may make just this comment, at a time when we are, quite rightly, paying regard—in, say, Nigeria—to the political facts of life, and creating greater regionalisation, opportunities for helping one part from the funds of another will always be, there and elsewhere, available and welcomed.
As I have said, this money has gone primarily on those forms of expenditure which will encourage a quickening economic life, and, perhaps, I can make a few comments on some of the items which I have mentioned. On agricultural improvements, about £14 million has gone to encourage peasant farmers. I think that in all hon. Members opposite, and indeed, in all on my own side, there is a burning desire that we should encourage African and other colonial agriculture, so that it may meet the needs of their growing populations. For those who are inclined to criticise British rule, perhaps I may point out that there are these growing populations and a steady elimination of frightful diseases. That is a tribute to the work that we have done.
Two million pounds has gone both to Nigeria and Jamaica for peasant farming, instruction and help, and the expansion of services. Four and a half million pounds has been promised to Kenya under the Swinnerton plan for intensive agricultural development among Africans. When I was in Kenya recently I saw at first hand the value of that Fund, the way it has caught the imagination, and the practical demonstration it is of our anxiety to promote the Africans' capacity to develop the land to the maximum possible extent.
Over £6 million has gone for soil conservation, irrigation, and land drainage projects in British Guiana. Two million pounds has been committed in the first stage of an irrigation and drainage programme in the coastal areas which should bring into cultivation another 100,000 acres. Two million pounds has gone to forestry territories such as Nigeria, North Borneo and British Honduras to encourage forest development and replanting. On communications, £18 million has been spent. I think that we are all agreed that that is money well spent and I, not only as Secretary of State but as a former Minister of Transport, know the value of that essential preliminary work.
In the social services, £14½ million has gone from the Fund on public health, but in many parts of the world we are still very short of doctors and nurses. I can imagine no more honourable or worth while rôle than to be able to fill some of these essential needs. Of the £23 million spent on education, over £10 million has gone on primary and secondary education, and between £7 million and £8 million to university education. About £4·8 million has gone on technical and vocational training.
I was particularly glad that the right hon. Gentleman made a plea for a greater development of technical education. It is, I suppose, our fault, but it is an almost inevitable thing that there should have been a bias in favour of scholastic, as against technical, education, and that the association of European officers with white collar jobs should have had the effect of making the technical work appear to be something of secondary importance. In the short time that I have been Secretary of State, whenever I have been in any territory I have made a point of trying to see the value of technical work done and pointing out the very high value of it.
I am very glad to know that, judged by one of the considerations to which we all pay regard—the financial rewards of later life—the payment given to those who are technically qualified is now helping to redress some of the balance. The more we can do to encourage technical education, the better we shall serve the interests of the Colonial Territories—not, as some have suggested, as a device to keep all the administrative jobs in our own hands, but so that they should be able to lead a full and complete life and meet on equal terms, as far as possible, the problems of the modern world.
On the subject of university education, I said how gratified the right hon. Member for Wakefield must be at the really dramatic improvement in university facilities. We are all anxious always to make colonial students who come to England and other parts of the United Kingdom happy and contented. I think we all also recognise that we have a duty to provide university education in the territories themselves. When the 1945 Act was first passed there were only two universities in the British Colonial Empire, in Malaya and Hong Kong, and both had been heavily damaged through enemy action during the war.
Now there are Malta, Hong Kong and Malaya; four university colleges at Makarere, the West Indies, Ibadan and the Gold Coast; and a fifth in process of construction at Salisbury in the Federation, and work is being done on the development of the colleges of arts, science and technology in East and West Africa. This is a job for which we can all take pride.
Another important part of the colonial development and welfare money has gone on housing and on what is an essential consequence of housing, the provision of water supplies. About £10·9 million has gone on water development and £3·4 million on housing. I myself, in Kenya and elsewhere, have been very anxious to see what progress has been made in African housing which, with the rapid development of towns, has become a burning social need. I shall certainly do all I can to encourage progress in that field.
Perhaps the House has heard of a very imaginative experiment—though it is more than an experiment, because it is now under way and is working well—initiated by the vigorous Governor of Tanganyika, Sir Edward Twining. When, some time ago, he went to the country of the Makonde, in Tanganyika, he found people living on a high plateau, with no water of any kind. For generations the women of the tribe had spent almost their entire working lives going up and down to collect the water. Experiments were carried out on the low level, and the Governor had the privilege of turning the tap on the plateau when, for the first time in history, water gushed out on the plateau itself.
This can deal with only a limited part of the territory, and the Governor suggested to the tribe that they themselves might well pay out of their own resources for further water development. The result of this scheme has been a private water board. The share in the equity, as the Governor calls it, has given to these people not only the water but a sense of personal pride and ownership which is almost as valuable. I hope that the results of this imaginative scheme will be realised elsewhere. Anything we can do to encourage it will gladly be done.
Finally, on the question of colonial development and welfare money, there has been considerable expenditure—£3·8 million and £2·5 million on geodetic and topographical surveys and on geological surveys, and a further £11 million on research of all kinds. I shall always take the utmost interest in this matter, because, although it may not yield results while one is standing at the Dispatch Box, it is the best form of trusteeship which can possibly be found. But a great deal more remains to be done, and I shall hope to be able to present to the House a further Colonial Development and Welfare Bill at an early date.
We have already asked the Colonies to draw up their plans for 1955–60—Lord Chandos, and my right hon. Friend had already done that—to say how work was needed, how much they could do themselves, what their priorities were and to what extent they could meet those priorities and other things out of their own resources. I do not think that at this stage a conference would be helpful, because we have all the information we need. We have gone into this matter with the utmost care, and when I present the Bill later in this Session it will provide for additional sums of colonial development and welfare money for the next period 1955–60.
There will be an overlap of a year between the money voted by the last Act and the money which, I hope, will be voted by the Bill which I shall introduce. As the right hon. Gentleman inferred, the Bill is not in final form, and I am not in a position to give any figures now. As he himself suggested, perhaps that is of some value, because I shall be able to take away from this debate ideas and thoughts which may well play a part in the final shape of the Bill.
One of the things that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in this connection was a possible new relationship between the Colonial Development Corporation and colonial development and welfare money. I personally am not hostile to new ideas, and there is nothing rigid or inflexible about the present organisation, but I have not hitherto seen any signs of any failure to co-operate where cooperation is desirable. They were designed for different purposes—the Colonial Development Corporation, as a commercial body, required to break even over the whole field of its activities taking one year with another, and the colonial development and welfare money devoted to the basic Government services and not to enter the commercial field.
Where there has been a need, as in the Gambia, for there to be close cooperation—C.D.C. money, for example, along with colonial development and welfare money jointly paying for early experiments in a farming scheme—that has been done. But I will certainly look with a new and fresh mind at the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
As to the Colonial Development Corporation as a whole, this is not a debate on its annual report, but I should like to take this opportunity of saying how delighted I am to be once more associated with it in its most important work. I should like to thank Lord Reith, the board of Corporation and the very many distinguished people who give up time to serve on it for the thoroughly worthwhile work which is being done.
We believe it is right to apply certain criteria. There may be different views about this, but I think there ought to be some criteria. One criterion, as the House knows, is that new projects must be prima facie commercially sound. I do not want to rake over the embers of past controversies, but a great deal of harm can be done to European ideas on farming or anything else if they are proved on a large scale to have been unsound in conception. I think it is desirable, in order that we should carry the colonial people along with us in what we do, that there should be a prima facie case that a scheme is likely to be sound economically before it is entered into. But this is not interpreted in any very rigid way, and we accept the fact that if there was an absolute certainty that the project would succeed, in might be done by capital from other sources. It was to provide for these cases where success might not be so certain that the Corporation itself has started.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he rather feared that the Colonial Development Corporation was becoming almost a bank; I think that was the phrase he used. I hope the chance will occur for me later to tell the story of recent C.D.C. developments to show that that is not really true and that when seen in relation to their long-term schemes of development, the equity interests that some have censured would not be really disproportionate.
The right hon. Gentleman also appeared a little to regret what has been one of the criteria—that there should be an association of outside interests, too, in schemes, before they are approved. The line laid down by my noble Friend, Lord Chandos, and one to which I adhere, was that there ought to be, as far as possible, an association by the colonial Government themselves or by private enterprise in the C.D.C. projects. The right hon. Gentleman said that any such colonial firm—he applied it to all firms—ought to observe a code of conduct in its dealings with the Africans or others among whom it works. I could not agree more. Taken as a whole, the code of conduct has been very high indeed.
I know the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me in saying that this code of conduct also applies to all sections in the labour field. It applies also to the European trade unions in Africa. It is of the first importance, for example, in Northern Rhodesia that phrases which have great application here, in our highly-developed life in Britain like "Equal pay for equal work," should not be used in the context of Africa so as to provide a deterrent or even a complete bar to African advancement.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we want to encourage the development of craftsmanship. We became a great nation through individual craftsmen and one of the great gifts which we have to give, in Africa and elsewhere, is a sense of individual craftsmanship and pride in a job thoroughly well done. We want, of course, all the time to see the general level of the mass of the people rise, but in our desire to do that we must not lose sight of the need that there should be, as there are bound to be, openings provided for the more skilled and the more intelligent to rise to greater heights. Let us by all means have a code of conduct, but it must be a code of conduct all round, and the more that right hon. Gentlemen opposite and others can do, from their particularly strong position in this field, to help it forward in Northern Rhodesia and elsewhere, the more pleased I shall be and the greater will be the debt of the civilised world.
We must never forget how much the development of all Colonial Territories depends upon the prices which the territories receive for the staple products which they grow. We are not masters in that house. No single nation is master in that house. We are all dependent territories in the sense that we cannot completely control fluctuations in world supply and world demand. The irony of the situation is that some of the prosperity of the Colonies has come through the Korean war. Sometimes, from causes which we all deplore, results which we must welcome have been achieved.
The Colonial Territories Report, for example, shows the effect of the fall in the price of tin and rubber on the economy of Malaya last year. In the case of some of these commodities there are funds to cushion primary producers against a sudden fall, and I know that at least one of my hon. Friends wants to talk about that. Many interesting problems arise from the growth of these huge funds, which are a matter for the local governments concerned but in which no British Government can be disinterested, because they have a powerful effect for good in the economy of the colonial territories.
Apart from the question of the wholesale prices paid for the main commodities, the prosperity of the Colonies also turns on a wise commercial policy by Her Majesty's Government. There is at present a conference at Geneva which is considering the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We shall not fail to make it clear to this conference that the United Kingdom wishes to be able to take special measures to guard the interests in the United Kingdom market of Colonial Territories, which are vitally dependent on the United Kingdom as their customer. I have long thought that this was the most favourable field of approach in this problem, over which so much feeling has been aroused for so long, and I hope that this will be taken as a clear indication that we recognise the value of any such achievement.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he opened the debate. If the later debate follows the same tenor, it will be of the greatest help to me to be able to hear at first-hand the views of so many people who are experienced in this field.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies referred generously and entirely appropriately to the great work which has been done in this field before him by my right hon. Friends the Members for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). I think I shall express the view of hon. Members on this side of the House if I say that we welcome the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has made his first important speech on the subject. It was full of vigour and freshness and of evident interest gathered, as we know, from his own visits to the Colonies.
The right hon. Gentleman recounted, justifiably, the many achievements already registered in colonial development; and he was right to do so. At the same time, I was pleased to think that he was giving an account of what had gone before him, because from the slight knowledge which I have of him I feel confident that he will not be satisfied to rest on other people's laurels, but will want to go ahead himself. He will feel, for example, that the £14 million per annum now being spent by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund is not sufficient and he will want to improve on past performance and do very much better.
I was particularly glad that at the end of his speech he referred to the need to assist Colonial Territories by trading with them on fair terms. There is a reference to that in the Gracious Speech and I was glad that he amplified what the Gracious Speech had already said, which is:
A Bill will be laid before you to enable My Government to carry out their obligations under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, whilst bringing to an end the present system of State trading in sugar.
I do not mean that I agree with the proposal to bring to an end State trading in sugar—far from it—but I at least welcome the fact that, although the Government think it right to do that, they are determined to see that the Colonies do not suffer. This is particularly important for the welfare of certain territories in the Caribbean, which I recently had an opportunity to visit. Nothing is more important, I feel, than that we should make every possible effort to trade
fairly with those nations in the staple commodities which, after all, our ancestors required them to produce.
So many of those territories have only two things in common, although we generalise frequently about them—sugar and slavery; and nobody who visits those places can do so without having it vigorously impressed upon him that for generations past the British people have had their sugar too cheaply, just as they have had other commodities from those areas too cheaply.
We hope that the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman in particular, will see that we buy the sugar and we buy the timber, or whatever it may be that these countries offer, on reasonable terms and that there is very close cooperation between him and the President of the Board of Trade before any further advances are made into this realm of a so-called free market and before any other adventures are taken in getting away from State buying.
Recent experience has led us not to be completely happy about the situation. For example, we are not quite happy about the position of cotton. I spoke at some length on that during the Cotton Bill in the last Session, and I will not attempt to repeat it, but the abandonment of State trading in cotton may have very serious repercussions on some of our Colonies. We are not happy that the Government did all they could to prevent those possible ill-effects.
The example of the abandonment of State trading in essential oils is also an unhappy one. It seemed to me that there must have been insufficient consultation between the Colonial Secretary and the President of the Board of Trade when that was done, and it had some injurious effects on the Colony of Dominica, in particular.
I want to take this opportunity to illustrate some of the general problems which have been referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly, by a specific reference to the situation in certain Caribbean territories. If I can sum up my experience in those territories in one sentence, above all I came back with the profound impression that in all our planning for economic development we must strive to associate the peoples with it; we must plan with the people.
I want to develop that with particular reference to British Honduras and British Guiana. In passing, however, I welcome the fact that in the elections which are now coming very close in Jamaica, and in which the exchanges between the parties are already going on, free democratic elections with two well-organised parties are being undertaken. There is a certainty of both a Government and an Opposition being returned, whichever party wins at the election.
In short, there will be two-party representative democratic government in that country. The central issue in the election will be the question of which of those parties can best plan the future activities of the country. The striking election programme put forward by the People's National Party, containing its proposals for a Ministry of Production and a full economic plan, is, to my mind, a most remarkable and welcome development.
I want to pass to the question of British Honduras, where, as the House knows, it has been possible, fortunately, to associate the rising People's United Party with the process of planning in that country. In both British Honduras and British Guiana, there have emerged in recent times two parties, reflecting the anxieties of the peoples of those countries about the kind of circumstances which my right hon. Friend described. The average standard of living in those territories is not, perhaps, as low as the average which my right hon. Friend worked out when he included the peoples of Asia, but it is still very low.
The average income in those territories is about £50 a year, as compared with £250 or more in this country. At the same time, with those low standards of living, as the result of the work of the World Health Organisation and of our own colonial development and welfare activities populations have been rapidly increasing. The infant mortality rates are still much higher than the rates in this country, but they are much lower than before. They have fallen from well over 100 in British Guiana to 70 today. Seventy is still too high a figure, but it is a great improvement on more than 100. And so, in these territories, the population is increasing at a phenomenally rapid rate.
It is out of the anxiety of parents as to how to feed, clothe and educate their much larger families, coupled with their anxiety as to what will happen to those children in the future when they themselves grow up and begin to have their own families, that the new political parties have arisen. Fortunately, in British Honduras things have so developed that the party which has gained the majority of votes in the recent elections has adopted a very constructive line. It has said, in effect, "Let us see what we can do with the British Government. Let us test the sincerity of the British Government in their proposals for the development of our country."
When members of that party came to London a short time ago, I think that all of us who met them were impressed by the constructive attitude which they adopted. They have now gone home, and I hope that when the Under-Secretary replies to the debate he will devote, at any rate, a word or two in his speech to tell us what has happened since. The Secretary of State was able, unfortunately, to give them less than they asked. Since they have gone back home, what have they said about it? I should like to know whether those leaders of the P.U.P. have now taken over portfolios, as was suggested, and whether they are getting to work with their own people, of whom they are the natural chosen leaders, in working out the economic plan.
So many of the solutions which we can think of for the economic problems of the Caribbean can only properly and effectively be applied and carried out if they have the prior consent of the peoples. These populations, especially in the island territories, are increasing so fast that there is no outlet for the whole of the population, however much development we like to carry out. Emigration seems to be the only solution. On the other hand, in the mainland territories vast spaces are available which are completely unoccupied, and it looks as if full economic development can only be carried out with immigration.
Looking at the problem from this distance, we may be right to come to that sort of conclusion, but we shall not get that sort of result unless we get the good will of the people in the territories themselves and explain to them, work with them and prove by practical example in the short term that we are genuine, that we mean business and that we have their welfare at heart. Then, in the long term, after perhaps two or three years, we might be able to go forward with them in the same direction.
The same thing applies to family planning. If, as some people think, that is a necessary part of tackling this problem, it certainly will not be done until there is something remarkably like full self-government in those territories. We will not get agreement on these things by Whitehall asking individual Colonies to do what they can. What we must work for is such a measure of self-government quickly in those countries that they can meet one another in the West Indian Economic Commission and talk it over among themselves and make their own proposals for this kind of thing.
Having referred briefly in that way to British Honduras, where the omens seem to be good and where, although the difficulties are enormous, it will be possible. I hope, to make rapid progress, let me turn to British Guiana, where, obviously, the problem is much more difficult. I shall not attempt to go over the past—there is no point in doing that now; but it is unfortunate that we have reached a situation in that country where the Constitution is suspended.
I believe the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me that we must get away from that situation as soon as we reasonably can.
I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman nods his agreement. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly referred to the danger of a vacuum. There is an unfilled vacuum in British Guiana at the moment, and we cannot look forward with confidence to the proper planning of the development of that Colony until we get rid of the vacuum. We must get rid of it as soon as possible.
It would be appropriate if we could now clear up a little misunderstanding which seemed to exist in some of the newspapers about the statement that the right hon. Gentleman made on this subject.
The Robertson Commission, in its Report, as the right hon. Gentleman told the House on 2nd November:
. … do not recommend a specific period, nor do Her Majesty's Government wish to
be tied to one."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1954; Vol. 532, c. 212.]
That was misinterpreted somehow in some newspapers, because of what followed in the statement, as if the Government had said there could be no restoration of self-government in that territory for at least three years. The right hon. Gentleman did not say that, and I am glad to have his confirmation now, because with good progress it may be possible to restore self-government and reintroduce the Constitution in less than three years. We must strive with all our might to see that that is done if it is possible, to see where the deadlock can be somehow removed, because the big economic plans which are necessary to the development of this territory have been far too long postponed.
It is not that we do not know what to do, because it was all in the Hutchinson plan many years ago, but unfortunately a beginning has only recently been made in carrying out that plan; and it will take a very long time, I am afraid, according to the report of Mr. Frank Brown and Mr. Lacey, who investigated the situation a year ago, even to carry out the preliminary works necessary for the proper drainage of the coastal belt, without which no development is possible at all. Even the preliminary works will take five years to accomplish.
During that five years, at the present rate of increase in population, the population may become 50,000 larger than it is at the moment. There is not full employment—nothing like it—for the population on the existing land. How can there be in five years' time, if there are 50,000 people more, a better situation? There may be a worse. So the pushing forward of these plans is, perhaps, one of the most urgent tasks to be done in the whole of the Colonial Empire.
I believe that Sir Alfred Savage, than whom we have no better Governor anywhere among the Colonial Territories, is doing his best to expedite all these plans and to associate the people with the plans. I saw him trying to do so. I saw him addressing a meeting of the people, and mixing with the people. I heard broadcast relays of a journey he made to another part of the territory where he did the same thing.
I know of the magnificent job that was done by the Public Relations Officer and the Resident Tutor at the University College of the West Indies in seminars and the setting up of regional development committees. They held the seminars and published them in a large book, a copy of which I should like the right hon. Gentleman to place in the Library for other hon. Members to read. Splendid work is being done in the regional development committees in explaining to the people in detail what the plan is and allowing the people, in turn, to put their points of view, their criticisms, their constructive suggestions about their own localities.
I know, too, what the co-operators—and here I must say how much I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about them and our own Co-operative movement and its association with colonial development—are doing. I know there are 200 good, sensible societies in that country. I met their leaders. I visited one of the co-operatives and wrote an article afterwards about it in the "Co-operative News," which, I hope, may generate even greater interest in our own Co-operative movement in what can be done in these directions.
I know, too—and this is the most important of all—that in the seminar at University College in which I myself took part in Georgetown the new trade union movement showed itself active, eager and constructive. We had a seminar which lasted a week. There was 100 per cent. attendance throughout. Left-wing and Right-wing trade unionists were represented. They argued and discussed and did not always agree, but in a thoroughly tolerant, sensible and good humoured way, and they came to certain very interesting conclusions.
I know that all this is going on and is encouraged, and I was glad to give it some help, but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that in all these activities the Governor has available to him sufficient staff, not merely in quantity but also in quality, to back him up in these various endeavours. The need for rapid economic advance there is desperate. I used that word in an article I wrote for the "Manchester Guardian," and I meant it. I do think it is desperate, and I do think it will need an unusual addition of highly skilled technical people to the staff now available to accomplish it. If I could I would answer that question myself, but I cannot.
I was there only a week and can convey only an impression, but I heard on many occasions from the people themselves criticisms of the lower ranks of the administration. They voiced them during the seminars and it is all in the book. Is the right hon. Gentleman quite satisfied that there is a good staff there? I think that probably the C.D.W. allocation for the next two years is as much as the Colony can digest. I wish it were not. I wish it were feasible to give more, but what I am anxious about is that the job will be done properly.
For example, if farmers are to be placed on land in the new settlements will the land be fairly, openly and honestly allocated? There is obvious doubt among all those people whether that really does happen. It depends upon good administration. We cannot have proper development in any of these territories unless the people are associated with the plan. We cannot ever have successful self-government in those territories unless the people have previously learned the habits and practices of self-government by carrying out self-government in self-governing trade unions and co-operatives.
It is only recently that we have had in this country full universal adult suffrage—only in the last 30 years. Long before that, however, our people had learned self-government in trade unions and cooperatives. We have to hurry on, in a territory like that, this process of learning the habits and practices of direct self-government and it can be done through the freely chosen associations of the people, but the next thing after that is good administration.
I should particularly like to know whether it would be possible to ask Mr. Frank Brown, who made an admirable report on the possibilities of land settlement, and who has the great advantage of long experience in what has been our most successful agricultural development in a territory for which we have been responsible, the Gezira, to let himself be seconded to that Colony to see how his own report is being carried out. Would it be possible for Mr. Walker, a Colonial Office architect who has done magnificent, most remarkable work on housing, to stay a little longer and see the plan right through? Would it be possible to give the co-operatives and the trade unions the information they want?
They pleaded with me again and again, and have written me letters since on the subject, for information about trade union practice and co-operative practice in this country. The best way to convey that information is by mobile vans in cinemas. There are not enough in the territory. Could not more be sent out? Could they not be lent? Could not one be lent to the adviser whom the T.U.C. is to send out, and another to the adviser who, I hope, will be sent out, as I have pleaded that one should be, by the Workers' Educational Association?
Could not one be lent to the adviser, whom, perhaps, the Co-operative movement will send out? At any rate, could not one be lent to Mr. Gordon, the present Commissioner for Co-operatives? In these territories people have an immense amount of time on their hands. They work two or three days during the week, and the rest of the time remains without amusement of any kind. There are no cinemas or football matches to go to.
There is time to sit down and talk. There is time to read and to look at films. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will feel that that kind of thing would afford practical help to people very anxious to help themselves. They are not anxious to run after any particular ideology. They are anxious to get on to the land and go to work. I hope that my remarks may be noted and that some encouragement will be afforded to them. When people like us go out to these places it is greatly appreciated that we should say something about them in this Parliament, and that is my excuse for intervening in this debate.
I hope that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) will forgive me if I do not follow the lines of his speech. I wish to speak about the practical side of this work. I happen to be one of the people—and here I declare my interest—who work in the Colonies. I am now working on the Gold Coast, in British Guiana, in Australia, Africa, Cyprus, Canada, and generally all round the world, carrying out the civil engineering works which are the prerequisite of any development we may make in these different territories.
Frankly, I am becoming more and more alarmed as the years go by about the slow progress which we are making. I know that we have preoccupations in other spheres, but this problem of colonial development is one which cannot wait if this country is to survive, supporting 50 million people. In my opinion we are today living in a false economy. It is false so far as the rearmament programme goes, because if peace arrived tomorrow, a large body of our population which formerly lived on the production of capital goods for the different parts of the Commonwealth and Colonies would find that there was no outlet there, unless plans were sufficiently advanced.
I was very pleased at the speech of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. I think that he showed a grasp of this matter which is statesmanlike, and which affords encouragement to us all. But, in my opinion, there are no worthwhile plans of any kind prepared on a broad scale for the future. There is no real survey of what we require and there is a lack of financial interest in investment overseas, particularly in the Colonial Empire, which to me is very disquieting.
I wish the House to realise what is being done in the United States to attract capital investment to these underdeveloped countries. Some hon. Members may have read the Report of the Randall Commission, which recommends that profits from investment in this field should be subject to a reduction in the standard rate of taxation in that country. If we are to attract the investment of capital which is vitally necessary, particularly in the Colonial Empire, where the risks are much greater, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must look into the matter of giving special concessions in that way.
It is a risk, because it is fraught with all kinds of difficulties. Industries have to be started up and the personnel specially trained, which takes a long time, and the project may not be economic for a long time. I hope, therefore, that some special provision can be made. I should also like to stress the value that I find in bringing people back from the Colonies for training in this country.
Years ago, before the partition, my company was responsible for one third of the coal production of India. After partition, the Indians wanted to do the job themselves. So we brought 60 Indians to this country to train them, and they have been carrying on that operation ever since. I am now proposing to bring people from the Gold Coast to this country, and to put them into the various departments of industry where they may learn what is required in the use of machinery, and in the preliminary set-up of civil engineering.
I also propose to bring others from British Guiana to try to teach them, so that they will be able to carry out this important work. These training prams are valuable, and they are appreciated. More should be done by other industries which wish to set up in these different parts of the world to bring people to this country and give them the benefit of what we know. If we can do that, we shall find a ready and real response.
The time is now opportune to examine the whole of this colonial development plan. The Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth are shortly to meet, and one of the first items on their agenda should be to prepare a new charter of economic development for the Commonwealth, to bring it up to date, and to make it practical to find the vast sums without which this work cannot be done. I visualise the provision, inside the Colonial Empire, of not less than £500 million to £600 million a year to carry out the work which must be done. We cannot get industry to go to places where there is no transportation, no facilities for power and no water.
The other day, in London, I met the Finance Minister and several others from the new Central African Federation. They came to London to deal with the problem of building the great dams required to provide the power for developing the Federation. They told me that they can expect no increased production of coal or copper until they have secured this increased power. Nor can there be any increased employment until these primary things have been achieved.
They have over-borrowed, and to carry out this project they require over £60 million. Are we to let them wait until they have accumulated sufficient to justify their credit in the markets of London or New York? Or are we going to help them to set their house in order, and to make the Federation a workable and economic unit? These are problems which this House must tackle in a vigorous foam, because we have set up this great Federation and it is our duty to make it work economically.
It can do so, because there are present all the mineral resources, probably some of the finest in the whole of the Commonwealth. In Rhodesia we get one-fifth of the chrome of the world. Without chrome we cannot manufacture the new alloy steels. An expansion of that industry can take place immediately that power and the railways are put in order. Somebody has got to provide the money, and it is obviously difficult for a new, young Federation of that sort to be able to equip itself so as to provide the big preliminary sums which are necessary in promoting vast industrial production.
In this country we have been short of coal. In Rhodesia there is one of the largest reserves of coal inside the British Colonial Empire. There are seams of coal which are 30 to 40 feet thick—good coal that can be used for nearly every type of fuelling. It can be used for the chemical industry, and it is a good steam-raising coal. But there is no outlet for it, and the railways cannot carry it.
In my view, if we had a proper railway across Africa it would develop the country. We should also need to build a new port somewhere in the region of Walvis Bay, to bring the whole of the Rhodesian products to the Atlantic Coast, so that in case of war they could be safely convoyed. If we have to bring them to the East Coast of Africa we might find it very difficult to get any of the commodities which are regarded as essential.
In the process of building a railway we should encourage agricultural production in Bechuanaland. I want to quote one particular case I have in mind. I built the Portugese harbour in Angolia, on the West Coast of Africa. When I first went there, before the harbour was built, there were not more than 400 or 500 people living within 20 miles of the place. Today, within 50 miles of that port, there are nearly 100,000 people at work, and the development of agriculture and other industries is absolutely astonishing. That is the kind of development which is a prerequisite to industrial activity and the building of a higher standard of life.
Unless we are prepared to tackle this problem in a vigorous and proper manner we shall suffer severely in the future. We shall not always be a country with full employment, and we are going to need these big capital developments overseas. I say this without any feeling of animosity, but the rate at which capital goods are pouring from the United States into the British Commonwealth is something about which we ought to be very alarmed.
Every time a hydro-electric scheme is undertaken, big machines are needed, and, what is more, replacements are required, not for one year but for 50 years afterwards, so that a contract to the United States for such work brings big business every year in spares and replacements. Something similar applies to railway locomotives, which this country formerly supplied, but orders for a good many of which are now going to the United States, thus depriving our economy of that trade. These are the types of things that this country manufactured in the past, and upon which it built up its industrial strength and greatness. Today, we are not getting nearly enough of these orders.
I cannot help thinking of this, and of what the Americans have taken out of the Colonial Empire, and comparing it with our treatment in America. When we submit a lower tender for large works in America there is such a tumult that we have got to go to Washington to ensure that our tender is accepted. Yet the Americans have done 85 per cent. of the major work in the British Commonwealth since the war ended. In Ceylon, they are building the great dam, in Australia the Snowy Mountain scheme, and in India two of the greatest works being undertaken.
These are matters that we cannot afford to neglect. We must establish on strong and firm ground these great basic industries which carry out these capital developments, and the more support we can get from the Colonial Secretary and from the Government in pressing our claims in this direction the greater success we shall have. The engineering industry can do, and has done, great work throughout the world. We built the railways in Canada, the railways across Argentina, and most of the railways in India. It was such projects as those that in the past made this country. Now that we are not doing them, somebody else has got to do them for us.
What is wrong? We can do the job. We have the men and the skill to do it, but we have been stifled in many cases by the Exchequer, and by lack of planning. Now the situation is clearer, and I hope that a greater impetus will be given to our capital development structure than has ever been given before.
We have a great part to play, and a great responsibility, particularly in those countries for which we are primarily responsible. I am thinking particularly of same of the countries in which I have been working, where we are told that the people are Communists. I have found no Communism. The trouble is lack of development. The people cannot get into that position where they can improve their lot in life. If we can support major projects, and get them established, industry will follow, and the standard of life of the people will be improved.
There is one point I want to stress. It is no use taking industry to these places unless we are prepared to see that the product from the industry can be sold at a reasonable price. Only in that way can we ensure the maintenance of the industry. Therefore, there should be some form of insurance like that set up by the Government in the Board of Trade, whereby, if an industry is established, and British capital goes into it, it should be able to maintain itself until such time as it has grown up and is on its feet.
Some of these industries in these overseas territories are new, and sometimes it is not easy to get a new industry working at top gear for some considerable time. Therefore, there should be some major insurance to carry it over its difficulties in its early days.
Finally, I should like to see some guarantee given to investors in this country if they put their money into industry in these territories overseas. There should, first, be no dual taxation, and there should be some rebate because of the risk they have to take. Investing in a new industry in the Colonies is a very different problem from putting money into stocks and shares, War Loan, and that sort of investment in London. We want to get this money into the Colonial Empire in particular. If we can persuade the Chancellor to give us some rebate, such as the Randall Commission suggested in America, I think it will be possible to raise the vast sums of money necessary for the development of the Empire overseas.
We must have, in the Colonial Office, a display of statesmanship and progressiveness rather than showmanship in the future. We have an opportunity here of helping these people for whom we are responsible, if we show ourselves willing to do that. I am certain also that we have the men of capacity to send out to do this work, if we could only find some established basis of continuity. It is not sufficient to go out and do one isolated job, because every section of colonial development is tied to another.
We need ports, railways, aerodromes, power, and water. Those are essentials which the underdeveloped countries cannot provide for themselves, and it is our undoubted responsibility to provide these for them. Following on those things, industry will come, and therefore I welcome this debate. I welcome the words in the Gracious Speech which show a new interest in this serious subject. Time is short; time is not on our side in this matter. If peace comes tomorrow, and the armament programme stops, this country will have millions of unemployed, unless we can get some projects of this kind started.
We shall find ways, we have never let the country down.
I know it is common ground on all sides of the House that we should put these things in the forefront of our development programmes. Let us be earnest about it. Let us make sure that the Colonial Empire is properly safeguarded, and has prior consideration for a share of the moneys we have to spend on development as a result of the finan- cial successes which this country has won over the past few years.
If I may be allowed to say so, it is unfortunate that there were not more hon. Members in the House to listen to the admirable speech delivered by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite). In particular, I wish there had been present the Colonial Secretary. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman has gone out for a little refreshment, and I do not blame him, but he would have benefited much if he had heard that speech. It might have blown away a little of the complacency which the right hon. Gentleman showed in his own speech.
I realise that, following Lord Chandos, it is the aim of the right hon. Gentleman to do what that noble Lord so signally failed to do, namely, to pour oil upon the troubled waters, and to make everything appear to be perfectly all right everywhere. That was obviously the object of the speech of the Colonial Secretary, but he will be severely shaken by the remarks of the hon. Member for Harrow, West.
I want to examine the question of whether or not there is unity on all sides of the House about colonial development. The Secretary of State gave us to believe that everybody agrees on every aspect of it. He tried to run the bi-partisan hare. We have heard a great deal about bi-partisanship in relation to foreign policy. That may or may not be a good thing and I do not propose to argue that today. However, I am clear that there is no bi-partisan policy over colonial matters and it should be made abundantly clear to people throughout this country. The Gracious Speech states:
My Ministers will promote the development of the Colonial Empire.
Yes, we are all agreed about development, but development in whose interests?
In spite of anything the Secretary of State may have said, I believe that the Government are still primarily concerned with the interests of the British shareholders in the large companies throughout the Commonwealth. They want to see that those concerns are as prosperous as possible, even if it is at the expense of some of the people in the Colonies. I agree that the companies have put much into the Colonies, but if they have put in much, they have taken a great deal out, and in many cases they have taken out too much.
I hope that in future some of them may be replaced by public corporations on the lines proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). In this country the British coal owners have been replaced by the National Coal Board, with great success. The result has been that the coal industry has developed beyond what anybody thought possible in the days of private enterprise. Why should it not be possible for some of the great mining industries in our Colonies to be run by public corporations responsible to the Governments of those Colonies?
That is something which we on this side of the House would like to see, but which hon. Gentlemen opposite would not like to see. That is one reason why I say that there is not as much bi-partisanship as the Colonial Secretary would like us to believe. We on this side of the House, again, view with grave misgivings the apparent intention of the Government to abolish the bulk purchase of sugar and to throw that industry open once more to private enterprise. We know what disastrous effects followed in the West Indies in the years before the war, and we are frightened that the same thing may happen if once again free enterprise is allowed to do what it likes with the sugar industry.
Naturally, the greater part of colonial development is not concerned with industry but with agriculture. The Colonial Secretary says that he is now a convert to the co-operative system. We are glad to hear that, but we must make it abundantly clear that the whole concept of a co-operative system in the Colonies was started by the previous Government. Certainly, there were cooperatives before—there was a successful coffee co-operative developed in Moshi on Kilmanjaro for many years, but the great development of the co-operative movement came from the decision of the Labour Government to send out cooperative officers to do everything possible to build up that movement in each Colony. It met with outstanding success, so much so that it has even converted the right hon. Gentleman.
I cannot help feeling, however, that if he would say what he really thought, and if his supporters on the back benches opposite would say what they thought, they would say that while they want to encourage the existing cooperative system, they would prefer to see developed in Africa and in the West Indies the old landlord-tenant system which has gone on for years in this country. We, however, on this side of the House do not want to see that system developed at the expense of any cooperative movement; we would prefer to see peasant holdings grouped into cooperatives. If, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman believes that there is agreement on both sides of the House, would he tell us if he would prefer to see that rather than the landlord-tenant system?
There is one aim in all this work, whatever method is chosen, namely, to raise the standard of living of these people. It is an aim which has been discussed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly and by other speakers. During the past few months we have had a graphic illustration in this country of what is happening to the standard of living in the Colonial Empire. We have seen the arrival here of large numbers of people from the West Indies who have come over because they are disturbed at the conditions there. I say large numbers, but although they may seem large to us because never before have we had any influx of people from the Colonies, they are really very small indeed. They are a drop in the great white ocean which is this island, and a very small drop indeed.
I hope that we shall not become overexcited by these arrivals and feel that we are being swamped by a mass of coloured people, because that is not, in fact, the case. They are a relatively small number, but a number that makes us think back to the reasons which have brought them here. Is it to be wondered at that they come? Living in their own country, they see that here in this country there is full employment, and not only that but that there are pensions for those who retire. They know that the children in this country can go to school and remain at school up to the age of 15, whereas in their own country, in the case of a great many of them, it will be exceedingly difficult for their children to get any education at all.
Leaving aside the West Indies for the moment, in East Africa 75 per cent. of the children get no education at all. Is it to be wondered at if they want to come to the country where all these things are provided, and where, in addition, they are given a free medical service such as they could not possibly get if they remained in their own country?
If we are to make the people in the West Indies and throughout the Colonies content with their lot and not want to emigrate in vast numbers and come here, we must see that we improve their conditions and raise their standard of life. How are we to do this? We must, first, develop these countries and put money into them, whether the money comes from this country, the United Nations, or, indeed, if some of it comes from America, though I hope that the majority of it will come either from this country or from the United Nations. We must carry out the kind of development mentioned by the hon. Member for Harrow, West, and see to the development of roads, railways, public works and all those things necessary if we are to raise the standard of life of these people.
We must see, too, that the money earned in the Colonies remains there and is not sent out in too large dividends to this country, as it has been in many cases in the past. But we must do something much more difficult than that, something which is difficult for both sides of this House to face up to. We must realise that we in this country cannot live indefinitely on the proceeds of sweated labour. Even if it means higher prices, it is necessary for these people to have good conditions in which to work.
It is not a popular thing to talk about. Heaven knows, we hear enough about rising prices now, and I do not suggest that we should encourage them to rise still further, but we should make certain that the people in these countries are receiving adequate wages and reasonable social services, and if these things can only be obtained by an increase in the prices of their products it may be that there will have to be such an increase.
The people throughout the Colonial Empire are watching us. They are asking themselves what we can give them, and whether we mean what we say. But they are watching others besides ourselves. Let us not forget that there is another great Colonial Empire—the great Russian Colonial Empire—and that the colonial peoples are waiting to see the kind of conditions which that Empire provides and compare them with the conditions that we give. Goodness knows, the Russians do not give their people political freedom or democracy. They do not give them very many things that we can give them, but they do give them one or two things that we do not give, and it is just as well that we should say so. I hope nobody will accuse me of being pro-Communist if I mention them.
As far as I understand, and I admit that my only knowledge of Russia comes from visiting it before the war, one of the things which they do give is economic equality between races, and there are a very many races in the Soviet Union. I think it is correct to say that there is no bar on account of a man being an Uzbek, a Tadjic or an Armenian. There is no economic bar, and they are all exactly on a level with any other member of the Soviet Union, but that is not all. Do not let us forget that that great leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin himself, was a Georgian, not a Russian. Yet he managed to rise to the highest position in the Soviet Union.
Not only there do we find this kind of thing happening. I was recently very struck, as no doubt other hon. Members were, when a French delegation arrived here in connection with the Entente Cordiale celebrations, to find that one of their most prominent speakers, a man of very great ability, was a coloured man from Martinique. He held one of the most important positions in France as President of the Senate.
If the French can give positions like these to people who come from their Colonies, is it not time for us to begin to think that we can do a little more for the people in our own Colonies? I do not suggest that the Prime Minister should suddenly be replaced by somebody from Jamaica. I am not suggesting any drastic alteration like that, but we might consider what we can do to make these people realise that they are part of a great Commonwealth.
I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but I should like to point out that, at the outbreak of war, the Governor of one of the colonial territories of France, the Chad territory, was a negro from French Guiana, and that he was the only one of all the Governors of French territories who remained true to the alliance with us.
I am very glad to hear my hon. Friend's support for the general line which I am taking. I would not say that no Governor other than a coloured one is likely to remain true if such a situation should arise in our own Commonwealth, but it does emphasise the point I am making.
In conclusion, I would say that these people want to be friends with us. They are looking for friendship, and they want to find it if they can. They are looking to us to give them some of the things which we ourselves enjoy in this country. They prefer the British way of life. I hope that we shall not give them a second-rate edition, but an equal share in a way of life which we ourselves have come to enjoy, and a way of life which we hope all of them will follow.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), in the first part of his speech, seemed to fall below the level of the tone of this debate, because we are all agreed on the development of the Colonial Empire, and indeed that is what we are talking about today. The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial Office generally are interested chiefly because of shareholders in this country is too old-fashioned and exploded a view.
Furthermore, when he suggested that the only real way to develop the Colonial Empire was to nationalise the coal industry in the Colonies, I could not help looking at his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), a former Colonial Secretary, and wondering whether he would regard that as the received doctrine of the Labour Party on colonial development as it is today.
I should be very glad, with some experience of the matter, to argue with the hon. Gentleman that nationalisation has indeed been a blessing to this country. My only regret was it could not have been made retrospective to many years ago.
I was not talking about nationalisation in this country, but the nationalisation of the coal industry in the colonial countries, which was what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich suggested, and I wondered if that doctrine was received by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly.
But there are private coal industries in Tanganyika and in Rhodesia as well.
I wonder whether that suggestion was put forward by the Labour Party officially. The suggestion that my right hon. Friend is looking chiefly to the interests of the people of this country so far as the development of the Colonial Empire is concerned, is, if I may say so, nonsense.
In one respect I shall perhaps excite the animosity of hon. Gentlemen opposite, by saying that I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is regarding our interests quite sufficiently. It is within the knowledge of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in all parts of this House that the area, part of which I represent, the great county of Lancashire, is having great difficulty in selling textiles to its traditional markets in West Africa. When I read, at the same time, that the products of West Africa are fetching sometimes as much as 15 times the price which they used to fetch before the war, in the days when there was a good market for Lancashire goods in West Africa, I began to make some researches into where that greatly increasing purchasing power may be going, because it was not being spent sufficiently, in my view, on the good textiles of Lancashire.
Although the prices of Lancashire textiles have increased, they have not increased as much as have the prices of cocoa and other goods produced in West Africa. I wondered why it was that we were not getting quite the "kick back" one would have expected from the greatly increased prices that West Africa was getting for its products, because Lancashire had hopes of an expanding market in West Africa, and these hopes have not been justified.
The short answer is, as many hon. Members know, that the producers of these products, the countrymen in West Africa, are not being allowed to get the full benefits of the higher prices which their products fetch. This, as my right hon. Friend said, is a very complicated matter, and I raise it today chiefly because it has not been raised for five years in this House, according to my researches, and because it does relate to the rights and wrongs of statutory monopoly in these matters.
The right hon. Gentleman knows more about it than I do, and I hope that he will not think that I am criticising him or my right hon. Friend if I ask some searching questions about its operation. The object of this statutory monopoly in the marketing of West African agricultural products, and particularly in cocoa, was originally set out in the White Paper of 1946, Cmd. 6950. It was to produce stabilisation in place of the short-term fluctuations in prices of agricultural products, particularly cocoa—and I shall refer only to cocoa for the sake of convenience.
At the same time, in that White Paper, these words, relating to the funds of the statutory monopoly which has the monopoly of selling in the world the products of West Africa, were used:
The primary purpose for which it is proposed that these funds should be used is to serve as a cushion against short and intermediate term price fluctuations in the world market price of cocoa; … There will be no question of their making a profit at the expense of the West African cocoa producers. Thus on the average of a period of years, it is to be expected that, apart from the allocation of funds"—
for the use and direct benefit of the cocoa producers—
the average price paid in West Africa will be substantially equal to the average net price realised on world markets, and that the Boards' buying and selling transactions will therefore approximately balance.
That is the old phrase which we have governing so many statutory bodies that "accounts shall balance, taking one year with another," a phrase that no doubt
rings in my right hon. Friend's head. That is not what is happening. The boards have not taken one year with another and merely cushioned out short term variations in prices. That was the pledge made in 1946 as their object, and my researches show that they have done no such thing. They have, in fact, accumulated very large surpluses, which have not been passed on to the producer and the country districts of West Africa.
These are very large surpluses. I notice that in the Report on the Nigerian Board there seems to be a slight shame at the size of the surpluses, and, in the case of the Gold Coast, there is a certain gloating about it, because in the Reports—I have here the Report for the year ended 30th September, 1953—there is a great deal of credit being taken by the Board for the strength of its investments, and for how it is investing more and more of this surplus.
Whether it is right or wrong to do this, and to take the profit away from the producer on the grounds that perhaps he ought not to have it, because it would be inflationary or something like that, it is wrong, on the grounds of public morality, to take it away from him by a system which was expressed, when it was originated, as being for quite a different purpose. It said in that White Paper:
There will be no question of their making a profit at the expense of the West African producer.
I think that it is a matter for investigation whether, if this scheme is to continue, it should not be put on a different basis. The originally stated basis has turned out in the event to be a quite wrong prophecy. It was thought that the prices would fluctuate, and that the statutory board would take the middle price, and make adjustments to its accounts every year or two years as the case may be.
Instead of that, the boards have made a surplus every year, sometimes very large, and there has been no serious attempt to balance that income and pay over the surplus to the producers. This means that "stabilisation of prices" and "providing a cushion" has largely been abandoned by the people who advanced this system.
They have now produced new arguments in favour of it. The first is really a slightly unworthy one. They say that these surpluses are very useful to the producers because they enable research to be done into diseases, methods of production, and matters like that. Of course, that is so. But the amount of these surpluses that can be devoted to such work is relatively small, and I do not think that should be put forward as a reason for keeping a system which has produced surpluses far in excess of those requirements.
The second argument is, quite frankly, rather an old friend, which was heard a good deal more about some time ago in this House and in the country—the "syphoning-off" of purchasing power—the economists' device against inflation which very rarely works. Another defence given, which amuses me, is that it prevents the rising of the "kulak." I should have thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House would have liked to see the rising of a prosperous peasantry. I think that was the object which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich was advocating. The idea that we should stop that by reversing the process which prevents certain peasants from accumulating capital is very remarkable in the year 1954, when we have had some experience of these matters.
The final argument—and I think that this is perhaps the most important one, and the hardest to answer—is that it is probably true that the local Governments which are, of course, becoming increasingly independent of us, like these organisations. Here, I feel, we have a certain duty to the country people as opposed to the townspeople in the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and in other places.
Of course, the politicians who control the new Governments are, on the whole, educated men from the towns, and to them these large sums represent a great source of power and influence, whereas, in equity, they really belong to the illiterate and inarticulate countrymen who have, in fact, produced the wealth represented by those funds.
This being so, I suggest to my right hon. Friend that, if we are to fulfil our trust, it is not enough merely to say that this system must go on because the new politicians who are taking ever more power like it. That is preferring one type of Her Majesty's subjects to another, the articulate against the inarticulate, even though the latter has in equity more right than the former to the control of these moneys.
I ask my right hon. Friend to look at this matter again, because it seems to me that the system has not done what was claimed for it. As in so many other examples of State monopoly, it has certainly not stabilised prices. Indeed, as the boards themselves now increasingly recognise, they cannot do this forecasting business, which is so often claimed as being one of the great merits of compulsory planning in marketing of this sort.
In his Report for 1952–53, the Chairman of the Gold Coast Marketing Board made a very striking admission about this. He said:
Those who choose to regard the board's trading balance in September as a logical consequence of its price decision 14 months previously, attribute to it a skill in prophecy that it would certainly never claim for itself.
In other words, these boards have no greater—and in many cases, I think, considerably less—skill in prophesying the trends in prices than had the private system of marketing, purchasing, and selling. We have had the same experience in Lancashire with our Raw Cotton Commission.
I think that my right hon. Friend will be doing the cause which he and I certainly have at heart a service if he examines this matter again. As he knows only too well, it is very easy to start these statutory undertakings and to give them a monopoly, but very difficult indeed to unscramble the eggs once they have been scrambled.
Much of the defence of these undertakings is, I am convinced, due to pride in the organisations. It is difficult to blame people for having pride in an organisation, especially if it has a lot of funds, as these organisations have. I am sure that many of the excuses made in favour of these organisations are a mere rationalisation of the feeling of pride in them. I suggest that that is not enough.
I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend's reference to the negotiations going on at Geneva, which will, we hope, enable the products of this country to regain some of their traditional markets in the colonial areas.
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend's very interesting speech, but I wish to point out that I was referring to the prospect of colonial products finding markets in the United Kingdom. I was not making a mutual statement, but speaking solely from the point of view of colonial imports into this country.
I am sorry that it is not mutual, but, as it is not, I will not press the point any further, because it does not hang on the thread of my speech. It is my fault for misunderstanding what my right hon. Friend said.
However, in spite of that, I should like to draw this point to his attention. The more that the producer of West Africa has to spend, the better it is for him. We must get away from the idea of this paternal Government saying that it is not good for the West Africans to have too much money. If they earn it, they should be allowed to spend it, and, if they do so, I am convinced that it will also be good for my constituents, because I am sure that they will continue, and even increase, their expenditure in Lancashire.
During the last three days we have heard many interesting speeches on agriculture and defence, and now we are debating colonial affairs. It is because I am deeply interested in the peace of the world and in peace at home that I intrude for a very few minutes this afternoon to suggest that here there is a serious anomaly. We are, apparently, very interested in matters of peace abroad, but we do not appear to have the same interest in affairs at home. Indeed, we are quite oblivious of a country very near to England. We read that the Foreign Secretary has journeyed East and West on his numerous missions of peace. I do not think that he could have done better than to start by going to Ireland.
I do not think that the old proverb about charity beginning at home has been much practised in this House. There is another proverb which speaks of a gentleman who has his eyes on the ends of the earth. Even if the Foreign Secretary's mission on such a visit to Ireland had not been the success which it might have been, at all events the gesture would have indicated that the people of this country were anxious to practise at home what they preach abroad.
We cannot, Pilate-wise, wash our hands of responsibility for what has taken place in Ireland, because it was in this House that the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, was passed. I know that in 1916 there was a great deal of trouble in Ireland and elsewhere, but much water has flowed under the bridges in the 34 years since then. It is conceded that the partition of Ireland has not been a success. Indeed, recent events would indicate that partition is resented by very considerable bodies of the population.
I am not suggesting that the majority of the people in Ireland believe in restoring the unity of Ireland by physical force, but there is a small number who do believe that. The majority believe in peaceful methods. They are trying to put over their case in this country and abroad, but they feel frustrated because the statesmen of this country will never listen to any plea for justice until it becomes a necessity. We had an example of that in Gladstone's time. From the Front Bench opposite Mr. Gladstone introduced the Home Rule Bill, which was not accepted by the people of the United Kingdom. Had it been, we should never have had the rebellion of 1916 or the feeling that developed in the intervening years.
The national Press of this country boycotts any news from Ireland. They have the slogan "Truth in the news," but they do not practise what they preach. Ireland has not a great military force, but she has a great spiritual force, especially in the English-speaking Colonies and the United States of America. Indeed, more people of Irish birth or descent reside outside Ireland than within its shores. I know how much Britain appreciates good relations with the United States. People of Irish descent form a very large proportion of the population of that country, and they take a very active interest in public affairs. Britain, therefore, cannot expect any generous gesture from the United States so long as this rankling sore exists.
If the Prime Minister were present I should make a special plea to him, because he owes Ireland something special. In 1912, when he came to Ireland to preach Home Rule, he owed his life to the fact that the Nationalists and workers of Belfast stood as a shield between him and the Orange Order, of which he is now the nominal leader. They intended to beat him up, but the Nationalists put their bodies in front of him to protect him, so that he might receive, today, the homage of the English-speaking world.
That the right hon. Gentleman remembers what he owes to us is evident from the fact that although he has been invited on several occasions to go to Belfast—the alluring prospect of receiving the freedom of the city was even held out to him—he has ignored those invitations. I suggest that he has done so because he remembers the incident in 1912 much better than he remembers the telegram he sent to Field Marshal Montgomery.
Most of Ireland's difficulty—both North and South—arises from partition. A border has been drawn across the country, and trade and business routes have been dislocated and disorganised. An employment problem has arisen directly out of partition, and the economy of Ulster itself has been dislocated. In all seriousness, I say that Ireland unfree will always present a difficulty to Britain and the world. So long as Britain teaches democracy abroad and fails to practise it at home the statesmen of the world will not pay that attention to Britain which they would otherwise do. The Irish people are willing to forget the unhappy past and turn over a new leaf, and I am certain that the common people of Britain would like to settle this problem which exists on their own doorstep.
The story of Ireland is one of "too little and too late." As I said, if Britain had been wise in her generation and had adopted the Home Rule Bill she would never have had to deal with the unhappy aftermath. I also suggest that this question is far above politics, and that it should be the first priority of all political parties in this House. What we ask is really very simple. We say that Britain should take her forces out of Ireland; leave the Irish people, North and South, to settle between themselves whatever differences they may have. The solution lies with Britain, because she has been subsidising partition through the social services and in other directions. She is encouraging the minority to remain outside the Irish nation.
Eighty per cent, of the Irish people want unity, but the other 20 per cent. dominate the situation. We are willing to accept a plebiscite on democratic lines, county by county, if our friends north of the border will accept it. It must be remembered that Britain has a far larger trade with Ireland than with most of the Colonies which we have been discussing today. The people of Ireland and the common people of England desire unity, and only the interests of politicians, with their catch cries and slogans, prevent it.
Ireland will one day be free; hon. Members may take that for granted. Lord Craigavon himself, who was much of a diehard, confided in the last years of his life, to a very high civil servant, the Auditor-General, Mr. Duggan—and he has made it known in a brochure which he has published—that Ireland would be free because the country was too small to afford two Governments. I appeal to Britain not to allow her generosity to be confined entirely to the peoples of India, Africa and the Colonies. She can restore the unity of Ireland if she wants to. If she does not do so, Ireland will remain a skeleton in the Imperial cupboard, ready to fall out at the most inopportune moment.
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) has advanced a plea for what he calls the end of partition and the unification of Ireland. He has done so in a very moderate speech, and I trust that in replying to the arguments which he put forward I shall also be moderate in language.
The hon. Member started off, quite wrongly, by describing the Irish people as a united nation. It is true that for approximately 300 years, dating from the beginning of the 17th century, Ireland was a united nation, but it was united under the United Kingdom and the British Crown, after the Battle of Kinsale. Except for that period of unity—and I agree with the hon. Member that it was sometimes maintained by force of arms—we have not been united. We are two separate nations.
The hon. Member said "Let us have a plebiscite. Eighty per cent. of the people of Ireland want the abolition of the border." A plebiscite to abolish the border can take place only in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member's friends in the South of Ireland agreed unanimously, in both Houses of their Parliament, to the tripartite agreement of 1925, which established the present border.
That border will exist for so long as we in Northern Ireland deem right and proper, and that will be for a long time. No plea that the hon. Member has put forward will in any way convince the people of Northern Ireland that it is not their duty—and their privilege—to remain an integral part of the United Kingdom, and to continue their loyalty to the British Crown.
The hon. Member referred to the visit made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to Belfast, in 1912. He takes some credit for his belief that certain members of the party to which he belongs prevented the Prime Minister from receiving personal injury. My right hon. Friend has left this country, the people of Northern Ireland, and people all over the world, in no doubt about his sentiments towards Northern Ireland. He will be welcome in Belfast whenever he comes, and we hope that he will visit us in the very near future.
The hon. Member referred to democracy. In Northern Ireland today democracy is seen working at its best. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and his hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. O'Neill) know that the Commission to set up the boundaries and electoral divisions in Northern Ireland is presided over by Mr. Speaker. I am sure that those hon. Members would not accuse him of partiality in any way.
I had not intended to refer to the number of Nationalists or Roman Catholics who live in the various areas of Northern Ireland. I do not think we should bring into this debate the religious pursuasions of our citizens in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, if one is dealing with population statistics, it is inevitable that we should do so. I think the reason is that we have very many good Roman Catholic friends in Northern Ireland who, when they go to the poll, whether it be for Westminster, Stormont or local council—I do not say that they are not in a position to declare their opinions in public, but it might be unfortunate for them if they did so—vote Unionist. It is, therefore, exceedingly difficult to say whether the friends whom the hon. Member claims are, in fact, his friends politically, although their religions coincide. I think that that is the answer to his question.
I think that there are no other points in the speech of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone that require a reply. He merely pleaded that this House, to please the people of the United States, where there is a large Irish population, or the people in Australia or Canada, should, in some peculiar way, go back on its pledge that Northern Ireland should remain as it is at present until its people express a contrary view. I do not think hon. Members would wish to use the loyal people of Northern Ireland as a pawn in a game to gain the favours either of the United States or any other part of the world.
The House will excuse me if I refrain from following the two previous speakers. We have all been interested in their contributions to the debate, and no doubt there will be other occasions when the arguments they have produced will be discussed at greater length.
Today, we are discussing a very important problem. We are dealing with what has been called world mutual aid. When Mr. Speaker announced, two days ago, that we were to discuss this matter today, I recalled reading a book by a very famous Russian sociologist and humanist, Prince Kropotkin, entitled, "Mutual Aid." I decided to refresh my memory on some of the things he advocated. Strangely enough, there happened to be in the Library a copy of "Mutual Aid." It was dated 1907.
On the very last page, Prince Kropotkin said something, which, in my view, is most germane to this present discussion. It was this:
The higher conception of 'no revenge for wrongs' and of freely giving more than one experts to receive from his neighbours, JS proclaimed as being the real principle of morality, a principle superior to more equivalents, equity and justice, and more conducive to happiness.
Although we do not often quote texts in this House, I think that we could have used that one as a test in connection with a good deal of today's subject matter.
We have not just been pressing the Government to recognise the work which it is proposed shall be done by the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development. The Government have already done that. They have voted in favour of the principle of this Fund, but have so far refused to make any financial contribution thereto. We all know that, when work of an international character such as this is undertaken—particularly under the auspices of the United Nations—it is of a disinterested character. One has only to look at the fine achievements of the Word Health Organisation, of U.N.E.S.C.O. and of other international special agencies of that kind, to realise how the benefits which they can confer on people in various parts of the world are accepted in a way not achieved by different types of funds provided by individual Governments—generous and helpful as they are intended to be. Such funds are not on the same plane as funds administered by the United Nations.
There is no doubt that the facts that have been revealed today about the conditions of men and women all over the world—for instance, that two-thirds of the population of the world is living in a state of dire poverty—necessitates not sporadic efforts to relieve the situation but a united world effort. It was the object of this Fund to do this. It is true that, in the first instance, it was proposed to start with a modest sum—250 million dollars—and it was proposed that if 30 nations subscribed to the principle of the Fund and would agree to make contributions, the Fund should be initiated.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has said, it appears that the Government are dragging their feet on this issue. They have given the idea their blessing. It is true that they voted against the proposal to draw up the necessary statutes to formulate this organisation, but even so, they did vote for its initiation. S.U.N.F.E.D., which is the modern nomenclature of this body, is to be a world fund without strings and possessing no national taint. That is its value. We could under that scheme give assistance to the underdeveloped areas where it was most imperatively needed. That is one of the reason why we are pressing the Government to be more generous in this connection.
Aid given by individual nations savours inevitably of patronage or even of philanthropy. I have no doubt that the United States of America has given enormous sums of money to various funds, but not without an eye on the dangers of Communism. From a national point of view that may be entirely justified. But a fund like we are now proposing would not have that objection. Great credit is, no doubt, due to the United States, but how much better would it have been if all such funds had been channelled through the United Nations agencies. As it is, even disinterested generosity of this character becomes, as it were, a factor in the cold war.
President Eisenhower made the remarkable proposal some time ago that if only the nations of the world would undertake some measure of universal disarmament, the United States would contribute a percentage of the saving to a world fund of this kind. But in spite of that gesture, and because there has not been any measure of universal disarmament, the United States of America and our own Government have refused to subscribe to this fine international concept described as S.U.N.F.E.D.
Surely we can get a promise from the Government today that we will become one of the 30 nations to subscribe to this Fund. I know that we have supported it in principle. Why not take courage in our hands and help to make this world fund a reality? Our Dutch friends wanted to establish it right away but, as I have said, we dragged our feet. Was it because America has refused to contribute? Surely, if we set an example, America might be willing to follow our lead.
Even the representative of a small country like the Philippines made a most enthusiastic statement on behalf of this Fund, but he also had a very severe criticism to make. He said on 27th September last:
But today there seems to be a general feeling that the possibilities of United Nations action even in these non-political spheres have become pretty nearly exhausted. We have come to the point of diminishing returns. There is a growing reluctance on the part of the developed countries to assist the under-developed countries in their programmes of economic development. An example is what is happening to Point Four; another the freezing of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance;".
I am very pleased to say at this juncture that our own Government have very considerably increased our contribution to technical assistance.
… and yet another the virtual pigeonholing of the project for the establishment of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development.
Those remarks by the representative of the Philippines give one an idea of the attitude of the smaller countries.
It is interesting to note that the smaller countries have supported this proposal almost unanimously, and particularly, and perhaps quite naturally, the less developed countries. Denmark, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands have all been in favour of the scheme and did not want it to be dependent on disarmament. It is true that Belgium, France, Japan and Luxembourg were ready to participate only if the industrialised countries, including the United States of America, took part, but they were quite willing to participate on those conditions, and it is only our country, America and some others which have bluntly refused to make contributions.
The Government have been pressed on a number of occasions; Questions have been asked in the House, and I appeal to the Minister to give some hope that this Fund will receive more support than it has had so far. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman does this, he will help to create an improved situation throughout the world.
I hope that the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Reeves) will forgive me if I do not follow him into his more world-wide approach to the problem of the development of the underdeveloped territories, but return to the theme which most speakers have dealt with today, who have dealt mainly with the Colonies themselves.
I should like to begin by taking up a point which was made by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) about private companies in this country taking out too much of their returns from the Colonies. I think we are apt to forget one point, and that is that there is imposed on many exports from the Colonies an export duty which provides quite a substantial revenue from many Colonial Territories. Therefore, it is not correct to say that we are taking everything out of the Colonies and not leaving anything behind.
I have with me, for quite another purpose, a copy of the Colonial Report for Nigeria, 1952, in which one finds, on page 25, a list of all the export duties charged on various commodities. There is a 10 per cent. ad valorem duty on the export of cocoa, a 10 per cent. ad valorem duty on the export of rubber, and a duty of £22 per ton on the export of cattlehides. Those are only three items which I have taken from random from among a dozen in this Report, and they show that a great deal is being done by industries established in those countries, largely by private enterprise, which is of great benefit to them.
Can the hon. Member tell us what amount of export tax is imposed on profits from Northern Rhodesia? The last Report of the United Nations showed that one-third of the value of the entire products of Northern Rhodesia goes in profit, dividend, and interest to financiers living outside Northern Rhodesia.
I am sorry that I have not with me the report on Northern Rhodesia from which I might be able to answer that question. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) for the point which he made about the United Africa Company. It shows that there is a great deal of misapprehension over here about the value of colonial products which goes back into the Colonies to help them to develop.
Whenever we have a debate on this subject it seems, from the general tone of the speeches made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they think nothing whatever was done for development or welfare in the Colonies until they came into power in 1945.
I am glad to hear that the hon. Member does not say it, but it is the impression we get from right hon. and hon. Members opposite. They should bear in mind the vast amount which has been done in the past, going back to the days when Joseph Chamberlain was Colonial Secretary, to improve development in the Colonies and the welfare of the colonial people.
I have here the Annual Report on Nigeria for 1952, and I wish that in these annual reports—or biennial reports in some cases—published by the Colonial Office on individual Colonies, there could be included, if not every year, at any rate, at three or five-yearly intervals, some record of the progress made in the past in health conditions, in the number of schools established, and in the number of children being educated, compared with 20 or 30 years ago, as well as in the amount of capital invested in individual territories, and in the improved value of exports and imports, together with other statistics, which would show the progress which has been taking place year after year for some time.
That would be of great value to the people of this country, and would also do a great deal to dispel some of the quite unfounded criticism of our administration of the Colonial Territories which comes from abroad, quite often from countries whose inhabitants ought to know a great deal better. I hope that that point can be considered by my right hon. Friend in his administration of the Colonial Office.
There is a striking difference between the Annual Report on Nigeria, for instance, and the Annual Report of a Trust Territory like the Cameroons. I have in my hand a copy of the 1953 Report on the Cameroons. The Annual Report on Nigeria for 1952 consists of about 168 pages, whereas that on the Cameroons for 1953 consists of 228 pages. The population of Nigeria is about 31 million, and the population of the Trust Territory of the Cameroons is less than 1,500,000, so that these two Reports seem to be altogether out of proportion.
I take it that the reason why a small Trust Territory like Cameroons—and this is also true of Togoland and Tanganyika—has such a voluminous report is that the Reports are submitted to the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, and are written primarily for that purpose and not for consumption in this country; but I do not see why, in this country, we should not have reports equally as adequate on our Colonial Territories and Protectorates as the United Nations Trusteeship Council has on Trusteeship Territories which, while under our rule, are under their supervision.
I was very glad that my right hon. Friend mentioned the attitude which is being adopted at the Geneva Conference on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade—in other words, that we intend to look after the special rights of our Colonial Territories. Several hon. Members opposite have talked of the need to develop the West Indies, and to end the unhappy and perhaps uncertain situation which exists in many Colonies in the West Indies. It is little use our developing any Colonial Territory in that way unless we can assure markets for its produce. That is why I welcome the statement which my right hon. Friend has made this afternoon.
It does not very much matter how we ensure those markets—whether we use the older system of Imperial Preference, which is so severely restricted by G.A.T.T. at the moment, or whether we use other methods, such as State trading, or export quotas, or methods which are more Socialist in approach than I like to see. Whatever methods we use, we must do something to guarantee markets for the produce of these territories, otherwise we are wasting our time in encouraging their development. We must make sure that their produce will be sold. That is the fundamental point which we must keep in the forefront of our colonial policy, if we are to do the best we can for the territories for which we are responsible.
The Secretary of State told us that there were no party politics in this question, but he has been badly let down by two of his hon. Friends, each of whom has made an atrociously shocking speech. The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) said, in effect, "I, and people like me, who want to invest in the Colonies on an equity basis, will do so if we can be let off Income Tax." That is the sort of naked profit-motive appeal which no longer applies to the age in which we live. Resurgent nationalism in these Colonies absolutely refuses to be exploited any more by Western private investors out for equity profit.
But far worse was the speech of the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke)—
Is the hon. Member aware that the arguments for a tax holiday have come largely from colonial leaders themselves, who see in that the chance of getting much needed capital into their territories?
That answer in no wise abates the sin of the hon. Member for Harrow, West, who has dared to give the impression in these Colonies that what Western investors are out for is to be let off their fair share of tax.
Infinitely worse was the speech of the hon. Member for Darwen, who said, in effect, that if there is a piece of ground in the Colonies—in Nigeria, for example—where cocoa grows prolifically, and if the demand for it is such that great prices can be obtained, and great profits made, the advantage of those prices and profits should accrue to the occupiers of the land and to nobody else. I have never heard a more discreditable doctrine. If it were justifiable, this debate would not be being held.
The whole idea of this debate is that we, the civilised peoples of the West, who, thanks to science and developing technology, know how to get a higher standard of living, should give some of this away to the colonial peoples and not keep it all for ourselves. What the hon. Member for Darwen said in effect was, "I want those cocoa producers to make a lot of money so that my Lancashire friends, taking advantage of the law of supply and demand, may get that money from them in excessively high prices for our textile products." That is the wrong spirit for this debate.
The whole idea behind mutual aid and colonial development is, and must remain, the idea of give-away, the superior technological Christian civilisation lifting up those who have not the fortune to enjoy either the technological or other natural advantages that we possess. This exhibition from the Tory side, from the hon. Members for Harrow, West and Darwen, will be very useful to me and my party at the coming General Election.
I am not sure whether I ought to crave the indulgence of the House, but I should like to acknowledge the very gracious words which have been said about me both by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and by the Secretary of State.
The purpose of this debate was to try to bring out the urgency of the problem of the underdeveloped and undeveloped territories, for some of which we are responsible, and to ask whether, in face of present world pressures, we are doing sufficient as a nation to meet the situation, and whether we are using to the full the international organisations which have been created since the war.
The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) suggested that we were primarily interested in the problems of development, chiefly because of employment in this country, and the importance of keeping British industry running. I am sure that he has a much wider conception of colonial policy and the building up of backward areas than he seemed to suggest. That was the conception back in 1929, when colonial development became a problem in which we felt that we as a nation ought to take a much more direct and constructive hand.
In those days, we had a problem of unemployment in this country. It was felt that, if factories and workshops could be got going for the needs of the Colonies, we could to a great extent remove some of the unemployment in our own country. But we have gone a very long way since then. We approach these problems now in a much more humane way. We are conscious that our Colonial Territories are human societies, for which we have a special responsibility, and that our imperialism really is a policy of service, and a policy which we must pay for if justice is to be done for the people for whom we are responsible.
But there is a practical side to this matter, although it is not always appreciated, even in this House. From the attendance in the House at the moment, it does not seem to be as fully appreciated as it should be. This practical side is that the development of these overseas territories contributes considerably to our own national life and well-being.
The foods that we enjoy, and the raw materials of our industry, are dependent very largely on the development in these territories overseas. I looked up some figures yesterday and found that the Colonies took from the United Kingdom last year no less than £1,242 million worth of goods, while we in turn imported no less than £1,109 million worth of goods.
That represents a very considerable economic activity in this country. Therefore, we have a vital interest in seeing not only that we get the goods we need, but also that we have markets into which many of our manufactured goods and other supplies can go. Therefore, because development of the Colonies is a matter affecting world stability, a matter of peace, a matter in which political freedom is involved, it becomes imperative that the closest attention should be given by this House to the responsibilities which it carries.
The matter is becoming increasingly urgent, particularly because of what has been happening in the world during the last decade or so. Reference has already been made to the recent manifestations of the forces of nationalism and racialism. We have been told of the trends of totalitarianism and of the collapse of colonialism, in various parts of the world. There are strong race tensions which are threatening good will inside the human family, and bringing about many severe political difficulties, particularly in various parts of Africa. There are the great physical developments which have gone on which are linking the world very closely together.
These economic and scientific changes are bringing us into the closest possible contact with the peoples everywhere. In the light of all these factors in the modern world, it becomes imperative that we should attempt to reassess the broad position, and ask whether we are doing enough to build up standards of living and economic conditions throughout the world.
Reference has been made in the debate, particularly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly, to the value of the work done under the Colombo Plan. Here is a programme affecting a quarter of the world's population, and yet, if this plan reached fulfilment, if the vast sums which were asked for under the programmes were spent, even then no more would be accomplished than the maintenance of existing standards.
That is an extraordinarily grave situation, especially considering the seeming inability to raise the necessary capital for investment which is called for, and to train in sufficient numbers the technicians and other people needed for the work to be done. While I think that our own country has made a surprisingly good contribution to that plan in the field of training, in providing experts, and equipment, nevertheless the work is undermanned, and a great deal of it cannot go forward.
It is obvious that many of the big schemes cannot proceed far with the resources so far allocated to them. Of course, the tragedy of the situation is that the gap between the more advanced nations and the underdeveloped peoples with whom we are concerned tends to widen. It is a gap which will become unbridgeable unless more effort and more drive are put into, and more resources made available for, these great and important schemes.
There are two points which I ought to make in connection with the Colombo Plan because they are, in a sense, important in respect to all development work, not only in our Colonies but in the other underdeveloped regions. The first is the one which has been referred to many times in the debate: the problem of population. That problem tends to elude us in all we attempt to do.
By 1970, the population; of the countries connected with the Colombo Plan will have increased by 150 million. Unless a process of education is carried out, and a surge of public opinion arises to correct this unfortunate and almost hopeless tendency, the situation will become very grave; and all our efforts to feed those hungry mouths so eloquently described by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly, will count for little.
The second point which needs to be made, and which was stressed by the Secretary of State, is the importance of trade and technical training. That point was emphasised by the hon. Member for Harrow, West, as well as by my right hon. Friend. It is obvious that even if we have the capital, even if we have made the plans, unless we have artisans, trained staffs, surveyors, chemists, and all the other intermediate grades, all our plans will count for little or nothing.
My right hon. Friend also referred to questions relating to world contribution and mutual aid; how the spirit of good neighbourliness ought to charac- terise all our relations with the people of backward areas, and that everything possible should be done. He made the point, with, which I agree, that to lift their standards we should, if possible, make greater use of the United Nations machinery. When I have discussed some of these problems with representatives of backward areas at various conferences, it has been evident that they do not want aid or assistance channelled through other than United Nations agencies.
They are afraid that tags will be attached to aid, particularly from the great imperial Powers. They urge that it is not consistent with their own dignity, their desire for independence and their self-respect, for contributions to come through individual nations. Be that as it may, the point which I wish to emphasise is the importance of using the various agencies of the United Nations for a great deal of the work which can be done by them.
We all agree that the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the International Labour Office, and U.N.E.S.C.O., are all bodies which are today doing most excellent work in some of these areas. The United Kingdom is using the International Bank more freely, but I should like the Joint Under-Secretary to give a fuller explanation about the purposes of the other international bank in which, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced yesterday, Britain will play some part.
It may be that there are still a number of practical difficulties which, when I was Secretary of State, I found existing so far as the International Bank is concerned. It may be that this proposed new organisation is for channelling private investment through and under the control of some specially created authority representing all the nations contributing to the International Bank. But the announcement has left me a little puzzled, and I should like a further explanation of it from the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when he replies to the debate.
I want also to refer to the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts. The Secretary of State said that in his opinion excellent work had been done as a result of this legislation. I wholeheartedly endorse the view which he expressed. In so many fields a vast differ- ence has been made in our territories as a result of this provision by the British Parliament. But we should not forget that not only do the Colonies pay a considerable contribution themselves towards this development, but also the Acts have at times been rather fumbling and not particularly clear in intention. Consequently, some of the long-term planning which might have been of importance was unnecessarily delayed.
Therefore, I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether the proposals of the new Bill will suggest the limiting of schemes under these Acts merely to five years. I can appreciate the arguments put forward by the Secretary of State, but it seems to me there are many projects which are likely to take a much longer period than five years before they are completed. It would be well to know whether such projects would be outside the terms of the proposed Act.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman.
I said that the Acts have done most excellent work, and we always had it in mind that a great deal of the expenditure should fortify the economic resources of a territory in order that the social services should fall as a charge, in the long run, on the local government. I hope that the balance as between the expenditure on social services and on pure economic development will be preserved. It is clear that one cannot go forward with a great deal of development unless there is also a great amount of expenditure on housing, health, education, and necessary training, if the economic work is to be faithfully discharged.
There was a real difference, I always thought, between the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund and the purpose of the Colonial Development Corporation. We had in mind that it was useless to equip a country with roads, ports, harbours, railways, power stations, and the rest, unless there was a considerable increase of enterprise. It was imperatively felt that if the economies were to be transformed even from purely single economies into mixed economies, other industry would have to be encouraged, and more economic enterprise made possible. In those circumstances it was considered essential that we should go all out to encourage the building up of economic enterprises.
I confess it has been a little disconcerting to discover that, under the Colonial Development Corporation, many enterprises which might have been risks have not been encouraged, and sometimes enterprises have been definitely abandoned. I agree with my right hon. Friend, who said that there was danger of the Colonial Development Corporation becoming little more than a bank or a finance house.
I would add that the Corporation was created largely because there were many things which a Colony needed that, because of the risks involved, private enterprise could not undertake. We felt that if, in co-operation with the Government, or with other private interests, certain risks might be taken, the Colonial Development Corporation could initiate such changes.
I hope that the Secretary of State will see that this point of view is observed. The tendency to invest only in enterprises likely to give a profit would be almost fruitless. A suggestion was made that the enterprises should break even year by year, but it was also recognised that in the initial stages of the Corporation, and in the early years of starting new enterprises, there must foe heavy losses or deficiencies. Therefore, in consultation with the Treasury at the time, it was agreed that a period of some years might elapse before the test of breaking even should be applied.
Of course, enterprises ought to be carefully considered before being launched, but I hope that the Colonial Office will not rule out the fact that many essential enterprises in a territory will involve a degree of risk for a long time to come, and that if development is to proceed, and enterprise is to be encouraged to fit in with the growing life of the community, this kind of risk should be taken. Further, it is imperative that codes of conduct should be imposed on all those undertaking enterprises. I appreciate that the Secretary of State recognises how important is that point.
In the general field of colonial development I want to emphasise the point that while there roust be a great deal of plantation development, which is inevitable in many of the Colonies, we must not forget taw vitally important in their economy is the peasant farmer. It is important that everything should be done to revitalise this industry, to reconstruct agriculture as far as we are permitted, and for a dynamic policy of change to come into the villages and amongst the peasants. I am sure that capital sunk for this purpose will reap a considerable dividend.
Therefore, I would emphasise the need for a policy of rural development in the villages, the building of houses, the provision of better water, and sanitation. I would emphasise also the importance of soil conservation, of irrigation, of roads, and of inducing people to take a greater interest in their own affairs through the councils of local government which are now being created.
I also welcome what the Secretary of State said in regard to the encouragement which he will give to co-operative practice, both in production and otherwise. It may be that, at the present time, there is not a great record of achievement in this field, but a considerable amount of basic work has already been done.
I am sure that if the Secretary of State will give it his encouragement we can get very much further, particularly in those rural areas where agriculture is still very primitive, and where conditions are suitable for methods of co-operation to be applied and tried out. There is also the importance of training people in these villages for small subsidiary industries, such as transport, building, etc., because that will break up the rather rigid economy in many of these places.
I wish to say a word or two about political development, because we have been talking today very largely about economic and social development. This is, of course, of vital importance. We have also to realise the fact that there are extraordinary influences at work in most of our territories. There is this rising spirit of nationalism and racialism, which is demanding some degree of satisfaction. We have witnessed since the war great progress in the liberalisation of the political institutions in these territories, and in all our Colonies we are moving very rapidly towards self-government.
It is imperative that we should attempt to integrate social and economic development with political advance. It is useless to concede democratic institutions unless people are trained, and have the knowledge and the requisite qualifications, to work those institutions. It is important that we should do all we can, not only to build up economic standards, but also provide those special services on which successful political work depends. That means that, while we are wholeheartedly for democratic self-government, we must try to create, by an extension of education, by improved health, and better social conditions in the villages, the facilities which make democracy workable.
I feel that, even with economic development, it is impossible to go far ahead unless Governments have good will and co-operation from the people. Good will and co-operation depend very largely upon the ability of the people to share in the political institutions and the political life of their country. That is a facet of development which has not received full emphasis in the debate today, and, therefore, I want to emphasise its importance.
Finally, I would say that there is a challenge to us to apply a greater degree of constructive effort and of our national resources in the development of the overseas territories, particularly those for which we are responsible. But do not let us be under any delusion that this would not mean very often that what surplus capital is available for development would have to be diverted, possibly from this country, into the territories where it is most needed.
If our standard of living depends on cheap labour, or on labour which ought to have a more fruitful reward, then we ourselves must be prepared to pay for the improved industrial and social conditions in the overseas territories. Therefore, I welcome the speech of the Secretary of State today, and I am sure that he will go forward with his work with our good will, and conscious that he has the drive and the energy to make drastic changes.
We hope that as the result of this debate not only shall we use the international institutions to greater effect, but also that we as a nation will apply more vigorous policies, if we can, to the territories for which we are responsible.
May I add my need of pleasure at having the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) back in this House. Those of us who came here in 1945 as new boys will always remember his courtesy to us. When something befell him and he might possibly have felt need to retire on his laurels, or to some other place, where the more rubicund surroundings might have suited him, he chose, instead, to return to the chain gang, and I am sure that his friends overseas as well as in this country will be delighted that he is back with us.
I have listened to all the speeches that have been made today. Unfortunately, this has been a short debate, and I know that there are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who would have liked to have taken part. I can assure anyone to whose points I cannot reply that we have listened to those points very carefully and that they have given us considerable material from which in the future we can prepare further plans. I will, in the time at my disposal, try to cover some of the vast area that has been covered in this debate.
The Colonies and the Commonwealth, after all, cover one-quarter of the world's surface; but beyond that we have to look at other factors which have been brought into the debate. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies said, we can and do in this House—and I think that includes practically everybody—take a great joint pride in what the British have done overseas, particularly since the war. If I have to leave out certain points it is not because I ignore them, but merely because of lack of time.
There was a fairly comprehensive debate on world mutual aid in March of this year in which the then Minister of State and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made comprehensive, and, I hope, remarkable speeches. In some respects one has to cover some of the same ground today, and if I cannot deal with all the matters raised, I would suggest to anyone interested that considerable detail was given in that debate.
There are many problems which one cannot possibly touch on here today. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) talked about family planning, and the right hon. Member for Wakefield also touched on it. One feels that in some respects that will be the only solution of the tremendous problem of population. I believe that, as the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East said, action on those lines can only be taken by the people of the countries concerned themselves supporting the Governments of their own people.
Since I spoke from this Box in March of this year, I have made quick trips to South-East Asia and other countries in that area which I had never visited before, and I learnt something of the stupendous problems facing the individuals who are now carrying on the Governments of those countries. This question of population and family planing is one of the difficulties with which they have to cope. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a characteristic and forthright, constructive speech, and I can assure the House that Her Majesty's Government's present advisers will do their utmost for the benefit of all concerned.
I do not think that anyone seriously suggests that what we have been discussing today is a party matter. We all want to do our best to help with this problem of overseas development, but I must remind the House that we have to think of this country as well. This country has not only burdens at home, which I will not talk about now, but also overseas, some aspects of which I will touch on in detail later.
Possibly the greatest contribution that we have made to this overseas development lies in the general policies of the Government at home. The economic and the military strength to help keep the still free world free is, I believe, the greatest contribution that we can make to the rest of the free world. The defence burden which this country is carrying today is still about twice what it was five years ago.
We are, I hope, justifiably proud of the strength of sterling today as a result of the policy of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said that the strong should help the weak, and we feel, too, that at home and overseas we should continue this policy. But we must beware of overtaxing our general resources by wrong taxation policies, for by lending or by going beyond home savings and our production capacity we shall weaken sterling and shall not be able to achieve what we all want to carry out.
We in this country have received mutual aid from the United States. I do not think that we regret that. Indeed, we are most grateful to them for what they have done. What we can do in return for some of these other territories is only a start, only the key to unlock the door of "self-help" which, I believe, is the only way in which we shall achieve success in those areas still dependent, and probably still too dependent, on this country.
After 10 years of trial and error since the war, I think we can claim that we have some general agreement on the line of development as between the various agencies of the Government, private enterprise, and so on. Now that I am coming to the more specific points put to me, I do not think that I need waste the time of the House in going through the numerous other agencies which exist. I think that we are all agreed that our object is to raise living standards throughout the world without depressing our own in this country. The purpose of this is to help people in other parts of the world and not merely to thwart Communism.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) raised the issue of the Colombo Plan. The Government regard the Colombo Plan as a successful experiment in international co-operation towards economic development. But the Plan still has three years to run, and, as stated in the Gracious Speech, the Government propose to continue their support of the Plan. The report of the recent Consultative Committee on the Colombo Plan will be laid before the House by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the next week or two, and it will show the progress attained in the individual development programmes of the member countries.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly also asked what the future plan would be. That is still three years ahead, and I think it is premature to suggest what the economic position of the world and of this country and others will then be or to get down to making any prognostication concerning what will happen from 1957 onwards.
If I may give the House some details of the Colombo Plan, I think I am right in saying that it is generally recognised that it is not one plan, but a whole series of separate development programmes put forward by the member States. It is not only colonial, or even Commonwealth, in its application today, although we like to feel that Australia and the Commonwealth took a major part in getting it going. Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Nepal, Indonesia and since, the recent Ottawa meeting the Philippines, Siam and Japan are also full members.
The United Kingdom's contribution to the development of this area will, I think, be fairly substantial. I am not arguing the merits of the case, but am just putting the burden of the balance of payments of this country before the House. I would point out that over a period of six years we shall be paying out about £300 million, £252 million of which represents the release of sterling balances. I hope the House will agree, therefore, that this is a substantial contribution from Britain towards these problems.
By arrangement with the World Bank, sterling loans of up to £5 million have been made available for steel expansion in India, and the same amount for the Sui Gas Transmission Company in Pakistan. The Commonwealth Development Finance Company has put £1 million towards the equity capital of that undertaking in Pakistan, which I heard about when I was there and which I 'believe will make a very big contribution towards the development of that important country in the Commonwealth.
In the London market, Ceylon, in March of this year, floated a loan for £5 million, and at the end of last year Pakistan had a credit of £10 million for the purchase in the U.K. of equipment connected with agricultural production. I have mentioned the sterling balance releases to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, of approximately £42 million a year, and there were grants and loans to Malaya and North Borneo amounting to approximately £12½ million last year.
As far as capital goods are concerned, I think we are all glad to know that deliveries are better and that the credit terms bid fair to meet the problem. By June, 1954, the United Kingdom had agreed to supply about £840,000 for equipment for research institutions, laboratories and railway training. Under the Colombo Plan Technical Co-operation Scheme, which is additional to what we do through United Nations technical aid, we have contributed to the total of 5,000 places which have already been found for training outside South-East Asia, and also to the 2,500 experts who have given their services in the area. Of these, 621 training places had been found in the United Kingdom by June, 1954, and the services of 155 experts had been offered, of which 111 were accepted.
I hope that the House will agree that that is some contribution to the working out of the Colombo Plan. The emphasis in technical assistance generally for the Colombo Plan is on the expansion of intermediate training facilities in the countries themselves, but much has been done in this country. One point, which is sometimes forgotten when we think of Governmental action, is that many students have come to this country at their own expense. In my recent visit to Asia I was impressed by the number of people whom I had met here in the last 25 or 30 years and the number who wished to send their children to this country for higher education. I hope and believe that this is a continuing contribution which Britain can make.
The next point raised by the right hon. Gentleman concerned S.U.N.F.E.D., or, to give it its full title, the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development. At the Eighth General Assembly last year I a resolution was adopted according to which the Governments of member States undertook to ask their peoples, when sufficient progress had been made in internationally supervised world-wide disarmament, to devote a portion of the savings to an international fund for the economic development of underdeveloped countries. This aim is one which we all support. The United Kingdom supported the resolution, but made it clear that our Government had not envisaged being in a position to contribute until a substantial measure of disarmament had been achieved. That remains the attitude of Her Majesty's Government today.
This complacency is appalling. We are spending £10 on defence for every £1 on world betterment, and the Government say that we can do nothing more to aid these peoples. Millions of them are living in conditions of miserable poverty, but the Government say that nothing can be done until we can reduce our defence expenditure. That is an appalling attitude to adopt.
I could not disagree more with the hon. Gentleman. He makes that point on every possible occasion, and on every occasion we rebut what he says. This country is spending about £200 million this year in helping people overseas. It is a magnificent contribution, and the hon. Member has no right to claim to speak for more than a very few of our people. I believe that the overwhelming majority of opinion in this country feels that we are doing our utmost, within the resources of this small island, to keep the free world free and to help the people in the underdeveloped territories towards a better life.
As I said, that remains the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. It was made quite clear by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in reply to two Questions on 8th November. I think I can let the matter rest there and move to the next point.
Perhaps I may put this rather important point to the hon. Gentleman. We have said that, at the moment, we cannot support S.U.N.F.E.D., but yesterday it was stated that we would support some other organisation. Our policy should be to direct our efforts through the United Nations and not from outside. Why, therefore, this coolness towards S.U.N.F.E.D. and this readiness to pay a limited amount to the other fund?
The so-called "coolness" towards S.U.N.F.E.D. has been made abundantly clear on several occasions. As I hope I have again made clear, our attitude is not one of coolness towards the principle, but a recognition that it is impossible for this country, while carrying its present burdens, to take on these other commitments.
The right hon. Gentleman's second point was in regard to the proposed international finance corporation. He referred to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the right hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I think that the point about this proposal for an international finance corporation on the lines suggested by the United States is that, subject, as the Chancellor said, to these discussions, and to the assurance of appropriate subscriptions from the United States and other members of the World Bank, Her Majesty's Government would be ready, at the appropriate time, to make proposals to take part in it.
My answer to another hon. Member—I think the purpose is possibly not quite clear from the necessarily rather brief reply given—is that this corporation, at the American suggestion, would be organised as an affiliate of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its purpose would be to stimulate private investment in underdeveloped countries by making loans without that guarantee by member Governments which is now required for loans from the International Bank.
That is the point: it would make loans without the guarantee of member Governments as now required by the International Bank. I confess that this is the first time I have heard a criticism of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development—generally called the World Bank—as not being an agency at least so closely associated with the United Nations organisation as to be virtually part of it. It is certainly part of the conception of the United Nations.
One or two important points have been raised by hon. Members about specialised agencies. Those hon. Members were kind enough to notify us that they would raise these points. As was said in detail in the debate in March, we are spending £1⅓ million in support of the specialised agencies, and, as the Foreign Secretary told the House the week before last, we have raised our contribution to United Nations technical aid from £650,000 last year to £800,000 next year.
The next point is rather important following up, as it does, something which, my right hon. Friend said today about colonial currency changes. In the "Financial Times" today there is a report about these changes, on which I should like to make a comment so that the matter may be seen in perspective. Today, my right hon. Friend said that he attaches importance to the Colonial Territories themselves making the maximum use of their own resources in financing development.
Among those resources are the sterling assets, of which an analysis was published last year in Colonial Office Memorandum No. 298. The total of these assets is about £1,450 million, of which currency funds account for £365 million. At present, those currency funds are held in London in the form of investments in United Kingdom issued securities, including some colonial stock. My right hon. Friend has recently told colonial Governments that he would be agreeable in principle and, subject to a review of the individual circumstances of each territory, to a small part of those investments being transferred into locally issued securities.
The currency will, of course, still be fully backed and there is no question of any change in the present arrangements for the automatic redemption of sterling. The purpose of the proposed new arrangement, besides being a convenient method of channelling the Colonies' resources, is to help stimulate local subscriptions to colonial Government loans and to lay the basis of local money markets, which is a point which has been touched on by one or two hon. Members who have suggested that we should encourage the growth of locally-held capital in these territories which are approaching self-government.
I should like to reply to the points raised by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand). His first point related to British Honduras, and he asked what had resulted from the meetings of the People's United Party leaders here in London, what they had said on their return and how they were getting on. The delegation asked foe colonial development and welfare assistance amounting to £3 million for a period of five years from 1955 to 1960, together with a further sum of £2 million for projects which they recognised might not be possible of attainment. They were promised £1¼ million for three years—with a carry-over of £300,000 from the present allocation—which, we think, is as much as is physically possible for the country to spend. The position will be reviewed after two years, to decide what the country should receive of the balance for the five-year period.
At a meeting of the Legislative Assembly on 12th November the members of the delegation expressed their appreciation of what had been done during the London talks. I hope that the basis of understanding and confidence to which my right hon. Friend referred on 4th November will continue. The unofficial members of the Executive Council will assume their new responsibilities for the work of Government Departments on 1st January. I am sure the House will welcome this and will wish them luck in taking on their very important and responsible jobs.
The right hon. Gentleman asked some questions about British Guiana and about the Press conclusions drawn from the statement of 2nd November, asking whether it is clear that Her Majesty's Government are not tied to a specific period, and whether the institution of a Constitution within a period of less than three years, if conditions are judged to be satisfactory, is not ruled out. I confirm that this is so. It is impossible to say how long the period of marking-time will have to last, and Her Majesty's Government considered it desirable to fix a maximum term to the personal appointments of the present members of the Legislative Council. These will, therefore, run for four years from 1st January, 1954, but this will not prevent a return to representative government at an earlier date if conditions improve sufficiently. I hope that we may see a satisfactory outcome from this arrangement.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to ask questions about the administrative and planning staff available for carrying out development programmes, and especially about Mr. Frank A. Brown. The provision of an adequate administrative staff to carry out the development programme is a matter for the Governor in the first place. My hon. Friend the Secretary of State is in constant communication with the Governor on various aspects of this question, and we should like to think that we could persuade Mr. Brown to take a job. I am sure that the whole House, particularly those who know him, will be glad if that is possible.
There is a general shortage of qualified and experienced technical and scientific personnel, but we shall do everything possible to see that British Guiana gets the men it needs. Salaries are being improved and suitable contract terms offered where they are likely to be more attractive, and, in addition, valuable technical assistance is being provided by the American Foreign Operations Administration, who have sent a number of qualified men to assist in various projects for the development of the plan. I am sure that the House will wish success to all those concerned in carrying out the next phase of development there.
My hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) made, if I may say so, an excellent speech, which will be studied with care. We will see whether we can improve the situation. I would point out to him that the World Bank Mission on Nigeria has given a general blessing to the activities of the marketing boards in Nigeria. Its report is expected to be published and on sale in the United Kingdom by next March and, in the meantime, it has been placed in the Library of the House. It says:
On the whole, the operations of the marketing boards 'have benefited the producers of the controlled crops and the Nigerian economy in general. We found that both the producers and the commercial community were satisfied with the working of the system. … In our opinion, the marketing board system is well suited to Nigerian conditions.
Perhaps I may turn to some of the wider financial points which were mentioned in various speeches, including that of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite). I assure my hon. Friend that the points which he raised about the necessity for capital investment are the constant preoccupation of most Departments of State in these days. I have been fortunate enough to see the plans which the Federation is working out. It is a thrilling and challenging prospect which opens up in Central Africa, under the Federal Government and Territorial Governments
within the Federation. It is a question of priorities. Most hon. Members will recognise that we cannot do it all at once; it is a question of deciding what should be given preference. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are doing our utmost to see that the priorities are put in the right order for the benefit of all communities out there and also for the benefit of this country.
May I briefly add up the amounts which have been spent? I gave the total as about £200 million. I have not time—I wish I had—to go into the question of how this is made up. It is rather difficult to get the exact figures because of the over-lapping of accounting and calendar years, for example, but in 1953 we spent on colonial development and welfare, £18½ million; C.D.C., £5½ million; colonial loans, £23½ million; for loans to the Governments of Southern Rhodesia and New Zealand, £10 million each; the Capital Issues Committee authorised private capital issues of £40 million; through the World Bank we released to India and Pakistan from this country £10 million, out of the £60 million for Commonwealth development spread over six years; £10 million to Pakistan in export credits and £400,000 for Colombo Plan technical aid. That is a total of £128 million under those items alone, and, in addition, we released £42 million from sterling balances.
I believe that this debate has been most useful. Despite any mistakes we have made in the past, we think that they have been made in the interests of the community as a whole. We will learn from experience and we hope and believe that this country will continue to play an increasingly important part in the economic development of the free world.