I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I have it, Sir, in Command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty places Her prerogative and interests, so far as they are concerned with the matters in the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.
This Bill seeks to enable provision to be made for the establishment of the Federation of Malaya as an independent sovereign country within the Commonwealth. We have had a long and honourable association together, and this association will continue in the future, though in a new form.
Our relations with Malaya have throughout been based on agreements and treaties. Our power and jurisdiction were acquired by treaty and must be ended by treaty. Our earliest Settlements in Malaya, except for Malacca, were established by consent of the rulers concerned, and the spread of British protection throughout the Peninsula towards the end of the nineteenth century was effected by treaty and not by conquest.
Today, we are setting the seal on this work. We can, with Edmund Burke, rejoice that our ancestors have made the most extensive and the only honourable conquest not by destroying but by promoting the wealth, the number and the happiness of the human race. Today, the thoughts of all of us on both sides of the House are with innumerable friends in Malaya, with Their Highnesses the Rulers, with the Chief Minister and his colleagues, with leaders and others of many races, with administrators, planters and traders of our own race, and with our troops in the jungle.
Our thoughts should also be in a special sense with those of earlier generations whose work has made this Bill possible and who, over many years, have made the Malayan Civil Service—M.C.S.—a service of honour throughout the world. These men set high standards which have been signally maintained by Sir Gerald Templer and Sir Donald MacGillivray and many others who have served with them.
The first British Settlement in Malaya was the trading port of Penang, established by Francis Light for the East India Company in 1786 and confirmed as a British possession in 1800 by the Sultan of Kedah, grandfather—though it was 150 years ago—of the present Chief Minister of the Federation, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Then came Malacca, which was at length, after various to-ings and fro-inns, conceded to Great Britain by the Dutch in 1824. Meanwhile, in 1819, through the inspired leadership of Stamford Raffles, the almost uninhabited island of Singapore became, with the consent of the Sultan of Johore, a British Settlement. These, then, are the British Settlements.
During the next fifty years British control in Malaya remained confined to these three Straits Settlements, but in the 'seventies of the last century British influence was spread throughout the peninsula by treaties with the rulers of the various States. In 1896, the four States of Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Pahang came together as the Federated Malay States. The States of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu and Johore remained outside the Federation but accepted British advisers who over the generations have given such sterling service. All these nine States, however, were quite separate from the Straits Settlements, and have never at any time been British territory. I hope that all who do not realise that fact will ponder a little on the history of the last eighty years.
Then, Sir, came the Japanese invasion in December, 1941, followed by three and a half years of Japanese occupation, followed by proposals in 1946 for a Malayan Union, with a governor and a strong central Government. These proposals, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite know well, aroused a storm of resentment, and in 1948 the Federation of Malaya Agreement was signed, under which a High Commissioner was appointed, a Federal Legislature set up, a considerable degree of authority was ensured for the rulers—acting in consultation with their State Executive Councils, and a form of common citizenship was created. Within this framework, the Settlements of Penang and Malacca remained British territory, and Singapore became a separate Colony under its own Governor.
The Agreement of 1948, therefore, established the constitutional framework within which Malaya has moved towards the status she is now about to achieve of full independence within the Commonwealth. As the House remembers very well, within a few months of the signing of this Agreement came the Communist attempt to take over Malaya by force. Everything, therefore, was concentrated on defeating the Communists. This inevitably delayed the introduction of elections, but constitutional progress was not entirely halted. The member system was introduced in 1951, and, in another capacity at the Colonial Office in the years afterwards, I remember very well how Sir Gerald Templer regarded wise political advance, even at that time of the emergency, as a powerful weapon against the Communists. Other changes were made, and in July, 1955, the first elections were held to the Federal Legislative Council. Then, as the House knows, a sweeping victory was achieved. The alliance composed of the United Malays National Organisation, the Malayan Chinese Association and the Malayan Indian Congress won 51 out of the 52 seats. That was in July. Within a few weeks of this event, and without quite the same majority behind my colleagues and me, I myself went to Malaya in August.
In talks with Their Highnesses the Rulers and with Ministers, we agreed, in principle, that a Commission should be appointed to review the Constitution, and that the terms of reference of this Commission should be discussed at a conference in London—which met in January of last year. At that conference we reached agreement that full self-government and independence within the Commonwealth should be proclaimed by August, 1957, if possible; the proviso "if possible", being put in to protect those on whose shoulders would fall the heavy work of drawing up the Constitution.
We are now keeping to this date. This explains why less time is available to the House—and I am sorry that this is so—for consideration of this most important Bill, but I know that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides know how important it is to keep to the date that we had agreed. Lord Reid was appointed Chairman of this Commission. Its brilliant Report was published in February of this year. The whole House will, I know, be grateful to Lord Reid and to Sir Ivor Jennings from the United Kingdom, and to the other members of the Commission; to Sir William McKell, from Australia; Mr. Malik, from India; and Mr. Justice Abdul Hamid, from Pakistan, for their work.
We are also very grateful to the Governments of Pakistan, Australia and India for their help in making the members of the Commission available; and to the Government of Canada, which responded equally generously, and shared our regret that, at the last moment, medical reasons prevented a Canadian member from joining the Commission.
At this point, I must say one word about a reference in paragraph 3 of the White Paper to the drafting of the present Constitution. The intention in that paragraph was to make clear that the reviewing work of the draftsmen did not involve any alteration of principle or policy, but was concerned solely with wording. In trying to make this clear, I fear that we may, unintentionally, have given the impression that the Commission's drafts did, in fact, contain substantial inconsistencies or ambiguities. This was not so, and it was not our intention to suggest that it was. I apologise to the House and to the Commission if the White Paper in any way gives that impression. We are immensely grateful for the comprehensive and skilful drafts prepared with such care by the very experienced Commission. The fact that the Constitutions as they now stand reflect a different drafting as a whole is chiefly the consequence of the alteration; proposed by the working party in Malaya, the effects of which, naturally, run through the whole of the drafts, and it should not be construed as being in any way critical of the Commission's own invaluable work.
I am also very grateful, and Her Majesty's Government are very grateful, to the many others who have helped to accomplish this immense work in so short a time. They included Officers of this House, and, while the provisions of the Constitution do not necessarily reflect their views, those Officers have at all times given the most helpful advice.
The publication of the Commission's Report was followed by consideration of it here by the United Kingdom Government, by a conference in Malaya, by further talks between delegates from Their Highnesses and from the Ministers with me personally here in London, and resulted in the publication of the official Agreement as Cmnd. 210, which all right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will know well.
The Bill which I am presenting today does not, itself, grant self-government to Malaya, but it enables Her Majesty to enter into an agreement to establish an independent Federation of Malaya, and to provide by Order in Council for the implementation of that agreement. The grant of independence to the Federation presents special constitutional problems and requirements. The present authority of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in Malaya derives from three sources. It derives, first, from the agreements between Her Majesty the Queen and the rulers of each of the nine Malay States, by virtue of which these States are under Her Majesty's protection. Secondly, it derives from the sovereignty of Her Majesty over the Settlements of Penang and Malacca, and, thirdly, from the Constitution of the present Federation contained in the agreement made in 1948 between His late Majesty and all the rulers jointly.
The grant of independence requires that a new agreement should be made between Her Majesty and the Malayan rulers, withdrawing Her Majesty's protection and jurisdiction and agreeing to establish an independent Federation. The future Constitution of the Federation will be scheduled to the new agreement. So the Bill enables Her Majesty to enter into an appropriate new agreement to this end, but provides that the agreement should not be brought into force until the new Federal Constitution has been approved by the Federal Legislature and by the States.
I said that the authority of the United Kingdom Government derived, secondly, from Her Majesty's Sovereignty over the Settlements. This Bill provides for the relinquishment of Her Majesty's sovereignty over Penang and Malacca, and the Federal Constitution provides for their incorporation with the new Federation as two new States.
Penang and Malacca will enter the Federation as equal partners with the other States.
In the view of the Reid Commission which went into this with very great care, and in the view of Her Majesty's Government who, also, have studied it with very great care, this is by far the wisest course in the interests of the people of the Settlements, with whom we have had an especially close and lengthy association. They will be equivalent in status with the other States, and their governors will take their place with the rulers of the Malay States. Needless to say, in an independent Malaya they will be, as the rest of Malaya will be, within the Commonwealth.
I know that a number of hon. Members will have received communications from people in the Settlements who have, of course, every right to circularise Members of this House, but I can assure hon. Members on both sides that immense care and attention have been given to this matter. Throughout the constitutional negotiations, the High Commissioner, who, as head of the Settlement Governments, has kept the members of the Settlement Executive Councils informed of each stage reached in the discussions and has obtained their points of view on matters affecting the Settlements. He paid several visits to Penang and Malacca in February, April and June, and both Settlement Governments have been receiving written reports from time to time on the progress of discussions.
Nor should the House forget that all elected members of both Councils are members of the Alliance Party which forms the Federal Government. They have separately been kept in touch with the negotiations by the Alliance representatives on the working party and the Alliance Government have now had the Constitutions accepted both by the constituent parties in the Alliance and unanimously by the Federal Government, and now, as the House knows, by the Legislature itself, yesterday. I have watched with particular care the interests of those in the Settlements. For example, I have been particularly anxious for the status of those people who are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and in the Settlements, in any new constitutional arrangement.
The Bill also deals with appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and I know that all hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome this provision. The Government of the Federation wish appeals from the Supreme Court of the Federation to continue to lie to the Judicial Committee, subject to the adaptation of the present procedure to take into account the fact that such appeals are at present appeals to Her Majesty in Council, and that after independence Her Majesty will no longer be the fountain of justice in the Federation.
The Bill, therefore, enables Her Majesty to make the necessary provision by Order in Council to give effect to arrangements with the head of the Federation the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, which will allow consideration of these appeals after the Federation becomes independent by means of procedures that are compatible with Malayan sovereignty. Thus, a very valuable Commonwealth link is preserved, and I know that the House as a whole will rejoice that that should be so.
I know that the House recognises the difficulties which faced the Constitutional Commission. The Commission had to listen and take serious note of very many different views and it has discharged its tasks admirably. There were extreme views on the part of some sections of Malayan opinion which are opposed to any political advance on the part of the Chinese people in Malaya. There were equally strong views held by some of the Chinese population demanding absolute jus soli citizenship for anybody born in the Federation and the complete abolition of any distinction between the races.
The constitutional Commission had to find a solution which would work and which would find general acceptance, and in our view it has fully succeeded in its task. The present Federation Constitution represents a genuine compromise worked out between differing sectors. The citizenship proposals, I believe, are a triumph of good sense and tolerance, amidst widely conflicting views, and I believe that the balance struck between Malay and Chinese has been found to he a wise balance.
There are solid guarantees of fundamental liberties to meet Chinese fears of discrimination, with reasonable arrangements to safeguard the special position of the Malayans without injustice to other races. I am conscious that these two aspects of the settlement arouse particular interest in the House, and I hope that I may be forgiven if I devote a moment or two to those two most important matters.
As to citizenship, the House will know what a very difficult problem this is, and how immensely complicated it has proved in many parts of the world in recent years to reconcile different wishes and aims. I believe that this compromise is a fair one. I cannot go into this in great detail, but the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations may do so, if asked, when he replies to the debate. Under this compromise, anyone who is now a citizen of the Federation or who was born in the Federation and is over 18, or is born there after 31st August next, will have citizenship of the Federation as a right.
There is another very important citizenship point to which I briefly referred when I spoke a moment or two ago about the Settlements. Many of the present citizens of the Federation have that citizenship of the Federation because they are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth. They are mostly people from the Settlements of Penang and Malacca. These people, who are British subjects by birth, and value it very much indeed, as well as having Malayan citizenship which they value also, have been most anxious that they should not be required to give up their status as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies in order to continue to be Malayan citizens after independence. On the other hand, Malayans have been opposed to the retention by any of their citizens of a second citizenship on the grounds that dual nationality of this kind might mean a divided loyalty.
The problem has been met in the following way. The Constitution recognises that all citizens of the Federation will, after independence, be Commonwealth citizens. That is, they will have the common status enjoyed by all persons who are citizens of any Commonwealth country. Secondly, no one is required to give up a second citizenship in order to continue to be a citizen of the Federation. Thirdly, they can, however, lose their federal citizenship if of their own will they adopt another citizenship or if they exercise rights in a foreign country which could only be exercised by citizens of that country, or if they exercise rights in a Commonwealth country which are not available to Commonwealth citizens as a whole.
The effect of this last provision is wholly to preserve the rights of those who are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, as well as Federal citizens, since in the United Kingdom no distinction is drawn between citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies and citizens of other Commonwealth countries. Such distinctions as are drawn here are between Commonwealth citizens and aliens.
At the same time, these arrangements, we have agreed, make it clear that the retention of their citizenship of the United Kingdom and the Colonies for certain citizens of the Federation does not give them any special privileges vis-á-vis other Malayan citizens, since the latter, as Commonwealth citizens, enjoy the same rights in the United Kingdom as do citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Thus, the interests of the inhabitants of the Settlements have been preserved in a way fully compatible with the desire of the Federation Government that one section of the population should not have any special privileges vis-á-vis the remainder. I have spoken at some length on this matter, mainly to have it on record, because I realise what a complicated business this is; but if my words have been
found a little difficult of comprehension I would refer hon. Members to a leading article which appeared in the Manchester Guardian on 4th July which, when dealing with this particular point, put in, perhaps, simpler language—admirably done, I thought—the story of this complicated but, I believe, thoroughly sensible arrangement.
Now, a word about the balance achieved between the rights of Malays and Chinese. The special position of the Malays was recognised in the original treaties made by His Majesty in previous years, and Her Majesty Queen Victoria and others with the Malay States. It was reaffirmed when these treaties were revised. It was confirmed in the 1948 Agreement, and reference was expressly made to it in the terms of reference of the Reid Commission. So the Malay privilege clauses in the articles of the Constitution do not, in the main, introduce any precedent, but give recognition in the Constitution to the existing situation. Most hon. Members will, I think, know something of what these privileges are.
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the balance between the rights of Malayan and Chinese citizens, would he mention something about the peculiar position of the Indians there, and say what is to be their position in the future?
If the hon. Gentleman will read carefully what I said, he will, I think, see how clearly the arrangement allows those who enjoy Commonwealth citizenship to be citizens of the Federation.
The question has been asked, I think, whether somebody from Malaya could take part and vote, for example, in an Indian election. I understand that the answer to that question would be that, under India's own laws, no one who has second citizenship of that kind in another territory, quite apart from being a Commonwealth citizen, could take part in an election. I do not think that any handicap is being placed in that way upon anybody by the arrangements which have been agreed.
They will come in in exactly the same way, within the various categories I have mentioned. It would not matter what was their racial background; if they fall into the various categories of being born in the Federation after 31st August, and so on, they would be citizens of the Federation as of right, just like anybody else, whether Malayan or Chinese, or whatever it may be, in the Federation.
I am sorry to press this point, but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, some of us were there and know how serious this matter was. The right hon. Gentleman mentions those born after the 31st August. But what of the others?
I know that it was very serious. As I said when dealing with the matter previously, the arrangement under the new agreement about citizenship will apply to Indians who are now citizens of the Federation, who were born in the Federation and who are over 18, and, equally, to those—Indians or anybody—born thereafter 31st August. All that would apply to Indians equally, and they will have citizenship as of right.
As I said, I believe that a fair balance has been struck between the interests of Malays and Chinese, and I indicated how the special position of Malays enshrined in the new Constitution did not create a precedent because it had been provided for in very many other treaties and arrangements. I was about to say what form these special privileges had taken. In most States in Malaya, there are extensive Malay reservations of land. Elsewhere in States, there are systems of quota for admissions to the public service, a certain proportion having to be Malays. There are quotas for permits or licences to carry on certain businesses. There is preferential treatment for Malays in the granting of scholarships and bursaries and, generally, in education.
The Reid Commission found very little opposition in any quarter in Malaya to the continuance of the present system for a time, and it made certain recommendations which hon. Members will have read. The Alliance Government—this was accepted by the three parties composing the Alliance—wanted a number of changes, which have been made. They relate mostly to quotas in the public service, to permits, scholarships, and land reservations. Very generally, the proposal to review the quotas after fifteen years has been dropped. The responsibility of the High Commissioner is transferred to the Head of State, but—and it is a genuine safeguard for other races—the Head of State will act on the advice of the Cabinet, and the Cabinet is bound to be sensitive to the feeling of public opinion at any time.
In regard to land, the general effect of the changes is to entrench the existing system, though there is a general safeguard that the total area of land in a State declared as a Malay reservation must not at any time exceed the total area of land in that State which has been made available for general alienation. As the Malays form roughly half the population, this seems reasonable in the particular circumstances of Malaya.
I am very glad also to say that the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary and makes proper provision for an independent and impartial public service, and the continued employment, for a time, of its expatriate officers. I know of the relations of affection and trust which exists in so many cases between the expatriate officers and the people whom it has been their delight to serve.
Perhaps I might say a few words about the background of economics. The House rightly attaches great importance to the economic strength of all territories, especially territories which are achieving self-government. The House, quite rightly—perhaps hon. Members of my party are more keen on this than some others may be—believes that economic viability is an essential prerequisite for political independence. Happily, in Malaya, there is, with Singapore, the highest standard of living in South-East Asia, with a per capita total of national income which is exceeded only by Brunei. In ten years, her revenue and expenditure have trebled, and, were it not for the emergency, Malaya, with her up-to-date rubber and tin industry, would have little difficulty in standing on her own feet financially and economically.
Her Majesty's Government have seen with interest the imaginative Malayan development plan, and we recognise that development itself, apart from other vital considerations, is one of the weapons to employ against the Communist terrorists. Moreover, Malaya cannot be expected to stand alone in her big share of the fight against international Communism. We have accordingly agreed that in the live years 1957–61 Malaya could get from the United Kingdom up to £20 million to help in the emergency.
Hon. Members know of the most valuable association—valuable from all our points of view—of Malaya with the sterling area. We know of the great contribution which Malaya has made—a surplus in the last five years, 1950–55, with the dollar area of about £500 million, and sterling balances in the same period increasing by about £110 million. This is a very remarkable contribution to the stability of the sterling area. As a member of the sterling area, Malaya intends to maintain her connection with this secure, stable and widely convertible currency in which the larger part of the world's business is done. She can thereby enjoy access to the London market for raising loans and can conduct her financial transactions with the minimum of difficulty. While we recognise gladly the great contribution which the Federation makes to the strength of the sterling area, the Federation, too, is seized of the advantages of remaining in it. The Federal Government have declared that it is their intention to do so, and that they are resolved to order their policies in conformity with the principles of membership of the sterling area and to do all in their power to increase Malaya's contribution.
Meanwhile, as a further evidence of the practical approach of the Federation Ministers to the problems of the world, the House will know of the negotiations that have been going on for a defence agreement between Her Majesty's Government and Malaya. Sensible arrangements are being made for the defence of their country in association with the United Kingdom. An agreement is being prepared which fully recognises the independence of the Federation and in no way derogates from her sovereignty.
The war against the terrorists in Malaya is ten years old. Though greatly reduced, terrorism still exists, and I know that Federation Ministers and others are very alive to the danger that the terrorists may try in other ways to achieve what the have failed to do by force. The Federation Government have made it clear, however, that they are resolved to continue the campaign until the terrorists are finally extirpated.
The direction of the emergency campaign is at present a joint responsibility of Her Majesty's Government and the Federation by virtue of our ultimate responsibility for the defence and security of the Federation. After 31st August Her Majesty's Government will be relieved of that responsibility and it will pass entirely to the Government of the Federation. So it is necessary to agree with the Federation Government special arrangements to govern the participation of British Forces in emergency operations after independence to ensure that the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government for the individual Service man are fully respected. The Federal Government have freely admitted that this is a proper concern for Her Majesty's Government to have, and I confidently expect that the terms of the agreement on these arrangements will fully meet our requirements.
In this and in defence matters generally, Australia and New Zealand, whose share in the Commonwealth strategic reserve is very important, have, of course, been fully consulted at every stage. As for finance for defence, I said earlier that we were ready to spend up to £20 million in five years to help forward the war against the terrorists, and the expansion of the Federation's own armed forces has this January drawn from the British Government the promise of an increase in the grant, originally £7 million, to £14 million.
In all these discussions, as, indeed, in every contact that I and my colleagues have had with the Ministers and Administration in Malaya, we have found continual evidence of their statesmanlike approach to problems, of their staunch opposition to Communism, and of their wise and tolerant outlook in complicated racial and other matters. No one who has had official or personal dealings with Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues could fail to realise the quality of these men and, as the House knows, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in their communiqué a few days ago spoke of Malaya in this way:
The Commonwealth Ministers noted that the Federation of Malaya was on the eve of attaining independence. They extended to the Federation their warm good wishes for its future, and they looked forward to being able to welcome an independent Malaya as a member of the Commonwealth on the completion of the necessary constitutional processes.
This Bill is one of these necessary processes. In commending it to the House I should like, as the last Secretary of State for the Colonies who will have responsibility for Malaya, to reaffirm our trust in the leaders in Malaya and our confidence in the future of their country.
I am sure the House will join with me in thanking the Secretary of State for the Colonies for a clear exposition of what is an extremely complicated situation and a very complex constitution. The right hon. Gentleman rightly said that this occasion must recall memories to all those who have visited this lovely land. I was privileged to go there only once, six weeks after becoming Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the tough days of the emergency in 1950. I join with the right hon. Gentleman in paying tribute to all those who have made this day possible. I also join with him in paying tribute to the service rendered by Sir Gerald Templer and the present High Commissioner.
However, we should all be neglecting our duty if we did not think of others as well. I am thinking particularly of three who gave their lives in the service of Malaya—Sir Edward Gent, perhaps the best loved High Commissioner Malaya has had, Sir Henry Gurney, who was brutally assassinated whilst carrying on his work, and General Briggs, who, of course, was the originator of the Briggs Plan to resettle the squatters, who were part of the problem. All three have now gone, but they rendered a great service to Malaya.
Hon. Members will agree with me that the success of this venture has depended entirely on getting the representatives of the three major communities to work together. When I was in Malaya I remember being asked one evening by the then Commissioner-General for the United Kingdom South-East Asia, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, to attend a meet- ing of an informal group he had established which had been given the title of "Communities Liaison Committee." It was not an official body but just a group of representatives of the Malays, Chinese and Indians which met in his house at his invitation. Great service was rendered by bringing these people together and thereby establishing the foundation upon which the alliance was built. This country owes a debt of gratitude for the work done and the services rendered by Mr. Malcolm MacDonald in this political development, and I think this will be echoed in Malaya and Singapore and elsewhere.
The establishment of independence in Malaya is a great venture. It is one of the crucial parts of the world where democracy is on trial, and, indeed, is fighting for its life. It is a great thing to be able to establish Malaya as an independent country on foundations which we all believe will develop ultimately into a full democracy. I believe, therefore, that Malaya and ourselves are not only rendering great service to the people of the Federation, but that we have an opportunity of establishing a strong, viable democratic State which will be of immense influence in that part of the world. Therefore, I join in welcoming this Bill to which we shall give our fullest support and help in every way possible to get it on the Statute Book at the earliest moment.
I shall not speak at great length about the Constitution. After all, it was a tremendous job. First a Federation had to be made out of nine separate States, each with its own ruler, who is not only a civil ruler but is also the head of religion within his territory, with all the deep-rooted traditions that go with such a system. Then those nine States had to be linked with the two Settlements, at the same time retaining their autonomy, in order to create a Federation. That, in itself, was an extraordinarily complicated job.
There had been other attempts. The Secretary of State himself referred to one which occurred when my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) was Secretary of State for the Colonies. That attempt at Malayan union failed; perhaps it was premature. The problem now is to secure that the rights of the States and their autonomy are preserved in such a way that it does not prevent a really strong viable Parliament working.
The Constitution attempts to do that. It also has to take into account the fact that there are three major communities—the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians—each community having its own religion, its own language, its own customs and its own traditions. The Constitution has had to take full account of those and has had to reconcile all the traditions which are so deeply part of their life which they wanted to safeguard.
We all know that the Constitution is complicated, and it would be easy to spend our time today picking holes in it. The important thing is that the Constitution has been agreed. There are some things in it that many of us would like to see removed. On the other hand, there are some things not in it which we would like to see included. The Reid Commission, to whose work I also pay tribute, was wise in view of its recommendations, most of which are embodied in the Constitution, to suggest that at the end of a period—I believe, Fifteen years—the provisions might be reviewed. I think it might have been wise to accept that.
In paying tribute to all the leaders of the three communities who have participated, it has to be appreciated—I am sure that our Malayan friends will appreciate this—that the leaders of the Chinese and of the Indians have certainly shown great statesmanship, because the communities which they represent are under disabilities. It would have helped to strengthen and maintain their influence among their communities had there been provision that after experience over a period—as the Reid Commission suggested, fifteen years—there would be an opportunity of a review. There it is.
The Constitution is a whole series of checks and balances and a compromise to try to reconcile one interest with another. Having read it more than once and tried to understand it—I thank the Secretary of State for helping me to understand it better—I would say to everybody in Malaya on merdeka that when I read the Constitution and think of it in operation, the Old Book is true:
the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
I hope, indeed, that the spirit which has made this day possible—a spirit of tolerance, good will and understanding of each other—will prevail, because it is upon that that the future depends.
I have one point to raise on the Constitution. It may be a Committee point, but I mention it now so that the Under-Secretary may have the opportunity to answer it when he replies. I have received a cable from Malacca which I think I should read to the House. It is essential as far as possible to satisfy all the people who feel anxiety and concern. This is a cable from Tankeegak—I pronounce these names as in Welsh, and I am generally right—who is Chairman of the Malayan Party, Malacca, says:
Essential that Penang and Malacca Legislatures be included in Section one subsection three of Malaya Independence Bill to approve new Federation Constitution. Grossly unjust to omit both settlements. Demand referendum accordingly.
I say nothing about the referendum—it has been approved—but perhaps the Under-Secretary will deal with the point about the Settlements not being included in Clause 1 (3) and allay, as I hope he can, the anxiety expressed in that cable.
When merdeka comes at the end of next month, it will not be the end of the road for Malaya. It will be the end of one stage of the road only and the beginning of another. It is of vital importance for the people in Malaya, and, indeed, for us, who today will, I am sure, give a unanimous Second Reading to the Bill, that they should be successful. I have no doubt that in the short run success will depend almost entirely upon the maintenance of the alliance that has made it possible to bring the Constitution about.
Looking beyond the immediate future, however, I think that the success of this very great adventure will depend upon making political independence a reality for the mass of the people. In particular, I would say it depends upon political independence coming to mean something very real in the life of the peasants in the rural areas, of the villagers in their kampongs, the workers in the mines and on the plantations, and of the ordinary people of the country.
One of the organisations which has played its part in bringing the three communities together is the Malayan trade union movement. I remember being privileged to be its guest way back in 1950 and to learn that the Malayan Trades Union Congress, in order to be able to preserve the sense that all its people belonged to one human race and were all in one trade union movement and that it was essential all the time to symbolise the unity of all the communities, decided that all their offices should be held in rotation by a member of each community—Malay, Chinese and Indian.
I would also like to pay my tribute to someone who was asked by my right hon. Friend and myself, and, I think, by the Secretary of State too, to give assistance. I refer to a railwayman from Battersea, London—John Brazier. We usually think of the big people, the commissioners and all the rest. Let us pay tribute to this worker, a good trade unionist and a member of the N.U.R., who went out and helped to build the foundation of the trade union movement. He has played his part too. Success will depend very largely upon whether, following political independence, reality is given to this beginning. We know that the people want higher living standards and expanded social services. These will be essential if independence is to mean something real to the workers in Malaya.
It is important also to provide in Malaya suitable opportunities for service to the increasing number of young men and women who are coming from the universities and colleges. There are now 1,600 students at the University in Malaya. Many of them—not only Malays, but all communities—come to this country and elsewhere to be trained. We are, therefore, helping to create an increasing number of young men and women with gifts, talents, knowledge and skills—and how important it is that they should be provided.
One of the dangers in all these countries as they reach independence is the political danger of an educated class that becomes unemployed. It is important that after these people have been in college and university for three, four or five years and return home there should be some opportunity or post for them and., therefore, the hope of expanding the living standards of the workers and the peasants and the hope of providing an opportunity of serving their country in posts which are suited to the attributes and talents of the younger people.
All these things are of immense importance. That is why I say to the Secretary of State that we on this side realise that, if political independence is to be a reality, it must be accompanied by economic and social development. The two go together. For this reason, I come now to speak about Malaya and its future.
The Secretary of State was right. What we have to remember when we consider what we can do to help Malaya in the future is that we are immensely in her debt. She has been and, I believe, still is the largest dollar-earner in the Commonwealth. In the twelve years since the war, we have faced great difficulties in maintaining the dollar balance in our trade. What should we have done without Malaya? This is true not only of ourselves but of all the countries in the sterling area.
Malaya has been one of the buttresses of the sterling area. The figures of the balances quoted by the Secretary of State are an indication of the debt which we still owe to Malaya. Therefore, I hope that we shall be generous in our aid to this new State after merdeka in order that she may face and solve the problems in front of her and in order that she may be able to do what is so badly required, namely, to raise the standard of life of her people as rapidly as possible.
Let us consider what will be the position of Malaya after Merdeka. The revenue has trebled within the last few years. Last year it was £90 million, but as a matter of fact it had fallen by £7 million because the price of rubber went down. The biggest contribution that Western countries can make to Malaya's economic success is by the provision of some stability to the prices of her primary products. The biggest contribution that we have made so far to help many of her territories is the conclusion of the sugar agreement, by which we ensure a guaranteed price.
But Malaya suffered a £7 million drop in revenue last year because the price of rubber went down—a price over which the merchants of New York and London exercise control, and not the Malayan people. Her revenue is now £15 per head, as compared with our £100 per head. Of that sum 17½ per cent. is spent upon security and military expenditure. Only what she has left after that can she use to promote economic development and social services, and I hope that we shall remember that fact.
This brings me to another point, about which I want to ask the Minister one or two questions. By our present arrangements two things will happen to Malaya on 1st September. First, she will cease to be entitled to receive further grants from Colonial Development and Welfare Fund, as she is entitled to do by our present legislation. Upon that date we shall say to her, "You are now free. Good luck to you. You are now outside the provisions of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund." Last year Malaya received £633,000 by way of grants from the Fund, and most of that grant was used to help the university. Are we going to help the university in the future? If so, from what fund?
Malaya's university is of very great importance for her, and also for Singapore and the other territories. Last year we gave £500,000 for new buildings and in order to equip the college still further and to establish a greater variety of services to train her people in all the skills that are required. As from 31st August, however, there will be no provision by any State and no fund—unless we provide a special one—to help Malaya. We should think about that matter quite seriously. If we, by our action today, enable Malaya to become independent, her success will he a matter of supreme concern not only to her people but to ours. If she fails it will be our failure as much as hers.
It is because I believe that in the long run her success will depend very much upon her ability to raise the standard of life of her people that I am deeply concerned at the fact that under present arrangements—this happened to Ghana in March; it will happen to Malaya in August, and I presume, to the West Indies when they become a Federation next year—one by one, as they become independent, these territories will fall outside the provisions which these schemes make for monetary help. Can the Minister arrange, under the present legislation, that at any rate some part of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund—that part devoted to research —will still be continued in respect of countries such as Malaya after they become independent, and will it be continued in such a way that the universities of these territories can still be assisted, as well as their social services and educational projects? I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will be able to deal with that point.
Secondly, after 31st July the Colonial Development Corporation will not be allowed to establish any new scheme or to take part in any new project in Malaya, except to the extent set out by the Secretary of State on 1st July, in a Written Answer to a Question put down by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine). In that answer the Secretary of State made a statement about the relationship of the Corporation to Malaya which represented some movement in the right direction, or so I hope. This was not said when Ghana became independent but it is being said now. In his Written Answer, the Secretary of State said:
Her Majesty's Government have decided that, as in the cast of Ghana, the Corporation"—
that is, the Colonial Development Corporation
should not undertake new projects in such territories after independence. The Corporation will, however, be permitted to continue with schemes existing at the date of independence, and if necessary to provide further capital for these schemes after that date.
He then said something about which I hope he or the Under-Secretary will today say something further. He said:
It will also be enabled, on the request of the Government of any independent member of the Commonwealth, to undertake the management of any project on a managing agency basis without commitment of the Corporation funds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st July, 1957; Vol. 572, c. 82.]
What is the precise meaning of that statement? If the Corporation is asked by the Government of Malaya, Ghana or the West Indies to manage a project, will it be entitled to do so if its finance is not provided out of United Kingdom funds? That is as I understand the position. If the World Bank provides money for a project in Malaya and asks the Corporation to manage it, will the Corporation then be entitled to do so? I shall be grateful if the Minister or his Under-Secretary will explain this point.
I should like to see the Corporation's title changed from the "Colonial Development Corporation" to the "Commonwealth Development Corporation," and also to see it given the opportunity, if the Governments of these territories so require, to provide help. In any case, we ought to consider the future of the Corporation.
In regard to Malaya, the question of the Corporation, the Commonwealth Development and Welfare Fund and important matters of that kind will be dealt with by my hon. 'Friend, but the right hon. Gentleman has twice referred to the West Indies and the setting up of a federation next year. For the record—and as there are so many West Indian leaders of great repute in London now, for another purpose—I would like to make it quite clear that there is no question of the Corporation or of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund being prevented from operating in the West Indies next year. What is happening there next year is that a federation will be set up which will, for a time, be a dependent federation, in whose territories the Corporation and the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund would be able to continue to operate.
Very well—but one day they will reach the stage which I have mentioned, even if they will not do so next year. My question therefore remains.
Is it not a fact that the Colonial Development Corporation will find that the area in which it can operate is becoming more and more circumscribed year by year, and should we not now consider whether or not to retain it as an agency? I think that we should retain it, and if we do I think that we should extend its scope, change its name and enable it to act for us and for these other Governments, if they so desire, not only to manage projects but also to take part in financing and encouraging them. I hope that consideration will be given to that point.
I have looked at what the Corporation has done in association with the Government of Malaya, and I note that several schemes of vital importance have been undertaken, such as the scheme which is of great promise for the future—the Kulai Oil Palm Estate Scheme. In its work the Corporation is trying to diversify the economy of Malaya—and it needs diversifying. It is not good for her to rely upon rubber and tin alone. That is one of her great weaknesses, and in the pioneering work that the Corporation has done in establishing the cocoa industry, in association with important private companies from this country, it is making a very big contribution towards the future welfare of Malaya.
I think it is regrettable that, having decided that after 31st of next month Malaya shall become independent, and recognising our debt to her, we shall have no institution through which public funds from this country can flow to Malaya to help her to make a reality of political independence and to raise the standard of living of her people. I think that is a matter which ought to be reconsidered.
There are many hon. Members who want to take part in this debate, so I will conclude by saying only one other thing. The Secretary of State quite rightly, said that this is the tenth year of the emergency. Last year in Malaya sixteen Chinese civilians were killed—and so it goes on. It is a great tragedy that Malaya has to begin her life as an independent State with an emergency still in existence. I think both sides of the House are at one—and have been right through—in their determination to help the Malayan people in every way to defeat the terrorists. Can the Secretary of State tell us if there is some way in which the emergency can be now brought to an end? What a wonderful thing it would be if Malaya could begin on 1st September this new and important chapter in her life in peace?
What a wonderful thing it would be if Malaya were freed of the peril and the anxiety to which her people have been subjected over the last long ten years and of this burden of having to devote 17½ per cent. of her revenue to meeting this peril when there are so many calls on her resources for all kinds of economic and social development.
I wonder—and here I am speaking entirely for myself—whether we might not take one step to end this. I think that the two people in the world to stop this are Marshal Mao Tse-tung and Mr. Chou En-lai. We know something about the background and the setting of the emergency in Malaya. I speak as a member of a Labour Government which was one of the first Governments to recognise the Peking Government. All along I have worked and helped and agitated to bring China within the United Nations and the Security Council. I say to the leaders of the Chinese Government that here we have all parties in this country united in giving support to the establishment of an independent State in that part of the world.
The Chinese Communist leaders can no longer pretend that the terrorists in the jungle are fighting against Imperialism. I say to them: "Why not stop it?" They could stop it immediately. We know that the Malayan Communist Party could not continue fighting in the jungle without help from China.
These are ordinary people, and I speak as a trade unionist as well as a Member of Parliament and a previous Colonial Secretary. I say to the Chinese leaders that here is a country that is now launched on this great adventure of trying to establish a new democratic state in which 1½ million, nearly 2 million of their own people, are taking part. Why should not the Malayan Communist Party end the fighting in the jungle and allow merdeka to develop in peace.
I hope that my words will be heard, read and listened to. We join in giving a Second Reading to this Bill and say to our good friends of Malaya, "Merdeka will be a great achievement and also a great challenge and we send you best wishes for your success."
I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in the last views which he expressed, which were, perhaps, rather outside the debate today.
I think that most hon. Members know that I have certain interests in Malaya. To avoid any ambiguity, perhaps I ha
My visits to Malaya started in 1924. I have made fairly frequent visits there since and I expect to have the honour of going there again next month with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) and representatives of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, so that we can see the great achievement which we and Malaya have been working for over the last eighty years.
As the Secretary of State said, Malaya is a most unusual Colony in that it came to us to manage it by a process of negotiations and not by conquest in any way whatever. I have looked up some of the early negotiations, of which there were many about eighty years ago, and I should like to read an extract showing the friendliness and childlike faith of the Sultans of those days in our ability to secure justice and peace and the development of their country. It is a quotation from a letter from Sultan of Selangor to the Governor of the Straits Settlements in October, 1874. He said:
I inform my friend that I have received my friends letter brought by Mr. Swettenham and have understood all it contains. As to the 1,000 dollars, I will pay that sum monthly to Mr. Swettenham and will be much obliged if my friends will enter it into my country's accounts. As to my friends request that I would enter into an agreement in order that my friend may collect all the taxes from my country, I would be very glad if my friend would set my country to rights and collect all the taxes.
So, eighty years ago, the rulers of the day voluntarily asked our representatives to set their states to rights. I think that we have largely set their country to rights and we are giving independence next month.
The Colonial Secretary referred to the different men who played a great part in Malaya in the intervening period. I wish to mention something about Mr. Swettenham to whom reference was made in the letter from which I quoted. At that time, Mr. Swettenham was a very young civil servant. He was the Sult
In those days, it was Sir Frank's policy to develop communications, road, rail, water, and so forth, and then encourage private enterprise to do the rest. That policy was eminently successful in Malaya and, as has been pointed out today, the great help to the dollar exchange given by Malaya in the last few years has been largely due to that development in rubber and tin production.
The independence which we are giving next month is part of a long-term policy. We were asked to organise the country originally about eight years ago and to give justice, peace and security. Eleven years ago, that great Secretary of State the late Oliver Stanley, whose premature death we all regret so much, stated in this House that we were working rapidly towards self-government for Malaya and the other Colonial Territories. In a speech on 8th March, 1946, he said:
…we are pledged in Malaya, as we are pledged all over the Colonial Empire, to advance in every territory the peoples to self-government. However long it may take—and that will differ with the circumstances of the peoples—we are pledged that we should be there to help the people along the road to governing themselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1946; vol. 420, c. 713.]
That was said eleven years ago. That was part of a long-term established policy supported from both sides of the House which we are realising today. In giving this independence, we realise that the new Government which is emerging will have great responsibilities. We have shared those responsibilities in the past. The new Government will have them in the future.
They must face the great difficulty of unifying the races which has already been referred to this morning. When we took over the country originally, we had to deal only with the Malays themselves. But during the course of developing the tin mines, enterprising hard-working Chinese came in to help and also to assist
So, today, we are faced with the difficulty of unifying three races with justice. That difficulty has been well met in this Bill. Time alone will show how much of a success the Measure will be. The problem has been most difficult and in tractable and I congratulate the Secretary of State in proposing this solution. We all hope that it will work.
We can congratulate the Malayas on having found a great statesman to manage their affairs. Much will depend on him and his responsibility will be great. But those of us who know him have faith in him and we wish him well. He can rely upon our help. I was very glad when last autumn he went out of his way to indicate that British capital in Malaya would be dealt with justly. When countries in other parts of the world have obtained their freedom we have seen that capital has not always been justly dealt with. For that reason there has been a shortage of capital for development. In this case it was mainly British capital which developed the plantations and mines.
We know that there has been a certain hesitation among many British investors regarding their course of action after the liberation which will take place in August. I have the greatest faith in Tunku Abdul Rahman and his Government. I think that British investors would be wise to have a similar faith. We who have known Malaya for so long should know the intentions of the new Government as far as anyone can. But I would add that it will be up to the new Government to show that that good faith is well-founded. It is most important to them to encourage continuous British investment in their country, just as it is important to us to know that we have a secure outlet for capital.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly suggested that Malaya was handicapped by having only two staple products, rubber and tin. That was so many years ago, but, fortunately, it has been otherwise in recent years. There has been a growth in the production of coconuts and p
We all wish the best of luck to Malaya. It is a wonderful country with some of the most fertile soil in the world. It has a wonderful climate and the people are charming. They are beginning a great experiment. They have fine men to lead them, and we wish them well.
The hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) referred to the economic development of Malaya and the fact that it has been a great joint enterprise. It is true that Malaya has the highest standard of living in Asia. This is the first great advantage with which the Federation will start. The second advantage is that it has an excellent Civil Service. The third advantage is that it has wise leaders of the principal races who have to work together if the Federation is to become a real nation.
There are disadvantages, and the principal one was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). It is that the Federation begins its independence with an emergency, there is an irregular army of terrorists still in the jungle. The second disadvantage is the climate of opinion in South-East Asia today towards the Chinese.
We must remember that all the small countries in South-East Asia, such as the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Federation, have Chinese minorities. Many of those minorities have shown themselves unwilling to be assimilated. That was not a great problem to the South-East Asian countries when China was divided, war-torn and weak, but that vast country of 600 million people has now become a world Power.
The rise in the prestige of China and the Chinese has changed the relationship of the Chinese minorities to the small countries in which they live. Added to that we have the effects of the removal of European control—the French from Vietnam, British from Malaya and, in another respect, American from the Philippines. This has increased nationalism and the Chinese have stood out more markedly as unassimilated people. The removal of that influence and the increasing nationalism of those small countries has emphasised religious differences. The Philippines are Roman Catholic, large parts of Vietnam are Roman Catholic, and Malaya is largely Moslem. Great difficulties are raised because of the unassimilated Chinese minorities in those small countries in that part of the world.
The test for the Federation will be whether it can become a real nation in other words, whether the Chinese people in Malaya can become full citizens and work with the Malays, the Indians and the Eurasians to make a new nation. I hope that they can. One of the greatest symbols of that is in the Federation Regiment. Last month I was present at the handing over by Sir Donald MacGillivray of a large new army base in Malacca. It was a present from the United Kingdom to the Federation. The base was received by the Tunku from Sir Donald. Privately and in public the Tunku stressed the fact that in the ranks of the Federation Regiment could be found Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. He commended that to the people as a symbol of the new nation which had been created and which could endure only if the people worked together in that spirit.
As in all these small countries—and countries of South-East Asia are small—the fundamental defence problem is what will happen if ever the 600 million people of China become expansionist. The problem of defence in that case would be formidable. What will the Federation do? The Secretary of State referred to discussions now taking place. I hope that we shall be told when the House will have details of the agreement on defence between this country and the Commonwealth generally and the Federation.
What will the Federation do after its independence? Will it join S.E.A.T.O.? I have seen it discussed in the Press, but I do not know and I am not certain whether S.E.A.T.O.'s disadvantage of acting as an irritant to China is outweighed by its advantages for military defence. We do not know what the Federation will do in this respect, but we know that it will take its share of defence, because it is building its own army.
I welcome the Government's decision as an indication that within certain limits —and it is important that we should know what those limits and conditions are—United Kingdom forces will, at the request of the Federation Government, help the Federation in its battle against the terrorists. When I arrived in Malaya, the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment, which is closely connected with my constituency, had acquitted itself especially well in action against the terrorists. I was able to visit the regiment and to see something of the conditions in which our soldiers, including National Service men, not only work but fight. I hope that we will soon know the precise terms of the arrangement between this country and the Federation for the use of British forces there.
Obviously, in coastal defence the Federation will have to work with Singapore. The local navy is based on Singapore. At the moment, it appears that there will be no Coastal protection. I do not know what will happen. Already, with Indonesia in anarchy, units of the Indonesian navy have been engaged in piracy against fishing vessels from Malaya. All reports from Indonesia are most discouraging for the future of that country and the control of its military forces. Unless there is some agreement between the Federation and Singapore about the use of the local coastal forces, citizens of the Federation will continue to suffer.
The system of government to be introduced in the Federation will be that of two chambers. Once again we are in the position of being able to offer our experience as a Parliament. We do not know all the answers, and already we have seen in the new Parliaments practices and procedures which could well be adopted here. In other words, we, too, have to learn from other places and other Parliaments. However, we have been working the system for some centuries, and I was pleased to find Mr. Fredericks, the Clerk of the Malayan Legislative Council, here on a C.P.A. course learning something about our procedure and practice.
However, Erskine May is not a guide to democracy. It is a technical handbook and it is most important that the spirit behind our Parliamentary institutions should be appreciated. When John Bright referred to the "Mother of Parliaments," he was referring to the country not to the institution. He said that England, not Westminster, was the "Mother of Parliaments." It must be remembered that people get the institutions and the type of Parliament which they deserve.
We always have young men and women from Malaya studying in this country. Many of them are studying to be lawyers.
Perhaps, but these law students are exposed to our constitutional history and constitutional law. Those who are studying other subjects, especially those who are not studying the humanities but who are reading scientific and technical subjects, should have the opportunity during their years in this country to learn something about the background of our Parliamentary system.
A private institution, the Hansard Society for Parliamentary Government, has been providing the background for a study for students from West Africa. I hope that it will have the resources to do it for students from Malaya, too. I am sure that all hon. Members will agree, that today we are sending a message of good will and affection from the people of this country to the people of Malaya —Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians—who are tackling a formidable task. They must achieve two things. They have to build a new self-governing nation within the Commonwealth and they have to set up a democracy in Asia. There are few democracies in Asia. They are setting out on a brave voyage.
I am grateful for this opportunity to say a few words of welcome to this Measure. It is a Bill which will very greatly affect the future of this small but, as the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) rightly said, crucial and, certainly, very beautiful country in Asia. I am quite sure that anyone who knows Malaya and the Malays cannot fail to feel a great affection for the country and its people or to wish them a happy and prosperous future.
It is satisfactory that all parties in the House are agreed that the time has come when we in this country can safely ask the Malayan peoples to undertake the duties and responsibilities, as well as the privileges, of governing themselves. Nobody in Malaya will be any freer after 31st August, but they will have achieved independence and the duty of governing themselves. We are all agreed on that. As has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow), this is the culmination of policy over a long period.
Most of the territory with which we are concerned today has never been part of Her Majesty's Dominions, but this country has been very largely responsible for the welfare of Malaya, by virtue of treaties between Her Majesty and Their Highnesses the Rulers. But two of the States of the new Federation, and I greatly regret that I cannot say three, have been for 150 years part of Her Majesty's Dominions and their people have been some of Her Majesty's most loyal subjects. I refer to the Settlements of Penang and Malacca. I am quite satisfied that my right hon. Friend and his advisers have taken the utmost care to ensure that in doing what we believe to be right for the country as a whole we are doing no wrong to any of its people.
I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations one or two questions. The first deals with the extremely complicated subject of citizenship. If I understand the matter aright, the position is that citizenship of the Federation carries with it citizenship of the Commonwealth. It can be obtained by two methods, the first of which is by operation of law. There are two categories of people who have or will acquire citizenship by operation of law. The first category consists of those born within the Federation on or after Independence. Day. Therefore, this is a problem which, though difficult and complicated, must be solved by time.
The second category of persons who have acquired citizenship by operation of law is that of those who are already citizens. They will remain citizens. According to the Malayan Mirror of 2nd May, the Chinese people in that category already number over 1½ million. If that figure is correct, there remain three-quarters of a million Chinese in the Federation who are not now citizens. What is proposed for them? We must surely all agree that it is fair that they must choose and, having chosen, that they must expect fair treatment. If they wish to become Chinese Malayans they must swear undivided loyalty to the Federation, and they must undertake not to exercise any rights of a citizen of any other country, if they happen to be citizens of any other country. That is perfectly fair, but what do they do to become citizens? It is the second method that applies to them, the method of registration as opposed to the operation of law. Four categories of people are affected by this. The first category is that of existing citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. I am sure that everybody in the House was glad to hear my right hon. Friend say that they would remain citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and could keep their British passports. But these people also have a right to be registered as citizens of the Federation if they claim that right within a year.
The second class consists of the wives and children of existing citizens. I will not deal with them now. The third is composed of those born in the Federation but who are not now citizens. If such persons have not renounced or been deprived of citizenship, they shall be registered as citizens of the Federation provided they comply with certain conditions. The first is that they are 18 years of age or over. My right hon. Friend gave me the impression that that was the only condition that had to be fulfilled. That is not my impression, though I may be wrong. I should like the Under-Secretary to deal with the point when he replies. My impression is that would-he citizens horn in the Federation must not only be 18 years of age or over, hut must be of good character, as defined in the Constitution, and must have resided in the Federation for five out of the preceding seven years. The fourth condition is that he must pass a language test in Malay if he does not apply for citizenship within one year.
I do not think my right hon. Friend meant to imply that the qualification of being 18 or over was the only qualification. He referred to it as the main and most important of the qualifications. Otherwise, in accordance with Article 16, my hon. Friend is correct in the other qualifications that he has mentioned.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I apologise for having misunderstood my right hon. Friend. But the argument of some of the Chinese in Malaya, which has reached our ears is that the principle of jus soli should apply retrospectively.
The Reid Commission Report states:
We are not satisfied that it is entirely possible or desirable to provide that all those who are born in Malaya, whatever be the date of their birth, wherever they may be now, and whatever be their present nationality, should be retrospectively made citizens of the Federation by operation of law.
I respectfully agree with that sentence.
The fourth category for citizenship is that of persons who are not now citizens and were not born in the Federation. Such people may acquire citizenship by a process described by the Reid Commission as akin to naturalisation. They have to have lived there for eight out of the previous twelve years, to have passed a language test unless they are over forty-five, and, finally, the appropriate Minister must approve of their application to be registered as citizens. That, of course, could lead to racial discrimination; but there is absolutely no reason why it should.
If I have got all that right, I think the conditions are fair enough and represent a most reasonable and sensible compromise. After all, these Chinese have migrated into the land of another, and that other land is Malaya. The Queen's Chinese have been and will remain loyal and useful citizens of the country of their adoption. I think they should be the first to welcome any safeguards against too easy facilities for those of their race who may own allegiance elsewhere.
There are other questions I should like to put to my hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate. The first has already been asked by the right hon. Member for Llanelly. I imagine that many of us have received telegrams about the inclusion of the two Settlements in Clause 1 (3). I entirely agree with the question put by the right hon. Member and should like to ask it myself. Secondly, ought it not to be an obligation on the Paramount Sultan—not having Welsh I cannot pronounce his name in Malayan—
Ought it not to be an obligation on the Paramount Sultan to appoint a citizen of Penang or Malacca as the case may be as the Governor of those States? Thirdly, why do Her Majesty's Government reject the Reid Commission's proposal that the Chinese and Indian languages should be used in the legislature for at least ten years? Fourthly, as they object to that proposal, are there to be interpreters in the Legislative Assembly? Fifthly, why are there to be any nominated members of the Senate?
Lastly, what exactly are the terms for the people called "expatriate" officers? That is not a very elegant term to describe one of the most magnificent and worthy bodies of men. They and their predecessors have brought Malaya to the condition it is now in. It is the work of such of our fellow-countrymen which is stigmatised by the Russians and the Americans as colonialism and imperialism, but if either Russia or America had done half the good to other peoples of this world that this country has done they might have some cause to speak. I think the House ought to be told that Her Majesty's Government are satisfied with the terms which are going to be offered to these expatriate officers.
In conclusion, I must pay tribute to the amazing patience and perseverence of the Colonial Secretary. I do not know how he does it. He has 40-odd territories to govern, all in different stages of development. When one looks at Scotland, which has six whole-time Ministers of the Crown, one is forced to the conclusion that that country must be one of the most expensive of all Her Majesty's Colonial Territories.
The fact is, as this Malayan newspaper also says:
Independence is being attained without bad feeling and bloodshed.
That is due largely to the prescience and wisdom of my right hon. Friend and also of Tenku Abdul Rahman, whom I may perhaps presume to call my friend because we were at Cambridge at the same time. As all who know him must agree, he is a wise, humane, just and far-sighted statesman. Malaya is very fortunate indeed to have him at the helm now. I
am quite certain we can confidently leave the happiness of all Malayans in the competent hands of Tenku and his colleagues. They know as well as I know that the Chinese-Malayans and Indian-Malayans can and will contribute enormously to the well-being of their country. Self-interest alone, although there is much more, should ensure that those other races receive fair play and that they are welcomed as partners in the new venture. I would only express the wish that in the near future the Tenku will feel able to welcome Singapore into the Federation as a twelfth state.
This is a great and unique occasion. Although it may not appear so, we are hailing the birth of a new nation. It is a pleasure to me to say something about the Federation, which is now in its last stages before it becomes a new, independent nation. It has been waiting for this for a long time with impatience and now it accepts it, as we in this House accept it, with a great deal of joy.
I had great pleasure in visiting the Federation some years ago. A great impression was made on me as I looked on that beautiful country, with its wide rivers, its jungles, its mountains and great plantations and its lovable people. I shall never forget my impression of them. Since that time I have watched the growth of the nation, its political growth, its industrial growth and, particularly, the growth of the trade union movement. I went out to hold an inquiry for the Government of that time on the development of the trade union movement and I brought hack a report on that development. I am pleased to say that, as we have heard from the Government Front Bench this morning, one of our great trade union advisers, Mr. Brazier, is doing a wonderful work in Malaya.
I was at Singapore when the first election took place for representatives to the Legislative Assembly. They were electing six representatives by a ballot vote for the first time and I watched the election take place. I was at Kuala Lumpur when the Legislative Assembly was opened by that remarkable man of whom we heard this morning, Governor Gent. I have watched the development since then and been very impressed by what was taking place.
What impressed me most in Malaya was the urge for self-government that I found among the ordinary people. They did not want colonialism. Colonialism has done a great work, but they felt that the time had come to move on to self-government. I saw among them that urge for self-government, that eagerness to become a nation, which is natural to all people. We who have so many Colonies have to give heed to the urge that we find among those people.
We must now give attention to the future and give the people of Malaya all the encouragement that we can possibly give them. I feel that we have delayed a long time in producing this Bill. We were rather afraid of the future, and it was fear of the future which prevented us from giving independence to Malaya earlier rather than an inability to do so. By this Bill, I believe, we shall convert the hatred of a large number of people into respect and a feeling of vengeance into gratitude for what we are doing. These people are arriving at the horizon which they have had in front of them and to which they have aspired for many years. When they have reached it, they will look forward to some further horizon in the future.
In the progress of the world there can be no stop. In our colonial development we must go on and on. We have had the development in India, Pakistan and Ceylon, followed recently by the independence of Ghana; and today we have the birth of a new nation in Malaya. Shortly, we shall have before the House a Bill to give independence to Singapore. I hope that it will not be long before a similar Bill is placed before us to deal with Cyprus—that is a problem with which we shall have to deal sooner or later—and a Bill to deal with the other African territories.
We are making progress. I listened carefully to the Minister's speech, which was remarkably comprehensive and gave us information about the development of the Federation and the independent States. It appears that Malaya has already written two books, one for the period of the independent States and the second when the British Government became the defender of that country. Now. Malaya is to enter into another stage where she will start to write a third book. In the past, the people of Malaya have weathered very stormy seas. I hope that we may now find the waters much calmer and the seas more serene than they have been. They know, as well as we know, that in accepting independence a great task lies before them, perhaps greater than either of us realises. The changes of the future in Malaya will not rest upon this House and what we do here; it will rest upon what is done by the people in Kuala Lumpur. The independent Federation of Malaya will have a very important task—the task of making the democratic Constitution work. May the leaders who will be thrown up in this society be equal to the task which they have to undertake. From what I have seen of most of them, from their sincerity and their good will, I am certain that they are bound to succeed. I feel that when they are thrown upon their own resources they will have greater confidence than they have had in the past.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not here, because I want to congratulate him on his patience and on the completeness of the agreement which he has achieved. It was no easy task. We had the citizenship problem, of which we have heard this morning, the religious problem, the variety of languages in the various States, the different traditions which exist and the three nations—the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians; all these problems have been dealt with by him very successfully, and I want to congratulate him on achieving this agreement.
As one who has probably asked him more Questions about Malaya than anyone else in the last few years, I want to take this opportunity to thank him for the readiness with which he has answered my Questions and supplementary questions. Sometimes the brevity of his replies, when he has said, "No, Sir" or "Yes, Sir", has disarmed me. They could not have been much more brief, unless he had said "Yes" or "No". Sometimes, when he gave a longer reply, he confused me, and sometimes he irritated and bewildered me, because the information which he gave was contrary to that which I had received. Of course, the sources of our information were quite different, and I can understand that the people who gave the information looked at the problems through different glasses.
Nevertheless, I want to thank the Minister for the courteous way in which he has answered my Questions in the past. Sometimes I felt that he was unduly cautious in the way in which he handled them and sometimes I felt that he thought my Questions were carping criticisms rather than seeking for information. May I assure him that they were not carping criticisms, but were sincere and that all my Questions were put in order to help the people of Malaya?
When I was there I promised to bring before the House their problems when it became necessary, and I have carried out that promise and the Minister has dealt with the Questions. I do not think I shall have any more Questions to put to him about Malaya, and in that respect I shall have to apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, in view of the fact that Malaya is to be granted independence next month.
I want to support the appeal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) to the insurgents. They have had ten years of struggle in the jungle, and the time has come for them to give up. There is nothing for them to fight for. They have independence and they will be able to vote in the ballot box. They can elect their Governments in the proper way and change them in the proper way, if they desire. If our words can reach them—and I hope that they will—then I urge these men in the jungle to give up their struggle and to help to build a new and happy State.
I hope that Malaya will be happy and prosperous in the future and that she will see an early end to the jungle warfare. I hope that Great Britain will not cease to help the Federation, but will continue to help with finance, advice and comradeship, and I hope that Malaya will decide to remain in this great Commonwealth of ours, not only immediately but in the future, because I feel that that will be to our mutual advantage.
Knowing Malaya as I do, I have confidence in the future of the country. I am confident that they will make democracy work in that part of the world. Let this message go to the Malayan Government when they meet: they have in Malaya some people whom we have forgotten—20,000 aborigines. I saw them in the jungle and met them there—and I do not want the Government of Malaya to forget that there are 20.000 aborigines in the country. I also saw the leper settlements; there are 10,000 lepers to be looked after in the country. I hope that there is no need to remind the Government which will be set up in Malaya that they have these people to look after.
Nothing is permanent, nothing is static. We move on all the time. Just as, in the Olympic Games, one runner hands on the torch to the next, so we, by our act today, are handing on the torch to a new nation, a nation with freedom, democracy and liberty, and I hope that the work of that new nation will be crowned with the success that it deserves.
I join most heartily in the general welcome given to this Bill. I should like to add my congratulations to those that have already been expressed to all those, both in this country and in Malaya, who have played their part in working out the details of this new Constitution. Particularly do I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on his wise judgment and splendid leadership which, I feel sure, have contributed greatly to the smoothness with which the negotiations have been carried through.
I suspect that the success of this movement has been helped by the general atmosphere prevailing in South-East Asia, arising from the experience of the years of those other countries there that have been following the same road to self-government and independence. I think particularly of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. I believe that we ourselves gained from that experience, that it has helped us to decide the course to follow, and that on the other side it contributed substantially to the building up of confidence in our good intentions in that part of the world.
I believe that that experience may, perhaps, have helped Malaya to avoid what I refer to as the tragedy of Burma. That Burma is not a member of the Commonwealth is something which those of us who know the country regret very deeply. There are many also in Burma itself, I am sure, who share that feeling. I blame no one for it, but I confidently believe that if those who made that decision to leave the Commonwealth had, at that time, had the experience which has subsequently been gained, we should have had Burma in the Commonwealth today—an independent nation sitting with the other Commonwealth nations of South-Eat Asia and having her voice in its councilsl
Happily, that situation has not arisen in Malaya, and it may be that it never would have arisen. We are fortunate to have the prospect of having Malaya with us, helping to offset the danger of encroachment from China, to which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) referred. Many most difficult problems have had to he settled in Malaya, and only time will show with what success they are being tackled—problems arising from the mixed population, from the many units of different characters which are involved, differences of religion and of language, and the great difficulty of citizenship, to which reference has been made.
There are many problems of citizenship which must cause great difficulty in ensuring that justice is done to all sections of the people in Malaya. Some of us can hardly avoid a twinge of regret that Penang and Malacca will no longer owe direct allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, but our regrets quickly pass from us when we contemplate the great issues that are involved. When, as individuals we come of age, our parental relationships are apt to change, and a wise and generous parenthood will have its reward in a happy relationship in later life.
As with individuals so, I am sure, it is with States. We have this State, young in the process of Parliamentary development, coming out into the world and, as was so ably said by my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow), I feel certain that our actions in the past will reap their reward in the future. In granting self-government to a country there must always be an clement of faith but what augurs so well for Malaya is that those who know the country best are so confident that that faith is well founded.
This is a great occasion for the House and for our country. Indeed, it is a majestic occasion for the world, because the Communist forces have always insisted that if there was one Colonial Territory withing the British Empire that would never achieve its freedom and self-government without bloody civil war it was Malaya. They insisted on arguing, from the Marxist point of view, that because of the mighty dollar contribution that Malaya's rubber and tin made to the balance of payments of the sterling area, this House would never agree voluntarily to assist these people towards their liberation.
That is why I call this a majestic occasion. It proves that so many of those people who have caused unnecessary trouble in the world to be quite wrong. It is important to the people of this country, because it is a Conservative Government which is responsible for this Bill, and I think that is characteristic of the era in which we live. When a Conservative Government is willing to break from its colonial past and move towards the acceptance of the great revolution of our times, which is the peaceful revolution of colonial peoples, it seems to me that this country is great.
We shall always be a great country when the two major parties in our nation are prepared to accept the fact that colonial peoples are entitled to a place in the sun and are entitled to run their own countries in their own way, and when this House, in spite of traditional vested interests which are substantial, is willing to assist this great movement towards human freedom. That is why I repeat that this is a great occasion for this House, for the country and for th world.
The demand of colonial peoples for freedom just cannot be halted. No force in this universe can stop it. It cannot be halted by violence, and we shall continue to give leadership in this way in so far as we are ready to accept that great movement of peoples in the undeveloped areas of our Colonial Empire; and in so far as we assist them and make these great changes in democratic development we are giving moral leadership to the world—a leadership which, in my view, is much more important than colonial leadership or colonial domination. Like my right hon. and hon. Friends, I am delighted to support this Bill.
One or two observations should be made. One relates to the economy of Malaya. It is a wealthy country, but its economy is greatly unbalanced. Its reliance on natural rubber and tin seems to me to be a great disadvantage in the future. I do not think natural rubber will compete with the new synthetic rubbers of the future. I believe that in modern synthetic rubber factories, by means of automation and electronics, about 5,000 chemical workers can produce as much synthetic rubber in a year as the whole rubber plantation population of Malaya is able to produce by natural means in the same period. Synthetic rubber will, I believe, play an increasingly greater part in world commerce and trade than natural rubber is likely to do.
When man produces synthetic material he is able not merely to copy nature but to eliminate the disadvantages created by nature. There is now a whole range of synthetic rubbers made for special purposes that will make increasing inroads on the main income of Malaya. I make that observation because I believe it is vitally important that agriculture in Malaya should be developed increasingly and to a greater extent than is envisaged at the moment.
Again chemists can make man-made metals out of the air and from minerals from the waters of sea, which will increasingly take the place of expensive tin, and so in the foreseeable future the technical and scientific revolution which is taking place in this world might very seriously undermine the basic wealth of this new Federated State.
If that is true—it may be questioned, but nevertheless there are factors that have to be considered—it is not enough for us to maintain the existing policy whereby when Colonial Territories are liberated and they win their independence, their relationship with the metropolis here in London ceases. It is vitally important that during these transitional periods we should have a policy for continual development and the more territories within the British Commonwealth that are helped towards self-government the more we shall see the necessity for such a policy.
It is fantastic for us to liberate a great territory which is still much underdeveloped, and perhaps lose that territory from the free world or from the British Commonwealth because we have not maintained a link by means of colonial development funds. For a comparatively small sum of money we may, having won great victories, move right into severe defeat. These new territories can be recolonised either politically by Communism rising out of economic collapse, or financially by America, by the penetration of dollar loans and development funds.
We should therefore give more consideration to this problem. We need a policy to enable us to continue to expand the work that we have already done by means of the investment of comparatively small sums of money. The sum required will not amount to hundreds of millions of pounds. All that are needed are very small strategic investments from colonial development funds in order to prevent these difficulties in the future.
When considering Malaya and its development, one social organisation stands out in my mind, and that is the development of voluntary co-operatives, which is the most significant development of all in Malaya. When considering how the co-operative movement has been developed and fostered by our administrators since 1907, I discover that in 1939 there were 650 co-operative societies on the register; in 1947 there were 841 and in 1955 there were 1,964.
Malaya has a higher percentage of population participating in voluntary co-operative societies, credit societies, housing co-operative societies, agricultural societies and village community co-operative societies than any other territory in that part of the world. This means that this kind of voluntary organization provides the way the people themselves want to develop.
Voluntary co-operative societies in Malaya are the training ground for democracy. It is difficult for people without a tradition of political democracy to accept automatically the kind of democratic institution which we have developed in this country, but it is relatively easy for them to be trained in democratic principles if the training starts in their own communities and villages, if they learn how to run things themselves through mutual aid and self-help. This is not a political matter. It is ordinary common sense, that the way to win a country for democracy lies in the practical application of democratic principles through voluntary co-operation. In Malaya, it has succeeded. When the Japs took charge in Malaya, there was no co-operation or collaboration at all from the 690 co-operative societies. Their capital was invested in gilt-edged securities and trustee savings bank, and it was all saved. The co-operatives disappeared from Malaya during Japanese occupation and were re-established when the country was liberated.
Recently, a co-operative college was built in Malaya by us through our development fund. It cost £20,000. It has only just started, and I should like to know whether we have the funds and machinery whereby this college may be expanded and improved and continuous contact maintained with our Colonial Office. It will be a great tragedy if this great central college of co-operative training and education disappeared for lack of co-ordination with our Colonial Office and the small funds needed to expand its organisation.
I have some simple criticisms of the new Constitution. I know that nothing can be done about them now; in all these things we have to accept compromise solutions. It seems to me that the power of the separate States is much too great and the power of the Central Federation is too weak. All our experiences, ancient and modern, have proved that the new states within a federation are usually very reluctant to embrace new ideas. It is my opinion that more power should be in the hands of the Central Federal Government and less in the hands of the States.
The Federal Land Council, which can do an enormously important job, cannot function effectively. It is to meet only once a year to do its mighty job of rural development, which is, in my view, the means whereby, in the future, Malaya's economy will be balanced. The Federal Land Council should meet at least once every quarter and should have much more power than is provided for within the new Constitution.
As a back bencher, I join with my hon. Friends in saying how very much we welcome the Bill and this debate. What we are doing today shows once again that Britain, in times of difficulty, can rise to the occasion and give leadership to a world which had serious doubts, in the past, as to whether Britain still had a role to play.
I agree with the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) that this is a great occasion, and I join with hon. Members who have congratulated the Colonial Secretary on the way he introduced the Bill in his speech today and the great pains he has taken to acquaint himself with the many problems which arise in connection with it. I hope that the optimism he has expressed for the future of the new State will be fully justified. I am, I think, the first speaker in the debate who has not visited Malaya, but my interest, none the less, has been of many years' standing. After twenty-five years in the City of London, I am only too well aware of the important economic developments which have taken place in Malaya and the contribution that that land has made since the war, to the sterling area and our dollar balances, of which my right hon. Friend gave us the figures today.
The hon. Member for Bilston made a very interesting point when he suggested that the synthetic rubber industry could cause decisive changes in the pattern of Malayan economy, and this is something to which the new Government out there will, I am sure, give earnest consideration.
Although, as I said, my interest in Malaya has continued for many years, through my study of the rubber and tin industry viewed from the City of London, my interest was further aroused a year ago when I, and other hon. Members, began to receive through the post memoranda from Malaya on the proposed constitutional developments. When I received documents from Malacca and Penang, the gist of the arguments seemed to me to be that here were communities which enjoyed British citizenship and the advantages of British law and order, and they were fearful lest, under the new constitutional proposals, they would lose those advantages. I do not know whether they are yet fully satisfied that their position is adequately safeguarded. Certain points have been raised today about citizenship, religion, and Govern- ment appointments, but they can, I think, more appropriately be gone into in detail in Committee.
Yesterday, there was a debate in the Parliament of Malaya which lasted twelve hours. It looks as though we shall get through our business today in a little over three. Very grave doubts were expressed by some members of the Malayan Parliament as to whether the difficulties had been properly overcome.
I was glad the hon. Member for Bilston said that it was a Conservative Government that was introducing this Bill, but, of course, it was the party opposite, when it was in power, which passed the Straits Settlement Act of 1946, in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) and Lord Hall took a prominent part. At that time certain assurances were given by the right hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend to which the people in the Settlements of Penang and Malacca have attached considerable importance. It is good to be reminded in this House from time to time that statements made by Ministers—and we all know enough about the Balfour Declaration—whether made ten or even twenty years ago, will as far as possible be honoured, if not always to the letter, by Governments that come afterwards.
Broadly speaking, that is being done today, although I must say that the Settlements, to which so much time has been devoted in this debate, appear to have cause for a certain amount of concern. I do not think that that is the reason why this Bill has been brought forward on a Friday, although many of us would wish that such an important subject could be debated at a more convenient time for Members of the House. Perhaps it is unnecessary to remark that the former Bill was also introduced on a Friday, in 1956. We would have liked to have an opportunity of a full day's debate in the middle of the week on this important subject.
As the Minister will recall, I asked him a Question last year on the memorandum that had been produced by the people of the two Settlements. At the time my right hon. Friend felt that he was unable to make a statement, but he wrote to me in August of that year giving me the background to the Constitutional Commission's terms of
reference. Referring to the Settlements, the Minister wrote:
First, nothing in the terms of reference proposed for the Constitutional Commission is to be taken as in any way prejudging the position of Her Majesty the Queen in relation to the settlements of Penang and Malacca, and that the terms of reference are not to be taken as precluding the Commission from making recommendations which would allow British subjects, or subjects of Their Highnesses the Rulers, to maintain their status as such after they lad acquired the proposed common nationality. Her Majesty's Government's concern for the special position of the two British Settlements is reflected in the undertakings reached at the London Conference
I will not go further into the undertakings given, but the impression was certainly created in the Settlements that Her Majesty's Government were adopting a position of neutrality and were not fully concerned with the fears expressed by the Indian and Chinese members of that community.
A minute or two ago I referred to the debate which took place in the Parliament of Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The Times report states:
This island has worried the central Government this year because, from having been a scenic and commercial center, it has suddenly become a cockpit of racial strains. Dr. Lim Chong Fu, who is nominated specially to represent the Island, said the constitution gave the people everything they needed, including security.
If Dr. Lim Chong Fu said that in the island, and put himself up for democratic election instead of being a nominated member, I am told that he would not he re-elected. The Minister must be aware of what happened in the municipal elections in Penang some time ago, which were fought entirely on this very issue, and when the Malayan Party won all the seats, and there was a complete landslide.
I say these things today because this House should be aware of the strong feeling existing in the two Settlements at present. Nevertheless, I hope that the compromise which has been reached will be found by experience to be the correct solution of these problems. However, when we are discussing the establishment of the independence of a territory which has been so long under our control, many of us are, naturally, apprehensive when we see in a White Paper, or in a Bill, what appears to us to be racial discrimination, depriving minorities of their lawful rights.
There will be a lot of discussion about the problem of nationality. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) dealt with the problem clearly and showed how complicated it was. The Minister will recall that in 1946 a letter was published in The Times signed by many people who had held high appointments in Malaya over a number of years, chief Justices, governors, and others. It was my right hon. Friend himself who put a question to the right hon. Member for Wakefield, at that time Secretary of State for the Colonies, asking him to comment on that letter. The letter in question attacked bitterly the method of obtaining the Sultans' signatures to the treaties which were necessary for the Malayan Union scheme, and we know that it had to be dropped. I am glad that great admiration has been expressed of Tunku Abdul Rahman, who will be the Head of the new State, and I hope that everything that has been said about him will be borne out in the future. Perhaps I may be permitted to warn the Minister not to put his trust in princes, but to rely more on the democratically elected assemblies, returned on a franchise that is open to all, irrespective of race or religion.
For the purposes of the record, and for greater accuracy, may I make it clear, as I am sure Tunku Abdul Rahman, as Chief Minister, would want it to be made clear, that he is not Head of the State, and will not be under the new constitution. The Head will be Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, and the Prime Minister will be Chief Minister of the Federation. The Head of the State is not a politician, and the leader of Government business will, of course, be the Prime Minister, as elsewhere.
Another comment made at the time was to deprecate the mutilation of the proposed Federation by the exclusion of its greatest port and town, Singapore. We appreciate some of the difficulties, but I think that the problems are racial rather than economic, because from the economic point of view it would certainly be far better for the new Federation that Singapore should be included. I join with other hon, Members in hoping that it will not be long before that problem is solved and that at a later date Singapore will join the Federation.
What I have already said, and what has been said by others, has covered most of the points which I wished to make. I was one of those who received a telegram from Tan Kee Gak, the Chair- man of the Malayan Party in Malacca, and I expect that the Under-Secretary of State will probably deal with this point in his speech and state whether any action can be taken, possibly by way of referendum, as a result of the fact that the omission from the clause of the Settlements is considered to be grossly unjust.
I had intended to deal with other points, but I will conclude by saying that I join with other right hon. and hon. Members in welcoming the Bill. We shall deal with these problems much more closely in Committee, and I very much hope that by the time the Bill is given its Third Reading we shall have completely satisfied those who are worried about certain of its provisions. The fact remains that there is very little time in which they will have an opportunity to make their representations because the Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill will take place next Friday. I am sure that we shall all pay great attention to anything which is said to us on this subject and see what can be done to improve matters.
Although I have not been to the Peninsula, I hope that I shall visit it at some time in the future. I have been told how charming are the people there, and, in welcoming the Bill, I wish them all a very happy and prosperous future.
I am sure that the 630 Members of the House are grateful to those of us here this morning because we represent them all in this chorus of appreciation of what has been announced and of good will to the people of Malaya. Certainly it is a privilege to stand here for a short time today to join in that chorus with every sincerity and to recognise that this is not now a partisan effort but the desire and expression of the whole House embodied in the Bill.
This Measure registers yet another stage in the emerging national conscious-ness which is obvious in many parts of the world—in this case a national consciousness which transcends the purely racial consciousness of the four or more communities in the peninsula. We have to recognise that the Chinese, the Malays, the Indians and, indeed, the British all have a very strong national consciousness which might well have caused disintegration rather than integration, and it will be no easy task for the new Government of Malaya and the new nation of Malaya over a period of years successfully to integrate elements which might otherwise drive the country apart. There are elements which might create tensions and conflicts.
We are glad that the alliance of the three major communities registered itself politically and secured such a striking majority at the last election. But underneath the surface the tensions are still there, and anyone who has been to Malaya and has talked with the members of the varying communities knows full well that what is true of many people in this country is also true of many people in Malaya, and that is that the sense of communalism can be much stronger than any other sense, stronger even at times than the sense of nationalism.
That is why I am glad that Malayan nationalism has grown. Even though it will need greater nourishment and encouragement in the days ahead and will be subject to many strains, it is nevertheless a welcome sign that people of those very different communities, the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians and the British, can join together for the common good of their new nation. We most earnestly hope, therefore, that Malayan nationality will be embodied in the new sovereign nation of Malaya and will present to the world an encouraging example of how diversity can exist within unity.
We must not blind ourselves to the fact that among those communities there are very great distinctions of culture, language and religion. Here are the Malays, overwhelmingly Moslem, with their own culture and temperament, very different from that of the Chinese or the Indians; here are the Indians, for the most part Hindu, although with some who are Muslim, but again with a culture and background quite different from that of the other communities; and here are the Chinese, again with a different temperament, very vigorous and hardworking, often achieving remarkable business success, with a cultural and religious outlook quite different from that of the other communities, a mixture of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, which is held much more lightly than are the religious convictions of the Malays
. Nor will I ignore the fact that the British are there, too; they are as much part of the nation of Malaya as the other larger communities. I hope most earnestly that in the days to come it will be recognised that, whatever may have been their ethnic origin, all peoples who are prepared to settle down and cooperate have a due part in the life of the full national community.
It is inevitable, I suppose, that we should have seen this growth of national consciousness with its decision to acquire independence in Malaya, for what happened in India just after the war, was the beginning of a momentum which has spread through the ensuing years. I do not suggest that if India's freedom had not been recognised these other developments would not have taken place; indeed, they would have taken place. Nevertheless, I think it says a great deal for the future of the Commonwealth that India's independence was won in such a manner as to provide an example in other parts of the world. In other words, it was revolution by peaceful agreement rather than by violence.
I believe that in some measure the independence of Malaya has been retarded since 1948 by the tragic upsurgence of the Communist terrorists. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery) made an appeal to them to cease their violence. I hope that his words will be heeded. I very much doubt whether they will, or, if they are heeded, whether they will be heeded otherwise than by resistance and repudiation.
Nevertheless, I certainly endorse his appeal, for it is sadly unfortunate that through blind adherence to a doctrinaire theory so many well-meaning people took to the jungle and caused shocking hardship, misery and waste in Malaya in the last few years. Had that not taken place, it is possible that Malaya would have had her independence long before now by peaceful means. On the other hand, it may well be that what has taken place through the exploits of the Communist terrorists has greatly stimulated consideration in this country of the need to counter-balance the propaganda of Communism by our own constructive political and economic ventures.
This, of course, is a venture. It is an experiment. We are not quite certain that it will succeed. I have every hope that it will. I have faith that it will, but faith is sometimes disproved. It depends entirely on the people there. That is why the responsibility of the British, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians is very great. If they can succeed with Merdeka, as I hope and believe they will, they will present an example to the whole of South-East Asia which will counterbalance a great deal which otherwise might he attractive from that area behind the Bamboo Curtain.
As one who has had the privilege of paying a brief visit to Malaya, to many parts of that peninsula and to other parts of South-East Asia, I can say that there are millions of people there who are watching Malaya at the present time. If Malayan democracy fails undoubtedly the impetus of the experiment behind the Bamboo Curtain will gather strength. If, on the other hand, what is taking place in Malaya succeeds, it will not only counter-balance the influence of the Communist Asian venture, but more positively will influence the whole of that area towards treading the same democratic road and adopting its values.
I am very glad indeed that tribute has been paid to many who in the past have prepared for this time. Those tributes were justly and eloquently paid by the Secretary of State. However, among the many names not mentioned was that of the late Mr. Ridley. He certainly contributed very substantially to the economic foundation of Malaya. One hon. Member referred to the fact that Malaya is relatively a much wealthier country than most other countries in South-East Asia. That is perfectly true, and originally it was largely due to the enterprise and devotion of that one man, an Englishman, who died last year almost one hundred years old. As a young colonial civil servant he took out rubber seedlings to Malaya and thus laid the foundation of one of the sources of Malaya's economic superiority compared with other parts of the world. I shall have the endorsement of all hon. Members if I pay tribute to him and in so doing recognise that it is not only political independence which Malaya needs but economic independence as well.
Malaya would not have been where it is today and would not have had the resources upon which it has drawn but for the enterprise of the gentleman, now deceased, to whom I have referred and who should be honoured as having made a substantial contribution to the welfare of the people of that land.
One recognises that there are problems of distribution. Along with increasing production there should be, correspondingly, fair distribution of the wealth produced; but it is equally true that one cannot distribute what is not there. Thus, if in the past through rubber and, to a lesser extent, through tin, Malaya's economy has been richer and better than elsewhere, let us pay honour where honour is due and recognise that Mr. Ridley and others in their own way helped to lay the foundation of what, we hope, will be the increasing economic prosperity of Malaya.
We all wish well to the people of that peninsula. We wish them well because what they will be doing in their country will help us here. We are democrats, and believe in democracy as an act of faith, as something to be achieved. It has not yet been fully achieved. It is always liable to break down. It demands so much of all democrats in the way of personal responsibility. It demands the elimination of intolerance, bitterness and hatred, and it demands a reliance upon reason and corporate thought. Let us hope that the Malayan people, our fellow human beings, can and will succeed, not only for their own good, but for the good of the whole world. Speaking rhetorically, one wishes them God-speed as they march forward, shod in rubber boots, out of dependence and Empire into freedom, democracy and Commonwealth.
It is always a great privilege to follow the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), but in some ways I should have liked to follow the hon. Member for Bristol, Central (Mr. Awbery), because when I was in Malaya he was one of those who personally inspected the work I was doing.
I agree with the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) that we are going through a very great change. I should prefer to call it evolution rather than revolution. I hope that we shall see that evolution as the people of Malaya become more educated, as their standard of living gets better and as the country becomes more developed. I am sure that the hon. Member did not mean revolution in the usual sense.
I hope that we can have evolution in the future.
One of the difficulties about the Chinese is that so many of them—as I found from personal experience—have no knowledge of anything outside their jungle world. I have known of children who have been caught carrying arms and who have come to my house after a short period of training and whose slight knowledge of everything outside their small jungle world has been frightening. Convincing them that there is another way of life has been immensely difficult. That is one of the big problems which has to be faced.
I am very pleased to welcome the Bill and I hope that it will bring much happiness to the Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Sinhalese—of whom there are many—to the Portuguese Eurasians and also to the Orang Bukit. I have a number of ties with Malaya and when I go to Tanganyika, in September, I shall be travelling on a Malayan passport. It was witnessed by a Malayan justice of the peace, the photograph was taken by a Chinese—although I regret that it is no better than the usual passport photographs—and it is something which I still treasure, and I shall be sorry when it comes to an end, next year. I also have the honour to subscribe through the British Malaya Association, which I consider should be mentioned in the debate, to the special independence day gift for the Federation Council Chamber.
My contact with Malaya was as the area welfare officer for Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johore. That gave me an understanding of many of the difficulties which have arisen in framing a Constitution, because Negri Sembilan was a Federated State, Malacca a Crown Colony, and Johore an Unfederated State. In the course of my work I had to learn the three different standing orders. I want to congratulate the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the way he has been able to produce the Constitution and to pay tribute to Tunku Abdul Rahman, and also to Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, who made a great contribution in bringing the many races together.
The debate gives me a chance to say a "Thank you" for the great kindness and hospitality which I received from all races while I was in Malaya. The few years I was there were among my happiest, and certainly the busiest, of my life. I qualify, as I think my right hon. Friend has qualified, as being something of a Malayan, because I like eating durian, and if one can pass that test one is more or less accepted as a Malay.
We must remember that in 1939 the International Labour Office stated that the social services, the welfare of the people and the development of the country of Malaya were ahead of the rest of South-East Asia, with the exception of Japan. We have also to remember that it was Japan herself who, unfortunately, spoiled that happy condition. It was through the Japanese invasion of Malaya that these racial conflicts developed. The Japanese spoiled, at least for the time being, the economy of the country.
When I arrived there in 1945, with the Red Cross, I saw with great sorrow the troubles which the people had suffered and how they had been deprived of medicines, clothing, food and so on. I mention that because it is quite remarkable how these different races, in a short time, have resuscitated the country and are now getting their independence.
I should like to pay a great tribute to the voluntary organisations and I hope that coming generations will carry on this voluntary work which has been done by the many races. There were three voluntary organisations, one in each of the States in which I worked, composed of all races. One of the best ways to know our fellow human beings is to help them when they are in difficulty. The amount of money which they contributed towards the welfare of each other was amazing.
The Government, as one finds is always the case when one is working as a civil servant, was not as generous as one hoped. But it was amazing how one could, if one put a plan before a local community, receive the support necessary to make the project work.
I should like to give one example which I think is worth mentioning. After the Japanese invasion we had a great many homeless and orphan children and a great many old people. I was very keen to separate the old people from the children. The Government in Malaya promised me a certain sum of money if I could raise the other money which was necessary. Not only did the local community of all races raise the amount—in fact, almost too soon, or too soon for the Government —but eventually provided a home. They took it in turns to help to run this home.
One of the things which, I think, will be very helpful in the future is that for so many years there has been individual State rule. On 1st February, 1948, I worked under a Malayan Prime Minister, or Mentri Besar, and the State Secretary is now the High Commissioner for Malaya in this country. In some form or other the Malayans have ruled themselves for centuries. So this means that the change over to sovereignty will be not such a great step as it has been in many other countries.
We should remember, in considering these different races, the part that they play. The Malayans are the indigenous people of the country, but we have to remember that had it not been for the Chinese the country would certainly not have been as prosperous as it is today. They opened up jungle roads and worked in the tin mines, and the prosperity of Malaya owes a great deal to the Chinese.
Furthermore, we had the Indians who, in a rather different way, as a result, in the beginning, of a contract system between the Indian Government and the Government of Malaya, have played their part in the prosperity of the country. In a great many cases they did not make Malaya their home and returned to India at the end of their contract.
We also owe a great deal to the Portuguese Eurasians in Malaya. Theirs is a very old community. They still keep something of their mother tongue, and very strongly to their own Roman Catholic religion. They have proved loyal and faithful civil servants in a great many of the States. Generally speaking, whichever State they have resided in, they have taken a leading part and have always been loyal to either the British resident or adviser, or whoever they have been serving.
Finally, I hope that in due course, the Orang Bukit will be able to be brought into the community, because I believe that through living in the deep jungles they have very remote ties with their own country, and they could be a source of trouble. I should like to pay tribute to them for what they did during the very difficult period when the Chinese guerillas were in the jungle, when they gave considerable help in tracking the enemy.
Before I come to two points which I want to raise with regard to the Constitution, I should like to pay tribute to the Malay Regiment. This Regiment was disbanded by the Japanese. It was re-formed in 1945 and it has grown remarkably in numbers. The Malayans are particularly known for their courage in any form of warfare. In spite of their very gentle outward natures, they can well look after their country should the occasion arise. I think that it is rather remarkable that this Regiment has resuscitated itself so quickly.
The Chinese, who have already been mentioned by one hon. Member opposite, and have been written about in the book by Spencer Chapman, "The Jungle is Neutral," did a great deal to help during the period of Japanese occupation.
Finally, I should like to remember the many Indians, Malays and people from Ceylon who worked on the Siam Railway. They suffered greatly and those who returned have played a great part in bringing prosperity and trade to the country.
The two points which I want to raise about the Constitution are concerned with religion and citizenship. On the question of religion, I should like to obtain information to be able to answer various inquiries which I have had. Article 3, which sets out the religion of the Federation, goes on to say:
Islam is the religion of the Federation.
In the Reid Report, paragraph 169 states:
It is Their Highnesses' considered view that it would not be desirable to insert some declaration such as has been suggested that the Muslim Faith or Islamic Faith be the
established religion of the Federation. Their Highnesses are not in favour of such a declaration being inserted and that is a matter of specific instruction in which I myself have played very little part.
I wonder whether if we are not careful we may eventually have—as has happened in Indonesia—religious parties, as religion is tied up with race, putting up for Parliament, which I think would be a very great mistake. I hope that we can find out for what reason this change was made.
The other question that I want to bring up is that of citizenship. In the Alliance pamphlet "Blueprint for Parliament, 1953" it is recommended that:
All persons born in any part of the Federation who resided in the Federation for five years preceding the elections should be entitled to a vote.
I understand that that was reaffirmed by a minority report, supported by many Ministers, when it came up for discussion again, and that it was repeated in a petition presented by the Alliance in 1954.
The recommendation in the White Paper is different, and I would be grateful to know the reason for the change. It was originally suggested that it might come up for discussion—I think that one hon. Member said that it would be in fifteen years' time—before the existing Legislative Council. One has to remember that at present 11 per cent. of the Chinese and 4 per cent. of the Indians have not been empowered to vote. I should like to know whether it is this Legislative Council which will make the final decision.
I will not go over the first two paragraphs of Article 17, because they have already been referred to, but I should like to draw attention to paragraphs (c) and (d). Paragraph (c) states that the citizen has to be of good character. I wonder who will testify in regard to his good character. I should think that even in this House a great many people might have very different opinions of the characters of even other hon. Members, and in a country with so many different races and religions the problem will be all the greater. I should be grateful if I can have a reply on that point.
To paragraph (e) there is a proviso which says that the requirement shall be
except where the application is made within one year after Merdeka Day and the applicant has at the time of application attained the age of forty-five years at the date of application.
I should very much like to know why the age of 45 has been chosen, this is rather old for somebody living in a Far Eastern country. I suppose that it must have been chosen for some reason, but remembering how difficult it was for women in this country to get the vote—when they first started at the rather late age of 25 and had to wait a long time before they could get the vote at 21–1 should like to know why the applicant has to wait until he has attained the age of 45.
I would also draw attention to the fact that the applicant has to have an elementary knowledge of the Malay language. There are many Chinese in Malaya speaking at least six different dialects, and many Indians speaking at least three different dialects. I wonder how all those people will be taught the language and how they will pass their test in sufficient numbers to qualify for a vote in the near future. They cannot learn the language very quickly, especially when they are of advanced years.
If I may refer to the difficulties of Indonesians, I would point out that quite a number of Indonesians emigrate. They have come in the past to Johore, particularly. Will these people be able to qualify quickly? They speak the Malayan language, they profess the same religion and conform to Malayan customs, which, I understand, are the three qualifications particularly needed in the 1952 State Nationality Enactment. I should be grateful for some information on that point.
I should also like to know how the heads of Malacca and Penang will be appointed. These States are mentioned in the Bill, but the position is not very clear to me. I am wondering if, as is done with regard to the different States in Australia, such as New South Wales and Victoria, the appointment might be made directly by the Queen.
I should like to offer my best wishes to the new Federation of Malaya. If it is in order to do so I would end with a little Malayan proverb, which says:
Sadikit, Sadikit, Larma, Larma, Menjadi Bukit,
and which means
Little by little, slowly, slowly, the hills grow.
I hope that this will happen in Malaya. Further, I hope that we shall eventually see the federation of all the various
British Malay-speaking States in the Far East.
This is the second time within a few days that I have had the privilege of following the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers). I should like to say how fascinated we have been by her description of conditions in Malaya. It appears to me that she has not spoken as a visitor; she has spoken from her experience of identifying herself with the lives of the people there, and in a way which is tremendously useful when we are considering that country's problems. There is only one point upon which I shall come into conflict with her, and I will leave that until a little later.
I need not say with what great enthusiasm I welcome the Bill and the independence of the Federation of Malaya. I want to emphasise the quite extraordinary and unique circumstances from which the independence of Malaya has arisen. This country and this Parliament has some reason to be proud of those developments. I know of no other country in the world which has been the actual scene of armed conflict as Malaya has been for the last ten years—with the fight going on in the jungle and with British, Australian and New Zealand troops taking part in addition to the troops of Malaya— and where, parallel with the fight in one part of the country, there has been developing a democratic constitution in another part.
It is the most effective reply which can possibly be made to the assertion that the fight in the jungle was one for national independence. The fact that, side by side with it, we were building the instrument of democratic government and, even while the physical conflict is continuing, have actually established the independence of Malaya, is proof of the most effective way of meeting attacks upon anything which will under-mine the belief in political liberty. It should be put on record that that quite remarkable event has happened in Malaya as a preliminary to the introduction of this Bill.
I hope that the House will accept the Constitution which this Measure legalises without any conflict about its particular Clauses. Many of us believe in the principle of self-determination and it is a Parliament of Malaya which has accepted this Constitution. Yesterday, the Legislature accepted it by a unanimous vote; it may be that there was some influence exerted by the Whips in reaching that decision, but nevertheless that Parliament has accepted this Constitution by a unanimous vote. Even though one may have criticisms to make here and there, I do not believe that it is the duty of this Parliament to decide what kind of Constitution Malaya should have. I believe that to be the province of the people of Malaya and their elected representatives.
I am, however, nervous in some respects when I look to the future. I regard this Measure—it is here that I come into verbal conflict with the hon. Member for Devonport—as representing a political revolution. By the term "revolution" I do not mean physical force. I mean an absolute turn of the wheel. In the last ten years Malaya has moved from a position of complete dependence on this country, except for the forms of the old feudal government under the Sultans, to political democracy. That, in a decade, is a political revolution.
No, it revolves. It turns a complete circle, and a revolution is the turning of a complete circle.
It is in that sense that I use the word "revolution." I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) also used the word in that sense. The change that has taken place in this century in Asia has been a revolution. It began in India, Burma and Pakistan and then Indonesia and other territories, and now Malaya. That represents a real revolution within a very short time, a complete turning of the wheel.
I did not mean to develop the point to that extent. I wish to follow it by endorsing what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that this political change, if it is to be reflected in the lives of the people of Malaya, must be followed by great social and economic changes. One has the feeling that the Alliance Party, which has done magnificent work in bringing harmony between the races—and, obviously, has the overwhelming support of the people who elected 51 members of that party out of the 52—is divided by a considerable gulf from the people of Malaya.
One has the feeling that that party consists of members of a professional class and of a traditional aristocracy. And then one thinks of the subsistence rice-cultivators, who sometimes have to pay 50 per cent. of the rice they produce as rent for their land. One thinks of the labourers on the rubber plantations; one thinks of the industrial workers in the tin mines and in the iron ore industry. One thinks of the workers in the shops and offices belonging to the Chinese and Indian population. Between them and the type of person who is a member of the Legislature and the Government there is a big gulf. Yet that Legislature will function effectively only if it serves the purpose of lifting the standard of life of the common people.
That must be worked out in Malaya. They must build their own movements, organisations, and parties. I would make only this comment: that to meet the threat of Communism which has been finding expression in the jungle war, parties must arise which are just as much concerned with social and economic development but which add to that a belief in political liberty and democracy. I urge our Parliament and Government to contribute towards such developments. I strongly support what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly. Even though the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts are to cease operating after the introduction of this Measure, we should find some means by which economic help for Malaya will continue.
We have had debates on this subject, and there has been equal enthusiasm for Commonwealth development displayed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. There has just been a conference of Prime Ministers from Commonwealth countries and we understand that they discussed economic development. I ask the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to say, if he can, what progress is being made in the preparation of plans for continued aid to these countries as they emerge to independence.
Under the Commonwealth Development and Welfare Acts our contribution to Malaya has been £633,000. Is that to stop completely, or are we to find some means by which continued aid for Malaya may be possible? The importance of this matter is emphasised by the fact that we are to continue a contribution of £20 million to Malaya for defence purposes. In my view, it will be a sad thing if this Parliament devotes £20 million to Malaya for defence but does not make a generous contribution towards its social and economic development.
I want to refer to two further points on the economic side. Many references have been made by hon. Members to the services which Malaya has contributed in its dollar contribution. I understand that the sterling balances in this country for Malaya, Singapore and Northern Borneo now amount to £360 million. I suppose that it would not be an over-estimate to say that £300 million of that sterling balance are due to Malaya itself. In view of that very great contribution to the economic stability of this country and the Commonwealth and the whole sterling balance area, surely we have some responsibility and some duty, either to be making those funds available to Malaya or to be enabling her to have funds that will allow for her social and economic development.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) is now in the Chamber, because my second reference is to the toll of profits and interest which private industry has extracted from Malaya. The World Bank sent a mission to Malaya in 1953. It reported the astonishing fact that, between 1949 and 1953, £204 million had been paid in dividends, profits and interest to external investors in Malaya. The hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich said that capital must have security in Malaya. Goodness knows, it has had more than security. It has had vast wealth, which has been drawn from human beings, in the rubber plantations, in the tin mines and the iron-ore works, who often have scarcely been able to keep body and soul together because of their conditions of life.
I do not know whether the hon. Member's figure for large dividends is accurate or not, and I do not question it, but he must remember that when money is sent out to Malaya, for example, for planting, it takes at least seven years before the rubber trees begin to yield. If the hon. Member was out of his money for as long as that, he would expect a good deal when it came.
After the Japanese occupation, during which there were no dividends, the output from the rubber trees was excellent for a time and prices were high. The prices and the output thereafter very rapidly diminished. The hon. Member must agree that, while there were temporary high dividends, there are times when little or no profit is made. In fact, very great losses are made for a long period. He must take one consideration with the other.
I thank the hon. Member for that explanation, but over the years the amount of profit that has been made in rubber and tin and other products from Malaya has been on a very high level. It seems to me that one of the duties of this country and of the Government, as they give the right to independence, is to seek to limit the degree of economic exploitation which industrial companies in this country are enjoying at the expense of Malaya.
I have been led to speak a little longer than I intended, but I want to make a point on the military aspect. We are to have a base in Malaya for thirty years and troops in Malaya for a considerable period. On this issue I urge that we should accept the right of self-determination. It is very probable, indeed, that the people of Malaya will develop an attitude of mind similar to that which is general over most of South-East Asia. It is an attitude which seeks to be independent of both the great power blocs into which the world is divided. It is the attitude of mind that is reflected in Ceylon, which has now asked this country to remove its bases, because Ceylon desires to be independent of both the Western and the Soviet blocs.
It is very likely that the mind of Malaya may move in that direction as well. I ask the Government to have a clear appreciation that the trend of South-East Asia is in that direction and that, if the people of Malaya clearly express that view before this period of thirty years is over, we should do in Malaya what we have been right to do in Ceylon, respect and accept their wishes in this matter. I join with every other hon. Member in wishing the best future for Malaya as it starts out on this great development of its independence.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) has ranged widely in his speech and I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him in his several arguments, because at this stage of the debate I think the most useful contribution a Member can make is to concentrate briefly on one subject. I want to concentrate on the Malayan Indians. Their position in the past and in their future have been mentioned by hon. Members.
The Malayan Indians hold a rather special position. The 1955 census showed that there were about three-quarters of a million Malayan Indians out of a populations of just over six million in the Federation. Roughly, the Malayan Indians comprise about one-eighth of the population. It is, perhaps, worth remembering that it was on our instigation and with our encouragement that the Indians came to Malaya. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State went back in his speech to the British Settlement of Penang at the end of the eighteenth century. It was at that time that we brought in the Indian sepoys to keep law and order, the Indian merchants to develop commerce and trade, and the Indian labourers to build roads and harbours, but it was much later on that we encouraged Indians generally to come to Malaya.
At the end of the last century and the beginning of this century, the development of our plantation industry brought in Indian unskilled labour by means of the Indian Immigration Fund which was supported by the employers and the Governments of Malaya. Therefore, we bear a rather special obligation towards the Indians who have come and in a great many cases have settled in Malaya to produce the Indian community that is there now. Our obligation towards the Indians was increased by the Japanese occupation. The majority of those forced into Siam to build the Siam-Burma Railway were Indians, and it is estimated that as many as 60,000 Indians died in that way. The three years of Japanese occupa- tion undoubtedly caused very great disruption to the life of the Indian community in Malaya.
Bearing that in mind, one looks rather critically at the terms of the future Constitution to see what protection it gives to that minority, the Malayan Indians. In the past, the Indian has contributed very substantially to the development of the country, and he can do so in future. In the past, it has been mainly the unskilled Indian labour, without whom the rubber plantations might never have been developed. Nevertheless, there is now the business and professional Indian who has now settled in Malaya, and these are the shopkeeper, the school master, the clerk, railway officials and so on, the majority of whom are drawn from the Indian community, a community which shows a very high rate of literacy compared with the Chinese and Malays.
It appears that the Reid Commission took one single Indian party as speaking for the Indians as a whole, the Malayan Indian Congress, which had sunk its identity in the Alliance Party. I do not think the Malayan Indian Congress spoke for all, or even perhaps a majority, of Indians, certainly not the business, professional and artisan class of Indian, in Malaya. There were many other Malayan Indian associations which gave evidence before the Commission, but the Commission did not seem to take account of their views, or to pay very much attention to them.
In the Constitution now proposed as compared with the Constitution recommended by the Reid Commission, far greater consideration has been given to this important minority within the new State. They had feared that they might be asked to retreat yet further than was recommended by the Reid Commission; even the party to which I have referred, the Malayan Indian Congress Party, allied to the Alliance, feared that. At a meeting in April last, it passed resolutions to that effect. So, in the points I want to make, I think I am putting forward the views of the whole of the Indian community in Malaya.
The three points about which they were particularly concerned were, first, citizenship, secondly, the special privileges of the Malayans and, thirdly, religion. Of course, the point of citizenship has bedevilled the Constitution ever since the Malayan Union. I was pleased to note that there was no real alteration between the Constitution as now agreed and the recommendations of the Commission about automatic citizenship and registration, except that if registration has to be made under Section 17 of the proposed Constitution it depends on the final decision of a Minister. That did not appear in the Report of the Reid Commission, and it is possible that racial discrimination might result in the exercise of that discretion.
There will be many Indians who will have to take advantage of Article 17 registration, even Indians who were born in the Federation. In many cases they do not come under any of the previous provisions so as to make them citizens of Malaya, and they will have to resort to Article 17. There may well be a possibility of discrimination against them. One wonders whether this is a deliberate reservation for the purpose of discriminating. I hope not. The great importance of this point about citizenship is that so many other things depend upon it, the franchise, entry to the public service, the judiciary and so on. There are many in the Indian community who can contribute much to those services and the judiciary if they can be recognised as citizens of the new State. I would have hoped that that decision, instead of being in the hands of the Minister, had been left in the hands of the Election Commission as the Reid Commission suggested.
Now with regard to the special privileges of the Malayans, these include the admission to the public services, the operation of business under licence and the grant of scholarships, bursaries and educational preferences, the Reid Commission Report seemed to perpetuate these special privileges of the Malayans, at least for fifteen years. I prefer the proposal of the new Constitution, which allows them to be reviewed at any time when the head of the Federation is advised that that may be necessary. The whole phrasing of the articles in the proposed Constitution compared with those recommended by the Reid Commission seems to give greater protection to the minorities such as the Indian community. The land reservations, also, are far more controlled in the proposed Constitution than was recommended by the Commission. I feel that on these points in particular the Indian community might be satisfied.
On religion, the Reid Commission recommended, as my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers) pointed out, that there should be no mention of State religion in the Constitution. It is now inserted in Article 3, but is so watered down by the later Articles that I do not think there can be any real fear of a non-secular State being created. I think the Secretary of State has resisted pressure put on him for the creation of a non-secular State, and the present provisions should satisfy other religious communities, although there is this mention of the State religion.
Finally, I would draw attention to an important safeguard to the minorities. That is in the retention of the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Reid Commission's Report said that that was desired on all sides. It is worth reminding hon. and right hon. Members of two sentences in the Report in regard to the retention of the jurisdiction of the Privy Council. The Report said, in paragraph 126:
The Rulers, the Alliance and the legal profession all expressed a desire that appeals to the Privy Council should continue to be competent… In our opinion, there would be great advantages if appeal to the Privy Council were preserved. Not only would it be a valuable link between the countries of the Commonwealth but in the present position in the Federation it would, we think, he advantageous if the final decision on constitutional questions lay with a Tribunal which has experience of other federal constitutions.
The formula devised for retaining that appellate jurisdiction is an admirable solution, but may I make a plea which I have made previously both inside and outside the House on several occasions and inside and outside this country and which has always been warmly received—but about which nothing has been done. It is that the judges from the Commonwealth countries who still use the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for an appeal from those countries should be invited to sit on that Committee from time to time.
It is some twelve months since I raised this point on an Adjournment. It has been welcomed by the Secretary of State, but nothing has been done about it. I believe that it would be a very valuable link between the countries of the Cornmonwealth, and I hope that my hon. Friend will ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to do something about stirring up the apathy of his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and of the noble Lord the Lord Chancellor in this matter of an invitation to Commonwealth judges to serve for periods on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Like others, I wholeheartedly welcome the Bill and wish the new Constitution the very best of good fortune.
It is not my intention to delay the House for long. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has given a very warm welcome to the Bill, and most of us, I am sure, regret that it has been debated on a Friday instead of on a full Parliamentary day.
The Bill was introduced by a very lucid and comprehensive speech by the Secretary of State, and I think we all feel that all hon. Members who have spoken have made very useful contributions to the consideration of the problems involved. None of us approaches this Bill in a carping spirit, but as we are launching a new State to be battered in the rough seas of the world, it is desirable that we should look at the proposals critically. Malaya itself will have to face very considerable difficulties, especially financial difficulties, in the days ahead. It has had only a comparatively short period to prepare for responsibility, and much needs to be done for security and the establishment of a sound framework of administration in the Territory. As we have heard today, it is also a country of intense racial tension, and it is a country of very considerable strategic importance in the life of the East and of the world.
In 1945–46, when the problem of the future government of Malaya was under consideration, very few of us engaged in those discussions thought that Malaya could so quickly reach the state of independence which we are now discussing. We were then discussing the relations with the Sultans and the problems presented by the rehabilitation of the Territory after the military had withdrawn and while civil administration was being established, and we were trying to secure for the future of Malaya a basis for a central Government. It may be that Malayan Union was not a practical proposition, but, none the less, we were intent on finding a basis for a future Dominion in that part of the world.
Few of us, at that moment, were conscious of how rapid the political development could be. In the 1948 Agreement between his late Majesty and Their Highnesses the Rulers of Malaya, we wrote:
It is the desire of His Majesty and Their Highnesses that progress should be made towards eventual self-government and that, as soon as circumstances and local conditions permit, legislation be introduced for election of members to the several legislatures.
That was really written into the Agreement virtually as an act of faith.
As I have said, progress has been remarkably fast on the political side. Today, I imagine that Dato Onn and the Chief Minister, and those who have played so prominent a part on the Malayan side, must feel extraordinarily happy at the consummation that is indicated by this Bill. I should like, too, to pay some tribute to the early work done by Mr. Malcolm MacDonald in his discussions with the Malay leaders there. One also recalls the magnificent work done by our own civil servants in a long period before the Japanese invasion, and particularly the work since done by Sir Edward Gent, by Gurney, and by the present Governor in bringing us to this point. I should also like to pay tribute, of course, to Lord Reid and his Commission for their work.
Mention has been made of the exclusion, when we were discussing the Federation, of Singapore from this Agreement. I would only say that I doubt very much whether it would have been possible to have reached this stage of independence today but for the separation, at that time, of Singapore. It may be that a closer relationship can and will be established later, but I do suggest that political progress has depended very largely on the fact that Singapore was excluded from the Federation when the Federation was created.
Political progress is the more remarkable when one considers the difficulties of the past ten years. There has been this forest warfare, these Communist disturbances which have produced a very severe set-back to the enormous economic and social progress which would otherwise have been made in Malaya during this period. At the same time, I wish to acknowledge that despite the disturbances, the Communist terrorism, social and economic progress has been really remarkable.
Although there remains a considerable amount of work to do, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has pointed out—the conditions of the people to be improved, the lot of the labourer to be raised—none the less, over these years, there has been in a whole variety of social fields as well as in economic development some very remarkable improvements and changes. It is again the more remarkable that this has proved possible when one considers that more than three races have had to work alongside one another—races of different religion and different civilisation, not a homogeneous people all cooperating together, but a nation to be made and the good will and the tolerance of the three races to be secured.
All I would say in that connection is that one hopes there has been achieved a sufficient unity and sense of national purpose which will sustain the Federation in the days ahead. There has to be this process of integration of races and economies, and the separateness of the people has to be broken down. Still we see today, because of the growth of the Alliance Party, some genuine hope of complete and tolerant co-operation in the days to come.
The Manchester Guardian, to which the Secretary of State referred, wrote a few days ago that here Britain was trying to establish a democracy in a plural society. Of course, in constitution-making it is a considerable difficulty trying to fit a kind of Western political democracy into the framework of social and traditional life so fundamentally different from what democracy in its growth has been accustomed to. Here nine States and two settlements have had to be integrated.
The Reid Commission indicates to us the bridge which has to be crossed before one can get that close collaboration between all the races in the territory. It has been an extraordinarily complex job preparing a constitution of this kind, and one is pleased that at least the Reid Commission found by balances and great care an answer to many of the difficulties with which the makers of a sound constitution were faced.
A number of Members drew attention to the fact that in the working of this Constitution a great deal of tolerance will be required by the Chinese population, and, possibly, by other minorities, for undoubtedly important concessions are made to the Malays with regard to religion, language, land and the public services; but one can only hope that by the practice of co-operation an answer can be found to any deficiencies or defects in the Constitution as it is now presented to us.
One hopes that this Constitution will work, although I confess that I trust that the Chinese will not assert their claim to a full share of political power. We have no constitution before us which we can amend. We are asked to endorse the agreement which has been entered into. We can do that, I think, as a House with a feeling of confidence in view of the fact that not only now has the Parliament in Malaya endorsed these proposals, but the three political parties in the Alliance Party are agreed and the proposals have their good will and general consent.
It may be, and I believe it to be the case, that there are certain sections of opinion in Malaya who are not altogether happy. The fact that most hon. Members have received representations from the Malayan Party and the Pan-Malayan Federation indicates that, certainly so far as the Settlements are concerned, there is still some anxiety about what is likely to happen when the Constitution becomes effective. I join in the representations made by the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers), whose speech in this debate was so moving and so valuable. She put her finger on a number of the doubts which have existed in our minds in regard to certain problems which the Constitution raises. The question of religion, the limitation on the official language, the problems associated with land, and the difficulties arising out of the matter of citizenship—all these things raised doubts and anxieties not only in Malaya itself but also in this country. We hope that, by tolerant administration and good will between the various races, our fears may be proved unjustified.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will now consider providing financial assistance to territories emerging to inde- pendence. This question was discussed when the Ghana Independence Act was under consideration, and there are two things which need emphasis today. First, the contribution of Malaya to the health of sterling has been considerable, but she has financial responsibilities and liabilities yet to come, and, in the circumstances, I ask that the most generous approach to her financial difficulties should be made. Secondly, I hope that the Secretary of State for the Colonies will reconsider the situation created by the cutting off of Colonial Development and Welfare moneys. I am thinking of the general services, to which I have referred in the House on a number of occasions, such as higher education, surveying, research, which are financed at the moment by Colonial Development and Welfare moneys. I hope that, without any payment by the new Government of the Federation, these services may continue to be available for their assistance.
The founding of a political democracy in that part of the world is a great experiment. It is vitally important that it shall succeed. We hope that the divisions which may exist in this new nation will be bridged by tolerance and friendship in administration. We all wish the new Government of Malaya well. We wish the new nation to succeed and bring lasting happiness to all its peoples.
I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies is grateful to right hon and hon. Members on both sides of the House for the warm welcome which they have given to this important Bill.
It is appropriate that on such an occasion, when the workaday business of our House takes on the aura of history, we should look back along the highway of years to the past. Some hon. Members have done it in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Sir J. Barlow) has done, to a hundred years of fruitful association of his family and his firm with the development of Malaya; others, like my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers) to years of devoted service to the people of Malaya in Malaya itself; others again, to the long history of the association between the peoples of the United Kingdom and Malaya, which has reached a climax in the recent development that has led us to the Bill now under discussion.
A large number of questions have been put to me and I hope that hon. Members whose questions are not all answered will forgive me. This is partly through pressure of time, and partly because it is appropriate that some should be raised when we reach the Committee stage.
I will start with some of the points raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who has apologised for his unavoidable absence now. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a review of the special position of the Malayans at the end of fifteen years. The fact is that under the Constitution as it is proposed, that review can take place at any time on the decision by the Head of State and on the advice of the Chief Minister. This is contrary to the proposals of the Reid Commission, but it is better that in a new Constitution which is experimental there should be as much flexibility as possible, and opportunities, at whatever stage is appropriate, of putting right any difficulties that may emerge in practice.
Indeed, the Chief Minister, in winding up the debate in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, said that the Constitution is not rigid and that it can be changed when need arises. I am sure that that fact will give to minorities who have natural anxieties and fears at present some reassurance that, if there is any need for alteration, that alteration can take place whenever the necessity appears to arise and is apparent to public opinion in Malaya.
Some of the anxieties that have been referred to by hon. Members related to the particular position of Penang and Malacca. I do not think it necessary, at this stage, to go into the special constitutional reasons why those two Settlements are not included in the Agreement. Hon. Members will find it worth remembering that all the elected members on both the Councils of the two Settlements are members of the Alliance Party; that the Alliance Party, both in its individual components and as a party, has endorsed the Constitution; and that the Alliance Party in the Assembly has, within the last 24 hours, unanimously accepted the proposals of the Constitution. Incidentally, the Assembly included the member who is not a member of the Alliance Party.
In those circumstances, I think it is reasonable to say that whatever may be the immediate stirrings of fears in these particular communities, looked at over a longer period of time there will be support among the moderate elements within the Settlements—and, indeed, among even those who have in their hearts certain apprehensions — for this development which has taken place. After all, the two Settlements enter into the Federation with an assured position, with equality with the other States and with the dignity which these old-established Settlements of the Crown fully deserve, and to which they are entitled.
Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the Alliance Party gave the residents of Malacca and Penang to believe that they supported them in their aspirations? When, however, it was known what evidence the Alliance Party gave to the Reid Commission, the Penang and Malacca municipal elections were fought, following that, on the purely political issues involved and not on municipal matters. The Alliance Party then lost all the eight seats in Penang which they had held previous13, and there was a complete landslide against the Alliance Party.
I made a reference to that. On an occasion such as this, whenever there has been a question of a Federal experiment being undertaken, there has always been apprehension in the minds of certain sections of the community. It is important that this Federation should go through as a whole, and I think that, on the whole, the earlier views which existed in Penang will probably—not immediately, I admit, but in the long run—be more representative of the eventual attitude of the people of the two Settlements when the experiment has been in operation for some time.
Throughout the negotiations my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the High Commissioner have paid special attention to the interests and rights of the people of the Settlements, to their feeling about citizenship and to the equality of those two Settlements with the other States. They have paid special attention to ensuring that the Settlements enter into the Federation with a status and dignity appropriate to their historic past. It is now a challenge to the Government and people of the rest of Malaya that, by their actions, they can resolve these fears and set at rest the apprehensions of the people of the Settlements, who at present, naturally and understandably, feel uncertainty about their future.
Let me turn to another of the problems which the right hon. Member for Llanelly mentioned. It is summed up in the words which he used asking the Government to be generous to Malaya. If hon. Members consider the details, I think they will come to the conclusion that we have been generous to Malaya, and that we intend to be generous to Malaya. It has been decided that up to £20 million will be available to assist in meeting the cost of the emergency and up to £14 million for the expansion of the armed forces.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) is not correct in making a distinction between these sums and the sums which are available for social progress, because by taking off the shoulders of the Government and people of Malaya a proportion of the cost of the emergency, we are making revenues available for social progress and economic development which would not otherwise be available.
Moreover, Her Majesty's Government have decided that the outstanding allocation of Commonwealth Development and Welfare moneys—about £41 million—will be available to complete the various projects to which this money has been allocated and that £300,000 of that will be available to complete the construction of the University. That will enable us to carry through the undertaking which we originally gave in that respect.
What is more, as soon as independence is granted, Malaya will be eligible for technical assistance under the Colombo Plan. That plan has had great success and as a result of it there have been great advances among nations in Asia, in particular nations in South-East Asia. I am certain that, at any rate, some of the assistance which the right hon. Gentleman had in mind when he referred to this subject can be made available through the Colombo Plan machinery.
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough made some reference to economic exploitation by private interests between this country and Malaya. If it had not been for the private interests which developed tin and rubber, there would be no reality about the independence which Malaya is about to achieve, because without the economic background, the economic sinews of independence, it would become a mere phantom. The hon. Member did no service to either Malaya or other countries by depreciating the value of the contribution made—and which, we hope, will continue to be made in the future—by private finance in developing Malaya's economy and that of other countries of South-East Asia.
Another aspect of economic help which will be available to Malaya is that provided through the Colonial Development Corporation. Her Majesty's Government, after very careful thought, have determined to reaffirm the policy which they set before the House during the passage of the Ghana Independence Act with reference to the application of C.D.C. activity to independent Commonwealth Territories. The reasons were set out very clearly then and, on the whole, commended themselves to the House. After all, C.D.C. is an instrument intended for dependent territories, Colonial Territories, and there is still an immense amount of work to be done in that sphere.
However, there is a certain change in the policy as put forward at that time, in that the C.D.C. will, at the request of the Government of the independent Commonwealth Territory concerned, be allowed to undertake managing agency responsibilities in that country. It is quite immaterial whether the finance for a project, for which it is asked to undertake managing agency responsibility, comes from the International Bank, a loan raised on the London market, or from local funds in the Territory itself. It will still be possible for the C.D.C. to ensure that the experienced manpower at its disposal is available to help independent territories in that way.
I believe that that meets the arguments raised during the discussion on the Ghana Independence Act when hon. Members said that there was a danger that with gradual curtailment of the possible sphere of activities of the C.D.C. we might lose the advantage of the experience and skill of its personnel. That will not now be lost and there is, therefore, no fear on that score. If the Government concerned wish it, it will be possible to obtain the assistance, skill, energies and experience of the staff of C.D.C.
The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) asked about the defence agreement. It is clear that it would not be right either in the interests of the United Kingdom, or in the interests of Malaya for this agreement to be signed until after Malaya has achieved independence. This does not mean necessarily that the terms of the agreement will not be available before that time, but signature cannot take place until after Merdeka day. In those circumstances, I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not go into details, but merely assure him that that is so and that negotiations about the agreement are far advanced.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) raised a number of matters with which I will deal as rapidly as I can and, I hope, accurately, because some were extremely technical and complicated. I can confirm that his interpretation of the qualification for citizenship is perfectly correct. He assumed from that that it had already been decided that those entitled to hold a British passport should continue to do so. This is an extremely complicated and technical matter, which is still under discussion. I have no doubt that with the sense of broad-mindedness and moderation which has characterised all the negotiations, some form of satisfactory solution to that problem will be found.
My hon. Friend asked why Malay was to be the language of the Assembly. I think that the answer is fairly obvious, that it would be impossible to carry out effectively the parliamentary procedure on a bi-lingual or tri-lingual basis. The only way, as we have found from our own experience in this House, is by having one language, and it is quite clear that the language should be, as it is to be, Malay.
which said clearly that the object of this was to ensure that during the early days of the existence of the Constitution the men who qualify, and who would not otherwise be willing to stand for Parliament, should still be able to serve in the Legislature by means of nomination. This is not, I understand from the Report, intended to be a permanent feature but probably a temporary feature of the Constitution to ensure that the best men for the purpose are available during the early formative days of the Constitution.
My hon. Friend asked, too—and this is a very important point—whether the Government are satisfied that the expatriate officials were receiving the proper generous terms of compensation and proper generous treatment in the future by the Federal Government. I can assure him, as I can assure the House, that very great care was taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to ensure that this was so, and that he is satisfied that the treatment which they will receive is as generous as their very great services to the country warrant.
I turn to one or two other questions which were raised, mainly by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport. She asked me why, despite the recommendation of the Reid Commission, Islam was made the State religion, The answer is that between the time of the Report of the Reid Commission being issued and the final decision in regard to the Constitution being taken, the rulers who had previously been opposed to the establishment of Islam as a State religion altered their views on this and, together with the Government of Malaya, proposed to the Government of the United Kingdom that this decision should be taken. In view of the important and responsible representations which were made in this matter, it seemed quite clear that this decision should be taken to establish Islam as the State religion.
I would draw the attention of my hon. Friend, and of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page), who was concerned with the position of the Indian community, to the fact that Articles 3, 11 and 12 exhibit a spirit of religious tolerance which does great credit to those on the Malayan side who negotiated this matter. One feels, in these circumstances, that there are adequate safeguards for religious liberty, as, indeed, for other forms of liberty, in the Federation for the future.
The question has been raised of the specially advantageous position of the Malay Indonesians vis-à-vis other immigrant populations. This point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport. It is quite true that, in the past, there has been a natural tendency to give to immigrant Indonesians into Malaya some share of the privileged position of the indigenous population, but for the future, in respect of the attainment of citizenship, Indonesians immigrating after Merdeka day will be in exactly the same position as immigrants from any other country.
There is some logic behind the hitherto accepted practice of identifying the interests of the indigenous Malay population with those of the immigrant Indonesians, because they are, and they regard themselves as blood brothers. They speak the same language and have the same religion. If, in the future, however, there is an immigration from— Indonesia—and at present the tendency is the other way round—the new immigrants will not be in a privileged position above any other race or nationality entering Malaya, in respect of residence and the attainment of citizenship. In those circumstances, my hon. Friend can be assured that the interests of other races are fully protected.
My hon. Friend the Member for Crosby asked whether we were sure that the special position of the Malay population was not to the detriment of the interests of other racial groups in Malaya. The answer is that during the very careful investigation made by the Reid Commission there appeared to the distinguished members of that Commission to be no evidence that the special position of the Malays was either to the detriment of other communities or was resented by those other communities. In those circumstances, I think that we can assume that the special position of the Malays is not likely to be an irritant in the body politic of the Federation after independence is achieved.
I believe that, taken as a whole, these long-established immunities and privileges provide the means of ensuring, not inequality between the various races of Malaya, but that those who have had some disadvantages in the past will, as independence comes, have a start which is relatively equal and will achieve the progress, development and prosperity which is already a significant feature of the life of many of the Chinese and Indian communities.
I am fully aware that I have not answered all the questions put to me. I hope that hon. Members whose points I have overlooked or missed will forgive me and I hope, at the same time, that they will have their opportunity to raise their points again during the further stages of the Bill. I join with other hon. Members in wishing this new experiment in the evolution of British policy the success which has been the general wish of the House this afternoon.
This is something very strange. We have Republics in the Commonwealth and we have monarchies of which the Queen is the Sovereign, but this will be an elected monarchy in the Commonwealth of which the Queen is not the Sovereign. It is a new constitutional contrivance—something different from anything that we have known in Anglo-Saxon constitutional law, at any rate, for many centuries. It is new. It combines long history and tradition with the newest methods of constitutional development.
It contains, as we all recognise, the most formidable of all political and social problems, that of a multi-racial community; binding the interests of minorities and majorities, and trying to ensure that the anxieties and fears of small groups, whether racial, cultural or political, are set at rest, so that all can be united in building together a State worthy of them and the traditions of that part of the world.
I have never been to that part of South-East Asia. I hope, in due course, to visit it. But those of us who have been there and those who have not, all join in wishing success not only to the people of Malaya, but to a new and independent member of the Commonwealth. I am sure that the House will give its approval to this Bill.