Nyasaland (State of Emergency)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1959.

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Photo of Mr John Arbuthnot Mr John Arbuthnot , Dover 12:00 am, 3rd March 1959

I have, perhaps, been the most recent visitor from this House to Nyasaland. I do not for a moment want to suggest that because I spent what was merely a few days there I begin to know the depth of the problems that exist in that territory, but I am absolutely convinced that the fundamental interest of the people of Nyasaland, whatever may be their colour or their political thoughts, is that peace should be preserved, and that they should be left to get on with the job of bringing up their families, and generally improving their standard of living.

I am also convinced that the ordinary people of Nyasaland will be grateful to my right hon. Friend and to the Government for their determination that peace shall be preserved, and shall not be allowed to be disturbed by rabble rousers, whether they are rabble rousers out there or whether they are in this House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Sir A. Baldwin) regretted deeply that this debate should be taking place at all. He was attacked by the Leader of the Liberal Party for saying that, but I am quite sure that my hon. Friend was right in his regret. Many of the things which have been said in the heat of the moment during this debate, when they are sent abroad—since they are inflammatory "snippets" they will certainly be sent abroad—will do immense damage to the real interests of the people of Nyasaland and the people of Africa as a whole.

I join with my hon. Friends who have regretted that this debate is taking place. I am sure that, whatever our political views may be, all of us in the House, on whichever side we may sit, have one fundamental interest at heart. We all want to see Africa steadily developing and taking her place, or her series of places, in the great nations of the world, improving her standard of life and playing a full part in the community of nations. I am sure that the kind of debate we have had this evening cannot contribute to the aim which we all fundamentally wish to see achieved.

The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) said that the issue was not whether Africans should gain power in Africa, but how Africans should gain power in Africa. That will have been agreed on all sides of the House, but I feel that, if we start making attacks upon Sir Roy Welensky or anybody else, we shall not really help the attainment of power by Africans in Africa, which we all want to see. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Dr. Banda?"] I would say the same for Dr. Banda. I hope that hon. Members opposite will bear in mind that the sentiments which have been expressed concerning Dr. Banda have been much more restrained than the words which have been directed at Sir Roy Welensky.

I am sure that I speak for hon. Members on all sides of the House when I say that we want to see a partnership in which we all assist all sections of the community in Africa and in Nyasaland, as a part of Africa, to play their part in improving their standard of life and advancing towards full democracy.