East and Central Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1961.

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Photo of Mr Henry Clark Mr Henry Clark , North Antrim 12:00 am, 25th July 1961

That is absolutely right. We must show the lead. As a matter of international good manners, apart from anything else, how can America and Germany pour large amounts of money into Tanganyika before this country has a chance? We must give the lead. If we really cannot put up all the money we should like at this time, at least we should invite and encourage others to help. Instead of Mr. Nyerere having to go cap in hand to New York and West Germany, he should go, I feel, with the fullest possible British support.

There is another aspect to this business. Some Tanganyika Africans can appreciate the balance of payments difficulties of this country, but by no means all of them can. There have, however, been times when Tanganyika has seen a great deal of British money spent. It took £150 million to capture Tanganyika from Germany between 1914 and 1917. That was £150 million at the 1914 value. One can juggle with the figures and soon show that such a sum would amount to about £1,000 million now. Many of the people of Tanganyika were alive and kicking at the time and saw that expenditure by the European Powers in their country years ago.

After that time, they hardly saw a penny of our money until after the Second World War, and then, unfortunately-I shall not make a party point of it now, although I am prepared to do so on occasions—there was the groundnuts scheme. This was a tragedy. The net figure was £35 million, but if all the other things are added the total expense must have been nearly £60 million. That money was literally poured into the bush. Tanganyika, possibly, had £5 million of value out of it—no more.

Those were the two occasions when the people of Tanganyika saw our money in bulk. Today, having poured £150 million down the drain in 1916 and £30 million or £40 million down the drain in 1948 to 1950, we cannot afford £5 million of our 1961 devalued pounds. It is a little hard. One can hardly blame some Africans, who may think "Perfidious Albion", and not really believe the story about our balance of payments but, rather, believe that it is just bad faith when we do not help. I am sure that it is not a question of bad faith, but that it is simply the Chancellor of the Exchequer digging in his heels with a good deal of ignorance and stubbornness. It is ridiculous that just because Tanganyika is looking for money in this month of July, 1961, instead of January, 1961, or, possibly, even July, 1962, she cannot get the money.

To me, the economy being made over Tanganyika is one of those typical little economies that an ordinary family makes when, suddenly, it meets a financial crisis and it is decided to cut down the grocer's bill and to give the children only one plate of cornflakes for their breakfast. That kind of economy does nobody any good. It certainly does not overcome a family's financial crisis. It strikes me that that is the kind of economy we are using now. We are cutting off the children's cornflakes just to demonstrate that we are facing up to our problems. To this country, £5 million is chicken feed.

Many people have said that a Colombo plan for Africa is wanted. We now have a Secretary for Technical Co-operation, but over recent years we have failed to give a lead and there is a tremendous amount to be done in Africa. We need the co-operation of the other Western Powers, as well as of the other countries of Africa, to work out a system of pan-Africanism.

A great deal of aid for Africa can come from Africa itself. On a visit to Ghana last year, I picked up a pamphlet an oil palms. I sent it to an area in Tanganyika where oil palms are grown and I believe that, as a result, there may be a great deal of difference to the crop in two or three years' time. There is "know-how" in one part of Africa which another part of that continent does not have.

If we got all the people working together, we could build a great, free Continent of Africa which would banish poverty and every other evil. This country should give a lead. We have failed to give it. It is just the cheeseparing kind of refusal of this loan to Tanganyika that prevents us from taking the lead. We are in a unique position. Great Britain, above all others, could lead the nations of Africa and of Europe in building up Africa into a really great Continent.