Bank of Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th August 1961.

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Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester 12:00 am, 4th August 1961

My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) said, quite rightly, that the financial institutions of the City of London are not being asked to take very much risk in supporting this project. I go further and say that the institutions of the City of London would be taking a very great risk if they did not support this project. We can well imagine the leaders of the newly emerging African territories being very unfriendly and suspicious towards the institutions of the City if they do not co-operate enthusiastically in this sort of project.

The theme of the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. Foster) is one of great importance which should be considered with some urgency. Unless in the very near future we are able to train African personnel to play their full part in the financial institutions of their countries we can well imagine those countries becoming very sympathetic towards the financial entanglements of the Communist world.

I should like much more to be done in training African personnel in the know-how of running financial institutions. As someone who spends his business life in the City of London, I am rather disappointed at the efforts which have so far been made to train African personnel in the financial institutions of the City. The number of Africans undergoing training in the offices of insurance companies and banking houses in the City is far too small. If the City is to continue to enjoy the insurance and banking transactions of these very important areas, without which the economies of the Western world would collapse, it must make a much more positive attempt to train and educate these people. I should like to see Africans being trained on the floor of institutions like Lloyds and the Stock Exchange, but I never do. Yet many of the companies associated with these institutions are doing a great deal of rewarding business with the countries concerned.

I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to consult those educational institutions connected with professions such as the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Institute of Bankers, which do a very important job in training people in this country, to enable Africans to take the examinations of those organisations. For example, I can see no reason why one of the contributions of these major financial industries should not be to ensure that the correspondence courses of those institutions are provided free for Africans who wish to undertake them. In financial terms, this would be a relatively small contribution, but, in terms of enabling Africans to acquire the necessary know-how and to learn the principles of these financial industries, it would be a very important and worthwhile contribution. There is no reason why the powerful banking and insurance industries of this country should not financially support the establishment of insurance colleges and banking colleges in the emerging territories of Africa on the lines of those which exist in this country. I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will be able to support the important theme raised by my hon. and learned Friend and that he will do all in his power to influence the institutions of this country to play their important part in training Africans to take their place in these Western institutions on which we are so dependent.