BOTSWANA INDEPENDENCE BILL [Lords]

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th July 1966.

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Order for Second Reading read.

12.34 a.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I have it in command from the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place Her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

I beg to move, That the Bill he now read a Second time.

There are certain similarities between Botswana and Lesotho. It was 17 years after Moshoeshoe called for British protection that the Bechuana tribes followed his example. That was in 1855, and for the last 81 years the United Kingdom has had responsibility for Bechuanaland.

I do not think the House would wish me at this late stage to go through all the provisions of the Bill, which are very similar to the provisions in other independence Bills. Nor would hon. Members wish me to weary them with a long description of the constitutional progress in Bechuanaland. I want, however, to refer to the period in which there was the beginning of a breakthrough in the progress in constitution forming in Bechuanaland. This came about in 1963 when all the political parties and all the important groups which were represented in the talks that took place in Bechuanaland came to unanimous agreement on the constitution which should be introduced in March, 1965. That constitution was the one which will form the basis for independent Botswana.

The constitution provided Bechuanaland with a form of self-government and provided for 31 members to be elected on a common voting roll plus four elected members chosen by the Assembly itself. Her Majesty's Commissioner had special responsibility for external affairs, defence and security, and from 1st May, 1966, also had discretionary powers in relation to the public services. He is, however, required to obtain the advice of the Bechuanaland Cabinet in the exercise of his responsibility, and in all other matters is required to act in accordance with the Government's advice, subject to reserve powers.

Chiefs cannot be elected to the Assembly, but there is a separate House of Chiefs, which is a consultative body, particularly in relation to tribal affairs. It is interesting to note that the 1965 constitution brought about a situation in which there was a completely nonracial state in Bechuanaland where the European and the African electors had complete equality on the basis of one man one vote. This was a complete change, but it was achieved unanimously and very smoothly indeed. The elections which followed in March 1965 resulted in an overwhelming victory for Dr. Seretse Khama's Bechuanaland Democratic Party, which won 28 of the 31 seats. I am glad to say that one of the successful candidates of the B.D.P. is a European. The remaining three seats were won by Mr. Matante's party. The total poll was 140,000. About 75 per cent. of the electors voted, and the B.D.P. secured about 80 per cent. while Mr. Matante secured about 18 per cent. of the votes cast.

In the unanimously agreed report, it was stated that the independence and self-governing constitution was intended to be one which would lead gradually to independence. The Bechuanaland Democratic Party, in its election manifesto, had also made this clear. It said: The party stands and works for independence of Bechuanaland within the shortest possible time and shall use the oncoming period of self-government as a preparatory stage towards attaining independence. Towards the end of 1965 Bechuanaland sought agreement on the date for independence, and it was announced in October last that the British Government had agreed that Bechuanaland should become independent towards the end of 1966. It was accepted that steps would be taken to enable independence to be achieved by the 30th September, 1966. That date, as the House knows, was agreed at a conference held at the beginning of this year. The main task of the conference was to consider proposals already drawn up in Bechuanaland which had been given general blessing in both the Assembly and the House of Chiefs for the independence constitu- tion. It envisaged the establishment of Bechuanaland as an independent republic to be known as Botswana.

Apart from the change to an executive President, they were in substance no more than the adjustments required for the 1965 constitution to adapt it to the circumstances of independence, I want to make clear that, before these proposals were debated in the Assembly and the House of Chiefs, more than 150 public meetings were arranged throughout the country at which the proposals were explained to the people, and the meeting of the House of Chiefs was postponed to permit the Chiefs to hold their own kgotlas to explain the proposals to their people. These were attended by Ministers in Bechuanaland. The proposals of the constitutional conference. recorded in Cmnd. 2929, approved Bechuanaland's proposals subject to certain small amendments and confirmed September as the date for independence. It is not proposed that there should be new elections in view of the fact that Dr. Seretse Khama had such an overwhelming majority in the elections last year and that the constitution for independence was fully discussed and agreed before it was accepted.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Matante decided at the conference this year that he could not sign the Report—in fact, he walked out—because, he said, there had not been adequate consultation. We do not agree with him about that. We think that the full processes were carried through, and it was more than made clear that the people of Bechuanaland and the Chiefs agreed with the constitution that was being made in their name.

The House will agree that it is very doubtful whether this progress would have been so smoothly and by such general agreement without the good work of Dr. Khama himself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He has played a remarkable part in the development in a short time of Bechuanaland from a Protectorate to the threshold of independence. All will agree about his remarkable statesmanship and outstanding ability. He will serve Botswana well in the days after independence.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Dr. Khama for many years. I first met him 15 years ago when he gave me some very fine words of advice before I first went out to Uganda, and I have many limes had reason to value that advice. In those days, he had some trouble himself, but he managed to overcome them and without any bitterness and has now emerged as the elected head of the Government in Bechuanaland. As a result, he will be in a position to serve his country even better than he has before.

Dr. Khama is, in my view, a great man, and I believe that he will be able to give great service not only to Botswana but to many other countries in Africa which will be able to follow his country's example in non-racial co-operation.

I do not want to delay the House long, but I must refer to some of the immense economic problems that Botswana faces on independence. It is a poor and underdeveloped country. It is almost wholly dependent upon the cattle industry and, although this has been developed considerably in recent years since the establishment initially of an abattoir with C.D.C. money and subsequently with the canning factory at Lobatsi, the economy is far from viable.

As in the case of Lesotho, it has been suggested that Britain has done hardly anything to help Botswana to develop. I would agree that up to ten years ago not much was done, and this is something for which both sides of the House must accept responsibility. Too little was done by both sides. But since then a great deal of assistance has been given and a great deal of money provided to help the budget. The figure we are providing in grant-in-aid rose from £140,000 in a budget of £1·3 million in 1956–57 to £2·6 million in a budget of £5.4 million in 1965–66. The final figure for 1966–67 is likely to be higher still. The total budgetary aid over this period, including the current year, will amount to over £11 million. In addition, just under £7 million has been allocated under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, the most recent allocation being £2·6 million to spend in the two year period 1965–67.

In the period since 1961, Exchequer loans totalling about £1·9 million have been granted, and Bechuanaland has also received £400,000 under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme and £250,000 in technical assistance. The total of this direct aid in the last decade amounts to about £23 million, which is about £50 per head of our population. If we had provided a similar amount per capita to India and Pakistan in the last ten years, it would have amounted to about £20,000 million, or 10 per cent. of our gross national product.

Although I accept that up to ten years ago the United Kingdom did not do enough, I do not think that we need be ashamed of the assistance per capita provided since then, but there is no disguising the fact that Botswana faces immense problems after independence. It has to recover from the effects of famine. There has been this disastrous drought for five years, and then this year the famine. I would like to take this opportunity to go over some of the facts, because it is right that we should get on the record what has been done.

For five years there were below average rainfalls, with a total failure of the rains in the early part of 1965. This brought on the worst crop failure and drought that the territory has ever experienced for 25 years. As a result, virtually all crops were lost and a large number of cattle died. The rains fell late in 1965, and again in January and February of this year. They improved grazing and water supplies to some extent, but they came too late to make any material effect on the situation. The next crop is due to be harvested in mid-1967 and the famine is expected to continue until then. It is hoped then that the normal rains will provide grazing on a much larger area until next November.

The number of destitute people being fed now is about 115,000, and to give some idea of the magnitude of the problem I would point out that this is out of a population of 570,000. But that is not the really horrifying figure. It is that this total is expected to rise to 360,000 before the famine is over. It is true that money has continued to circulate as a result of cattle sales and the numbers involved are not rising as quickly as was earlier feared, but the cattle losses will probably amount to no fewer than some 400,000 heads, or about 30 per cent. of the estimated total of 1,300,000. The aim is to have 200,000 head of cattle for breeding stock in good condition in the affected areas.

In the very early stages of the famine a local National Relief Fund was estab- lished, which provided emergency feeding for the first few weeks. Since then, relief needs for both the human and the cattle population have been met, mainly on the basis of food supplies provided free by the World Food Programme. It has also been necessary for Her Majesty's Government to provide funds for the purchase of food needed for periods when World Food Programme supplies were not available.

I am glad to say that Bechuanaland's requests have been met in full. Assistance has been provided in three ways. No less than £458,000 was provided in the grant in aid programme in 1965–66, and approval has been given for expenditure of up to £1,100,000 in the current financial year for the human and cattle feeding programmes. In addition, since the onset of the famine, C.D. and W. grants, totalling £245,000 and an Exchequer loan of £150,000 have been approved for projects associated with famine relief; those are aimed mainly at the opening up of new grazing areas.

Food for 60,000 people was provided during September and October last year, and from then until the end of last month the World Food Programme provided supplies for 105,000 people. Under a new one-year programme, which came into effect at the beginning of this month, the W.F.P. is providing further supplies for up to 360,000 people. Much of this will be on a food-for-work arrangement, and this will encourage the people to help themselves. In addition, the W.F.P. is implementing a five-year supplementary feeding programme for children and for pregnant and nursing women, also beginning in July, together with stock feed for the period up to the end of November. The total value of this aid is about £5,700,000.

I should like here to pay a tribute to organisations of a voluntary nature, such as Oxfam, War on Want and Christian Aid, all of which have done such magnificent work in helping Bechuanaland in its grave situation. No fewer than 12,000 children under five years of age have been helped by the supplementary feeding programme jointly provided by the Save the Children Fund and the Red Cross. The voluntary work which has been done has been enormous, and I want to add to this the long-term work done by Oxfam, in association with certain co-operative societies, to try to establish the basis of the co-operative element which will help Botswana in the years ahead to avoid, providing there are rains, the problems of backwardness in the territory.

At the beginning of the year we were submitted a plan by the Bechuanaland Ministers for a £1·3 million programme of rehabilitation following the famine. Regretfully we had to make it clear that additional development funds for this purpose could not be made available within the limits of the overseas aid programme. Details of the programme were sent to the voluntary organisations to which I have already referred. It has recently been announced, and I am very glad that this has been done, that the Freedom From Hunger campaign, in cooperation with Christian Aid and Oxfam, have undertaken to provide the sum of £412,000 for various items within the programme, aimed at the extension of agricultural education and development. I am sure that the whole House would want to pay a tribute to the voluntary organisations which have undertaken this tremendous work.

As has already been said in the debate on Lesotho, Botswana is not in the position of Lesotho in that it has a larger area and more resources. It is a country the size of France, and although it is under-developed there are prospects of mineral development. Copper, for instance, may be exploited in the future. Providing Botswana has economic assistance from outside and has the organisation to attack the problem of development, it has the eventual resources to develop.

Word will go out from this House to Dr. Seretse Khama and his fellow Ministers that we wish them well in this great adventure of developing Botswana. Let us pay a tribute to them for having the courage to grasp the opportunity as well as the challenge of independence. Let them use this prospect of independence to develop their country and to make it a better place for all the Botswana to live in.

12.53 a.m.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

In spite of the closing words of the Under-Secretary, I have no doubt that some of the fears expressed in the last debate will find some echo in this one. I thoroughly welcome this Bill and would like to give it my support. When the Under-Secretary took us back 15 years to the events which were then taking place in Bechuanaland, I found myself thinking of the debate that we had in June 1951, when there were very few of us sitting here then who would have confidently looked forward to the granting of independence to that country at the end of September 1966.

Whatever arguments we may have had tonight about mandates elsewhere, there is room for very few in relation to this country. Dr. Seretse Khama's Party won the elections last year by a majority, of which most of us would be envious, having said perfectly clearly in their election manifesto that the party stood and worked for the independence of Bechuanaland within the shortest possible time. The hon. Gentleman has already spoken of the difficulties facing this new nation. I am convinced that under Dr. Seretse Khama's leadership there are likely to be very few illusions about the difficulties facing that country. I find it impossible to read unmoved the speeches that he made at the independence conference especially his closing works at the conference's end in which he said: We appear to have rounded the last bend in the track of our journey and would seem to he out in the straight toward the end. The use of that sporting metaphor shows that the future President is very much at home at Epsom and Newmarket. He went on to say: You will realise this can only be to the very great satisfaction of myself and all people in Bechuanaland. Yet one's feelings are nevertheless a little mixed; there are also both a strong measure of nostalgia for present security and relationships, and a measure of trepidation in respect of the future. I do not think that the Under-Secretary was in any danger of minimising the difficulties. Certainly, there is no point in any of us doing so.

Again, there is the difficulty of Botswana's geographical position. It is obviously different from that of Basutoland in that it is not surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, but it has its difficulties. The economy is dependent on one product and is in need of diversification, and there is the continuing danger, which is in all our minds and about which the hon. Gentleman spoke movingly, of drought and famine, as has happened so recently. These are formidable problems, and it is little wonder to any of us that Botswana looks hopefully —I hope, not too hopefully—to Her Majesty's Government to provide enough financial and other help to make independence a reality.

A few hours ago we were in the middle of our two-day economic debate and in these circumstances it is, I suppose, impossible to be over-optimistic about the outcome of Bechuanaland's call for help. I understand that the Minister for Overseas Development has promised an answer to this question next month. I hope that we can be assured, as far as the Minister can do so when he replies, that Her Majesty's Government have both heeded this call for help from the country and will come to its aid as soon and as generously as possible.

I am confident—at least, I hope that I have reasons for confidence—that most speakers in this debate will join the Under-Secretary and myself in wishing well to this nation that is soon to get its independence, but I hope very much that we shall wish it well not only by our words, but by the actions of the Government in giving all the help they can.

I understand that Botswana will continue as a full member of the Commonwealth. Here we have a small country situated among the racial fears, suspicion and bitterness which divide Southern Africa. Its leader called these racial fears, suspicion and bitterness—I quote from a speech which he made at the opening session— the unnecessary conflicts between black and white. He is aiming at a society in which each individual will have an equal right of expression, and of opportunity, no matter what his race or colour. My concluding words are that, small it may be, but that a triumph in Botswana in the future could teach a great deal to a world which is trying to tear itself apart.

12.59 a.m.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

I would like to join those who tonight have welcomed the Bill and to congratulate all those, in this country and in Bechuanaland, who have worked towards its success. This view will be particularly warmly and strongly held by those of us in the House who have had the privilege of enjoying the warmth and spontaneity of the hospitality of the people of Botswana.

Probably no country can have approached independence in a condition of greater political stability but,. on the other hand, with a more dismal economic situation. It is fair to say that for half a century after the pressure by Rhodes to get a route to his interests in Rhodesia, combined with the fear of German expansion in South-West Africa, led to the creation of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, there was virtually no economic and social progress. In fact, there was no evidence of interest in economic and social progress on the part of British Governments until the 1920s. Well into the 1930s, we had reports such as that by Sir Alan Pim, which pointed out that we were spending £1,000 on the education of a small number of white children in the territory, but only £100 on the education of 8,000 African children.

That is understandable, because in the South African Act of Union of 1909, there was reference to the eventual admission of Bechuanaland into the Union, and that intended policy was underlined by the fact that until recently the capital of the Protectorate was Mafeking; in other words, the country was administered from outside its own boundaries. Furthermore, there was very little move towards any localisation of the civil service in the territory.

All this remained pretty gloomy in prospect until 1960, when South Africa left the Commonwealth. We then realised that we had to work out an alternative viable scheme for the country. If we look at the aid given since 1960, we see that it has not come up to any-think like the recommendations of the Morse Report in 1960, nor anything like the recommendations made by Sir John Maude when retiring as High Commissioner in 1962. What is worse, we know that there is considerable economic and mineral wealth in the territory which we could exploit if adequate investments were made.

If we are to see progress in the country, higher development spending is essen- tial. It is essential for economic take-off, and it is certainly essential if we are to eliminate in Bechuanaland the need for budgetary support. But, if good use is to be made of increased development spending, we must also see a strengthening of the administrative machine. At the moment, as I understand it, we are giving budgetary aid in the neighbourhood of £3 million per annum, and it could be claimed that, to some extent, it is wasted. With an extra £2 million on this front in grant in aid, it would be possible to strengthen the administration to the point at which we could make more sense of capital aid.

The Bechuanaland Government are looking forward to grants for capital budget in the neighbourhood of £5 million, but they only believe that it would be necessary for the United Kingdom to contribute £1.4 million of that sum. They point out, with some reason, that Britain holds the key to future development. If we are prepared to make the critical investments at this stage, the interest which has already been shown by other countries, particularly in Scandinavia, will be forthcoming.

It is also important at this juncture to see the relative futility of some of the isolated attempts at development in Bechuanaland, unless they are looked at in the context of the overall needs of the territory. For example, it is planned at present to establish a new agricultural demonstrators' college. There will be little purpose in that college unless there is adequate secondary education in the country to prepare students to the point at which they will be able to make the best use of the training available. There will be little point in training students unless funds are available to employ the new trained personnel. If the trained personnel are to do their work adequately, there must be credit and more adequate marketing co-operatives available for the pupil farmers with whom they will be working.

It is obvious that in this territory, as in others, education and agriculture must take priority in development. Yet, if one looks at The educational position of Bechuanaland as it approaches independence, there is no room for complacency. In the current year only a third of those pupils qualified to follow secondary education are able to find places within secondary education. There are only 47 secondary school teachers in the territory, and, of those, only five come from Bechuanaland itself. In the year before independence, there was only one graduate in Bechuanaland from any university in the world.

If we switch our attention to agriculture, the other priority, we see that in Bechuanaland there is a tremendous need for adequate systems of irrigation. The absence of these is always evident and is particularly well illustrated in this time of drought when, as we have heard, by the end of this year perhaps more than 50 per cent. of the population will have to receive famine relief.

I draw the attention of the House to one other aspect of development. If we are to see the community drawn into active participation in developments, the importance of the Community Development Department cannot be overestimated. According to cautious estimates within the Community Development Department there is a need for more than 100 provincial officers, and at the moment there are barely half a dozen. I submit that the significance of development and of economic assistance towards development cannot be overestimated if we are to give this act of political independence genuine meaning.

It has been pointed out this evening, with great reason, that one of the outstanding points about Bechuanaland as it approaches independence is its political stability and responsible leadership. This has been well evidenced by the absence in recent elections of cheap and easy slogans. What we have seen by political leaders, led by Seretse Khama, is a concentration on the importance of building up the economy in order to build up the social services of the territory.

I think that we should be cautious, because if we fail Bechuanaland at this stage, if we fail the political leaders whom we have commended this evening, we may quickly see a deterioration in the political stability in this area. A deterioration in Bechuanaland obviously may have dramatic consequences, for this is the centre of one of the most sensitive areas in the world, and it is quite clear that any difficulty in this territory could prove the flashpoint for an explosion in the whole southern part of Africa.

I think that we can be more positive and less gloomy. A great deal of time has been given by the House to the problem of promoting a multi-racial society within Southern Rhodesia. Here we have an outstanding opportunity to enable the territory lying between Southern Rhodesia and South Africa to make a go of a multiracial stable society. We have an outstanding chance of enabling this territory to do it by investing what is a relatively small amount of extra money in the territory. I believe that the eyes of Africa and of the rest of the developing world are very much on us in our policy in the Protectorates, because it is here that we can demonstrate our good faith and the degree to which we really stand by the genuine development, independence and freedom of these people.

If we fail them for this sum of money which is minute compared with the expenditure on armaments with which we claim to be defending freedom in the world, we will have taken one more fatal step towards the ominous division of the world on purely racial lines, cutting right across the world's surface.

1.8 a.m.

Photo of Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker , Cheltenham

I rise for a few moments to support what has been said from both Front Benches in giving a welcome to this Bill. I am sure that there is one aspect of this. if I might refer to it briefly, which will delight constitutionalists and many of the friends of the Khama family.

The House will recall that at the time of the post-war Socialist Government Ministers saw fit to withdraw Tshekedi Khama, the Regent of Bechuanaland, and his nephew Seretse, and when I had the privilege of being in the Commonwealth Relations Office we were able to set to start restoring the situation in Bechuanaland.

The noble lords Lord Ismay and Lord Swinton, when I was the Under-Secretary, managed to make arrangements for Tshekedi to return home. I have vivid memories of Lord Ismay and Tshekedi Khama discussing various matters, particularly cattle. I remember farmer Ismay and farmer Tshekedi talking about the practical realities of the sort of cattle that might do well in Bechuanaland and the developments which were envisaged following on the post-war period when we were starting to provide resources to develop parts of the world which hitherto had been somewhat neglected. Then, a year or so later, under my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) arrangements were made for Seretse Khama to return home—to the joy of the whole House—not to be hereditary Chief of the Bamangwato but to go back and play his part in public life. He must have read "The Apple Cart" and, like King Magnus, have set up, as an administrator, to apply himself to acquiring elected office and to proceed, as he has done, to be head of the country in an elected capacity. All constitutionalists and readers of Shaw will welcome the way in which Dr. Seretse Khama, as he now is, has put into effect what appeared at some time to be the somewhat far-fetched idea put forward in the play.

Throughout all this, like his uncle, Tshekedi Khama, in very difficult personal circumstances he has borne himself with the greatest dignity, patience and courage. I am sure that Tshekedi Khama, wherever he may be. is watching, with great pride and affection the achievements of his nephew, Dr. Seretse Khama, who will soon be head of one new country at the United Nations.

On behalf of all the friends of Dr. Seretse Khama—and perhaps he has more friends in this House and in the country than he is aware of—we must look forward to this country's proceeding to even greater prosperity.

We realise what he is up against in this enormous territory, with comparatively limited resources at the moment, depending upon variable rainfall. But in so far as the Almighty will help him to overcome these problems, we wish in every way that Dr. Seretse Khama and the nonracial ideals which he has set before us and his country will proceed to great success.

1.12 a.m.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

I do not wish to say anything at this late hour about the constitutional matters alluded to by the Under-Secretary. I shall confine myself solely to economic and financial considerations and a few questions concerning the temporary arrangements made in Bechuanaland arising from the present regime in Rhodesia.

There is a great affinity between our earlier debate and this one. If the right hon. Gentleman had given us the effective figures concerning financial aid during his speech, instead of leaving it to the Under-Secretary to do so two hours later, we would all have been in bed at a much earlier hour, because the gravamen of my complaints in that debate—as will be the case in this one—was simply that to give independence to that territory has little meaning unless we are quite specific and positive this evening as to how we propose to cope with future deficits.

The Parliamentary Secretary talked at great length about voluntary organisations sending financial aid. I suppose he will accuse me of being a bull in a china shop for alluding to it. But I have learned my Parliamentary manners in a long and hard career, and if he seeks to intervene I shall courteously give way. I shall not refer to him five times and then refuse to give way.

In Bechuanaland the economic and financial circumstances for the future are even more acute than they are in Basutoland. I will give the Parliamentary Secretary the last published figures, bull in a china shop though I may be for doing so. The hon. Gentleman should not grin. He coined this most un-Parliamentary term. In Bechuanaland there is a population of only 548,000, compared with 733,000 in Basutoland. The revenue is £2,300,000, compared with Basutoland's £2,500,000. Bechuanaland's expenditure is £4,300,000, compared with £4 million in Basutoland. Thus, in Basutoland there is a net deficit on current account of £1½ million, whereas in Bechuanaland it is £1·9 million.

Aid was of the order of £3·5 million. The difference between the deficit of £1–9 million and the aid of E3·5 million is accounted for by a capital investment in the territory of £1·6 million. But we may expect the financial requirement of this territory over the next ten years to be about £4 million per annum. In considering independence for the territory, we cannot afford to look at any period shorter than ten years, and we ought therefore to consider the aid required in that period to be approximately £40 million.

I asked a question to which I did not receive a very good answer in our last debate—who is to provide it? The answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) by the right hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) on 21st July was that a statement on these matters would be made "next month". It looks to me as if the British Government want to get their Bill this week and announce the aid next month. That will not measure up to the kind of financial considerations which I have mentioned this evening—

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

After we have risen.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

After we have risen, of course. They will then be inviolate and I shall be able to make speeches only in the country criticising the right hon. Gentleman.

I should prefer more specific information this evening about the financial intention; of the Government. It is not good enough to say, "We will announce them next month, but we do not want to say what they are now."

This is a territory of 225,000 square miles. I join my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite in the tributes which they have paid to Dr. Seretse Khama. This territory would not have been brought to this position of near-independence had it not been for his wisdom, statesmanship and leadership. But it will mean nothing to him unless we devise where the money will come from. Very massive sums of money are involved.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not emulate the rude example of his Parliamentary Secretary and say that this pertinacious question of mine, repeated three times in the last debate and now repeated for the third time in this debate, means that I am being a bull in a china shop. On the contrary, it is the only thing which matters in our consideration of the Bill, because all of us, on both sides of the House and in all three political parties, have always accepted the philosophy that Commonwealth Territories should be brought forward to responsible self-government at the earliest possible date and granted their independence. But that independence is valueless to them unless there are the finan- cial sinews in support of it. I hope that we shall be given something more than an assurance that we may be told, when the House is in recess next month, how much money will be given to Bechuanaland after 1967, which is what the Minister stated on 21st July.

I turn to the strategic considerations. There is no railway in Basutoland. Indeed, there is almost nothing in Basutoland. There is a railway through Bechuanaland, and a vitally important one strategically. It is the sole link by rail between the Republic of South Africa and Rhodesia. It is a principal route by which oil now flows to Rhodesia. There is also the road through Beitbridge, and that is how Mr. Ian Smith's regime gets its oil. I see the Under-Secretary nodding in dissent. If he dissents from what I am saying, he is not alive; he is not "with it". The newspapers are full of pictures of road tankers going via Beitbridge, in addition to rail tankers going through the north-east corner of Bechuanaland.

Perhaps the Under-Secretary will continue to nod in dissent when I say that a company of British infantry is at present at Francistown from a battalion of British infantry in Swaziland. I am pleased to note that the hon. Gentleman does not dissent on that point. What is the future of Francistown to be on independence being granted to Bechuanaland? Is the B.B.C. to have permanent facilities to beam propaganda from an independent territory, Bechuanaland, into another, self-siezed independent territory, Rhodesia?

Why is there no reference in the Bill to special provisions in respect of Francistown? Is the B.B.C. station there beaming propaganda into Mr. Smith's Rhodesia intended only to be of a temporary character? I would like answers to these specific questions. What defence agreements are we to have—Britain and Bechuanaland—remembering that Bechuanaland is not Basutoland and that there are entirely different considerations.

I brought in as a side reference—I would have been out of order had I done otherwise—during our debate on the Lesotho Independence Bill the question of the ruling of the International Court at The Hague in regard to South West Africa. I do not know what the outcome of this matter will be. None of us knows, and we would be stupid to be dogmatic about it. The quarrel about the status of South West Africa—ex-German South West Africa, which was mandated by the League of Nations to the Union of South Africa in 1920, which South Africa now claims is part of its domestic territory and which Ethiopia and other African States claim ought to be brought under the suzerainty of the United Nations—is a controversial and imponderable matter.

I am keenly aware that Bechuanaland is flanked to the west by South West Africa—which is virtually a part of the Republic of South Africa—to the south and south east by the Republic of South Africa and to the north by Rhodesia. I have apprehensions, in view of the strategic importance of Bechuanaland, about the future, and these apprehensions are not dissimilar to those voiced by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd). Therefore, I press the question upon the right hon. Gentleman: what are our defence arrangements in relation to Bechuanaland? Have we given any assurance that we shall protect Bechuanaland if there are quarrels between her and any of her neighbours, South Africa, Portugal—for Angola is to the north—or Mr. Ian Smith's Rhodesia? What defence assurances have we given, if any, or are we to leave this territory utterly defenceless and say that if Rhodesia, Portugal or South Africa care to make military intrusions we would not go to the aid of Bechuanaland?

These are important strategic considerations which did not directly arise in the case of Basutoland. As the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West said in different terms, Bechuanaland occupies a strategic position of considerable importance. We recognise its importance today by establishing there the B.B.C. station beaming propaganda into Rhodesia. We underline its importance by sending British troops to protect it, and they have been there a very long time.

The British battalion of infantry in Swaziland is now permanently quartered there. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, with what strategic intent? Is it internal security? I am glad to see the Parlia- mentary Private Secretary disappearing to the Box to secure the answers to my questions, because hon. Members may be certain that the right hon. Gentleman would not know them. I am glad to see the Parliamentary Private Secretary returning so soon.

These are important matters, and notwithstanding the late hour I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman replies we shall not have any repetition of the rudeness of the Under-Secretary of State, who referred to my pertinacity as characteristics of a bull in a china shop.

1.28 a.m.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

Before intervening on this very important matter, I should like to make a protest to the right hon. Gentleman and the Government Deputy Chief Whip. It is scandalous that the House should be asked to debate two Bills of such tremendous importance to a very large number of people in the Commonwealth at this hour of the night. To start discussion of these two Measures after 10 p.m. shows complete disrespect to Parliamentary procedure and, far more important, to the view that the inhabitants of the two territories will form on the interest this House takes in their future.

Both Bills are sufficiently important to deserve a full day's debate in the House, particularly that which we are now debating. Many hon. Members would like to develop the question of the strategic problem which my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) has just enunciated, and at an earlier hour many hon. Members deeply interested in the problem would have been present. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers), who I see has now left the Chamber, is deeply concerned with the problem and would have liked to contribute to the debate. The House has been very shabbily treated by the Government in bringing these two Bills forward at this hour of the night.

I do not want to say anything that would be looked upon as being derogatory to Dr. Seretse Khama. I have a tremendous admiration for him, and I wish the country of Botswana every success and happiness when it becomes independent. Its people are very lucky to have a man of Dr. Seretse Khama's wisdom to lead them into independence.

I do not apologise for detaining the House at this hour, if the Government bring these Bills forward at this time. I wish to raise a matter of transcendent importance. This afternoon, the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans) made his maiden speech and spoke of the "dying Welsh nation". I think that most hon. Members felt that he was going a little too far there, particularly when we recall that at this time there is in New Zealand a British Rugby touring team most of the members of which are Welshmen. In that sort of atmosphere, it is difficult to think that the Welsh nation is dying, but, of course, the hon. Gentleman had something to put to us, and it touched the hearts of most Members of the House.

In Bechuanaland there is an enormously important problem which has not been referred to in the debate so far. When the Dutch first settled at the Cape, they did not displace the Bantu. They displaced the bushmen. When the Bantu travelled down from the northern part of Africa into the South, they did not come up against the white man; they came up against the bushmen. The original inhabitants of the southern part of the continent were the bushmen, and over the centuries the bushmen have been pushed by the white man and by the Bantu largely into the Kalahari Desert which occupies so much of Bechuanaland.

It is believed—I think that the figures are reliable—that there are in Bechuanaland the best part of 50,000 of these stone age aborigines, the original inhabitants of the whole of Southern Africa who now live in the less salubrious parts of this not particularly salubrious area. The bushmen get the worst of both worlds. When there is drought, they suffer greatly, living on the fringes of the desert. Those who are in contact with the Bantu and people of European stock are referred to as tame bushmen, and the remainder who live further in the Kalahari are referred as wild bushmen.

These people have no one to speak for them. We now intend to hand them over—I am not complaining—to the Government of Bechuanaland or Botswana. What safeguards for the future of these people have been written into the constitution, and what shall we in this country do to safeguard their future interests?

The bushmen are in danger of extinction. There are, without exaggeration, many thousands of bushmen who are virtually chattel slaves of the Bantu, who use them for forced labour and use their womenfolk in a way that no one in the House would approve. The bushmen have a very poor life in this territory. When the elections came and they were given the vote, the bushmen were delighted because, for the first time in their history since the advent of the white man and the Bantu in Southern Africa, they felt that they were being treated as human beings.

I say these things to give the House an idea of the status of the bushmen in these territories. By their very nature, bushmen have no education. They have no leaders. No one will start a League of Free Bushmen. No one will start a campaign of terrorism on the Bantu. They have no bushman Nye Bevan—more is the pity. They need leadership, and they have not got it.

There is, therefore, a double responsibility on us in this House when we are handing over control of the future of these people to the Bantu who, despite Seretse Khama's wise leadership, quite literally look upon these people as less than human. This is not exaggeration. The Bantu look upon the bushmen, particularly in the Ghanzi area, as being less than human, and we are handing over this country to independence. I want to know from the Secretary of State what safeguards he has written into the constitution to protect the bushmen. I am sure that the answer I shall get will be that they are not enslaved as much by the Bantu as I think they are, and I will agree to differ with him. He will say that he is quite certain that their future will be assured and they will develop with the Bantu. Again I shall agree to differ with him, because in actual fact both the whites and the Bantu think that the real answer to the problem of the bushmen is to let them die out as quickly as possible. There may be those who think that this is inevitable, and yet these bushmen, when they are properly treated and given the encouragement of crop preservation and cattle conservation, and when water holes are dug for them so that they can get water supplies, show that their level of intelligence is very much higher than most people think, and so they have been given the opportunity to develop.

From the educational point of view, it is very difficult to raise their standards, because there are no more than half a dozen people who speak the bushmen's language. There are only 50,000 of them, but unfortunately they have three different languages. So the problem is not an easy one. I am not suggesting for one minute that even if we remain in charge of the problems of Bechuanaland we would find it easy to solve their problems. When I was referring to slavery I was speaking as the Chairman of the Anti-Slavery Society, which has taken a great interest in the bushmen for many years. This is probably the last opportunity we shall have, apart from the Committee stage, to nail anyone of the Government Front Bench while he is still responsible. In a year from now I may make an impassioned speech about the injustices perpetrated upon the bush-men and the reply will be that I have told a moving story to the House but that the Government have no responsibility. If I raise the matter on the Adjournment, no one will come to reply, because the Government will say that they have no responsibility because it is an independent country. Therefore, the House is right to demand from the right hon. Gentleman that he should state what is to become of the little bushmen. Is the bushman to fend for himself in the hostile world of the 20th century, or is he abandoned to extinction?

The right hon. Gentleman, Dr. Seretse Khama and the other people in these negotiations must have discussed this problem. I would be horrified if they had not. It is said that these poor and voiceless people have been taken into slavery and even shot by the white settlers and the Bantu. Are their problems to be shoved under the carpet, if they have a carpet? What is laid down in the constitution to protect the rights of this defenceless minority in a country of 550,000 people? Part of that 550,000 population are the 50,000 bushmen, who are leaderless, voiceless, their problems unheard, and who are looked upon by the majority as almost less than human. Has the right hon. Gentleman written into the constitution of Botswana any safeguards for the future, the development and the status of these people?

The Minister will probably reply that because a country is to get its independence he cannot tie down this Government as to what they will do with any part of the population, whether it be a majority or a minority. There is that difficulty, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South has pointed out, Botswana will receive for many years into the future a considerable amount of aid from the United Kingdom. The House has a right to demand from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that when we give aid to Botswana—and we all wish its people well—it should be laid down as a condition that as the bushmen constitute 10 per cent. of the population we want 10 per cent. of our aid to be earmarked to deal with their problems. If we do not lay down some such condition, none of that aid will go to the bushmen, the Bantu will see that they are exterminated, they will have no friend or defender, and no voice at all at the United Nations or elsewhere.

Ten per cent. of our aid might be too much to earmark for these people, but we could insist that 5 per cent. should go to them. Before we hand over the affairs of these defenceless people, we have a duty and a responsibility to say that when we give aid to Botswana in future some portion shall be definitely earmarked to deal with the problems of people who, after all, some 400 years ago occupied the whole of Africa and are the people who have been dispossessed.

1.42 a.m.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

I agree with the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) that it would have been better had this Bill been taken at a reasonable hour. A great deal of interest is taken by the House in the problems of Bechuanaland, and many hon. Members have expressed their admiration for Dr. Seretse Khama this evening. Many of us are his personal friends, and we should have liked to have had the opportunity of raising these various problems at a reasonable hour during the day, when many more hon. Members could have participated.

The hon. Gentleman has said that he has known Dr. Seretse Khama for 15 years. I have known him for 21 years and can look back to the time when he and I went to Balliol at the same time in 1945. I never imagined that 21 years later in this House I should be congratulating him on the coming independence of his country, of which he is now the head. It would have seemed absolutely incredible then, but Dr. Seretse Khama has been a tremendous leader of his country. In spite of the vicissitudes through which he has passed, he bears no grudges and has no bitterness on account of his past treatment by this country, which has been extremely shabby. He feels good will towards this country, and we must admire him for it.

Bechuanaland is achieving her independence in uniquely difficult conditions. Both politically and economically they are more than have applied to any other Commonwealth nation that has so far attained independence. She is surrounded on all sides by white supremacist nations; on the south by the Republic of South Africa, on the north by Rhodesia, and to the west by South-West Africa, which, following the deplorable decision of the International Court, looks like remaining part of the Republic of South Africa for a considerable time.

As the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) has said, it would probably be out of order to go in detail into that matter in this debate, but one might have hoped that ultimately Botswana could have obtained another outlet to the sea which would have enabled it to export her products and import manufactured goods without being tied to the South African economy as she is at the present time. I still hope that that deplorable decision may be reviewed and that ultimately South-West Africa will be detached from the Republic, not only for its own sake but because of the benefit that will be to the economy of Botswana as a whole.

The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South also mentioned the economic situation of Botswana compared with that of Lesotho and showed that in material respects Botswana is worse off. If we go back over the years we find that the history of this territory is one of continual neglect by the British Government, of which we should be publicly ashamed. We find that budgetary aid was not given until 1956. It was not given until the surplus balances built up during the war had been exhausted. In the Chandler Morse Report it is shown that the budget was deliberately held down in Bechuanaland during all those years because we were not willing to give a grant in aid. We read in that Report: In the ten years succeeding the war, the policy of husbanding the Territory's surpluses and so postponing the day when a grant in aid would be imperative, meant that the Territory made very slight progress; the standards of the public services, which were never lavish, became relatively depressed to a level from which recovery might well have been far slower than the decline. When one bears this in mind one cannot make the sort of comparisons which the Parliamentary Secretary made between the amount of aid given per capita to Botswana and to India which is far better endowed with material wealth and in which civilisation has been working its good influences for many centuries. There is no comparison between these two situations. It is quite unrealistic for the Parliamentary Secretary to look at the aid we have given since 1956 in that light. We had 80 years of neglect to make up for in Botswana since 1956 and we have not succeeded in doing so hitherto.

If we look at Colin Legum's article in the Observer the other day we find the history of this matter showing that the gap between the contributions made by Britain and the needs of the Bechuanaland economy is indeed very wide. In fact Mr. Legum underestimates the need for the future identified by the Bechuanaland Government. I think the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South also underestimated it. He said that in the next 10 years £40 million will be required in grant in aid alone, but I do not think this would nearly meet the economic needs of the Territory.

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to make any judgment in this matter, because the Minister of Overseas Development has refused to publish the Report which was presented to him in May this year which formed the basis of the economic discussions that the Bechuanaland Government delegation had here recently. It is unfortunate that we have no firm idea of what the Government are prepared to offer in the form of grant in aid and capital development to this country before we pass this Bill. This is the last opportunity we shall have of being able to criticise the Government if we think they have not done enough.

Before the debate is concluded, I should like the Minister at least to give us the broad outlines of the gap between the Report of the Ministry of Overseas Development and the requests made by the Bechuanaland Government so that we can see whether a compromise is possible even in the present state of our foreign exchange balances. I want to mention one or two aspects of the economic difficulties which the country has to pass through now it has attained independence. One which has not been mentioned so far but which may be of considerable importance particularly, bearing in mind the situation of the country relative to the Republic of South Africa, is the question of a customs union with that country.

The three countries—Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana—have a Customs union with the Republic of South Africa under which an agreed proportion of the customs revenue is distributed to them. I understand that it is the contention of Bechuanaland that it is not receiving its rightful proportion of these dues. In 1963, a study was undertaken by a Colonial Office statistician, who had been at Exeter University. He was engaged to study the division of the customs and excise revenue between the three High Commission Territories and make recommendations on adjusting them if appropriate. The statistician, Mr. Lewis, was not asked to examine the total amount of revenue which was to go to the three territories together. This was a grave mistake. Of course, it resulted in everyone accepting that the amount of the revenue distributed from the total received by the Republic was fair to the territories themselves, notwithstanding that there may have been some inequities as between the three territories one to another.

The Bechuanaland Government, I understand, made representations to Her Majesty's Government that its proportion should be reviewed and some new arrangement negotiated with the Republic prior to the attainment of independence because, of course, it will be much more difficult for Botswana to argue its case on its own than for the British Government to do so on its behalf at this stage, when the agreement might be renegotiated with the Republic covering the three territories together.

Then there is the question of education. This is the most serious need of Botswana after independence. I do not think that the Ministry of Overseas Development has really got the correct view of the size of the need. If the country is to be self-sufficient in trained manpower, it needs to build up to a rate of 250 school certificate passes per annum as quickly as possible. Yet, in the whole country there are only 1,325 secondary school pupils at the present time. This is a pitifully low proportion of the children. The 1965 figures showed that there were just over 66,000 children in primary schools, with only 1,325 going on to secondary education. If the country is to become self-sufficient in even the lower clerical posts, it is essential that more money be put into secondary education.

There is a long back-log to make up. In the past there was no policy by successive British Governments for localisation of even junior jobs such as typists, clerks and accounting machine operators and so on. Therefore, if these junior posts, and, of course, the senior posts as well in the Civil Service, are to be filled by Africans from Botswana, there must be a crash programme of secondary education. The need for this has been under-estimated, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) also made this point.

Finally, I want to refer to the dreadful state of the agricultural industry which Botswana faces. As the Under-Secretary of State said, the country has had the worst drought within living memory. The national herd of cattle has been reduced by as much as 30 per cent. In some localities I understand that the figure has been even higher than this overall total and has reached 50 per cent. of the cattle in some areas.

To give some idea of what this means, I understand that about 200,000 cattle died last year because of the drought and it is calculated that recovery would take at least five years, during which period, from past climatic experience, the country may have entered another period of drought. The numbers receiving famine relief food will, I understand, have risen to about 300,000 and, by the middle of 1967, when the next crop is due to come in, that figure will have reached 360,000 out of a total population of about half a million.

These are staggering figures, and I must say that I was disturbed to hear the Minister say to what extent the Government are relying on voluntary agencies. Surely, despite our own economic situation, we could give more by way of a major contribution to the temporary difficulties facing Botswana as she gains independence. I would have thought it quite obvious that the drought would not have been so serious in its effect if hydrological work had been done when we were in a position to carry it out. Hydrological data for the country is almost completely lacking, and I understand that assistance has been sought for establishing a national hydrological service from the United Nations Special Fund. I hope that counterpart funds, which are an essential for receiving this aid, will be provided by Her Majesty's Government.

If we were to harness the resources of the Okavango swamp, this would make a great difference to the country's economy. It should be possible to construct a canal from the swamp to Rakops on the Botletle river which would provide between 500 and 1,000 cubic feet of water per second at Lake Dow, from whence it could be piped fairly easily to the main areas of population in the south-west of the territory.

But while this long-term programme is being considered money is urgently needed for immediate needs such as bore holes and stock dams. The record of successive British Governments in Bechuanaland is indeed shameful, as is shown in the Chandler Morse Report, and in the capital aid which we give to the country after independence we should bear in mind the most important need for developing all these water resources.

I have mentioned just a few of the enormous problems facing the newly independent Republic of Botswana. They are a courageous people, fortunate in having the enlightened leadership of Seretse Khama as they approach the threshold of independence, and we on these benches hope that, in spite of the difficulties facing Britain in her overseas payments position at present, the Govern ment will recognise our moral obligation to sustain the people of Botswana and help them as generously as we can in keeping alight the torch of freedom in this southern half of Africa.

2.0 a.m.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

I would like to reiterate the point made by my hon. Friend the Member of Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), about the late hour at which we are taking these two very important Bills. Those responsible for the Business of the House under-estimate the importance of this kind of debate to Africa as a whole and to the countries of Lesotho and Botswana in particular. This is the last time that we are to discuss these territories for which we have been responsible for many years. It is a great pity that we have to pay our farewell to them between the hours of one o'clock and three o'clock in the morning.

It can be said that a technical case can be made out to show that Botswana is less ready for independence than any Commonwealth nation, except Somaliland, and the House will recall that there were special circumstances about Somaliland, which joined with an ex-colony of Italy to become an independent State outside of the Commonwealth. From the political point of view, although Bechuanaland has had an Advisory Council since 1920, it had no executive or legislature until 1961. Four years later it received internal self-government and only one years later it has become independent. As hon. Members on both sides have said it is economically non-viable.

However, I join with hon. Members who have welcomed this Bill. The fact that we are able to do so is a tribute to Dr. Seretse Khama, to whom hon. Members have paid generous tribute. I would also like to pay tribute to his wife, who has loyally remained by his side through all of his ups and downs and difficulties, and now takes her rightful place as the first lady of Botswana. I would also like to echo the tributes paid by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) to a man whom I had the privilege to meet on a number of occasions and whom I still believe to be one of the greatest statesmen produced by the African continent—Tshekedi Khama, the uncle of the new president. He is now dead, but there is another old friend to whom I would like to pay tribute, a man older than Dr. Seretse Khama but who is still young in body and mind and that is Chief Bathaen II, who deserves very well of his country.

It is because Botswana had such able leaders, who have always insisted on complete racial co-operation and because, as a result of the recent general election, Botswana now has a stable Government with a substantial majority, that independence will be a political success. What worries this House is can independence be an economic success? This argument was deployed with great skill by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orpington. It has been pointed out by the Under-Secretary that Bechuanaland is an agricultural country, and that she has lost something like a third of the total cattle population of the country.

I want to ask about mineral development. Some years ago the Roan Selection Trust signed an agreement with the Bamangwato tribe to develop mineral resources in their territory. I presume that that agreement is still in existence? Can the Secretary of State tell us what future he thinks there is for mineral development in Botswana?

We have seen from Parliamentary Questions that the grant in aid has varied in the past five years from £1 million to about £2½ million, increasing yearly. Yet my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) made the point that at present the deficit on current account, in his estimation, is £1·9 million. He estimated that this could increase on independence to £4 million. The House would like to know before we pass this Bill more details of the budgetary aid, development aid and technical assistance promised to Botswana and mentioned in the answer to a Parliamentary Question answered on 21st July. Here again figures are not quoted and we are merely given a general promise of financial and technical help. When he opened this debate the Under-Secretary brought forth a number of figures, rather rapidly, but as far as I could gather they referred mainly to the past and present, not to the future. I hope that the Secretary of State will answer the question, which was put a number of times by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South: what are the financial intentions of the Government towards this newly independent State and member of the Commonwealth, a State which, as many hon. Members have said, occupies a vitally important area in the Continent of Africa?

I turn briefly to some of the problems of independence and relations with South Africa, to which the hon. Member for Orpington referred. I believe that after independence relations with South Africa will be extremely good. I believe that Dr. Verwoerd intends to respect the integrity of Botswana. The question of Customs duties after independence has also been mentioned. I may be wrong, and I am open to correction, but I understand that the three territories concerned would rather make a customs agreement with South Africa after independence than before, because they think that they will probably get a better deal from the Republic when they are standing on their own feet. I hope that the Secretary of State will either confirm or deny this. I believe that South Africa intends that her relations with the High Commission Territories, as they become independent, will serve as an example for much better relations between South Africa and the independent African States to the north.

I believe that Dr. Seretse Khama has a role to play in improving relations between South Africa and the African States. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), in his sincere and able opening speech, gave quotations from a recent speech by Dr. Khama, from which I quote again. that Botswana has a role to play in Southern Africa and in the unnecessary conflict between black and white". Botswana has a completely non-racial society and already it is a friend of both South Africa and Rhodesia. We should recall that Dr. Khama's children have been—and, as far as I know, are—at school in Bulawayo, in Rhodesia.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

My hon. Friend is quite right to say that Botswana has no racial problem when talking about black and white, but he is entirely wrong if he ignores the bushmen, who, after all, are nearly 10 per cent. of the population.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

I apologise for ignoring them. I am sure that the House will have listened with interest, and I hope that the Secretary of State will have noted and will reply, to the points made by my hon. Friend, because the future of the bushmen, who, as he has said, are the original inhabitants not only of Botswana but of most of that part of Africa, is of importance to everyone in this House.

I should like briefly to take up two points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South. The first is the question of a defence treaty between Botswana and this country. I maintain that Botswana is impossible to defend militarily and I believe I am right in saying that there has been no request for a defence treaty and that Her Majesty's Government do not contemplate any positive defence alliance with Botswana. I hope that any such military alliance will be proved to be completely unnecessary.

As my hon. Friend said, however, British troops are stationed in Botswana to defend Francistown Radio. I stress his request for information about the future of this propaganda station. The Secretary of State will recall that the whole concept of Francistown Radio and the stationing of British troops to defend it—although we still wonder against whom they are defending it—has been attacked by the Opposition in Botswana.

I know that the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations always takes a particular interest in Francistown Radio. I hope, however, that on independence the station will close down. It may be that when the time comes for the Commonwealth Secretary to move to another place, he may decide to take the title of Lord Bottomley of Botswana and thus emphasise for posterity his interest in the Francistown Radio. I assure the Minister, however, that this radio station will cause difficulties in Southern Africa after the independence of Botswana. I am sure that the House would like to know what Her Majesty's Government contemplate doing about this station after Botswana has become independent.

Then again, there is the question of the rail link, which was also referred to by my lion. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South. He said that there was a lot of oil going from South Africa to Rhodesia along that route. I think that I am right in saying that the Parliamentary Secretary shook his head at that. May I say to him that on my recent visit to Mozambique, the Portuguese authorities said to me, "Your Government are always complaining that we are sending oil to Rhodesia, but we can tell you that, if we are sending anything, it is nothing compared with what is going through Bechuanaland, which you are supposed to control. Why are you such hypocrites?" That is what the Portuguese feel, rightly or wrongly. I hope that we can have a reply on this matter.

In conclusion, the message which I should like to send from the House to Botswana is, "Good luck. May you show that an independent African nation can live in peace and friendship with South Africa and with an independent Rhodesia. If you can achieve that, you may well change the course of Africa's history."

2.10 a.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

It was not unnatural in a discussion of this type that we should go well outside the content of the Bill which we are discussing, especially as we do not get all that much chance to discuss the problems associated with the Colonies these days. For my part, I do not complain in the least, and I should have been surprised if we had not gone rather wide in our discussions.

I would make the point, however, that practically all the problems which have been canvassed during the debate are such that solutions to them are not to be found merely in the granting of independence. They are problems which have been there for many years, and we are all painfully aware of them. No matter how good the administration may have been, it has not been able to eliminate the problems which many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have been discussing. Nor do I think it possible, within the content of a constitution, that one can necessarily solve them all overnight.

If I might try to answer some of the points which have been raised in the course of the debate, the question of the station at Francistown was raised by the hon. Member for Haltemprice t Mr. Wall) and by one or two other hon. Members. The future of that station was discussed with Seretse Khama on its recent visit, and agreement was reached on its continuance over the independence period. I was also asked about the guard on the station. At present, it is being guarded by a company of British troops from the battalion in Swaziland. That is as far as one can go in answering the point about that.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

Will they remain there after independence?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

These discussions took place with Seretse Khama on his recent visit, and it was agreed that it would stay into independence.

Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides feel as I do in these matters, that we are not managing to do enough in aid for territories of this sort. But I must remind the House about how our payments have been going. In 1963, our total was £163 million; in 1964, it was £195 million; in 1965, it was £197 million; and in 1966, it is £225 million. It is not a mean or inconsiderable amount that the nation is raising and making available to our friends overseas.

I said what I had to say in the last debate on the question of the wider reach of aid and about the great many countries which could afford to do something in this respect instead of leaving it to others. I think that this is a great tragedy for the future of these territories.

Questions were asked about the Porter Report which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development had commissioned. My right hon. Friend is not refusing to publish the report. It was made to the Bechuanaland Government, and the question of publication is now under discussion between my right hon. Friend and the Government of Bechuanaland. It is therefore not the case that there has been a refusal to publish the report.

Mention was made of the customs union. There have been negotiations about this. Two of the three territories were not satisfied that they were getting their fair share, and the Bechuanaland Government's share of the total sum available has been increased. It is true that the total for division has not been increased as a result of Mr. Lewes's review. There has been a re-allocation of the total. Swaziland and Bechuanaland get a larger share, and Basutoland gets a smaller share of the sum total.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

This is the point that 1 made. Mr. Lewes was not asked to consider the total figure. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about that before these countries reach independence?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I understand that there will be negotiations, and I think that they prefer to do this after independence rather than now. Mr. Lewes was asked to look at the allocation of the sums because there was a failure to get agreement between the three territories.

Reference has been made to the railway. We have figures which I do not want to give to the House. It may be that I shall be asked Questions in the course of the next few days, when I can go into more detail. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) said that the vast majority of the oil was going down this railway. This is not true.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

My hon. Friend is not here. He said that more was going by that route than was coming from Mozambique.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I deny that. It is nothing like the same amount. 1 do not deny that some is coming down, but I do not think that there is any point in exaggerating. I deny that more is going up that route than by one or two of the other routes.

I was asked again about the financial talks which have been going on between my right hon. Friend and representatives of the Bechuanaland Government. My hon. Friend gave a number of figures to show what is being done to assist the Bechuanaland Government, and I do not want to go over them again. We have undertaken to inform the Bechuanaland Government next month of the scale and nature of the financial contribution that we can make towards her needs after March 1967. In the meantime, to assist Bechuanaland to meet its immediate needs, the British Government have agreed to make available between the date of independence and 31st March, 1967, the unspent balance of Bechuanaland's current grant allocation of Commonwealth Development and Welfare funds, together with the unissued balance of budgetary grant already agreed for the financial year 1966–67. The necessary Supplementary Estimates will be laid before Parliament in due course. In the meantime, advances will be sought from the Civil Contingency Fund if necessary.

British technical assistance will continue to be available to Bechuanaland after independence, and we are also making loans to implement Bechuanaland's share of the payments to officers of the Overseas Civil Service under the general compensation scheme agreed during the constitutional talks held in London in February of this year.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South estimated that there would be an increasing deficit on the budget from the present £1.9 million to about £4 million in the future. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that this deficit will increase, and does he envisage Her Majesty's Government meeting this deficit in the years to come?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

These discussions have been going on. I cannot go beyond what I have said in my statement tonight. We are not unaware of the problems and, given our own problems, we understand the grave difficulties of this matter.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) was concerned about the problem of the bushmen. I understand that a trained anthropologist was commissioned to consider the welfare of these people a year ago. That gentleman made a survey. A copy of his report was published last year and is now in the Library of the House. Responsibility for the bushmen's affairs has now been placed within the portfolio of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the extent to which the Bechuanaland Government will be able to devote funds especially to assist the bushmen themselves will depend upon other competing demands. We do not see any reason to suppose that they will not be treated by the Botswana Government with understanding and sympathy. These bushmen are dependent to a large degree upon the food they obtain from their own hunting. I understand that the game reserve which was established a few years ago to safeguard their hunting interests will be continued under the new dispensation, and there is a fundamental rights provision in the existing constitution which will be carried on into the new constitution.

I hope that these provisions will assist the hon. Member in his worthy efforts to see that they are not forgotten in the new dispensation.

Photo of Sir Douglas Glover Sir Douglas Glover , Ormskirk

What the right hon. Gentleman has said is completely and utterly unsatisfactory. He has said that there is a book in the Library. Everybody knows that there is a book in the Library, but that does not solve the problem. What are the Brtish Government doing to protect the rights of the bushmen before they hand over independence? They will not get a square deal if the Bantu have anything to do with it.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I have indicated the global figure which we are making available. The Government of Botswana will have to determine their priorities, within which the bushmen's problems will come fairly high. We cannot subdivide this aid. It would make nonsense of the whole basis of our aid if we were to say, The priorities which you must observe as a condition of getting aid are A, B, C and D." The hon. Member has this point at heart. I do not doubt that each of us, if asked to determine priorities in this respect, would decide differently, and my priorities would probably be of secondary consideration to the hon. Member.

A point was made about minerals. Small quantities of manganese and asbestos are being mined. Examinations are now taking place on the possibility of exploiting copper deposits, but it is early to say whether this will be on a substantial scale. However, pronounced efforts are being made in that respect.

I have tried to answer as many as possible of the questions that I have been asked. I join with the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends, and with my hon. Friends, in the good wishes they have expressed towards Botswana. I want to associate myself with those who have spoken so highly of the qualities of Seretse Khama, and of his great courage. Where there is very little economic security, it is remarkable that Seretse has been able to help his people to outstanding political stability. This has been accomplished in the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

In asking the House to agree to the Second Reading, I am sure that I can, on behalf of all in the House, express our congratulations and appreciation to Seretse Khama and his colleagues and wish them the very best for the future.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Charles R. Morris.]

Committee this day.