§ The qualifications of a senator shall be as follows:—
§ He must—
- (a) be not less than thirty years of age;
- (b) be qualified to be registered as a voter for the election of members of the House of Assembly in one of the provinces;
- (c) have resided for five years within the limits of the Union as existing at the time when he is elected or nominated, as the case may be;
- (d) be a British subject of European descent;
- (e) in the case of an elected senator, be the registered owner of immovable property within the Union of the value of not less than five hundred pounds over and above any special mortgages thereon.
§ For the purposes of this section, residence in, and property situated within, a Colony before its incorporation in the Union shall be treated as residence in and property situated within the Union.
§ Mr. G. N. BARNES moved, in Sub-section (d), after the word "subject," to insert the words "and if representing the Province of Transvaal or Orange Free State." In view of what has happened and the relations existing between the two Front Benches, together with the fact that we have not been able to get a small verbal Amendment through, I am afraid those facts indicate that we shall not be able to get a matter of principle through like this. Nevertheless, I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name, and I am glad to notice that there is a similar Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. Clause 26, as the House is aware, consists of an enumeration of the qualifications of senators. Sub-section (d) sets out or stipulates that persons aspiring to a seat in the Senate shall be British subjects of European descent. If my Amendment is carried, Sub-section (d) will 1554 read "be a British subject, and if representing the Province of Transvaal or Orange Free State, of European descent." It will be noted that in substance this Amendment proposes to delete that provision in the Bill which proposes to deny the right of becoming a senator to a person in Cape Colony or Natal who has hitherto had a right to a place in their Parliaments. It proposes to delete that provision in respect to those colonies where that right has hitherto been held in those two Provinces. Therefore, it simply proposes to strike out from the Bill this disqualification, and thus maintain the status quo. In support of this Amendment I have to deal with an argument or a statement that has been put forward to the effect that the position of a person in Cape Colony or Natal is not affected. It has been said that, inasmuch as a person there will still have the right to a seat in the Provincial Council, and, inasmuch as the Provincial Council takes the place of the Parliament of Cape Colony and Natal, therefore there is no alteration in the position. I think I may venture to say that that is a mere subterfuge. It is in the very essence of the thing that the new Bill supersedes the power that the Parliaments of the four States have hitherto possessed, and, therefore, the Parliaments hitherto existing in Cape Colony and Natal ceased to have any legislative function and power, and their powers, functions, and duties in that sense are taken over by the new body which is to be set up. The Bill, therefore, as framed, does take away a right hitherto held by the people in those two Colonies, and we propose to restore that right by amending the Bill. In the second place, this is a new departure in British statesmanship. I know it has been said, and was said a night or two ago, that that is not so. We were told by the hon. Member who represents Walthamstow (Mr. J. A. Simon) that three years ago, on the occasion of the Transvaal Constitution being granted, we allowed the Bill to go through without protest, and that therefore we are committed already to the principle embodied in this Bill. I think I might fairly say that the granting of the Constitution on that occasion was simply a continuation of the Treaty of Vereeniging, and what was done on that occasion was more or less of a tentative character. We are now asked by this Bill to assert a principle of a more or less permanent character. At all events, it is well known to all of us that in the event of this 1555 Bill being passed in its present form it will be many a long day before any alteration can be made. I think we are, therefore, justified in asking the House of Commons not to commit itself to this new principle, which will set the seal of racial inferiority upon the masses of the people of South Africa, and which will commit us to a new principle in local government and human rights. There are, however, practical objections to this proposal. There is the objection as to what is meant by these particular words. Who is the author of these preposterous words? Can we be told by the Attorney-General or any other lawyer or any combination of lawyers how they are going to be applied? Are they going to be a sort of jargon to be argued over by lawyers in South Africa? It seems to me that is the only effect these words may have. Of course, literally applied, they would exclude a large number of people whom I cannot believe anybody has in their minds to exclude. Literally applied, they would exclude the white Australian or New Zealander, who assisted us ten years ago in fighting the Boers. I cannot believe that is meant. Take the position of the Maoris of New Zealand. They now enjoy all citizen rights out there. Provision is made in this Bill for the naturalisation of anybody who goes to South Africa. We therefore have this position. The Maoris can go from New Zealand British subjects and find themselves outside the pale of those rights of citizenship. That is an absurd position, and a position which cannot be justified by anybody in this House. Is the man in South Africa who aspires to a position in an assembly of this character to be armed with a certificate with a sort of genealogical tree in his pocket. If so, how far is he to go back? Without going into extremes, it is an undoubted fact there are many who have sat in this House, I believe there are one or two who are Members of it now, who are quite good enough for the Mother of Parliaments, but who, forsooth, would not be sufficiently high in the scale of the human family, and not sufficiently good for the people out in South Africa. We had two of our Indian fellow subjects Members of the last Parliament, and we have, I believe, at all events, one man of Asiatic extraction who is in this Parliament, but none of those men under the provisions of this Bill would be good enough for the Parliament we are about to set up. This exclusive provision is one of the worst, if not the worst blot upon 1556 the Bill. I am glad this was borne out by all the speeches made on Monday night last.
§ It must be a source of sincere gratification to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. W. Dilke), and to many who have taken the part of the natives in these matters, as well as to the representatives of those native races now in this country, to know that on last Monday there was an unanimous chorus of disapproval of these particular provisions. I believe that chorus of disapproval fairly well indicates the opinion not only of this House but of the country generally. The anti-slavery Society and other organisations have passed resolutions of protest, and I have one this morning from the Grand Lodge of the International Order of Good Templars endorsing the position taken up by those bodies and themselves, expressing the hope that the House of Commons will resent and defeat a proposal so unfair as to constitute a disgrace to the British flag. All the speeches made last Monday were in that direction. Might I just make mention of one which is particularly significant because of the position of the speaker. I refer, of course, to the speech of the Prime Minister, who, as much as anyone here, upheld the proper principle with regard to human rights, and regretted that this particular provision was in the Bill. I cannot help thinking, even if the Bill passes, that that speech may have considerable effect in helping the natives on the spot in South Africa. There were other speakers on that occasion who struck a different key, and among those was the Leader of the Opposition. He struck a pessimistic, and I might almost say an ominous note. He seemed to assume that to ask for the rights of cultured, educated, and refined individuals in South Africa was somehow or another to assert racial equality as between ourselves and the native races in South Africa and elsewhere. He had a great deal to say, with a wealth of knowledge and a plentitude of illustration, with which, of course, I cannot deal, but it seems to me he was altogether off the mark, and it is the mere infirmity of philosophy to deny to cultured and educated individuals rights, which seem to us fundamental and inherent, simply because of the accident of the race from which they sprung or anything of that character. The proposal we are now putting forward does not in any way involve the principle of racial equality, 1557 because after all there is a good deal in the way of the native races getting on anything like an equality with us, even if this Amendment were adopted. There is the relative position of the coloured races, economically, educationally, and otherwise. It is not mere numbers that rule anywhere, either in this country, South Africa, or anywhere else. Brains, money, education, and economical position—all these things give a lever to one section of the people over another section, and, even if our Amendment is adopted, the white people will still have this lever in their hands, and by that means will be given a predominance in the counsels of South Africa, at all events for generations to come. The Member for Taunton (Mr. W. R. W. Peel) spoke of the Hottentots and the Basutos, and he suggested we were asserting for these people equality with ourselves, and were trying to get for them the exercise of the same power we possess. Nothing is further from our thoughts. Nothing can raise those people in the standard of civilisation except themselves, and all we do by this Amendment is to ask, having established something like law and order in South Africa, that we should now get out of the way of these people raising themselves to a higher plane in the standard of civilisation. If the Amendment is adopted there are still many things that will stand in the way of the natives having much power for a very long time to come. The native has still, by the provision of the Bill, to have £500 clear of debt, and that provision alone will bar out, it seems to me, at least 99 per cent, of the people. He must, moreover, be a voter. It is unnecessary to discuss what the qualifications of a voter may be in the Orange River Colony or in the Transvaal, because in the present state of public opinion in those areas it will be a very long time before anybody can be elected to a seat in the House of Assembly or get from there to the Senate. But, take the voting qualification in the Cape Colony: you have there a property qualification of £75 per year, actual earnings must be shown of £50 a year, and you have an educational test. These three things together must necessarily have the effect of barring out many people from the exercise of any power for a very long time to come.
§ 5.0 P.M.
It may be asked why, if that be so, we should insist upon a right which, after all, is but a mere abstract right. There is, however, such a thing as human feeling and sentiment, and that human feeling
and sentiment is a powerful factor in the world's affairs, and has been already a, potent factor in getting the South African, people in the Cape Colony to raise themselves very considerably in the scale of education and refinement. There are already 22,000 out of, I think, 190,000 voters in the Cape Colony who have surmounted all the difficulties of prejudice and poverty, and who have put themselves upon the electoral roll. It is reasonable to suppose that that right held by the people in Cape Colony in times gone by, and up till now, has been a very powerful influence in inducing these people to improve themselves educationally, morally, and socially. It has given the stimulus of hope and provided a platform to which they have aspired, and no fewer than 22,000 have already qualified for it. I turn now to the Home Rule aspect of the question. It has been said that the white people of South Africa are entitled to Home Rule, and that, in any case, if they make mistakes, the penalty will have to be borne by themselves, and the effects will fall upon them. I cannot accept that for two reasons. In the first place, historical precedent is absolutely against it. What do we find? Cape Colony has had this right up till now; so far as I can gather, it never asked for it. It was a matter of considerable controversy at the time the right was granted whether or not the people were in favour of it, but, by a despatch dated 1853 Cape Colony had the right conferred upon it. I think the despatch is well worth reading. It was signed by the Duke of Newcastle, on behalf of the Liberal Government of the day, and the words are:—
It is the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government that all Her Majesty's subjects at the Cape, without distinction of class or colour, shall he united by one bond of loyalty and common interest, and we believe that the exercise of political rights enjoyed by all alike will prove one of the best methods of attaining this object.
That is our position now. We believe it is the position of the great mass of enlightened public opinion in this country, and it is somewhat sad to think that, in these days of so-called democratic progress, we should be discussing a Bill which is altogether opposed to democratic principles. The right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, the other day, referring to this particular provision, said it might have been all right 50 years ago, when the number of people in these Colonies was small, but may I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the number in Cape
Colony is now far in excess of that in the other Colonies, and this particular principle has been a marked success in its operation in Cape Colony. It has furnished a platform and an incentive to coloured people to improve themselves, and it has been eminently successful, as those who have local knowledge must confess, just as it has been successful in New Zealand in dealing with other subject-races there. Following up this matter of Home Rule, it seems to me an extraordinary thing that this House should talk thus about Home Rule after having imposed its will upon the people of South Africa, not only in regard to the war, but since then in regard to clearing out the Chinese. Everybody admitted that we had a perfect right to interfere as we did interfere, and, therefore, it seems to me it is Home Rule run mad to deny this House the opportunity and privilege of examining these things upon their merits. It is said that the Colonies only will suffer in the event of mistakes being made. Is that so? As a matter of fact, is it not the fact that the South African Colonies are protected by our Navy and our Army, and that if mistakes are made in South Africa it is we who will have to suffer, because we shall have to pay for the rectification of any harm that may be done? Just a word or two with regard to the general character of this Bill. We believe it is a good Bill. We are in favour of it; we rejoice to know that at last Boers and Britons have come together. But, after all, the unification of South Africa is not a new thing. It has been in the mind of the African Bond for 30 years or more; although the unification which they have had in view has been based upon political restrictions and industrial monopoly against which we have fought; we have in so fighting spent no end of money and sacrificed many precious lives, ought we then to be asked to-day to acquiesce in going back on all these principles for which such great sacrifices have been made? I hope we shall do nothing of the sort. We cannot forget what has been the record of South Africa in the past. It has been a hunting ground for monopolists, gold-seekers, and financiers without bowels of compassion, who have gone there in quest of wealth, and have drenched the soil with blood in pursuit of it. We have to-day an opportunity of giving the country a new start on the basis of equal rights, and I trust we shall avail Ourselves of that opportunity. I hope
every Member possible will go into the Lobby in support of the principle. Absolutely the only argument put forward against this and other Amendments is that the Bill will be wrecked if any Amendment is carried. I refuse to think so meanly of people who carried themselves so well on the field of battle, and who have proved so resourceful since in the world of practical things. I refuse also to believe that they would have come here and simply ask us to pass this Bill in its present form or to reject it altogether. At the twelfth hour I appeal to the Government and to the delegates of South Africa, some of whom may possibly be within the range of my voice, to take a more generous view of the situation, I have not had an opportunity of consulting any of those in whose names these Amendments are down, but I think we might possibly be content if some indication were given to-day that, at all events in the near future, some Amendment might be made on the lines we suggest. I speak for myself only, but I think it might be possible to make a compromise on these lines. The Bill might go forward in it present form, and after the election of the first Parliament it might be agreed to take the opinion of the country. If that is done, in the light of the speeches delivered last Monday, and in the light of the knowledge they now must have that it is the unanimous opinion of the people in this country that this Amendment should be made, I think we shall get a settlement of this question in a manner appropriate to the need as well as in accord with their honour and the good name of the British Empire, of which these Colonies form part.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
The hon. Member has supported the Amendment in a speech so exceedingly able and singularly temperate that I confess I find myself in no controversial spirit with regard to most of the proposition's he has put forward. As we said the other night, if there is anybody in any quarter of this House, or even in this country, with whom it rested to frame the lines, in this particular respect, of the South Africa Constitution, he would not insert this particular provision, but would prefer to give the freest and fullest franchise. I am strongly of opinion it is an invidious thing, and one difficult to reconcile with what we ordinarily consider to be an almost fundamental principle that a person who receives ex hypothesi the majority of votes in a constituency should be debarred exer- 1561 cising the trust and confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens because of his colour or of the blood that flows through his veins. In that respect I go the whole length with my hon. Friend. But we have here to deal with a practical problem. When my hon. Friend supports this Amendment as if it were one in favour of equal rights I am bound to point out that it is not so. On the contrary, it proposes to confine the privilege—I would rather say the abolition of existing restrictions—to two particular Colonies—Cape Colony and Natal. If I understand the reason for that it is that it is only in these two Colonies that native suffrage already exists, and it is proposed to limit it to them in order to minimise the apparent interference which this Parliament would then be exercising in regard to South Africa. The Amendment does not carry out the principle of equal rights as regards the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. In those Colonies it would allow this colour bar to remain. In order to show that this Amendment does not definitely proceed on those lines which it should if it were carried to its abstract logical conclusion, I would point out that in itself it is an admission that this is a matter in which some degree of give-and-take must be allowed. That being so, I will point out to the hon. Gentleman and those who sympathise with him—I may include myself as one of his sympathisers—that the scheme embodied in the Constitution is itself a compromise. I may be asked why I say that. My answer is that it gives for the first time to the natives who are on the register in Cape Colony a voice in the administration of South African affairs as a whole. At present they can only vote in regard to Cape Colony affairs. In discussing this matter we may leave Natal out of the question altogether, because, for all practical purposes, the native franchise does not exist there. But the 20,000 natives who are now on the registers of Cape Colony will, if this Bill becomes law, have given them a right which they do not at present possess, namely, the right to determine the legislation and policy for South Africa as a whole. That is what the natives get out of the new Constitution, as compared with their position before it was brought forward. On the other hand, what does he lose; because I am now discussing the matter on the ground taken by my hon. Friend. As his Amendment says, you must have a compromise upon the matter. What does he lose? So far as Cape 1562 Colony is concerned, there he remains exactly as he was before. So far as the new Union Parliament is concerned he loses his right to be eligible to sit in that Parliament. I regret that, but when you are looking at it from the practical point of view, surely it is material that the abstract right of eligibility is one which, in point of practice, has never been really enjoyed by the natives in Cape Colony itself. There is not a single case in all the 55 years during which this native franchise has been in existence in Cape Colony of a native being returned to the Cape Legislature. Therefore, while on the one hand the natives are getting a substantial advantage in their power of voting for representatives in the new Union Parliament, so extending the range of franchise, on the other hand the thing which they are giving up, though on paper it looks an important and serious sacrifice, when you come to look at it in the light of past experience is not a practical sacrifice in any real sense of the term. I am not receding from the position from which I started, and I should have much preferred that these restrictions did not appear in the Constitution, but I am trying to point out to my hon. Friend and those who really look at this as a compromise that the native gains as a whole rather than loses by the transaction. This question is a very serious one. The Committee has to consider whether a compromise of that kind which is not one-sided, but involves a certain amount of give-and-take, and in which it appears to me that the balance, if you are to strike a balance, is on the whole favourable to the native—whether such a compromise which has been deliberately arrived at in South Africa is to be upset in this House.
The hon. Member, in his concluding sentence, appeared to argue as though this was a definite, fixed, inflexible point, an indelible provision of the new Constitution, which cannot be altered and modified in the future. That is not the case. On the contrary, as anyone who reads the Bill will see, it will be open to the Union Parliament, if and when it is so minded, to remove this colour bar, and for my part I do not hesitate to repeat that we hope confidently and I may almost say have the expectation, which I expressed on the second reading, particularly in view of the Debate which has taken place and of the almost universal agreement of opinion in this country, that the new Union Legislature when it comes into existence, when 1563 it surveys this problem, as it will do, with a perfectly free and unfettered mind, may itself see its way without unreasonable delay to remove this colour bar, and will confer upon the natives who, so far as Cape Colony is concerned, are in enjoyment of the franchise, access, if their fellow citizens so desire it, to the Legislature itself. I put it to my hon. Friend, is it not far better for us, having regard to all the interests which are concerned in this matter, instead of interfering from above by the exercise of what I agree to be our own absolute and sovereign authority in a matter of this kind, having placed on record, as we have in these Debates, our own opinion in this matter, to leave it to the spontaneous and unfettered judgment of our fellow subjects there, and to our fellow subjects alone, to exercise the privilege which this Constitution is about to confer upon them as a matter of grace or as a matter of right, and to recognise the desirability of extending the avenues of access to the Legislature and of removing this invidious race distinction between one class of the community and the other?
Some doubt has been expressed, not only with regard to this Amendment but as regards others, as to whether if this House were to strike out these words, either in this or the subsequent clauses, the Constitution could be preserved. I am bound to tell them, and I have in my hands a most authoritative communication, received only yesterday or the day before, from the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, who is here. He says, in the most explicit terms, confirming what the Under-Secretary for the Colonies and I stated the other night, that the delegation which came to this country has no power, express nor implied, to accept any Amendment of the nature referred to, which would destroy the compromise arrived at after prolonged discussion. He says also that any such Amendment, if insisted upon by this great Imperial Legislature would have to be remitted to the several Legislatures, in some of which the acceptance of it is more than doubtful. Further, as the Committee will not have forgotten in the case of Natal, this matter has been submitted not merely to the vote of the Legislature but to the referendum of the people, and it is extremely probable that if the House were to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and make this, what is regarded in South 1564 Africa, vital disturbance in the compromise arrived at, you would have to have a referendum as well as a legislative vote in the different Colonies concerned. In other words you plunge into the crucible for refashioning or possible destruction this carefully contrived and most delicately balanced arrangement, which represents the deliberate opinion of the four separately consulted Legislatures, and in the case of Natal of the electorate themselves. I do once more, while thoroughly assenting to the principle laid down by my hon. Friend in the opening part of his speech, regretting as heartily as he or any man can, that a provision of this kind has been introduced into the Constitution—I do appeal once more with whatever authority and emphasis I can command to the Committee not to wreck this great work, for that is what it comes to, of freedom and reconciliation by pressing an Amendment, which, however palatable it may be to us, and however much we may desire that within a short period it may be regarded as acceptable by those responsible in South Africa itself, would if forced into the Bill at the present moment undo the whole of this beneficent work.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
The statement with which the right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech will, I think, be admitted on all hands, to be one of the very gravest weight, and one which this House would be very rash indeed to disregard. I do not mean to waste the time of the Committee in discussing the merits of the Amendment. The Prime Minister has a difficult and ungracious task, such as sometimes falls to Ministers, in defending on grounds which I think quite conclusive, a course which on its abstract merits is not an agreeable one, but is one which ought to be accepted by responsible statesmen in the interests of the Empire. I agree, as everybody does, in regretting that the compromise in South Africa embodied this particular Clause, but we all know how difficult these compromises are to arrive at, and all of us who have any practical knowledge of the world, and do not get our ideas of politics merely from the study of books, know how, when a particular compromise is arrived at on an occasion like this, it always means that something is embodied in it which many of those who are parties to it regret. I have no doubt there are many persons in South Africa who regard this particular provision as 1565 we do in this country, being in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility and different traditions with regard to this native question. In this country our opinion is unanimous, but is it for us to upset the compromise arrived at, after such long deliberation and negotiation, and in itself so difficult, and carrying with it seeds of so much good for the future? The only question which we can really ask ourselves is that which the Prime Minister put to us a few moments ago: Is this Amendment likely to be followed by the upsetting of this delicately balanced compromise? No one is a better judge of that than the Government themselves—they, and they alone, have access both to the eminent statesmen immediately concerned and to the transactions which led up to this compromise, which would enable them to speak with authority to the House upon the results which are likely to ensue from any rash course which we may adopt. If that be admitted, what is the only inevitable conclusion? I never heard a Minister say with more emphasis or more evident conviction, with a more careful and evident desire to put before the House the carefully ordered results of his own investigation—I have never heard a Minister express an opinion with greater solemnity than the right hon. Gentleman, and it is perfectly impossible that we who agree with Ministers in the desire that they express for the passage of this Bill should break away from them after a statement like that which has just been made by the Prime Minister.
I should regard all the professions I and my Friends have made in favour of this great beneficent Imperial change as mere hypocrisy and waste paper if I took this opportunity of saying that, much as I desire the Union of South Africa, this was a point upon which I was going to follow my own personal wishes and convictions, and leave the Government to fight as best they could those who took different views from them. Holding the views which I hold, and which are shared by hon. Members on these benches, and which I believe are shared on the benches below the Gangway—we differ from hon. Members there only on this point, that while they think they are not going to wreck the arrangement we think they are. They think they are not going to wreck the arrangement, because in their inner consciousness they cannot imagine anybody in South Africa being so foolish as to give up a great reform on what they consider a trifling ground. It is not trifling, it is a funda- 1566 mental part of the compromise, both to those who like it, and to those who dislike it. In these circumstances let us come to the only conclusion to which we can come as to the practical result of accepting this Amendment, and if we do that we shall all, I think, take the course of supporting the Government, who, on their authority as responsible Ministers of the Crown tell us that, having looked at this question on all sides, having consulted all those who are best qualified to give an opinion, as to the practical results of our action—tell us, if we accept this Amendment, we shall vote to destroy the Bill containing the compromise which we all desire to see carried into effect.
§ Sir CHARLES W. DILKE
Many of us do not desire to see the Bill itself passed into law at such a price as the Empire pays by putting in these words. The two right hon. Gentlemen both spoke as if it were a necessary advantage to the Empire to have regard in this matter only to the 7,000,000 of people, white and black, who inhabit South Africa. We are trustees for nearly 400,000,000, upon whom our Empire rests, and towards whom we have constantly preached the opposite doctrine. To deal with this measure, even to fashion this measure into one of federal union instead of close union—if that were to be the result of carrying the Amendment—is a small matter to the Empire as compared with the impression which will be produced by our turning our back on all our promises after the Treaty of Vereeniging by inserting this clause. We have stated before the world, and have pressed upon others, and by example have inculcated others who have followed us, the doctrine of no bar of race or colour. We have taught it to South Africa even, and the greater portion of the white people of South Africa have followed it, and, although it was forced on them at first, for 50 years they have followed it voluntarily of themselves. Even there they have learnt from us and followed us. But the impression produced by our going back, I am afraid for ever, and turning our own back upon our great past is equivalent—personally, I think worse—than it would be if we turned our back as regards the introduction of technical and real as against virtual slavery.
Then just imagine, if you are going to do the thing, the offensive fashion in the choice of words in which it is being done. You have Indians who come here and sit as Members of this House. You have always 1567 taught this doctrine—you have taught the doctrine to South Africa—that though tribal natives cannot be trusted with the ordinary concerns of election and registration and political and Parliamentary life, nevertheless you call out those who adopt your philosophy or your theology, those who make themselves of you in spite of the blackness of their skins. As you welcomed them in the great wars as sailors on board Nelson's ships, so you have welcomed them in the Constitution here. And now you are going to draw the line and include Jews, but exclude Parsees, from Bombay. That is the effect of the legal decision. If the thing is to be done at all the form in which it is being done is the worst possible, and if we are asked to do it we have such doubt in the minds of the Government that the Under-Secretary himself evidently agrees with the High Commissioner, who is known to think that the words will be loosely and widely construed so that many of those whose cases are most prominent will come in in spite of those words. When it was suggested the other day that the matter will be referred to our tribunals for decision, and will probably come to the Privy Council, I am certain, under the cases before us, that the decision of the Privy Council will be against the wide or loose interpretation of these words, and that, by the most rigid construction, unconscious or uncertain traces of coloured blood—even Parsee, though not Jewish, blood will be counted as non-European, and will be fatal to the position of men trying to sit in these Assemblies. I accept to the full the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition. I should feel ashamed of myself if I threw any difficulties in the way of this Bill if I did not believe an enormous Imperial interest was at stake in the insertion of these words: I feel that so strongly that if the hon. Member opposite goes to a Division I shall be compelled to give him my support.
§ Mr. HAROLD COX
It is with very great regret that, while agreeing entirely with what has been said by the hon. Member opposite and my right hon. Friend (Sir C. W. Dilke), I find myself compelled to vote against the Amendment. I have come to that decision very reluctantly because this is a question to which I attach more importance than to any question which has come before the House. This seems to me to touch not merely the foundations of the Liberalism in which I be- 1568 lieve, but to touch the very foundations of the British Empire. Not only is the thing bad in itself, as the right hon. Gentleman says, but it is badly done. We are allowing other people to put in this Bill words which we all of us dislike and words which have no definite interpretation, so that a great many men in South Africa will not know whether they come within or without this colour bar. That is very serious. People in high position in South Africa whose blood has a trace of black in it will not know whether they are to be excluded or included within the new Legislature. Worse than that, I contend that these words are an insult to the whole British Empire. Though we are apt to forget it, our Empire consists of something like five to one coloured men, and we are virtually saying to the whole of these people, "You are until, to be there on an equality with us, whatever stage you may have reached in civilisation." If I am not touching upon too delicate a subject, may I remind the House that the words which we are now putting into this Bill would have excluded the founders of every great religion the world has known. There is no great religion which has been founded by men of European descent. Ex oriente lux. It is through the East that the light of religion comes. Beyond that there is danger to South Africa itself. This is a matter on which this Government, as responsible for the protection of the whole Empire, has a right to speak. Do the people who have framed this Constitution really imagine that they can permanently hold a vast black population in subjection? They virtually tell every man in South Africa, however much he may rise in the European scale of civilisation, he shall be thrown back into the black mass because of the colour of his skin. What must be the future effect of that? That instead of bringing these more intelligent natives into line with European civilisation they are made our enemies instead of our friends. The time may come when they will be leaders of a great black revolution against the white race.
I also hold very strongly, in opposition to hints which have been dropped, that this Parliament has a perfect right to deal with this matter; and I agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir O. W. Dilke) that we should have a perfect right to reject this Bill and to throw back the Union rather than admit what is an injury to the whole Empire. The Empire is bigger than South Africa, and, therefore, if that were the only issue involved, I would see the 1569 whole Bill go rather than do something which is a violation of the traditions of the British Empire. I may be asked why it is that I vote against this clause. My answer is that it comes too late. We have given away the fortress. We gave it away first of all with the Peace of Vereeniging. We went to war with the Boers largely because we claimed that they were not treating the natives justly, and that they were injuriously treating our British Indian fellow subjects. Then the Peace of Vereeniging gave away a large part of the principle for which we fought, because we agreed that the natives should be excluded from the right to vote. But that is not all. We further gave away a principle a little later. When the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyttelton) was framing his Constitution he not only excluded from the power of voting the natives, as he was bound to do by the Treaty of Vereeniging, but he extended the word natives to include coloured men and British Indians—as much as if someone having agreed to pay in pounds subsequently voluntarily turned the pounds into guineas. He was then going even beyond the Peace of Vereeniging. That was not all. His Constitution did not go through. Another Constitution was framed, and I remember how the then representative of the Colonial Office, now President of the Board of Trade, described that policy. He described the various suggestions which had been made for the new franchise in the two conquered States and he said he came to the conclusion that the only sound principle upon which to go was that all men were equal. A fine phrase for the platform! But what did it mean? It meant that the greater part of the men in the Transvaal were to be excluded from that conception of equality, and that in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, apparently, a black man was not a man at all. I do not agree with him. I agree much more with the right hon. Gentleman in holding that all men are not equal, but that all men are entitled to justice. I know that raises the very difficult question of what the word "justice" means, and I fancy in most of our Debates, though we are all agreed that we want justice, the real division of opinion arises because we cannot precisely define what justice is. But though it is difficult to define what justice is, there are cases where we can clearly say what is injustice. There is not a man in the House who will not agree that it is injustice to say to a fellow human being, "Because of the colour of your skin you 1570 shall never rise to the right of exercising Parliamentary privileges or the privileges of a citizen." That injustice we have already accepted. We accepted it when this Constitution was being discussed between the Colonial Office and the South African organisers of the Union, as it must have been months ago, and I cannot help thinking that if the Imperial Government had then taken a somewhat stronger attitude we might to a large extent have been saved from the present situation. But that is done, and now what we are asked to do is to pass an Amendment which does not give us back any of the great principles that we have thrown away, but which merely introduces a pettifogging discrimination and which, in so doing, actually commits this House to the proposal that in two of the Colonies in South Africa the colour bar shall continue. On that ground alone I shall vote against the Amendment, because it asks the House to say we are to set up a colour bar in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony which is partially to cut us away from the other two Colonies. That is not a principle, it is only a pin-prick. The Amendment does not embody any great principle on which the House can divide. It is merely a pin-prick to the people who drafted the Constitution. As practical men we have got to consider whether we gain anything by thus attempting in this small detail to alter the Constitution. Do we really secure any better rights, any better treatment, for the natives? I do not think we do, and for this reason. Ultimately their treatment must depend upon the people to whom we have handed over the Government. If I saw any indication on either side of this House of a determination to really govern South Africa, and to accept our responsibility, then I would go with them, but I see no sign. But I know perfectly well that if any big issue comes up the attitude of both sides of the House will be, "You must help the white Colonists." That being so, it does not seem to me to be worth while bothering to amend this Bill at all. The best thing to do is to say, "You have got the responsibility on your shoulders. You have drafted the Constitution, and you must take all the risks it involves." I come to another point on which, I think, the Government will agree with me, namely, that it is a necessary conquence of the handing over of South Africa-to a new Union Government that our troops there must be withdrawn. We cannot 1571 in one breath say to the South African Colonists, "Do as you like," and at the same time say that we are going to support them with troops, whatever mistakes they make. They must take the responsibility for their own mistakes. They cannot call upon us to make good their blunders with our troops. If that is accepted, and I think it is—
§ Mr. COX
My hon. Friend forgets that in New Zealand and Canada there are no British troops, and that they have not cut the painter. There is this last point. At the present moment the House is unanimous. We all agree in deploring certain features of this Constitution. Is it not better that that unanimous voice of the House should go forth? We all regret the blunder which we think the Colonists of South Africa make. We are all convinced that they are running a great risk. We all believe that they are doing dishonour to the Empire by the course they have taken. They must take the responsibility for the course they have adopted, and we will not mar the unanimity of the House by taking a Division on this Amendment.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
The speech of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Cox) is one of those extraordinary speeches to which the House is becoming accustomed. The hon. Member blamed my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment for its limited character, and gave us the impression that he would have voted for it if it had gone the whole hog. That is to say, because two Colonies in South Africa have admitted the colour bar, therefore he is justified in extending that colour bar to the other two Colonies. He deplores the existence of the colour bar in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, but he is about to vote for its extension to Cape Colony and Natal. Surely that is not a logical attitude to adopt in this case. The hon. Member frankly admitted that he would not vote for the Amendment, of which the hon. Member for Sleaford (Mr. Lupton) has given notice, and which proposes to strike out the words "of European descent," and restore the status quo in all the four Colonies. The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and others who have spoken on similar lines, have referred to this clause as a compromise. This clause is not a com- 1572 promise. The only compromise before the House is that embodied in the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Barnes). At the present time in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State only white men and Europeans are eligible for election to Parliament. In Natal and Cape Colony coloured as well as white persons are eligible for election. The Bill, as drafted, proposes to extend the colour bar from the two Colonies where it now exists to the two where it does not exist, and that is called a compromise. Where does the compromise come in? The Prime Minister said that now the coloured voter in Cape Colony would have a wider influence by his vote, but he forgets that the right to be elected to the Cape Parliament which he now enjoys will then cease, because the Cape Parliament will come to an end. There will be a sort of glorified county council, or provisional council, to which natives may be elected. The legislative Parliament is being taken away under the Bill which we-are now discussing. That is my point. To speak of this as a compromise appears to me at least to be an abuse of language. The great point made by the Prime Minister and also by the Under-Secretary in regard to the House interfering in this matter was that the House by interfering would wreck the delicate balance of conflicting interests which this Bill sets up. In support of that statement the Prime Minister read a communication from Mr. Merriman, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, but I notice that Mr. Merriman does not say that the acceptance of this Amendment would wreck the scheme. The parts read were to the effect that if an Amendment of this kind were carried the scheme would require to be referred back to South Africa for fresh consideration. That is all that Mr. Merriman says. The cables are open, the delegates are still here, and, as in the case of the Australian Bill, where similar language was used, and where a similar set of circumstances arose, the Government did take action, and the delegates who were here from Australia, by the aid of the cable doubtless, were able to adjust the point of difference, with the result that the Bill was amended and the scheme was not wrecked. Basing myself on that analogy, there is no reason whatever why the, acceptance of this Amendment should wreck this present scheme. There is no compromise there, and I submit that to say that the interests affected by this Bill, the great trading and com- 1573 mercial interests, which stand to benefit by the Bill, the Customs and Union interests, the railway interests, and the whole of the property interests of South Africa, which, undoubtedly, will benefit, and are intended to benefit, under the measure—to say that these interests are going to throw overboard the benefit which the measure proposes to bring to them because this House insists on retaining the status quo in South Africa seems to me ridiculous.
I understand that the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Simon) on Monday evening made reference to myself, and stated that I did not oppose the Transvaal Constitution, which contains the colour bar, but, as has been pointed out twice already in the course of this Debate, the terms of the Transvaal Constitution were fixed under the Vereeniging Treaty, by which peace was secured. It is stipulated in that treaty that the question of the colour franchise was not to be dealt with until responsible self-government had been conceded, and that being so, the British Government, the House of Commons, this country, and, indeed, the Empire, were bound by the terms of that treaty when the Transvaal Constitution was drafted.
Another point which has already been mentioned and which cannot be too much emphasised, is one in connection with which the rights and responsibilities of the House of Commons come fully into operation as to this measure. My right hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke), in the two remarkable speeches he made on this question, one on Monday last and the other to-day, referred to the case, not of the natives of South Africa, but of the gentlemen from India, of whom there are large numbers in South Africa. In India a native of education, culture, and social standing may be a member of the Viceroy's Council. He may sit as one of the advisers of the King's representative m India. He goes from India to South Africa, and finds there a barrier raised by which he cannot be elected to assist in making the laws. An Indian in this country may sit in this House. In South Africa there are Indians of various races and creeds, and a large number of them have been brought there as indentured labourers. Others have gone to Natal as traders. They are already smarting keenly under the treatment which is being meted out to them in some of the Colonies 1574 of South Africa. When their compatriots at home learn further that the House of Commons has deliberately set up this colour bar which prevents those men from being returned to the South African Parliament, is that going to increase their sense of loyalty or their faith in the justice of British rule? Therefore the House of Commons in this respect has a direct reponsibility, and if acts of this kind lead to a combined native rising in South Africa Imperial troops will be called in, and, in spite of what fell from some hon. Members opposite, the cost will not be wholly borne by South Africa. The Mother Country is in duty bound to bear a share of the responsibility and the cost of putting down a great rising of that kind, and therefore the House of Commons should not lightly rid itself of the sense of responsibility by saying that this matter can be left to be dealt with in South Africa. The Leader of the Opposition in his speech to-day, the sympathetic note of which awakened such a warm response in every corner of the House, said in regard to this question that both sides in Africa, those for the native and those against him, felt keenly on this question. But surely his trained logical mind must have led him to this conclusion, if his own premises were properly laid down, that as a means of the solution of the difficulty, the decision of Parliament on this Bill is meant to be final, and if both parties feel strongly there will be an aversion to raise the question on either side in South Africa after the Bill becomes law; and it is all the more important, therefore, that the House of Commons should do its duty by the principles which have animated the Empire at home and abroad in times gone by by refusing to agree to a form of words which raises an insuperable barrier in the way of native races and of Asiatic races from developing on the lines which are supposed to be the aim and object of the Empire. It has been assumed that this matter may come before the Privy Council on leave to appeal for a final decision, but this is very doubtful. Anyone who will turn to Clause 106 of the Bill will find that the right of appeal is not only limited under the Bill, but—and this is the important point—the South African Parliament may make laws limiting the matters in respect of which such special leave may be asked, the special leave being leave to appeal to the Privy Council. We are practically saying the 1575 last word on the subject, and it is of the utmost importance that the last word should not be spoken in the way of washing our hands of responsibility, either towards the people of South Africa, or the Empire as a whole, and that the House of Commons should not assent to the setting up of the doctrine that because of a man's misfortune in having been born with a coloured skin he is to be barred the possibility of ever rising to a position of trust.
§ Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN
I do not think it necessary for anyone who belongs to the party for which I speak to associate himself with the principle which was so moderately and so eloquently put forward by the Mover of this Amendment. There is no doubt we are in favour of giving full rights to the coloured men in South Africa and elsewhere; but another question is raised here by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir Chas. Dilke); that is to say: Are you willing to wreck this scheme in order to prevent the assertion of the principle that is embodied in the words to which objection is taken? Speaking for myself, and speaking after consultation with the Leader of my party, I find that I am bound to oppose this Amendment, or any such Amendment, on the ground that the important thing before us is the establishment of a nationality and the establishment of autonomy. Where you have a nationality, fully recognising that nationality does not imply freedom for all the people living in that particular country. The question is, What is it you propose to do by the Bill, and what is it you propose to do by the Amendment? Beyond proposing to give freedom to South Africa—South Africa already enjoys it—beyond proposing to give to the white man in South Africa control over the native—because he already exercises that control—what is it that you are doing? It is just this, that after an almost impossible situation, and through almost insuperable difficulties in South Africa, a nation has come to birth. It is quite true that this Union rests very largely upon business considerations. But this Union would never have been possible were there not behind those business considerations the sentiment of a common right, and a common interest, and an identity and also a diversity which is, in effect, the sentiment of nationality. We all recognise the birth of the nation. We salute the new nation. We are bound to realise what the nation is and what is the 1576 birth, and I say that it is plainly a nation of white men—a European nation; an outpost of Europe in South Africa, and that that nation has the right, and even the duty, to maintain its European character. [An HON. MEMBER: "Slave owners."] I do not think they are slave owners, but I think that they have the right to limit the concession of civic privileges. Is there any man in this House who will assert that there should be absolute equality between white and black in South Africa, and that there should be the same condition of franchise for the coloured men and for men who are of white skin?
§ Mr. S. GWYNN
That may be so, but I confess, if I was a South African I should feel myself bound to maintain the European character of my nationality. There is no use telling us here in England that we have the same franchise here for a Hindu as for ourselves, because here it is not a question of the nation being overborne. It is not a question of complete subversion of the type. These men have the right to deal with this matter as one of compromise, as one of doling out civic rights; and once you admit that there can be no general principle laid down, then I think you are bound to admit that it is a matter for local settlement. It is a settlement of how you are to give the franchise; in what position the white community is to find itself in relation to that portion of the surrounding community which is more numerous than itself. Those questions are infinitely difficult. It is a difficult task; but I think the task belongs to South Africa. And, more than that, it is a privilege which South Africa already enjoys, because it has been sufficiently pointed out that under this Bill we are practically formulating the theoretical status quo in two of the States and the actual status quo in two. I claim then that this Bill is in reality the charter of existence for a new nation, for an European nation which has been created by the action of four separate States amalgamating and incorporating their existing life. We cannot go into the Transvaal or the Orange Free State—and I think the logical course in raising this question would have been to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Slea- 1577 ford (Mr. A. Lupton)—but even in Natal we cannot practically go and say, "admit the coloured men to your Assembly. What is proposed now? Because these States in South Africa have sunk their differences, and people of different races and political ideas have made a compact among themselves, we, in this House, are to seize the occasion to levy a kind of blackmail upon them and to declare "unless you accept the principle which we cannot enforce on you as things stand, you shall not have your national Union." It is a speculation, so far as I can understand, if it is moved seriously, upon the unwillingness of South Africa to sacrifice the results of so much of her moderation and so much of her goodwill. To me it seems that that is not fair and is not just, and I do not think it is even wise for the interests that we are proposing to support. If you take these words, I dislike them. I regard them as reactionary and illiberal, in the same way as I regard the words of the statute which declare that no Roman Catholic shall be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or Lord Chancellor of this country. That statute to me appears to embody prejudice, and I regard these words as embodying prejudice also; but it is quite clear that the South African community hold that they are right to assert in this Bill their European character—
§ Mr. S. GWYNN
I am endeavouring to explain that one has to take account of the passions and prejudices of men. It seems to me it is probable that if you omit these words you wreck the settlement of this scheme. I hold strongly that the prudence and wisdom of the Legislative Assembly of the nation is likely to be greater than the prudence and wisdom of the Legislature of a Colony. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Home Rule?"] But suppose the omission is made, suppose these words are struck out, suppose that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sleaford is accepted, and accepted by South Africa, what would be the advantage? It is quite true we should have served consciences by the barren assertion of a theoretical right. There I cannot agree, because we should have to assert a principle in those Colonies which they do not desire to have; and if we impose this principle upon them we know that the inhabitants of those young States would resent it, and would make it 1578 their business to see that the principle became a dead letter in practice. I hold that the way to accomplish the end we desire—that is to say, to include in this Constitution men of colour, educated men—is to let the germ develop and to utilise to the full the rights which exist. Under this Act you have the franchise for the coloured voter at the Cape, and under this Act the coloured voter has a right to sit in the Provincial Councils. We have heard the powers of the Provincial Councils spoken of slightingly here, but all I can say is that the powers proposed to be given are considerably greater than the powers which were proposed to be given to the Irish Council. I have heard it explained that it was not by any determination of the Cape citizens to exclude coloured men from the Cape Parliament, that no coloured man has ever sat in that Assembly, but simply because no coloured man was willing to get himself put forward. If coloured men wish to find their place in the Legislature of South Africa, I think they have first to make their way; they have first to prove their metal and their value in the Provincial Councils. If that be done, I think only a short time will elapse before this injustice is swept away. The germ is there; and in favour of its development you have that great force which I think in all these discussions has been underrated, namely, that the public opinion of the Empire is solid in favour of the extension of the right to the franchise to the natives. I believe the more untrammelled you leave this new Assembly, this new nation, the more sensitive it will be to that great force of public opinion; but the more you try to impose and enforce your own ideals upon it, the more obstinate will be its resistance to the end you propose.
I confess I find comfort in thinking that the men who have made this great compact, who have shown such wisdom, such moderation, such magnanimity in dealing with one another, will show the same qualities in dealing with all these complex matters which arise out of the question of the colour bar. For my own part, being firm in this matter of the principle of Home Rule, I would gladly leave to South Africa the full amount of responsibility for all these matters. It seems to me that this House has enough responsibilities to occupy it; in all conscience they are heavy enough. We have to concern ourselves with British India without troubling about the British Indians in South Africa. For the present, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member for 1579 Preston (Mr. Harold Cox), the fact is that in South Africa this House is practically-powerless as against the local Legislature; and I appeal to this Committee to give full trust where they give responsibility. We trusted these men when we gave these States freedom separately. I confess I should like to see the compact which they have made ratified by House unanimously. If this House wishes to consult the opinion of South Africa, I think it will do so best by example, and by dealing boldly and frankly with the question of extending the right of Government abroad—in India, in Egypt, and much nearer home.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I have listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. I do not forget that he has spoken as deputy-leader of the Irish party, and he has spoken on behalf of his leader.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The hon. Member spoke for his leader, but not for his party. It is not the first time that an hon. Member has spoken for his leader and not for his party; at any rate, if I may say so with great respect, the opinions expressed by the hon. Member have not that importance attaching to them which I thought they possessed when I understood he was speaking for his party. I foresaw this speech of the hon. Member when I read a column of print in the "Daily Mail," giving an account of an interview which the hon. Gentleman had with the Prime Minister of the Transvaal, and the hon. Gentleman may have to some extent mixed up the views of the Prime Minister of the Transvaal with the views of the Leader of the Irish party. In that interview the Prime Minister of the Transvaal, who is probably to become the Prime Minister of the Union Parliament, although he is not the only competitor for that position, said that if votes were given blindly to natives and coloured men the whole of the white people would be wiped out, because they are only as one million among six millions. No doubt the hon. Member was greatly impressed by the views of the Prime Minister of the Transvaal expressed some time prior to 2nd August last. The 1580 Prime Minister, in his speech on the second reading, emphasised the point that we were not dealing with equal rights in this Amendment. That is perfectly true. We are not asking for what we think the coloured and native men are entitled to; we are only asking for them to retain that which they are entitled to now. It is not a question of equal rights in this Amendment, it is the question of the status quo, and it is really a little hard that we should be taunted because we are dealing with the status quo, and not with equal rights. My hon. Friend (Mr. Harold Cox), who said this was a pettifogging Amendment, has made many extraordinary speeches, which do not surprise anyone. He is usually optimistic in our Debates, but today he struck a very pessimistic note, and he said that so much wrong has been done to these natives in the past that he should not worry to right them now. I do not follow that argument. I hope I am not paraphrasing the hon. Gentleman. It would be a difficult thing to paraphrase what he says, for his style does not lend itself in that direction. The Prime Minister said that the native and coloured voters will gain more than they lose by this compact. Is there really any substance in that argument? What have they got at present? They have got the franchise in Cape Colony, and they have got a sort of franchise in Natal. The franchise in Natal is this—if they have resided there 12 years, and if they get three Europeans to sign the paper in their favour, besides fulfilling other conditions, then they can get the vote. The result of that has been that only 150 natives and 50 other coloured people are on the franchise in Natal. Do not let us forget that there is nothing in the Natal law to prevent natives or coloured voters from being nominated to sit in the Natal Parliament. Under this Bill, that right has gone, and gone for ever. It is said in Cape Colony there are 180,000 on the register, and 22,000 odd are natives and coloured voters—that is to say, they have got one-ninth of the voting power in Cape Colony. It is quite true that they have never tried to send a man to represent them in the Cape Colony Parliament, but is it not a little hard that that should be used as an argument against them? I believe on one occasion one of their number was asked to stand, but he did not accept the invitation, knowing that his supporters would not be able to return him. But what they could do is this: When two white candidates stand they could exercise the 1581 franchise in support of the one most favourable to the rights and privileges of the coloured population. Under this Bill they have lost the entire right to be represented, and they have lost a great deal of the voting power they possessed. They have less power under the Union Parliament than they had in Cape Colony. You should hear what the natives have to say about their gaining more than they will lose under the Union Parliament. I think it is important, if we are to go into the merits of this controversy, to hear what these natives themselves say, because, I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Harold Cox), that it is not only South Africa we are dealing with, but the whole Empire. While it is not perhaps popular to champion this cause, yet I think, in view of recent occurrences in our Dominions, that this is a time in our history when we should be extraordinarily cautious in our dealings with those men, and we must remember this, that in so far as these subject races are concerned, the principle is this, if you educate them you must in the long run emancipate them, and if you want to keep them in subjection you must keep them in ignorance. We have educated them, and emancipation is bound to come. So far as we are concerned, this is our opportunity of expressing our views. The Convention did not report until 9th February, and, as has been stated more than once, it was a closed doors Convention. No one knew what had taken place. There was no representative of native opinion of the city. The Government themselves—we know now, and are proud of it—are the trustees of the natives, but what a pity that the trustees were not represented. They are the guardians of the natives, but what a pity the guardians did not go to the Convention to see that those wards were properly looked after. After the Convention itself was declared on 9th February, the native and coloured population began to hold congresses all over the land. I have the details here, but I do not wish to trouble the House with them. The natives met at Winburg, Emgwali, Nancefield, Pietermaritzburg, Bloemfontein, King William's Town, Cape Town. At all of those Congresses resolutions were passed against the colour bar. This is the resolution passed at King William's Town in April, at which there were 63 delegates present, representing 22 centres:—That the introduction of the colour line into the draft South Africa Act is unjust to the aborigines and coloured people, is unprecedented in the annals of the British Empire; is, moreover, in the opinion of this 1582 Conference, a grave reflection upon God who made those people, and is therefore calculated to create discontent among them and thus tend to unrest aim disturb the harmony and happiness of the people of South Africa.The coloured men's political organisation met in conference in Cape Town for four days between 13th and 17th April, with 89 representatives, representing 50 centres. There, again, a unanimous resolution was passed against the colour bar. The Transkeian General Council, which the House perhaps knows, contains 15 European magistrates and about 40 native councillors, ratepayers from amongst natives chosen from Cape Colony, unanimously passed a resolution against the colour bar provisions of the Bill, and, what is not an unimportant thing for us to remember, 30,000 of the native and coloured men of South Africa have subscribed to send a deputation of their own kith and kin to represent their views in this country. We have heard a good deal about another deputation coming with great prestige to this country from the four Colonies, but do not let us forget that more humble deputation, whose expenses have been subscribed by 30,000 natives, to place their views before the people of England.
It has been said, "Pass this, and in a little while all will be right." Cape Colony and the Transvaal heard the views of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, and they will soon change their minds and pass another law. Is that very likely? I have here in a review views published the other day of the present Prime Minister of the Transvaal, who said that no self-respecting white man would sit in the same Parliament as a black man. If that be the view of the leaders of Colonial opinion, I think there is pretty slight chance of amendment. I say it, and quite frankly, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) will allow me to say so, I am exceedingly obliged to him for the view he expressed to-day a little more clearly than the views he expressed on Monday, that he himself does not approve of these words, and that if he had his own way he would eliminate them. I am sure we are all much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for that view of the matter. At the same time this is our opportunity of dealing with this Amendment. I think it is quite useless for us to say that this is a South African Bill. It was a South African Bill; it is our Bill to-day. I cannot quite understand the hon. Member who preceded me. I suppose he thinks this is a Home Rule Debate. I can quite understand that he will 1583 come with the Protestants of Ulster and the Catholics of the South, and ask us to approve of a Bill which they have approved of, but I would like to see its financial provisions very much. He will come here and say, "Look what the South and North have agreed upon. I appeal to you in the sacred name of Home Rule to pass it as it stands, do not change a syllable, do not dot the i's or cross the t's." That is a principle that may be carried too far. I fear, and I say it quite candidly, that we are buying union at the price of injustice to these native coloured people. If we are the trustees of the natives, if we are their guardians and protectors, against whom are we to guard them, against whom are we to protect them? Against the men of European descent in South Africa, the very men to whom we are going to deliver them, the white population of South Africa. I fear this will put the native and the white populations into two hostile camps. You will set class against class and colour against colour. That is the danger against which we ought to be forearmed, and against which we are forewarned. I trust something may yet be done to modify this Bill.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
This is a Debate of very grave importance, and I do not feel able to give a silent vote, though I will not stand long between hon. Members who desire to address the House. Two questions have been discussed very particularly in this Debate, and the reason they were so discussed was on account of the conclusion by the Prime Minister with regard to the subject of this Amendment. This Amendment does not really deal with the question of native suffrages. There are two questions: There are questions elsewhere in the Bill of native suffrage. This is a question of eligibility of standing for Parliament of the natives, or of any native in South Africa. Now, considering the great importance of this Debate, I wish to make it clear, and I address hon. Members who will also yet consider that question, the question of native suffrage does not mean equality of rights between natives and whites as regards suffrage. For myself, I regard that as an absolutely inadmissible and untenable claim, and, if there were not some distinguished men against me I would say it was ridiculous to claim to put the black man in the same position as the white man all over the Empire as regards the vote. 1584 The right hon. Baronet (Sir C. W. Dilke) conveyed to me in the speech he made that the natives were for the first time being treated in South Africa differently from that in which they were treated elsewhere.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. So far as suffrage is concerned, I am sure it will be well known to him that not merely in every Crown Colony but in places like Canada hon. Gentlemen are familiar with the fact that quite recently protests have been made on behalf of British Columbia as to equality of rights.
§ Sir C. W. DILKE
I expressed the view that I was not in favour, and I did not know many who were, of the suffrage to men living under tribal conditions.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
Neither the prudence nor the elementary common-sense of the Empire can possibly admit the claim that blacks, very likely hundreds and thousands of years behind the whites in civilisation, are to be admitted to the same suffrage with them. Not only is that contrary to the entire theory of the Crown Colonies, but also the express opposition—recently avowed in the plainest possible terms both by Canada and Australia. Therefore, let us clear away that subject, and, if I may address myself to the Labour party, if there was any idea of the kind amongst the whole of that party, who are pretending that black men should be equal to whites in this House, I do not believe that there is a single white trade unionist throughout the whole of the Empire who would not absolutely repudiate their action. I think I need not waste further time upon that point. But the point we are dealing with in this Amendment is, as I said, the eligibility into the Senate of the coloured men. I wish to say in an absolutely unqualified way what I said the other day: that that provision is not a rule to be defended on the merits. I believe that the history of the matter was this—but I cannot speak with absolute certainty—that when proportionate, representation was proposed to the Convention, the theory of those who were opposed to the natives sitting in Parliament, and the fear was that proportionate representation would lead to the representation of narrow sections, or of what we would call faddists. They inserted this provision as to the eligibility of persons 1585 not of European descent in order to counteract what they believed would be the effect of proportionate representation. Proportional representation was excised at a subsequent Convention in Bloemfontein, but the European descent clause remains. When I say that I regret in the most unqualified way that this was inserted, I do so from the knowledge that there are coloured men who are fit to sit in any assembly. I dare say many of the Members have read the speeches of Mr. Booker Washington, a coloured man in the United States, whose speeches could scarcely be equalled in this House either for picturesque, or forcible and homely effects. I really cannot understand the ground upon which this South African Parliament have excluded coloured people. I am sure we have not got to the bottom of the matter. We must remember that this is really the whole question. How is this matter to be rectified? How is opinion upon it to be advanced? By interference from here now, or by relegating the matter to the South African Parliament concerned—a method which the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ellis Griffith) ridiculed as altogether not to be believed in. I do not agree with him. In the first place, as I have said before, I myself warned the House, at the time of giving responsible government, of the open and signal dangers, perfectly palpable to everybody who had studied the question which would arise in the dealings of a responsible Government in the Transvaal with British Indians or natives. The House were perfectly aware what they were doing when they gave responsible government. In my judgment, they handed over the fate of these men, both British Indians and natives, to the responsible Government; and when they did that they removed the matter altogether from the right and responsibility of this House. It is a delusion to suppose that this country, when she gives up her right and her responsibility, necessarily loses her influence and her powers of persuasion. She does not. I might cite the late Lord Elgin and Lord Dufferin, and at the present time Lord Grey and Lord Selborne, as men who, representing in an unpolitical and unbiassed way the best opinion of this country, have had most important and persuasive influence upon the self-governing dominions with which they have been connected. It is a delusion to suppose, in the next place, that our great self-governing dominions are not influenced by De- 1586 bates in this House. They are influenced by them; and it is to that fact I attach importance, especially when I consider the history of this clause, and how, I hope almost accidentally, these words were kept in after proportional representation went out. But be that as it may, I hope, at any rate, that the strong respectfully-expressed opinion of this House will be regarded there, and that we shall not run into the great danger of setting back, by unwise and premature interference, the opinion which is already moving largely in this direction in South Africa.
That really is the heart of this question, and in regard to it I believe this House is thoroughly agreed. Upon the merits of this question I believe the House is really unanimous, and that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) had the whole House with him the other day when he expressed with perfect clearness the opinion that this clause with regard to the non-eligibility of natives was deeply to be regretted. The sole question is how shall we advance the cause which we are unanimous in believing to be the true one? I hold myself, first on constitutional grounds, that once you have given responsible government you have practically given autonomy, certainly in all internal affairs. At the same time, when we say that, do not let us forget that which I am delighted to say is becoming more and more prevalent throughout this great Empire—I mean the influence of one part upon another; the influence of the best opinion upon other opinion. There are questions in which Colonial opinion has acted with the greatest possible force and persuasiveness upon this country, and I am sure the Colonies will not mind my saying that there should be reciprocity in these matters. I believe there will be. At any rate, though I have a certain reluctance in speaking against those with whom I am in such agreement upon the merits, and though I honour both the fire and the heart of the opposition which they have made to this clause, yet I feel myself bound in the interests of the cause itself to vote against them.
§ Mr. J. A. SIMON
My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ellis Griffith) asked whether the Committee was or was not prepared to deal with what he called the merits of the controversy, and he dealt with what he believed to be the merits of the controversy in a very convincing manner. It was convincing because we are all agreed. 1587 If the controversy upon which the Committee are to judge and decide was really that about which he spoke, we are all one. But I submit to the Committee that it is of the first importance for us to keep clear in our minds the distinction between two things. One is, what is the opinion of this English House of Commons on the exclusion of natives from the Senate in South Africa. As to that, we are agreed. But that is not the real controversy. The other, and it is a distinct question, is this. Finding ourselves in the position in which we are in relation to this Bill, are we prepared by the vote which we are going to give to sacrifice the Bill? I ventured on second reading to put that question to some of my hon. Friends, and to point out that that is the real controversy. As far as I am concerned, I certainly call no man unpatriotic, or by any other unpleasant epithet, if he takes the view that it is better to sacrifice the Bill than pass this clause. It is a perfectly fair view to take. What I point out is that that is the controversy. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Ellis Griffith), who spoke so eloquently as to the position of the natives in South Africa, was, if I may say so with all possible respect, forcing an open door, and the wrong door. The real question for us at this moment is, this proposition being put forward as a proposal for Union by four communities to which we have given self-government, are we prepared to accept it and to put our seal upon it, or are we not? The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Keir Hardie) said that the last time the English Parliament had to deal with a proposal by States to unite in a greater whole, they suggested an Amendment which was carried, and the Confederation was not lost. He was referring to the ease of the Australian Colonies. But may I point out to those who accept that argument this distinction in the case of the Australian Commonwealth. The proposal was one which was accepted, and accepted here upon the spot, by persons able to accept it.
§ 7 P.M.
§ Mr. SIMON
I should think very poorly of those who are now responsible for the Colonial Office if they had not spent three weeks in discussing this matter with South Africa. What was the substantial point as to which a change was made? The question concerned the number of appeals 1588 that there would be to the Privy Council from Australia. That, in my judgment, as a lawyer, is of first-rate importance; but it was not regarded as of first-rate importance by those who had really to decide it. Who really had to decide it was not the House of Commons, but Australia. They decided that they were willing to take the Confederation, which is now called the Australian Commonwealth, with that modification, proposed, I believe, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). But that is not a real analogy or parallel with this case at all. It is admitted on all hands that the proposal represented by this Amendment is one of first-rate importance, not only from our point of view—on that we are all one—but from the point of view of South Africa also. Once we are told, as we have been told in the plainest terms, that to insist upon this Amendment is to sacrifice the Bill—I do not say that that would produce irreparable disaster, but a disaster which must be repaired—then that becomes the real problem, and it ceases to be a question any longer whether or not the case of the natives is strong or weak. What answer is suggested? The first answer suggested by those who present the case, with great moderation, and with a real desire to serve the interests of all, is, "Yes; you must sacrifice this Bill in the interests of justice "; and the second answer is, "Yes; you must sacrifice this Bill in the interests of Empire." Take, first, the interests of justice. The hon. Member for Merthyr was good enough to refer to an observation which I made on second reading when I called attention to the fact that he and others who think strongly and follow his lead were, for the most part, Silent in 1906 when we took the step which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lyttelton) has pointed to as the decisive step, namely, that of conferring by our own Motion upon the Transvaal a Constitution of their own. The hon. Member pointed out that his silence then might, to a large extent, be explained and justified by the fact that the Treaty of Vereeniging left no alternative. I accent that most frankly. But may I point out that that confirms the position which many of us feel bound to take up at this moment? What is the provision of the Treaty of Vereeniging to which he referred? As the price of peace, a price which hon. Gentlemen sitting on those benches were most willing, and, in my judgment rightly willing, to pay, we 1589 agreed with the Dutch population in the Transvaal, who were then making, not an unconditional surrender, but a capitulation on terms, that there should be no attempt from us, from the Colonial Office, from this House of Commons, to impose a franchise for natives upon the Transvaal until after self-government. What does that mean? It means, as the hon. Member has seen, that we then and there agreed that the question whether there should be such a franchise in the Transvaal was a question for them and not for us. That is inevitably involved in the proposition that in 1906, or in 1902, a bargain was made. Therefore, when we are told that in the interests of justice we are obliged to take this stand now, I submit to the Committee that the year 1909 is not the time when we can repair that. When the devastation and havoc of the war was nearer to us than to day, we found—rightly found—not merely in the interests of the white people, but in the interests of the black people, that it was worth while to agree to these conditions for the sake of peace. We made our bargain, and it follows—in my judgment necessarily—that from that point forward, so far as that portion of the earth's surface is concerned, that those people who claimed to govern themselves in the Transvaal have now to decide this matter. It is said: "Oh, yes, the Transvaal is a wide area, but how can a distinction of that sort be relied upon if, in the interests of justice abstractly considered, we are obliged to sacrifice these people at this priceless moment?" What is the contention in the interests of Empire? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, put with great force—quite truly—to the Committee the fact that in this, and in every great and solemn determination there are interests to be considered outside geographical boundaries. For my own part I, and many other Members here who intend to support the Government, have the greatest misgiving and anxiety of any provision which appears to render even possible additional causes of native discontent in that part of the world. It is a most serious thing. Do not let it for a moment be supposed that any of us here who find it impossible to support this Amendment are wanting in our appreciation of the gravity of the situation thereby suggested. But I would beg hon. Members to consider that there are other interests which are going to be promoted by this Bill, and by this compromise. There is a 1590 happy agreement, I know, between us here in this country and in this House that the quarrel between Dutchmen and Britisher is over. So it is. This is the document that sets its seal upon it! Before I can bring myself to join those who support the Amendment, I ask them to say if they are willing to sacrifice the settlement? I am obliged to ask myself, "What does that settlement mean, what is involved in ripping it up, and in leaving open the possibilities of conflict which are more and more dangerous because they are so ill-defined?" The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition the other day spoke of this as a miracle. We may perhaps not take exactly the same view as to the probability of such being the result flowing from the fearless application of the principles which we all unite to accept here. But at any rate this is a most wonderful result for those who were lately at war. I can conceive that there can be no principle more safely applied in this matter than that when you give liberty to people you should give it utterly. Perhaps the Committee will allow me to put it in my own way. Every Englishman who goes to Canada sails up the St. Lawrence and climbs up to where Wolfe stood on the plateau outside Quebec, and surveying the scene of the culminating struggle, just as bitter, just as determined as the struggle before Ladysmith, cannot but ask himself—if he be serious, patriotic, and sensible—"How is it possible that elements so conflicting could ever have been reconciled?" He passes from the Plains of Abraham to Quebec, through the very gateway by which Montcalm, the French general, retreated mortally wounded, and inside the walls of that city finds the descendants of the combatants trading together, sharing a common life, speaking both languages, imbued with a common patriotism. He is surely a short-sighted man who asks himself how has this miracle been wrought, and simply answers, "A political formula." It was a far more difficult and arduous task than the repetition of a formula. The alchemy by which the diverse elements were fused was not merely by the formula of self-government, but by saying that the only wise thing to do was to trust the people utterly. The history of Canada, apart from that, was folly—the folly of giving the people not enough liberty. It will be folly if we, the people of this country, imagine that we can safeguard this interest or that when the real thing to do is once and for all to 1591 say, "You shall have liberty, and have it all." I would appeal to hon. Members in this House who felt keenly when the terrible struggle was going on—as many of us did—to remember now that British and Dutch are one, and that the same wise principle you applied in 1902 and in 1906 you must apply now. That is the only wise way in which to deal with Imperial interests.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Before dealing with the arguments the hon. and learned Gentleman has just addressed to the House, I must confess to the Committee that I rise with very mingled feelings. The position which one in my position finds himself is not at all an enviable one. The House has agreed upon a general principle. But if we could only suspend our Standing Orders, and forms, and if you, Sir, would allow us to pass a general Resolution which would enable us to express our opinion regarding this colour bar, judging by the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon, the House would come to an absolutely unanimous decision. I am sure it must have appealed to every Member of this House as it has appealed to me. Would it not be possible to allow the Committee to pass over this point after the speeches which have been delivered, and simply content ourselves by indicating to South Africa what our opinions are, not through a Division, but through these speeches which have been delivered? I can assure you and this Committee that we have not come to the decision which we have light-heartedly. Had it been possible we would have accepted that happy solution. It is absolutely impossible. If the Committee will allow me, I will endeavour to explain why. I want to make it perfectly clear to the Committee why the Amendment is drafted in its present form. I will not go over the ground which has already been covered. The first reason is that the Treaty of Vereeniging makes it absolutely impossible that we should have applied generally an Amendment to abolish the colour bar from the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony as well as from Cape Colony and Natal. We stand by that agreement. I am bound to say that I could not quite see what the point was in the very delightful cloud of words that the hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow addressed to the Committee on the point. The Amendment as it stands says to the Transvaal, "We do not desire to impose 1592 upon You any obligation which is not now imposed upon you." It makes it absolutely clear to the Transvaal and to the Orange River Colony that, this House, whatever its opinion may be on the general question, stands loyally and honourably by the Treaty which was given by this nation to the Transvaal and Orange River soldiers before they laid down their aims. There is absolutely no idea, no suggestion, of any attempt to undo one single provision of the Treaty to which this country put its name. I am bound also to say parenthetically upon the hon. and learned Gentleman's words that we agreed—I do not quite know how he made it an agreement—to them when we accepted its terms. I would remind him that there was no such thing as a Labour party in the House at that time. So far as our conduct in the country was concerned, we regretted most profoundly that that condition was put in. There has never been the least doubt about it.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Yes, but we have never said peace at any price. If the Transvaal—the old Republics—had insisted upon Chinese slavery as a condition under which peace was to be obtained, I doubt very much if it ought to have been accepted. I come to the next point, to the argument which has been addressed to the Committee most particularly by the hon. and learned Gentleman who has preceded me. He says:—We have given united South Africa a Constitution; we have given it self-government; therefore we ought to accept the full responsibility of that Act ourselves.My reply is this: "We have not given it self-government, we have not given it a Constitution, and that there is no self-governing authority in South Africa," which is the provision of the Bill before us at the present time. The position today is this: that four independent States in South Africa have decided—and we welcome the decision—to unite. They have held a Convention. The Convention was held in private. We know absolutely nothing, except what has leaked out as a rumour, as to what took place behind those closed doors. They have produced a proposition to us. This Bill is not in the position of a Bill reserved for Royal Assent. This Bill is in the form of a proposition, an agreement come to between these independent self-governing States, who say, 1593 "We desire to establish a Constitution: do you, the Old Country, the Imperial authority, agree that that constitution shall be given to us upon those lines? Do you agree to set up self-government within our four borders—within the principles contained in this Bill?" Surely that is a totally different case to the one assumed by the hon. and learned Gentleman in order to build up his argument. I am bound to say that if this Bill were merely a Bill reserved for the Royal Assent, passed by a self-governing Colony, or Dominion, or Union; if it had been the subject of a general election, of a reference to the people; if it had been decided and agreed to by the ordinary representatives directly responsible to the people and the Colonies, then there would be a great deal to be said in favour of the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. But in view of the present position of this Bill the argument is absolutely beside the point, has absolutely no bearing upon the decision that this Committee is asked to come to. Moreover, the hon. and learned Gentleman made a very eloquent reference to a visit he paid to Canada. He said:—The secret of our success, our marvellous success, In Canada has been that we give Canada self-government.No one knows better than the hon. and learned Member what preceded the granting of self-government to Canada, and no one knows better than he what would have happened if Lower Canada was allowed to be dealt with by Upper Canada, and if the Imperial authorities had not sent someone out to act as an impartial judge and to impose the political morality held in this country upon the contesting races in Canada. If we cared to elaborate that point, or to go into the details of what preceded Durham's visit or into the details of the Durham Report, and what came after the Durham Report, it would be an absolute parallel to the condition of things from which a united Canada emerged, and that which appeal to the Committee to establish in South Africa now. It is the greatest grief and sorrow to me to stand "here this afternoon and oppose personal friends of mine who occupy the position of political responsibility in South Africa, men who are here to-day with this Bill in their hands, men by whose side we stood in storm and in stress and not merely when the weather was fair. Hon. Members opposite undoubtedly have done the same; I never for a single moment suggested any reflection upon anyone else, and I am only explaining the reasons of the pain of 1594 our position. Well, there it is. I am convinced from what I know from these men, what we know of the opinion of South Africa, that this bar is meant to be final, that it is not to be put in for the purposes of tiding over a temporary emergency. I am absolutely convinced that the intention of this provision in this Bill is that never, so far as man can secure "never," will the native, the coloured man, sit in the Parliament of United South Africa.
I would not lay so much emphasis and weight upon that as I do if? held the optimism of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover-square (Mr. Lyttelton). He referred to those magnificent orations of men like Mr. Booker Washington, with which, so far as knowledge of the political conditions are concerned, so far as statesmanlike sagacity is concerned, backed up by practical application of the principles in education, in self-government, everyone of us are familiar who know the position of the negro of the American States at the present time, and which could not be surpassed. We must have felt how profoundly true the right hon. Gentleman was in his reference to Mr. Booker Washington, or to men like his admirable colleague Professor Dubois, in his wonderful work for the negro in South America, for his education, for his social, his political, his industrial, his economic advancement, but there the right hon. Gentleman and I part company. I think he suggested that things were getting better, that the white people of the world not merely of America but all over the world where the races are mixed, are bearing a more liberal tribute and a more generous and a more gracious spirit to the marvellous worth of the coloured races, and to the men who are their leaders and their guides. If I could join the right hon. Gentleman in that view I should not feel it is not so much our bounden duty to carry this Amendment to a Division, but my belief is exactly the opposite direction. My belief is, explain it as we may—and this is not the place to try to do so—from personal knowledge and contact, and from being in places where these mixed races are, my belief, my melancholy belief is, that things are getting worse and not better, that the racial antipathy is becoming more and more marked. What we are asking the Government and this Committee to do is to do more than has been done to protect the rights of the natives in South Africa. There is one other point which I desire to come to. Like my hon. 1595 Friend opposite, I have no desire to shirk it. Are we or are we not prepared to sacrifice this Bill? There is no desire to sacrifice this Bill. Nobody has said the Bill will be sacrificed, but I put it much stronger than that. Does anybody who has ever sat down with the map of South Africa in front of them, more particularly the map of South Africa marking clearly its railways and geographical points of entrance and exit, does anybody who has sat down and given half an hour's study to what you may call the geographical foundation of politics believe that if this Bill was dropped to-day that the union of South Africa would not take place within a year? It is simply sheer and supreme folly for anyone who has undertaken that elementary study to suggest to this Committee that there is any danger of irreparable ruin, or of any great damage being done to the Union of South Africa, if we were to pass the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
I would like, if I may say so, that argument might be met with argument, so far as I am concerned, to refer to the Australian problem. The hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow talked about distinction between what happened in the case of Australia and what is going to happen now. It is not a question of distinction. It is a question of what the two situations hold in common, and what they held in common was the definite, decisive and unqualified statement of the delegates from Australia on the one hand, and from South Africa on the other, that if their Bill was to be touched the Union would be in danger. That is the common ground upon which they stand. The distinction may be great, or it may be small outside that, but that is all we need concern ourselves about this afternoon. I cannot, however, see that the hon. and learned Member's facts were accurate. He told us it was a comparatively small thing to upset the decision of Australia with regard to Privy Council appeals. Is there any Member of the House who followed that controversy who will agree with that statement of the hon. and learned Member? Do not hon. Members who are concerned in that controversy remember those tremendous despatches and pamphlets that, for instance. Chief Justice Way addressed upon the subject supporting the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who was mostly concerned? Do they remember the tremendous outpouring of Australian wrath 1596 upon the heads of right hon. Gentlemen who were then responsible to the Government of this country? Hon. Members who know the real mind of our Colonies know there is no more sacred spot in the liberty temple which they have erected, and which symbolises the rights of self-government, than this right regarding appeals to the Privy Council. Members have only to look to "The Liberty of the Subject," when that controversy was on to see—I say it with sincere respect—how very ludicrous is the suggestion that has been made that this was a minor matter. The position to me is unthinkable that this Bill should be lost. What really does it mean? There, are men in this country at the present time in charge of this Bill who are the Premiers of the Transvaal, the Orange River Colony, Natal, and Cape Colony. Does anyone mean to say for a single moment that if these men, whose services to their various communities have been unexampled, agree with this House that certain precautions should be taken such as we suggest, that these men could not carry their people with them and get them to follow them? Yes, they could; and judged by their declarations at the last election in some of the States, they could get their people to follow them gladly. I hold in my hand an extract from a leading article which I cut from the "South African News" of 21st July, 1909, which reached me the week before last. This paper, if there is any paper in the whole of South Africa, is the common organ of opinion of the political parties to which the gentlemen belong who are here upon this mission at the present time. It is the paper that held up their views, it is the paper that opposed the war, it is the paper whose editor was sent to prison because he opposed the law. This paper, the organ, if there is any in the country, of the majority of the peoples of the four Colonies, said:—Even if Amendments are introduced into the Bill by the Imperial Parliament there is no reason to anticipate that any of the Colonies will not accept them, and acceptance can easily be notified well before the end of the year.There the implication is—and I want to emphasise this point, as I believe it is not a little significant—that the Amendments will have to be considered undoubtedly, and that the consideration will be undertaken in the most friendly and favourable frame of mind, and that it will take so-little time until the Bill is sent back to us that everything can be settled in due time for the 1st May, when I believe the Union is going to be consummated in a proper 1597 way. Now I should like finally to say that I am bound to give some reason for our belief that Amendments would be received without a great amount of unfriendliness by the Colonies. Take, for instance, the statement made by Mr. Walton, who moved a vote of thanks to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick at a meeting on 15th March, 1907. He said:—We have laid down one principle, and that is equal rights for all civilised men, and we cannot depart from that consideration.Dr. Jameson, in an address delivered at Grahamstown on 3rd March, 1908, said:—There is, I find, an insuperable obstacle in the way of unification, and that is the question of the native franchise, and that is why I say we must go for federation, so that we may hold to our native policy till the neighbouring Colonies are sufficiently educated to agree to allow equal facilities to blacks and whites to rise in the scale of humanity.Mr. Malan, one of the youngest and ablest and most influential of the Africander Bond, speaking in Cape Town on 17th January, 1908, said:—The South African Party is against drawing a colour line for political purposes. I say so irrespective of election times. It would be unwise to draw a colour line. It would not be practical to do so, and furthermore it would be unjust. I do not wish the colour line drawn in Cape Colony, and I would not like to see the colour line in a federated South Africa, and if it is necessary to wait five or ten years it will be better to do so.Finally, and perhaps in a sense the most important of all, Mr. Merriman, the present Prime Minister of Cape Colony, speaking in the Cape Town City Hall, on 17th January, 1908, said:—It is impossible to govern large masses of men unless we give them the same political rights under the peculiar circumstances of the country. I believe we have adopted in this country the right course. I believe the one thing we are all agreed on in this country is that we have adopted this course, and this course I could not, under any circumstances, retreat from.In the face of this declaration is this Committee going to give any weight to the statement which has been made that if this Amendment is carried then this Bill will come to a sudden end? I do appeal to hon. Members in regard to this matter. This is not a South African question only, but it is a great Imperial question, and one which is probably going to have more to say in shaping the future of this Empire than any other single question which is before us now. No man who has gone abroad from one end of the Empire to the other, and has seen the people and the problems which are rising up that those people have got to face, can have come home with anything but a feeling of great depression with regard to the future of the native races within our Empire. I hope that future is going to be a future of peace. 1598 I hope we have heard the last of racial wars between blacks and whites, and I hope white men will have sufficient foresight to see that the Cape Colony example is the right example, the safe example, and the honourable example; and I appeal to the Committee by its vote this afternoon to declare that it stands by the Cape Colony experience.
§ Colonel SEELY
There are several very important Amendments on the Paper, one of them as important as this, which we must presently discuss; and, therefore, I hope the Committee will shortly come to a decision on this matter without much delay. I, therefore, rise to answer the very eloquent speech which has just been delivered by my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I am not going to go over the ground already traversed, except to say that the Prime Minister spoke with literal truth when he said that this was a compromise which upon a balance of actual advantage could be shown was favourable to the natives. In reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Ellis Griffith) I may point out that the native is getting an actual concrete accretion to his voting power, namely, 20,000 native votes. They will have a voice in the destinies of South Africa. We do not say we will not have a colour bar, but only so much of one. I earnestly suggest that it would be well not to break up this compromise. Let me answer one point put by the hon. Member for Leicester before I come to the concrete question he asks. He says we ought to impose our political morality on South Africa as we did in Canada, and he has told us that there is a distinct going back in South Africa, as elsewhere, in the treatment of native problems by whites. I. vehemently repudiate that assertion on the part of South Africa, and I believe it to be wholly and absolutely untrue. The hon. Member for Leicester says he has lived in countries where there are blacks and whites.
§ Colonel SEELY
So have I, and I have observed what has been going on. Besides speaking from my own observation, I will also give other proofs. I may say that I have seen the most striking and enormous advance in generosity and in the humane treatment of the natives in South Africa. I deny that in this respect we have a monopoly of morality in this House. I think 1599 those great statesmen in Cape Colony who have been pursuing this policy and who have accepted this Bill have as much claim to morality as any of us here. What justification is there for stating that the effect of the words "European descent" has been to create the general feeling which the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil supposes? What indications have we? We know that in Cape Colony during the last two or three years there has been a period of the greatest financial stress and very real suffering. Hundreds of Civil servants have been sent away, hundreds have suffered great hardship, the salaries of officials have been reduced from the Prime Minister downwards, and all round very real suffering has ensued. During that period every Department of the State has retrenched, but not one penny has been taken from the fund allocated to the natives for their education.
§ Colonel SEELY
The amount spent on education, as the hon. Member knows, is far larger in the part to which he has referred than in other parts of South Africa, and the amount of the grant has not been diminished by one farthing. The hon. Member for Leicester says he has not lived there, but has been there, but I will quote to the Committee the opinion of a man who has been in South Africa for 40 years:—Generally, I think I may say that year by year there is a great and sensible advance in public opinion both as to the extreme gravity of the problem before as and as to the necessity for a liberal policy as the only reasonable chance of ensuring safety for the future.That is the opinion of Mr. Merriman, and I ask the Committee to accept that statement as a great and sensible advance in public opinion upon this question. I repudiate the assertion, which I believe to be quite groundless, that there has been any retrogression in the treatment of the natives, because there has been no retrogression. Then there is the question whether the acceptance of this Amendment will wreck the Bill. Suppose we do put these words into the clause, how are we going to enforce them on South Africa? I do not think this point has been apprehended by my hon. Friend opposite and by hon. Members "below the Gangway. Who is going to support us in South Africa if we accept these words? This Bill was agreed to not only by one political party 1600 in the State but by both. Upon this question the Oppositions and the Governments in the South African Colonies joined together in support of this compromise, the Cape being the only Parliament in which an Amendment was moved specifically raising this point. In that Parliament there were many men with moral sentiments regarding the natives just as good as our own, and the natives themselves were represented. In that Parliament a great number of members defended the native vote, but by a majority of 96 votes to 2 they endorsed the compromise.
§ Colonel SEELY
That does not in the least affect my argument. How are we going to get our views upheld if we adopt this Amendment, because we have nobody to support us? The Governments will be against us and so will the Oppositions, and we shall have nobody on our side in the whole of South Africa except those two excellent gentlemen who voted in the minority of two.
§ Colonel SEELY
But you have no authority for imposing this upon them. If you want to disfranchise the natives or take away from them anything which they have got under this Bill, you have to get the two-thirds majority. If you wish to amend this Bill in this particular, by Clause 152 you can do it by a bare majority. Surely, South African statesmen would not have inserted this provision if they had determined that the Bill could not have been amended. I believe the Bill can be amended and will be amended by the South African Parliament. Now I come to the important point. Can we pass this Amendment and yet save the Bill? I understood the hon. Member for Leicester to say that so bitterly would he regret the loss of this Bill that he would hesitate to vote for this Amendment if he were convinced that the acceptance of it would involve the loss of this measure, and he quoted in support of that view the opinion of the editor of a South African newspaper. May I be permitted to read a letter sent to me on this very point by the chairman of the Delegation after he bad consulted the delegates on this point? This matter is of 1601 such importance that I will read all the letter. It is dated 17th August, 1909, and is addressed to me:—Dear Colonel Seely,After listening to the views expressed by many speakers in yesterday's Debate to the effect that the omission of the provision affecting natives would not endanger the passing of the South Africa Act, I thought it desirable to ascertain the views of my colleagues on the Delegation who are in London. They desire me to reiterate their opinions, with which you are doubtless already familiar, and which I may briefly summarise as follows:1 The Delegation has no power, express or implied, to accept any Amendment of the nature referred to which would destroy a compromise that was arrived at after prolonged discussion.2. Any Amendment affecting important principles would have to be remitted to the several Legislatures in several of which the acception of the alteration proposed would be more than doubtful.3. As you are aware, the Act was submitted to a referendum in Natal, and any alteration would have to undergo a similar ordeal. It is probable that in a matter affecting the very foundations of social relations in South Africa other Parliaments would insist on a similar course of procedure.4. Under the most favourable conditions great delay would ensue, and the accomplishment of union would he postponed for a very considerable time if not entirely ended.I think that is conclusive. My hon. Friend opposite asked if it was not possible this Amendment might be accepted. We have here the considered statement of the chairman of the delegates, after consulting all of them here, that it is quite impossible. It must be referred back to their Parliaments, and we have this considered verdict that its acceptance by the Parliaments is more than doubtful. He adds:—It is not necessary for me to enlarge on the feeling that would be aroused towards the natives in South Africa by such a development, nor how this would increase the difficulty of dealing with the great problem, a difficulty which weighs on the mind of everyone who is responsible for the government of South Africa.I would say let justice be done even if the skies fall, providing the skies are going to fall on our heads; but they are not. It will not hurt us a bit if we pass this Amendment. We shall not suffer at all. But we shall not get our way in South Africa. We cannot do it. All that would happen would be an exacerbation of feeling against this country. The Cape will continue to control her own natives, the Transvaal will continue to control her own natives, the Orange Free State will continue to control her own natives, and Natal will continue to control her own natives, and the whole of the civilised races there as well. I thought we had agreed that Union would be an advantage to the great native races. I thought we were practically unanimous. If the letter I have read is true—and I do not see how it can be otherwise—and if we cannot possibly enforce our will and get Union with 1602 these words, then I would earnestly appeal to the House and to every man who hears me to look the facts in the face, and realise that we cannot get our way, that we have no power to get it, and to pass the Bill and trust to the people of South Africa, who have not failed us before, who have a generosity just as good as ours, and who I have little doubt will before long eliminate from the Bill on their own motion words to which they know we deeply demur, and which everyone here would be so glad to see eliminated.
§ Mr. P. A. MOLTENO
I am in entire agreement with the hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover-square (Mr. Lyttelton) that this Debate is of fundamental importance. It goes to the vital issue in South Africa. Are we or are we not to let South Africa manage its own affairs? That is really the vital question. Are we going to make an attempt once more to deal with questions some 6,000 miles away? However good our intentions may be, we have not the detailed knowledge of affairs to ensure that our view will be either to the advancement of South Africa or ourselves. I agree theoretically with the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes) in his desire to get this matter through, but I disagree with him in the method he suggests. He desires, instead of relying on the powerful moral influence which we exercise throughout the Empire, to rely upon force, and to compel South Africa to accept our view. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out what a very wonderful performance it was to have brought about this Union. I do not think the difficulty has been fully appreciated in this country. You have four communities to deal with there. One of those communities is familiar with native representation, but three of them are quite unfamiliar with it, the problem having been wholly unconsidered by the voters in them. The matter is entirely new to' them, and naturally it is impossible for the delegates to go beyond the view and knowledge of their constituents. They were unable to accept a measure with this vital change to their Constitution at this particular time. After all, human energies are finite, and it is impossible to do everything at once. Surely the first step was to bring about the Union, and then to go further as opportunity offers. Whatever our view may be, there is no doubt that the Colonies, even if they make a mistake, are better able to deal 1603 with native questions than we are. We tried for many years to control native questions in our Colonies, and it has always ended in failure. We have carried on no less than seven great native wars, and we have never been able to maintain peace so long as we tried to control dim-cult native questions 6,000 miles away. So soon, however, as we have handed over the control of native questions to men on the spot we have immediately had peace. History is clear on that point, and, in face
§ of shat, we should, I think, be ill-advised to attempt to force this on South Africa.
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 55; Noes, 155.1605
|Division No. 484.]||AYES||[7.56 p.m.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Shackleton, David James|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Higham, John Sharp||Shipman, Dr. John O.|
|Branch, James||Hodge, John||Snowden, P.|
|Bright, J. A.||Holt, Richard Durning||Steadman, W. C.|
|Brunner, Rt. Hon. Sir J. T. (Cheshire)||Horniman, Emslie John||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hudson, Walter||Summerbell, T.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Jenkins, J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Thome, William (West Ham)|
|Crooks, William||Jowett, F. W.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Kelley, George D.||Wardle, George J.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lupton, Arnold||Watt, Henry A.|
|Gill, A. H.||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Glodinning, R. G.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Glover, Thomas||Macpherson, J. T.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Winfrey, R.|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Pointer, J.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Barnes and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Harwood, George||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Seddon, J.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh)||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Armitage, R.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lambert, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Doughty, Sir George||Lambton, Hon. Frederick William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lend.)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lamont, Norman|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Ellbank, Master of||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Erskine, David C.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Evans, Sir S. T.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Barnard, E. B.||Everett, R. Lacey||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Barran, Sir John Nicholson||Fell, Arthur||Lundon, Thomas|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ferens, T. R.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Fletcher, J. S.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Forster, Henry William||M'Callum, John M.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Birreil, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gordon, J.||Maddison, Frederick|
|Brigg, John||Gretton, John||Mallett, Charles E.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Bums, Rt. Hon. John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Massie, J.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles||Harcourt, Rt Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Middlebrook, William|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Helmsley, Viscount||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Napier, T. B|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hills, J. W.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Clough, William||Hobart, Sir Robert||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Coates, Major E. F. (Lewisham)||Hooper, A. G.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Partington, Oswald|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saff. Wald.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Jackson, R. S.||Percy, Earl|
|Cox, Harold||Jardine, Sir J.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Radford, G. H.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Kekewich, Sir George||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Keswick, William||Rees, J. D.|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Stanley, Hon. A. Lyulph (Cheshire)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Strachey, Sir Edward||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Rose, Sir Charles Day||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Williams, Sir Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Scarisbrick, Sir T. T. L.||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Tomkinson, James||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Sears, J. E.||Trevelyan, Charles Phillips||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Seely, Colonel||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Yexall, Sir James Henry|
|Simon, John Allsebrook||Verney, F. W.|
|Sloan, Thomas Henry||Walters, John Tudor||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Norton and Mr. Fuller.|
|Stanier, Beville||Waring, Walter|
Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Caldwell)
The other Amendments have practically been disposed of by previous discussions.
§ Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. HALLEY STEWART
Is not the question raised by the Amendment as to the words "of European descent" admissible?
§ Mr. LUPTON
That Debate referred only to the words as applied to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. We want to raise is as affecting the whole of the Colonies.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I understood that the discussion was carried on on the whole question of European descent—that the larger question covered the smaller.
§ Mr. LUPTON
May I point out the point in the discussion was whether the Orange Free State and the Transvaal should be exempted from the general rule. Now that that point has been decided, I propose to discuss the rule itself, because I want to remove the colour bar altogether.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The greater includes the less. You cannot exclude the whole without then excluding the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and that point has already been decided.
§ Clauses 27 to 33 inclusive agreed to.