Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £06,849, be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1929, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."—(Note.—£48,000 has been voted on account.)
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
On a point of procedure, Mr. Speaker, I wish to point out that a number of my hon. Friends desire to raise the question of Southern Rhodesia. This is a question of the border line existing between the Dominions Office Vote and the Colonial Office Vote. There is a considerable feeling that, with the consent of the House, the Debate should take a general form rather than that it should be confined to the Colonial side first and then break off on to the Dominions side. It is just a point as to whether we may be ruled out on technical grounds.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I will hear what the Colonial Secretary has to say. I must point out, however, that I see a substantial difficulty, and I am not at all sure that it is not necessary, in considering the feelings of some of His Majesty's subjects in other parts of the Empire, to keep a distinction between Dominion and Colonial matters. Any attempt to have a general discussion merely as a matter of convenience of Debate might have very inconvenient consequences elsewhere.
§ Mr. THOMAS
On that point, we do not want to say or do anything that would give offence in that direction, but, as the Colonial Secretary knows, the whole question involved in connection with South Rhodesia makes a distinction between the Dominions and the Colonies, 2644 and it is because this is a reserved subject that the distinction arises. We have no desire to prejudice the future, but if this question is raised and it is ruled out of order on this Vote, I presume we could come to some arrangement under which we could give one hour to the discussion of this question later in the day. I think that is a way of our difficulty.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
There has not been any previous debate in this House on the Colonial Office Vote in which we have been prohibited from discussing anything dealt with by the Colonial Office. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Southern Rhodesia is a country which is a Dominion save for one purpose, and that is the protection of native affairs and native interests, and that subject is still reserved for this House to deal with. I think it would be very undesirable that we should be precluded from taking this one opportunity for raising this question of Southern Rhodesia.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Amery)
I am inclined to think that last year, or the year before, an attempt was made to discuss the Southern Rhodesia question on the Colonial Office Vote, and it was definitely ruled out of Order.
§ Mr. AMERY
There are very great difficulties in discussing the two questions together, because they are dealt with by an entirely separate Department. At this moment, the assistance I have under the Gallery and the preparation I have made for this debate relates to the Colonial Office Vote. While it is true that certain powers are exercised by this House with regard to native affairs in Rhodesia, it is of an extremely limited character, and there would be a liability to misunderstandings outside if the two questions were discussed in any sense as part of the same subject.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the point of Order is quite clear. If anyone objects, whether it be the Colonial Secretary or anyone else, to discussing Southern Rhodesia on the Colonial Office Vote, I should have to rule that question out of Order. I do not see why the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) should not take 2645 effect. Supposing that we agreed, say, at 2.45 or some time like that, that the Colonial Office Vote without a Division, or if necessary with a Division, should be disposed of, then the Dominions Office Vote which is down for to-day could be taken. I presume that the Colonial Secretary would be able to communicate with the Dominions Office in the meantime, and in that way I think everybody might be satisfied.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I think that is an excellent suggestion, and it was in order to avoid getting into any difficulties that I raised this question at this particular stage. I think your suggestion, Mr. Chairman, is perfectly satisfactory.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
There are hon. Members present who may desire to speak on questions relating to Rhodesia as well as other Colonial matters. Under the arrangement now suggested, would those hon. Members have an opportunity of speaking twice?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is a question I had better answer at once. I think hon. Members would be quite in order in speaking twice, but, if I may use a homely phrase, it is not possible for a Chairman to get a quart into a pint pot.
§ Mr. THURTLE
In the event of some hon. Members desiring to discuss a Colonial Office matter later in the Debate, will they be precluded from doing so by the arrangement which is now being made?
§ The CHAIRMAN
This arrangement must depend on general consent. Of course, it would be possible to move the Closure on the question under discussion, but I certainly could not bind myself to accept such a Motion. It would all depend upon the course of the discussion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The suggestion is that the Colonial Office Vote should be taken first and then withdrawn, say, at 2.45, 2.50 or 2.55, but it must be a matter of general agreement.
§ Mr. SNELL
I beg to move to reduce the vote by £100.
In moving this reduction, I desire to raise certain important matters upon which we on this side of the Committee desire information from the Secretary of State. This year is a peculiarly important one from the point of view of the Colonial Office and of Members of the House of Commons, for not only has the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State returned from his famous Odyssey, and, therefore, is naturally thinking of what he shall do in regard to the impressions he has received, but the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary, whom we are all glad to see back in the House, has just recently returned from the East, and is no doubt dying with anxiety to impart to the Committee some of the impressions that he has received. In view of what was said a few moments ago, I shall try to contribute to the general feeling of the House by not making my remarks unduly long in opening this discussion, but personally I very much regret that, in matters affecting the Empire as a whole, so very little time is afforded for the discussion of these affairs, and I cannot help indulging in the hope that the time may come when we shall have a really extended annual review of the affairs of the Empire, instead of their having to be crowded into a half day, which is far too short a time in which to deal with them.
The first point to which I desire to ask the Committee to give attention is the very important question of the Native Lands Ordinance in Kenya; and may I say that Kenya has a most extraordinary gifs for getting into the limelight in Colonial matters. Once more she occupies the first place in our consideration. What the thoughts of the other Colonies, Protectorates and so on may be in regard to her, I hesitate to think, but for the purpose of this Debate we cannot possibly exclude her from a prominent place in our consideration. It is necessary for us to deal with this Native Lands Ordinance Measure which is before us at the present time. So far as we under-staid the situation, the Secretary of State has asked for a report of the proceedings in the Colony, and has asked the Governor to suspend action until he receives further instructions If that be so, we who are face to face with the right hon. Gentleman to-day have to ask him 2647 certain very straight questions as to what are his intentions in regard to that Measure. It is necessary to raise the matter with him now, because, let the Committee be under no mistake about it, whatever he does in regard to this Measure is going to be fateful for generations for the people of East Africa.
The Measure to which the right hon. Gentleman is going to give assent, or from which he is going to withhold his assent, is going to be a most important fundamental Measure, and we feel that a Measure so important and fraught with such great possibilities should be founded upon a sure basis, so that afterwards we shall have nothing to repent of in regard to what is done. Let me say at once that from my own personal standpoint—I do not know how far my hon. Friends are in agreement with me—the general principle of the Bill is good; that is to say, if it gives to the people a legal title to the land, a title which they have never so far possessed, it might be a real native charter upon which everything else could be built in the future. It would give to the people security of occupation in regard to the native reserves, and would place them upon a more satisfactory footing than they have hitherto had. Therefore, looking at it from the point of view of the general principle, we should wish on the whole that the Measure may be passed. Everything, however, would depend upon whether the Measure would be honestly worked. If it were not honestly and fairly worked, it might be more of a disaster than a blessing.
As we understand the provisions of this Native Ordinance, it creates in reality a legal facade behind which all sorts of barriers and hindrances to native development might possibly hide. The natives under this Measure would appear to us to be almost entirely at the mercy of the white officials or the white settlers in the neighbourhood. I do not offer any criticism this morning as to the intentions of the white settlers in Kenya or anywhere else. I have never spoken in this Chamber on this subject without affirming my belief that the white settlers of Kenya were neither better nor worse than people anywhere else in the world, but that has not prevented my receiving impertinent and abusive letters from settlers in Kenya, which refer to me, 2648 apparently under the impression that it is some disgrace, as an old Exeter Hall representative on these matters. In actual fact what we know as the Exeter Hall view is in reality the view of nearly everyone who understands this question, and so I merely repeat in passing that I am not criticising this morning the intentions of the white settlers.
It is, however, the business of the House of Commons to take such precautions in regard to native development as anybody would take in regard to his own business. There is not a white settler in Kenya, if he is fit to be there, who does not scrutinise any engagement into which he enters, not because of the things that exist at the moment, but because of the possibilities that might develop, and we, as trustees of the natives in this matter, are bound by very sacred obligations to look very carefully into what is proposed in regard to their future.
There are some features in regard to this ordinance that fill some of us with considerable alarm. First of all, there is a proposal to lease the land within certain of the reserves for a period of 99 years, and within those leases villages may actually be included. It does not require a great deal of imagination to assume that white settlers would like to get a farm or farms in the middle of a reserve, where labour would be plentiful and so on, and there is the danger of people running over these reserves and picking the eyes out of them—choosing the very best spots and then crowding the natives out into other parts. It is no use saying that these things could not be done, because history tells us that such things have been done, and if the argument is that the villages, so long as they were inhabited, would be at the disposal of the natives, one can easily imagine circumstances which might cause those villages not to be inhabited for any length of time. We hold on this side of the Committee that, under these circumstances, there should be no leases at all, or, if there are, that they should be of very short duration. They should be subject to very strict conditions and they should in no way prejudice the future of the natives in regard to their land. This land which it is proposed to alienate is the ancestral land of these people and it is as dear to them as our home lands are to us, and it does not do to assume that what is 2649 adequate for their present needs would be adequate for the needs of future generations of their race, for if the agricultural possibilities of the natives were developed by the Government as they should be, instead of there apparently being a disregard, to say the least of it, by the Government, it is quite possible that at no distant time they would require far more land than even these reserves provide for. These black people are not for ever going to remain in the position they are in now. They are in a state of growth; they are capable of very considerable development, and it is highly important that what we do to-day and subsequently should be something which will give them security and a feeling of trust in our regard for them and in our oversight over their affairs.By all ye cry or whisper,By all you leave or do,The silent sullen peoplesShall judge your gods and you.That is the feeling we have to bear in mind on this matter.
Having said a few words in regard to our general distrust of some of these provisions, let me ask the attention of the Committee to the constitution it is proposed to set up. There is to be, first of all, a Central Board, which is to have full powers. Then there is to be a local board which is to be purely advisory, and then native councils which are also to be advisory. The Central Board will in reality be a native land trust, and it is imperative that it should be as representative as it can be under the circumstances and should be scrupulously fair and considerate to the natives. Its composition is to be as follows. There are to be five persons upon it, including the Governor, the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, the Chief Native Commissioner and the Commissioner of Lands. In addition there are to be four unofficial people, all of whom, so far as we can see, are to be white. It is apparently so intended though not specifically stated It is true that one or more Africans may be co-opted—not "shall" but "may" be—for consideration of a particular matter. At its best that arrangement is far from being satisfactory. Two at least out of the four unofficial persons should be natives. As the ordinance is drawn up, it would appear to us to attempt to represent the views of the 2650 settlers and not the desires of the native population.
The thing that I am most regardful of is that by excluding the natives or rather failing to call for any sympathetic and helpful co-operation, we are losing a great opportunity of training them. It is not a question of what the natives are capable of doing now. It is what with training and experience they might become. My own view of human development is that it is far more important that there should be a hundred persons selected for their gifts who are trained to help their people in circumstances such as those in which the natives are now placed than that a sort of education should be spread over a million mediocreties. Our own development has come not through carefully planned development by the average of our population but by the highly gifted spirits who have made current their discoveries and their gifts for us. So if we really wanted to do the right thing by the natives, we should at all hazards give them as full a representation as we could upon these bodies and seek to train them into the possibilities of co-operation and help of their own people. If we shut them out of these possibilities of helpfulness, where are they to get experience? How are they to be trained for that self-organisation of their people which we hope at some time to see them possess? I should like to ask, too, how the native councils are to be organised. There is apparently no provision for them in the Bill and it is important that the right hon. Gentleman should explain to us what these native councils are to be.
§ Mr. SNELL
I take it then that the present system of native councils is to remain undisturbed. I have said we view with very great concern this proposal to lease land, and our view is that it will be very easy to prove that particular land is not in beneficial occupation. It is astonishing what you can prove under such circumstance if you have a desire to do so.
I pass from that phase, leaving the development of it to further criticism from hon. Members on this side. I should like to ask about the adjoining 2651 territory of Tanganyika. We should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what progress is being made there. In some ways we are most anxious about that territory, partly because our national honour is involved. We want to do the very best that can be done with it, considering the circumstances under which our mandate arose. We want to build on right lines.
We have to remember that, when we became responsible for its development, it was at a most difficult time, the old tribal adherence and discipline being shattered, and everything has had to be built up from a state of chaos to the present position. It would he highly assuring if the right hon. Gentleman were able to report what is happening in regard to land settlement, the health of the population and the native councils, and also the economic and financial outlook. A year ago the Governor of Tanganyika, speaking within the precincts of this House, told those who were privileged to hear him a most encouraging story as to what was happening, and it was interesting indeed to hear of the financial and economic progress that was being made. Indeed, it seemed to have a special place of its own, for although they had received free grants of only £408,000, the territory was paying the full debt charge on two-thirds of the Exhequer loan of £3,100,000. It would be interesting to hear from the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, the progress of the Colony brought up to date and some words as to its trading and its railway development.
I cannot close without saying a word or two in regard to one of the Colonies with which I have been slightly connected. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman about the conditions at the present time in British Guiana. I understand that the Orders in Council are now operative and that it is important, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman, if he can do so at this early stage, should be able to tell the Committee what is the intention of the Government in regard to the use of this amended constitution. The Government have got the constitution in regard to the colony that they desired. There are things in it which I regret, and things that I should not personally have commended or have 2652 approved of, but now it has been passed everything will depend upon the spirit in which it is worked. We must remember that the change was made against the wish of a considerable section of the population, and from the standpoint of pure democratic theory it did represent a retrogression rather than a development. But some of us believed rather that it was merely a case of reculer pour mieux sauter. It was a retreat in order to go further along a new track which leads to development. If the changes were inevitable in regard to that colony let us see to it that those changes are proved to be wise. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is the intention of the Government to modify the franchise in any way, that is to say, to extend the vote to a large number of people, and whether it is the intention of the Government to develop that side of technical education upon which the Commission reported with some firmness.
I should also like to hear something about the proposals under the new Order for the development of health and research work and about the experimental stations generally. I hope that the constitution will not be the only part of the Commission's recommendations that will be attended to. I hope that the things they suggested for the improvement and the development of the Colony will receive the very closest and the most sympathetic attention of the Government both in Georgetown and in Whitehall. Just at this particular time when we have upset an ancient and somewhat beloved institution it is a right thing, if we can do it, to make some sort of a gesture of good will and helpfulness to the people concerned. We shall watch in this House the development of this new-experiment with very deep interest, and I hope and believe that if it is properly worked, it will lead to good for the Colony and for the Empire as a whole. I close by repeating my regret at the amount of time that we have at our disposal. There are vast sections of the Empire that must remain altogether untouched in our Debates here to-day. I hope that the time will shortly come when we shall regard it as a point of honour to give adequate time, whatever time is required, to the consideration of the affairs of every 2653 part of the King's possessions. There was never a time in this House probably—I hope I may say this in case our words get to the various parts of the Empire—when more intensive study, wiser consideration and deeper interest were displayed in Empire affairs than now. That may be some consolation to the parts of the Empire who do not get their affairs considered on the Floor of this House. They are not forgotten because they do not receive the benefit of this public advertisement. I would like to say that, complicated and complexing as many of these problems are, I believe that all of them will respond to close and impartial study on the part of Members of this House if we are able to display a spirit of faith and goodwill and helpfulness.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ANGUS McDONNELL
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell) in detail, except to say that there are many questions to be covered, and that I object very much to the short time that is given in this House to the discussion of Imperial questions which are so important. I rather want to deal with a more general question. I do not think that the people of this country at all, or, indeed, the Members of this House to any great extent, realise what are the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and of this House towards the Colonies. With the exception of, I think, four of the Crown Colonies—British Honduras, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Ceylon—in every other Crown Colony there is an official majority in the local legislature, and therefore the Secretary of State for the Colonies is not only directly responsible in all the other colonies for the political administration but in nearly every one for practically all the public utilities and services which we in this country are used to being run either by private enterprise or by local authorities. Therefore, his responsibilities towards the Crown Colonies are far greater than the House of Commons towards the people of this country. We ought to be very jealous that we give him sufficient money in order to carry out his work. I believe that it is not in order to suggest that the vote be increased, but I believe that it is in order to suggest that we do not give enough.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member may certainly suggest an increase, but he cannot move it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
Certainly, I think that it comes very nearly to the same thing. Take the Crown Colonies since the days of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. They are an entirely different proposition from what they were then. In those days the problem that was faced by the Colonial Secretary was almost entirely one of political administration. To-day the Secretary of State for the Colonies is really the head of some 20 or 30 railway systems, public works departments, medical and sanitary servcies, topographical survey work and roadmaking, and all the functions usually carried on in a civilised country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
Yes. He is really responsible for everything. What this House must consider is how much money should we give him so that he can discharge his responsibilities. I believe that the vote for the Colonial Office at home is £144,000 for salaries and expenses, and if we exclude the Middle East—Iraq and Palestine which are not, practically speaking, Crown Colonies at all—we give him only £344,000 for expenditure abroad. We also give that magnificent gift of about £9,000 in grants-in-aid for research work—medical, veterinary and agricultural—the importance of which the hon. Member for East Woolwich has emphasised. Our present expenditure on our Colonies, we may say, is something under £500,000, and in those Colonies there are 40,000,000 people for whom we hold a dual mandate. The dual mandate is, first of all: Are we doing the best we can for the native population in those tropical countries? and secondly, Are we developing those countries as much as we can as potential markets for our British manufacturers? I do not think it can be done unless we increase the expenditure here. We have a Departmental Headquarters in this country without any technical advisers in the office. The Colonial Office is divided into territorial departments handling the political fide of the administration, and quite rightly so. I want to pay a tribute to the political officers of our Crown Colonies who have carried on the poli- 2655 tical work under the greatest difficulties, and under very solitary conditions. They often find themselves in an area the size of this country, practically alone, and they hold up the prestige of the country under circumstances which are more than difficult at times. But we have no lateral Departments which can co-ordinate all the excellent work done by the Colonial officers in the various public utilities and public services. What has been the change in the Colonial Office from the organisation which was set up by the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain? The only difference is that we have one doctor in the Colonial Office to co-ordinate the medical services. I believe that it was decided to put in an agricultural officer, but that was turned down by the Treasury. It was also suggested that there should be an educational officer who should try to co-ordinate the educational services, but he was also turned down.
That is a penny wise and pound foolish doctrine. The chief remunerative expenditure which we can make is in the development of our Crown Colonies and in running them properly. We have hard-working people in the Colonies in all the Departments of public service doing their best and doing their work well. How much better would that work be if the results of their labours could be gathered together and co-ordinated, and what is found, out that is good in one part of the Empire transmitted to another, so that it might be made use of. If I might make a simile, it is something like the chain of Lyons' shops all over London. Why are those shops so successful? Because they have good headquarters, and at those headquarters they have people who know all about the business that is carried on in those shops and who could, if need be, take a job in the shops. We have a chain of shops all over the Empire, ready to buy our goods; but we have an inadequate headquarters, and simply for the reason that we cannot get sufficient money for the purpose. One of the reasons why we cannot get the money is because the subject is not controversial. When an uncontroversial subject comes up, the House is practically empty. Hon. Members cannot have a fight, and therefore 2656 they do not come to the House when these uncontroversial subjects are under discussion.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
Not quite, while the hon. Member and I are present. Somehow, we cannot get money for things about which there is no fight. We have to get publicity, and I would urge everyone in this House and everybody wherever possible to advertise the fact that we have this chain of shops, which we have inherited, all over the tropical world, as a market for our goods.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
When we talk about unemployment in this country everybody immediately turns to the question of migration to the Dominions. Migration to the Dominions is a difficult thing, because we have to make arrangements with the Governments in the Dominions. We do not need to have migration into our Crown Colonies. The population is there, but it needs safeguarding, and it can be safeguarded. The population could be increased immensely if we could only reduce the infantile mortality. The infantile death rate is a very serious problem, but it can be overcome and it has been overcome in many parts of the world by expenditure on what we may call medical and sanitary engineering. I believe that we have wonderful hospitals in a great many of our Crown Colonies, but I would rather see money spent on preventive sanitation work than on hospitals, because it is much better to prevent disease than to cure it. In our African Colonies to-day, the West African Colonies especially, a great deal could be done at moderate expense if we would only adopt a system—I think it must be directed from here—for stabilising the shore lines of malaria mosquito breeding spots. It would not be an expensive thing to carry out.
§ Lieut.-Colonel McDONNELL
The only grounds on which reorganisation of the Colonial Office is ever refused is on the 2657 grounds of expense. What was the value of our exports last year to West Africa alone? Last year we exported to West Africa goods to the value of £16,000,000. It is perfectly fair to assume that a 10 per cent. profit was made on those £16,000,000 worth of exports, because that includes, not only manufacturing profit, but in many cases wholesale profit and the shipping freight profit. Therefore, we might fairly say that this country would get 10 per cent. profit on the exports to West Africa last year, to say nothing of the value of the return trade. On that 10 per cent. profit, which would represent £1,600,000, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get probably £400,000 in revenue, which is sufficient to run all our Colonial services, with the exception of Middle East and Iraq. The time has come when it is not only our duty to the people in our Colonies but our duty to our people at home to have a Commission set up in order to see that adequate machinery is provided in the Colonial Office. I do not criticise the people at the Colonial Office, but we must see that the Secretary of State is given adequate machinery in order properly to operate and coordinate the various public services scattered through our Crown Colonies. I would suggest that we should have a Colonial railways service, a Colonial medical service and a Colonial telegraphic and telephone service with headquarters here, which would be able to inspect the personnel and to carry out other necessary duties. I might quote one example of what has been found a successful commercial expedient in other parts of the tropical world. I make no apology for quoting this instance, which I have previously quoted in the House. We have, at last, obtained the consent of the Exchequer for the expenditure of £2,000 for a doctor to co-ordinate the various medical services in the Colonial Office. The United Fruit Company of New York which administers territory in Central Tropical America about equal in size to two-thirds of the Gambia find it very remunerative to spend £20,000 on a headquarters medical staff, which is nearly always engaged in inspections of camps, seeing that the drainage is properly done, that the houses are sited where they will not be infected with fevers, and doing research work. We spend a paltry £9,000 on all kinds of research and £2,000 on a 2658 doctor in connection with all our Crown Colonies. They spend double the amount on the medical headquarters advisory staff dealing with a territory which is only two thirds the size of the smallest Crown Colony that we possess in Africa.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) has referred to the question of the organisation of the Colonial Office. The hon. Member who initiated the Debate referred to the very great interest that is being taken throughout the length and breadth of the land in Colonial affairs and Overseas matters, compared with a very few years ago. As an instance of the interest that is being taken in this House, I might remind hon. Members that there has been standing on the Paper for some considerable time a Notice asking for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the organisation of the Colonial Office, the recruitment for the Colonial services and the functions of the Crown Agents of the Colonies. There are only six names to the Notice, according to the rules of the House, but they represent a very large number of Members drawn from all sides of the House who are particularly interested in Colonial matters, and who think that the time has come for taking stock and seeing whether our machinery cannot be brought up-to-date. The hon. Member who has just spoken has indicated directions in which improvements might be effected. Other instances will occur to all of us, and I hope the Colonial Secretary will tell us what is going to be done in the matter. It is important that we should make the best use of the material to hand. Many of us are doubtful whether we are making the best use of it; whether some of it does not go to waste simply because of a lack of coordination.
I want for a moment to say a few words on a matter touched upon by the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Snell)—namely, the Land Trust Bill which has been introduced into the Kenya Legislature. Many of us think that this is long overdue; that steps should have been taker earlier to demarcate and gazette the reserves and give security of title in these reserves to the natives. In speaking of reserves, I should like to remind the Committee of the origin and meaning of the term. In the neighbouring terri- 2659 tory of Tanganyika there is not such a thing as reserve, and the reason is that Tanganyika is regarded purely as native territory in which there are white settlers, whereas in Kenya we have proceeded on a different line. In Kenya the legislation has been on the line of the Government taking all the land and now being under the necessity of having to reassign some of it for purely native uses and the protection of the natives themselves. I am sorry there are not more copies of the Draft Ordinance available. I believe I am the possessor of the only copy in England outside the official copy. Clause 2 of that Ordinance says:The area and grant of land described. … are hereby declared to be native reserves and are hereby set aside for the use and benefit of the natives of the Colony for ever.That is a most excellent declaration. It is what we all desire to see, and what we all desire to effect. In any criticisms we may make of the Bill we must always bear in mind the fact that the intention of the Measure is that this land shall be reserved for the use of the natives for ever. Later in the Clause there is a Sub-section which gives power to increase the area of this land if necessary. We may have to criticise the Bill seriously in some respects but I want to emphasise the point that this is the intention of the Measure and all our criticisms will be directed to carrying out this intention, which stands in the forefront of the Bill.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I do not think it is eyewash. If it is I am going to do all I can to see that it is translated into effective machinery. I cannot believe that the Colonial Office would allow such a thing to be put in as eyewash, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman did not quite mean that. There are serious defects in the Bill and I can understand people saying that it gives with one hand and takes away with the other. The most serious criticism is the one touched upon by the hon. Member for Woolwich—the giving of long leases to white people. If you are going to preserve the land to the natives for ever and then a few Clauses later on give leases for 99 years to white people it may be said that it is taking away what you are giving, and before this Bill passes into law this matter 2660 will need serious consideration. I think the Colonial Secretary did very well in holding up further procedure on this Bill at the request of the Commission on Closer Union in East Africa, which asked that they should have an opportunity of considering it. If that Committee considers the Bill and if this House also considers it the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary will have plenty of material before him before he consults again with the Legislative Council and the Governor of Kenya.
Let me refer to one or two other matters connected with the machinery of the Bill, particularly with regard to the Central Board. I regard the present moment as a unique opportunity for securing the confidence of the natives in British rule, which has undoubtedly been shaken over the land question. Nothing goes so much to the root of native questions as the land question, and one of the great mistakes we must avoid in East Africa is to create what we have created in other parts of Africa, a floating landless native population. The object of the Bill is to prevent that, and I hope by our criticisms that we shall be able to remove some of the defects in the Bill which would do much to destroy its object and intention The Central Board consists of certain officials, including the Governor, the Attorney-General, the Chief Commissioners, and four unofficial members. I think we should have native representation on the Central Board. I know it is not an easy matter to choose one or two natives from different tribes in the Colony to represent general native interests, but at the same time I am confident that if you put one or two natives on the Board in a permanent position, not merely co-opted for certain purposes, it would have the effect of establishing confidence amongst the natives throughout the Colony, no matter to what tribe they belonged, that the intentions of the Government in regard to them were thoroughly sound and that they meant to carry out the proposals and intentions of the Bill in full. I put that suggestion most seriously before the right hon. Gentleman.
I have another criticism to make with regard to the working of the Board. It is provided that five is to be a quorum—there are 10 members on the Board—and 2661 that any proposal can be carried by a majority. The result will be that five may attend the meeting of the Board and a majority would be three. Most serious matters affecting the Land Trust could be carried by three persons, which is less than one-third of the full Board. I think this should be modified so that no matters of serious importance could be carried unless there was a two-thirds or three-quarters majority of the Board voting. It is very unsatisfactory that important alterations can be made by a very small minority of the whole Board. Although that is a matter of machinery, it is one of considerable importance and should receive the right hon. Gentleman's attention.
Then the second part of the machinery is the local Advisory Boards which are advisory to the Central Board. The Central Board has executive powers. These other Boards are advisory, but they are very important Boards because they will give advice to the Central Board regarding the lands which are within their own particular area. Here, again, I think there should be native representation on these Local Advisory Boards. Is there any reason why, on a Local Advisory Board which is concerned with some particular reserve, affecting a particular tribe, there should not of necessity be a member of the tribe elected, chosen or suggested by the native council as being their representative on the Board? There, again, you would gain native confidence. I regard this as a great opportunity of gaining the confidence of the natives, and if it could be done in matters like this by giving native representation, I think we should do it. It is not, after all, saying that we are going to put the whole machinery, the whole working and the whole authority into the hands of natives. That is not the case at all. It is merely seeing that the natives have a full opportunity of giving voice to what they feel.
Let me come back to the question of the leases. It is provided that the land to be leased must be shown to be "not in the beneficial occupation of natives." If you turn to Clause 9 it would appear that these leases may include native villages and settlements. The two Clauses seem to be rather contradictory. I can understand that it may be argued that land within a reserve which is not in the 2662 immediate occupation of the natives, and which is being allowed to lie fallow, may be regarded as "not being in beneficial occupation," though there, I think, there is a great danger of "beneficial occupation" being extended to a degree which would not be fair to the natives. But when you have an occupied native village I cannot understand how that can be said to be "not in the beneficial occupation" of the natives. To get over the difficulties to which I have referred I think that no long leases should be given at all. It may be desirable in certain instances that leases or licences should be given, but they should be given only for short terms and for strictly defined purposes, and where they are given out of the native reserve for the benefit of the white man an equivalent should be given outside the reserve to benefit the native. In fact, whatever steps are taken to modify the principle of reserving these lands should be balanced by an equivalent.
If anything is taken from a reserve, even for a short time, an equivalent outside should be given. I would go further, and I would provide an overriding Clause to say that in no circumstances could more than a very limited area of land, say 5 per cent. be subject to licence or lease, even in a particular reserve area. I do not wish to detain the Committee long because I know there are many other hon. Members who wish to speak, and as I hope to have an opportunity of catching the Chairman's eye later, I conclude by referring only to the desirability of taking this opportunity of retaining, and of regaining where it has been lost, the confidence of the natives in these matters.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
I do not wish to follow the latter part of the last speaker's remarks, bat I would like to call attention to his observations as to the necessity of bringing the machinery of the Colonial Office more up to date than it is at the present time. It seems to me that we have not really advanced very far from the days when we had a Council for Foreign Plantations, which was created, I think, in the year 1660. If any one will examine the present methods by which the Colonial Office does its work, I feel certain that he will find they are hopelessly out of date and far from the modern institution that 2663 we should like to see, that is one that would be really effective. I am afraid that this lack of an efficient machine in Whitehall is one of the reasons why the development of the Colonies has not advanced as quickly as we would wish. I do not see how we can possibly deal with the problems that have been referred to by previous speakers, such as sanitation and medicine, tropical agriculture, education, and other very important questions which affect every colony, unless there is a department with an advisor capable of giving the Secretary of State information when necessary and of co-ordinating the work.
I agree with other speakers that at the present moment we are apparently working in such water-tight compartments that, although some new idea may be used in one colony, it does not necessarily follow that that new idea, whether it be with regard to agriculture or some other question, affecting practically the whole tropical Empire, will reach the ears of other colonies. I sincerely hope that the Colonial Secretary will decide either to do something definite himself in reorganising the office over which he presides, or that he will be willing to appoint some Committee to inquire into the whole of the machinery. I do not think that we shall make a real move and get tangible results from the tropical Empire until something of this kind is done. It seems unfortunate that as the posessors of the greatest tropical Empire in the world we are not making greater use of the opportunities that we have. For example, I deplore that, as far as agricultural research is concerned, we are not leading the world but are following other nations and following very badly indeed. I read the other day that in the United States of America, on the Bureau of Agricultural Economics alone, they are spending £950,000 every year. I do not refer to the expenditure incurred by the different individual States, but to the expenditure by the Federal Government. They consider that on this question it is worth while spending nearly £1,000,000 a year, and in comparison the amount that we spend on this great work seems pitiable.
I listened the other night with the greatest of interest to the Under-Secre- 2664 tary of State for the Colonies, when he gave a very interesting account of a recent visit he has paid to a part of our tropical Empire, and also to the tropical Empire of another European country. It was with regret that I found that in the Colony of Java they were, as far as research and the agricultural education of the people were concerned, very much in advance of what is being done in Malaya or even in Ceylon. It seems unfortunate, when one considers that we have much larger responsibilities in this respect than any other nation, that we should move so slowly. I know that the blame ought not to be put on the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I presume it is purely and simply a question of finance, but I think it is worth while pointing out to the Treasury that money spent in creating an efficient administrative headquarters in London or in developing agriculture, research, medical and educational services in the Colonies would be money well spent and would come back to us many times over at no very distant date. What would be said of a business man who had the opportunity of increasing his turnover considerably by expending a certain sum of money that he was able to obtain easily for such a purpose but who failed to take that opportunity? He would be criticised as a very bad business man indeed. I am afraid that is a criticism which can be made against the Treasury or those responsible for limiting the amount of money spent on Colonial services. Money spent in this way would not only help us to carry out our duties in the Colonies—and we have important duties to the native population and the other people who reside there—but it would also help us to create larger markets for our manufactured goods. If those responsible will realise that fact I think they will feel that they are not doing their duty properly if they fail to supply the necessary money.
There are two other matters to which I wish to make reference. I hope the Secretary of State for the Colonies will be able to give us some information as to when the projected bridge across the Zambesi River is going to be built and particularly whether this work will be commenced in the near future. We have had Commission after Commission going out to look at the river and the 2665 surrounding country and to study the various problems connected with the construction of the bridge. But we do not get the bridge, and it is the bridge we want. It appears to me that if we go on as we have been going we shall spend as much money in sending out Commissioners to look at the Zambesi River as would construct a decent bridge. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not allow any further obstacles to impede a work which means everything in the development of the Colony adjoining the Zambesi. We cannot hope for a real development in that Colony unless they have better means of transport across the river. The other matter to which I desire to refer is the form of the Colonial Office annual reports. As a fairly assiduous reader of the reports, I ask whether it is necessary every year to repeat the historical survey which appears at the beginning of the report. I think in these days when economies are necessary, there is a good deal of matter printed every year which might very well be omitted.
I do not know why it is considered necessary, for example, to give details year by year of the climate in each of the different Colonies. As one who has lived in a number of them, it seems to me that the climate does not vary year to year. I do not think we need such particulars every year any more than we require a summary of the history of each Colony from its beginnings up to the present day. May I suggest that there should be a little more method in the way in which the reports are arranged? Very often one finds that information which is desirable is not to be found in the report, while on the contrary there is frequently a good deal of matter of no value either to the Colonial Office or to the reader. I think if each Colony were called upon to supply certain information every year, for example, with regard to vital statistics, trade and commerce, education problems and other questions, in which there is general interest, we should get a report of greater value than many of those which are now presented to us and which involve considerable work and expense.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I agree very largely with what the hon. Member for North Bradford (Mr. Ramsden) has said to the effect that it is desirable that the Colonial Office should co-ordinate the different Departments and the different 2666 Colonies under its control. In doing so, they would naturally have to consider whether money should be spent, for instance, on the construction of the Zambesi Bridge or on the development of some other part of the Empire. That decision could only be reached after a careful consideration of the needs and prospects of different parts of the Empire. The hon. Member will forgive me for observing that the Zambesi Bridge will not be in British territory but in Portuguese territory, and, therefore, if we are simply to consider the Empire, we ought to give preference to expenditure in one of our own Colonies rather than in a Portuguese Colony.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
May I point out that the bridge is to be constructed, not in the interests of the Portuguese Colony, but in the interests of Nyasaland.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Quite, And the railway shareholders. That does not alter the fact that it is actually in Portuguese territory. However, on the point of coordination, I think the hon. Member is quite right in saying that the Colonial Office ought to have some system, whereby practical experience in one Colony could be applied to other Colonies as they reach the same stage of development. Quite recently I was going through all the Colonial ordinances relating to municipal taxation. I went through the system of municipal taxation in every single Colony and Dominion and I found that no two ordinances were the same. Every possible system had been adopted. Obviously what happens is that the Attorney-General of the Colony and the officials on the spot find that the time has come to draft an ordinance on some question that has probably been before other Colonies. They have no practical experience of the question, but they copy what they remember, say, of an ordinance in Jamaica and use it in dealing with Nigeria. They draft the ordinance and send it home. The Colonial Office consider that the peculiar conditions in the ordinance are due to the peculiar conditions on the spot. They pass it and trust to the men on the spot and thus we get another divergent ordinance which is not really based upon the peculiar circumstances of the Colony, but on the peculiar brain of the man who happened to draft it.
2667 I think that system shows a lack of co-ordination and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in this particular case of municipal taxation it would not be possible to employ the Report of the Feetham Commission—a Report which is as admirable on its taxation side as it is, in my opinion, lamentable on its communal representation side. Would it not be possible to benefit by a Report like that by circulating it to the other Crown Colonies, so that they may see what is, not only the considered view of the Feetham Commission, but what is, in this case, the South African practice? That practice has been carried on now for 20 years and is a well known practice of rating land values instead of rating improvements. I cannot see why the opportunity offered by the Report of that Commission ought not to be used in order to bring our Crown Colonies a little more up to date. I am glad to see that form of co-ordination which results in the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary visiting various Colonies. That may be the best form of co-ordination, if they visit those Colonies knowing what to look for, what to expect, how to compare and how to stimulate. I would beg the Undersecretary to realise this. We have seen in the Press that he has incurred the wrath, contempt, and indignation of the rubber growers in Malaya, but I would beg him to understand that this House appreciates him the more in that he does not happen to have agreed with the people in Malaya, who, with the assistance of Lord Stevenson, have made such an infernal mess of their own industry.
To turn from the general to the particular, in the White Paper that was circulated a few daws ago I noticed that for the first time that admirable but little-known Colony of Cyprus has met with a great accession of status, and of cash as well. When we annexed Cyprus, or took it over—I forget what the exact term was—it was burdened with the condition that the people of Cyprus and the Treasury of Cyprus should pay a tribute of £92,500 every year to the Turkish Government. It was what they had paid before, and when we took it over we guaranteed that they should continue to pay that money. They have never paid it. The sum has always been made up 2668 by grants from the British Exchequer. We came to an agreement a little time ago that the British Exchequer was to go 50-50 with the Cyprus people, and that was to be our contribution; but, curiously enough, this tribute too never got to the Turkish Government. Although it was £92,000 of Turkish tribute, it came to London and did not go to Constantinople, for that money was earmarked to pay the interest on the Anglo-French loan of 1855; and the bondholders of that issue, guaranteed by France as well as Great Britain, have received their interest ever since 1855, when the money was poured down the bottomless sink of the Crimean War.
Up till recently, therefore, Cyprus has found half the bondholders' money, and the rest has been found by the Egyptian Government. As part of the old Ottoman Empire, their allotted portion of the Ottoman Debt was to contribute the other £50,000 in payment of the bondholders' money. The natural trend of events seems to have taken place. Cyprus has got off scot-free, Egypt has got off scot-free, and the poor old British taxpayer is paying the lot. It may be inevitable that we should always have to pay the lot, but I wish to make two points about this. The French Government as well as the British Government guaranteed the interest on that loan. French bondholders as well as British bondholders are drawing the interest on that loan, and it is time that this Government—I do not suppose it is the business of the Colonial Secretary, but it is the business of the Government—saw to it that we got some measure of justice from the French Government and that they assumed their proper duty to pay half the interest on that loan.
The other point I wish to make is this: Cyprus has just escaped paying £50,000 a year, and I would draw the attention of my hon. Friends on this side to what has been done with that £50,000. Cyprus got this £50,000 and used the money three or four years ago, in advance of getting it, before the advent of Sir Ronald Storrs, to relieve all the landowners of Cyprus of the taxes on their land values, putting the money straight into the pockets of the landlords of Cyprus—a very fine illustration of what always happens when a Tory Administration is in power and has a natural propensity to 2669 help its friends. But now that Cyprus has freed itself for ever from the burden of this tribute, this dead hand extracting from the pockets of the taxpayer the last penny in order to pay this debt, I do hope that we shall see capital invested in Cyprus and the country developed as it ought to be developed. Because of this tribute, they have not been in a position to spend money or to borrow money, and I think the time has come when this absolutely forgotten Colony should be taken In hand.
I would pass from Cyprus, across the sea, to Palestine. In the first place, there has been latterly a series of complaints from Palestine in connection with the flogging of political offenders in the gaols of that country, and we have had a similar case of flogging in the Malay States. In that case the man was a Communist, and in Palestine also the men were Communists. I know very well that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has little sympathy with Communists, but I would point out to him that his predecessors of a generation ago had as little sympathy with Socialists. In fact, if you go back into history, you will find always that the Government have very little sympathy with these revolutionaries who want to put new ideas into men's heads and new Governments into the old Governments' seats. They are the natural prey of every Government. But in our history in the past we have, at any rate, avoided committing the crime of torture against political revolutionaries, and I must say that I do regard it as a serious slur upon the reputation of our Empire that it should be said that now in the Malay States and in Palestine people should be punished in this way because of their political convictions, for it is admitted that it was because they introduced revolutionary ideas and revolutionary revolvers, a crime which has been committed in Ireland throughout the centuries. I regret that the punishment for that crime, whether in Malaya or in Palestine, should involve a form of torture which has been put an end to in the Turkish domains, and which is really unknown in Europe to-day, except in this country.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It is a shocking case that we should be bracketed with Rumania as the only countries to retain this form of torture for any form of prisoners whatsoever, but in the case of political prisoners it is disgusting. I asked the right hon. Gentleman the other day whether he could inform the Palestine Government—and I think he might also inform other Crown Colonies which are troubled with these monstrous Bolshevists—that in future flogging in prisons must be confined to precisely those crimes in prison which are punished by flogging in this country. If we could do that, it would be a great step forward, and I think it would increase the respect for us among the nations of the world. Really, Communists are not such terribly dangerous creatures, but one way to make them dangerous is to persecute them, to give them the privilege of appearing as martyrs. It is the safest way to create a wave of public opinion in their favour, which would be more dangerous than the actual Communists themselves.
Palestine is in a most interesting position, and if the right hon. Gentleman is going to reply, I hope we may have an asurance from him—which he will regard as a very undemocratic assurance, but which is none the less in the interests of our Colonies all over the Empire—that there will be no prospect of giving self-government or any form of representative institutions to that country until there is no longer a risk of the minority, the Jewish minority in this case, being persecuted and oppressed by the majority.
§ The UNDERSECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
Why did the Labour Commonwealth Group demand immediate self-government for Palestine?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
They have just been meeting, and I cannot conceive of their having done such a thing. The right hon. Gentleman must be misinformed.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I beg pardon: it was the Labour party who demanded immediate self-government for Palestine.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. I think it is very unfair for a Minister to throw an accusation across the Floor in that way without substantiating it. He ought either to substatiate it or to withdraw it.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I will gladly send the hon. and Gallant Gentleman the quotation from the newspaper.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
That is not nearly good enough. The right hon. Gentleman knows the House of Commons well enough, and has been here long enough, to know that, if he makes an accusation, he ought either to substantiate or to withdraw it.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer a question as to his authority, if one is put down?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is in possession of the Committee, unless he cares to give way.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think that the majority of people in this country have always thought that we were going in the right direction if we granted self-governing institutions to the various colonies of the Empire. It became almost the normal, formal line of progress, and we were all agreed upon it. It is only within the last few years that we here have com© to see that this progress towards what is really a pseudo-democracy is a very dangerous step. Cyprus, of which I have been speaking, is a case in point. We gave a Constitution to Cyprus 30 or 40 years before we ought to have done, and that is one of the reasons why progress there has been so slow. We must revise our ideas as to what is really democratic progress. It is not fair in the case of any Colony, 2672 whether it be Kenya, or Northern Rhodesia, or even Southern Rhodesia, if I may mention the last-named, to say that because one element in the population of the country demands self-government, therefore self-government should immediately be granted. What we have to do is to see whether all the elements in the population of the country in question are at present sufficiently developed to take their share of responsibility for their self-government. In the Stokes Report, or one of the learned American reports which have been made recently, it is recommended that self-government should not be granted until 75 per cent. of the population can speak English. That is to say, it was, in the case of the Philippines, Hawaii, and other American territories, considered that, until 75 per cent. could speak English, the population should not be regarded as sufficiently well-educated to be able to protect themselves from the exploitation of a minority of educated and prosperous people.
Therefore, we have, on these benches and elsewhere, to revise our view as to what the Government ought to do when they are faced by a demand from one section for self-governing institutions. They ought to inquire whether the different racial elements in the country are sufficiently able to take their share in self-government, and to see that there is no liability of exploitation of one element by another, or of racial divisions leading to oppression. Till that time comes, we have to go on shouldering the responsibility and acting in this country as though we were the real representatives of the interests of the people in the particular Crown Colony concerned. When there is, as I hope we are getting in India, a gradual fusion of the racial interest with the economic interest, the blurring of the racial and caste distinctions, and the rising up of economic lines of division, so that people of all castes and of all religions have a common economic interest, you begin to wipe out the question of race and caste, and substitute questions of rich and poor, or tenant and landlord, irrespective of what caste or religion the people may belong to. But while you have racial divisions and economic divisions coinciding, it is ten times more important that we in this country should retain the reins, in order to see that injustice and exploitation do not take 2673 place. Therefore, I would ask the Government to take up in Palestine the quite definite position that they will not give responsible institutions to that country until both sections of the population ask for them and are ready for them. That seems to me to be the correct test there.
There is one more matter in connection with Palestine that I want to refer to, namely, the Haifa harbour works. They were originally to be done by direct labour. The Government were to be the employer, and the works were to be carried out by the engineers of the Public Works Department. Now that has all been scrapped, and the work is to be put out to tender. As long as it was being done by the Government, we could be sure that wages would be paid upon which the people of higher civilisation—the European Jews—could live. Now that it is to be done by contract, there is absolutely no guarantee, not merely that the wages will be such as the Jews can live on, but even that the wages will be such as the Arabs can live on. Our eight years' regime in Palestine has already raised the wages of the Arab worker there 100 per cent. above the wages of the Arab worker in Egypt. If by putting these works out to contract we are going to have cheap Egyptian labour imported to do the work, the work may be done more cheaply, but a permanent injury will be done to the standard of life of the civilised workers in the country. Their trade unions are only just in the beginning, and, if they are going to be crushed by the importation of this cheap labour, it will set back the whole Labour movement and the whole civilising movement in that country to an extent far outweighing any benefit that could possibly accrue from getting the work done for £100,000 less.
Then I must say one word on the Kenya question, in regard to which I am sorry to find myself in disagreement both with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir E. Hamilton) and with my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell). I would ask my party to observe that the people who are mostly interested in this question, namely, the natives of Kenya, are, through such organisations as they have, rudimentary though they are, definitely taking up a position of complete hostility to this Act. The Indian organisations, so far as they count for anything, are also unanimously 2674 opposed to this Act. And in my opinion they are right. This Act, for which no one has begged more than myself for the last five years, and which represented a definite attempt to secure to the natives their lands for their own use, and that of their children hereafter, is seen, now that it has been brought forward and put before the Kenya Legislative Assembly, to be, not what we hoped for, namely, an Act to preserve the native interests, but, instead, an Act still further to enable the exploiters or settlers in Kenya to trench upon the already narrow native lands, and to render the title not more secure, but less secure, than it is to-day. The right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State knows perfectly well that just across the border in Tanganyika he has saved the land for the natives. There, partly owing to the intelligence of the right hon. Gentleman, partly owing to the excellence of the Governor, and, I am afraid, even more owing to the fact that there is no large settler element more intent on getting land and labour—there the natives are free, and they know that their lands are free for ever, and are not going about in constant terror, as are the natives of Kenya, of losing their last hold on the land. The one fear of the natives in Kenya is that of losing their land. That is what haunts them.
This native land Trust Bill, coming as it does after all the hope of getting reserves demarcated as reserves, has for ever destroyed not only confidence, but hope. They have become desperate and they have even taken to wiring home protests against the Anti-slavery and Aborigines Protection Society accepting the Bill in any form. And, as I say, they are right. When this question was first' brought forward, the question was whether the right of the native to his land was to be declared by this country or by the legislature in Kenya. In the interests of the natives, the necessary legislation should be passed in this country so that only this country could repeal it; but, instead, the Act has been drafted and carried by the white-elected Assembly of Kenya, the members of which are employers of black labour. The right hon. Gentleman the former Secretary of State for the Colonies rightly designated it as eye-wash. Of course; because it has been passed by the Kenya Legislature, they too can repeal and amend. If it were passed 2675 here, the natives could have had confidence that we should not change and throw their lands away; but here you have an Act which, far from preserving native rights in lands, institutes the fresh danger of leases to whites of land actually in the reserves. Anyone who has lived in that country knows what is sure to happen if a lease is given to a white man inside the reserves. We can imagine what will happen to some of the stock at any rate. Goats, coffee, fowls, will vanish. Stock theft is punished by shooting, by repression, by agitation, and finally the native neighbour is again moved away. Throughout the whole of history stock theft has been the normal excuse for the next step forward in the driving out of the natives, and if you put a white man's shamba in a native reserve, how can you expect the normal native not to steal his coffee, his goats and his fowls?
We had no suspicion in this country, and I do not believe that the Colonial Office had the slightest suspicion, that the Bill which was drafted on their instructions would contain this further opportunity to take the land of the natives in order to use it for white settlers. The excuse is that the white man's shamba would be of educational value to the natives. That is really an excuse such as that which prevents natives from growing coffee, because of disease, while in fact the fear is of native competition. The Board which is to administer this is to consist of four officials, the Governor, and four settlers. Thank God the officials in Kenya have stood up for the natives in a marvellous way when you consider how they have been attacked, but what on earth are these settlers doing on this Board any way? What business is it of theirs? Can we suppose that there would be natives on a Board to administer the land of whites. The interest of settlers is obvious, and has been for the last 20 years, to get the land away from the natives and so force the natives to work for white settlers. Naturally, if you allow the Kenya Legislature to draft Bills of this sort they will put into them stipulations not founded on justice, but founded on their interests, and the process of taking the land from the natives will go on in future as it has gone on in the past.
2676 I apologise to the House for speaking warmly on this subject, but we have been hoping year after year that something would be done to save the native land, and now we see this Measure brought forward, and we realise that our efforts for the natives of Kenya have failed. The only hope for the people of Kenya in future lies in their acquiring such a knowledge of the English language as will enable them to stand up for themselves and to rely no longer upon the British Parliament or the Colonial Office or the elected Members of the Kenya Legislature. My advice to them is to acquire a knowledge of the English language and of English culture, and to realise that freedom from the oppression of the white settler is the goal for the black man, not only in Kenya, but throughout the whole of Africa. The best gift that we have given in our Empire has not been self-governing institutions, but the hatred of oppression, inspired sooner or later in the hearts of common people. The only hope for the black race is to learn to stand up for their own rights and to fight for their freedom as we did in the past.
§ Captain CAZALET
I do not intend to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but I feel certain that everyone on these Benches will endorse most heartily every word that he said in the latter part of his speech in regard to the retention of a certain degree of control by the Colonial Office both in the Colonies and the Mandated areas. I want to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) who referred to the West Coast of Africa. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme will rejoice that in the British Colonies there the land belongs to the natives and cannot by law be bought or acquired by a European or white man. The Colonies on the East Coast of Africa are constantly coming before the public, but those on the West Coast rarely get any advertisement at all. I venture to say that in no part of the British Empire has there been greater progress in the last few years, nor in any are their greater possibilities for the future than in our West African Colonies. I want to mention one, namely, the Gold Coast. Last year that small 2677 colony, with a population of just over 2,000,000 people, exported half the cocoa supply of the world, and a quarter of the manganese supply. The former means a round sum of £12,000,000 going into that colony, and, furthermore, going into the pockets of the natives themselves. Someone has asked what educational facilities and what co-ordination of educational facilities there are. On the Gold Coast, at Achimota, there is the greatest educational experiment going on to-day in the British Empire, and at Korlebu there is the finest, most modern and best equipped native hospital in the whole of Africa, not excluding the French and Portuguese colonies.
The question about which I desire to say a few words is in regard to what is known as the "18 months' tour," as it affects the West African political services. The position is as follows. In 1921 certain alterations were made regarding the leave granted to officers serving in West Africa. Before that date they had been entitled to receive, after a "tour," as it is called, of 12 months' duration, leave amounting to 10 days for each month they had served. In 1921 the regulations were changed, and instead of a 12 months' tour it was made an 18 months' tour. Various compensations were added such as passage allowances for wives, pay during sick leave and various other matters of that kind. These were given to "gild the pill" of the longer and more extended tour. I believe it is generally recognised, both in this country and throughout those Colonies, that the experiment of the 18 months' tour has been a failure. Certainly, the short or local leave which was introduced to make it less disagreeable has been universally regarded as an utter and complete failure. I claim that the 18 months' tour not only produces inefficiency in the service itself and increases sickness and disease, but, on the lowest, the basest ground, is uneconomic in the interests of the Colony itself. I claim that it is inefficient because I believe that after a man has served in that climate and in those conditions he cannot really do good work after 12 months. It is not fair either to himself or to the Colony to ask him to remain out there for any length of time after such a period.
In my claim that it increases sickness I am fortified by statistics, a few 2678 of which I will quote. In 1923, under the new conditions, 118 officers had 233 months' extension of sick leave. In 1924 the number of officers on sick leave had increased to 141. In 1925, 196 officers had to be granted sick leave, totalling 337 months, at a cost of £15,000 to the Government of Nigeria. I believe also that it is uneconomic for this, additional very good reason. What could be a better test of whether it is economic or uneconomic than to compare it with what business firms and banks do. They unanimously support the 12 months' tour for their own officers, and the contractors, Messrs. McAlpine & Sons, who built the harbour at Takoradi, instituted a, nine months' tour, with the result that during the 3½ years in which they were out there constructing this harbour there was less sickness amongst their white staff, or rather there were fewer days lost through illness than were lost in building the Wembley Exhibition.
For those reasons, I feel I am justified in maintaining that the 18 months' tour has been a failure. The right hon. Gentleman the Undersecretary, when he made a journey to these parts a year or two ago, published a report in which he quite openly stated:I am afraid there is no doubt that the West African leave rules have not been interpreted as they were intended to be in quite a number of cases.He will probably argue that they were meant to be elastic, but I claim that they never can be elastic, because an Englishman, no matter where he is in the world, will always "stick it out," if I may use such an expression, to the very last. He will not ask to go home before he is absolutely obliged to do so, for this reason, if for no other, that he feels that if he asks to go home before his term of 18 months has been accomplished he will be letting down somebody else who will thereby have to serve longer.
May I say a word as to the conditions under which these officers have to work? I think the temperature in the shade in London yesterday was 84 degrees or 85 degrees. On the Gold Coast, and I believe in other West African Colonies which lie within the area known as the tropics, the temperature rarely falls below 80 to 90 degrees—[HON. MEMBERS: 2679 "Oh!"]—except for a few odd hours in the middle of the night and for a few days in January and February.
§ Captain CAZALET
It is a very humid atmosphere there, but I think it is the fact that the temperature rarely falls below 90 degrees or 95 degrees in the shade
§ Captain CAZALET
I accept that statement, but in the day-time the figure is more usually in the neighbourhood of 90 than 80 degrees, and with the humidity which prevails there even 80 degrees is a very high temperature indeed. Another point is that there is no hill station, except in one small part of Nigeria. In very few areas and in very few towns are there modern conveniences such as electric light, or ice. Another serious grievance arises from the lack of a change of society. It is absolutely impossible for white women or children to live at all in those Colonies, and I feel certain that even hon. Members of this House, if they were condemned to spend from 6 to 12 months in association solely with some six other Members of the House (even if they were privileged to choose them), would consider that at the end of 12 months they deserved some leave of absence. Of course, the conditions of life vary to some extent according to the posts occupied. The Governor and high officials live perhaps in comparative comfort, and there are inspectors who are moving about the countryside, and constantly seeing new faces and associating with new people; but the majority of officers spend from 12 to 18 months in the bush away from all association with Europeans, and it is on their behalf that I am making this appeal this afternoon.
Therefore, we ask the Colonial Secretary if he can see his way for a compromise, and we ask for a maximum of 15 months instead of 18 months. I am aware that certain of the privileges which were given with the 18 months would have to be abandoned if a short term was finally agreed to. I believe the Association of Civil Servants in Nigeria is advocating the figure of 15 months. 2680 On this occasion I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us something more than sympathy. Either the Colonial Office are against this 18 months or they are in favour of it, and we would like a clear answer on this point. If the right hon. Gentleman is against my suggestion to alter the number of months then we can organise our campaign against the right hon. Gentleman, in which case I hope we shall be able to influence him to grant what we are asking. It is almost impossible to find any authority either official or medical, which supports the 18 months' period.
I would like to say a, word or two about the pay which these officers receive. The British officers who are serving their country in the West African Colonies are not serving simply their own interests, but they are doing a great work which is going to benefit the native population in those Colonies. Those officers are there solely in the interests of the natives themselves. For these reasons I think it is our duty to see that these officers receive adequate and respectable pay. I know that a few years ago the scale of pay was reduced, but in view of the comparative prosperity of these Colonies I think it should again be raised. Naturally you do not want to give new recruits to the service an exorbitant sum at first, because you want to find out whether they can face the climate. I think £600 a year is a reasonable standard of pay for a man in his third year of service. I have gone into the details of such a suggestion with great care——
§ Captain CAZALET
Yes, plus allowances. I think about £24 is deducted for pensions for widows and other matters. I wish to say a few words about the pay of the police officers which I regard is disgraceful. On all sides I gathered there was a general consensus of opinion on this matter. At present they start at £50 less than the junior political officers, although they have the same duties and responsibilities, and work under similar conditions. I hope the Colonial Secretary will regard the position of these men with special sympathy. After all he can alter 2681 this condition of affairs by a stroke of the pen, and I feel that in doing so he would be performing an act of justice which is long overdue to these most worthy and well-deserving citizens of the Empire.
§ Dr. DRUMMOND SHIELS
I share the opinion which has been expressed with regard to the short time we have to consider the very important matters which come before us to-day. What happens is that hon. Members bring up individual cases which no doubt are extremely important but the result is that many parts of our Colonial Empire are never mentioned in the House at all and the picture is never complete. I am afraid there are very few Members of the House of Commons who could pass an examination in regard to the names of the constituent parts of the British Empire, and as to where they are situated. I am glad that emphasis has been placed by a number of speakers on the necessity for an inquiry into the reorganisation of the Colonial Office and certain other cognate matters. It seems to me that we must now realise the bigness of the job which the Colonial Office has in hand, and we must realise that the present resources for dealing with it are entirely inadequate. During the first period of our Colonial history what we required was almost entirely administrative and clerical services, but in recent generations there has been the development of a very large and important technical service. I think it is recognised by anyone who has had experience of our Colonies that the technical services are not only developing very fast but that they ought to develop much faster and that they have increased their relative importance to a very considerable extent. Yet we find when inquiries are sent from the Colonies to Downing Street with regard to technical matters that—with the exception of a small medical and educational staff—most of these matters are handed over to other Government Departments or to private individuals many of whom have no knowledge of the conditions in the particular Colonies about which they are asked to give advice.
These facts have only got to be stated to emphasise the need for a further development of a technical Headquarters staff in order to ensure that the Colonial 2682 Office will be able to advise the various technical officers in the overseas service. I am glad that we have now got a medical adviser but I think he will need to be supplemented by many others. The problem of malaria alone has different implications in every Colony. It is quite wrong to think that malaria can be treated on a general plan because what answers in one place does not always answer in another place although groups of Colonies in similar positions may work upon a particular method. That is not only of human importance but it is also of great economic importance. The amount of loss of labour and of loss of efficiency due to malaria in many Colonies is very large. It has been stated to-day that the Members of this House and the people outside are becoming more interested in our Colonial Empire. That is quite true. It is also interesting to notice that the people in the Colonies and the indigenous peoples especially are becoming very much interested in the House of Commons and in the work of the Colonial Office. With regard to a matter which highly cultured Members of a Colonial Legislative Council have known to be sent to the Colonial Office there may be a good deal of surprised criticism. Many of these people are well educated. They are familiar with modern developments not only in this country but in America and elsewhere, and it seems to them inconceivable that the Colonial Office, as constituted at present, is unable to respond to quite a simple technical inquiry. But the reason is that with many of these matters the Colonial Office at present does not and cannot really deal. The result is a distinct loss of prestige for the Central Authority. That is a very serious thing which must be seen into.
Then there is the corresponding matter as to the position of the technical officers in the various Colonies in relation to the administration officers. I only want to mention that, but it is a subject of considerable importance. The Civil Service is the older service. It has a high and established status and position while the officers of the public or technical services, such as those dealing with public works, forestry, public health, and various other technical officers, are in doubt in many cases as to their relative position with regard to the older service. That is also of importance. The whole ques- 2683 tion of recruitment for the Colonial services is a matter which requires attention. We are passing away now from the purely Crown Colony position which only required a man of good education and high character, and, if it could be thrown in, some administrative ability. We are dealing with Colonies in states of progressive development from the Crown Colony up towards self-government, and the type of Colonial officer required to deal with these developing Colonies is probably a different type of man from that suitable in the old days. I do not wish to develop that, but it is a point which, I think, is of very great importance, and requiring investigation.
In regard to what the right hon. and Gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and others said about not giving self-government to colonies when they are not ready for it, I think we all agree that the various parts of the British Colonial Empire are in different stages of development, and that some certainly are not ready for self-government and that it would not be a kindness to give it to them. At the same time, we must remember that we have definitely established as a principle that the British people hold these colonial possessions in trust for the indigenous peoples and that they should be developed in the interests of those peoples. The goal is that these various parts of the Empire should pass under the control of the indigenous peoples, in so far as they are able to assume that control until they ultimately become equal partners in the commonwealth. That brings me to the point that it is not sufficient to say that any one of these peoples is not ready for self-government. What are we doing to make them ready? It is a very grievous fact that although many of these colonies have been in British possession for many, many years, there is yet a large percentage of the children who get no education. It seems to me that primary education for all the children in these places is a thing upon which we should insist and that we should press it upon the various colonial Governments. We have not done so up till now. The result is that we have in most of these Colonies a possible small obligarchy of cultured and wealthy people who assist the Government by being members of the Legislative 2684 Councils. In many cases they are there only by nomination, and when we come to consider the handing over of responsibility, we find that there is not even a fairly educated rank and file able to assist in the machinery of government. Along with education also we ought to assist in the setting up of local self-governing bodies.
There are some of the old type of colonial administrators who like the Crown Colony system, and think it is better to keep it as it is, and not bother about giving in to agitators who are trying to bring forward elective institutions or to work towards self-government. There is no use in putting our heads into the sand. We are bound to accept the fact that this movement in each of those colonies will go on, and that representatives of British people, and even the Colonial Office itself, have indicated that it is their wish to assist these various people in that direction. I would suggest that, wherever possible, the system of nomination should give place to the system of election, and that local self-governing bodies should be encouraged, so that the people will be gradually educated to work these representative institutions in due time. At the present moment, I feel that in many of our colonies there is no effort being made in that direction, and I would like to see that policy encouraged by the Colonial Office. I do feel, however, that if the Colonial Office had better facilities, if they had more adequate resources, they would be in a better position to do their job. It is really surprising, when you consider the overcrowded conditions of the Colonial Office building, and the inadequacy of their Departments, that they are able to do as well as they do, and I do hope, seeing this subject has been ventilated, and Members of the House have expressed themselves in favour of an inquiry, that this will be granted. The future policy of the Colonial Empire must be a development in the interests of the indigenous people, and towards redeeming the pledges which the British people have made in that connection.
§ Viscount SANDON
I had not intended to touch on the remarks of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), but one thought did come to my mind during his concluding sentences. He seemed to envisage our position in 2685 East Africa as if we had two watertight compartments as between black and white. Although that is not a part of the Empire with which I have the advantage, which clearly he has, of being acquainted, it seems to me obvious that in any part of the Empire or any part of the world which is of that character, it is impossible for the white people—whether they be British or come from any other country—to maintain themselves at all, let alone to maintain themselves with decency and prestige, unless they carry the co-operation and support of the native races with them; and it seems to me that with all our other experience and the high traditions in which the Empire in the past has been developed, that we are able to maintain a fairly favourable outlook, at least in that direction. I think one of the most significant remarks, although it is a commonplace, and, like many commonplaces, it ceases consequently to appear significant, was made by my hon. Friend opposite the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell), when he said that the tragedy of this place is that we are so knee-deep in the controversies of the everyday life of this country that we miss the big things. No doubt many hon. Members take in the Empire Parliamentary Association's Journal, and see pages filled with the discussion of the big affairs of the world. They seem to find time; we never can. No one is to blame for it; it is the whole system that we have in this country, whereby our time is clogged with the issues of our controversial party warfare. If hon. Members opposite were to introduce proposals for devolution, my party loyalty would be strained to breaking point. We need to get down to a basis where we can discuss all those broad factors in one assembly and have a Parliament for England, Wales and Scotland which can discuss the routine domestic matters. I will not entrench on that any more, though it is relevant, I think, in connection with the remarks of the hon. Member opposite.
The unsatisfactory thing, apart from the lack of interest taken, about all these Debates on the Colonial Office is that the wrong people are on the Front Bench when they take place. We have the right people from the point of view of administering the Dominions Office and the Colonies. We have never been more 2686 happily situated than with the present Secretary of State and Under-Secretary. But the crux of the matter does not lie with the Colonial Office at all; it lies with the Treasury. That is the real crucial problem we are always up against in this question of Colonial Office administration. An instance of it came out in the speech of the hon. Member for North Bradford (Mr. Ramsden), who mentioned the Zambesi Bridge; but my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench were not responsible for this trouble. We are probably never likely to be more fortunate than in this Parliament in the people we have at the Colonial Office, but it is no use our talking to them. We have to go to the tiresome people, as in every other form of our social life, who prefer to have their power in the background. To give an illustration, we had a very useful Report on civil aviation in the West Indies, which was only open to criticism, if at all, on the ground that it was measly, but it was absolutely turned down by the Treasury. I have seen the enterprise of both the United States and France in the colonising sphere. They would regard spending the petty amount involved as absolutely nothing; yet, with that awful Whig spirit which always has predominated at the Treasury, we cannot get out of the highbrow view of finance which seems to consist in looking at the position solely as it is at the actual moment. I cite this less for its own value than as an example that may be carried right through our Colonial administration.
In that Report we had a recommendation that there was a very strong probability that certain services in British Guiana and Trinidad could be made remunerative in certain directions. It was a small thing, only covering a tiny bit of ground, but with that essential conservatism in finance which surrounds this country it was, no doubt, as far as the people drawing up the Report felt able to go, and nothing further could be done. The whole of that Report is wasted. I should be inclined to move a Vote of Censure on the Treasury for waste of Government money in the cost in £ s. d. of producing a Report which is absolute waste paper. It amazes me sometimes that, even in my own party and still more in the country as a whole, 2687 we never learn by experience. We have the experience of other countries. Only the other day I had an opportunity of seeing what the French have done in Morocco and Algeria. There is no comparison, from the point of view of commercial potentialities, with almost any places in the British Empire. The soil is relatively poor, yet French enthusiasm even at a time when the franc was at 240, was able to take a longer view. Their Treasury did not quibble and say, "Our financial situation is so desperate that we cannot do anything." They are developing their communications much in the same way that we might do with the western exits of London. If we were to do a quarter of that we should have the Whig autocracy at 11 Downing Street up in arms at the prospect of something which could not immediately produce revenue for the Chancellor of the Exchequer at his next Budget, irrespective of the great yield ahead. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the West Indian Conference, which was delayed one year, will take place next year instead. It is a great pity that the enthusiasm with which all these things start should die down.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to direct particular attention to conditions of service in the Pacific. I raised this question about two years ago, and, as then, it will no doubt again be ignored. It is not so much a question of pay and such like, but we are asking young people to go out there to a degree of isolation and moral lack of amenities that I do not think is right for any young Briton. There are so many of these small places that no one cares about. I saw it in British Honduras when I was there. No one cared about it at this end. No one felt any responsibility. There ought to be an exhaustive investigation—and my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) urged it no doubt very rightly in the case of West Africa—into the whole question of the terms of service and, more than that, into the general effects of our administration in the Pacific. There has been correspondence lately in connection with the troubles in the Solomon Islands, on the subject of the study of anthropology in connection with people going to work among the extraordinary mixed races that exist there, and 2688 that might very well be borne in mind, together with an effort to make more civilised and more amenable conditions for British civil servants in the Colonies, who are the finest set of people we produce, because they represent the old pioneering kind. People talk gliby about the spirit of Drake. We do not get much opportunity to see that sort of thing to-day. But here, in this little body, we get it still, and it brings out all that is best and most fundamental in the British character.
I hope we shall make some more tangible effort in getting our Dominions interested, not only as regards commerce, the importance of which cannot be exaggerated, but interested from an administrative point of view in the problems of our Colonies. Nothing could be better for our Civil Service than to have Canadian, Australian and South African civil servants and so on out in these Colonies administering them and taking a share in their problems and even at the London end. These Colonial questions occasionally come bustling into the political problems of the big world. When they arise the Dominions do not feel inclined to take a part, because they do not know anything about them. There is a reductio ad absurdum in it of course, because the Colonies do not really I suppose, belong to the Empire, but to us as the United Kingdom; but it would be for the good of the service if the Dominions could be brought into the administrative part of the working of the Empire. I believe it is done to a certain extent already, but it might well be further developed.
As regards the Colonial Office, I know that the right hon. Gentleman is keen on bringing the Colonial Office officials into personal touch with the conditions actually prevailing in the Colonies. I should like to ask him whether he cannot extend the existing principle of sending out his officials to East and West Africa, and so on, not for tours, but for real administrative duty, for two or three years. Then, perhaps, after another four or five years at the Colonial Office, they could be sent to another part of the Empire. There is nothing more that I need say in that connection. I really think that it is important to have made these points now, as these things are more likely to be tackled when we have people 2689 at the Colonial Office with imagination, as we have now, who feel strongly on this question, and who believe in the necessity of putting the matter on right lines than, possibly, later on when we may have another Secretary of State. I say this in no sort of disparagement to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas). I agree almost entirely with the criticisms and remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell), and of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) on these issues. I do think that we want changes of machinery, but I would say that I would not have them touch the appointments section in the Colonial Office for anything. It is certainly the finest department in the Colonial Office, and, possibly, one of the best functioning sections of administration in this country. It has given us just that type of man for running our Colonies that we want and have all praised. I have no more to say except that I hope that the Colonial Office Front Bench representatives will exercise all the influence possible on the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a late Colonial Secretary himself—in order to get him interested in the problems of the proper development of the Colonies.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
At this hour I shall not take more than two or three minutes in addressing the Committee. I want to ask the Colonial Secretary one definite question, namely, whether he will take steps to see that the prison discipline in Palestine is based upon the same principle as prison discipline in England. The reason I ask this question is because of the flogging case which recently occurred in Palestine. The facts were given to me by a person who has come from Palestine and who was an eye-witness of part of the affair. The facts, as I understand them, are these. There were 13 men in prison. Ten had been convicted for disseminating seditious literature and belonging to an illegal organisation. Three of them had been arrested, and were in prison pending deportation, the difficulty being that there was no country to which it was possible to deport them. These men, apparently, refused to obey an order restricting their time for exercise. The constables said that violence was used 2690 against the warders. The prisoners denied this. The men went on hunger strike as a protest, and on the third day of the hunger strike three of them were flogged. The names of the three who were flogged are Mr. Zaitman, Mr. Langman and Mr. Kanewsky. The General Federation of Jewish Labour then took up the matter, and by the permission of the Commissioner held an interview with the prisoners in the presence of prison officials. The representative who held that interview is in London, and can be seen by the Colonial Secretary. The men at that time bore marks of punishment about their faces, so that there had been violence towards them though the men denied that they used violence to the warders.
That is a very disagreeable story which, if proved—and I think there are strong grounds for a prima facie case—would reflect very great discredit upon the administration of prisons in Palestine. The General Federation of Jewish Labour are putting forward one demand—a very simple and a very reasonable demand. They ask that the penalty of flogging shall not be inflicted in prison except under the same regulations under which flogging is inflicted in England. In England, if a prisoner has to be flogged—he can be flogged for mutiny and for violence—he cannot be flogged without an inquiry by the visiting committee, that is three visiting justices. Evidence has to be taken according to prescribed rules, and a medical certificate has to be furnished as to whether a prisoner is in a fit physical condition to endure punishment, and then, after the inquiry, the whole matter has to go to the Home Office who have to confirm the flogging. In view of this Palestinian flogging, which has excited very grave adverse comment in Palestine, and in view of the reasonableness of the demand, I want to ask the Colonial Secretary if he will take steps to see that the same regulations are instituted in Palestine when corporal punishment has to be inflicted on prisoners as obtain in England. That is to say, that there shall be an independent Committee to make inquiries and report, and that no sentence shall take place without the Chief Commissioner's personal confirmation of the decision.
§ Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Thanks to the courtesy of the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) I have five minutes in which to raise the question of the Dead Sea Concession. This is a question which I have often raised before by means of questions to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, and the answers we have received have not altogether been satisfactory. I would like to direct the attention of the Committee exactly to what are the facts in this case. In the Dead Sea there are potash deposits of very great value. At the present time, and before the War, the Germans had a monopoly of the potash deposits. They have to-day over 70 per cent. of the potash deposits. Here is an alternative and a very valuable alternative that we are desirous of developing. What happened during the War? Potash is the indispensable fertiliser for the farmers, and the price of potash during the War reached from £60 to £80 per ton, and in the United States it was £112 per ton. Hon. Members opposite dislike monopolies just as much as I do, and here we have an opportunity of breaking this monopoly. To-day potash is £9 10s. a ton, which is a much higher rate than it should be, and if we had been able properly to have exploited this very valuable concession the price to-day would have been very much lower.
What happened? During the War we were compelled to look around, and as early as 1916 a British group was examining the Dead Sea. My right hon. Friend the other day said it had not been going on for 10 years. Let me tell him that in September, 1918, a definite application was sent in to the Potash Controller. It was accompanied by a fully prepared scheme. My right hon. Friend has always said that Major Tulloch had priority. Major Tulloch came there in 1917, and in 1918 he wrote a letter to the Secretary of the War Cabinet, but he did not come with a prepared scheme until June, 1922. Mr. Novomeysky, who has been brought into the matter, came as a Russian Jewish immigrant into Palestine in 1921, and he did not prepare a scheme and put it forward until 1925. Thus on those grounds alone the British group have a priority. There were certain financial guarantees demanded, and what we would like to ask the Colonial Secretary to-day is, 2692 whether those financial guarantees have been carried out. For 18 months this concession has been granted in principle to Mr. Novomeysky. I leave out Major Tulloch altogether because he has signed a Power of Attorney which has put him completely in the hands of Mr. Novomeysky to do anything he wishes.
I understand that the financial guarantees are not satisfactory, and the reason why the British concession at the time was turned down was because the other application, particularly as regards the provision of financial guarantees, had been granted. What are these satisfactory financial guarantees. We know that there is a small amount of money behind Mr. Novomeysky and that the money comes from the German potash monopoly group, from the Kali Syndikat. Their whole object is to prevent this concession from being properly worked. There is just sufficient money to have allowed the Colonial Office to accept the contract, but through these 10 years the concession has not been worked at all. The Germans have still got a monopoly, and we are playing into their hands at the present time. As an alternative, there is the British group, headed by leading chemists in this country, who are prepared to spend from £1,000,000 to £2,000,000 to work and develop the concession. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not very foolish to neglect these people who are prepared to compete with the existing monopoly and to work the concession.
We are the mandatory power and we are out to do our best for both the Arabs and the Jews. We are in the position of arbitrator between them. We do not want to antagonise one or the other, and the best thing we can do is to have an independent British company, which has nothing to do with either, which is quite independent of the German monopoly and has sufficient finance to do the work satisfactorily. That is the only really just solution. I ask my right hon. Friend how much longer he is going to dillydally with Mr. Novomeysky, who has not these financial guarantees behind him, and who is hunting around to try to find money but his terms are so ridiculous that no one will accept them. I would ask the Colonial Secretary to put a time limit in the contract and to put in a Clause providing that whoever gets the 2693 concession shall not be able to sell it to anyone else, and pass it on. I look upon this as a very vital matter of great importance to the British Empire and I would, in the words of the old Roman orator, ask the Colonial Secretary how much longer he is going to delay.Quousquě tandem abutere patientia nostra.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The Colonial Secretary ought to congratulate himself on the fact that every hon Member who has spoken to-day has said, in substance, to him, "You are too much of an economist. You are not spending enough money, we are here to help you to spend more money." The Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) went a little beyond that, and with an enthusiasm which I much appreciate he said: "If ever this Empire is to be developed, it can never develop so well as under the present administration." I am afraid that he has not much longer to go now to realise that. He further said: "The real danger spot, the real trouble behind all this, is not the Colonial Office, not the Colonial Secretary, not anyone in the Department, but it is that person who recently joined us and calls himself a Conservative." That is the Noble Lord's method of saying that the Colonial Office would be all right if it were not for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a good thing that every year there is a growing interest and a growing anxiety, in our Debates on these Imperial questions, by all sections of the House. That is not only a good thing in itself but it is something that will be welcomed and is welcomed in all parts of the Dominions and Colonies.
I want to refer to the very strong plea that was made by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet). Here is a case where the Colonial Secretary ought not to wait. It will not be sufficient for him to say, "We must have an investigation," because he has the material and the experience at his disposal now. We must all realise the loyalty of the men and their anxiety to do their job. We must always pay our tribute to these men, because of the difficult circumstances under which they work. We have only to see the nature of their work and their environment to marvel how well they do it, and when we see that 2694 they are respected and looked up to by hundreds of thousands and millions of people that is in itself a tribute to their magnificent characters. Therefore, when we are dealing with men who work in this way and who risk themselves in this way, by making sacrifices, we are entitled to say that great consideration should be given to their position. What are the facts? I made inquiries from business firms on this matter. We are often told by the opponents of Parliamentary institutions that if our affairs were run on business lines, many different things would happen. I found no business man who did not condemn absolutely, from the financial point of view, the methods of the present Government. Some of the largest bankers and contractors said that if they were to employ their people on the terms and conditions that were adopted by the Government, their business would be ruined, because during the last three months the men are really not fit for continuing their work.
That is not the only evil. The evil is that they are in a low and exhausted state. I saw what happens. Immediately we came out of a tropical country we struck a day probably as hot as to-day, but not tropical, and 42 men, before breakfast, were down right away. I asked the doctor what was the position and he said: "This is quite a common experience." That means not only that they have been too long out there and, consequently, cannot give of their best, but they are gradually becoming so exhausted that the rest they will be able to get in this country will not be as advantageous as it ought to be. From the standpoint of pure economy and efficiency, I would ask the Colonial Secretary to look at the figures and the materials which are already at his disposal. I know that he is sending a very distinguished and honourable civil servant, Sir Samuel Wilson, and from my experience of him I am sure that he will do all that can be done and all that the right hon. Gentleman could desire, but it will not be sufficient in this case for Sir Samuel Wilson to go out and find the material which is in the office now. The material which is in the office will give the right hon. Gentleman all the information that he desires. I would urge him to remember that it is very 2695 difficult for these people to complain. One of the things that I admire about them is that they hate to complain; they do not want to cause trouble or mischief. Therefore, someone ought to speak on their behalf when they are doing their work at so much self-sacrifice. I press the Colonial Secretary to look at once into this very difficult problem, which affects one of the most loyal body of men in the British Empire.
I strongly urge the appointment of a Commission to consider the whole question of Colonial development. You have only to consider the tremendous problems with which the Colonial Office has to deal to come to the conclusion that there is not one or two or even 10 of the greatest business firms in the world which has so many undertakings and responsibilities, and the question arises as to whether we are not missing some of the advantages. The figures given in the case of the Gold Coast alone show that there is an income of over £12,000,000. Fifty per cent. of the cocoa of the world, and 25 per cent. of the manganese, comes from the Gold Coast; and we have hardly touched the fringe of that Colony. I am convinced that the possibilities of development are enormous. A great deal is said about the opportunities which the Dominions offer. I do not belittle them for a moment, but I am equally convinced that the Crown Colonies and Dependencies offer chances and possibilities which are undreamed of at the moment, and at the moment when we are all disturbed at the economic position of this country, when no one is happy as to the state of trade and commerce, it behoves us to look carefully at the possibilities in this direction. I support wholeheartedly the advice given the Colonial Secretary by the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) to appoint a Commission or a Committee to inquire into the subject. There is scope for such an inquiry; and may I say that if the right hon. Gentleman had not abolished the Committee which I set up, it could have been doing this work and he would have had the advantage of three years' work to go upon. I am content, however, if he makes amends now by setting up such a committee; I will not quarrel with him for the sin which he then committed.
2696 2.0 p.m.
This Debate was opened by a magnificent speech from the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell) who showed a grasp and knowledge of the problem and a sincerity which commended itself to the whole House. What, after all, was the nature of his case and practically of every subsequent speech? He said, as I do, that if you look at Kenya to-day, you cannot but be disturbed by the fact that it seems to be a storm centre in the sense that for good or ill—it is because of its tremendous repercussions that I urge the seriousness of it—the rest of our Colonies seem to feel that whatever is happening in Kenya must inevitably have its effect upon themselves. If we take the title of the Land Trust Bill, there never was a Bill which gave such magnificent effect in words to what we call the trusteeship of this country towards the natives in that Colony. In fact, you can say here is a Bill the title of which and some Clauses of which seem to be everything that is reasonable and desirable and should enable us to say to the natives, "Here is the best evidence and proof of our feelings towards you." But an examination of the Bill gives rise to some apprehensions—and the reason why the Colonial Secretary withheld his consent is because he himself must be apprehensive as to some of its provisions. I would urge that he will insist on a remodelling of the Measure which will ensure the direct interest beyond any shadow of doubt of the natives in the Colony. How is it possible to justify the leasing of land to white people for a long term of years, and saying to the natives, "This is yours for all time." The misgivings and anxieties shown in all parts of the House towards this problem is not confined to this House. I have an extract here from a leading article of the "Times" of East Africa, of Sunday, the 13th May. This is what it says:The one good point of the Bill is that it provides for the custody of native reserves, but its further provisions are … an impudent fraud on the trusteeship of the nation which has been accepted by the Imperial Government. Moreover, this Bill is one more attempt by the Governor to forestall the Report of the Hilton Young Committee.Whatever may be said about the language in this leading article it at least indicates the misgivings and anxieties which exist 2697 in that part of Africa. Like my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich, I should deplore a discussion on the virtues or vices of human beings in Kenya or anywhere else. I do not think any good purpose is served by such a discussion, but when the Government of this country in a White Paper laid it down that our position to these African people was in the form of a trusteeship, it was accepted as the British declaration by all Governments, and, that being so, it is our bound en duty to see that effect is given to that declaration in letter and in spirit. I am sorry it is not possible to deal with the question which I raised earlier, that is, the Dominion question, but in conclusion let me say that I share the views expressed by other hon. Members in the growing interest taken in the Colonial Office Vote, an interest which is shared by all parties. It is a genuine interest, which is not intended to make the work of the Colonial Office more difficult, but is rather an indication to them and to the Colonial Secretary that the Empire as a whole is not the preserve or prerogative of any particular party in the State, but that all parties in the House are interested in these problems, and that they will apply themselves with a single-minded desire to do the right thing for all concerned.
§ Mr. AMERY
The interest is very real, even if there are competing interests on this particular day. There is a growing realisation in this House and in the country of the immense, potential importance of the Colonial Empire, both as a market for the products of this country and as a field in which we can carry out a great task of development—not merely material development, but human development. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dartford (Colonel McDonnell) very truly suggested that the first essential, if you are to develop effectively this immense heritage, is that you should have an adequate machine at 2698 headquarters. I entirely agree with him on that point. I would only say that I think the extent to which the old machine of the Colonial Office has been transformed in recent years has perhaps not been fully realised by himself or by one or two other hon. Members who have joined in the discussion, nor have they realised to what an extent we have been working on the very lines that they favour.
When I was entrusted with this difficult and responsible office four yeans ago the first conclusion to which I came was that an indispensable condition, before the Colonial Office as such could be effectively reorganised, was the separation from it of Dominion affairs, which are concerned with an entirely different type of relations, diplomatic rather than organising and administrative. Having done that, the next step was to consider the actual organisation of work in the Office itself. My hon. and gallant Friend very truly said that the past basis on which that organisation was conducted had been geographical; certain departments of the Colonial Office dealt with certain colonies or groups of colonies. Undoubtedly there is a profound justification for retaining that as the main basis of our organisation. Our Colonial Empire has grown up, not on preconceived plans, but step by step. In every colony the machinery of government—the administration, the civil service and the legislation—is essentially a local and a native growth. And in the main that is a good thing. It adapts itself to the idiosyncrasies of every kind of population and the conditions of every kind of country. At the same time it is true that, as the science of government develops, more particularly as we get into the field of technical science—agricultural research, health, preventive medicine and largely even education—we are dealing with matters where the element common to all the colonies is even more important than the element which is peculiarly local and special to each colony. That, I think, does necessitate a very considerable reorganisation of the Office.
I appointed a Committee last year, under the Chairmanship of Sir Samuel Wilson and including representatives of other departments and also Colonial administrations, and they went into the 2699 whole matter. Their first and most important conclusion on this point was that the General Department of the Office required considerable strengthening, and the result of that will be that it will undoubtedly be possible to do more than we have done in the past in making sure that information, experience and knowledge in any one part of the Empire are made available to other parts. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) spoke of the variety of the ordinances dealing with municipal taxation. I have no doubt that the changes that we are engaged upon will make it much more certain that every Government which wishes to deal with such a particular problem will have available more information as to what other Governments in the Colonial Empire have been doing. The strengthening of that department will also make it better adapted to deal with the technical and scientific world outside the Colonial Office, and inside the Colonial Office to the extent to which we shall develop, as I think we are bound to develop them, specialist branches in that office.
I took the first departure in that direction two years ago by the establishment of a medical adviser of the Colonial Office. We have now a by no means ineffective health organisation in the Office, which is, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dartford remarked, a Ministry of Health for the whole Colonial Empire. We have a Chief Medical Officer, an Advisory Committee which we can consult on many ordinary routine matters, and I also appointed last year a special Medical Research Council attached to the Office, and that in its turn, together with the great development which has taken place in the Tropical School of Medicine both in London and in Liverpool, and with the facilities afforded and freely made use of in connection with the Committee of Civil Research, does give us a very effective machinery in the matter of health.
Following the same lines I have also appointed a financial adviser to help me with the very varied business of contracts and concessions and the kind of problem of economic development to which the right hon. Member for Derby referred when he suggested that some- 2700 thing of the nature of a Commission should be appointed.
In all these matters it is essential that the organisation of the Office should be effectively paralleled in the Colonies themselves, and that whatever is done in the Office should be done with the good will and knowledge and eager cooperation of the Colonies. I therefore felt that, as the first step towards a bolder development of specialist branches in the Office, I should call together a Colonial Office conference, at which official representatives of all the Colonies should exchange views on their different problems, and realise something of the common nature of the task in which they are engaged. That conference took place a year ago and I can only say that all engaged in it were inspired and invigorated by the sense of the greatness of their task, and by the fact that the problems which, to so many of its members, seemed purely local and isolated and individual problems, were really wider problems on which we could help each other. Not the least valuable outcome of that conference was the suggestion that we should build up, by a common effort and by a common contribution, an effective agricultural research department that would offer a field for the finest brains in the country and enable the Colonies to get the advantages of the best research work.
That matter was remitted for further consideration to a strong Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Lovat, who has always taken a keen interest in all these problems of agriculture. That Committee endorsed the main proposals of the Conference itself, but with one important variation. They came to the conclusion that you could not entirely separate research work from administrative work, and that what was wanted was an agricultural service combining research work, specialised agriculture, and the administrative branch; and their final conclusions were that I should appoint a chief agricultural adviser, a distinguished man of science of proved administrative and organising ability, with a minimum salary of £2,500 a year, and with an assistant adviser and subordinate staff whose duties should be—in close consultation with an advisory committee or council on agriculture and animal health—to deal with the whole 2701 question of the supply and training of specialist agricultural officers, the establishment of central research stations, the general efficiency and well-being of the unified agricultural services, the collection and distribution of scientific and agricultural information, the direction of the main research work throughout the Empire, and also collaboration with other organisations in other parts of the Empire. This organisation is to cover both agriculture and what is usually known as veterinary services, which Lord Lovat's Committee recommended should be called animal health services.
As regards the special aspect of animal health, another Committee has been sitting since last year going into the whole question. We hope that, with this central organisation and with the provision of funds from all the Colonies, and with a contribution from the Empire Marketing Board, we may build up an effective central organisation and an effective service and effective research work both departmental and in special institutions like Trinidad, Amani in East Africa or Peradeniya in Ceylon. I look forward to the creation in the next year or two of such a system. I shall try not to leave the work unfinished, but, if so, I am sure that others will carry on the same work in the same spirt with the object of providing a really effective agricultural and veterinary organisation throughout the Empire. I have no doubt the question of medical research and medical services needs consideration in the same spirit and so does the question of forestry. In the matter of education we have already made considerable progress. Through the more informal organisation of an advisory committee with a secretary, we have had, in fact, a regular device for co-ordinating education in Africa for some years. The Colonial Office Conference suggested that we should have a similar committee dealing with educational problems in the non-African parts of the Colonial Empire. In other ways we are, as rapidly as possible, reorganising this great Office to deal with all the many complicated personal and administrative questions involved. We are trying to make the Colonial Office the General Headquarters for development right through the Empire, without in the least impairing its efficiency for control and guidance and for carrying out our 2702 primary duty—that of maintaining peace and good government and progressive government among those, to whom we stand in the relationship of trustees.
§ Mr. AMERY
I have just referred to that. It is also essential that the Colonial Office should be kept in touch with the Colonies. The calling of the Colonial Office Conference itself was a very valuable element in that matter. It taught the officials in the Office a great deal which perhaps they did cot know before, about some of the needs; of the Colonial Governments, and I think it also taught the representatives of the Colonial Governments something of the capacity of the men with whom they were dealing in the Colonial Office and taught them that there are present to the minds of those in the Colonial Office many considerations of general Imperial importance which are not always present to the minds of the members of any Colonial Government in their own sphere. Equally essential is freer contact between the Office and the outlying services. I hope to establish a steadily increasing seconding to active service of Colonial Office officials. Two of the junior members of the staff are now acting as private secretaries to Colonial Governors, and it is now a rule of the Office that no one can enter unless prepared to accept liability for overseas service. Through commissions, and in other ways, a very large number of the staff have in the last two or three years visited one part of the Empire or another. Not less important is it that members of the Colonial services should be temporarily attached, when there is an opportunity, for special work in the Colonial Office itself. Most important of all is it that the heads of the Office should go out and realise the problems and compare the administrations of the different parts of the Colonial Empire.
My right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has just returned from a journey to the Eastern Colonies which I think is likely to be productive of valuable results. I need not go into the many matters which he will cover in his report, but I give one instance of the kind of thing which never appears in despatches, but which shows how much can he realised by the responsible head of a Department going out to visit these 2703 Colonies. My right hon. Friend tells me that he was very much struck by the extent to which preventive medical work is ahead in Malaya compared with Ceylon, and, on the other hand, how far agricultural research work and veterinary work are ahead in Ceylon compared with Malaya. There are two great and rich Colonies, but unless there is some personal supervision and contact it is very easy for them to go in different directions; and only through personal contact will you continually bring the best points of the one to the notice of the other, and bring both forward on the same level. It is with the same purpose that the Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Samuel Wilson, is going to West Africa in the next few months, and is going to be accompanied by my medical adviser (Dr. Stanton), both to look into the many health problems in West Africa in general, but also in particular to look into this question of the 18 months' tour, which my right, hon. Friend opposite and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) raised. I admit that a great many facts have been brought to (my attention which suggest that the 18 months system has not worked altogether as well as it was hoped it would work at the beginning. It was undoubtedly intended to be elastic and to mean any time between 12 months and 18 months that was best adapted to the health of the officials concerned.
Undoubtedly, as the right hon. Gentle man has very truly said, the ordinary British civil servant out there feels that it is not up to him to ask for any favour that somebody else has not got. He does not feel that it would be playing the game to do so, and, therefore, there is very great reluctance on the part of any official to claim leave before the end of the period. As long as the onus is laid on the official himself, I am afraid it will be only in very rare cases that the optional acceleration of leave will be exercised. It will, therefore, be essential to consider how the system, can either be improved by laying the onus more directly on the medical services and on superior officers, or whether we may not have to reconsider 18 months even as the basis. My own belief is that the really desirable thing is the annual leave, an adequate 2704 period within the single year. But the administrative difficulties at present in the way of that are very serious, and we can only regard it as a goal to be aimed at. At the same time, I certainly shall give Dr. Stanton instructions to look into the whole question with an absolutely open mind, and to consider, without any regard to maintaining anything that has been established in the past, whether in the future the present system with modifications shall hold good, or whether we should substitute a different basic period or a different system altogether.
I turn from these general problems of organisation to the most important individual issue that has been raised in the course of the Debate, namely, the question that is raised by the Kenya Native Land Trust Bill. That problem brings forward in its most critical form the most important of all issues with which we are confronted in any part of the world where white immigration comes in contact with a pre-established native population. The problem is one of the greatest difficulty and not one which can be solved by recourse to any cut and dried method or, indeed, by taking any extreme views on one side or the other. There is the extreme view, not often avowed, but, I admit, often latent, consciously or unconsciously, that the only person who has any rights is the white man. There is the other extreme view, that in any area, however large, a native population, however small, however recently in occupation of that territory, should be regarded as the only people who should be allowed to live in that territory, which should in fact, be a kind of zoological garden or game reserve for them only. Neither view is the right one. I am sure that the only right view is that which is so often summarised in the phrase "the dual policy," the belief that there is room in these countries for white men and black men to live side by side: and though there are grave dangers involved in the presence side by side of a race immensely superior in strength and ability and a weaker race, yet, with reasonable safeguards, those dangers can be mitigated with good results both to the races themselves and the territories as a whole.
§ Mr. AMERY
I thought I had defined it by saying it is based on the belief that there is room in those territories which are not fully occupied by a native population, and where white men can settle, for white men and black men to live side by side and each be benefited by the other's presence. It is not in the interests of the white man to exploit or degrade the native.
§ Mr. AMERY
There is no question under the dual policy or anywhere under the Colonial Office of the native being compelled to work for a white employer. It is desirable that the native should develop his own territory, and, like any other man, white, yellow, or brown, strengthen his faculties by honest work, but it is not thereby implied that there should be any compulsion on him to exchange work in his own reserve or on his own land in order to work for a white employer. We believe that both benefit by co-operation and contact with each other. I would add one further thing, a very vital thing. During the initial period it is essential that the control should remain in this House, and not be entrusted to a mere handful of immigrant settlers, who naturally, in contact with the urgent problems of pioneering, are apt to take a short-sighted point of view. I think that is a basic principle. But I think there is another principle which is also important, and that is that, looking to the future, we should in our relationship with the white settler carry him along and bring the conception of trusteeship to his mind, as well as honour and uphold it here ourselves.
Nothing could be more disastrous, as the experience of history shows, than for Parliament here to regard itself as the champion of the black man and of no other interests, and, on the other hand, for the white settler to look upon Parliament as a hostile body, incapable of realising the actual needs of the local situation, and by reaction concentrate on a bitter, narrow, and unfair attitude towards the native himself. Looking back upon history, there is no doubt that many of the troubles of South Africa a century ago, much of the narrowness of outlook on native affairs, was due to the fact that Parliament and 2706 the Colonial Office here in this country took the view, almost without exception, that the white man must always be wrong and that the native must always be right in any issue between them.
§ Mr. AMERY
I do not know that they did. The essential thing is that the two should work together, as they did work together in Eastern Cape Colony in the years immediately preceding self-government in Cape Colony. They laid the foundations of a system which has been carried on ever since, and of which South Africa to-day is proud, and rightly proud. Therefore, it is essential that, building for the future, we should build something in which we can carry the settler community with us, and not proceed on lines that suggest that they can never be trusted and that we are the only people to be relied upon to take a wider or higher view of native problems.
To come to this particular Measure, the whole genesis of it lies in the fact that while it is perfectly true that none of the existing reserves can be alienated without the consent of the Secretary of State, there has been a feeling that that consent has been given from time to time, perhaps, more readily than might be desirable, and also a great anxiety on the part of the natives themselves, arising from a judgment which laid down, in 1921, that the natives were tenants-at-will of the Crown. That problem was certainly not the least important point which the Commission appointed by my right hon. Friend opposite which went out under the Chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, had to decide. They came to the conclusion that the vital question of the relationship between white and black in Africa was to secure for the native such territory for himself as to insure that he should be a free man. That is the real issue. There is no reason why the native should not work outside for the white employer, but what we do not want is that, for want of land of his own he should never be anything but a landless serf.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That is a very important point. Can the native now buy land from the white man outside the reserves?
§ Mr. AMERY
I am not so sure, but certainly he can buy Crown land not alienated. There is a great deal of Crown land not alienated. I think there are over 140,000,000 acres in Kenya, of which 6,000,000 are alienated and 30,000,000 are included in the present reserves. In that respect, I am convinced from information which the Governor has put before me, that the reserves are ample for the present and for the future prospective needs of the native population, without any regard even to any great improvement in agriculture. Then comes the question as to how you are safeguarding the reserved areas for the natives. One solution, of course, is simply to leave it in the hands of the Native Affairs Department. That means that with any increase of the unofficial element on the Legislative Council, in any advance towards self government, the Native Affairs Department might be subjected in the future to pressure. Another solution would be to put it absolutely in the hands of an entirely outside trust, tied up without any reference to the actual development and administrative needs of the Colony. When you consider how the native reserves are interspersed with other areas, how they encircle the chief centres, I do not believe it is to the interest of the natives or of the community as a whole that you should put the native land in the hands of a body wholly and entirely divorced from the Government. Therefore, as a result of more than two years full discussion and deliberation, we decided that the right form was in the form of a Board, but one closely associated with the Governor of the Colony and therefore closely under the supervision of the Secretary of State. The organisation of the Central Board is under the Governor, four other officials and four unofficial members.
§ Mr. AMERY
I do not know why the right hon. and gallant Gentleman assumes they are settlers. On the contrary, while no class of the community is by name excluded, the very first people who have claims to be nominated on such a Board would be those, like the missionaries, who have taken a direct interest in the affairs of the natives themselves. Indeed, as far as the law goes, there is nothing to prevent members of the African or any other race from being made members of the central administration.
§ Mr. AMERY
The whole object is to enable the Governor of the day to put on four unofficial members who are interested in safeguarding the point of view of the natives. He is not going to appoint these men without some consultation with the Secretary of State, and, naturally, the first thing any Secretary of State is bound to ask, when) the names are submitted to him, is, "What are the qualifications of these men for understanding and representing the native point of view, and what is their personal character for dealing fairly?"
§ Mr. THOMAS
What is the objection on that point? As I gather, the substance of the right hon. Gentleman's statement is that it is not true to assume that the four unofficial members are necessarily settlers; they might be anybody, and they might, indeed, include what I would call the direct representatives of the natives themselves. What is the objection to making provision on the Board that there must be on that Board someone directly representative of the natives?
§ Mr. AMERY
I am quite willing to consider that point. The difficulty is that while it is easy for the actual natives, as suggested by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, to take the keenest and most intelligent interest in the land of their own tribe in their own locality it would be much more difficult to find natives really qualified to be either representative or effective on a Central Board. But the point is one to which I am certainly quite willing to give consideration. The whole framework of the 2709 Bill is based on consultation locally with the natives. There is a nominated African member on each of the local boards, but there is also, in the latest form of the Bill, consultation with the local native council in every case.
Let me come to the Bill itself. The object of the Bill, the purpose of the Bill and the result of the Bill, I trust, is embodied in the second Clause, namely, that those areas are declared to be native reserves and set aside for the use and benefit of the native tribes for ever. That is the dominating principle and purpose. Now we have got to consider this point. If you delegate the authority of the Governor to any statutory body such as is now set up, you must, at any rate, provide some measure of elasticity. You must, in that case, define the safeguards and the limits within which they can deal with those matters. It is very easy to say in abstract terms that no land shall ever be alienated, leased or sold from the reserves. You have to consider the necessities of public works. You have also to consider other things. If you are going to give an abundant margin for the future growth of the natives; if you are to look 30, 40 or 50 years ahead, you have got undoubtedly to attach to the reserves a good deal more land than the natives can exploit at this moment. You have also to consider another point. One tribe may have reserved a good deal more land than it needs. Another tribe may have less land, or may move in from the north into the habitable portion of the colony. Is it not possible to allow a tribe to lease part of the area belonging to another tribe? Again, you have to consider such a question as the setting up a central sugar factory to enable natives in the reserve to become successful cane growers, and to grow sugar for the supply of the factory. You may have some partnership system, as there is in the Sudan, of the Government and natives and a commercial organisation. Are you going to exclude these possibilities altogether?
The whole assumption of the critics of the Bill is that this is a Measure to enable the ordinary white settler to pick the eyes out of the reserves, and for a trifling rent to put himself in the position that the land will be his for all time. That is not the intention, and I do not believe that it will be the consequence of the 2710 Bill. It is definitely stipulated in Clause 7 as an essential condition of the grant of any lease that there is reason to believe that the natives of the tribe, for which the land has been reserved, will derive benefit apart from any revenue which may accrue to them from the grant of such lease. The whole object is not to preclude the Central Board from developing schemes which may be for the benefit of the natives, but which do involve temporary licences or leases for the use of such territory. But here comes the important point. Such action is safeguarded, in the first instance, because it is referred to the Local Board on which a native African members sits. More than that, it is not the vote of the Board which settles the matter. If the native member alone objects to any lease or licence, it cannot be carried through without the express permission of the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. AMERY
If you have no confidence in the Governor, or in the Civil Service out there or in the Secretary of State, then there can be no safeguards that will ever be of any use. But if you have confidence in those who have been entrusted by Parliament with responsibility in this matter, there will be safeguards under the Bill. There is a second fence behind the African member; that is the Native Council. There you have a body representative of the tribe itself, and if it objects, even if the African member agrees, nothing can be done without the express consent of the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. AMERY
In a Sub-section which has been added to Clause 7. I submit that this Measure is one that does effectively safeguard the interests of the natives, and that it carries out the main object that we have in view, though undoubtedly the majority of the Clauses are rather concerned in safeguarding those exceptions to the general rule, 2711 which there must be if there is to be any elasticity or permanence in the legislation of Kenya. There is one fact which is very significant and important in view of what I said. This legislation, I believe, constitutes a new landmark in East African history. It has the concurrence and support of the unofficial members of the Council in Kenya. Looking to the future, I regard that as a very valuable thing. It means that, far from considering only the white man's interest in the matter, there is a willingness on the part of unofficial members to accept the principle——
§ Mr. AMERY
Indian unofficial members are not there for reasons which concern themselves. The important point is that the white unofficial members have accepted the principle of the inalienability of the native reserves, and of the safeguards which are contained in this Bill. The only reason why I asked the Governor to suspend action on this Bill is that the East African Commission have asked me to consider their general recommendations on the native question before I take final action. I could not, after the Commission has returned from a long and exhaustive inquiry, in courtesy disregard such a request on their part. Undoubtedly, when their views are before me, I shall give them the most careful consideration, and see how far either their views or the very temperate criticisms which have been made in the House to-day, suggest modifications or amendments which may be considered desirable before the Bill is finally passed. I want, before leaving this tonic again to emphasise my belief that this Measure substantially carries out the principles to which we in this House attach importance, and, what is more, carries them out with the goodwill and co-operation of the settler community.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The right hon. Gentleman has gone a long way to meet the general criticisms of the House. I think that he has done right in deferring a decision pending the Report of the Commission, but he should go a step further and say that he is going to consider 2712 both problems together and see what their relationship may be, and that before he finally makes up his mind, he will give the House an opportunity of knowing it.
§ Mr. AMERY
Naturally one is anxious to give the House every opportunity to consider every problem that arises in the Colonial Empire, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that this particular question has been actively discussed ever since my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary returned. This Measure has been postponed too long, and postponement has been a source of anxiety to the natives. The opportunities for discussion in this House are not so very frequent. This matter has been very fully discussed this afternoon, and I have given the House my undertaking that before I sanction the further stages of the Measure I will give the fullest consideration both to the criticisms which have been raised to-day as to a representative on the Board, as to the length of the period of leases, as well as to the representations which may be embodied in the report of the Commission. But, after all, the government of the Empire has to go on, and it is quite impossible for every legislative Measure to be discussed in great detail by this House. This House can only be a body supervising and controlling through the Secretary of State the administration of the Colonies. It cannot be in detail a legislative body for the Colonies. I give my right hon. Friend an assurance that every one of the points will be most carefully considered by me before I consent to any further action being taken on the Bill. One thing I would like to add on the Bill, and that is to say there were certain Clauses in the original Bill making individual ownership possible which have been taken out at the express request of various native communities themselves. They have been following this Measure with the closest interest through their organisations, and they have asked for the elimination of these Clauses, and therefore it is not only the white settlers but the native community who, at any rate in a certain measure, have participated in the framing of this Bill.
The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Snell) asked me as to affairs in Tan- 2713 ganyika. At this hour it would be unfair, if any Debate on the Dominions Vote is to follow, to do more than refer him to the very full and extremely interesting report of the League of Nations on Tanganyika which he will find in the Library. The hon. Member also asked me about British Guiana. Of course we hope to carry out and to engage in further investigation of all the valuable suggestions which he and his fellow-Commissioners made. The Commission were never appointed as a purely constitutional Commission. They had in fact to deal with the constitution first, because until the constitution was dealt with finance could not be dealt with, and until finance was disposed of other things were in abeyance. But we do mean to prosecute all the work which he and his fellow Commissioner have provided for us. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford referred to the Zambesi Bridge. We are anxious to put that work forward as rapidly as possible, but it would be a mistake to waste £100,000 or more on starting with a wrong foundation; we must assure ourselves which would be the best site for the bridge.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and other Members have raised questions concerning Palestine, and I will endeavour to deal with them as briefly as possible. First of all there was the question of the flogging of certain Communists for the violation of prison rules and for an attack on the warders. Let me make it quite clear, in the first instance, that from the information I have received from the High Commissioner there is no question of these men being flogged as Communists. The only question is whether there should be discrimination in favour of Communists against the regulations which are now in force in Palestine for assault upon prison authorities. I am quite prepared to communicate with the High Commissioner, in fact I have already done so, with a view to considering whether the law in this respect ought not to be assimilated to the law here, so that corporal punishment can only be awarded for the same kind of offence and with the same safeguards as in this country. The right hon. Gentleman also asked me with regard to a case in Malaya. There, again, there is no ques- 2714 tion of Communism as such being the offence for which the man was flogged. The offence was the possession of explosives, and of literature advocating murder, acts of violence, burning down houses, killing the owners of factories, starting a riot, the use of revolvers and instructions for the purchase of revolvers. It was for violence against the community and intended murder and not for the holding of views that action was taken. My right hon. Friend also asks about the conditions of labour for the Haifa Harbour contract. I would refer him to Section 1, Sub-section (1) of the Palestine and East Africa Guaranteed Loan Act, under which definite provision is made for fair wages being paid in connection with the work. As regards Dead Sea Salts, I must not detain the House more than a minute or two. We are not here dealing with proved treasure, but with minerals which may conceivably be worth working. There is no proved mine of wealth ready to be picked up, as is shown by the fact that whilst the application for tenders was open for a long time previous to September, 1927, only two or three groups, not one of them very powerful or wealthy, came forward to tender. The group whose tender was considered best in all circumstances by the Colonial Office and the Crown Agents was a combination of two of the early investigators, Major Tulloch, a British subject, and M. Novomeysky, a Palestinian citizen. That tender was accepted in principle, subject to the settling of details, and to our being satisfied as to the financial position of the group. These matters were investigated by the Crown Agents, who reported to the Colonial Office in January last, after a great deal of consultation with the Palestine and Trans-Jordan Governments, and submitted the draft heads of a preliminary agreement which has since been the subject of continual correspondence between the High Commissioner for Palestine and Trans-Jordania and the Colonial Office.
I have been as anxious as the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard-Bury) to expedite the matter, and I hope it will not be long before it is settled, but in a matter where the present value is quite uncertain and the future value may be very great it is essential 2715 for the Government concerned to safeguard itself in every way. On the other hand, the Government is not in the position, because it is making very careful and elaborate inquiries into the matter, to throw over a tender which was accepted in principle. As soon as we find we cannot come to an agreement then the whole matter will be opened again. On the other hand, if we can come to an agreement and satisfy our selves on the essential points then I think we are in honour bound to carry through with that tender.
§ Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Has not my right hon. Friend had an application from a powerful British group with any amount of finance behind it?
§ Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Did not German interests at that time try to decry the value and drive our British people away in order that this German group might succeed?
§ Mr. THOMAS
May I refresh the memory of the right hon. Gentleman? I think I was the first to interview this gentleman Tulloch. My recollection of it is, and I hope I shall be confirmed in it, that when they brought this concession to me they told me there was enough wealth here to pay the National Debt right off. If that was their view then, what was the difficulty of settling the draft terms?
§ Mr. AMERY
I am afraid many people think there is boundless wealth there, but when it comes to tendering the business world does not seem to be quite so certain whether there may not be an element of Dead Sea fruit in all these salts. I would say again, in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend, that I have no evidence whatever to suggest that while tenders were open German influences were frightening the timid British capitalist away from this boundless wealth. Nor have I the slightest evidence to suggest that there is any German capital or influence behind the group whose tender is at the moment under consideration.
2716 One last word I may say with regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite respecting the constitutional problem. It is quite clear that His Majesty's Government could not agree to any extension of representative or responsible government which would make it impossible to fulfil their obligations under the mandate. Any concession of representative institutions can only be considered in so far as it may coincide with, or help to promote, a real Palestinian patriotism, and not merely stimulate rivalry and conflict between different sections of the population. We have, in Palestine, put our hands to a very important piece of the work. We have got obligations which may be difficult sometimes to reconcile but which we believe we can reconcile, and we must be responsible for carrying them into effect.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I regret having to intervene at this stage, but I understand that it is desirable that we should pass on to another matter. I have listened with great attention to what has been said about the Native Land Trust Bill, and I listened for the defence which was going to be made of the proposal to lease the native land for 99 years. The Colonial Secretary said that there were adequate safeguards in that Measure, but I think he failed to explain them. It is common ground that we ought to act as trustees for the natives in this matter. What is the position? Nominally we are proposing to carry out that trusteeship by conferring the ownership of the native land upon this new trust, and we are going to give that trust power to lease those lands for 99 years. So far as I can see there is no protection in the Act against any wanton misuse of that power. The one safeguard which the Colonial Secretary spoke about was the fact that there was a native member on the Council.
Let us examine, for a moment, what is the position of that Council. There are four official members and four non-official members, who presumably will be settlers, and there is to be one native representative. I submit to the common sense of the Committee that a Council composed in that way would not provide any adequate safeguard for the natives. I wonder if the right hon. Gen- 2717 tleman has any knowledge of the kind of people who act as nominated representatives in the provincial councils and Legislative Assembly in India. If he has that knowledge he must realise that almost without exception the nominated members act as tools of the Government, and if they venture to take up an attitude which is contrary to the wishes of the Government they are not re-nominated and they soon lose their positions. It is evident that under these circumstances if the native representatives stood out against the others strong pressure would be brought to bear against him from the official members and if he attempted to resist that pressure it is certain that when the time for renomination came he would not be nominated again. That, again, is a factor in deciding his attitude.
Then the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman gave for wanting this Clause inserted seemed to me to be of the most specious character. In the first place, he represented to us the possibility that one tribe might have an excess of territory and another tribe might lack territory, and he wanted a provision made whereby there could be an exchange from one tribe which has too much to another which has too little. Surely, it would have been possible to draft a Clause in this Bill which would have provided for a contingency of that sort without making it possible for white settlers to take away the land of the natives. The other excuse—and these were the only two that he gave—was that it might be necessary to obtain a certain amount of land in order to build, possibly, a sugar factory, or some commercial development of that kind. I cannot see why it should he ruled out as utterly impossible that the natives themselves, if they were so greatly in need of a central sugar factory, should build that sugar factory themselves, and should be able to retain ownership of the land in that way. The only other safeguard that the natives have, apparently, is that the matter will be remitted to the Secretary of State. If I thought that that was an adequate safeguard, I would not say another word, but I know something about the history of the way in which the land has been alienated in Kenya in the past, with the approval of the Secretary of State, and I think that, 2718 in view of the vast territory which Lord Delamere and other people have been allowed to accumulate at the expense of the natives, with the approval of the Secretary of State, we are justified in saying that the approval of the Secretary of State is no very serious safeguard.
I want to say this finally. The House of Commons as a whole is agreed that we ought to act as trustees for the natives, above all in the case of a territory like this mandated territory, which has been handed over to us in trust by the League of Nations. There is an additional obligation upon us, in respect of territory of this kind, to carry out to the full extent the letter and spirit of the idea of trusteeship, and I say that, if we now agree to this proposal to hand over, to a body composed to an overwhelming extent of officials and white settlers, the question of the leasing of areas of land, we shall be doing something which is quite false to the conception of trusteeship. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and the Labour party generally, and other Members of the House of Commons who are interested in protecting the rights of the natives, will press the Secretary of State hard in order that, before the matter is finally and definitively settled, the House may have another opportunity of discussing this very serious question.
§ Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £96,749, be granted for the said Service," put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.